Salvation Lost

The story in Jeremiah lately has been progressing toward the Babylonian captivity which will be endured by Judah.  I have pointed out the possible similarities to our own culture being led away by false gods.  But what really strikes me is that God allows this captivity to happen to His chosen people.  Such an act begs many questions, not the least of which is, “Why would God allow such a thing happen to His own people?”  We see the answer in today’s verse.

“People from many nations will pass by this city and will ask one another, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this great city?’  And the answer will be: ‘Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God and have worshiped and served other gods.’”  — Jeremiah 22:8-9

The punishment comes down to one major thing – the violation of a covenant which was made between God and the chosen nation of Israel.  In Genesis 17:7-8, God promised the Israelite nation that they would possess the land of Canaan, under the terms of a new covenant that was being established.

“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”  — Genesis 17:7

In a covenant, both sides name an obligation that must be adhered to in order for the covenant to stand.  The obligation of the Israelites is found in verses 9 through 14 of the same chapter in Genesis.  Specifically, it speaks of the covenant of circumcision.  Couple this with the verse in Jeremiah, and you will note a similarity – a condition of the covenant is also that the Israelites continue to make God their Lord, and nothing else can take His place.

And this was the part of the covenant that was broken.  They went after other gods, even though they were likely following the circumcision part, but this state was not good enough to keep them in the Lord’s favor.

Now, compare this to our covenant relationship today – the covenant of baptism has taken the place of the covenant of circumcision (Colossians 2:11-12).  Thus,there is still a covenant which has a physical manifestation (baptism) and a demand (that we make God the Lord of our lives – Hebrews 8:10).  So, we see that these two covenants are very similar – the difference being the physical manifestation, which is now baptism instead of circumcision.

A question – for my dear friends who think that baptism and entering today’s covenant relationship with Christ is different from the Old Law in that it is irrevocable once given – that is, salvation cannot be lost once it is granted – I have to ask: Why would the new covenant have such a different condition than the old covenant?  Under the old, God’s part of the bargain was removed if the people broke their part.  Why would this be different under the new covenant?  Indeed, if God had made the new covenant to say, “Make a decision at some point in your life to follow Me, and I’ll give you a gift of salvation  that will last no matter how you feel about Me later”, then this would hardly be a covenant, wouldn’t it?  We would have no ongoing obligation under that scenario.  But I believe we do have an obligation which persists as long as we live – to love and honor God and have Him be first and foremost in our life.  If we violate that commitment, we will become like the nation of Judah in the book of Jeremiah – God will give us over to our tormentors and we will be lost, until such a time that we repent on our own initiative and gain restoration.  From this argument, I can only conclude that our salvation can be lost after our initial acceptance of Christ – just as happened to God’s people in the Old Testament.  This is how covenants operate – and Colossians 2 makes it clear that we are operating under a covenant.


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