That old chestnut do you believe in ‘once saved always saved’? Keeps doing the rounds, and is often said with a degree of superiority that suggests that if you do believe it then there is clearly something wrong with you. Personally I struggled with this for years, on one hand worried that I might blow it for all eternity and then on the other hand arrogantly looking down my nose at those lesser Christians who still had sin in their lives.
Perhaps part of the problem is that we are asking the wrong question; perhaps we should be asking ‘are you saved’? After all Jesus gives the most chilling warning in Matthew 7:21 where he tells us that on judgement day people who did all sorts of wonderful works in His Name will find them selves banished into everlasting suffering. What is that all that about?
The standard Christian method for salvation is to believe that Jesus died and rose again, that He is the Son of God, make a good confession etc. The problem here is that the devil knows all the above to be true and he definitely does not have eternal life. Believing in God really is not the same as Salvation, going to church is not a part of salvation, not sinning doesn’t mean you have received salvation, living a good life doesn’t guarantee anything and neither does knowing the Bible.
Before anyone starts sending me hate mail consider what Jesus told the Pharisees; He said that they studied the Scriptures in vain, thinking that from them they would receive eternal life. What! How can Bible study be ineffective? Jesus gives us the answer, He says that the Scriptures point to Him, but the Pharisees refused to come to Him in order to receive that life.
Salvation is not a reward for right choices and good behaviour; it is a free gift, a present from Jesus. We are made right with God through Jesus not our religious choices or behaviour. Salvation is less about behaviour and more about resurrection; it is not about not sinning it is about receiving righteousness. I like what Frank Viola says, “Jesus did not come to make bad men good, but to make dead men live”. That is the truth, we were dead in our sins, we were enemies of God, children of wrath and destined to eternal darkness until Jesus stepped into our lives and rescued us by raising us from the dead. This is not figurative but literal; because in this context death does not mean to stop breathing or to cease to exist. Death means to be separated from God, and if you finish your life in that condition that is the way you stay for all eternity, whether or not you go to church or believe in God.
Once we have established that we truly did not save ourselves but that Jesus rescued us then the whole question of losing our salvation loses it’s relevance. Look at it this way, did you get saved through good behaviour? Obviously not, but then how you could you become unsaved through bad behaviour? God saved you according to Jesus’ merits, not yours. Has Jesus changed, has He failed in any way? Of course not, your salvation is resting on His performance and not yours. You are not staying saved by holding onto Jesus, you are being kept by Jesus holding onto you. Now that is good news!
Our salvation was worked at the cross when Jesus who had committed no sin died so that those who had done no right could live. That is us, we have done no right; there is nothing we can do outside of trusting God that can save us, and there is also nothing a believer can do that would cause God to let go of him.
Here’s another thought; if I can sin my way out of my salvation then where is the line? How bad have I got to be? What must I never do? How many times can I sin before I am forever lost? These are big questions which need answering if my salvation is uncertain. Truth be told, if we can sin our way out of God’s love then I am lost and it would be my guess that you are in a similar place. But maybe it is the really big sins like murder or adultery that finish us off, after all they were punishable by death under the Old Testament, surely God won’t cover those? That sounds reasonable until you realise that King David committed both of those and whilst he suffered as result of his sin God’s promises to him remained in place. In fact one of Jesus’ messianic titles is “The Son of David”.
If you have gone to Jesus and are following Him, if you are looking to get away from sin rather than to get away with sin, then you are safe in His arms. If sin is a problem then it is a greater understanding of grace that will set you free not more effort to appease God, Jesus did that for you. God loves you and there is nothing that can separate you from Him, you haven’t done, and will never do anything that Jesus hasn’t already paid for.
I love the good news, go well.