Refreshment in Refuge
by Gina Burgess
So many people are blind about eternal security; they use the verses in Romans 11 about the branches being broken off as their proof text.
Who is doing the breaking off of the branch? Can the branch break itself off? No. It is God doing the breaking off, for He is in control.
So... We have to look at the Options or perhaps the action that results in the breaking off of the branch. What was the reason the natural olive tree branches (the Jews) were broken off? Because of unbelief. Why were the wild branches grafted in? Because of their faith/belief.
Here is what I am talking about so we're on the same page.
Romans 11:16 Now if the first fruit is holy, so also the lump. And if the root is holy, so also the branches. 17 But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree were grafted in among them, and became a sharer of the root and the fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, it is not you that bears the root, but the root bears you. 19 You will say then, The branches were broken off that I might be grafted in. 20 Well! For unbelief they were broken off. And you stand by faith. Do not be high-minded, but fear. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, fear that it may be He will not spare you either. 22Behold, then, the kindness and severity of God: On those having fallen, severity. But on you, kindness, if you continue in the kindness. Otherwise, you will also be cut off.
So why would the grafted in branches be broken off again? Because of unbelief. Would God allow such a merry-go-round?
No because He quite plainly states in John 3 that the person that doesn't believe is condemned already. The fact is that the gift of salvation is the gift of grace...no merit involved. God's gift to those that believe in Jesus. Grace is not dependent upon the actions of the receiver after the gift is accepted. Grace exists already. God is not an Indian giver. Therefore, since God has given the gift to believers He will not remove the gift for a temporary faith problem. We all have those days of worry, and moments of unbelief. But, these are brief episodes and we are not punished for brief episodes, even if they last for several years. It is very temporary when we compare it to eternity. For example compare a year to one billion years. It is the same as one second to a nanosecond, or one second in the middle of 33.33 years. After a billion years in heaven, we’ve just barely started.
Nor are Believers punished for sin except to suffer consequences of choosing to sin over obedience. Habitual, continual living in sin is a blatant witness to an unbelieving heart. An unbelieving heart was never circumcised nor did it become a new creation in Jesus. Therefore, it was never saved. We know this because Jesus said, Matthew 13:41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all the offenses, and those who practice lawlessness. When professing Christians practice lawlessness, read that wickedness, then they are exhibiting no heart change. Which means they may profess, but they do not possess a circumcised heart.
Now, can we judge these professing Christians for their sinful acts?
Let’s take a look at what God says about that.
In vs 1 of chapter 11, Paul states that God has not rejected His people Israel. Then as we read on through the chapter, Paul talks about the remnant being saved in Elijah's day and then in vs 5 he points out:
In just the same way at the present time a 'remnant' has come into being, selected by the grace of God. But if it is by grace, then it does not rest on deeds done, or grace would not be grace! ...7 but the selected few [Israel] have achieved it and the rest were made blind to the truth...
These who refused to see the Truth, were judicially given over to the hardness of their own hearts. It comes from a related word poros which means a kind of stone. Their blindness was allowed to continue because they were willfully stubborn about rejecting what was before their own eyes: the physical fulfillment of centuries old prophecy
These Jewish branches were allowed to remain attached to the tree so they could hear the Gospel, see the signs and know that Jesus is the Messiah spoken of all through the OT. . They knew the prophecies, had scripture by heart, yet the miracles of Jesus fell on their hearts like stones on ice instead of pebbles into living water. Thus they were blind to understanding. Those that were chopped off were the ones that did not believe all they had seen, and all they had heard and yet, still needed another sign.
Jesus told them all in Luke 16:31 when He told the story of Lazarus and the rich man “they have Moses and the prophets...they do not believe them...they would not even believe if one were to rise from the dead.” Which Jesus did do! And yet they still did not believe. This is why they were cut off the tree. The branch rejected the nourishment from the root! Is that at all possible?
Yes, it is. Branches can be dead, dying or diseased which causes them to wither. I have noticed it more with pecan trees, but pine trees and even oaks keep themselves healthy by dropping dead limbs.
So what about that last verse? “...if you continue in kindness. Otherwise you will be cut off.”
Let me bring another verse to bear witness here.
1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask; and He shall give life to him, to the ones not sinning unto death. There is a sin unto death. I do not say that he should ask about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not unto death.
The difference between “broken off” and “cut off” is slight but the words are different. Broken off is just that. To break off something is to tear it, similar in breaking bread. Cut off is kin to frustrating, or hindering, with the primary word κόπτω koptō (kop'-to) verb; to “chop”; specifically to beat the breast in grief: - cut down, lament, mourn, (be-) wail. This term is also used in Daniel concerning the prophecy of the Messiah being cut off. Meaning He had to die physically.
This is that same thing. Anyone who hinders the work of God won't be around for very long if they continue that kind of sin. That is a sin unto physical death. For once having been changed into a new, Spiritually Alive creature, it is impossible to be changed back again. The caterpillar cannot be changed back into a butterfly. This is a perpetual physical illustration of what happens to someone when God saves them from the Wrath to come. A Spiritual happening changes the Believer into a supernatural butterfly. Just as there are some things a caterpillar can do that a butterfly cannot do, it is not in a butterfly's nature to do, so to is it with the unbeliever and the Christian. It is unnatural for a tenderized heart to practice willful disobedience for any length of time. The love of the Father will work like a soothing balm on tender skin. The Holy Spirit will never cease praying for the Christian who has lost his way on a dark path. If, God forbid, a Christian's soft and tender heart becomes hard and crusty, then that willful, rebellious child will be warned, and then spanked. If the child doesn't straighten up and fly right, as my dad used to say, then the rebellious hellion will be cut off; God will shake His head and say, "It's time to come home, son."
So let's travel like butterflies, landing gently upon others.
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She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.
If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection
Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and eBookChristian.com
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