“As in the days of Noah…” (Matt. 24:37)
Sadly, and contrary to what many denominations are teaching, there are many who do for a time sit in the Ark (–the Ark being a type of, a picture of –salvation, –truth, –Jesus), who later do fall away (Heb. 6:6) and “turn away from the faith” (Matt. 24:10) They do so by allowing laziness and deceptions to creep in, which leads to doubt of the truth, their love growing cold, then temptations, then tolerance of sinful behaviors in their own lives, then callousness to all things pertaining to unrighteousness… “and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to [spiritual] death.” (James 1:15) They quit their praise and thanksgiving to God and the study of His beautiful Word, and instead accustom themselves to a different focus… namely, how to best indulge Self and how to best cozy up to the world with all its cares, snares, and enticements.
For “the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the Word, making it unfruitful.” (Mark 4:19) Other seed/soil who “hear the Word and at once receive it with joy” (v. 16), won’t take the necessary strenuous training (*1 –see below), so “they have no root, [and] they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the Word, the quickly fall away.” (v. 17) Both of these groups did believe, did receive it, and even did grow –did “spring up quickly” (Matt. 13:5), but “they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.” (v. 6,7)
So whether the Word in the plants was choked out –OR it was the plants (the people) themselves– something was choked. And to be choked implies death. Even if it’s a “near-death” experience, it implies they did not recover, which then leads to the withering of the plants, which then leads to being thrown out and burned, (Jesus’ words in John 15:6.) This passage of John 15 tells us that we must remain in Him AND His words, and that He then will remain in us. He also says, “You are already clean because of the Word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me and I will remain in you.” (v. 3,4)
Friends, we cannot remain clean unless we are abiding in His Word, because The Word is Him. (*2 –See below.) We must daily “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 13:14) and His righteousness, and we “must deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow Him.” (See Luke 9:23) Again, the very first step in doing this, is to be daily saturating ourselves in Scripture. If we are not doing so, we are not pulling sap (strength and truth) from The Vine, and thus we will quickly become unhealthy branches –reverting back to spiritual “infancy”– in danger of no longer being “counted worthy of the calling”. (*3 –See below.) John 15 calls it “not remaining in Him” and “having no fruit”; and we will wither and we will be tossed to the fire.
Please read carefully what Jesus says in John 15:1,2,6: “I am the true vine and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch IN ME that bears no fruit… If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” This is not talking about rewards being burned. It’s talking about the eternal destination of souls. “If some of the branches have been broken off… they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.” (Rom. 11:17,20,21)
Phil. 2:12 commands us to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…” Yes, we may have signed up to be betrothed to Christ, but those who know anything about marriage –it is a continuous thing, a relationship that requires continued FAITHFULNESS. And the engagement beforehand also requires faithfulness. We may have been given the “promise” ring (see Eph. 1:13,14), but the “wedding supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9) has not happened yet, for we are in process of “being saved”. (1 Cor. 1:18 // 1 Peter 1:9) We must remain faithful to Him by “proving our repentance by our deeds.” (Acts 26:20) –Those deeds being obedience –“the obedience that comes from faith.” (Rom. 1:5)
We are not remaining faithful to our Bridegroom if we hold on to any sin in our hearts. God hates sin and so must we. To the point that we will “pluck out our eye” (Mark 9:47) if necessary. Jesus will not remain espoused (or betrothed) to a deliberate sinner. (See Heb. 10:26) Throughout God’s Word, God says, “Sin brings death” –spiritual death– which means estrangement from Him who is holy. –Estrangement forever –unless the sin is truly and completely repented of –“crucified to” as Gal. 6:14 puts it. Way back in Eden, God did say, “When you eat of it [–eat of sin & rebellion against My commands–] you will surely die.” (Gen. 2:17)
“You will not surely die,” the serpent said… (Gen. 3:4)
Well, you decide who you are going to believe.
So… yes, many of those waiting in the Ark ARE drifting away… –from Truth. They have harkened to lies so often that they are quite the example of Ps. 36:1,2 –“There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.” Scoffing at Scriptures’ abundant commands to fear God, they go further: No longer caring to hide their sin, many now “carouse in broad daylight… reveling in their pleasures… with eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed… They have left the straight way and wandered off…” (2 Peter 2:13-15) (In other words, they were once ON the straight way.) …”introducing destructive heresies”, and “exploiting others with stories they have made up.” (See 2:1-3)
Then there’s that majority in the Ark, thinking they aren’t so bad, who are merely playing cards, watching movies, reading novels, throwing parties, and wasting their time away in all sorts of silly participations. In their boredom and foolishness they begin to listen to scoffers (*4 –see below), and they start to experiment with trips outside the Ark (Jesus) to view the dazzle of the world (*5 –see below), and they even unashamedly begin inviting other Ark people to join them. Suspecting these things aren’t exactly “the will of God” when He has told us to “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel” (Matt. 28:19,20), they just rationalize, “Well, we can always run back in.”
And when someone bulks at their heresy –using God’s Word– these teachers and participants scoff and toss those verses aside, with the catch-all phrase, “We are under grace,” and “Once saved, always saved.” Not accepting that this last quip is not supported by Scripture, they refuse to admit that verses such as Heb. 6:4-6 & 10:26-31 and 1 Tim. 1:19 and 2 Peter 2:20-22, and a host of others, do indeed refer to those who were once in Christ, and who are no longer in Christ.
“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that WE do not drift away. [Why does Scripture have to warn us of this –if it is not possible?] For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we neglect or ignore such a great salvation?” (Heb. 2:1-3)
The answer is: We won’t.
*1 –“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs –he wants to please his commanding officer. Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules.” (2 Tim. 2:3-5) Don’t let anyone deceive you; the “victor’s crown” is not “rewards”. The victor’s crown is: SALVATION –FROM ETERNAL DEATH.
*2 –Again John 1:1,14 & Rev. 19:13, as well as Col. 1:15-17 & Ps. 33:6 & Heb. 1:2,3 / 4:12 & James 1:18 & 2 Peter 3:5-7 & 1 John 1:1 / 2:14… etc.
*3 –“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received… Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.” (Eph. 4:1,14) If we believe the lie, we will follow the lie, and we will not be of “those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age” to come. (Luke 20:35) For “those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel… They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out…” –NOT “counted worthy of the kingdom of God.” (See 2 Thes. 1:8,9,5,11)
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)
*4 –“Where is this ‘coming’ He promised?” (2 Peter 3:4) But Jesus warns in Matt. 24:48-51, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant [preacher, teacher, –any minister of the gospel –which should be all Christians], whom the Master has put in charge of the servants in His household [–all of His church body are to be serving each other] to give them their food [–spiritual teaching] at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose Master finds him doing so [–OBEYING HIS COMMANDS] when He returns. I tell you the truth, He will put him in charge of all His possessions. [–Rule and reign with Him.] But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, ‘My Master is staying away a long time,’ and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards [–meaning, he begins to sin]. The Master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect Him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Let’s take careful note here: The “Master” is Jesus and the “servant” who did not remain “wise and faithful” was the “servant of Jesus”. This is another example of: Belonging to Christ, NOT remaining faithful and righteous to the end, thus being “assigned a place with the unbelievers” (as Luke writes of the same account in 12:46.) For only he who endures (overcomes and is found faithful) to the end will be saved. (Matt. 10:22 // 2 Tim. 2:12 & Rev. 2:11)
*5 –(ignoring 1 John 2:15,17 –“If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him… The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” And “friendship with the world is hatred toward God” –James 4:4. And Jesus’ words in Matt. 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father…”)