Monday, November 26, 2012

Salvation, Discipleship, and Eternal Security in John 15

John 15:1-8 teaches that Jesus is the true vine, the only source of eternal salvation. The metaphor of the vine has appeared before in the Old Testament as a reference to Israel (Psalm 80). Jesus assertion that He is the true vine contrasts Himself with Israel. The Law failed to bring final cleansing from sin, the Temple was not the ultimate dwelling place of the Spirit of God, and the Feasts of Israel only looked forward to events to be completed in Jesus. John Calvin said, “we are, by nature, barren and dry, except in so far as we have been engrafted into Christ, and draw from him a power which is new, and which does not proceed from ourselves.”

In regards to discipleship, Jesus is teaching us to abide in Him. In John 14, Jesus introduces us to the “mutual indwelling” of Jesus and the believer. The vine illustrates that reality. Jesus is the vine, and His disciples are the branches. “The branches derive their life from the vine; the vine produces its fruit through the branches” (Carson 514). This passage also calls the Father the “gardener.” Jesus says He (the Father) prunes the branches to make them more fruitful. It only makes sense that as the disciple submits to leadership of Christ and begins to abide in Him, the Father begins to cut away the dead parts, or the sin in the life of the believer.

Verse two of John 15 states, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away.” This is often taken to mean that a believer can lose their salvation if they are not obedient. This misses the point of this verse, and it is not consistent with the overall teaching of Jesus. Earlier in John, Jesus taught that it was the will of the Father that He lose none of those He has been given (John 6:39). The point of this verse is, “there are no true Christians without some measure of fruit. Fruitfulness is an infallible mark of true Christianity” (Carson 515). The truth is that outworking of the salvation of a believer is fruit in the life of the believer. Abiding in Christ is evidence of inner transformation that cannot be reversed. There have always been, and will always be those who outwardly profess allegiance to Christ, but are truly never converted. Those are the branches that will be cut away.

Works Cited:

Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John. Grand Rapids, Mich: Inter-Varsity Press,
1991. Print. Nov. 26, 2012.

Calvin, John. Calvin's Commentary. Christian Classics Etherial Library. Web. Nov. 16, 2012.23

1 comment:

Gary said...

Don't you think that it is a problem that there is no evidence in the Early Christian Church of the belief that "once saved, always saved"? In fact, quite the opposite. There are plenty of early Christian pastors and theologians in the first three to four centuries AD who warn Christians not to be complacent in their faith and live a life of willful sin...lest they perish to eternal damnation.

I grew up evangelical. I witnessed many persons pray the Sinner's Prayer or go forward during an Altar Call and make what seemed to be very genuine professions of faith. These people then went on to witness to others about salvation through faith in Christ, attend Church and prayer meetings, etc. for a number of years.

They NOW never darken a church door or read a Bible. One person has converted to be a Muslim to marry her Arab husband, completely abandoning the Christian faith. I know of others who became murderers and child molesters and are unrepentant. I know others who are now living lives of sexual immorality and believe that there is nothing wrong with their behavior.

Do you really believe that if one of these former believers dies...he or she will go to heaven???

I know one Lutheran mother who's daughter became an evangelical and had a "born again" experience. A short time later the daughter started living with her boyfriend. Her mother warned her that what she was doing is sin, and that ongoing willful sin against God places her salvation in jeopardy. The daughter replied, "Don't worry, Mom. I'm covered. I was born again, and if you are born again there is no way you can lose your salvation no matter what you do. Lutherans are wrong."

Neither infant baptism nor an adult "born again" experience is a "Get-into-heaven-free" card! Salvation only occurs by the grace of God, received through faith. No faith, no salvation.

The Christian whose faith and trust is in the Lord need never worry about his eternal security/his salvation. Our salvation is not dependent on how many good works we do. But, the believer who takes his salvation for granted, turns his back on God and lives a life of sin is endangering his soul and very well may wake up one day in hell!

The doctrine of Eternal Security is an invention of the Calvinists, codified at the Synod of Dort. It is false teaching. It did not exist in the Early Church. It is a license to sin! The Doctrine of Eternal Security is not scriptural!

I encourage evangelicals to read this Lutheran statement on this issue: