Thinking That Salvation Is Secured In One Moment
February 19, 2017
It seems that almost every time I evangelize at the train and bus stops I get, amid the many who either say nothing or say something positive, a person who comes up to me to try to straighten out my theology. This last Friday there was another one of these types and he approached me to inform me that my sign which says, “Holy conduct is necessary for salvation” is not Biblical. On my sign I have several verse references to support the statement, but he could not be persuaded, even when a sinner (a man who later told me he believes but is gambling with his eternity because he wants to keep sinning) came up and tried to reason with the first man, saying that my sign IS actually Biblically correct. (I’ll call this man “Odie” here.)
The first man, Joseph (also not his real name), tried to explain to me that nothing is needed on our part, except faith, in order to come to Christ and be saved. I told Joseph that I realize this is true if we also consider that faith involves the genuine renunciation of sin, but, I also told him, salvation is not just a moment in time but a road (Mt. 7:13,14) –or even like a train we get on that continues along a track– and is a submission to the process of training over a lifetime, as well as a destination. I told him we are saved (Rom. 10:10), we are being saved (Ja. 2:22,24 // 1 Pe. 1:9), and we will be finally saved (Mt. 10:22 // 2 Pe. 1:10,11 // Rev. 12:10-12), if we remain in Christ and on His salvation road… if we remain holding on to the Lifeline, and continue holding on all the way to the shore. Joseph would not accept what I was saying as he let it be known that he believed in the Once Saved, Always Saved doctrine, even though I quoted many verses for him.
Odie, who was listening in, moved closer to us and began his attempt to persuade Joseph, saying, “You are missing it, Man.” However, though Joseph listened for a few minutes to Odie, Joseph just kept shaking his head, repeatedly interrupting, and then abruptly walking away. Odie and I continued talking, and Odie became obviously filled with conviction and fear over his own eternal destiny. He and I talked for another fifteen minutes or so, and his last words to me were, “I realize that I, because I know better, will be judged even more strictly than those who don’t understand.” I agreed with him and added a reference to myself, reminding him of James 3:1 concerning God’s strict judgement for teachers of His Word.
So, those of us who presume to know the Scriptures (including Joseph) –we better get it right. We better be reading and studying –no, not men’s doctrines, but the Word of God itself. We better pray for God to wipe away all our biases so that we can comprehend what we are reading. For what blindness there is these days! What a strong delusion many have bought into! Holy conduct is not necessary for salvation??! Really? Is that what Joseph wants us to believe? Why does he think my theology is askew when it is his that is false?
Jesus has told us, “He who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Mt. 10:22) He has told us that those who belong to Him (His family and His Kingdom) are only those who do God’s will, which comes by putting His teachings into practice so that good fruit is produced. (7:15-27 & 12:50 // John 15:1-10) Jesus tells us, “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray.” (John 16:1)
Going astray is a possibility or Jesus would not warn us of it, nor would He warn us of persecution, lack of fruit-production, and sin which can cause us to turn to waywardness and be cut off from Christ and God’s love. (Luke 8:11-15 // John ch. 15) He would not warn church-goers of deeds that are not complete in His sight (Rev. 3:2) or warn them to repent and to obey His teachings. (v. 3) He would not warn us that becoming soiled, and being found unworthy and unable to overcome, can result in having our names erased from the Book of Life. (v. 4-6) “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” Does this statement from Jesus in Luke 9:24 sound like He is teaching that all we need for salvation is a one-time moment of belief and confession of sin? Hardly! Instead Jesus makes it clear that losing our life for Him means denying Self, picking up our cross daily, and following Him. (v. 23)
Many other verses of Scripture say essentially the same thing. Rom. 6:6 tells us that “our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless…” while Gal. 5:24 says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” Col. 2:11 says that those who are in Christ have had their sinful nature circumcised off by Christ, while Titus 2:11-14 says that God’s grace teaches us to say “No” to sin (v. 11) so that Jesus “who gave Himself to redeem us from all wickedness may have a purified people for Himself who are eager to do what is good.” (See v. 14) And I could go on and on.
One passage I quoted for Joseph was Heb. 10:26,27 about sinning deliberately and that it causes one to forfeit salvation. I wanted to continue on down to verse 31, but I kept getting interrupted. Even so, may the rest of us comprehend that this passage, unlike Joseph declared it to be, is speaking of those who have once been saved. Verse 29 shows us explicitly that it is about the person who has once been sanctified (washed clean and made holy) by Christ’s blood. It says, “How much more severely do you think a man ought to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” This passage is warning those once saved! Verse 30 warns, “The Lord will judge His people” while verse 31 says, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Let’s understand that “a dreadful thing” does not equate to having the words said to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your Master!” (Mt. 25:21) No, it equates to this: “You wicked, lazy servant!” (v. 26) and a banishment to “the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (v. 30)
Truly, regardless of what Joseph and his ilk believe, the Word of God warns, “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” (Heb. 10:36) Verses 35-39 make it clear that we “Christians” have the choice to continue living by faith or to make the choice to throw away our faith and shrink back under God’s wrath that destroys (see also Luke 12:4,5) and that sends us to eternal punishment. (Mt. 18:32-35 & 25:46 // 2 Thes. 1:7-9)
1 Cor. 16:22a says, “If anyone does not love the Lord –a curse be on him.” Oh, but those of Joseph’s theology would say, “But I do love the Lord.” Do they? –When they say it is not necessary to have holy conduct in order to be saved? –When they refuse to teach that completed salvation is not a reality until we actually step from this earth and stand before God’s Judgement (2 Cor. 5:10 // Heb. 9:27) and hear Him call us “Faithful”? Jesus says, “If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15) He says, “If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching” (v. 23) and so will be indwelt by the Spirit of Christ and the Father. (Same verse // Rom. 8:9) Indeed, love for God is to obey His commands (1 John 5:3) and, through the power of the Spirit, to walk in victory over sin. (v. 4 // Rom. 8:1-14)
Let us not be deceived: Jesus will not grant entrance into Heaven to those who refuse to abandon their sin and their disobedience to God. (Luke 13:3 & 23-27 // Eph. 5:5,6) Jesus will not grant Eternal Life to those who refuse to obey Him. (John 15:10 // Heb. 5:9) Yes, everyone is offered the gift of salvation (John 3:16 // 1 John 2:2), but not everyone is chosen. (Mt. 22:1-14) Only the fervently obedient, faithful, and worthy fruit-producers who have walked in God’s will are the ones chosen to enter the eternal joy and love of their Master. (Mt. 25:21 // John 15:10 // Col. 1:10 // 1 Pe. 1:7-9,13-17,22 // 1 John 2:15-17 // Rev. 3:14-16 & 17:14) I’ll say that again: Only the fervently obedient, faithful, and worthy fruit-producers who have walked in God’s will are the ones chosen to enter the eternal joy and love of their Master.
Let’s realize that Jesus has informed us that those who are eternally secure are those who follow Him. (John 10:27,28) Let’s understand that Jesus says that if we hold to His teaching, we belong to Him (8:31-36) but, if we do not, we have no Life in us. (6:53-57) John 6:66 shows us that “many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.” Why? Because much of Jesus’ teaching offended and annoyed them and they did not want to accept it. (v. 60,61)
Again, let us not be deceived. For turning to false doctrines can, absolutely, make any Christian fall, or be cut off, from their secure position in Christ. (John 15:2,6 // Heb. 3:12-19 // 2 Pe. 3:17) So can the lack of fruit production or the remainder of sin in one’s life. (John 15:2 // Heb. 6:4-12 // 1 John 2:3-6 & 3:6-10) Thus we are warned, “See that what you have heard from the beginning [that is, the Truth first taught by Christ and the apostles] remains in you. IF it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what He promised us –even eternal life.” (1 John 2:24,25)
May Joseph, and all others who hold to his type of theology, come to see their dangerous error.