Christian, test the spirits to see if they are of God. Just because it sounds good, or just because it has elements of truth to it, or just because it was said by a famous preacher or evangelist or book author it doesn’t make it true or just or right. Deception is twisted truth. Please know this.
I read the following quote from Max Lucado on Facebook:
“God will not let you go. He has handcuffed himself to you in love. And he owns the only key. You need not win his love. You already have it. And since you can’t win it, you can’t lose it.” (1)
Max also compared this love of God that he described in this quote to the love of God as written about in John 3:16. So, I am going to examine both this quote and this statement to the teachings of Scripture.
God’s Love for Us and Our Love for Him
We read in the book of John Jesus’ words where he stated that if we love Him that we will keep his commandments. And then it says that whoever loves Jesus (who keeps his commandments) will be loved by the Father and that Jesus will love him and that they will come to him and will make their home with him. And then it says that if we keep our Lord’s commandments that we will abide in his love (Jn 8:51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:10).
And then we read in the book of 1 John that if we say that we know God but we do not keep his commandments, we are liars, and the truth is not in us. So, the way that we know that we have come to know the Lord is if we keep his commandments. And we are not to (agape) love the world or the things in the world, for if we do, the love of the Father is not in us. And it teaches that if we do not practice righteousness that we are not of God (1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; 1 Jn 4:19-20; I Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6).
To me, all of this is obviously in contrast to Max Lucado’s words. God will indeed let us go if we decide to not love him by not obeying him, and if we choose to make sin our practice and to not make righteousness our practice, and if we decide to prefer the world and the things of the world over love and obedience to our Lord.
For he said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Thus, one day he will say to any who will not obey him, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness” (Matt 7:21-23).
Can’t Win It, Can’t Lose It
Like I said at the beginning of this, deception has an element of truth to it or else people would not believe it. But it is twisted truth. So, let’s examine this statement that says we can’t win God’s love and that we can’t lose it. For this is basically saying, in the full context, that we do nothing at all as part of our salvation and that once we “believe” in Jesus that we can never not believe, that we can never reject him, for he will never let us go.
Now, it is true that not one of us can believe in Jesus unless God the Father draws us to faith in Jesus Christ, and even the faith to believe in Jesus is from God and is perfected by Christ and is God’s gift to us. And it is true that we can do nothing to earn or to deserve our own salvation, for our salvation and the faith to believe in Jesus are not of ourselves, of our own doing, but they are of God and his doing (Jn 6:44; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; 2 Pet 1:1).
But what is our salvation? What is God’s gift to us? The Bible teaches us that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. It teaches us that he died that we might no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave his life up for us and that Jesus shed his blood for us to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so we would now honor God with our bodies. And it teaches us that Jesus died to deliver us from our slavery (addiction) to sin so we would now be slaves of God and of his righteousness.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; Heb 5:9; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23]
And Jesus said that if anyone would come after him he must deny self, take up his cross daily (daily die to sin and to self) and follow (obey) him. For, he said, if we save our lives (if we hold on to our old lives of living for sin and self) that we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives for his sake (die with him to sin and to self) that we have eternal life (Lu 9:23-26).
And then we are taught in Scripture that if we obey sin that it ends in death, not life. And if we walk in the flesh, and we make sin our practice, that we will die in our sins. We will not inherit eternal life with God. And we are taught that we are all going to be judged by what we do, and if we live to please the flesh and not the Spirit that it will end in destruction, not in life everlasting.
[Rom 2:6-8; Gal 6:7-8; 2 Co 5:10; 1 Co 6:9-10; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:1-17; Jn 15:1-11; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8, 27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23; Heb 10:26-27]
“For God so loved the world that He gave the only begotten Son, so that everyone believing in Him should not perish, but should have eternal life” (Berean Literal Bible).
I am using a literal translation here so that you see that this is speaking of ongoing and present belief, not past belief. Also, we need to understand this in light of what the Scriptures teach on what belief (faith) is, which this document presents in all of what has been discussed previously and noted with regard to what the Scriptures teach.
For, belief in Jesus is not a prayer that we pray after which we are congratulated that we are now part of God’s family and that heaven is now secured us and that it never can be taken away from us. It is not an emotional one-time experience. It is not a mere acknowledgment of who Jesus is and to what he did for us in dying on that cross for us.
Faith in Jesus Christ is proved genuine by what we do. It is obedience. And disobedience is unbelief (1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13). And faith is walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. It is love for God, which is obedience, and it is love for our fellow humans. It is the forsaking of our sins (repentance), and it is walking in obedience to our Lord’s commands, and it is honoring Jesus as master of our lives. For faith comes from God, and it means to be persuaded by God, and he persuades us to forsake our sins and to follow him in obedience (see all Scripture references listed above and below).
But faith is also current, not past, and it is ongoing, and it continues in the faith steadfast until the very end or it does not end in eternal life with God (Rom 8:24; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Jn 8:31-32; Jn 15:1-12; Rom 11:17-24; 1 Co 15:2; Col 1:21-23; 2 Tim 2:10-13; Heb 3:6, 14-15; 2 Pet 1:5-11; 2 Pet 2:20-22; 1 Jn 2:24-25).
So, John 3:16 also does not agree with this quote from Max Lucado. And Max Lucado teaches much that is false, for he teaches a very liberal cheap grace gospel in which God does everything for us and we do nothing (3) and where he sees our salvation as “fire insurance” that guarantees us heaven so that we can deliberately keep on in our sinful practices (2).
So, again, test the spirits to see if they are of God. Test them against the whole of the New Testament, in context, with regard to all instructions given to us who believe (or profess faith) in Jesus Christ.
(1) Max Lucado quote: https://www.faithgateway.com/he-will-not-let-you-go/#.Yfvwg-pKjb0