Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
We’re going through Dave Hunt’s book In Defense of the Faith—we’re just about finished, Dave—chapter 12. This is a book that contains many questions that Dave has received in his many years of ministry, and some of them are very difficult questions, some are—well, Dave, some are foolish, but there are a lot of foolish questions out there. I’ve been known to throw in a few myself, probably on this program, okay? (chuckling) But nevertheless, as we wrestle through these questions, first of all, they are addressed at the Word of God, and if the Scriptures are indeed God’s Word, then there is nothing it can’t handle.
Dave: And, Tom, you know, God is so gracious—I mean He is infinite, He is beyond us, and He’s so patient with us. We have peanut brains, maybe even less than that—understand so little, and yet the Lord is gracious and kind.
Tom: And, in His wisdom, although we do have peanut brains, He says, “Come, let us reason together.” So God has laid out His word in a way which we can reason through. Certainly, by His Spirit, those who know the Lord—that’s important as well in terms of the depth of understanding…
Dave: And, Tom, when you take just that verse you quoted, “Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord”—I can never get over that verse. What condescension that God would stoop down to reason with us—try to help us understand! But also it shows that He has given us the capacity to reason with Him. Man is created in God’s image, and we are made in the moral and spiritual image of God, and we have the capacity to understand and sometimes people say, “Well, come on now, you can’t judge God by your standards.” It’s not our standards. He has written His standards in our conscience, His law in our hearts, and that is why He can reason with us, and we can likewise reason and say, “I don’t think that’s the God of the Bible.”
Tom: Yeah, and, as I mentioned, we run the whole gamut of foolish questions to some that are—whoa! That’s something we really need to take some time and study God’s Word, wrestle through some things, and so on. But however you go about it, whatever kind of questions you have, our encouragement to you, our listeners, is to search the Scriptures, get into God’s Word. And we’ve said over and over again, and I think it’s worthwhile to repeat: if we have God’s Word, it’s got to be God’s Word. And if it’s not, then we are left to the opinions of men and then Que sera, sera, Dave—let’s just party. It’s futile.
Dave: And the scripture says, “The entrance of thy word giveth light.” So, we open our hearts to God’s Word, we have light along the way; “Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path.” Okay, so what’s our question this morning, Tom?
Tom: This one, Dave—it borders on a lack of understanding from Scripture, but then I’m going to read some scriptures afterwards that I would like to wrestle with. It’s for you, for me, I’d like to go through it. Well, let’s begin: “Jesus warned that many who thought they…”
Dave: This is the question now?
Tom: Right. “Jesus warned that many who thought they were God’s children would be ‘cast into outer darkness’ (Matthew:8:12; 22:13; 25:30). It says that ‘the lord of that [evil] servant...shall cut him asunder and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Are these ‘servants’ carnal Christians who must be in an outer courtyard of heaven for a time while the more spiritual Christians go directly into God’s presence? How can I have assurance of being taken immediately upon death into God’s presence?”
Dave, why don’t you address some of those things, and then later I want to quote Luke:12:43-48.
Dave: Well, first of all, there is no outer court, there is no purgatory, or anything like that; you are either saved or lost. And there is no “partial rapture.” When Christ comes and takes His own to heaven, everybody who is a Christian goes. Whether you are a carnal Christian—we don’t encourage that—whether you might be in disobedience to the Lord at that moment, but if you are saved, if your faith is in Christ and His death upon the cross, His blood poured out for your sins, His payment in full of the infinite penalty that His own infinite justice required, you are saved.
And I think recently we went over 1 Corinthians, chapter 3, that talks about “our works are tried, but he himself shall be saved, even if all of his works are burned up,” if he has his faith in Christ. So, how can I be assured that I will go to heaven and not to some intermediate state? Well, you believe the gospel, you are saved. There is no intermediate state, so it’s either heaven or hell. Now, these servants—I didn’t hear Matthew 7—is Matthew 7 listed there as well?
Dave: But it could be, because…
Tom: It has a piece of information that people ought to know about.
Dave: Right, because Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day…” (this is verses 22 through 23). “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name? in your name we cast out devils? in your name we did mighty works? And Jesus says I will say, Depart from me; I never knew you, depart from me, you workers of iniquity.” So what about these people as well? I mean, they seem to be Christian leaders. They were serving the Lord.
Tom: And they have their works to show for it.
Dave: So, did they lose their salvation? I think we’ve been over that as well. You don’t lose your salvation. Jesus didn’t say, “You were doing well until you lost your salvation, until you fell from grace.” That’s interesting! Jesus doesn’t say that to anybody apparently. He says, “I never knew you,” indicating they never were Christians, although people thought they were. They may have been on television or radio.
Tom: Dave, when the Lord gives parables, we know they were for the believers, but some of them are difficult. Let me read this, as I mentioned I would. Verse 43, this is Luke:12:43: “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord [lower case “L”—we’re talking about the lord of the manor, the lord of the kingdom], when he cometh, shall find so doing.” Now, these are Jesus’ words: “Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with a few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” So, what does this apply to?
Dave: So, you are going to explain this to us, Tom?
Tom: I get to ask the questions; that’s one of my favorite parts of the program.
Dave: (laughing) Yeah. Well, I think first of all if we are going to understand this, we have to understand it in the context of God’s Word. Because this is talking about—well, I think it’s talking about both the Rapture and the Second Coming. Is it verse 35? This is Luke 12?
Dave: Right. I think verse…or is it verse 40 that begins, “Let your loins be girded, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like those who watch…”—or is that 35? I can never remember the verse….
Tom: Yes, verse 35 is “Let your loins be girded about and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord.”
Dave: Wait for their lord…yeah. This is a warning that we had better watch and be ready because He could come at any moment. And also that we should be like those who are watching and waiting, and that would be addressed to Christians.
On the other hand, Israel is called His elect; Israel is called the servants of the Lord, so I think you have a double application here. You have the persons to whom the Lord gave talents, and they were to do something with them. I think every human being—a little play on words, but we have a talent from the Lord—we have talents; those were measures of money, but we have gifts and abilities that we are to use for God. Every person has been created in the image of God; every person has the responsibility to glorify God, but they don’t. Now of course, the only way we can really do that is to first of all open our hearts to Christ, acknowledge that we’re sinners, and that He has paid the penalty for our sins. So, in a sense every human being is accountable to God for the life and existence and being that God has given them. But there is a special responsibility and a special joy for those who know the Lord and who are earning rewards by what they do. Now it says, “…going to be beaten with many stripes or beaten with few stripes…”
Tom: That’s what makes it tough, Dave.
Dave: So, specifically, that would apply to unbelievers. Never does it say that we’re going to be beaten. He disciplines us, but he doesn’t beat us. I mean, there may be things in our lives that would catch up short and cause us to realize that we are out of the Lord’s will. So I think that is speaking of the measures of punishment in the lake of fire. “Each one will be punished according to his works,” it says.
Tom: So this is a parable, but it’s also an analogy. We can’t take it too literally, but we can get a sense of what it’s talking about. And then, Dave, I think the thing that has helped me here, which you just said, this is a reference to Israel. Israel was given the Scriptures. They were privileged in that way. Not all of Israel will be saved. Those who, after the Tribulation, those who are left, that’s when all Israel will be saved, I believe. But my point is that this does refer to Israel. Some are unbelievers, and that—it can only be the unbelievers within Israel who had the privilege of the Scriptures, and so on, and don’t turn to Christ, don’t come to Christ, that we could say this is an application for them. If you reject Christ, you’re separated from God forever.
Dave: Yeah, I think it’s talking about both. I think there’s a double application because we as Christians—first of all, it tells us that Christ could return at any moment for His church. I think we can get that out of there, because this is taught elsewhere in the Bible. It warns us that “at such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man comes.” Now, that is not the Second Coming, because anybody knows when He’s coming at the Second Coming—even Antichrist knows. You get that later on, and it says, “What and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth, and shall beat his fellow servants,” and so forth. So I think it indicates that the idea of a delay in the Rapture breeds sin, a lack of accountability, you know—“I can straighten out my life later.” And we have that teaching in the church today that there—in fact that some of them don’t even believe in the Rapture. They’re amillennialists—this is it’s just going to go on and on and on, and somehow at the end it will all be wrapped up. In the meantime, the church is taking over the world, and things are improving, and so forth, which obviously isn’t true.
Tom: And Peter tells us that that’s even going to turn to mockery—they are going to mock us in the last days for expecting His coming.
Dave: “Where is the sign of his coming?” some will say. So getting back to the question, as I understand it, how can I be assured of my salvation? And if some who seemed to be servants and who seemed to be, and in fact the Lord calls them that—I mean, after all, the Lord called Judas “friend,” and He chose Judas, the scripture says, John:6:70: “And Jesus says, Have not I chosen you twelve and one of you is a devil?” So, obviously, the one who is a devil—and it goes on and it says, verse 71, “He spake of Judas Iscariot, who would betray him.” So we know that Judas was chosen. That’s interesting! And yet he was not a believer in Jesus at all. In fact, it’s amazing—Judas apparently was among the twelve when they went out, commissioned by the Lord.
Tom: Performing miracles.
Dave: That’s right, yeah. The Bible doesn’t explain that one for us.
Tom: He’s a good application of what the scriptures are telling us here.
Dave: Right, yeah, he certainly is. So what the Bible is telling us is, I mean it tells us this in m any places: “Not by works of righteousness that we have done, but by his mercy he saved us….By grace are you saved through faith, not of yourselves; it’s a gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.” And we know from 1 Corinthians 3, again, that the works could all be burned up. So what counts is I am saved by faith in Christ. “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes….For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Over and over and over the Bible makes it clear that what God requires of us first of all is faith. In fact…
Tom: It’s the only possibility.
Dave: Exactly, what else could we do?
Tom: Dave, you said over and over and over again—I’m not sure who it was, I think it was Lewis Sperry Chafer—he notes that there are over 150 verses that say specifically that it’s only by faith that you can be saved. So, once again, somebody going through the Scriptures, and you find a verse and it’s very difficult to understand, and it seems to run contrary to your understanding of “by faith,” but let’s take the weight of Scripture. It has to have been interpreted on the basis of the overwhelming teaching of Scripture. That’s the way we have to go.
Dave: Let me give you a verse that really nails it down, Romans:4:5: “Now to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifies the ungodly….” Who gets justified? Not the righteous. You will never be justified unless you are ungodly. Only ungodly people, of course, need to be justified.
Tom: And if you think you are righteous, you have to be perfectly righteous.
Dave: You’ve missed….If you think you are righteous, you are trusting in your own righteousness. So again, it says, “Now to him that worketh not, but believeth….” So we have…faith is in contrast to works, and there is no salvation by works. “To him that worketh not but believeth on him that justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
And again, you could have…we were talking about Israel, and Paul speaks of Israel in Romans, chapter 10. He says, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved. Now I bear them record, I bear them witness, that they have a zeal after God but not according to knowledge and godliness. They being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
So anyone who thinks that he can do works that are good enough, he just is ignorant of the standard of God’s perfect righteousness, and we cannot offer our righteousness to God. “All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,” the scripture says, both in the Old and New Testament. So, I think the question is pretty clear. I don’t remember who it was that asked it—I may not have even known—but to anyone listening, and to my own heart: first of all, I’ve got to be right with God so that the good works that I do are not done in order to get saved or in order to get to heaven. But the good works that I do, if I do any, are out of gratitude, out of love, to the One who paid the penalty for my sins. That’s the highest motive we could have. Anything less than that is not accepted of God.
Tom: Dave, I know we have mentioned it a number of times, but I am in awe as I think about what faith is and how God has…I don’t know any other way to say it, but that He has designed faith as the vehicle for us to receive all that He has for us. And not only is it—in a sense, it’s no respecter of persons—everyone can have faith, from a child to somebody who is brilliant, incredibly intelligent, in so many areas. But the common factor is faith. Everyone can have faith, and I can’t think of a circumstance in which we are in that we can’t cry out to God in faith. You’re going down in an airplane—there is no opportunity for the sacraments or to be baptized or anything like that! No works, no rituals, or whatever—you cry out to God in faith.
Dave: And none of those things will do you any good if you are safe on the ground either.
Dave: So, we believe, and we trust God. Why? How could we possible get this faith? Well, on the one hand, you could say the Lord grants it. We can’t draw a breath, we can’t breathe without Him. On the other hand, we have a responsibility to believe God, and the Bible says, “he that believes not God has made him a liar.” You wouldn’t want to do that.
Tom: It has to be volitional.
Dave: Right. The question I guess that people would have, “Well, is that really God? Is this really God’s Word?” And that brings up a whole other subject, which we don’t have time for. But we know this is God’s Word. We know in our conscience that God created this universe. We know that we are accountable to Him, and God expects us to go by the evidence, to trust Him, trust His Word, to obey Him—not for our salvation but out of love and gratitude for the One who paid the penalty for our sins.
Tom: And His grace is involved in this. It says “we are saved by grace, through faith.” God draws us. It’s God’s will that we all come to Him. I mean, He doesn’t want anyone to perish.
Dave: Faith wouldn’t be of any value without grace. God graciously gives us the opportunity to be saved. He graciously provided salvation in Christ, and every time it says God gives us something, it says, “in Christ Jesus; in Christ Jesus.” It is all because of what Christ did, that He paid the penalty. If He didn’t, there is no other way, and this is what God expects us to believe.
Tom: Dave, last week—we only have a few seconds here—last week, you said, “It’s a gift.” The scripture says over and over again, and if it’s a gift, it can only be received as one would receive a gift.