Wow, I totally missed the month of May in myspace world.
Okay: in May I got to attend a Beth Moore Bible conference (wow!), had a visit from my in-laws one week and then the next week a visit from an old college friend (and her five kids!), read the 216 page book Prince Caspian the night before going to see the movie, taught 5 days of intensive GIS classes, experienced my first tornado, adopted a kitten, cried more than I have in the past year (it was a very emotional month), said good-bye to my stepdaughter as school ended and she headed off back home, and still managed to re-write the first third of my book.
However, I spent no signfiicant amount of time in devotions or prayer and as a result I feel all strung out and stressed.
It all came to a head, I realized, when two Mormon missionaries showed up on my doorstep a couple days ago. Of course I invited them in, I love to debate with the Mormons. I don't often have a chance to thrash people with my stunning knowledge of the Bible (ha ha). However, my Bible skills have become so rusty that I was really struggling to find the Scripture I needed to refute some of their beliefs.
For instance, this pair was all about assuring me that the Latter Saints agree with the Biblical view of "it is by faith that you are saved through faith, not by works, lest any man should boast". However, we differed drastically on the extent of salvation. To me, once "you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God rasied him from the dead, you will be saved" - you are saved forever. You cannot lose that salvation because Jesus is always interceding for you, and His sacrifice not only covers all our past sins but all our present and future ones... even unconfessed ones.
The Mormons believe that if you subsequently turn away from God that you can lose your salvation. They are all about how it is man's choice. We must continually choose God, choose to obey Him, choose to turn back to Him... if we stray away from Him, he does not apparently come out like the shepherd to search for us and bring us back to the fold; we have to make our way back ourselves.
I was horrified that anyone could believe in any sort of religion that didn't promise an absolutely sure and irrevocable path to heaven! I argued, no it is God who draws us. It is His grace that saves us, and also His grace that continues to draw us when we stray away, and when we return, empowers us to live the obedient life.
Problem was, I was having a terrible time remembering the scriptures to back this up. For a few horrifying minutes I couldn't even find my Bible. I hadn't cracked it open in so long that I couldn't remember where I'd left it! I kept mumbling apologies to the two young men as I dashed up and down the stairs and peered into dusty corners in my desperate search. Once I unearthed it, I was able to find a few Scriptures to back up my belief in the security of salvation and the absolute Sovereignity of God, even over the capricious will of man.
I challenged them to study all of Romans 8 - the ultimate chapter of security that begins with "Therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" and continues to "those He predestined, He also called, and those He called, He also justified, and those He justified, He also glorified" and finally ends with the crescendo "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?... no, we are more than conquerers through Him who loved us... neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is Christ Jesus our Lord."
I also remembered Hebrews 7:25 "Therefore He is able to save forever those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them" and John 10:28 "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand".
I even got a promise out of those guys that they'd study these verses some and come back and discuss them more with me (yet somehow managed to wiggle out of commiting to study verses from their book of Mormon).
But I also had to admit to myself that the real reason why they showed up on my doorstep wasn't so we could debate theology, but because God was showing me how much I'd neglected Him and His Word lately. Since then I have been digging back into the Word and rediscovering some more wonderful verses on security such as Ephesians 1:13-14. Also, some insight into why the Mormons might be confused about the security of salvation - might they be confusing salvation with sanctification? We are saved once and forever, but after that comes the never-ending process of santification, of being brought into obedience, of being conformed into the likeness of Christ (1 Peter 1:2, 1 Thess 4:3).
I really hope those Mormons come back.