Saved, or Not?
By Billie Marie Zal
(From the June, 1992 Wingspread)
I was reading a book by A.W. Tozer, whom I used to hear preach in Chicago many years ago, and it occurred to me that there are scores of people who believe they are saved, and they do not have the remotest idea of what salvation is.
Tozer brings out so clearly that obedience and salvation (or the new birth) go together. We cannot separate them. And even then, perhaps twenty years ago (or more), he was literally horrified that people were being taught that we can simply “accept Jesus as Savior” and complacently believe that this is it. Then, maybe later on, these people just MIGHT “accept Him as Lord.”
I agree with Dr. Tozer, who has been in Glory now for many years. This is why I sought him out in Chicago. Of all the ministers in that enormous city, he alone preached the Truth with no apologies. The last words I ever heard him speak were extremely severe, for after he had come to the close of his message he seemed discouraged. He looked out over his congregation (a small one, to be sure), and he said, “What good would it do to give an invitation? Most of you would come down the aisle, sniffing and blowing, then leave for your homes and stop on the way for pizza. You would have forgotten all about your ‘rededication’ by then.”
His words burned themselves into my spirit, and I vowed NEVER to become complacent about my Christian life. I was born again. I knew that, because with the new birth came the POWER to resist sin. Or perhaps a better word would be to “overcome” sin. I was no longer a pawn of the devil. Now I could stand, and with that vow came the joy that has taken root in my heart and remained.
But I fear that the body of Christ has failed in this most important truth: We do not take Christ as Savior and resist Him as Lord. He is all in all. He either rules our hearts, by His Spirit, or He is not Lord and therefore He is not Savior.
We forget who God is. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and the Maker of Heaven and earth. The God who created the Universe with a word, and who knows even the number of hairs on our heads. He is the God who created mankind where no two fingerprints are alike. He designed the flowers, the birds, the vegetation. He spoke, and it was done. He is the High and lofty One who inhabits Eternity. He speaks to the seas, that they go so far, and no farther. He makes the desert bloom and would have sent His Son to redeem us even if there had been only one person on earth. He is that kind of God.
He hates sin. He hates other things, too, and they are listed in His Word: “A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that are swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6: 17-19)
We take God too lightly. We “criticize” Him and question His ways with us. We ignore sin in our own lives and so we fail to be a witness to the sin and error in others. In the Old Testament we are reminded that as members of the Body of Christ we are “watchmen” unto the Body of Christ because we have God’s Holy Spirit. And we are to warn others, as my friend Dr. Tozer did.*
God’s Word says so: “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not
warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
“Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turns not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou has delivered thy soul.
“Again, when a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die; because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.
“Nevertheless, if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou has delivered thy soul” (Ezekiel 3: 18-21).
In our lukewarm, “anything goes” Christian society today, we are persecuted if we obey this Word. The human heart being what it is, people just do not want to hear about “sin.” We grab on to fellowship, to material possession, to relationships that cannot be the will of God. And if anyone says a word, we are called “judgmental.”
The Apostle Paul was judgmental. He rebuked, warned, and spoke out against sin in the Church. And we know what happened to him. He was beheaded and as he put it, “All have forsaken me.”
Let me give a personal example of what obedience to the Word of God brings to us. When God called me to minister to others I was frightened. He not only called me to minister, but He called me to a life of total dependence upon His ability to provide ALL of my personal needs. He chose a good time of course. Being God, He knew how much a bank account would have meant to me at that time. I could have “launched out into the deep,” but I would have had a vessel that wasn’t seaworthy with a few thousand dollars stashed away.
I don’t remember the exact sum, but I had less than a hundred dollars. I was to leave my job, tell no one of my needs, and wait on Him for further orders. God does not anoint and then send us forth without preparation. When I was saved, three years previous to my call, I had no idea of what the Word truly said. I had read the Bible through several times, been a church member, etc., but until my salvation and redemption and sanctification I did not understand the Word. God set to work on me giving me much light and wisdom and He providentially placed wonderful books in my path. I had never heard of the authors. Most were gone to Glory; some were not. But I read the story of George Mueller, who built a school for orphans and never trusted anyone but God for his needs (nor did he tell of his needs); I read the story of Amy Carmichael, who founded Dohnavur Fellowship in India, a place where little children were saved from being temple prostitutes. She, too, relied upon God alone and never made her needs known. I read the story of Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, who as a very young man went to China and never told anyone of his needs. And probably the most effective book of all, the writings of Watchman Nee, who was led of God to reveal the truths of the Church as being a “Heavenly Body,” where we are joined to Christ in Heaven, literally, but of course spiritually until our bodies are glorified.
Watchman Nee spent the last seventeen years of his life in a Red China Communist prison because he preached Christ. I go into a book store today and I feel grieved in my spirit. So much emphasis is put upon “self help,” “self achievement,” and being prosperous. I was blessed by God with a mind that refused to accept a Truth if I couldn’t find it in the Word, and even then, I looked up the words that are being so twisted to serve self, and I discovered that there is gross error.
For example, one man who is very prominent in religious society was speaking on prosperity. He tried to prove that no Christian should be poor. He finally said that “Jesus owned His own house and had a bank
account.” I consider that to be a blasphemous statement. Jesus was poor. He and His Twelve walked the dusty roads without the comforts of the rich. He slept “in the Mount of Olives.” Seldom was He received with joy, except when He worked miracles. But when He made it clear that if we are to follow Him, then we must suffer WITH HIM (even today), nearly everyone fell away and He was murdered.
We live in an age right now where the center of most messages is either money (prosperity) or healing. This is part of the great lie, or deception that satan uses by lulling believers into a false sense of spiritual security and thus making them live for self . . . Even the “religious self.” Once someone said something nice to me (I smile as I write this, for it seldom happens) and I said, “Don’t praise me. I don’t want to lose my reward in Heaven.” It is very real to me that yes, we do lose rewards. We are not to receive the praise of men down here. This kingdom is not God’s kingdom. Satan still has the right to “roam the earth” and seduce the people of God. He won that right in the Garden of Eden, and only the Victory of Jesus Christ at Calvary has ever made a dent in his power and authority over mankind.
What we need to hear today is the message of the Cross. We need to hear that we won’t “achieve” the things of the world if we have obeyed God’s Word and “love not the world and the things that are in the world.” We will not want the praise of men, nor riches, except to distribute to the needy, and we will not want the fellowship of a “mixed multitude.” We will be so obedient to the Word of God that, even without our knowing it, our lives convict because the Holy Spirit has control of our lives and convicts through us.
We will not hate those who are our enemies; we will not fight back if we are attacked (going to court, etc.); we will not refuse to pray for someone who has conspired against us to our hurt; we will do good to those who hate us and if someone takes something from us, we will be willing for them to take again. We will not covet anything that belongs to another; we will not accept the filth and immorality that tries to capture our minds through television and publications that are unclean. We will not steal or falsify records so that we can get money back. We will not cheat our neighbor out of what is rightfully his. We will not agree with what God says is unlawful. We will walk in the Light as Jesus is in the Light, and we will reflect His glory. But the world, including believers who have never stepped across that line and willingly made Christ Lord in all things, will hate us.
As the last days come to an end, we will probably find it difficult to buy or sell. We will not receive kindness or love and will be persecuted simply because we belong to the living Christ who is coming soon. We will find few friends. We will suffer want and not question our Father either in good times or bad times.
It is no small wonder that believers find themselves unsure about their standing with God. We are in a spiritual warfare, and it is nothing we can touch and see. It is rather a battle for our minds. If we are saved, Christ is Lord of our lives. If we are only professing believers, He is not. I found a life that is filled with danger, with challenge, and with all the things that must be OVERCOME if we are to be caught up with the Lord when He comes for His Bride. If we do not obey, we are not truly “enduring till the end.” I, for one, want to know the places where satan can have an inroad into my mind and then OVERCOME.
* This is not to be interpreted to mean that we are to go around judging and correcting people. The New Testament teaches that WITHIN the Church we are to “restore such a one in the spirit of meekness” (Galatians 6:1). Jesus talks about discipline in the Church in Matthew 18:15-17. But Paul speaks about not judging sinners that are “outside” of the church, and his good advice here is basically not to hang around such people. See 1st Corinthians 5:9-13.
Shirley called a couple of days ago. She was crying. She had found her cat, Clyde, dead on the highway. He had evidently gotten too close to the road and was hit by a car or truck.
Clyde was a very special cat. I have known many cats, but none as odd or with the unique personality that Clyde had. The first time I saw him he was sneaking up on our porch helping himself to some of Harry’s food. He as awful to look at, skinny and wild looking, and a big oozing hole was in the top of his head. He ran for the woods every time he saw someone. It was so sad because we had no way to catch him and get him treated. I expected that he would crawl off somewhere and die. But I put food out every day, far off from the house where he alone could find it and eat in peace.
To our surprise his wound healed, and he started looking better. Also he was feeling much better and started acting like maybe this was a good place he had found, and maybe he should claim this place for his own. We still had Bruno then and they became mortal enemies. The fur was flying, either between Clyde and Bruno, or Clyde and Harry.
Shirley’s old cat, Buster, had died some time earlier, so she claimed Clyde as her own. She had him neutered hoping that would cut down on his aggressive attitude. He did mellow out and soon she let him in the house. By now he was no longer afraid of people and he took over Ed and Shirley’s house like it had always been his. He climbed in and out of their bedroom window, slept next to their dog, and he claimed every vehicle on the property. He could often be found sleeping on one of the cars or trucks.
I think the wound on his head may have caused some brain injury. He seemed to never have any fear. He would walk up to a person, usually talking while he walked (Clyde was very talkative), and just drop and roll over on his back. And he loved vehicles, especially Shirley’s van. His lack of fear for cars and trucks worried me. Shirley would drive up the driveway and Clyde would walk out onto the road in front of her van, make her stop, open the door, and let him into the van. I never knew a cat who loved to ride in a car before.
Why such a fuss about a stray cat? Well, the Bible says “ . . .to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). To take Clyde in and to love him was the right thing to do. And he gave as much love as he received.
Prayer Requests for November, 2008
For Ron Chaney’s Mother, Ella, and her boyfriend, Nick, who is in the hospital awaiting surgery. They are all from Atkins, Arkansas.
For Jerry Herring, Huntsville, Texas, and for his friend, Sue Wayman, for healing. She has had several surgeries and suffers a lot of pain.
For Willie Harper at Joliet, Illinois, who recently had stomach surgery to remove tumors, that he stays “cancer free.”
For Robert Heffernan, Grady, Arkansas, that he’ll be able to walk on his own soon. He is getting some new forearm crutches, so hopefully he will adjust quickly.
For Ken Hogan, Death Row, McAlester, Oklahoma, who is having blood sugar problems.
For Willie Hoffman’s friend, Mita, that her health will get better. Willie is at Florence, Arizona.
For Anthony Grayson, Fallsburg, New York, who is working on another appeal.
For Ed Ewing at Dinuba, California, who just turned 88 years old. His feet and legs are getting worse.
For Chaplain Jimmy Huff, Loraine, Texas, for his health.
For Willie Scott, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for his health, and that he will remain “cancer free.”
For Frank Williams, Jr., Death Row, Grady, Arkansas, for favor with the courts.
For Raymond “Peanut” Sanders at Iowa Park, Texas, for his health and safety.
For Chase Fleming & his cell partner, at McAlester, Oklahoma, that their conditions and treatment will improve.
For Pastor Scott and her ministry in Los Angeles.
For Sister Ann & all the Carmelite nuns in Little Rock.
For all of us at Wingspread.
A Special Prayer Request for Brian. Yesterday Brian fell off a ladder and this morning he is in the hospital with a broken bone in his knee. He had been working on the basement chimney by himself. You would have to see this place to understand how dangerous it is. The house is built into a hill with rocks all around - walk stairways, walls, etc. If you fall around here you are going to get hurt. They may operate today (Sunday, November 2nd), or it may be tomorrow. Brian has a lot of responsibility at his job, and he’s already asking for computer work to be brought to the hospital. Pray for the speedy mending of his bone and that he’ll be back on his feet soon.
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