Today I want to spend a few minutes diving into the scriptures and not into myths, opinions, or misinterpretations. I know there are two sides to this topic and I know I fall on one of those sides. Such it is with life. There will always be areas of discussion in our faith that both sides will never agree on. However, I see clear scriptural evidence that supports one side alone.
Is a person secure in their salvation?
That is the question...
Let's begin with the premise that salvation is the work of God and not of man. For the sake of the length of this post I will not include all the verses that support this premise, but if we can come to terms with this then we are on the same track.
Next, man has the opportunity to respond to salvation. Some believe man is chosen by God and his response is simply an answer to the call, while others believe Jesus died on the cross for all and whomsoever chooses to believe will be saved. Great... let's not get into this debate here either. Let's just agree that Jesus died and to be saved man has a responsibility to respond.
Now a bit more challenging question arises at this point. Who keeps us faithful. What I mean by that is this. Is it a work of the flesh to stay believing or is it a work of the Holy Spirit. I often hear Christians say things like "It is all a work of God." And "God directs my path." I also know that many believe that to stay saved you must do good works. And there are many who feel like they can just leave their salvation if they want. Walk away from it like the power of the cross meant nothing. (The question I have with that one is why would you if you are a new creation with the heart of Jesus in you... and how many times can you come back and forth? One day I am saved the next day I don't want to be... Kind of a weird one for me to buy into) I digressed... The Bible tells us otherwise. Staying in the faith is a work of God and not of our own doing. 1Sa 2:9; Psa 37:23-24, Psa 37:28, Psa 103:17-18, Psa 125:1-2; Pro 2:8; Isa 54:17; Jer 32:40; Joh 4:14, Joh 5:24, Joh 10:28-30, Joh 17:11-12, Joh 17:15; Rom 8:31-39; Phi 1:6; Jud 1:1, Jud 1:24
1Co 1:30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God,
and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
Then comes evidence of our salvation. The Bible tells us that if we are saved we are a new creation. The old is passed away and the new is come. (2Cor 5:17) It also says that we are crucified with Christ and we no longer live, but Christ lives in us. (Gal 2:20) Therefore, if we are saved then we are a new creation with the Spirit of Christ dwelling in our hearts. We live in Him, by Him, with Him, and for Him... We have been bought with a price and our lives are no longer our own. Because of our new birth there should be evidence of this. The Bible makes it clear...
So a person who is is truly saved should show evidence of their salvation through their obedience to Christ. This is the fruit of salvation, not the method. We, as believers in Jesus Christ, show evidence of our faith by the lifestyle we live and the service we do for others. Gal 5:19-25; John 8:31; 2Tim 2:19; Rom 8:13; 1John 1:8-10; Eph 1:4-5; 1Thes 2:12; Col 1:10... and there are so many more. As you can see, a regenerate person who lives by faith shows it by their obedient lifestyle.
Jas 2:14-26 - Faith without works is dead!
Now the struggle I believe most of us deal with... sin! Oh boy, we just had to bring that one up didn't we. How do we deal with a person who says the "sinners prayer" and then goes on living just like they did before? How do we deal with a person who looks like a Christian in every way and then walks away from the fellowship and says they don't believe in God any more? How do we come to terms with people who try to live a godly life and struggle with addiction to drugs or pornography? How about those who loved Jesus, lost a family member to a tragic death, struggled for ten years and then came back to the faith? How do we deal with a friend or family member who accepted Jesus, was baptized, and now lives enmeshed in the world? So many questions... I am certain you have come to terms with or are trying to come to terms with at least one of these questions.
Can I sin so bad, so long, or so often that I
walk away from my salvation?
Please remember, this post is not to judge whether or not you or anyone in the circumstances above are saved. That is the work of God. It is to show what the Bible says about assurance in your salvation. So let's move forward...
Now some answers...What does the Bible say about assurance?
Let's start with a couple of verses in Hebrews. Heb 6:4-6
Hebrews 6:4-6 ESV For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, (5) and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, (6) and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
In these verses it appears that there are some who have been "enlightened," tasted the "heavenly gift," and shared in the Holy Spirit and then fell away. How do we contend with that? Matt 13 is a good example of what the writer of Hebrews is talking about. The person in question hears the message of the Gospel, gets excited about it, samples the power of the Holy Spirit, and then decides that the ways of the world are far more pleasurable than following after Jesus. So the question this passage brings up isn't whether or not the person is saved and walks away from their salvation. It begs to ask, "was this person a new creation?" Where they crucified with Christ? Did this person have fellowship with Jesus and abide in Him? Did they bear fruit or just thistles? Verses 7-8 discusses this:
Hebrews 6:7-8 ESV For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. (8) But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
Both the saved and the unsaved drank from the rain but one bore thistles. Not because they were saved and fell away, but because their heart was not fertile soil and they never received the rain.
John tells us in 1John 2:19 that those who depart from the faith were never really one of us. You will hear clever arguments that there is no such teaching in the Bible that states: "If a person walks away from Jesus they were never saved." Well, I beg to differ with those arguments. This verse is very clear that if you depart from the faith you were not one of us. You were never saved to begin with.
1 John 2:19 ESV They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
Jesus tells many that claim to be followers of Christ to "Go away, I never knew you." Then He calls them workers of lawlessness. These people appeared to be doing good things for Jesus. They looked like "good Christians" on the outside but their heart was far from Him. Notice one key phrase in Matt 7:23... "I Never Knew You!"
Matthew 7:23 NASB "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you;
DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'
The thing with salvation isn't about us knowing Jesus. Many claim to know Jesus. James tells us in Jas 2:19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. So salvation isn't about us knowing God, it is about Jesus knowing us. And when He knows you, you will never be cast out. You will be secure in knowing that no one can snatch you from your Fathers hand.
So, back to the last question. What about sin? Can we agree that the Apostle Paul was probably one of the most influential writers of the New Testament and that his work in ministry will span from our generation to the next to the next? Is it safe to say that he will more than likely be a partaker of the heavenly gift of salvation? If we can agree to that, then maybe what he wrote in Romans will give us a little light to what the scripture says about sin and our salvation.
Romans 7:18-21 NASB For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. (19) For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. (20) But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. (21) I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good.
Paul struggled with sin. I struggle with sin. You undoubtedly struggle with sin. It is in our flesh nature to struggle with sin. The problem isn't do we sin. The issue is do we live a lifestyle of unrepentant sin. Does your sin bother you? Are you, as the late John Owen said, "mortifying sin every day?" Are you taking your sin to the cross and asking God to forgive you or are you in denial of your sin and act like it is no big deal.
How we live is testimony to whether or not we are saved. If we deny our sin and claim to be a Christian then we are deceiving ourselves and calling God a liar. 1 john 4:1-10
So to come to a simple answer about security in salvation. Yes, if you are a follower of Christ and love Jesus you can be assured that as you follow Him and persevere in your faith you will be called home to Glory and spend eternity with Him. If you said the "sinners prayer" and live like the rest of the world you might want to check yourself. The Word makes it clear that salvation isn't about finding a get out of hell free card and once you think your saved you are always saved. There must be evidence... fruit and perseverance.
I hope this blog post is helpful. I know that it is quite long but because of the subject matter it is quite difficult to condense to any less than this. I would welcome your comments or discussion. Feel free to comment and i will try to respond as quickly as I can.
Have a blessed day!