Sunday, July 6, 2008

Once Saved, Always Saved?

A few months ago I exchanged emails with a man who originally contacted me about something he didn't agree with in one of my videos. Eventually I found out this man believed in “once saved, always saved.” Not long afterwards, my roommate heard someone at a Bible study teaching the same thing. Let’s examine this belief in the light of Scripture.

Salvation is a gift based on our beliefs, not upon our works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Once a man is born again, it’s up to him how much he will grow as a Christian. Philippians 2:12 says, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Notice this verse does not say, "work for your salvation". The works referred to are works of belief, not of things done.

1 Timothy 4:1-2 warns, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.” Notice this passage does not describe sinners but those departing from the faith. Because man has a free will, a Christian can choose to leave the Lord.

When I was 17, I asked Jesus Christ to come into my heart and briefly attended a Bible study. But because of a strong love for secular music, I soon backed away from the things of God and sought a career in the music business. I could have chosen to go on with God’s plan for my life. Unfortunately, I didn't stay "connected to the vine" and let the world draw me away from Him. Fortunately I recognized my need for the Lord and recommitted my life to Him ten years later.

However, a Christian can progress in his relationship with the Lord to where there’s no turning back if he makes a willful decision to renounce Him. Hebrews 6:4-6 says, "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." This passage of Scripture doesn't apply to "baby Christians" but mature believers who for whatever reason turn away from the Lord.

In Revelation 3:5 Jesus said, "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." In Deuteronomy 9:14, God talked about "blotting out" the names of the rebellious Israelites from under heaven. When Moses interceded for them in Exodus 32:32, he told the Lord, "Yet now, if You will forgive their sin - but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written."

Consider this passage from Deuteronomy 29:19-20 (NLT)...

“Those who hear the warnings of this curse should not congratulate themselves, thinking, ‘I am safe, even though I am following the desires of my own stubborn heart.’ This would lead to utter ruin! The Lord will never pardon such people. Instead his anger and jealousy will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will come down on them, and the Lord will erase their names from under heaven."

Once again, works do not save us. But Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." (John 14:15) Suppose a man becomes a Christian but later backslides and gets involved in an adulterous relationship. A friend who finds out about it confronts the adulterer with the Seventh Commandment, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery.'" If the adulterer were to reply, "I don't believe in that Jesus stuff anymore", then he would no longer be saved. 2 Timothy 2:12 says, "If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us." However, if the adulterer repents, then he remains in fellowship with the Lord. As 1 John 1:9 says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

We all need correction from time to time. So the next time you encounter someone living in sin that believes, “once saved, always saved”, be bold enough to speak the truth in love to him. You might help save a deceived believer from losing his salvation.

“If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.” - 1 Timothy 4:6

No comments:

Post a Comment