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Christianese: Christian Phrases and Words That Cause Confusion - Part Three
Saturday, November 25, 2023 by Jeff Walton

In my final installment, we conclude our attempt to answer the following questions: Are some of the sermons and teachings that you hear sound oddly detached from reality? Do otherwise good sermons leave you spiritually empty? Are we using words and phrases that confuse and mislead Christians and add to an atheist’s arsenal of arguments against a belief in God?

 

If the answer is yes, you may be suffering from an overdose of Christianese. To address what I consider a weakness in the Christian church writ large, I'm continuing to address the common words and phrases that many Christian pastors, teachers, and believers use that confuse, dissuade, and turn away seekers and non-believers from the Christian faith.

 

In the following exposition, I address the last two of six phrases that I suggest you avoid using in conversation with others when discussing the Bible and its truth.

 

I believe many would agree that we live in a post-Christian society. We’ve banned prayer and Bible reading in our public schools, in most local government proceedings, and at many public events. As followers of Jesus Christ, we’ve been marginalized and canceled on many social media platforms. We must measure our words carefully when we attempt to express our Christian faith.

 

With the preceding stated, here are the last two on the hit parade:

 

God Is All Loving.

 

In my humble opinion, a common misdescription of Father God is the common phrase - “God is all loving.”

 

I don’t know the origin of the phrase, God is all loving, but I believe it's a misleading verbal bromide that ignores the true nature of God. Yes, God's essence is love, but He's also holy and just. No verse in the Bible declares that God's love for His creation overrides His just and holy nature. His holy nature confirms that He cannot and will not co-exist with sinful beings, whether they are created angels or mankind.

 

Why is the distinction important? When a discussion about hell takes place, those who reject the literal existence of hell invariably state that God would never allow anyone to suffer for eternity because God is “all loving.”

 

The Bible tells us something different.

 

2 Corinthians 5:10

 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

 

In addition to God’s unwillingness to tolerate sin, His divine nature of justice also demands that sins be punished. God cannot abide sin, and if you have not repented of your sins, sought Jesus Christ’s forgiveness, and dedicated your life to Christ, God will not intervene when you physically die, face judgment, and fall into hell.

 

The Bible is replete with verses about God judging man. The following verses are just a small sampling of declarations confirming God’s promise to judge man:

 

Psalm 75:7

But God is the Judge;

He puts down one and exalts another.

 

Isaiah 66:16        

For the Lord will execute judgment by fire

And by His sword on all flesh,

And those slain by the Lord will be many.

 

Psalm 9:8  

And He will judge the world in righteousness;

He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity.

 

1 Peter 4:5 

But they will give account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

 

Revelation 20:12

And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.

God’s love for us is so great that he sacrificed His only son, Jesus Christ, to take away our sins and convey to us His righteousness. I can't think of a more loving act – an act that was necessary for us to receive forgiveness for our many sins that would otherwise leave us vulnerable to God’s judgment.

 

Once Saved, Always Saved

 

Those of you who have read my books know that I’m a proponent of vetting, studying, and learning from select near-death-experience (NDE) witness testimonies that contain information that illuminates and confirms the written word of God.

 

If you’ve not had a chance to read Final Departure or Divine Return, I recommend the recently released movie After Death, which was produced by Angel Studios. I believe most film viewers will gain an appreciation of the power and authenticity of NDEs.

 

With the foregoing stated, some Christians dismiss NDEs as not reliable and anti-Biblical, but I prefer to judge each experience individually. One recurring theme that I’ve gleaned from reliable and forthright NDE witnesses is that they state that the oft-repeated phrase "once saved, always saved" is false.

 

Why do they say that? Many NDE witnesses report witnessing trapped souls in hell who had been followers of Christ but ended up being rejected because they were still sinning and unrepentant at the time of their death.

 

How can that be? Didn't Christ say no one can snatch us from His loving arms? Yes, that is true if we cling to Jesus and rely on His righteousness and saving grace. However, if we accept Christ into our lives and begin to follow him but refuse to relinquish one or more areas of darkness or sin, we disqualify ourselves from salvation.

 

Salvation is a continuing condition based on our continuing faith.

 

I recently heard a pastor describe what I think applies: you can't lose your salvation, but you can leave it.

 

What are some examples of believers in hell? One witness reported encountering a woman who loved the Lord but became enraged when she found her husband cheating on her, and she never forgave him. Another murdered her cheating husband but felt justified in taking his life.

 

Another NDE witness observed a pastor who had been secretly stealing money from the collection plate and using it for personal expenses; he never repented before he died.

 

A common sin that many struggle with is having idols while still attempting to follow Christ. One of the most destructive categories of idols is the actresses and actors in pornographic films. In today's secular culture, viewing porn is deemed harmless when in fact, the viewers of porn are worshiping the demons behind the pornography. Also, as Jesus warned us in Matthew 5:28, looking at someone, not your spouse, and lusting after them is the sin of adultery. When one fails to reject porn and repent, the result is eternal death.

 

Some will say that the souls that NDE witnesses saw in hell were never really saved in the first place. True, many never develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Also, while I can't confirm the status of the poor souls in hell, I can confidently state that NDE witnesses who enter the supernatural realm have a form of extra-sensory perception that allows them to know a person instantly when they encounter them. Another factor I considered before writing this piece is the number of NDE witnesses who aren't connected, all making the same observation.

 

What does “saved” really mean?

 

One way of looking at salvation is that it’s a personal decision that starts a process culminating in a final event. Some pastors describe the process as justification, sanctification, and glorification.

 

Technically, we are not saved until the instant our spiritual body materializes in Heaven. Before that event, you and I were on the road to salvation if we had accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, and our acceptance of Him transformed us and how we lived our lives. Simply affirming the divinity of Jesus Christ and acknowledging that the Gospel is true will not save us. We must act on our decision, turn away from our old sinful ways, and have an ongoing relationship with Jesus Christ through frequent prayer.

 

If I’m really saved, can I fall away or walk away from God?

 

Some say that if you’re saved, you can’t fall away because of the keeping power of God’s grace.

 

Accepting and following Jesus Christ is an act of our will – we choose to obey or not obey. We don’t lose our free will when we surrender to Christ. We still have the unilateral authority and ability to make choices in our lives – good and evil.

 

One truth that seems to be forgotten in the discussion of "once saved, always saved" is the undeniable mutiny of Satan and one-third of the angels in Heaven. Satan made a choice – fueled by sinful pride – to challenge God and persuade an untold number of angels to follow him.

 

If one of God’s most cherished creations – one who literally hovered in God’s presence in Heaven - could revolt and turn away from God, then why do we think that we mere mortals can't make the same horrendous decision? Why can't we change our minds after sensing the Holy Spirit? Satan was directly in God's loving presence, yet he chose to betray God. Why do we think we're stronger than Satan and immune to making horrific choices after becoming a follower of Christ?

 

We can make eternity-altering decisions while on the road to salvation; that's why God's word warns us to endure until physical death. Scripture is replete with warnings about veering off the narrow road that leads to eternal life:

 

Matthew 10:22

And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

 

Hebrews 3:14

 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.

 

Hebrews 10:38

But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”

 

James 5:19-20

 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

 

2 Peter 2:20-22 

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

 

Many will say that we have the Holy Spirit in us after we surrender to Jesus; therefore, we can't lose our salvation. As the scripture states above, I believe we will continue to have temptations and opportunities to sin even when we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. How we respond to those temptations will determine whether we stay on the road to salvation.

 

The Holy Spirit will convict our hearts and make sinning feel abhorrent, but He will not stop us from sinning. We decide whether we stay on the straight and narrow by avoiding sin and confessing sin when we fall short or whether we place our pleasure and desires above the Lord in a select area and suffer the eternal consequences.

 

If we cease to have faith, we will cease to be on the road to salvation, but we can return to the Lord. It’s our choice.

 

I realize some of you will disagree with me. My purpose is not to spread fear and anxiety. My goal is to shine a spotlight on a misleading phrase that could cause new believers to think they can backslide into old sinful habits and not be held accountable on their judgment day.

 

I recommend praying and asking the Holy Spirit to confirm or refute what I have written. Ultimately, your personal relationship with our Savior will determine your address in eternity.

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