THE SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER
JOHN 10:28, 29 Jesus said “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”
JOHN 5:24 “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
PHILIPPIANS 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
You gave your heart to Jesus. You honestly desired to be changed, to have a new heart, to be righteous from the inside out. You were baptized in His name – and the name of His Father, and the name of the Spirit. You are now part of the body of Christ, His church, His bride. Your name is written in Heaven, in the Book of Life. No one, not even Satan himself, can take you away from your Saviour. You’re safe. You’re secure forever. Right?
Well, yes – and no.
It’s easy to see that as long as you want a relationship with Him, Christ your Saviour will allow nothing to sever that relationship. But what happens if you should turn your back on Christ and go back to a life of wilful sin without regard for God or fellow man? Does God ever have grounds for divorce?
GOD IS ULTIMATELY CONCERNED WITH OUR FREEDOM OF CHOICE.
God created Adam and Eve in His own image. Man was given free will. Without free will there can be no love, for love by definition must be freely given. Men are not androids, programed to act within narrow defined parameters.
To God, this freedom of choice was so important that He was willing to sacrifice His only Son rather than create man without this freedom. The Father knew of course, that one day Lucifer, His highest creation, would rebel against Him never to return. He knew that Adam and Eve would choose to doubt His love, and to disobey His command never to eat of “the tree.” He knew that only a portion of their descendants would finally be reconciled. He knew what it would take to win them back. And yet He created beings with the freedom to choose.
WILL WE LOVE AND TRUST HIM, OR NOT?
Obedience is an outward sign, a result of our trust relationship with God. If we love and trust our Father, we will obey Him because we believe that He knows what is best for us. When we disobey God, we are really saying, “I don’t believe you“, “I think you are keeping something good from me.” This is the rationale that Satan used at the tree in the garden. Being saved is not just a legal manipulation. Being saved means that we have come to trust God completely. We have entered a relationship which allows God to make changes in our thoughts, desires, and actions.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “SAVED?”
“I’m saved,” He says. “I will live forever. Someday I will live in a beautiful city with streets made of gold.”
Yes, that can all true. He can live forever in a beautiful place. But there is much more to salvation. We are saved from sin – not just from death and unpleasantness. We are saved from the selfishness within our own hearts. Christ Himself through His Spirit comes to live in us. We live mind to mind with our Savior. Through us He pours out His gentleness, His kindness, His patience, His unselfishness, His power, and His truth – His love. We enter into a living, dynamic relationship with a living being – our Lord.
Some people very much want to live forever in Heaven, but they are not so concerned with real day to day righteousness. They want the rewards but not necessarily the relationship. Yet it is the relationship which leads to the final reward. We cannot have one without the other.
CAN A MAN CHOOSE TO LEAVE GOD?
HEBREWS 3:12-14 “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,”
There’s that word again – “unbelief.” What did Jesus say, “If you believe.” The above text suggests that one can believe in Christ, and then be deceived into unbelief. The Israelites who died in the wilderness, could not enter into the promised land because of “unbelief.” Their disobedience was proof of their disbelief. (Hebrews 3:19) If we believe, we will obey. If we refuse to obey, it is because we do not truly believe in the rightness of God.
MATTHEW 24:13 “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
1 JOHN 1:7 “If we walk in the light …. the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
ROMANS 11:22 “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”
I JOHN 2:24 “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.”
The words HOLD, WALK, CONTINUE, ABIDE, REMAIN, all suggest an ongoing relationship, rather than a one time decision. The word “if” stresses an ongoing choice between options.
2 TIMOTHY 2:12 “If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.”
JOHN 15:3-6 “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Here clearly are believers who are “saved.” They have been forgiven of their sins. They are clean. Yet Christ tells them that they will be cut off the tree like a withered branch, and “cast into the fire,” unless they continue to abide in Him.
Again notice the words ENDURE, AND ABIDE are commands to continue. Again the word “if” suggests alternatives, and free choice.
1 CORINTHIANS 9:27 Paul himself said, “. . . lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast away.” (rejected)
If anyone was in a “saved” condition, if was Paul. The apostle to the Gentiles – stoned, imprisoned, whipped, shipwrecked, all for the cause of Christ. Yet here Paul says there is a chance that even He could be “cast away,” if He does not continue to abide in Christ, and thereby keep His commandments.
ROMANS 11:17-22 Paul speaking to a Gentile convert says, And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”
First please notice that “some,” not all, of the “natural branches” (biological descendants of Abraham) were “cut off” “because of unbelief.” God has not broken His covenant with Israel. His covenant with Abraham continues to this day for any Jew who comes to believe in Christ. Paul here tells the Gentile convert that He has been grafted into the tree (the true Israel – the believing descendants of Abraham). He has become part of the church. He is blessed of God. He is saved. His name has been written in Heaven. Yet just like the unbelieving Jews, he can and will be cut off if he does not continue in the faith.
SOME WILL DEPART
1 TIMOTHY 4:1 “. . . some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits” … 1 TIMOTHY 5:15 “For some have already turned aside after Satan.” …REVELATION 2:4 (Speaking to the church of Ephesus) “you have left your first love.” “Repent” … 2 PETER 2:20 “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” … 2 PETER 1:9-10 Peter tells the brethren to give all diligence to their growth in knowledge and virtue, “But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” (He lacks faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, charity.)
Peter here seems to be saying that if one does not “give diligence” or attention to Christian growth, he could stumble and fall away and thereby loose his election or entrance into the everlasting kingdom of Christ. In other words – he could loose his salvation.
HEBREWS 10:26 “For if we sin (are sinning or continue to sin) willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin.” This verse describes exactly the condition of the callous individual who believes that he has been saved and therefore cannot ever be lost. He goes on sinning without even trying to stop, all the while believing that he is in a saved condition. There is nothing that God can do for this person, because he does not sense his need.
EZEKIEL 33:13 “When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.”
Here is the man who believes that his salvation is a fact, which nothing can alter. He has been righteous and will receive his reward. Because he believes that his reward is certain, he becomes careless. He does not feel his need of continued heavenly support. He does not stay close to Christ or pray for victory. And what happens? He “commits iniquity” – of course. The text is clear – he will die in his iniquity, with his sin unforgiven.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN A RIGHTEOUS MAN TURNS AWAY FROM RIGHTEOUSNESS?
EZEKIEL 18:26-27 “When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die. Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.”
No man can be righteous without the indwelling Holy Spirit, so this “righteous man” must be in a saving relationship with God. Yet if he turns away from righteousness he will die (eternally).
MALACHI 3:7 “Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.
THE MESSAGES TO THE SEVEN CHURCHES
REVELATION 1:1 – 3:22 John the apostle was given a message for each of seven churches. Each message was given by Christ Himself. Each message gives a command, and each message gives a promise of reward for those who follow the command.
To Ephesus, the message is given by the One “that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;” (Rev. 2:1, 1:13,20). The command is given: “Repent and do the first works…” (Rev. 2:5). The promise: “TO HIM WHO OVERCOMETH, I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God” (Rev. 2:7). The implied message would be that whomever does NOT overcome, will NOT eat of the tree of life.
To Smyrna, the message is given by “the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;:” (Rev. 2:8). The command is given: “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). The additional statement is made: “HE WHO OVERCOMETH shall not be hurt by the second death” (Rev. 2:11).
The implication – that the one who is NOT faithful, and does NOT overcome, will NOT receive th crown of life, and will die the second death. The second death is the “lake of fire” (Rev. 20:6,14). Remember that these messages were not given to unbelievers. They were given to the churches.
To Sardis, the message is given by the one who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars (Rev. 1:16,20). The command: “Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die” (Rev. 3:2). And the promise: “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Rev. 3:4-5). If Christ does not confess the name of a sinner before His Father, that sinner will be lost. His name will be blotted from the Book of Life, and he will die the second death. (Rev. 20:15). No one will enter the New Jerusalem who’s name is not found written in the Book of Life (Rev. 21:27).
To Philadelphia, the message is given by He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts, and no one opens (Rev. 3:7, 1:11,18). The command is given to “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.” (Rev. 3:12). The “crown” here referred to is the “crown of life.” To receive this crown is to receive eternal life. The “key of David” is the key to life – eternal life (Rev. 1:18).
To Laodicea, the message is again given by Christ, “the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;” (Rev. 3:14). To command: “buy from Me gold,” and “white garments,” and “eye salve.” Hear my voice and open the door” (Rev. 3:18-21). The promise: “and I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:21). “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Rev. 3:21). Anyone who refuses to open his heart to Christ will not receive eternal life.
THE LAMB’S BOOK OF LIFE
REVELATION 21:27 “And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
LUKE 10:20 “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven..”
HEBREWS 12:22-23 “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect”
PHILIPPIANS 4:3 “And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.”
REVELATION 20:15 “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
REVELATION 22:19 ” . . . And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
REVELATION 3:5 “He who overcometh … I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life.”
Our name is written in “the Lamb’s book of life” when we come to God in repentance and faith. We receive forgiveness. The words “blot out his name,” and “take away his part” tell us that it is possible for us to loose salvation and eternal life. Once saved – always saved is not taught here.
“LAST RITES” – LAST MINUTE SALVATION
A mafia keeps a priest close by for “emergencies.” Can the mass, administered by a priest just before, or even just after death (before the soul leaves the body), gain a place in Heaven for one who committed murder after murder in life, with no thought of reform?
The thief on the cross asked for and received assurance of a place in Christ’s kingdom (Luke 23:42,43). Does this mean that any one of us may ask for and receive forgiveness and salvation in the last moments of our life?
Only God knows the heart. If the person who is dying is asking for absolution just so that he/she will go to the good place instead of the bad place – then the answer is no. On the other hand, if that person is genuinely sorry for his sin, if he has truly caught a glimpse of the great love of God, if he greatly desires a relationship with God and with His Son for all eternity, then the answer is yes.
The human mind cannot live with the thought of burning torment without end. The individual seeks reassurance that, no matter what happens, no matter what he does or does not do in the future, he will never go “there.” This is why the “once saved – always saved” doctrine is so important to those who believe there is a place called “Hell.”
Other studies at this web site will explain that God will not send anyone to a place called “hell,” to be tortured for eternity. See: “The Condition of Man in Death,” and “Hell – A Future Event , Not a Present Place.” Please be assured – God does not believe in cruel or unusual punishment any more than you do.
Please be assured – God does not believe in cruel or unusual punishment any more than you do.
CONSIDER A FEW EXAMPLES OF PERSONS WHO WERE IN A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, AND THEN FELL AWAY. SOME REPENTED AND WERE RESTORED AGAIN, SOME WERE NOT.
David: PSALM 51:11 “take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.” v. 12 “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.”
Saul: 1 SAMUEL 10:6,9 Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied. He was converted. v. 9 “God gave him another heart.” 1 SAMUEL 31:1-6 Saul committed suicide rather than be captured by the enemy. 1 SAMUEL 28:6,16 The Lord refused to communicate with Saul. v. 16 The Lord had departed from Saul. 1 SAMUEL 28:7-25 Saul consulted with the spirit medium of Endor. 1 CHRONICLES 10:13,14 “for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it: He (God) slew him.”
Solomon: Was close to the Lord when he began his reign as king. Then he married many heathen wives and they turned his heart away from God and he built alters to their false gods. In his old age he returned to God but not in time to save the kingdom of Israel from the result of his influence.
Judas: He walked with Jesus for three years, and accepted him as the Messiah. Then he betrayed him.
Mary Magdalene: Saved seven times. (Mark 16:9)
The parable of the Prodigal Son: He was free to leave again if he chose. (Luke 15:11-32)
1 Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils,
THE CITIES OF REFUGE
When a murderer fled to a “city of refuge” he was safe from the “avenger of blood” only so long as he remained inside the city. (Numbers 35:26-27). If he ventured outside, the avenger could kill him. So we are safe from Satan “the destroyer” only so long as we remain in Christ our Refuge.
WHAT DOES THE SANCTUARY SYMBOLISM TELL US?
The sacrificial system pointed forward to Christ “the Lamb of God” who was sacrificed once for the sins of the whole world. Each time an Israelite sinned he could bring a lamb to the Sanctuary (later the Temple) and obtain forgiveness. He would confess his sin over the head of the Lamb, symbolically transferring that sin to the Lamb. If coming to Christ once is sufficient for all our sins- past, present, and future, then the sacrifice of one lamb – once in his life – should have provided forgiveness for life, for the Israelite. But this was not the case.
Unconfessed sin in the life of an Israelite on the Day of Atonement meant separation from God’s people. So in fulfillment of this prophecy, unconfessed sin in the life of any person at the end of his/her life (or at the last Day of Atonement just before Christ returns) means that he/she will be “cut off” from God’s people forever.
Christ’s death on the cross won for Him the right to forgive anyone who comes to Him in faith. It covers all sins of ignorance (Lev. 5:17-19, John 9:41). Yes, Christ died once for all sin, for all time, but each time we sin knowingly we must ask for and claim that forgiveness in the name of Christ. We cannot ask in advance to be forgiven for our future sins. (This was the Roman practice of buying indulgences – forgiveness in advance, which caused Luther to lash out at the Roman Church.) Before we can be forgiven, we must hate our sin, we must be sorry for the pain we have brought to the heart of God, and to our fellow men.
IT IS A DAILY CHOICE
LUKE 9:23 ” If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”
I CORINTHIANS 15:31 “I die daily.”
ONCE SAVED – ALWAYS SAVED?
MATTHEW 18:23-35 THE PARABLE OF THE DEBTOR
Sins are forgiven and covered when confessed and forsaken. So long as the sinner remains in Christ, his past sins remain covered and forgiven. If however, this person returns to his former life without Christ, his sins, past and present will be open in the books of Heaven. He will meet the record of his entire life on judgment day. This lesson is taught in the parable of the unmerciful servant, who after he had been forgiven his entire debt, (been saved) dealt harshly with his debtors, and the Lord then required him to pay all that had once been forgiven him.
If forgiveness were obtained by doing something to coax God into forgiving us, then it would also be true that we can do things that would cause God to change His mind. But if forgiveness is discovered as an unchanging quality in the heart of God , then the way to lose forgiveness is to separate oneself from this forgiving God. (See the study on “The Wrath of God” at this web site.)
I can become so rebellions, so drawn by the cheap attractions of sin, that I don’t care about forgiveness
I can become so self-righteous, so impressed with my good works, that I don’t think I need forgiveness.
I can be so smitten by guilt that Satan convinces me to think God could never forgive such a sinner as I.
I can become absorbed in the cares of this life and become so busy that I forget about God and my relationship with Jesus.
But in each case I am the one who has changed. God has not changed.
This, of course, is the weakness of the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. It is based on the premise that once God has decided to forgive a sinner, He will never change His mind. The problem is, God does not change His mind; we do! The sin problem doesn’t centre in God’s opinion of man, but in man’s opinion of God.
God is forgiveness. He cannot be untrue to Himself. There was never a point in time when Divinity decided to forgive sinners. “For I am the Lord, I change not.” (Malachi 3:6) God forgave man before he ever sinned. God forgave man before he ever existed. But man must accept that forgiveness, and renew his relationship with God, before he can receive its life giving power.
There is another deception into which many Christians fall. It is the sin of presumption. Many come to believe that God is so forgiving that He will continue to forgive them, no matter how long they continue to repeat their sin. As long as they ask for forgiveness over and over, they can sin, over and over. This deception is deadly, because they have ignored the need for repentance. David said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18).. Confession is not enough. Repentance is also necessary. To repent means “to turn around.” It means to stop doing what you were doing. Those who believe that confession is enough, never really plan to change. They never ask God for the power to change. They deny Christ entrance into hearts and their lives.
ROMANS 6:16 “servants ye are to whom ye obey.” If I willfully, blatantly sin then I am Satan’s slave. If I say, “forgive me,” but then I deny the saving power of God, to change my life, I deny God Himself. I refuse the essence of forgiveness which is healing, and I am lost.
BY GRACE YOU ARE SAVED, THROUGH FAITH WE MUST BELIEVE
If we lose faith, we lose salvation.
JOHN 20:31 “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
ACTS 16:31 “So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.'”
MARK 16:16 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.”
MARK 9:23-24 “Jesus said to him, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
ROMANS 11:20-21 “Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.”
HEBREWS 3:12-14 “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.”
HEBREWS 3:19 “So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.”
HEBREWS 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
If you do not believe that your Heavenly Father can help you, will help you, and in fact desires very much to help you, then you will not reach out to Him. You will not pray. You will not ask, and God will not enter your mind without your permission. He will not violate your free will.
We must believe that Jesus is indeed the Son of God. We must believe that He can and will forgive our sins. We must believe that He can and will live in us, and give us power to overcome any inherited or cultivated tendency to sin. We must believe that Christ living in us can overcome. This faith opens the door to God’s healing forgiveness.
If I deny the power of God to overcome every sin, I am saying that God’s power in my life is insufficient. I have closed the door.
There is no need to be lost. Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). “what he had promised, he was able also to perform” (Romans 4:21). “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Forgiveness is more than a legal manoeuvre. Salvation is more than a ticket to the city with golden streets. God can and will change your life. But you must respond. You must choose whom you will believe. If you once had faith and somehow lost that confidence in God, go and find it again. Search, read, pray until you find it – until you find Him. And remember, faith too is promised (1Cor 12:9).
ACTS 16:31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house”.
JAMES 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.”
In what way does the belief of a child of God differ from that of a demon? Demons will not be saved in the kingdom of God – yet we read that they “believe.” Demons know who God is. They know He does exist. They know He is all powerful. They also know that they have lost the battle for this world. Christ will soon banish Satan to the pit. The belief held by the child of God goes beyond knowing what is and what will be.
First: The child of God believes certain things about the character of God. He/she believes that God is love, that God is kind, patient, and merciful.
Second: In the child of God belief leads to obedience. His/her obedience says, I believe that God is just, and holy, and good, and knows what is best for me. The child of God has surrendered, because he/she believes in the goodness of God.
“NEVER REALLY SAVED”
Suppose I return to a life of sin after I have been baptized, after I have made a commitment to Christ. Many Christians would say this action on my part indicates that I was never “really” saved. They believe that if a person is saved he is changed and will never return to his old life.
What does this mean to me, if I’m out there sinning again? If I’m sleeping with someone without benefit of marriage – was I never really saved? If I become addicted to drugs and begin to steal – was I never really saved? What if I’m jealous of a coworker? Want if I gossip frequently? At what point do I know that I was never “really” saved, so I’d better go back and do it right this time? If I commit “big” sins, then, for sure, I was never really saved. But what if I continually commit “little” sins?
Salvation is a process. I am being saved. Day by day – hour by hour, I am growing in grace. I have entered a relationship with my Saviour. I may slip and fall many times, but so long as I continue to pray, to ask for forgiveness desiring to become like Christ in character, I have not left that relationship. (Let’s face it, because of temperament or training, some folks find it easier to act like a Christian than others do.) If I were to die before I reached full maturity, Christ’s righteousness would cover my imperfections, and I would be welcome in Heaven.
I have said that I consider myself to be in a saved condition – now, because I have entered into a saving relationship with Christ. I could comfortably say, “I am saved,” or even “I have been saved.” I do not, however, believe that I am irrevocably saved. I may revoke my salvation, if I choose to leave my relationship with Christ.
Just as marriages sometimes die through neglect, so my relationship with Christ could die if severely neglected. Suppose I just choose to pursue things other than spiritual growth . (I’m not openly rebellious towards God. I haven’t consciously turned away from Him.) The end result is the same. Doubts creep in, slowly almost imperceptibly. One day I realize my faith is gone. I can choose to go in search of evidence to restore my faith. Like the prodigal son I can return to the Father’s house. But the longer I stay away, the greater the likelihood that I will ever return.
HOW CAN THE UNIVERSE BE SECURE?
How can the universe be secure for eternity if human beings, or angels for that matter, can choose to rebel? That’s why the resolution of the sin problem has taken so long. God wanted all intelligent beings to see for themselves the results of doing things any other way than His way. He wanted to answer every possible question which has, or ever will be asked concerning His character, His law, His mercy, and His justice. God allowed the horrible results of rebellion, He then gave His only begotten Son, because He is committed to free will. For without free will, there can be no love.
PERFECTION: IS IT NECESSARY FOR SALVATION?
If you are covered by the righteousness of Christ, then you ARE perfect in the eyes of God. If you are abiding in Christ, if you have a relationship with God, and you are being transformed into the image of His Son, then you are indeed in a saved condition. If you were to die today, you would be called from the grave by Christ, in “the resurrection of the just.” Because one has not reached full maturity in Christ does not mean he/she is not righteous in the eyes of God, through Christ. A newborn Christian is indeed covered by the blood of Christ so long as he/she remains in that saving relationship.