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?"
In Chapters 9, 10, and 11 of Romans, Paul focused on countering this attitude on their part. Paul said (in essence) God hadn’t rejected Israel. In fact He loved them.
It’s hard to tell how bad this finger pointing had gotten at Rome but it did merit Paul’s writing:
"Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: ’Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name.’" Romans 15:7-9
II. It’s here, in Chapter 11, that Paul sums up his rebuke of the Gentile believers in Rome.
He sets the record straight:
Yes, the Jews were cut off, because of unbelief.
AND yes, you Gentiles have been grafted in – in their place.
BUT don’t be so smug about this, you can be cut off too.
Or as Paul writes in Romans 11:19-21
“You will say then, ’Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’ Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either."
III. There are people who have problems with this apparent teaching from Romans.
They complain that it is unbiblical for a person to fear losing their salvation. They maintain that “once a person is saved they will always be saved."