G) Ignore your Christian responsibility and face dire consequences

[Lk 9:23-26]:

(v. 23) "Then He said to them all: 'if anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

[The consequences of not doing this are devastating]:

(v. 24) "For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.

(v. 25) What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?"

[This does not refer to loss of salvation for eternal life depends only upon whether or not an individual has at one time expressed faith alone in Christ alone as Savior, (Eph 2:8-9; Jn 3:16-18; 1 Jn 5:9-13). It however does refer to the loss of the eternal value of one's life, "his very self" - whatever his life was invested in. If his activity was directed toward promoting the kingdom of God, then he has preserved the value of his life and will receive an eternal inheritance of rewards in heaven:

[I Cor 3:11-16]:

(v. 11) "For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

[Salvation comes through Jesus Christ exclusively:

[Acts 4:12]:

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

[I Cor 3:11-16 cont.]:

(v. 12) If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw,

(v. 13 ) his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.

"Fire will test the quality of each man's work." ? Notice that this is not referring to the fire of eternal damnation but a different fire - which judges the works of believers relative to receiving rewards in heaven and not the believer himself relative to eternal life. It is the unacceptable works that a believer does which are referred to as being "burned up" and not the believer himself; for the believer in the above passage truly does end up being "saved" inspite of an unfaithful life:

(v. 14) If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.

(v. 15) If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."

The unfaithful believer will be saved by the 'skin of his teeth'.

[Jn 15:1-6]:

(v. 1) "I [Jesus] am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener.

(v. 2) He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

(v. 3) You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

(v. 4) Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me.

(v. 5) I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit, apart from Me you can do nothing.

(v. 6) If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."

"every branch in Me" = This phrase refers to those believers who abide in Christ - whose lifestyle is one of obedience to Christ's commands. At first glance this phrase could refer to those who are saved as opposed to those who are not because the term 'in Christ' is also defined relative to the context of salvation in Scripture as a believer - one who is saved, (Cp I Cor 1:26-30; 2 Cor 5:17; Ro 6:3-11; 8-1). HOWEVER, this second possible interpretation of the terms 'abiding in Christ', ' in Christ', etc. , (where 'in Christ' defines those who are saved from condemnation), is ruled out because the discourse later on in Jn 15 verse 6 indicates that there are those believers who do not remain in Christ. Since Scripture clearly teaches that believers are sealed into Christ at the point of salvation, (Eph 1:13-14; 4:30), then the discourse in John 15 could not be referring to loss of salvation. So verse 2 begins with the understanding that Jesus is speaking about believers relative to their divine good work production - their fruit bearing. The 'branches' are described as being 'in Christ' - abiding in Christ. The context of this particular passage defines a person who is abiding in Christ as a believer who is in fellowship with the Lord, i.e., being obedient to Christ - producing fruit. Recall that only believers can be in a status of abiding 'in Christ' - being obedient to Christ - in the first place. Unbelievers cannot please God at any time and therefore cannot abide even for a moment in Christ, they are slaves to sin and do not have the capacity to produce fruit, (Ref. Ro 6:17-18, 8:8). They have no possibility of being in fellowship with God as darkness has nothing compatible with the Light, (I John 1:5-7). So the branches are referred to by our Lord as believers who have a choice: To produce fruit while abiding in Christ resulting in eternal rewards in heaven or to not bear fruit and then BE LIKE the fruitless branches of an actual vine that are literally cut off from the vine and burned because they were useless. I stress the phrase 'BE LIKE' the fruitless branches, (as opposed to actually being subject to the same "burned up" fate) - 'BE LIKE' in the sense that what is produced by the branches and what is produced by the unfaithful believer alike are fruitless - worthless. It is the worthless branch and the worthless works of the believer which are what are "burned up", not the believer himself, (Cp I Cor 3:11-16). Jesus describes what happens to a believer who produces no fruit: like the fruitless branch which is cut off and burned, the fruitless believer is cut off from fellowship with God. The believer's life - the value of his works - for the moment, is judged as eternally worthless with respect to rewards in heaven, having no contributory value to the Kingdom of God; and at the judgment seat of Christ, which is reserved for believers only, the worthless works of the unfaithful believer, (the "wood, hay or straw", ref I Cor 3:11-16), will be "burned up". The unfaithful believer is cut off from fellowship with God for the moment until he confesses his sin and then God puts him back in fellowship with Himself - grafted back on the vine - in position again to produce fruit as he chooses to obey and walk by faith, (ref. I Jn 1:9, Gal 5:6).

[Jn 15:1-6 cont.]:

(v. 2 cont.) "He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

"while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." = Notice that God the Father prunes - severely cuts back - the branches that do produce fruit. This is what the vinedresser actually does, he severely cuts back the productive branches so that they will produce even more fruit. Notice that if one is to demand that those who do not produce fruit are to be cut off from Christ and lose their salvation because of taking John 15:2a, (first phrase), beyond its intent; then, to be consistent and honest with the way one is interpreting this parable, one must interpret the second phrase of this verse to conclude that all fruit bearing believers are to be cut way back from Christ thus perhaps losing their salvation in order that they produce more fruit, (John 15:2b) - this does not make sense! So it is obvious that one is not to interpret the cutting off of the branches to mean that an individual is cut off from eternal life. Rather, it is to be interpreted within the context given: this parable is teaching what the Father does relative to the quality of works that a believer produces. The theme and major subject of this parable is fruit - divine good works. Our Lord is just referring to the trials, disciplining and testing that He permits and provides for believers in order for them to mature and produce fruit:

[Jas 1:12]:

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him."

[Rev 2:10 (to the church in Smyrna)]:

"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I [Jesus] tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, [by and under the sovereign permission of Almighty God] and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life."

[Heb 12:4-11]:

(v. 4) "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.

(v. 5) "And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

(v. 6) 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.' [Pr 3:11-12]

(v. 7) Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

(v. 8) "If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.

(v. 9) Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!

(v. 10) Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness.

(v. 11) No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

[Jas 1:2-4]:

(v. 2) "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds,

(v. 3) because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

(v. 4) Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

[Jn 15:1-6 cont.]:

(v. 1) "I [Jesus] am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener.

(v. 2) He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."

(v. 3) "You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you."

Our Lord is saying to His disciples, 'You are clean - [i.e., you are credited with absolute righteousness, [Ro 3:21-24] - saved by faith in Me as Messiah Savior; and so the subject of salvation is not what I am speaking about.' Just a day or so earlier, our Lord was washing the Disciples' feet in the upper room and when Peter objected to His Messiah stooping to wash his feet, Jesus answered:

[Jn 13:8b-11]:

(v. 8b) " 'Unless I wash you [Peter] you have no part with Me..................................

[Jesus is saying, 'Unless you, Peter, allow Me to wash your feet, which demonstrates your acceptance of Me as a servant to you and to all mankind, Who will die for the sins of all men, then you have no part in this ministry with me,' (even though you are a believer).

'Unless you, Peter, submit to a ministry of serving man as an ambassador of Jesus Christ, then, even though you are a believer... (vv. 8-10 below) Peter have no part in My ministry. For that is how you, Peter, are to operate: as an ambassador of the gospel of Jesus Christ, (cp II Cor 5:17-21), to serve one another - to stoop to be servants as I have stooped to serve you', (cp Jn 13:13-17; Phil 2:5-8)].

[Jn 13:8b-11]:

(v. 8b cont) 'Unless I wash you [Peter], you have no part with Me.'

(v.9) 'Then, Lord,' Simon Peter replied, 'Not my feet but my hands and my head as well!'

(v. 10) Jesus answered, 'A person who has had a bath, needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean....."

[that is to say, 'a person who has already been declared 'clean,' i.e., righteous - saved unto eternal life - by God through faith in Christ, ref Ro 3:21-24, needs only to have his daily, temporal sins washed away].

(v. 10 cont) 'A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you [Disciples] are clean,.....

['And you disciples have been declared absolutely righteous - i.e., justified unto eternal life]

.....And you [Disciples] are clean though not every one of you.'

(v. 11) For He knew who was going to betray Him, and that was why He said not everyone was clean."

[Shortly thereafter, Judas Iscariot, who never trusted in our Lord for salvation, left the gathering in the upper room and went out into the night bent on betraying our Lord, now totally possessed by Satan. (ref. Jn 13:21-30)].

So Jesus declares that all of the Disciples except Judas Iscariot, son of Simon are saved - are "clean". Then our Lord states, (v. 10), that if one has had a bath then one is already clean, i.e., righteous unto salvation and therefore "needs only to wash his feet" because "his whole body is clean." Our Lord when He said, "A person...... (who has had a bath)... needs only to wash his feet" is referring to a believer's daily sins which need to be cleansed. Recall that all of a believer's sins relative to eternal life have already been washed by accepting by faith what Jesus Christ would do on the cross: to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world, (I Jn 2:2). The sins represented by the 'dirt on the feet' must be cleansed on a moment to moment basis - not for salvation but to abide in Christ, i.e., to remain in fellowship with God.

Remember that our Lord said that a believer's - a disciple's - "whole body is clean". The believer's sins are all paid for relative to salvation so his whole body is declared clean - declared righteous. But when there are sins in a believer's life which are not dealt with before God - unconfessed - then these sins, although paid for with respect to eternal life, still have the effect of taking an eternally secure believer out of temporal (not eternal) fellowship with God. Thus the unrepentant believer grieves God the Holy Spirit, (Eph 4:17-32), and places himself under God's discipline, (Heb 13:4-15). He is in need of repentance, (a change of mind that one's life as a believer needs to be confessed as sinful before a Holy God). He needs to confess his sin, (I Jn 1:9). This sin is called temporal sin - the sin of having dirty feet.

[Jn 15:3 cont.]:

"You are already clean [saved unto eternal life] because of the word I have spoken to you."

because of the word I have spoken to you." = The Apostle Paul's words in his letter to the church in Ephesus come to mind here which we will personalize as if our Lord were speaking them to the disciples:

[Eph 1:13-14]:

"And you [disciples] also were included in [Me, (the Lord Jesus Christ)] when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you [will be] ...marked in...[Me] with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, Who is a deposit guaranteeing ...[your]...inheritance until the redemption of [all of] those who are God's possession - to the praise of His glory."

So the Disciples and for that matter all who believe in Christ as Personal Savior are cleansed of sin relative to eternal life at the point when they "heard the word of truth, the gospel of...salvation.." and then trusted in the Lord for their salvation. So what is it that cleanses one from temporal sin - as exemplified by our Lord's washing the feet of the Disciples in Jn 13:3-17? The answer lies within God's Word:

Earnest study, acceptance and obedience to God's Word is the answer. The study and acceptance of Scripture will lead to an understanding of and an obedience to God's Word. This is then to result in a moment to moment acknowledgment of one's standing before God because it constantly falls short of His righteousness. This acknowledgment is called confession of temporal sin. It provides the opportunity for continuous fellowship with the Almighty Creator God of the universe, (ref. I Jn 1:3-10). Consider a passage in Ephesians which illustrates the effect of God's Word on believers:

[Eph 5:25-27]:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church [the body of believers in Christ in this age] and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word..."

"water" = the Holy Spirit,cp Jn 3:5,Jn 7:38-39

"cleansing her by the washing with water through the word..." = So God the Holy Spirit cleanses the believer of impurity - He cleanses us of all eternal and temporal sin - through the believer's study and acceptance and obedience to God's Word. First, the person hears and accepts the gospel of salvation: he trusts alone in Christ alone unto salvation resulting in the cleansing of eternal sin. Then the believer is to continue to study, accept and obey God's Word relative to all things as the Scriptures teach him. Part of the believer's obedience to God's Word is to be continually confessing his sin resulting in the continual cleansing of temporal sin and the constant restoration of fellowship with God, I Jn 1:9). Old Testament Scripture reaffirms the doctrine of the cleansing work of God through His Word:

[Ps 119:9-16]:

(v. 9) "How can a young man keep his way pure?

By living according to your word.

(v. 10) I seek You with all my heart;

do not let me stray from Your commands.

[notice that it takes God's working in the believer's life through the Scriptures to keep the believer from straying and to keep him on a steady growth pattern toward spiritual maturity] (v. 11) I have hidden Your Word in my heart.......

[through a study, acceptance and obedience of Scripture, (vv.12-16below)]

(v. 11 cont) I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against You

[God's Word is the instrumentality which God uses to cleanse a believer]

(v. 12) Praise be to You, O Lord;

teach me Your decrees.

[Notice again, that it is God Who ultimately does the teaching]

(v. 13) With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth.

(v. 14) I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. (v. 15) I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.

(v. 16) I delight in your decrees;

I will not neglect Your Word."

So the mechanics of abiding in Christ revolve around God's Word and the gracious work, (grace = undeserved favor)... and the gracious work of the Triune God in the believer's life of enabling that believer to learn, accept and obey God's Word. One of the key passages to abiding in Christ we have already examined and that is found in I Jn 1:1-10. Not staying in fellowship with God, on the other hand, can lead to dire consequences in heaven for the Christian:

When confronted with the devastating loss of rewards in heaven, (the outer darkness as expressed in Mt 8:12 and 22:13), the unfaithful believer will weep and gnash his teeth for a season until it is time for our Lord to wipe away every tear, (Rev 7:17; 21:4):

[Mt 22:11-13]:

(v. 11) "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes.

[In this parable of our Lord's the king is to be considered God the Father Who came into the wedding banquet of His Son Jesus Christ to view the guests - the guests who were received into the banquet held on earth at the time of our Lord's millennial rule, (cp Isa 25:6-8). Notice that all men who remained alive at the end of the tribulation period have already been judged - this occurring BEFORE the wedding banquet at the Judgment of Nations, (Mt 25:31-46). Therefore anyone remaining alive has been saved unto eternal life and thereby accepted into the millennial kingdom on earth.