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David Berg's teaching on salvation, obedience and the bad fruits of disobedience

Excerpts from ML#1045, "Backsliders Beware!" June, 1981

WHEN I WAS A LITTLE BOY A CASHIER GAVE ME FIVE CENTS TOO MUCH CHANGE, and when I got out of the store and down the street and discovered she'd given me this five cent piece more than she should have, called a nickel in the U.S.A., I immediately rushed back to the store and gave it back to her!

SHE WAS SO SURPRISED THAT I, A LITTLE BOY, WOULD RETURN THAT NICKEL and BE SO HONEST, she was just amazed and she almost gave it to me! She said, "Why would you bring it back? It was only a nickel, and after all, I would have never missed it!" I said, "You wouldn't want me to lose my soul for a nickel, would you?" She was rather astonished at that statement and I went self-righteously along on my way!

OF COURSE, SINCE THEN I LEARNED THAT I WOULDN'T LOSE MY SOUL FOR BEING A LITTLE DISHONEST, but I could certainly lose my blessings or some of my rewards and not be blessed by the Lord, in fat, even punished by the Lord, judged by the Lord and chastised by the Lord for any kind of misconduct or misdeed or any breaking of His Law of Love, dishonesty, such as shoplifting, etc.

I HAVE A VERY HEALTHY FEAR OF THE LORD AS A GOOD FAITHFUL FIRM FATHER, that if I do anything I shouldn't, He is going to rebuke me and reprove me and try to get me to repent! And if I won't, that He will definitely chastise and chasten and spank me for my sins and for my disobediences and for my lack of love, or even a tiny little thing like not returning five cents over-change.

There was a time in my early years when I thought if I committed such a sin as even not returning a nickel that I might go to Hell for it!--Lose my soul for a nickel!

WELL, I KNOW BETTER THEN THAT NOW, I KNOW GOD'S SALVATION IS ETERNAL and even in spite of our sins and shortcomings and misdeeds and crimes, whatever they may be, that the blood of Jesus Christ covers all our sins, both past, present and future, and He can even forgive the worst of all sins. Well, almost the worst of all sins, except the worst of all which is not to believe in Him, and that is a sin He cannot forgive, He says, "neither in this World nor in the World to come." (Mt.12:31,32.)

SO OBVIOUSLY THERE ARE GOING TO BE SOME SINS WHICH ARE GOING TO BE FORGIVEN IN THIS WORLD BY THE LORD, and there are going to be other sins which are going to be forgiven in the World to come, which we've tried to explain to you before. That even though not everybody will be saved here and now, eventually the Lord is going to teach all of them to know Him and to believe in Him and receive Him.

BY HIS GOODNESS and HIS MERCY and HIS LOVE THEY'RE GOING TO BE TAUGHT TO BELIEVE IN HIM and love Him and obey Him in the World to come. They will not have access to the Holy City, New Jerusalem, Space City come down from God to man, only the saved will walk therein, but they will be able to live out on the Earth beyond, a New Earth, beautiful like the Garden of Eden, free of the Curse, and there learn how much God loves them and how thankful they should be that they are not actually in the fires of Hell!

SOME SHALL BE PUNISHED WITH VERY SEVERE HARSH PUNISHMENT, as we've said before, punishment like the fires of Hell itself! Exactly what that means literally we do not know, but it sounds pretty literal in Luke 16, the story about the rich man Dives being in torment in the flames! There may be some who are going to be wicked enough who really deserve that kind of Hell, although I do not believe that even that kind of Hell is going to be eternal or everlasting. The actual word there, as I've explained to you before, means "age-lasting."

EVEN TO SPEND ANY TIME IN SUCH A HELL WOULD BE A HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE, but that's apparently what some people will need to teach them to be good and to obey God and to be repentant for their sins and do pay, in a sense, some of the penalty for their own sins since they refused the payment of Jesus Christ's blood on Calvary. Some will be beaten with many stripes and some with few stripes, the Bible says, and we've gone over this with you before. (Lk.12:47,48.)

BUT EVEN THOUGH SAVED, IF YOU DO THINGS THAT ARE WRONG, GOD IS DOING TO PUNISH YOU FOR IT if you don't repent and make it right. He's going to chasten and chastise you and spank you, and if you persist in your sins He's going to beat you with many stripes to try to persuade you to repent and have a metanoia, a turn around, and go the right way.

AND OF COURSE IF YOU PERSIST IN SUCH SINS EVEN THOUGH SAVED, if you persist in such sins even to your death, the Lord is going to see that you get your punishment here andnow, Hell here, and even here-after you're going to receive some retribution for those sins and misdeeds, unbelief, disobedience, rebelliousness, hurting others, causing others to stumble, leading others astray, whatever your sin may be--judgement here and now!

UNDER THE OLD TESTAMENT LAW, IF SOMEONE STOLE SOMETHING OR INJURED SOMEONE ELSE'S CATTLE OR SOMETHING, they had to pay it back four-fold, four times as much; that was their fine, their penalty. In the Old Testament there was no jailing or imprisonment penalty. Apparently the Lord does not think that jail or prisons are very effective or do very much good, and probably do more harm than good.

UNDER THE OLD TESTAMENT LAW OF STRICT JUSTICE, either you righted the wrong if you could--and you more than righted it like paying back four times as much as you stole--or if you got caught in fornication with an unmarried woman you were compelled to either marry her or pay her off. At least they didn't put you in prison for life for rape, you either had to pay a heavy fine to her father and her, or you had to agree to marry her.

OF COURSE THE PENALTY FOR ADULTERY IN THOSE DAYS OF VERY STRICT LEGALISM WAS EXTREMELY HARSH and SEVERE, even as much as stoning to death! And the more serious crimes, of which they had about 26 in the Old Testament which were subject to capital punishment of stoning or being killed in some fashion, was a pretty tough law.

BUT THE LAW OF LOVE IS EVEN STRICTER! There are some things which were allowed by Moses' Law which are not allowed by the Law of Love given by Jesus! We are to love the Lord and love our neighbours as ourselves, and even this was not enforced under the Mosaic Law. But it was indicated that this was God's ideal through the laws which He gave, the Ten Commandments, etc., that you were not to hurt your neighbour or do anything to harm him or steal from him his cattle or his wife or whatever.

SO THE LAW OF LOVE IN MANY WAYS IS EVEN MORE STRICT, we are to be even more kind and more forgiving. In the Mosaic Law there was virtually no forgiving and it was "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth!" But Jesus said, and this is all in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, 6 and 7, "Ye say that so-and-so, well what did the Law say?"--And He would then tell them how His Law of Love was even stricter.

HE SAID, "YOU SAY AN EYE FOR AN EYE and A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH, but we should forgive our brother even if he offends us 70 times 7! If he still comes and is sorry and asks for forgiveness we're to forgive." (Mt.5:38,39; 18:22.) That's the Law of Love, which is even therefore more strict than the strict Law of Moses. It's a more loving law and a much fairer law and way of enforcement.

BUT THE POINT IS, THAT EVEN THOUGH YOU'RE SAVED, YOU DEFINITELY WILL BE PUNISHED FOR YOUR SINS committed after your salvation if you do not repent of them and make them right. This is very clear in some very stern and severe passages in the Scripture which it might be well to turn to for a moment, and which, by the way, many of the Holiness people use to try to prove that if you commit the slightest little sin, even though saved, that you're immediately lost again!

WELL, I WANT TO SHOW YOU THAT THESE VERY SAME SCRIPTURES THAT THEY USE do not necessarily say that, and this is a very important subject that apparently the Lord led me to get into for your benefit.

IN THE FAMOUS BEAUTIFUL 15th CHAPTER OF JOHN ON THE VINE and THE BRANCHES, it says in the sixth verse, "If a man abide not in Me."--Obviously he has been in the Vine, he has been in Christ, he has been saved, but he abides not in the Vine, he leaves the close fellowship of Christ and the Vine.

"HE IS CAST FORTH AS A BRANCH and IS WITHERED"--meaning he doesn't bear fruit, therefore he's pruned and cut off because he is a withered and unfruitful branch without life, without sufficient spirit to bear fruit because he's separated from the Vine, from the Lord.

"AND MEN GATHER THEM and CAST THEM INTO THE FIRE and THEY ARE BURNED." Well, of course he is showing here that in the case of actual grapevines, if there is such a vine that does not bear fruit because it's withered and doesn't have the sap of the Spirit, men cut them off, prune them off, and they are cast into the fire and burned in the vineyards.

WELL, THE HOLINESS PEOPLE HAVE FOR YEARS USED THAT SCRIPTURE to try to prove that, "You see, you can be in Christ and yet lost." Well, I'm sorry, there are too many Scriptures to the contrary which we don't have time to go into now, but you'll find others of our lessons and writings and Letters in which we proved to you that once saved, you are always saved, because God cannot lie or go back on His Word or on Himself as long as you believe.

ONCE YOU HAVE RECEIVED CHRIST YOU CANNOT ACTUALLY LOSE HIM, He is not going to cast you out, "He that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out." (Jn.6:37.) He that hath the Saviour, if you have Jesus, if you have the Lord, then you have life and you cannot lose your eternal life; you can lose your physical life but not your eternal life. We have written on this subject in many other Letters and we don't have time to go into it now, on the subject of Eternal Salvation, but you can find this elsewhere.

BUT THAT SCRIPTURE WE GAVE A MOMENT AGO, "THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST CLEANSES US FROM ALL SIN" (1Jn.1:7), that means both past, present and future. And sins you even commit after salvation, after receiving Christ and becoming one of His children and a member of His family, are forgiven and covered by the blood of Christ!

--EVEN THOUGH YOU MAY DIE IN YOUR SIN and YOUR DISOBEDIENCE and YOUR REBELLIOUSNESS and willfulness against the Lord as I once did in the story that I told you about Dr. Koger! Even as I died in rebellion and saying no to God, disobedient and refusing to do what He told me to do and I suddenly woke up dead, I was allowed to repent and go back and obey God again. (See No.679.)

NEVERTHELESS I WAS BEING TAKEN TO HEAVEN BY DR. KOGER, a very dear saint of God who was coming to get me, obviously to take me into the presence of the Lord or His judgement angel or whatever. And I was so thankful to see Dr. Koger, I knew I was at least going the right direction, that I was still saved even though I had defied the Lord, disobeyed Him, rebelled against His will, refused to do what he told me to do, and therefore He took my life!

HE SAYS IN THE COMMUNION SERVICE, FOR THIS CAUSE, BECAUSE SOME HAVE NOT REPENTED OF THEIR SINS and not made things right with the Lord, many are sick among you and many sleep. (1Co.11:30.) Many Christians have died even because of sin, unrighted sins, unrepented sins.

SO THAT THE PUNISHMENT OF GOD IN SOME CASES HAS NOT ONLY BEEN SICKNESS and trial and tribulation and chastening, chastisement, spankings, but if you flatly refuse to repent and make things right, you become such a poor testimony and such a bad influence on others that God sometimes may take your life!

I'VE KNOWN THAT TO HAPPEN IN MANY CASES OF CHRISTIANS WHOM I KNEW WERE SAVED, loved the Lord, but backslid and got into a state of terrible rebellion against the Lord and terrible disobedience so that they were a very bad influence on others, led others astray, led others to backslide and led others out of the Lord's work, were a bad influence.

UNTIL FINALLY THE LORD, AFTER MANY REBUKES, "He that being often reproved yet hardeneth his neck"--in other words, continues to rebel against the will of God--"shall suddenly be destroyed and that without remedy!" (Pr.29:1.)

SO THE POINT IS, ALTHOUGH SAVED, WE CAN STILL COMMIT SINS, which, if we were not saved, along with our unbelief and our lack of salvation would doom us to a sad hereafter of punishment and Hell and purgatory to whatever was necessary to try to bring us to repentance and final reconciliation with the Lord, as I believe and I'm sure from the scriptures, is going to occur in the hereafter even with those who are not now saved.

AND OF COURSE HOW MUCH MORE SO WITH THOSE WHO ARE SAVED who are going to have to face Christ and His Judgement Seat and receive either their rewards for being good or some of the punishments or shame and contempt for having been naughty or bad or rebellious or disobedient and have committed sins against the Lord and not repented of them and not been forgiven. Some of these things we're going to have to make right in the next World if we don't make them right in this. We're going to have to confess and repent of some of our sins there. (1Tim.5:24.)

IF GOD HAS TO FINALLY TAKE US IN AN UNREPENTANT STATE and UNFORGIVEN HERE because of our refusal to repent and refusal to change, refusal to change our minds and our direction of life, have a metanoia, a change of mind, a genuine repentance, the Lord then is going to have to require it of us undoubtedly in the future World, and He may even take our life from us if we persist in our rebellion and our unrepentant state, unforgiven, and still defiant and disobedient and a bad influence on others.

HE MAY HAVE TO TAKE OUR LIVES TO PREVENT OUR DOING ANY MORE DAMAGE, and I've known this to happen in many cases of Christians who have died before their time. Their life has been taken because they did not follow the Lord as they should have and they became a bad witness and a dandy bad example instead of a good example.

IF YOU REFUSE THE EASY WAY OF OBEDIENCE, "the way of the transgressor is hard" and you will certainly learn the hard way! (Pr.13:15.) But if you even refuse to learn by experience and by the hard way and by your transgressions, the Lord may have to take your life, take you completely out of this life so you will no longer be a bad testimony and a bad influence on others and drag others down and lead others astray.

SO WATCH OUT, DEAR BACKSLIDER, YOU HAD BETTER REPENT and COME BACK TO THE LORD and DO IT QUICK! You had better confess your sins and your backslidings and return to the Lord!--He says that if you do, "I will abundantly pardon." He pleads in Isaiah with the wicked to repent of his wicked ways and turn from his wrongdoings. If he will return and turn unto the Lord, the Lord will abundantly pardon, He says. (Is.55:7.)

IT'S A SERIOUS THING TO GO BACK ON THE LORD. Jesus says that, "No man having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the Kingdom!" (Lk.9:62.) In other words, you're not worthy of His service, you're not worthy to be an example to others, you're not worthy to follow the Lord.

AND I'LL TELL YOU, THERE'S NO FIRE AS HOT AS SOME OF THE FIRES OF AFFLICTION and the fires of chastisement and the fires of suffering and the spankings that God can give to try to cause you to repent and to come back to Him! And He says definitely if you do come back to Him, "whosoever cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out." (Jn.6:37.) That if you repent of your wicked ways and come back to the Lord, turn to the Lord, that He will abundantly pardon! (Isa.55:7.) PTL!

WE BELIEVE THAT ACCORDING TO THESE SCRIPTURES, IF YOU ARE A CHRISTIAN YOU WILL BE SAVED, you have eternal salvation--once saved, always saved. But if you commit sins against the Lord and others which are unconfessed, unrepented, not made right in this life, that you will suffer for them in some way or be rewarded accordingly in some way, negatively, in this life or the Next--or both!

YOU WILL CERTAINLY BE PUNISHED FOR IT IN THIS LIFE, in fact, your punishment may even be physical death, your present life being terminated because of your dandy bad example and bad influence on others, to stop you from doing any more damage. If punishment and spankings and chastisement do not bring you to confess and repent and turn around, metanoia, go the other way, go His way and try to make things right, He may have to take your life!

AND IF SO, IF YOU THEREFORE DIE IN YOUR SINS, even though you have faith in Christ and you have a measure of the Holy Spirit, at least enough for salvation, and yet you have disobeyed the Lord and you have displeased Him and you have defied Him, you have refused to obey Him and backslidden, if it becomes serious enough that you do not repent, He may have to terminate this life of yours on Earth and take you some place else to learn your lessons and to teach you what's right and that you must obey the Lord.

OUR WHOLE EXPERIENCE OF OUR WHOLE EXISTENCE BOTH IN THIS LIFE and THE HEREAFTER IS LIKE A SCHOOLING to teach us what we need to know about the Lord and salvation and about His service and obedience to Him and keeping His Law of love, and its blessings, as well as its curses in disobeying it and breaking it and hurting others or ourselves.


Copyright © 1998 by The Family International

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James Arendt
James Arendt

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