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Title: Be Not Deceived
Author: Edward F. Mrkvicka, Jr. and Kelly Helen Mrkvicka
Publisher: Trafford Publishing, (August 25, 2006)
Genre: Non-Fiction (Teaching)
Reviewer: Linda Germain
Barnes & Noble.com
Get ready for a spiritual sledgehammer right between the eyes of your heart:
THE MAJORITY OF US WILL SPEND ETERNITY IN HELL.
That is the premise of this very well written and Scripture supported book. The author is unflinching in his warnings to re-assess the once-saved-always-saved belief. God's grace is not an insurance policy that covers willful disobedience. He does not send us to Hell. We send ourselves by the choices we make.
The author says in the preface, "…I came to understand that the worst thing possible is believing you're going to heaven, only to find on Judgment Day that your name is missing from the Book of Life."
We learn that in the last 50-plus years, new salvation without obedience doctrines have emerged to accommodate worldly interpretation of Scripture for those in open spiritual rebellion.
The author begins with an explanation of something with which many Christians are unfamiliar: The Nicolaitan doctrine. That is one of two things Jesus said He hated - that, and the deeds of those who practiced it. What does it mean?
"Nicolas, the father of the Nicolaitan doctrine was one of seven men chosen by the Church to oversee the needs of widows… (Acts 6:1). Nicolas was seen by believers as a wise, spiritual man, yet, in brazen impudence, he gave birth to a doctrine that led to idolatry and open fornication within the Church. He and his followers believed the world and the Kingdom could exist together, notwithstanding the teachings of the Son and the commandments of the Father to the contrary." (P.4)
Under the cloak of piety and claims to be followers of Christ, the Nicolaitans embraced shameless pleasures and self-indulgence. They professed love for the Savior but at the same time immersed themselves in blatant sin. In other words, they believed the Kingdom and the world could exist hand-in-hand; that behavior did not matter.
"The Bible never gives us any indication that a walk with God is a walk through a religious smorgasbord where we can choose what we like and discard that which we do not. In fact, the attitude of disobedience is the very essence of sin, and it is false teaching bordering on blasphemy to suggest that God will welcome into heaven those who willfully reject His rightful authority over their lives." (P.6)
The author says he takes every opportunity to ask his brothers and sisters in Christ, "Who is God?" The majority answer, "God is love." Of course, that is correct - it just doesn't go far enough.
"The simplistic answer that God is love is in no small part due to the fact that many Christians worship a divided Christ; i.e., too many of us readily accept Christ as Savior, but, by our fruits of disobedience, reject Him as our Lord." (P.8)
He explains the rest of the story:
Yes, God is love, but He is also…
1. Intelligent beyond human comprehension.
2. Supremely powerful.
4. Righteous above all else.
5. Vengeful (if we sin willfully after knowing the truth of the Word, we have exercised our free will to reject what we once embraced and will meet the same fiery fate as non-believers who oppose the Lord).
6. Omnipresent (we shouldn't treat Him as something irrelevant to be used as necessary).
7. Our provider
8. Our peace
9. Our Judge
10. Our Shepherd
11. The One who sanctifies us
12. Yes, God is love, but He is so much more.
Salvation, as understood by many, is explained by this analogy. If you are trying to put together a child's bicycle, the instructions usually say you will need a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. That does not mean if you have those things you have a bike that will roll. It just means you are ready for the next step in the process.
Because we have free will, salvation does not begin and end here: For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16) KJV.
The author offers pages of verses that reveal the gift of salvation, "…not in the simplistic form we might wish, but in the loving breadth it is offered." He says we are called to hear the Word, believe the Word, repent of our sins, confess and witness, be baptized, obey, and endure.
"An alter call and the 'Sinner's Prayer' are like a cancer operation. Yes, the operation is important, but what really matters is whether or not your cancer is cured." (P.30)
"The biblical doctrine of repentance is dead in many churches and in the minds of their flock. It has been replaced with a doctrine of being sorry…There is no forgiveness or pardon of a sin while the sin remains active…We have to stop doing what we're asking God to forgive, for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13). Notice, He didn't say He had come to call sinners to be sorry… Replacing repentance with being sorry is replacing the Holy Word with a lie." (P.36)
"The truth is, salvation is free, but it carries obligatory responsibilities. The world tells us we need not repent because we are saved, but the Bible tells us that unless we repent, we will likewise perish (Luke 13:5)."
This author very succinctly states, "… a moment, or even years of sincere belief, is not a righteous response to the most valuable gift ever given…and because we have free will from birth to death, the gift of salvation can be returned. Satan depends on this truth. If he didn't, why would he waste his time on those saved? These are harsh realities, but the truth doesn't make compromises."(P.40)
"Salvation is a gift Satan wants to trick you into surrendering, and what better way than to convince you that you haven't lost what you have lost?" (P.62)
"We are told that narrow is the gate leading to heaven and few will find it. Once-saved-always-saved says, by implication, that the gate is wide open to once saved sinners and many, not a few, will enter." (P.63)
"Spiritual obedience is a concept the world rejects. We reject it because it gets in the way of doing what we want." (P.74)
"And herein lies an important point. Are you having trouble obeying God? Are you shading the truth, playing fast and loose with lying, cheating, being faithful, loyal, or are you 'just slightly' out of sync with God's Word? Hear me, this is important. Obedience is God's barometer of our faith." (P.75)
A short review of such an outstanding book cannot begin to encompass its depth. I have quoted liberally from its passages, since Mr. Mrkvicka's words are so effective in piercing to the heart of the matter. To try to put the author's offering in perspective, he reminds us over and over, "…we declare ourselves Christian, but if we do not exhibit the works of our Lord and Savior, we will not be believed by the One who matters. We can fool others. We can even fool ourselves. But we cannot fool God!" (P. 172)
Although this is well written and easy to understand, I do not consider it light reading. Gaining insight into our relationship with our Creator, the one who holds our eternal lives in His hands, is as serious as it gets.
This is a hi-liter and pen-in-hand kind of study. No matter on which side of salvation theology you stand, I highly recommend this book as part of any seeking, thinking Christian's library.