Well, the title makes it pretty clear that this is going to be another controversial post about Christian living. If that makes you uncomfortable, swipe . . . down? . . . . left? . . . or just move on. I’m amazed how many trolls feel the need to argue with total strangers online, especially if they’ve got no stake in the matter from the outset.
If you don’t believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God, if you don’t believe in His Son Jesus Christ as the one and only way to salvation, if you believe that all roads lead to heaven or that free masons staged the Resurrection, then again, save yourself the aggravation and move on.
Maybe you do consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian but you’ve been led to believe that if you are bad enough, after having received forgiveness for your sins, that you can somehow UNDO the work of salvation that Christ had completed. If that’s you, you are in the right place.
There’s this false teaching that our salvation is like a Reset button. As long as we pray and ask to be forgiven, we’re now good for everything we’ve done since our last Reset. That is, until we stumble again. Then we need to quickly do the Reset lest we die in our sleep or in a car crash and lose it all — a lifetime of faithful living amounting to nothing because of a moment of weakness.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Let’s start with the work of Salvation itself. We are all born in sin. The Bible makes it clear that 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and that without Christ’s free gift of salvation by Grace, we would be hopelessly lost.
2 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.Ephesians 2:1-9 NKJV
(Emphasis / color added by me, obviously.)
Here’s the run down. We *were* dead in trespasses and sins. But God *made us alive*. Think about how absolutely crystal clear this order of events is laid out for us.
We were lost. (Past tense).
God made us alive. (Also Past tense).
Was it because of something we did? Something we deserved or earned? Something that He owed us?
Absolutely not! The only condition of receiving the free gift of God’s grace is exactly that — to RECEIVE IT. And this is not the bad birthday present that your Mom bought for you that you didn’t really want and tried to return. This is THE GIFT of salvation that we desperately needed, recognized its worth, and received with our whole heart.
How can we be assured that our salvation, once received, is unconditional? Are there other verses in the New Testament to back that claim?
You bet there are.
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. 13 For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”Romans 10:8-13 (NKJV)
Notice that this doesn’t read ‘you are eligible to be saved if you live the rest of your life right’. It doesn’t say you’ve been granted a probationary acceptance pending how you finish. It doesn’t even say you are bound to continually confess each sin lest you are struck dead before you get a chance to confess . . . again . . . . It reads – whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
(Interesting side note, there’s no mention of the salvific nature of baptism by water in these verses. So, those who still cling to the notion that you can’t be saved until you are dunked in water may want to re-think that as well. But that’s another topic.)
38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:38-39 (NKJV)
NO ONE. Not even our own sinful human natures can separate us eternally from the finished work of salvation in Christ Jesus. Sin does have consequences, even after we’re saved. But it does not negate our salvation. (More on this point later below.)
2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?Galatians 3:2-3 (NKJV)
The doctrine of Losing One’s Salvation because of Sin is a completely Works-based, conditional theology. It’s no different than the Judaizing church of Galatia wanting to add circumcision or the Law in addition to the gospel of Grace.
6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.Romans 11:6 (NKJV)
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”John 10:27-30 (NKJV)
We are safe and secure in the very hands of God and Christ. We cannot be snatched away. We can not stumble out of His grasp.
Now I know some of you who are skeptical are saying “But what about Hebrews 10? Doesn’t that say we can lose our salvation?“
So, let’s look at it. The beginning portions of this chapter describe Christ’s perfect and complete sacrifice for the atonement of sin. And unlike the OT priests who had to continually offer sacrifices each year, Christ’s sacrifice was ONCE and FOR ALL.
2 For then would they not have ceased to be offered? For the worshipers, once purified, would have had no more consciousness of sins. 3 But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. Key point made here by the writer that in a perfect sacrifice, there would be no more consciousness of sin.
He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.Hebrews 10: 9-10 (NKJV)
We have been sanctified, (or set apart), through Christ’s Once-For-All offering. You are not set apart and then put back with the goats each time you stumble. Otherwise, v2’s point of ‘once purified’ worshippers would require a daily reminder of sins rather than having no more consciousness of it.
12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.Hebrews 10:12-14 (NKJV)
See again, one sacrifice. For the sanctified (believers). Perfected forever.
One might ask – “What does it mean to be perfected? Doesn’t that mean we never make any mistakes or never sin?” This is not the type of perfection that’s referenced in v14. Just as Paul describes the temporary nature of our earthly bodies until we receive our Heavenly bodies in 1 Corinthians 15, it is understood that we still have imperfection while we are here on earth.
We are, however, positionally perfected forever once we’ve received Christ as our Savior. Christ has already sanctified us until we are met in glory, as we further read in Hebrews 10.
Referencing Jeremiah 31 –
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” 17 then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” 18 Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin.Hebrews 10:16-18 (NKJV)
This offering for sin, which is no longer required, includes the coerced, continual begging for forgiveness stemming from a fear of losing one’s salvation, despite the Bible’s testimony that Jesus had already forgiven us. Yes, if we stumble and sin, we should do our best to turn 180 degrees from it and go on living in obedience. But the price for our sin has already been paid.
Verses 19-22 further give us assurance of our salvation, “having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus” . . . “let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith”.
But verse 23 is paramount to our understanding. “23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” This verse does not say ‘Do not waiver or else you will lose it all’, because that implies our salvation depends on US. Instead, why does the writer say we should hold fast and have hope? Because HE, Jesus Christ, promised to save us and is faithful. Our hope is in HIS work, not ours.
Now, let’s look at the skeptic’s retort. If you just read verses 26-27, one might be inclined to think that after receiving this free gift of salvation, sanctification, and redemption – God’s trying to add some fine print at the bottom of the page, some conditions, if you will.
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.Hebrews 10:26-27 (NKJV)
What do these verses mean and who are they referring to? Are those that “have received the knowledge of the truth” believers? I don’t believe that to be the case, especially if you look at these verses in the context of the rest of Hebrews 10 and the NT for that matter.
I believe these, who received the knowledge of truth but rejected Christ, are the same Apostates called out by John – those who deliberately reject salvation through Faith in Christ, though it once was offered to them. These apostates may even have the appearance of believers for a time, but they clearly have never believed and their deception will eventually be revealed.
18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 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 they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.1 John 2:18-19 (NKJV)
John continues in chapter 3 to describe sin in the lives of Christians. We’re not talking about occasional stumbling or weakness but a habitual rebellion and defiance to live in holiness.
5 And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. 6 Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him.
7 Little children, let no one deceive you. He who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous. 8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil. 9 Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.1 John 3:5-9 (NKJV)
If you believe v6 is describing a regenerate, believing Christian’s mandate to live in sinless perfection post salvation, I’d like to know who this person is. He must be amazing. But if it’s not describing that, then the only alternative is that this verse is prescriptive in motivation of the heart. Our GOAL should be to not sin.
There’s some debate over what this seed in v9 is that remains in the believer — whether it’s the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, our new, born again nature, or even the Word of God — but regardless it’s clear that this seed remains in the believer. It does not come and go based on whether we’re in Reset status or not.
No one knows a person’s heart except that person and God. We might act like Christians, we might go to church on Sundays, we might say the right “Christiany” things and avoid certain activities / places. But like Judas, anyone is capable of putting on a good face.
The point is that it’s not our place to say who is saved and who is not. That’s not for us to judge. But if you are living in constant fear that something you do consciously or unconsciously will suddenly cause you to lose your salvation, then I implore you brothers and sisters in Christ, re-evaluate what Salvation Through Faith means to you from the Word of God.
A final word about recklessness in casual / habitual sin. As I wrote earlier, there are consequences of sin though one of them is not losing our salvation. If I steal from my brother or murder someone or I harm someone’s reputation by lying out of a fit of anger, there are repercussions that will manifest themselves in this life. Our salvation does not give us license to sin.
Paul writes in Romans 6 – “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” This call to live righteously, to in fact DIE to sin, perfectly harmonizes the verses shared above that while our salvation is secured in Christ, our reaction to our regeneration, our new birth, our freedom from the bondage of sin should be one of gratitude, joy, thanksgiving, and a sincere desire to do that which pleases our Lord. We do this not out of fear of losing our gift but out of the recognition of the overwhelming price that He paid on our behalf.