Aloha Friday Message – November 9, 2018 – Once is Enough

1845AFC110918 – Once is Enough

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Opening with a special prayer request for our close friend LN in his 80’s, married to B for about 5 years we think. Stroke 11/08/18, serious enough to be hospitalized. Please pray for rapid and accurate diagnosis, treatment, and efficacious recovery.

Read it online here, please. And please, when you visit there, use one of the social media links at the bottom of the page to share this post. Thank you! And remember, we now have a READER VIEW available, so share this link or this email often.

   Hebrews 9:26b But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to remove sin by the sacrifice of himself. IMPORTANT: USE THIS LINK TO SEE THE PASSAGE IN CONTEXT.

Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! Thank you for joining us today. This will be a difficult essay for some of us because some of us will want to argue with it. That’s OK; however, that’s not the purpose. If you, the reader, are a Catholic, then we hope this will be something that will help you understand your faith a little better. If you, as a reader are not a Catholic – or perhaps not a Christian of any sort – you may find this more challenging, but I hope you will also learn a little more about Catholic teachings. The caveat here, of course, is that this old man is in no way a qualified theologian, and of course that means that what I will present here is my informal and private take on how things work. I apologize in advance for anything you find far-fetched or offensive. As I said, this is something for Catholics to ponder and for non-Catholics (including non-Christians) to sample open-mindedly. We can begin with a few things nearly everyone can agree upon:

  • A sack of flour makes a very big biscuit
  • You can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear
  • You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig
  • Two things in life are certain: Death and taxes
  • Not even God can please all the people all the time
  • A tolled bell cannot be unrung
  • What we do says who we are. Actions speak louder than words.
  • We become what we repeatedly do.
  • Empty cans make the most noise
  • The leopard cannot change its spots
  • Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it (getting dirty, not the wrestling. Pigs hate wrestling.)

Now, let’s jump right into the Word. Why have we selected this Key Verse? It was chosen because it refers to the completeness of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Did you use the link to read the context? If so, you saw that Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection completed God’s plan for Salvation; he does not need “to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world.” Once was enough, and at the appointed time, once suffices for all time. By Grace we have the gift of Faith and through Grace we are saved. Here is where the potential for disputation arises. Many are convinced that there is ample evidence in Scripture that supports the principle “Once Saved, Saved Forever,” and that once we have claimed Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we can never “undo” or “lose” our Salvation. Here are some additional thoughts about that position.

The Apostle Paul in Romans 1:5, and Romans 16:26 refers to “the obedience of faith” as an essential element of Christian life. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus warned his Disciples (and includes us, Belovéd) 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Here’s one we’ve seen before: Romans 11:29 29 for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Please use this link to see the passage in full context so that its meaning is clear.) Note that it says the “gifts and the calling of God.” Surely one of those gifts is the gift of Grace by which we are saved. That is certainly irrevocable; but is it universally irresistible? Back in the day when I was a “solid five-point Calvinist,” I would have said yes. I could have argued for the total depravity of human nature; unconditional election for whomsoever God set aside for his Glory before he created us; limited atonement which – although sufficient for the sins of all – would only be effective for the “sins of many” who are chosen by God in advance; irresistible grace that attracts only the elect who are called to Christ by the Father; and perseverance of the saints – once saved, forever and always saved. Once I realized that these “five points” meant that God intentionally created souls for eternal damnation, I just couldn’t stick with that any longer. Here are some of the Scriptures that led me to that change.

Matthew 10:32-33 32 “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.”

Revelation 22:11-12 11 Let the evildoer still do evil, and the filthy still be filthy, and the righteous still do right, and the holy still be holy. 12 See, I am coming soon; my reward is with me, to repay according to everyone’s work.

Here’s one with a couple of aphorisms that could be added to that list we started with:

2 Peter 2:20-22 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment that was passed on to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “The dog turns back to its own vomit,” (See Proverbs 26:11) and, “The sow is washed only to wallow in the mud.”

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 12 So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13 No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Sometimes that “testing” might include getting shed of malevolent spirits. Jesus pointed out that sometimes that can herald a worse disaster: Matthew 12:45 45 Then it goes and brings along seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and live there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So will it be also with this evil generation.

The Gift of Grace means that there is nothing we can do to earn our salvation, yet, the Apostle Paul tells us to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (See Philippians 2:12-13) We have said repeatedly here that Grace is a Gift. When we accept the Gift, the Grace leads us toward Christ and Salvation. When we reject the Gift, we do not receive Grace and therefore we CANNOT be led toward Christ and Salvation. That is some scary stuff right there! It reminds me of something attributed to the famous (or infamous) evangelist Billy Sunday: “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile.” He also said, “Hell is the highest reward that the devil can offer you for being a servant of his.” Rev. Sunday was a Christian Fundamentalist; nevertheless, he gave hundreds of thousands the opportunity to “walk the sawdust trail” and come forward during the Altar Call to choose Christ over sin.

He often railed against “backsliders,” (See Jeremiah 2:19) knowing that all of us can “get religion” and then “get empty” quicker than a snap: I’m against a lot of amusements popular among church members, as you people are going to find out before I am through in Boston. I don’t give that (snapping his fingers) whether you like my preaching or not. Understand? It’s a question of whether you are interested in decency. If you live wrong you can’t die right. Emerson said: “What you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say. That’s how I think of it, too, as does The Church: If you live wrong you can’t die right. Now, that’s probably oversimplifying the Catholic point of view; but, upon reflection over the Church’s teaching, I can see how a couple of scenarios could end up placing a soul in peril of Hell.

First, there’s the lipsticked pig, the washed sow, and the dog who returns to its vomit – their essential nature is not changed. Whatever you do to it or with it, the changes made are entirely external. There is no conversion, no true repentance, no reconciliation, and no change. Is it possible that at some future point known only to God that those soul-sanctifying changes can be made – even if the subject continuously rejects them past the point of death? That’s for God to know and us to guess. (This is where someone who wants to write a book instead of an essay would insert the idea of Purgatory. I’ll stick with the essay!)

Next there are those who embrace the idea of Christianity, but cannot handle the lifestyle. It is similar to “We become what we repeatedly do.” In the Parable of the Sower, this is the seed that falls on rocky ground. There’s nothing that holds these souls strongly enough that they can persevere and ultimately prevail over their lack of roots. In even worse straits are those who deeply embrace the Grace and Love of God and fill their lives with service, worship, and love to God and neighbor – until worldly concerns or their own weaknesses make their lives burst into flames as hot as Hell itself. Can we reject the Gift of Salvation? Of course we can – unless, that is, God has created some or many of us expressly for the purpose of hating us. (See Wisdom 11:23-25 which refutes this.) That just doesn’t ring true. God is Love.

When the Day of Reward – Judgment Day – finally comes, will everyone, every soul, be taken into Heaven? Remember this from two weeks ago? Daniel 12:2 Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. What is it, then, that makes the difference? In our house we say, “God knows, but he’s not telling.” Except that God is telling us that we can use our free will to reject the Grace that results in Salvation. If we ever once accept that Grace and that Salvation, can we truly never be deprived of it? I have come to believe that we can, sadly, never know for sure until we hear it in The Next Life. Nonetheless, it seems plausible that if I am given a gift and then never use it, or choose to abuse it, or even to cast it away, then the gift is no longer mine to claim. Will the giver of all good gifts return it to me at the end of time, or will I will “go away into eternal punishment” (See Matthew 25:31–46)? If I am like the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:23-35, can I blow my chances for eternal life? Here area few more passages for us to reflect upon. These pretty well sum up what I think.

John 10:27-30 27 My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.

John 15:6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

2 Peter 2:4God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell* and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment
*ταρταρόω (tartaroó) {tar-tar-o’-o} Use of this word by the Apostle Peter is similar to Christ’s use of the word Gehenna. It represents eternal punishment for the worst of the worst – the wickedest of demons and people.

Romans 11:22 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

Matthew 26:28 28 for this is my blood of the [new] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (For many but not for ALL)

John 3:17 17 Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (World, but not whole world)

Once is enough when it comes to Christ’s death for the remission of sins. Once may not be enough when it comes to keeping us in a life of righteousness.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

There’s a long train coming. God may not throw us off the train, but that doesn’t stop us from deciding to jump off before we get to the depot.

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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