Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Angels Saints Are Happier (For the Moment) Than We, But They Are Not More Secure

Martyn Lloyd-Jones tagteaming with Augustus Toplady, on the believer's security:
Our security is that the work has been done, every hindrance, every obstacle, every barrier has been removed, because Christ has done it all, He said, "I go to prepare a place for you" (Jn 14:2), and he has done what he promised, so that the ultimate outcome is, Toplady says--
More happy but not more secure,
The glorified spirits in heaven.
What a statement to make! According to Augustus Toplady, on the basis of these things, the glorified spirits in heaven are not more secure than we are here on earth, because our security is in Christ. Of course, they are happier than we are, they are in a land where there is no sin, no shame, no sorrow, no sighing; more happy -- yes -- but they are not more secure.

And I will tell you why this is so. To be a Christian, you see, does not mean that I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and have my sins forgiven. It also means that I am in Christ, I am in him and he is in me. I am a part of him; I have died with him; I have risen with him. He is my life and I am in him. So, being in him, I am as secure as those who are with him in heaven, and it is because he has dealt with every barrier and hindrance and obstacle to our receiving this blessed life.

-- from Jones, The Assurance of Our Salvation (Crossway, 2000), p.183


Christy said...

in light of this, what is your understanding of 1 timothy 4..."that some will depart from the faith"? i'm struggling with understanding security of the believer when we know that some who have believed can walk away from their faith. you can't depart from something you were not a part of. so to me it seem obvious the "some" in 1 timothy 4 were believers. so i'm just wondering how you or others deal with that.

Jared said...

Christy, excellent question.

The short answer is that mention of those who "depart from the faith" is just confirmation that there is both false teaching and false membership in the church. I believe these referenced in 1 Timothy 4:1 are the same sort discussed in Hebrews 6 that have "fallen away" (6:6). The language in Hebrews is even more emphatic: these are people who are called enlightened, who have tasted of the heavenly gift, shared in the Spirit, tasted the powers of the age to come, and are in a position of apparent security the opposite of which is called un-restoration (6:4-6).

Nevertheless, the author of Hebrews contrasts this position with "things that belong to salvation" (6:9), so whatever state is being described -- as intimately involved with the faith as it is -- for those who have fallen away, it is not actual salvation.

I believe the same holds true for 1 Timothy 4:1's subjects. And notice it doesn't say they abandon "their faith," but "the faith."

I think the best explanation is that these are people who are false converts. They were in the church, did the church thing, showed outward signs of conformity to the faith, and professed faith, but none of it was true; thus they are seduced by doctrines of demons. Those who are truly converted would not do such a thing. Otherwise they were not truly converted.

Meredith said...

Hmmm. So you think that by "glorified spirits" what is meant is angelic beings? I always took that phrase to be a reference to saints in heaven. That, as Christians, our security is in Christ, and that is a fixed and present reality. It speaks to the preservation of the saints. The golden chain of Romans 8.

Jared said...

Oh, Meredith, I think you're probably right. I'm sure they do mean the saints. I just made the leap to reading it as referring to angels without much reflection on that part. But I think you're right.

Sam said...

Not really a big deal, but I've always thought the "glorified spirits" were Christians who had gone to heaven - in a Revelation martyrs round the throne idea.

I love that line, because it reminds me that even those who have finished the journey are not more secure than me, and their happiness certainly awaits me!

Is there some reason why I should be thinking of them as angels?

Meredith said...

Jared, on a side note, where in VT are you pastoring? I have a dear friend whose mom lived in VT. She moved to Florida, but went back to her property there in VT every summer and while there, taught Bible studies. For years, she prayed that God would raise up a man to serve in what she termed a "spiritual wasteland".

Ruth is in failing health. Her mind has been ravaged by Alzheimer's and her body is weak and frail. It will probably not be long before she goes home to be with the Lord. It would be such a wonderful thing to be able to report back to her children that there is a pastor serving in her beloved VT. And there are people still there looking to be fed that, if in your area, might be quite glad to know of your church.

Jared said...

It is indeed a dry place here, but there are little springs popping up here and there.

I am in Middletown Springs, which is a little town (even for Vermont) in Rutland County, not too far from the NY state line.

Meredith said...

Aw. too bad, Jared. Ruth was from Newport which, I just learned from her daughter, is on the Canada border, so I don't suppose they'll be sending any old friends your way. However, I would be interested to know of any of those "springs" whereof you speak. Perhaps one of those might prove closer.
But, regardless, it is good to hear of God's work in that place.