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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Beyond Salvation?

I remember some years ago ministering to a woman who struck me as being so sinful, so depraved and simply so evil --- that I began to wonder if there were truly any hope for her. I know that God loves everyone and His sincere desire is that not even one be lost. But my experience had me wondering if evil could be so profound and invasive as to completely shut one off from the love of God.

I asked my pastor about this. His first reaction of course was that no one is beyond salvation. But then as we talked about it, he recalled a mission trip to Mexico where he had observed a man who had destroyed his mind with illegal, recreational drugs.

This pastor considered that situation and surmised that indeed, the man had moved beyond salvation. We both agreed that when someone has intentionally done something (like fry their mind on drugs) to take away their ability to choose God ... they would indeed be "beyond salvation."

The modern Christian culture doesn't want to admit that anyone burns in hell. We preach that no one can lose their salvation. We preach that none are ever beyond the hope of salvation. And while there is some truth to what we preach, it is not all grounded in truth. Simply put, we are often, as a modern Christian culture, choosing to believe what we want to believe. The horrid truth is that some people do burn in hell. They are beyond salvation. The delineating difference is that they put themselves in that situation. (God never puts them in that situation.)

In Jeremiah 13:23, God is talking with Jeremiah about the fallen condition of the Israelites, His chosen people. He says, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil." What does this mean? What was God saying here?

Quite simply, the people had become so accustomed to doing evil that they had lost their ability to change. God never rejects those who sincerely turn to Him. But God repeatedly warned the Israelites to repent before it became impossible for them to do so. Did you know that was possible? We often put off repentance, saving it for later. How many of us are conscious of the fact that repentance can become impossible?

Our attitudes and patterns for living can become so set that we will lose all desire to change and will no longer fear the consequences (i.e., God's judgment). When this occurs, it is reasonable to consider one as being "beyond salvation." For this individual, there is little hope.

The point here is not to despair or blame God for being a fraud. It is most important to understand that anyone who is truly beyond salvation did not get there by following God's will. Rather they put themselves in that position with a pattern of continued unrepentant rebellion and disobedience.

And while this breaks God's heart, and He is not willing that even one should be lost, even God is realistic enough to know that some will be lost --- by their own choice. In fact, because He is timeless and knows the future, God is the only one who sees which ones will choose to put themselves beyond salvation. (Can you imagine how much must break His heart?)

Folks, we need to take this stuff seriously. As Christians, we need to stop sugar-coating the truth. It is time that we grow up and take responsibility for our own repentance. Salvation is reserved for the repentant hearts ... even amongst God's chosen people.

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