by Sam J Christopher
"Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" (Jer 13:23)
Well, thousands of years have passed since these rhetorical words were uttered. Today, both these "impossibilities" are actually possible, thanks to quantum leaps in the field of genetics in the last hundred years, that remained unavailable in the days of the prophet..
But be that as it may, the point of that rhetoric must not be lost in the ever-changing science-driven knowledge landscape.
It must be noted that, no matter what skin tone an Ethiopian may now sport, he remains in all reality AN ETHIOPIAN. And no matter what new pattern the leopard now is made to sport, it remains in all reality A LEOPARD.
I hear you go, "So what? This is as astounding a revelation as a public announcement that the grass outside is actually green!"
Ha! I knew you'd say that. That's why my story doesn't end there.
You see, there are those who insist that Christians/believers (EVEN GENUINE ONES) can lose their salvation. And they confidently quote that verse about a dog returning to its vomit and a pig returning to its mudhole, to prop up their theology. Well I've got news for them.
Salvation is NOT attained by turning away from vomit & mud holes. If it were, the vast majority of people in this world (who subscribe to "be good, do good") are automatically saved and on their way to heaven! (Except maybe for some REALLY nasty chaps in black, running around cutting off people's heads). And without even needing to acknowledge Jesus!
No friends. Salvation is NOT attained by changing lifestyles, habits, looks and watering holes. Salvation is about God TRANSFORMING a person into a NEW CREATURE. It involves a total overhaul, beginning with that inner person. To come back to the animal illustration, God TRANSFORMS that vomit-eating dog into a sheep that lives on a completely different diet. A sheep for whom the Good Shepherd goes seeking until he finds it, saves it and CARRIES it home with great joy! A sheep that recognizes His Master's voice. A sheep for whom the Good Shepherd gives his life to save from a fate worse than death. Such a sheep will NEVER return to the ways of the vomit-eating dog. For that old nature is gone with a Divine wash with the perfect blood of the Saviour. Even if the new sheep is enticed to take a whiff of that old dog-vomit, the Good Shepherd's rod (and if necessary the staff too) will be an ever present correcting comfort!
A modern-day illustration of salvation would be the caterpillar that metamorphoses into a butterfly. For all practical purposes the two might as well be completely different creatures. Now, Nature is such, that there is NO WAY that nectar-sucking butterfly is ever gonna revert to being a leaf-gobbling caterpillar. No, that old leaf-muncher thingy is GONE. In its stead emerges a creature that is made ALL NEW! If that is the way with Nature, how much more POWERFUL, EFFICIENT and TRUSTWORTHY are the ways of the CREATOR of Nature! When He declares all things are made new, you bet ALL THINGS ARE MADE NEW! Not just a metaphor, gosh!
THIS IS THE SCRIPTURAL ASSURANCE OF A (GENUINE)BELIEVER'S ETERNAL SECURITY IN JESUS CHRIST!
Of course for now, such a TRANSFORMED sheep still sports its leopard spots. But that is set to change IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE, when the trumpet sounds and the Good Shepherd appears to bring his sheep home to His Father's mansions.
The bottom line, to my non-Christian friends - your self-styled "golden rule" isn't going to cut it beyond your grave (and there's quite an extensive program beyond the grave, you know). You need this Jesus who is in the business of TRANSFORMING people for eternity.
To my well-meaning Christian friends who believe that their ultimate salvation is dependent on STRIVING (must do this and that) to stay away from all that vomit - stop kidding yourself. All your self-efforts will wither away when you least expect it. Don't deceive yourselves. Temptation/persecution will come when you least expect it. Only Christ TRANSFORMS you AND SECURES your salvation.
To my (very few)friends who are utterly resting in no other Name but JESUS as the AUTHOR and FINISHER of your faith - that God-wrought faith will not be in vain. For even while fearing and trembling at the salvation that is being wrought in you by the Grace of God, you can rest assured that God Himself will work salvation in you. (Phil 2:12-13). Because NOTHING exists that can fail God's purposes for you.
God bless you all.