An Evangelical Christian asks questions about sinlessness and perfection
Q: You say that "Even after being born
again" or reciting a sinner's prayer, it is possible to turn away
from Him, and lose the Grace." What do you mean by this? I
was under the impression that once you say the sinner's prayer or
accept Christ you are sure to go to heaven.
A: You can use
the free will God gave you to reject Him, even after you have
experienced some measure of grace. This is what Paul called
"making shipwreck of faith," in Timothy 1:19, and then also where
he writes about those who, "after having tasted the heavenly gift
and been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, again fall away," Hebrews
6:4-6. He doesn't compel you to accept Him at any time, nor does He
overlook the truth in your heart because you tell people that you
have accepted Him, but show by your life that it isn't so. No
sinner's prayer will save you if you don't let Jesus in the door,
or if you push Him back out again. If there is nothing to be
done after accepting Christ, then there is no purpose to leading a
Christian life, or of worshipping God, or of pursuing a special
relationship with Him. If there is no possibility of falling
away, then all the Christian life after the conversion moment is
Q: I guess it is not possible to live sin-free
because we all have a tendency to sin. You have talked about the
Quaker goal of achieving a "less sinful state". What do you mean by
A: Justification is regarded by
Quakers as part of the
process of sanctification. They occur simultaneously, and you
can fall away if you turn away from God and refuse to let the Light
transform you. But with God's help, you can live a life free of
actual, worldly sin.
believe that their sins are forgiven because of the merit provided
through the sacraments of the church, which are dispensed in rites,
pilgrimages, prayers, and such, and not by an inner change in the
worshipper. It is done to the worshipper, externally. No
evidence of a genuine turning towards God is necessary to consider
oneself "saved." A life of willful sin can continue.
Protestants believe that their sins are forgiven because of
the sufferings and death of Christ on the cross, through which God
forgives them through imputing Jesuss righteousness to them, and
not by any inner change in the worshipper. Again, no evidence
of a genuine turning towards God is necessary to consider oneself "saved." Again, a life of willful sin can continue.
views ignore the words of Jesus, who said, "Ye are my friends, if
ye do whatsoever I command you." Jesus died on the cross in
order to reconcile us to God. Quakers traditionally
believe that His death provides us the opportunity and the power to
a follower of His will: "Henceforth, I call
you not servants, for the servant knoweth not what his lord
but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my
Father I have made known unto you." Jesus makes His will
known to us most importantly through the agency of His Light, and
secondly through outward means such as inspired scripture.
And what He wants are followers who actually strive to live a life free
of sin, and He is willing to help make that possible.
here is the difficult point: We are not justified by works.
But good works follow necessarily as an indicator that we have
accepted a relationship with Him through the application of our free
will. If opening the door on which Jesus knocks is to be
considered a work, then we are justified by works to that extent.
But if we look at it as an obligation which we force on God--that is,
if we believe that our good works are the agent of our salvation--then
we miss the mark.
The key is that God offers us the opportunity to become a genuine
traveler in His company. Over time, if we do not resist it, the
makes changes in us that bring us more and more into accordance with
Gods plans for us--we become more and more like what He wanted us
to be. Over time, we sin less and less, as we become more and
more in tune with His will. How clean a state of sinlessness is
enough is not up to us--that decision belongs to Jesus. And
providentially for us, Jesus is a merciful and compassionate judge.
believe that we are called to be perfect, as our Father in Heaven is
perfect. We are called to live a life as free of sin as we
can. We believe that if God wants to bring a Christian to a
state of sinless perfection, then He has that right and that power.
We do not limit the power of the Holy Spirit in that matter.