The Journal of Biblical Accuracy
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The warnings of the New Testament: Introduction

In Acts 20:26-27 we find Paul speaking to the Ephesian elders. Making a summary of his ministry, he told them:

"Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God."

Paul did not shrink, did not withhold from telling the Ephesians, and the church of God in general, the whole counsel of God. One could say that one more study on the matter of salvation would really be redundant, as salvation is something very fundamental and one would expect that we would all get it right. But I do not think we do. At least this is my own experience. I was born a Greek Orthodox, went as a kid to catechism and followed the liturgies etc. However, I was already a teenager and had never heard about salvation by grace through faith. My conclusion at that time was that God is a rather harsh figure waiting for me to do something wrong so that He can punish me. Of course this is not true and I found it out a few years later, at the age of 21, when I met the true, living and loving God. Then for the first time I heard about the Bible being the Word of God and about salvation by grace through faith. This was so liberating! God was not a distant figure any more. He was a real God, as real as I saw Him in the Bible.

The main teaching I received was that once a man believes he is immediately, once and for all, saved, regardless of what he will do with his faith in his life. However, in the more than two decades since then, I had various trials and temptations which made me realize that staying in the faith is not something automatic, something that can be considered as given right from the moment that somebody believed. What I understood is that faith is a rather continuous than a one-off decision.

In these 25 years I have seen friends who were so happy in the beginning when I told them about Christ and were all for it, praising God, praying etc., only to get mad at me and God soon after, not wanting to hear anything about Him any more. Why? Because a girlfriend abandoned them or because a relative told them that all this was "heretic" etc. In time of temptation and tribulation because of God’s Word they did not hold up. I have also seen others who though they accepted Christ, were eventually carried away by their simultaneous love for the world, which choked, the seed of the Word exactly as the parable of the sower says. Thus Christ became to them someone they once heard about but the fruit or the difference He made to them nobody could really see. In addition, I came across many warnings and initially puzzling scriptures that did not appear to reconcile with the doctrine according to which a person who once is saved is always saved regardless of whether they later, for various reasons, essentially discontinue in the faith.

The present study looks at a multitude of Scriptures from the New Testament, that make clear that faith is more a race that has to be run to the end than a one-off event which upon happening it is guaranteed that will be valid forever. Staying in the faith, ending the race, is neither automatic nor it is guaranteed for all those who start the race. Some, as the examples I gave above, in the first difficulties and trials drop out. Others have a very strong love for the things of the world and they too move away. Only some of those who start the race really run it to the end. This, as we will see, is very clear from the New Testament.

WARNING! NARROW GATE, DIFFICULT PATH AHEAD!

Not many like narrow and difficult roads, but it is clear from what the Lord tells us that the road of faith is just that: a difficult way passing through a narrow gate:

Matthew 7:13-14
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

Warnings along a difficult, narrow road are very important, for we can easily move away. And moving away in our case means to a road that is easy and wide i.e. to a road that feels good to the five senses. Who has driven on a narrow path and has not paid full attention to the warnings? Who has thought while on such a path that the warnings are there to terrify him (instead of keeping him on the road) or that perhaps they are not relevant to him but refer to some other drivers? I think none of us does this. Equally speaking, there are many warnings in the New Testament and their purpose is to alert us, so that we keep on the right path, especially since the right path is also a narrow, difficult path. As we would never ignore the warnings on any difficult path, so also we must not ignore or explain away the warnings given in the Word of God concerning the difficult path of faith, for they are there for our good. Our purpose in this study is to bring out these warnings.

FOR WHOM IS THIS BOOK WRITTEN?

This book does not speak – with the exception of the first chapter - about the great realities of being born again, the great realities of having the spirit of God in you, the great realities of being a child of God by faith etc. Many of us have heard about these realities already. The problem however is that some have heard about them in a rather unbalanced way, without hearing also or taking seriously into consideration all passages on the matter and especially those dealt with in this study. Thus they have concluded that these truths and salvation in particular are based on a first moment of faith, after which we are forever saved, regardless of what happens to our faith after that moment. This is the main audience of this book, and our main purpose here is to balance out, through focusing exclusively to the warnings of the New Testament, some of the imbalances created because of the almost complete ignorance of these warnings.

 

 

Author: Anastasios Kioulachoglou