Monday, December 27, 2010

Understanding Biblical Repentance

This topic is not a popular topic to be discussed without having one side accuse you of something you have nothing to do with.  There are different views of repentance; but just as there is only one gospel that saves, there is only one true repentance in the Bible that is genuine.  Paul said to the Galatians that any man who preaches any "other" gospel than that which the Bible teaches, let him die and go to hell.  He used the word "accursed" but it means the same thing.  I didn't say that, God said it in His Word.  That ought to tell you how much God cares about His gospel.  The sad thing is that today many are presenting a false gospel by presenting a false repentance not taught in the Bible.  Throughout this article, I'd like to examine the difference between true repentance vs. false repentance because it is such a thing that cannot be ignored.

Repentance Is a Must; Not a Should, Could, or Would

The first thing we must be aware of is that repentance is always a command, not an option.  Today, we see this doctrine being thrown away because preachers are afraid to take the heat to preach a Biblical repentance.  Repentance is not a popular topic to preach on, but it is in the Bible and therefore, must be preached on.  Luke 24:46-47 says, "And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."  God requires it as told in Acts 17:30, "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:" Here we see it is a command.  If you want to be saved, then you must repent.  You cannot be saved until you repent.  You cannot have faith until you have repentance.  Repentance is always before faith.  Mark 1:15 is where Jesus said, "repent ye, and believe the gospel."  It wasn't, "believe and then repent."  You can't believe until you repent.  Thus, repentance is a requirement.  Repentance is not a matter of that I should, not a matter of that I could, nor even a matter that I would; it is a matter of whether or not I am going to do so.  If a person doesn't repent, he will not be saved.

False Repentance

Before we look at true repentance, it would wise to take a look at false repentance - what repentance is not.  There are common misconceptions of repentance and I'd like to take a look at the most popular ones.

1.) Repentance is not turning from sin or giving up your sinful life style to start a new one. 

This is perhaps the most taught in churches.  This is the definition modern dictionaries give.  The problem with this teaching is that it is an attempt of what man does in order to be saved, rather than what was already done.  Many preachers preach that you must turn from your sins in order to be saved.  Let me say this, there is a vast difference between repentance OF sins and repentance FROM sins.  Repentance OF sins is a realization OF your sin.  Repentance FROM sin is turning from sin or stop sinning.  Now, just what exactly do I mean by turning from sins?  What exactly do preachers mean by this?  Literally, they are saying we must forsake our sins or else God will not save us.  Turning from sins in order to the Word of God is keeping God's commandments and keeping the law of commission/omission.  An example of this would be found with the Ten Commandments.  The Bible says, "Thou shalt not steal."  Turning from sin would be obeying that commandment and not stealing.  Turning from sin is law, not grace.  But, the Bible makes it clear we are not saved by keeping the law.  Galatians 2:16 says, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified."  Three times in this verse alone does God say we are not saved by the works of the law. 

Still don't believe me that turning from sin is works?  Let us now look at Jonah 3:5-10.  Jonah 3:5-10 reads, "So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused it to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."  Scripture teaches that genuine repentance brings a change of life and a change of actions.  Acts 26:20 says, "But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance."  The word "meet" means "fit".  What Paul was saying here is that people need to turn to God for salvation and as a result of that, they need to do works to prove that the repentance was genuine.  Genuine repentance leads to turning from sin, but it is not turning from sin itself.  Here we have the story of Nineveh's salvation and the results that took place afterward.  In verse five, real repentance is shown - they believed God.  You cannot believe God until you repent.  You cannot believe the gospel until you repent.  Repentance is always before faith in Christ.  Nineveh put faith and trust in God and as a direct result, the king made a decree that the land would do right for God.  They turned from their sinful lifestyle after salvation.  In verse ten, God says that He saw their repentance.  Is that what it says?  No.  Let's read it again, "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way..." It doesn't say God saw their faith, it says God saw their works.  What was their works?  "That they turned from their evil way."  They turned from their wicked rebellion against the Lord.  Repentance is also demonstrated by God in this passage of Scripture.  The last part of verse ten says, "...God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."  Can God sin? No.  Therefore, He has no sin to turn from.  What Nineveh did was change their attitude about God.  What God did was change His attitude about Nineveh.  This is what the Scripture teaches.  Repentance is not turning from sin, even though it will result in that. 

Many people miss this important truth that repentance is NOT turning from sin.  Even if you were going to be logical, if turning from sin was required for us to be saved, since God hates all sin and the Bible says nothing defiled, not even a person that has lied will enter into the kingdom of God, it is clear that if we want to save ourselves we must become sinless.  But, this is impossible.  Preachers of sinless perfection only preach that doctrine to excuse their sin and not to repent of theirs and they confuse many others in doing so.  1 John 1:8-10 makes it clear that if we say we don't have sin, then we are calling God a liar and His Word is not in us.  That's pretty bold, but it is the Word of God.  You say, "but you have to turn from your sins."  The only way a person can save himself from his own sins is by turning from them all.  Ezekiel 18:21 says, "But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die."  If you want to try and save yourself, this is it.  Notice the words though, "But if the wicked turn from ALL his sins..."  Does it say most sins?  No.  Does it say the big sins? No.  Does it say the sins that easily beset us? No.  It says, "all the sins that he hath committed."  Question: can you count exactly how many times you have committed a sin?  No, no one can - it is countless times.  But doesn't the Bible say to turn from all your sins?  Sure.  But the Bible also tells us that Jesus was a sinless man and never was wicked at all.  He became sin for us.  Now, but that's not all.  You not only need to turn fro the sins COMMITTED, you must also not OMIT anything God requires us to do.  This means pray without ceasing, studying the Word, going to church, tithing, etc.  How many times do we not do this?  Countless.  My point is that it is impossible to clean yourself up with a dirty rag which is who we are.  Jesus can make us without spot if we trust Him alone, not our ability to reform.  But again, if you want to save yourself the only way is to become sinless and never sin again.  Or, you can let Jesus save you (the only way you can be saved and have surety of it) because He was perfect and His works were not tainted by the sin we have.

2.) Repentance is not having much sorrow over sins or showing tears.

Do not misunderstand this statement that I had just made, it is okay and Biblical to have a contrite heart when one comes to the Lord for salvation.  The Bible says time and time again that the Lord delights in the contrite heart.  Psalm 34:18 reads, "The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit."  And again in Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."  I once heard of a preacher who despised this very thing.  His argument is that salvation is supposed to be a joyous thing, not at time of mourning.  But, when we realized how wicked our sin was and that it is what put Jesus on the cross, it is natural to be contrite over the sinful state of ourselves.  Make no mistake about it, I do NOT condemn tears of a person, I endorse it completely. 

On the other hand, salvation is not about how many tears come down your face; it is about whether or not your full trust is in the Lord for salvation.  Many preachers have a habit of saying that if a person doesn't show tears, then they really were not repentant and only say this because of experience with what happened with them.  This is not true in the case of Matthew 21:28-29, "But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went."  We have a story of a son who refuses to do the work that his dad told him to do, but understood he was wrong, repented and went ahead and did it.  There is no sign of showing an emotional state of tears.  There is no indication that the son ever did shed tears; but the Bible does say here that he did repent.  Many preachers use 2 Corinthians 7:10 as their defense of this faulty definition of repentance, "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death."  Many preachers use this because the word 'salvation' is used here.  A good thing to note is that where the Bible uses the word "saved" it is not always referring to when a person gets born again.  Matthew 14 is a good example to use.  Matthew 14 is the chapter where we find Jesus and Peter both walk on water; Peter then takes his eyes away from Jesus and then begins to drown and in verse 30 he said to Jesus, "Lord, save me."  Now, was this Peter's salvation?  Surely it was his salvation from the water, but it has nothing to do with him being born again.  There is another example in 1 Timothy 2:15 and it says, "Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety."  This has absolutely nothing to do with being born again, this is referring to being physically saved from death.   As mightily as preachers use 2 Corinthians 7:10, it is not addressed to lost people at all.  The church of Corinth was a saved church, but immature as babes in Christ as taught in 1 Corinthians 3.  If you will take the time to read the whole chapter, you will find that Paul is not telling the church of Corinth to repent, but rejoicing because they had already repented.  What did they repent of?  They repented of ever accepting a fornicator in church as explained in 1 Corinthians 5.  Paul was rejoicing because of this, it has nothing to do with our regenerated state but what we do with people of the world.  D. L. Moody once said that a person cannot do a godly anything until he is first saved.  This is so true.  There is no such thing as a lost person having godly sorrow because there is nothing godly about them.  In God's eyes, everything we do before salvation is ungodly no matter how much we think it is godly.  But even so, this very pet verse they use to preach their faulty view of repentance condemns them.  Notice the italicized word that I italicized in 2 Corinthians 7:10, "worketh".  Godly sorrow worketh repentance.  Even in a saved person's life, real repentance is not godly sorrow in and of itself but it will result in repentance.  The amount of tears a lost person sheds when he comes to salvation is not a requirement, but a result of understanding how sinful they really are.  Each person is different and emotions are not the same for everyone.

The simple fact is that salvation is not an emotional experience, but a personal trust in the Lord for our salvation.  John 3:36 makes this clear - you trust Jesus Christ, then you have everlasting life; if you don't, then God's wrath abides on you.  I pray that none of us will ever fall to the notion of thinking that our tears will take us to Heaven when we die.  As the song Rock of Ages goes, "Could my tears forever flow; could my zeal no respite know.  These for sin could not atone, Thou must save and Thou alone."  The Bible does not say "without the shedding of tears, there is no remission"; it says, "without the shedding of blood, there is no remission."  The blood of Christ is the only liquid that will ever save a sinner, not his amount of tears. 

2.) Repentance is not making a change for the better.

There are some preachers today who believe and teach that repentance is a change and nothing else to it.  This is false repentance.  The important thing to remember is that God does the changing and the saving, my part is to simply do the believing and the receiving.  The issue is not whether God will change us or not, the issue is that we are not the ones who do it.  A popular Southern Baptist preacher named Paul Washer teaches this damnable heresy.  He once said in a sermon entitled, "Repent and Believe", "Now what is repentance? The word means to change. Let me ask you a question … Have you changed?"  This is works salvation.  Paul Washer is implying that we have to change before we can be saved.

Let me say this, a lost person cannot change himself.  I did not say that a lost person will not be willing; I did not say that he would not try to; I said that he cannot.  Isaiah 64:6 says, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."  Notice the words, "we are all as an unclean thing" and "all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags".  Our self-righteousness is sin in God's eyes but in man's eyes, it is good.  Regardless of what man thinks or says, let God be true and every man a liar.  Notice what Isaiah says our righteousness is as - filthy rags.  Let me ask you, reader, would you use a filthy rag to make your dirty dishes get clean?  No, that is preposterous.  Using a dirty rag on dirty dishes will only make the dishes more dirty.  Would you use a dirty rag on a dirty car? No.  This is the same way with our life.  Jeremiah 2:22 says, "For though thou wash thee with nitre, and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord GOD." This is God speaking here.  God says that religious soap will not wash us clean.  Only the blood of Christ has the power to make us white as snow.  Revelation 1:5 says, "...Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,"  Only the blood can cleanse every spot.  What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.  It is true and if repentance was a change on our part, then that would mean Jesus' blood is not enough or it is insufficient to save us from our sins.  Our trust in the Lord would be in vain.  The Bible says that if righteousness came by law, then Christ died in vain, or for nothing (Gal. 2:21).  The simple fact is that a lost person cannot change himself, God must do the changing.  Paul Washer and others must come to the truth that God does the real changing.  Whether it is evident in a believer's life or not is a different story.  Regardless, God does the changing not man because man, who is tainted by sinfulness, cannot change himself into the man who God wants to see.

Another thing to consider is what Jesus said in Matthew 9:12, "But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick."  He said this in response to Pharisees who were wondering why Jesus was with sinners.  Jesus said, "They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick."  The very idea that repentance is a change is like a hospital saying, "We only accept healthy people."  Healthy people don't need to go to the hospital, sick people do.  I'll tell you this, sick people need the Lord - they have the illness of sin.  They don't have the cure for that, but the Great Physician does.  Repentance is not a change of conduct at all.  A sinner does not change his clothes and make himself look clean before he meets the Lord, he comes as he is and leaves a totally different person because it is God that does the changing, not man himself.

The truth is, salvation is not of works.  It is not about us changing for the better.  This New Year's we will all make a resolution to make that half of the people in the world do not keep for a day, let alone a year.  Our resolutions for the better cannot save us.  Do you think anyone will be in Heaven that says they got there because they trusted in changing themselves?  No, only those whom God has changed from being unsaved to saved - from being dead to alive in Christ.  We do not do the changing, God does.

There are many other faulty views of repentance, but these are the most common ones being taught in churches across America.  It is sad, but it is the truth.  Some people are not going to like that I put this article up because it may upset some people, but the Word of God does that.  I have no intentions of hating anyone, but only the false doctrine they teach which comes from the devil himself.  Let us come to conclusion that there is only one type of repentance that is genuine, that is real, and that is not fake like the burgers you eat a MacDonald's.

True Repentance

Now that we know and are aware of faulty repentance that are in the world, we must come to conclusion that there is only ONE type of repentance in the Bible just as there is only ONE gospel that saves.  Galatians 1:9 gives us warning not to preach anything other than this gospel, "As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."  The words "let him be accursed" means just how they sound and that means, "let him go to hell."  I did not say this, Paul wrote this and God inspired it.  Therefore, we would be wise to take heed to what this verse is telling us.  We have to be right on the gospel, and if we are to do that, we must be right on the doctrine of repentance.

So, what is repentance?  We know of it's importance, we know what is not; but what is it?  Real repentance is a change of mind that will lead to a change of action.  Of course, I do not believe this change of action has anything to do with what saves us but it will take place after you repent.  If you want, you can take the word "repent" and put "change your mind" in place of it because it means the exact same thing in the Word of God.  Here is an example of Matthew 21:28-29 which is what we looked at earlier:

"But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went."

We could say it like this, "He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he changed his mind, and went."  The true meaning of repentance fits perfect here.  It would not make sense to put "but afterward he turned from his sin, and went" or "but afterward he was sorry, and went."  There is no sign of that and it makes more sense with the "change of mind" because it is the real definition.  Another one is Mark 1:15:

"And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."

Jesus is speaking here and telling people how they can be saved.  It would make the same sense to say, "change your mind, and believe the gospel."  It would not make sense any other way.  Another example is Acts 20:21:

"Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."

Paul's main ministry was getting people to change their minds toward God and put faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ - the same thing Jesus taught in Mark 1:15.

You can do this with any passage in the New Testament.  Words do not mean today the same thing they meant 400 years ago, let alone 5000-6000 years ago when God started to write the Bible.  But, the Word of God doesn't need to fit our culture, our culture needs to get in line with the Word of God.  Another thing to note is that...

God Repents

As hard as it sounds, God repents the same way mankind repents.  You don't believe me?  Well, I guess that means it is Scripture time.  Here is a list of a few of the verses in the Old Testament on God repenting of something of some sort...

Genesis 6:6, "And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart."

Exodus 32:14, "And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people."

Judges 2:18, "And when the LORD raised them up judges, then the LORD was with the judge, and delivered them out of the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge: for it repented the LORD because of their groanings by reason of them that oppressed them and vexed them."

1 Samuel 15:35, "And Samuel came no more to see Saul until the day of his death: nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul: and the LORD repented that he had made Saul king over Israel."

1 Samuel 24:16, "And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite."

1 Chronicles 21:15, "And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the LORD beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite."

Psalm 106:45, "And he remembered for them his covenant, and repented according to the multitude of his mercies."

Jeremiah 26:19, "Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? did he not fear the LORD, and besought the LORD, and the LORD repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls."

Amos 7:3, "The LORD repented for this: It shall not be, saith the LORD."

Amos 7:6, "The LORD repented for this: This also shall not be, saith the Lord GOD."

Jonah 3:10, "And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not."

Zechariah 8:14, "For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not:"

From the verses above given, we can see clearly that repentance cannot be sorrow over sins because God has none to be sorry for, nor can it be turning from sins since He has none to turn from. What God had did in these verses is either change his mind or not change his mind in a situation.  God can change His mind.  Many say, "Well, this is God - He can do whatever He wants." Sure, but God gave us the same quality.  He gave us a mind to think right or to think wrong.  We can change our mind, and most assuredly, we must if we want to go to Heaven.  


Preachers often confuse repentance with other things like reformation, conversion, or penitence.  These things are good, but it is not the same thing as regeneration.  God saves us because He wants us to, not because we beg Him to.  God saves us because He knew we couldn't and wanted to provide us a way out of going to Hell.  God is a God of mercy and grace as well as justice and wrath.  The only way to be saved is to trust the Lord - plus nothing, minus nothing.  We need to come to conclusion that repentance is a change of mind that leads to a change of action.  If we do not, we might as well consider ourselves accursed by God.  I pray that this article did help you out in understanding what Biblical repentance is.  Let us not contaminate this precious truth any longer.

In Christ,
Daniel Gladu

Saturday, December 4, 2010

King Saul's Salvation

This article will allow you to know whether King Saul was saved or not, or if he was saved and later lost his salvation.  Many people go back and look at King Saul's hideous, wicked life and automatically think he was lost.  This is what we would all think of Lot if it weren't for the New Testament.  But, Lot was saved but lived poorly for the Lord.  Throughout this note, you will find that King Saul's story is a little similar to Lot's.  I hope that you do take the time to read this thoroughly.  Before you read the next paragraph, I know that not everyone that reads this is going to agree with me here.  But, the important thing is that you agree with God concerning this matter, not me.  I only wish to share with you what the Word of God has to say and for you to understand whether King Saul was really saved or not.
I bring this up because it is debated that King Saul was either never saved or that he was saved and then later on he lost his salvation. But, we must first note that all men in the Old Testament were saved the same way that we are today. Acts 10:43 says, "To him (Jesus Christ) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." Need we go any further? The verse not only says that Jesus Christ as preached by every Old Testament prophet in the Bible (To him give ALL the prophets witness...), but it also says that belief was the only requirement (...whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.) Therefore, the message and gospel of the Old Testament was salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Abraham even heard the gospel and got saved by the same gospel we get saved by today (Galatians 3:8). Thus, it is important to note that all men were saved wholly on believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. If they didn't do that, then they didn't get saved.

This all being said, 1 Samuel 10:2-6 says, "When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel's sepulchre in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son? Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Bethel, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine: And they will salute thee, and give thee two loaves of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands. After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy: And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man."

Here we learn that Saul meets a group of prophets and they preach to him. We can safely assume that they preached Jesus Christ to them since this was the main theme of all the Old Testament (Acts 10:43). After Saul heard the gospel preached to him, Saul received the gospel and was born again. Saul in verse 6 was "turned into another man." In verse 9 it says that "God gave him a new heart," which is a clear reference to new birth. So here we learn Saul got saved.

Saul's Christian life experience after his new birth is given in the same chapter in 1 Samuel 10:7-12 where Samuel is instructing Saul to follow the leading of the Lord (which are instructions to the Christian life we have today), "And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, that thou do as occasion serve thee; for God is with thee. And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do. And it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day. And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets? And one of the same place answered and said, But who is their father? Therefore it became a proverb, Is Saul also among the prophets?"

We are told in these verses that those who knew Saul before Saul was saved saw the evidence that Saul had been born again. His old friends were shocked and amazed that Saul had joined the prophets and began preaching with them, "Is Saul also among the prophets?" Clearly, his old friends had noticed a change in Saul's life and that was his salvation.

Now, I would like to say that there is a such thing as a backslider. Proverbs 14:14 says, "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways: and a good man shall be satisfied from himself." As we look at the end of Saul's life, we can tell that he was very disobedient not only to those around him but also to the Lord. Because Saul was disobedient as a child of God, God had to discipline and finally take his life. This is what happens to the Christian - he is convicted by God, and may shun that conviction. He may indulge into sin, and then God must then take his life. But first, I would like to say that no believer can lose his salvation (John 6:37, 39) but when they fail to use their life for God, then they can lose rewards (2 John 8, 1 Cor. 3:15). God can also take their life as He did with Ananias and Sapphira.

In 1 Samuel 28, Saul goes on to speak with a witch of Endor to bring Samuel back to life just to answer a question concerning Saul's future. Mediums are not able to bring people back to life, but in this case God took over and allowed that to happen. The Bible tells us that Christians ought not have anything to do with mediums (Deut. 18:10-12; Lev. 20:6). Satan's can angels can impersonate the dead and we become his prey. In 1 Samuel 28:7 Samuel rose from the dead and the witch screamed because it never happened like this before.

But, why did Saul want Samuel back? What was the whole point of having Samuel come back from the dead? It was that Saul wanted to know what was going to happen with this war with the Philistines. Samuel gives the answer in verse 19, "Moreover the LORD will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and to morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the LORD also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines." Please understand this passage - it is telling us that Saul is told that he is going to lose the battle and that he and his sons are going to be killed.

He is also told that Samuel is going to be with him. This is very important to note because Samuel the prophet was obviously saved and therefore Saul was saved because he went to be with Samuel (I Samuel 28:19). There are those who teach that because Saul was a backslider at the end of his life, Saul lost his salvation. The fact that Saul did not lose his salvation is evidenced by the fact that he went to go see Samuel (1 Samuel 28:19).

King Saul is an example of a believer who did not live for the Lord after his salvation. On the other hand, he did not lose his salvation, that's impossible. God saves us with an "everlasting salvation" as taught in Isaiah 45:17 and God promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

As Christians and children of God, we can lose our rewards and will have to stand before God at the judgment seat of Christ and the punishments put on us are going to be way worse than we can ever imagine. We should learn the lesson from Saul that we need to use our talents, gifts, or whatever we have for the Lord. Romans 12:1-2 says, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Verse 1 says that this is our reasonable service; there is nothing unreasonable about serving the Lord and being involved with His work. It is very reasonable to do so, and we must do it if we want to be good Christians in God's eyes. God shouldn't have to vomit up lukewarm Christians who are living in pleasure rather than serving God. I pray we all learn the lesson from Saul and that we use our lives for the glory of God.

James 2:24

James 2:24, "Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

Many Catholics, Pentecostals, Mormons, Jehovah's Witness, and even sometimes Baptists take this verse out of context.  They are good at adding works to the gospel.  A lot of people are and sadly, that is all they are known for.  Proper discernment of the Scripture will tell us that the people who take this verse out of context are wrong and that is the purpose of this note.
First off all, who was this epistle written to? James 2:1 says, "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons." The first verse of this chapter says, "My brethren..." Almost every time the word "brethren" is used it is referring to saved people who are brothers in Christ. This is not the only time the word is used. It is also used in verse 14 where it says, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?" Notice the two words "my brethren". It is clear that this passage of Scripture is written to brethren who are already saved.
Second, the passage must be read entirely; not in part as most Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Pentecostals, etc. do so ignorantly. By reading it in whole, you can interpret it correctly. Therefore, James 2:14-26 says, "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
Verse 14 is often misinterpreted or misunderstood. Think about the word "profit". It is used elsewhere in the Scripture by Paul. Titus 3:8 says, "This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men." Notice the phrase Paul uses, "good and profitable unto men." It is important to note that works are profitable "unto men" when reading James 2. We must understand that to know the distinction between justification before God and justification before man. But, the word "profit" is not the only thing I want to look at. Perhaps the most misunderstood phrase in this verse alone is "can faith save him?" The question we need to ask now is "can faith save who?" Who is James referring to? By just this verse alone, we will be quick and ready to say that it is referring to the one who says he has faith. But, a good rule of thumb is that in order to understand a verse properly is that it can NEVER once contradict another verse of Scripture. Galatians 2:16 says, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." Three times in Galatians 2:16 alone God says that we are justified by faith. So, can faith save a person who puts their trust in God alone? Yes, it certainly can. So what does the context of the word "him" in James 2:14 refer to? It is obvious that it is referring to a different person. In order to know, we must read on. Verse 15 says in the beginning, "If a brother or sister..." This who "him" is. Verses 15-17 say, "If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." Notice in verse 16 the words again, "what doth it profit?" What good does it do to know that a person is naked and is hungry and then tell them "God bless you: I hope and pray someone can give you clothes and food." This is an example of faith without works. And James says in verse 17 that faith without works is dead, being alone and that is to say, it is useless to the person in need. So, what James is saying is that you can have all the faith you want, but it avails to nothing to any other person; it's only good for one person, that's you. But, works are good for six billion people in this world, they are profitable unto men. This is where we see James 2:18 come to play.
James 2:18 is another often misunderstood, taken-out-of-context verse. James 2:18 says, "Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works." Notice again, that this is someone telling you something. It could be true, they do have faith but you won't know until you see it in action. James says, "You say to me that you have faith, but I have works." Then he says, "Show me how great your faith is without your works, and I will show you how much greater my faith is with my works." Faith is useless to others because you can't see someone's faith. Works are useful because you can see how faithful they really are. You are not going to know how faithful a person really is until his faith is active with works.
James 2:19 is another verse that is often used by Catholics who teach that belief is not enough to saved. Historical belief is not enough, but dynamic belief really is. The devils believe there is a God, know that there is a God and that is why they tremble at the fact there is a God. Passive faith is "I believe Jesus died." Dynamic faith is, "I believe Jesus died for me." Real faith produces works. If you know Jesus died for you and it was such a great sacrifice He did just for you, you are going to want to thank Him for that and that's going to happen by works not because you want to go to Heaven, but because you are going to Heaven.
James 2:20 says faith without works is dead. Dead means useless. A dead person can't do anything for he is dead. But, faith with works shows that a person is spiritually alive and well thankful for what was done for him on the cross. The verse doesn't say faith without works will make you go to Hell, it says that it is dead, it is useless.
James 2:21-24 uses the example of Abraham. James and Paul used Abraham as an example in justification. Paul used him in Romans 4. Romans 4:1-3 says, "What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness." Genesis 15:6 is where Paul gets this from. It says that Abraham believed the Lord, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. James uses the example here to prove that Abraham was ALSO justified by works not by faith only. He uses the example of Abraham offering up Isaac. Abraham had been saved at Genesis 15:6. He did not have Isaac until Genesis 21. Isaac was not offered up as a sacrifice until Genesis 22. Obviously, there is at least ten years before this event occurred - thus, it stands to reason these are TWO SEPARATE EVENTS. Abraham was saved 14 years before he was circumcised. This further proves belief on the Lord is the only thing that it takes to be justified before GOD and God knows who truly has and who truly has not. But, I would like you to notice Romans 4:2, "For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God." Notice the words, "he hath whereof to glory; BUT NOT BEFORE GOD." James 2 says Abraham WAS justified by works, but again, this is NOT BEFORE GOD. Notice the word in James 2:22, "seest". It is clear from Scripture interpreting Scripture that Abraham's justification in Romans 4 is different from Abraham's justification in James 2. Romans 4 speaks of justification before GOD ALONE and that is ONLY by grounds of FAITH WITHOUT WORKS (Romans 4:5). James 2 speaks of justification before MAN ALONE and that is ONLY by grounds of FAITH PRODUCING WORKS (James 2:14-18). Abraham's justification before God and justification before men were different things, which is the same case with us (James 2:24).
James 2:25 uses the example of Rahab the Harlot. She was saved, but again, WE would not have known that without her works being evident. God knew she was saved before, but we wouldn't have without her works being able to be seen.
James 2:26 closes in on the analogy that as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. Some believers have a life just like the Dead Sea; they take in everything but produce NOTHING. It is evident that these "believers" may never be saved to begin with. But, again, that is what WE SAY, not what God says and God ALWAYS has the final word.
In conclusion, I'd like to say that passages must be read THOROUGHLY and in CONTEXT. James 2:24 alone would say that we are saved by works and faith but OTHER SCRIPTURES STATE OTHERWISE and so it is not possible that our interpretation of that is right. If we read fully what James had said, we would agree that he was speaking on the basis of man's justification before mankind, not the justification before God.