Are certain Christians predisposed to fail?
The other day I was asked if I could make a few notes about the following verse:
Matthew 13:44 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. [KJV]
I was asked the question “are certain Christians predisposed to fail?” I answered that I did not believe so because of scriptures like this one in Matthew’s gospel about the hidden treasure. We are seeing a resurgence of what could be called hyper-Grace, that is a teaching that suggests that anything that you do is works and not Grace. In my younger days it used to be called hyper-Calvinism, that is where regeneration is not preceded by faith because Jesus Christ only died for those whom he specifically for-knew and therefore they are already regenerated and as such can never do anything that would cause them to lose that regeneration. People like me are often called legalists or even Bible idolaters, because we believe that the word of God is from everlasting to everlasting and that God means exactly what he says. The Grace of God is free and undeserved help and favour that is given to us because he loved so much that he sent the Lord Jesus Christ to be our saviour and this allowed him to justly show us mercy. We cannot earn our salvation by our good works or fine deeds because the Lord Jesus had to die and rise again to pay the penalty for our sin but we can through faith receive him as our saviour and repent and turn away from our sins. The Grace of God provides a way that we can believe and walk in faith towards God because the just shall live by faith. To be truly born-again one must have faith and repent and without repentance there is no remission of sin. Repentance is not a wish or a longing, it is the turning away from sin and that involves desire, will, faith, hope and, ultimately, action. Now I know that I am incapable of any righteous action outside of or without the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. But, thank God, he is prepared to live in me in the power of an endless life so that I can live righteously pleasing God. In fulfilling this I am also fulfilling the law of faith. The fruit of my life is practical Holiness that shows an effective obedience to the will of God as clearly seen within the scriptures.
To me the scriptures clearly tells us that we are new creatures in Christ Jesus and all of our old self is done away so that we become one new man in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
Galatians 6:15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
This alone tells us that as a born-again Christian we are given a complete fresh start with no left over hindrances, impulses or pre-positions that would automatically ensure that we are doomed to fail as a Christian in our standing before him and pleasing him because of some inbuilt or even genetic predisposition. Some may even argue that it is God himself who has predisposed us to fail and doomed to damnation. This is why I am utterly convinced that every truly born-again spirit filled Christian cannot be possessed of an evil spirit because sweet and bitter water cannot flow from the same fountain. To me all these principles are clearly set forth in the scriptures for our edification and understanding of the mystery of the kingdom of God.
This rise of Calvinism and hyper – Grace is sweeping the charismatic church as well as many southern Baptist churches in the USA. To me, the scriptural reasoning was well established during the Methodist revival and the writings of John Fletcher. It is perfectly evident that what God has selected and chosen is the way of salvation and the manner of life that his followers will live, rather than the personal identity of each follower of Christ. If the soul of certain people have been elected by God to eternal life than, it must follow, that the soul of certain people has been elected by God to eternal damnation. I don’t believe that this is supported in any Scripture at all. Of course, the modern trend is to deny the truth of everlasting damnation and hell. You can arrive at these suppositions if you decide that special revelation and “deeper” understanding outweigh the evidence of the written word of God. The 1st step in moving in this direction is to simply declare that any Bible only contains the word of God rather than actually is the word of God.
To get back to this parable, in essence a man discovers that there is treasure hidden in a certain field. The treasure is likened unto the “kingdom of heaven.” The field is likened to his life and the things that concern us in life. Imagine having a picnic in the field and discovering a seam of gold revealed in a rock formation that has been washed clear of loose dirt by a sudden downpour. The desire for the treasure is so great that you go out and buy the field outright. It might be a fairly expensive field and you have to sell everything that you have in order to gain the legal right to the field and so have access to the treasure. The idea is to suggest that the kingdom of heaven is so valuable that it is worth exchanging everything that you value in life and in your lifestyle in order to be given the right to own it and so have access to the treasure. In another Scripture Jesus made it perfectly clear that you have to hunger and thirst after righteousness if you want to be filled.
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
It is this idea of the value being so great that you will exchange everything that you own or have for the joy of this treasure.
Now I know that we cannot earn salvation and this Scripture certainly does not suggest that you can earn this because salvation is the gift of God given to us by faith in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. But it is still of great value to us. And I will gladly repent of sin and turn away from everything in my life in order to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and to please him. It is not so much earning this treasure as being able to receive it. Conditions are set on the receiving of the gift, they are not set on the right to earn a gift.
Seeing that the Scripture tells us that Christ is the light that lights every man that comes into the world, it is clear the that everybody has a conscience and it is the power of the gospel to awaken that conscience with a longing for forgiveness with a rise in faith of the news of who Jesus is, what he has done and what is currently doing.
John 1:9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
The discussion about the extremes of working for your salvation or no matter what you do or do not do you cannot lose your salvation has been going on since the Apostles started to preach and teach in the new Testament church. As far as I am concerned the matter is handled plainly within the scriptures themselves but if you want to look at the writings of somebody who had to contend with these issues in the early days of the Methodist movement then I suggest the get hold of the works of John Fletcher and read his Checks to Antinomianism.
To get back to the constantly failing Christian. Why do some Christians constantly fall back fail? Is it because they have a pre-existing condition that basically ensures that they will keep falling back? I think the scriptures are abundantly clear; no matter what our condition is before we come to Christ it is a scriptural fact that he that is in Christ is a new creature all the old things are passed away and behold everything has become new. This is the power of being born again. You are changed from the inside out. You have now have the power to please God and to walk in his ways. Your desire for righteousness has to be awakened and kept sharp and your faith has to be built up and settled upon the firm foundation of the revelation of the scriptures. We are not to have dominion over another person’s faith but we are to encourage that faith and seek to build that person up in Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:24 Not for that we have dominion over your faith, but are helpers of your joy: for by faith ye stand.
We do not need the condemnation of the devil but we do need the conviction of the Holy Ghost. Feeding on the word of God will teach us to easily discern the difference between this condemnation and conviction. One leads to a very depressing life and the other leads to a victorious life.
After all, the Lord Jesus clearly said if you hunger and thirst after righteousness you will be filled. I think there is a clear progression pathway laid out in the sermon on the Mount and if you are constantly frustrated by weakness or failure in your Christian life is a good idea to go to the start of the sermon on the Mount and just work your way through seeking to understand what the Lord meant as he progressed through the points. It is a journey after all. Actually it’s a journey that is punctuated with crisis points. Our journey with the Lord Jesus does start with a major crisis point when we become born-again. It is a fantastic journey with an absolutely wonderful end – everlasting life.