The Helmet of Salvation
Protection against Insecurity
Christianity is not just a religion, nor is it just a way of life. Christianity is a personal relationship and, just like Adam, we were created to be in a personal relationship with the living God. (Psalm 139:13-16)
But our spiritual deadness, which we inherited from Adam, makes a relationship impossible. Our default position is sin and because God cannot look on sin, we are separated from Him. (Isaiah 59:2)
However, because of His immeasurable love, God made a way for us to bridge the gap. He sent His only Son to be the propitiating sacrifice. His innocent blood paid the price. He took our death sentence. We are pardoned. (John 3:16 & 14:6; 1 Peter 1:18-19)
This is grace and mercy. Grace is receiving what we don’t deserve, which is salvation, and mercy is not receiving what we do deserve, which is eternal punishment.
Grace is a gift. Like all gifts it doesn’t become yours until you accept it. Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, but only those who humbly accept that they are hopeless sinners, and cannot possibly earn their salvation, will open their hearts to receive this pricelessly precious gift.
There are two simple steps to be taken to receive this salvation:
- Repent The idea that repentance is remorse is incorrect. While it certainly includes remorse, it is, in fact, the act of turning 180 degrees in the opposite direction. It means that you turn FROM the god of this world TO the eternal, triune, Creator God. This is turning FROM death TO life, FROM sin TO righteousness. (Acts 3:19)
- Receive With an open mind and a thankful heart, you accept the Lord Jesus as your personal Saviour. (John 1:12)
If you take these two steps you have been born again spiritually. (See John 3:1-21 for what Jesus has to say about being born again.)
If you are a believer but have never invited Jesus into your life, here is an example of what you could say to Him:
Lord Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God who was sent to take the punishment for my sins. I thank you with all my heart for saving me. Thank you for your forgiveness. Please come into my life and help me to be your disciple.
By taking these two steps, you have entered into your eternal life and can rejoice that you are now a child of the living God!
It is a sad fact, however, that many Christians do not have the absolute assurance of their salvation. Unfortunately, this is also due to faulty teachings and ideas.
We will deal with three.
- Being weighed in the balance
There is a notion that, when you die, your good deeds and your bad deeds will be weighed in the heavenly scales, and if the good outweighs the bad you can enter heaven, but if the bad outweighs the good, then you are destined for eternal fire.
This is a doctrine of works: you will be saved (or not) according to your deeds.
This is simply not true!
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)
God’s part is grace. Your part is faith. You are saved by believing in Jesus, not by good deeds!
Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”
Jesus replied, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:28-29 NIV)
But what about ‘faith without works is dead’ (James 2:26)?
A careful reading of James 2:14-26 will show that James is saying that unless your faith is demonstrated by good works, it is dead. Following Jesus as His disciple will naturally lead to good works.
Let’s take an expanded view of what Paul said in the letter to the Ephesians.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
Simply put this means that you are saved FOR good works, not saved BY good works.
This brings us to the doctrine of Purgatory. (The word is derived from the verb purge.) If your good deeds have outweighed the bad, and your final destination is heaven, you must first go to Purgatory to be refined by fire.
There is no mention of Purgatory in the Bible, but belief in it arose from an interpretation of 1 Corinthians 3:10-14 and 1 Peter 1:7. A careful reading of the verses in 1 Corinthians will show that Paul is teaching about the quality of our works as Christians and how it will be revealed by the fire of God’s judgement. This is a metaphorical fire. How can our works be burned in a fire? It doesn’t make sense. It has nothing to do with personal suffering. The verse in 1 Peter is teaching about how our faith is refined through persecution in this world, not by judgement in the next!
What the doctrine of Purgatory is actually saying is that you have to pay for your sins. This means that what Jesus accomplished on the cross was not enough. This is a doctrine of works!
In Jesus, you are the righteousness of God. It is done! You don’t have to suffer. He did the suffering for you. That is the depth of His love! That is the wonder and the beauty of salvation! That is the good news! (Remember the word gospel means good news.) The idea that you must first endure a period of suffering before you can be released into heaven is hardly good news!
If someone gives you a gift and then you pay for it, or part of it, it is no longer a gift!
- Losing your salvation
Then there is the teaching that if you continue to sin, especially if it is a habitual sin, you lose your salvation.
If this were indeed true, you would be better off to die immediately after receiving your salvation, because your default position remains sinfulness. In a previous section, where we discussed the difference between body, soul and spirit, we saw that it is only your spirit which is made perfect at the moment of conversion. You are sure to sin again. Your whole Christian walk is a determined effort to become more and more like Jesus, in thought, word and deed. And although you will become more like Jesus, you will only become exactly like Him in the next world. (2 Corinthians 3:18)
Also, if you lose your salvation, you would have to be born-again again. This is patently ridiculous.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession - to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV)
Let’s look at verse 14 in the Amplified Version.
That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and the foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption, and our acquiring [complete] possession of it - to the praise of his glory.
Just as there are no good deeds which can earn you salvation, just so there are no bad deeds which can cause you to lose it! Remember what we have said before: even sins which you have yet to commit have been paid for by Jesus.
It does sometimes happen that someone who claimed to be a Christian changes his or her mind and leaves the Christian faith. My personal opinion is that such a person was never truly born-again in the first place. I cannot see how, when you are sealed with the Holy Spirit, you can deny Jesus. Once you have received the Holy Spirit, you know that Jesus is real, and that He is who He says He is.
- You have to be one of the elect
Finally, we look at the doctrine of Predestination, which is an offshoot of the doctrine of the Sovereignty of God. It is particularly prevalent in Calvinism and it teaches that you are predestined for heaven or for hell - that you cannot choose. It is God’s decision. (What a little ray of sunshine John Calvin must have been!)
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love, he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and his will… (Ephesians 1:4-5 NIV)
There are several logical reasons to question whether Paul meant that it is God who chooses us.
The most glaringly obvious one is that it removes the freedom of choice from us. God gave mankind the freedom to choose. This is an unchanging spiritual principle. (There are instances where He relented and did not carry out a punishment He intended after someone interceded. See Exodus 32:14. But that is not changing a spiritual principle.)
The second is that it would be completely against God’s nature. He is not capricious. He loves everyone. For God so loved the world that He sent His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NIV) The Greek word pas means all, any, every, the whole. In other words, anybody and everybody who believes is saved.
The third is that God wants everybody to be saved. God is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9 NIV)
So what did Paul mean when he speaks of being predestined for adoption?
The following two texts explain it clearly:
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined he also called, those he called he also justified, those he justified he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30 NIV)
To God’s elect… who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctfying work of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling by his blood. (1 Peter 1:1a, 2 NIV)
- God knows from the moment of your conception whether you will choose Him or not because He is omniscient. However, it remains your choice.
- Those who choose Him are predestined to be adopted as His children.
It is not a case of choosing Him because you have been predestined to be adopted as a child of God. You are predestined to be adopted as a child of God because you choose Him!
If you want a more detailed explanation of why the doctrine of Predestination is faulty, you can click on the following link: https://www.cgi.org/what-does-the-bible-say-about-predestination-and-election
Remember always what Jesus said:
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they will follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish: no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29)
To conclude, we will look at Paul’s triumphant declaration:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)
So, when the enemy comes to whack you on the head with the idea that you can never be completely sure that you are saved, and that to claim that you are is arrogance; or you find yourself hoping that God will overlook your worst sins and allow you to enter the pearly gates; or you wonder if you have not perhaps committed too many sins or perhaps even the unforgiveable sin; then you put on your Helmet of Salvation and you declare:
Get behind me, Satan! I am a child of God, a member of the Kingdom of Light! No one can snatch me out of Jesus’s hand! No one can snatch me out of the Father’s hand! Nothing can separate me from the love of God in Jesus! Away with you!
In the next study we will complete our examination of the spiritual weapons by taking a close look at three words which God has made available to us.
To end off, here is a hymn which is one of my favourite worship songs. You will find it very meaningful.
Click on this link, pay careful attention to the lyrics (they are given), absorb the meaning, and let the music sweep you away! (You might want to have a tissue at hand!)
I am adding the lyrics here so that you can continue to meditate on them: they are Bible-based.
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea
A great High Priest whose name is Love (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Who ever lives and pleads for me (Hebrews 7:23-25)
My name is graven on His hands (Isaiah 49:16)
May name is written on His heart
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart. (Romans 8:33-34a)
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within (Romans 3:33-34a)
Upward I look and see Him there (Romans 8:34b)
Who made an end of all my sin (Romans 8:1-4 & Hebrews 7:26-28)
Because the sinless Saviour died (1 Peter 2:24; 3:18)
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the just is satisfied (Romans 5:9-10)
To look on Him and pardon me.
Behold Him there the risen Lamb (John 1:35; Luke 24:6, 34)
My perfect spotless righteousness (1 Peter 1:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
The great unchangeable I AM (John 8:58)
The King of Glory and of Grace (Psalm 24:7-10; 2 Corinthians 13:14)
One in Himself I cannot die (Romans 6:5-11)
My soul is purchased by His blood (1 Peter 1:18)
My life is hid with Christ on high (Colossians 3:3-4)
With Christ, my Saviour and my God. (John 20:28)