Most have heard about or played the game 'Monopoly'. The whole goal of the game is to end up with the most money and property, but at at any time you could lose your property, money, or end up in 'jail'; but, if you were lucky enough to draw a 'get out of jail' free card, you could avoid spending time in jail and get back to earning money/buying property. Monopoly is just a game, but it is a representation of the real world. What is sad is that many who profess to be Christians, treat the grace of God like a 'get out jail free' card. That they they can play-'live'- anyway they want and when they get in trouble, they can just pull 'the card'-"God's forgiving", and they 'promise' to do right, but instead of truly repenting and changing, they continue to live a life of sin, disobeying the commandments of God resting on the fact that God is merciful.
There are some biblical promises where the main point has nothing to do with man's response to the gospel but everything to do with God's work towards man. The issue of salvation is a 'free gift' from God, now free does not mean it didn't cost anything. Our freedom is the most costly thing to ever be bought/sold. Our freedom was bought with the sacrificed Blood of Jesus Christ.
"Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For when were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while were were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:5-8
Yes, people must respond with faith to the offer of God and believe in His Son, but at the end of the day our salvation comes from God. We can't work our way to heaven; but we can mostly definitely work our way 'out' of heaven.
"Once saved always saved" is one of the most debated doctrines in the Christian world today, but what does the Bible say? One one end of the debate are those who believe in the 'once saved always saved' and they base this belief on a couple of passages, one being John 3:15, "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life." They interpret this to mean that once a person believes, that the fact that it says they 'have eternal life' indicates it's an eternal decision that can't be 'undone'. Another major verse in the 'once saved always saved' doctrine is Romans 8:38-39, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thin, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Again, from this verse many believe that once a person believes and has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that it is impossible for a person to lose their salvation. Others on the opposite end of the debate, believe that it is possible to lose your salvation, here are a few of their arguments against the 'once saved always saved' belief:
The parable of the sower found in Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15 is used in the argument against the always saved doctrine. They believe this passage means that all three of the different soils which represented a person's internal heart/soul) were saved from the moment the seed was dropped/planted; and that the seed that fell on shallow ground and was taken up by Satan is proof that people can lose their salvation. But one has to ask themselves is this really what this parable means? One has to remember and take into consideration the WHOLE counsel of God, because if you don't it's so easy to take one scripture and create a whole new doctrine that conflicts with other passages in the Word of God. At surface level it would seem that there are 'contraindications' in the Bible. There are competing passages that DO indicate that salvation is eternal and impossible to lose and there other passages that warn reported 'believers' that they do not 'forfeit' their salvation by continuing to live sinful lives. So which is it? Can a person who was once saved lose their salvation? The purpose of this post is not necessarily to dispute this issue, but I have to bring it up as it relates to the purpose of this post, but I will discuss my belief and why I believe this.
First, I do believe that when a person 'truly' believes and are gifted with the Holy Spirit that they are saved always. So on the surface I do believe the 'once saved always saved', but I do believe that there are many who profess to be Christians who are not really and they are the ones who are at risk of 'losing out' on the free give of salvation. I believe that a person can go through the motions of becoming a Christian, confess that Jesus is Lord, get water baptized, go to church services, volunteer in the church/community, give and do, but they are doing all this in the flesh, and are not really saved in the way the Bible says people are really saved. How do I come to this conclusion? From the scriptures.
Everyone is familiar with the story of Judas, the betrayer. He is one example of a person who walked in the flesh WITH Jesus, but was not truly one of Jesus's saved. When Jesus called Judas, Judas was part of the 12 disciples, he was given all the same instructions as the others, he walked and talked with Jesus for those three years, and Jesus DID NOT dispute the fact that Judas was an actual member of the elite 12. Now here some will say, 'see this is an example of a person being saved and then losing their salvation.' But I don't agree with this. The bible makes it very clear that a truly regenerated, born again, Holy Spirit filled person cannot one day just decide, "You know what, this Christianity thing isn't working for me." and then go on to live a life completely contrary to the Word of God, and then decide to come back later in life. This is shown in Hebrews 6:4-6, "For it is IMPOSSIBLE for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame." There is a superficial response to the gospel that doesn't penetrate to the true heart of a person or a real response to the Gospel which leads to a completely new person, a new mind, a new heart, and the work of their hands leads to produce a hundredfold. People who believe they are Christians are warned to, "Test-Examine yourself as to whether you are truly of the faith." 2 Corinthians 13:5; and John, in 1 John 2:18-19 was talking to a church body of 'believers' when he gave this instruction; and in another place, it talks about some members who left but they were never really apart of the body to begin with in 1 John, they were 'anti-christs'-those who profess to be Christian but really are servants of their real master the devil,"They-the false believers/anti-christs- went out from us, but they were not of us; for IF THEY HAD BEEN OF US, they would have continued with us." The fact that those people, those who had once been a part of the church body, could leave and did leave, was proof they were not truly regenerated/born again Christians. Christ tells us that when we believe, we are 'reborn', so if a person could lose their salvation and gain it back again, it's like saying the person gets re-birthed again and again and this is clearly not shown in the scriptures. The re-birth is a one time event, not something to be entered in over and over again. Now this is not to be confused with 'growing up' a Christian. When a person is 'born again' ,they are a new creature, but just like a new born baby, there are 'baby' Christians. A new born Christian has to be nurtured and raised up just like a baby, the new Christian has to learn and abide in Christ, they must walk out and build their faith.
One other scripture that makes me believe in the false Christian is from Jesus's own words in Matthew Chapter 7 verse 21-23, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. MANY will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness." What really stands out to me is the fact that these people actually had some power to cast out demons, prophesy, and do other miraculous things but Jesus still doesn't know them; and the fact that they were doing actual 'good' things, but they were only good on the surface. It would appear that the power these people did not come from God, but from Satan who is able to give his followers, 'puppet' powers, but they do not compare to the powers of All Mighty God! This is true as can be seen in the Old testament, with the story of Moses. When Moses went to confront Pharaoh, Moses performed some miracles but Pharaohs evil wizards did some too. So we can see that just because someone can perform miracles does not mean they are getting that power from God. Actually real Christians are warned not to believe what they 'see' because that is exactly how Satan is going to 'deceive' many, even the elect, by his counterfeit and lying 'wonders/miracles'. Jesus that Satan will deceive even the elect, Judas was an elected one, many are called but only a few are chosen, 'who ever' believes means that salvation is open to everyone, but the sad truth is many chose to reject Christ and instead embrace the lies and distortions of Satan
Jesus was teaching to the multitudes "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there many who many go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are FEW who find it". Matthew 7:13-14.
The Bible clearly talks about false religions and false doctrines. Paul and the others frequently had to dispute those who would twist the scriptures for their own gain.
This leads me to real point of this post, Are you truly a Child or God or not. This is the one question that every human being must know as it relates to their very life now and the life to come. I believe the greatest heresy in the Church today is that you can live anyway you want and God is OK with it because 'once saved always saved' and that God's grace 'covers' their sin'. This false belief is evident in the growing actively practicing homosexual pastors/leaders in the church, fornicators, greedy, selfish, and just down right evil in the churches today. Pastors on TV saying nothing is wrong with practicing same sex behaviors, because God 'created them that way'. Pastors and other leaders in the church being convicted for sex crimes, for financial crimes, committing adultery, sleeping around with members, child sexual and physical abuse is the dark secret in the church, young women who dress like prostitutes in the church services all the while praising God, church members who regularly lie, cheat, gossip, engage in immoral practices, but then go to church every Wednesday and Sunday and truly believe what they are doing is okay, no repentance or turning away from sin, they believe that God 'understands' them and He forgives them and that 'going to church' clears them of their wrong doing. I remember talking once to a man who was in a homosexual relationship. I told him about the love of God and how God does not approve of homosexual behavior, that it is just one of many different sins that He died to rescue us from. The man replied to me, "Oh, I believe in god, and I believe 'in my heart' that God approves of me and my lover, because we have 'real love' for one another." This is what many practicing homosexuals believe. But the Bible is clear, the heart of man is DESPERATELY WICKED, and that men deceive themselves into believing that they can live their life anyway they want and won't have to suffer any consequences for it; many believe that grace is their, 'get out of hell free' card, but the bible warns the danger of believing this way, "Do not be deceived, the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God-neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God." 1 Corinthians 6:9-10.
Becoming a Christian does not mean we won't sin anymore, but it does mean we will sin less and the more we partner and walk truly with God we will cling less to the sin nature and more to God. We are told that if we believe we are without sin we already sinning by believing a lie. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but God is quick to forgive us, but we CANNOT use this fact- God's love, forgiveness, and mercy for us- as a license to sin.
"Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have, You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, " The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously"? But He gives more grace, Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom." James 4:1-9.
And if you are still thinking grace allows you to live anyway you want, heed this other warning in Hebrews 10, starting at verse 26: "For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, THERE NO LONGER REMAINS A SACRIFICE FOR SINS, but a certain fearful expectations of judgement, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who rejected Moses' law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, count the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of Grace?"
Being an enemy of the One True and Omnipotent Holy God is beyond human imagination. One can think, stupidly, that they can handle hell or they are not afraid of God, but it is crystal clear in the Word of God that, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God". Hebrews 10:31. God often 'cloaks' His deity in His physical interactions with His creation, He had to because no human eyes could really see Him an live, and just a little taste of His true self caused faithful men to feel great terror. In the Old Testament, men of God, men who were walking with God, at times in His presence, felt utter doom, for example Abraham in Genesis 15 verse 12, he is sleeping when a 'horror and great darkness fell upon him." ;and in another place, Hebrews 12:18-21 is talking about the time of Moses in the chapter of Exodus when God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments written on stone,before Jesus's sacrifice the people could not approach or touch the mountain of God that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore. (For they could not endure what was commanded: "And it so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow."And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, "I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.") and one other verse about God, "But He is unique, and who can make Him change? And whatever His soul desires, that He does. For He performs what is appointed, that He does. For He performs what is appointed for me, and many such things are with Him. Therefore I am terrified at His presence; When I consider this, I am afraid of Him. For God made my heart weak, and the Almighty terrifies me; Because I was not cut off from the presence of darkness, and He did not hide deep darkness from my face." Job 23:13-17.
This is the question God is asking of all of us. Will we not fear Him, He Who's very breath is what gives man life. He who formed all the worlds, the sun the moon, all of nature's natural laws, He did all this with a thought and a word. We cannot hide our sin from Him. God is omnipresent, He is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will repeat the warning given for all who call themselves Christian:
There is going to be a Day of Judgment, and God will judge everyone who has ever lived, His wrath is going to poured out on all the wicked and ungodly. The eyes of the unrepentant wicked need to be opened and the ears unplugged so they can see and hear the truth. The Good News is Salvation is a free gift from God, you can't work for it or buy because the price has already been paid with the Blood of Jesus Christ. and Believing in Jesus saves us from the righteous wrath of God. But that is not all, He gives us a new heart and mind NOW, and we receive some of His blessing from heaven NOW and are equipped to be able to live a life that is holy and acceptable to Him NOW.
1. Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ is real, He lived and died and rose from the grave.
2. Believe that you are a sinner, repent-turn from your sins and realize and accept you need Jesus.
3. Confess that Jesus is your Lord and God
4. Find a local Bible preaching church that does obey the commandment for water baptism for the remission of your sins and to identify yourself with Christ.
This is just the first step to a lifelong journey of growing in truth and love with the God who created this earth and everything in it, including every human being that has ever lived.
Bible verses related to this post: Romans 5:5-8; John 3:15;Romans 8:38-39;Matthew 13:3-9, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:4-15; Hebrews 6:4-6;2 Corinthians 13:5; 1 John 2:18-19; Matthew 7:21-23;Matthew 7:13-14;1 Corinthians 6:9-10: James 4:1-9; Hebrews 10:26-29; Hebrews 10:31; Exodus 33:20; Geneisis 15:12; Hebrews 12:1-24; Job 23:13-17
Erica Harris is a God Gifted Christian Coach, Counselor, providing insights and truths from the Word of God, The Bible.