Being a rather gullible person it has been my constant prayer that God would show me His truth and expose doctrines of demons and men. It is for this reason I believe that I have never been able to accept the Calvinist doctrine of Eternal Security - "once saved always saved" (amongst a few others). It was great that there was a spiritual revival with the Calvinist movement back then, but it seems with every good seed sown by God.... Satan comes along and sows in some weeds in an effort to pollute and bring to not the works of the Holy Spirit. We are to guard ourselves against these false doctrines and test them to see whether they are from God or not. I have found many such doctrines where once their influence has been removed ... the Word of God is seen in a new light ... which is actually not new at all for it is the light of Truth which has always been there ... but has been hidden by the weeds Satan has sown to blind us to God's Truth.
I have never been a proponent of OSAS even though I went to a Bible College and churches that taught this doctrine. I did not grow up in a charismatic church (raised in a United Church of Canada) and so Calvinistic teachings were foreign to me ... yet God had His hand on me and I accepted Christ into my life in my early 20’s. Let me tell you a bit about my journey.
I grew up in a small town in western Canada and faithfully went to church with my parents even into my late teens. I was sort of an altar boy as I was in both the junior and senior choirs. Although I was a member of the United Church (took catechism) ... I was spiritually dead. I did not know that Jesus the Son and God the Father and the Holy Spirit were the same person. Even though they talked about the Trinity ... it went over my head. The bible was never read in our home and church was like a social club. At 18 I began questioning God’s existence. So I prayed (something I rarely did) and asked Him how He could exist before time and forever more and how He made everything from nothing and if the bible was His infallible word. No sooner had I asked Him I knew the answer and it was this answer that kept me believing in God and the Word of God. I have shared this answer with others who are seeking ... some it has helped ... others it has not ... possibly because it is meant only for those whom God has chosen, or perhaps it was only meant for me. I was forced into being an introvert because I was ostracized by my peers at a very young age which went right up to my senior years at school and had few friends. I thought no one loved me or cared ... even my parents did not hug me or tell me they loved me ... but I did learn in Sunday school that “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so”. Thirsting for this love I began reading the Bible. Of course you always read a book from the beginning so I was a Jew for a while ... I even tried to eat lamb on the Passover but it was too woolly for my taste. At age 24 after I got out of the military I decided to go to a Bible College. God lead me to this charismatic college where I found and accepted Christ as my saviour ... I met and married my wife Karen the next year. Anyway ... when I was in my first year Bible College something amazing happened, something that has kept my faith alive all these years and has humbled me to the point where I can see God’s grace clearly. Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” What is the gift of God they are speaking of? Faith of course ... it is one of the spiritual gifts. This is simply saying that there is nothing we can do in our own effort to save ourselves ... for our righteousness is but filthy rags ... there is no good that dwells in us save the goodness of God since all goodness and light comes from Him. So we can do no good on our own for all have sinned and fall short of His glory. It is only those who accept Christ’s atoning death on the cross and believe that He is the Lord God Almighty who have the right to become children of God ... but believing is not enough ... for even the demons believe that Jesus is the Christ and that God is One (James 2:19) We must invite Him into our lives and take up residence in our temple ... our bodies.(1 Cor 3:16) We need to become bond servants with Him and allow Him to live through us. (Philippians 1:1) We need to spiritually eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to live forever in His presence.(John 6:28-69) In Him we live, move and have our being. (Acts 17:28) If you do not abide in the VIne you cannot produce fruit that will last. Without works faith is dead.(James 2:14-26) So what am I saying ... faith is from God, grace is from God, love is from God, goodness is from God. All have sinned and have the inherent sin of Adam ... all are guilty and deserving of death. Only those who believe in the salvation offered by God through the shed blood and broken flesh of His Son Jesus Christ as an atonement for our sins will see life. Yet it is not through our righteousness ...but through His that we are saved. He is the One who has called us and given us good works to do all for His glory. The only thing for us to do is to choose whom we are to serve ... who will be our master ... mammon, our fleshly desires, Satan OR Jesus our Lord and King. There are many on the road to destruction ... we all start out there on that road ... only a few find and stay on the narrow road to life thanks to His leading and guidance and unfailing faithfulness and love.
I have heard proponents of OSAS say that Salvation is a gift of God using Ephesians 2:8-9 as a precipice. In fact this is one of the main verses used by OSAS advocates. However in all the translations I have checked...salvation is never referred to as a gift ... anything but. The only one I found is Ephesians 2:8-9 and only because this passage is misinterpreted. I like the NIV rendering of this passage:
Ephesians 2:8-9(NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.
Many have taken “this” as referring to the process of salvation itself ... but if we compare this passage to other scripture we find that “this” is referring to “faith” which is indeed a gift from God and stated as such ... it is one of the gifts of the Spirit. In fact this theme is carried over into a debate over faith versus works ... “faith without works is dead”. The “gift of Salvation” or “Salvation is a gift of God” or “salvation is given” is not found anywhere in scripture (even the word “salvation” with either “given” or “gift” are not found in the same passage of scripture) and the only passage that could make people even think this is Ephesians 2:8-9. It has been claimed that if any portion of scripture was removed from the bible that the gospel would not be affected ... but if this portion of scripture were removed, no one would be saying Salvation is a gift given by God and the OSAS doctrine would not be around since I heard it was based on the misinterpretation of this scripture and people are vainly trying to use other portions of the Bible to support this false doctrine ignoring the overwhelming passages of scripture that shoot this doctrine full of holes.
How can Salvation be a gift when we are told we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling? What is salvation? In scripture it either refers to the act of redemption or the person through whom that redemption comes from. What does the bible say about salvation?
The Lord our God is our salvation.
The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
2 Samuel 22:3
My God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation. He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior— from violent people you save me.
The LORD is my strength and my defense ; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
Salvation is the end result of our faith.
1 Peter 1:8-9
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Jesus will bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him at His return in glory
so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
1 Peter 1:4-6
This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.
Salvation is offered to everyone ... offered not given.
For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
And notice it is not God who is doing the offering ... it is the grace of God that offers salvation to all mankind ... for it is by grace you have been saved through the gift of faith which God has given a measure to all He has called and not by anything you have done in your own strength, knowing that any good works you have done have been wrought by the Holy Spirit that indwells you ... His servant. Whether you are a worthy servant or a lazy, wicked one will be determined by what kind of fruit you produce (or if you don’t produce any) and if that fruit lasts till the harvest. For if you go on living in unrepentant sin, you crucify Christ anew and you are still a slave to sin ... so your branch will wither and your fruit fall to the ground and rot ... be warned ... God is not mocked ... you will surely reap what you sew ... only those who remain in Him will inherit the kingdom, because aside from Him you can do nothing.
Anyway ... whenever I heard someone say “salvation is a gift” I always asked ... “where does it say that in scripture” and they always quoted Ephesians 2:8-9, yet it is really a misquote isn’t it?
So now that you know about my understanding of being saved by grace ... let me share what happened that fateful day so many years ago.
One day when I was going to Bible College (a long, long time ago), an evangelist visited our school. He sat in on our class. Prayer and worship spilled over into class time as the evangelist felt there was a need. My friend who was sitting at the table next to me began speaking in another language (he had never done this before). I began to tremble and I heard myself proclaim that my friend had just been baptized with fire. I heard myself say these words, but I knew nothing about these things. How then could I utter this with such conviction? My friend fell into a deep sleep. Our class was the last class of the day, but I stayed behind with a few others until my friend woke up. He said he had been with Jesus. He said he had such love for everyone and gave everyone there a hug. He had a radiance about him I had never seen before. Anyway, I asked him what had happened. He said that as he was praising God, a blinding light enveloped him. As the light subsided he made out a figure of a man dress in white robes. Although the man's face remained hidden by a blinding white light, when my friend saw the man's feet and hands, he knew it was Jesus. Jesus gently took his hand and led him to a booth beside a long and wide road. Many people were walking along the road. Suddenly a glowing crystalline amber hand began pushing people off the road here and there. These people resisted and some even managed to scrabble back onto the road again. At this the vision ended and my friend awoke. This vision had greatly perplexed my friend and he asked me what I thought it meant. I offered ... “The road is the road to heaven and Satan is trying to snatch people off the road". But he could not accept that explanation.
I told my friend that God wouldn’t show him this without a reason, and to go home and pray and ask God to reveal what the vision meant. As he was approaching his home he did not notice that the fence along the front of his yard had blown down. He walked right over the top of the gate and up to his front door where his wife met him. She pointed out that the fence had blown down. He turned and said he hadn’t even noticed as he was still drunk with the Spirit. He then asked when it happened. She told him and he realized it was at the same time he had been baptized with fire at the Bible College that morning. That night he prayed as I instructed and during the night God roused him and revealed to him what the vision meant. The road was the road to destruction and the Hand of the Almighty was mercifully pushing people here and there off the road. These stubborn people resisted and some even managing to get back onto the road again. Well, I couldn’t accept what my friend said as my pride would not let me, for the longest time. But after studying God’s word, I have to admit that we are all too readily led astray by our fleshly desires and by the temptations this world offers. By our very nature we are prone to sin and it is only by God’s grace and loving sacrifice on our behalf that we are even able to obey the Father at all. For most that is just too humbling to accept … “Lord, pour contempt on ALL our pride”.
Note: My friend did not even know he had spoken in tongues the day he was baptized in fire, but could now pray in tongues. It is funny but I told him the previous day that since he had spoken in tongues (even though he couldn’t remember doing so), he now had the “gift”. Sure enough what I said had come to pass. I find it incredulous because I was a “baby” Christian and didn’t really know about these things, yet I spoke with authority. Was it the Holy Spirit using me? – No doubt, it surely wasn’t me. Sadly, I became rather jealous of my friend. Here he experienced a wondrous thing that I had never experienced myself. I didn’t even speak in tongues, and still don’t. I have never had a vision from God. I have seen genuine miracles, where one could not refute the fact that these were real and from God, but have never experienced any real miracles myself (at least none of significance). None-the-less, I have seen them happening to others and I suppose that is enough. God has given me insight into His Word concerning many of His truths, but I have not really shared these insights with anyone other than my wife as they are rather contentious and I don’t really like confrontation. Concerning my views on working out your salvation with fear and trembling, I have always been in congregations where the “once saved always saved” doctrine reigned supreme and so I have kept my thoughts to myself. I did finally share it with my pastor and a few months later my pastor announced to the whole congregation that he no longer believed in this doctrine. I predicted that more and more Christians would come to this conclusion as the End draws nearer, and it is happening. The sad part is that many left the congregation, but only immature Christians do this. I guess it is true … if you make a stand for God’s truth … you will lose the world’s respect. It is true that false doctrines divide, but so does the Truth ... it separates the light from the darkness. We are being sifted like wheat before the great day of the Lord. (Note: This event happened about 10 years ago whereas I went to Bible College over 35 years ago ... I shared this same story to the present pastor in 2011 and to my shock he announced to the congregation a few months ago (Jan 2012) that he no longer believes in OSAS. Fortunately there is no division as there was 10 years ago as our church has matured and our present pastor is sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I have noted a real change in my pastor since then, almost as if he has rededicated his life to Christ and moved onto higher ground ... there is a fervor there I've never seen before ... it is like someone turned on a switch ... the church is alive and actually growing ... to God be all the glory.
I want to thank WHATZTRUTH.COM for offering me the chance to share this with you. The only persons who I have been able to share this with have been 2 pastors from my church, my wife and 2 online friends. Back 30 years ago when the Lord first showed me this I was unable to share it ... I often asked God why He would show me this if I refused to share it with anyone. It took allot just to share this with the two pastors ... I really didn't want to ... but I felt compelled to ... so I did. I felt bad about what happened the first time so actually ran away and stopped going to church for years. I did not want to be the cause of any division in the church because of my testimony. But then the Lord told me that He was coming back soon and to prepare myself ... to go back to church. So I did and then I gave my testimony again to the present pastor and he went and did the same thing as the former one, but this time I don't feel bad about telling him since no one left the church because of it this time and in fact good has come from it. Even if they did, I have made up my mind to stay regardless and to prepare myself for the Lord's imminent return as He commanded me to. God bless you all, Ron.
For further study on what Ron has talked here about we suggest you go here.