“THE MAN IN THE IRON CAGE”
John Bunyan, in his allegory "The Pilgrim's Progress", (the most published book in history after the Bible) which described the process of salvation, wrote of the awful scene in which "Christian" was shown the "man in the iron cage" who was born of God and yet turned back to sin.
"Now, said Christian, let me go hence. Nay, stay, said the Interpreter, till I have shewed thee a little more, and after that thou shalt go on thy way.
So he took him by the hand again, and led him into a very dark room, where there sat a man in an iron cage. Now the man, to look on, seemed very sad; he sat with his eyeslooking down to the ground, his hands folded together, and he sighed as if he would break his heart.
Then said Christian, What means this? At which the Interpreter bid him talk with the man. Then said Christian to the man, What art thou? The man answered, I am what I was not once.
Chr. What wast thou once?
Man. The man said, I was once a fair and flourishing professor,both in mine own eyes, and also in the eyes of others; I once was, as I thought, fair for the Celestial City, and had then even joy at the thoughts that I should get thither.
Chr. Well, but what art thou now?
Man. I am now a man of despair, and am shut up in it, as in this iron cage. I cannot get out. Oh, now I cannot!
Chr. But how camest thou in this condition?
Man. I left off to watch and be sober. I laid the reins, upon the neck of my lusts; I sinned against the light of the Word and the goodness of God; I have grieved the Spirit, and he is gone; I tempted the devil, and he is come to me; I have provoked God to anger, and he has left me: I have so hardened my heart, that I cannot repent.
Then said Christian to the Interpreter, But is there no hope for such a man as this? Ask him, said the Interpreter. Nay, said Christian, pray, Sir, do you.
Inter. Then said the Interpreter, Is there no hope, but you must be kept in the iron cage of despair?
Man. No, none at all.
Inter. Why, the Son of the Blessed is very pitiful.
Man. I have crucified him to myself afresh; I have despised his person; I have despised his righteousness; I have counted his blood an unholy thing; I have done despite to the Spirit of grace. (Heb 10:26f) Therefore I have shut myself out of all the promises, and there now remains to me nothing but threatenings, dreadful threatenings, fearful threatenings, of certain judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour me as an adversary.
Inter. For what did you bring yourself into this condition?
Man. For the lusts, pleasures, and profits of this world; in the enjoyment of which I did then promise myself much delight; but now every one of those things also bite me, and gnaw me like a burning worm.
Inter. But canst thou not now repent and turn?
Man. God hath denied me repentance. His Word gives me no encouragement to believe; yea, himself hath shut me up in this iron cage; nor can all the men in the world let me out. O eternity, eternity! how shall I grapple with the misery that I must meet with in eternity!
Inter. Then said the Interpreter to Christian, Let this man's misery be remembered by thee, and be an everlasting caution to thee.
Chr. Well, said Christian, this is fearful! God help me to watch and be sober, and to pray that I may shun the cause of this man's misery!
That is why Paul warned: "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling".
Yes , many will say Lord' Lord', and still be lost.
If you listen to modern Christianity these ideas seem to be heresy. Yet if one reads the 2nd century church fathers one will quickly conclude that one must cease from transgression of the law in order to be "saved"
Clement of Rome to the Corinthians:
"...so surely shall he, who with lowliness of mind and instant in gentleness hath without regretfulness performed the ordinances and commandments that are given by God, be enrolled and have a name among the number of them THAT ARE SAVED through Jesus Christ. (p.38)
An Ancient Homily (2nd epistle of Clement)
"But wherein do we confess Him? [Romans 10:10] When we do that which He saith AND ARE NOT DISOBEDIENT TO HIS COMMANDMENTS, and not only honor Him with our lips, but with our whole heart and with our Whole mind..." (p.45)
"For, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; but if otherwise, then nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, IF WE SHOULD DISOBEY HIS COMMANDMENTS." (p.46)
"Wherefore brethren, if we shall have done the will of the Father and kept the flesh pure and guarded the commandments of the Lord, we shall receive LIFE ETERNAL." (p.47)
Epistle of Polycarp
"Now He that raised Him from the dead will raise us up also; IF WE DO HIS WILL AND WALK IN HIS COMMANDMENTS...abstaining from all unrighteousness". (p.95) The Apostolic Fathers, J.B. Lightfoot, Baker
It would be hard for these people to get a job in the seminaries of today, wouldn't it?
The modern teaching of Once Saved Always Saved pleases the ear, but will cause many to follow the man of sin.
Harold and Donna Kupp