Summary: You cannot lose your salvation, but can you walk away from it?
OPEN: While visiting the Oregon Caves National Monument, a couple had hoped to get some rock samples -until they heard the following introduction by a cave tour guide: "I hope you enjoy our trek through the caves. I must ask you not to destroy or take any of the rock formations. Actu-ally, we have had very little trouble with this. I don’t know if it’s because of our visitor’s great love for nature, their desire for the preservation of the caves, or their respect for the $500 fine."
On a sight-seeing trip on Florida’s west coast, another couple were visiting an old mansion. In the exquisitely furnished master bedroom, we were surprised to see signs on the bedspread and curtains reading: "WASH HANDS IMMEDIATELY AFTER TOUCHING."
Afterwards the wife noted: “ We admired the furnishings from a safe distance, but our curiosity was aroused, so, on leaving, I decided to ask the guard if the fabric had been treated with some harmful preserving chemical.”
The guide just grinned: "Oh, no, ma’am,” he said. "There’s nothing on ’em. We just never did have much luck with the ’Do not touch’ signs."
APPLY: Fear – it’s a powerful motivator. It’s often mentioned in Scripture. By my count, the phrase "fear God" (or some variation thereof) is commanded or commended at least 47 times.
“Oh…” someone might say, “that’s just in the Old Testament.”
Well, no. Peter writes that Christians should: "Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, FEAR GOD, honor the king." 1 Peter 2:17
Another might say “when the Bible uses the word ‘fear’ that means ‘respect.’”
Well, no. The word in I Peter for example is “phobeo” a word from which we get our term "phobia." It means to be "terrified."
Phobeo is found again here in Romans 11:20 “…Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.”
Afraid?… Afraid of what?
I. At the church at Rome there was a small problem.
The congregation there was made up of Jewish & Gentile believers and a certain tension existed between the two groups.
The Jewish believers at Rome apparently looked down their noses at the Gentiles, because the Gentiles were poor cousins. Johnny come latelys.
These non-Jews had not been part of God’s 1st covenant with Israel, and hadn’t taken part in the blessing and promises of the Old Testament.
Besides, for generations, there had been dislike and hatred of these outsiders. Gentiles were called "dogs" and contact with these undesirables was avoided whenever possible.
If a Jew were to buy goods from a Gentile, the purchased item was often taken home and washed to clean away the pagan filth before being used.
Jews grew up hating Gentiles, and it was a hard habit to break.
Paul spends the first 4 or 5 chapters of the book of Romans addressing this prejudice on their part.
For their part, the Gentiles apparently weren’t taking all of this sitting down. They seemed to have responded to Jewish prejudice by pointing out:
“Oh yeah??? …if you Jews were so smart why did they reject Jesus to begin with. How could you possibly maintain that God loves you more than us if you crucified his only Son?"