Are You a Believer or a Pretender? ~ blog
I knew when I decided to look into John 15 to talk about abiding in Christ and experiencing Him bearing fruit in our lives, I would have to deal with 2 verses that seem to teach that a believer can lose their salvation. Twice in the passage, we read about branches that do not bear fruit.
Verse 2 – “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away;”
Literally the word “takes away” can also be translated “lifts up.” So, the vinedresser takes a branch not bearing fruit and lifts it up so that it is getting the sunshine it needs to bear fruit. However, that does not help us when we get to verse 6.
Verse 6 – “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Yikes … the lifting up answer certainly does not apply here. These unproductive branches dry up because they are not receiving life from the vine. They bear no fruit and are worthless. So, the vinedresser removes them from the vineyard, puts them in a pile with other unproductive branches and burns them up.
Therefore, many use this passage to teach that people who are saved can lose their salvation if they are a branch that is attached to the vine but not bearing fruit. That seems fairly clear. However, if that is what Jesus is saying then He is contradicting Himself and what He taught us in John 10:27-29;
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
Other passages support this idea of one’s salvation being eternally secure by God. Read Romans 8:30, Philippians 1:6, 1 Corinthians 1:8, and 1 John 2:19 to name a few.
So, we have a real problem on our hands because the Bible seems to be teaching two different realities about Christians losing or not losing their salvation.
However, I believe the answer to this problem lies in the reality that there is a difference between those who have truly been born-again by the Spirit of God, made into new creations in Christ and have gone from being spiritually dead in sin and now being alive in Christ … and a second groups of people who are not truly saved yet seem to appear that they are.
This was true when Jesus was on the earth and it is also true today. There were people around Jesus and there are people today who had some sort of attachment to Jesus but were not truly believers.
One obvious example was Judas. He was one of the 12 apostles and chosen by Jesus. When the disciples went out to heal people and cast out demons there is no record of Judas not participating in these demonstrations of power. However, he was not saved. He was not born again. There were also a number of times people who were called His disciples stopped following Him …
“As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.” John 6:66
Jesus himself said these words in Matthew 7:21;
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”
In the epistles of the New Testament, the writers mention those who were appearing to be believers but who were not true followers of Christ. These pretenders are the ones John is writing about. They are around for a while but because they are not truly attached and abiding in the vine, do not truly have the Spirit of God in them, they do not persevere. They do not produce fruit because they are not truly connected to the vine. These are the ones who will be pruned away, gathered up, and burned.
They have not lost their salvation because they were not truly born again in the first place. They were not true believers who had truly given their life to Christ. They liked some things about Jesus but have not truly given their life to Him. Christianity for them is a convenience or is part of their culture with which they identify but they have not been born again by the Spirit and have not become a child of God by God the Father drawing them to Jesus, giving them true spiritual life and sealing them with the Holy Spirit.
This begs the question; “Well, how do I know if I am truly saved?” Perhaps I am a pretender and not truly born again because I keep falling into sexual sin and cannot seem to find freedom? Surely, a true Christian would not continue to fall into sexual sin.
Well, that is a discussion you need to have with the Apostle Paul and the second half of Romans 7. Where he lets us in on the battle that was going on inside of him. Just because you are battling with your flesh does not mean you are not a Christian. Your battling is actually proof that you are a believer because you do not want sexual sin to continue in your life.
I’ll have some conclusions about this tomorrow …