There were three men stranded at sea floating with life preservers. They were all swimming in what they believed was the direction of land. A coast guard helicopter flies over top of them and offers to pull each of the men up to rescue them. A coast guardsman dropped from the helicopter on a strong cable to rescue the first man and while he was down at water level tells all three men of a terrible storm that is coming and warns them that they would all be killed if they do not accept this rescue.
The first man gladly accepted and the coast guardsman tied his strong harness around the man and pulled him to safety without a problem.
The second man also accepted the help but he refused to use the harness of the coast guardsman. He instead insisted on just holding on to the coast guardsman with his own strength as he pulled him up. Half way up to the chopper the second man lost his grip and let go of the coast guardsmen. But he remained firmly upheld because the coast guardsman had attached his harness to the man without his knowledge.
The coast guardsman then lowered himself down to rescue the third man. He reaches out to him but the third man refused his help. He said “I can make it on my own. I don’t need your help. Look it is sunny – I don’t believe any storm is coming. I will be fine.” The coast guardsman would not force the man to accept rescue and he left him to the fate he knew was coming.
This is the way it is with our eternal salvation. We must recognize the helpless position we are in and the destruction that awaits us. If we refuse to believe as the third man in this story did and we refuse God’s help we will surely perish.
“16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” – John 3:16-18 (KJV)
God reaches out to us in love, but he will not force us to accept his salvation. We must freely believe and accept his help. But when we accept his help we must realize that our salvation is 100% dependent on the imputed righteousness of Christ to our account.
“5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” – Romans 4:5-8 (KJV)
We should not be like the second man in this story who believed he needed rescue – but insisted that he had to help with his own rescue. Even though he thought his rescue was dependent on his own strength in cooperation with that coast guardsman – he found out in his moment of weakness that it was truly the coast guardsman that was holding him the whole time.
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. So, if our salvation was based upon Christ imputing his righteousness to our account and also our own behavior after salvation then what is the “weakest link” in our salvation? It would be our own works! It would make it pointless to have the unbreakable links of Christ’s righteousness if our own behavior could break the chain.
But thanks, be to God that the chain that holds us up is completely 100% made of the perfect righteousness of Christ and not our own imperfect human righteousness which is as “filthy rags”(Isaiah 64:6) compared to God’s righteousness. Amen!
God will not impute sin to those who have the imputed righteousness of his son therefore we can NEVER lose our salvation.
Why talk about salvation on a gender roles blog?
Even though this blog primarily deals with gender roles and marriage from a Biblical perspective I do get a lot of emails from folks asking about salvation as well and I think it is good from time to time to speak on the most important doctrine that we must believe – otherwise we will not see God.
Some emails are from people who doubt their salvation because of certain sins they continue to struggle with. Others fear losing their salvation if they question any doctrines that their church teaches.
We can be wrong about baptism, communion, church structure and even Biblical gender roles. We can believe wrong in a lot of areas. But we must believe the Gospel to be saved! Only through trusting in Christ can we hope to live the life that God wants us all to live.
But doesn’t the doctrine of justification by faith alone encourage sin by Christians?
“8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” – Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV)
Some people believe if we teach the scriptural doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone that we are saying it is ok for Christians to sin with impunity. Others believe that fear of losing our salvation will help us to live godly lives. But the Bible tells us it is not fear that should drive us but rather love for Christ:
“14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (KJV)
We certainly do not believe that a true believer in Christ can live exactly the way he did before his profession of faith. If he saved there will be a change – if there is no change, there is no salvation. The Apostle Paul tells us the mark of a true salvation when he wrote:
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (KJV)
Paul also gave these strong admonitions to believers:
“1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” – Romans 6:1-3 (KJV)
“If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:25 (KJV)
I hope that if you have not trusted in Christ today that you will. Many things I write on this blog about gender roles won’t make sense to you until your trust in Christ and allow him to renew your mind.
But I was really writing this toward some who have recently wrote me emails asking about their eternal security and the relationship of works to salvation. I hope you will no longer be like the second man in this story who thought he had to help with his own salvation. Whether you realize it or not you are kept and held by the power of God.
“3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5 (KJV)
24 thoughts on “Can we lose our salvation?”
Wonderful post. Thank you for writing it!
I had a pastor friend who would respond to the question: “How can I know for sure that I am saved?” with the phrase “Why would you want to know that? …is it so you don’t have to live by faith but by sight, or is it so that you can indulge your sinful flesh?”
Knowing the doctrine and receiving it by faith are often two different things.
Throughout my years working in various church ministries whether it was junior church or teaching college age students(which was my favorite) I was often asked that same question your pastor friend was posed “How can I know for sure that I am saved?” and my answer was quite different from your pastor friend. I will admit I have many Pastor friends who might have answered the same way your friend did but I must respectfully disagree with some of my brothers on this issue.
Salvation is not something we have to wonder about or doubt about. It is something that we can know for sure as the Apostle John wrote:
So throughout the years whenever a person at church, family member or in more recent years readers of my blog have emailed with the question “How can I know for sure that I am saved?” I have answered them with these 10 questions as follows:
1. Do you believe that there is one God and one mediator between God and men who is Jesus Christ?
2. Do you accept who the Scriptures say Jesus was – that he was not simply a teacher or prophet but that he was the sinless Son of God, God in the flesh?
3. Do you believe you are sinner – that you have broken God’s laws and fail to live up to his righteous standard?
4. Do you believe the God’s justice requires that sin must be punished with eternal damnation?
5. Do you believe that you needed Jesus Christ’s death on the cross to atone for your sins and that there was nothing you could do on your own to appease the justice of God regarding your sin?
6. Do you not not only believe that you needed Jesus Christ’s sacrifice – but have you believed on Christ as YOUR savior? Have you placed your faith and trust in him and personally applied his sacrifice to your life?
7. If you were honest with yourself – can you point to any changes you have made in your life since you believed on Christ? Has your faith changed you? Have your thoughts and habits changed in any way since you trusted in Christ?
8. After your profession of faith did you come to recognize your own sin in ways you did not before your profession of faith?
9. Does sin in your life grieve you?
10. Are there habits or things you continue to fall into that grieve you and that you must take to God regularly in prayer?
If I were to summarize these ten questions into one statement it would be as follows:
If you can answer all of these questions with a “Yes” than you can know for sure that you have eternal life. But only you know your heart and mind.
What I have found throughout the years is that people often are fearful that they were never truly saved or that they may lose their salvation because of various sins they have continued to struggle with over the years. But what I have told them is – the very fact that you struggle with your sin – that you recognize it and it grieves you and you make an effort not to do it is a prove of genuine salvation in your life.
There are two people I worry about. There are the people who say they have believed but they don’t care about sin. Then there are others who say they have believed and they actually convince themselves they do not sin anymore. I have actually run into people who claimed that since they became a Christian they only “make mistakes” but they don’t really sin. That is hogwash!
But if a person has placed their faith and trust in Christ and his saving work on the cross – and they can honestly look at their post profession of faith life and see changes and difference and a recognition of their own sin on a daily basis that person can know for sure that they have eternal life.
There are three things that will hinder genuine believers from doing all they can to serve Christ with their lives. Blindness to sin, unrepentant sin and fear of losing one’s salvation. I have tried both in my own life to stay away from all three of these hindrances as well as to encourage others to not allow these things hinder them in their walk with Christ.
Great blog. Is eternal salvation all inclusive or only reserved for those who rely on his righteousness.?
Eternal salvation is only for those who believe on Christ as the Scriptures state:
However I think I know the question you are driving at with this statement “or only reserved for those who rely on his righteousness.?” I think you are asking can a person be saved if they believe they need Christ’s sacrifice and his righteousness to be saved but they also believe they need to continue doing good works as well to keep that salvation?
I believe the answer is Yes. Are they deceived in this area? Yes. But are they still saved? Yes.
Paul actually wrote to a group of churches in Galatia that had allowed false teachers to come in saying that they also need works and to follow the Jewish law(including getting circumcised) to be saved.
This is what Paul wrote to Christians in these Churches:
So Paul is writing to Christians and he is angry with a godly angry that they have tolerated Judaizers coming in insisting Christians had to follow all the laws of Moses(including the ceremonial and cleanliness laws) in order to keep their salvation. Like Christ he reserves his strongest words “let him be accursed” to those like the pharisees who would pervert God’s grace.
He even exhorts them again later in the Epistle of the Galatians with these words:
He calls Christians “bewitched” and “foolish”. He tells them God’s Work started with the Spirit of God and it is not dependent on the flesh for its completion. Our salvation starts with God and ends with God. He keeps us and sustains us whether we completely realize that or not.
Paul later confirms for us that even though the Galatian Churches has allowed the teaching of the Gospel to mixed with works that:
Christians can be deceived by man false doctrines including those who believe in error that while they need Christ’s sacrifice and his righteousness to be saved they must also add their own works to his. They are wrong, they are deceived in this area but they have not lost their salvation because of this error.
There are critical errors that show we were never saved. A Christian cannot deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God in the flesh. If he does so he proves he was never saved. We cannot say we have not sinned or else we prove the truth is not in us. But there are many other areas we can be wrong that do not disprove our salvation.
If I were to say that any Preacher who said we needed to do good works after we were saved or that sin could invalidate our salvation was not a saved man or true believer then I would have to dismiss great men of God like John Wesley and say he is burning in hell today. I do not believe that of him based on what I have read from him and his impact for Christ. Was he wrong in a great many areas? Yes. But was he a man who loved God and preached the Gospel? Yes.
The following is a response I just gave on Facebook to a man who basically claims that the epistle of Galatians was written to them for the soul purpose of telling them they were all in danger of losing their salvation.
He bases his thesis on this one verse:
He specifically emphasizes the phrase “removed from him” to prove they had lost their salvation and Paul was trying to help them get it back. I thought my response to him on Facebook would be valuable for my readers. So with that being said here was my response to him.
Nowhere in the entire Gospel of Galatians did Paul tell the Galatians they were in danger of losing their salvation. Not once. And again, you are taking the “removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel” and making it into something that is not supported by taking the entirety of the epistle of Galatians into account.
You are doing the “when did you stop beating your wife” thing again. Of course no one can be saved apart from the power of God and the Gospel.
The Apostle Paul was fighting for the purity of the Gospel in his Epistle to the Galatians.
Let’s say you have a disease that can only be cured by a certain medicine. That medicine must have certain ingredients in it in order for it to save you. So, these are the ingredients that are essential for salvation:
Ingredient A – One God and one mediator between God and man who is the Son of God, the perfect God man.
Ingredient B – One must acknowledge they have sinned before God and are in need of the redemption God offers.
Ingredient C – One must personally apply and accept that sacrifice of Christ on the cross as payment for his sins
Ingredient D – One must accept that we must have the imputed righteousness of Christ in order to be saved
If the medicine(salvation) one takes (believes in) includes these four essential ingredients, then it will save their eternal soul from damnation. While they may still experience symptoms of the disease(sin) the power of that disease to kill them has been eradicated.
What Paul was addressing was those (judaizers) who added another ingredient to the Gospel:
Ingredient E – One must also follow the complete Mosaic law (including circumcision) to keep their salvation.
If Ingredient E replaces ingredient D, then then such a medicine (such a Gospel) cannot save. But if ingredient E is added to the four necessary ingredients it will still save but it will hinder a person’s walk with Christ.
This is why Paul wrote to the same Galatians:
We can only grow in our faith by depending on the Holy Spirit’s power. That is why Paul also writes:
We cannot fight the flesh on our own – but only by walking with the Spirit and depending on the Spirit’s power can we hope to overcome the desires of the flesh.
The judaizers were placing a hindrance on believers by heaping the laws of Moses on them.
Now if one were to take out ingredient D and say we do not need the inputed righteousness of Christor ingredient C and say we don’t need Christ’s sacrifice and just put in ingredient E (works of the law) such a medicine (a Gospel) will not save anyone.
So, no the purpose of Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians was not to tell the CHRISTIANS at Galatian “that they were still saved apart from God and the Gospel” but nor was it to tell them they had lost their salvation for allowing judaizers to add to the pure Gospel.
Instead his purpose in writing the book of Galatians was to remove this added ingredient by the judaizers that was troublesome to them (Galatians 1:7). Paul’s purpose in writing Galatians was to purify the Gospel and remove any impediments to their growth as believers. It was also to teach them to remove teachers from their midst who were adding to the Gospel.
Now you still have not answered my question – why does Paul say to the Galatians “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” in Galatians 3:26 if they were not in fact of children of God by faith anymore as you claim? Why was he not warning them all throughout Galatians that they were all now destined for hell and had lost their salvation for allowing the judaizers to tack on an extra ingredient to the Gospel?
Thanks BGR for this great post. Sometimes I worry that the Christian manosphere focuses too much on the specifics of biblical Law (primarily gender roles) and not enough on the Gospel, so this is a breath of fresh air. It’s an important message to share, and can be a beacon of hope to those going through dark times. Paul’s epistle to the Galatians is indeed very clear on not just the power of the Gospel, but on the dangers of belief in justification through the law. Galatians 2:15-16 (ESV) states:
“We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
And further in Galatians 5:2-6 (ESV):
“Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
I would be a bit careful with the analogy of the ingredients. A fervent belief in Ingredient E (following the law is necessary to keep salvation) cannot in fact be mixed with the first four ingredients (salvation solely by the grace of God, provided to us through the atonement of Christ Jesus’ sacrificial death). Ingredient E denies that the death and resurrection of Jesus are sufficient for justification, and takes the prideful stance that we must somehow “help” God. This is what it means to be “severed from Christ” and to have “fallen away from grace.” Furthermore, Paul states in Galatians 2:21 that “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”
Fortunately, the book of Galatians also teaches us the proper role of the law: that as Christians we walk with the Spirit so that we will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). The Spirit works in and through us to produce good fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Changing topics a bit, I know people who doubt their salvation because they have never experienced a “coming to Jesus” moment, or can point to a specific time in the past when they KNEW they were saved. This can be dangerous doctrine, because I don’t think it’s really that simple. Relying on an “experience” to determine whether one is truly saved is risky business, because then it takes our focus off the Word and turns it inwards. This introduces a subjective criterion, and a scary one at that because I don’t believe many (most?) people (and certainly no one who is an unrepentant and unregenerate sinner) can naturally discern the Holy Spirit from opposing feel-good-yet-demonic spiritual forces. Fortunately, the objective Word is clear that all that is needed is grace through faith.
Full disclosure – I am Reformed which implies that I am a five point Calvinist.
As believe that since one can do nothing to acquire their salvation they also cannot undo their salvation. We place our faith in Christ who is faithful to preserve us. While our works evidence our regeneration they make no contribution to our justification, however as a reformer once quipped that we are saved by faith alone, but never faith that is alone.
So dear Christians look to Christ the author and finisher of our faith, fear Him and walk according to His commands for He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
Thank your for your kind and encouraging words. I agree that we must be balanced in our approach to the Scriptures and this is not the first time I have spoken on the Gospel here as I have wrote other posts in the pasts. But I think it is good from time to time to return to this absolutely fundamental foundational doctrine of the faith. Whether are marriage is great or bad – if we don’t have saving faith nothing else matters.
As far as your warning on my “Ingredient E” analogy I hear what you are saying. But I have read many great theologians of the past as well as present who believe in “Ingredient E” while they all may explain it differently. They do not believe works can ever merit our salvation but they believe works are still required in order for us to keep our salvation. So they would maintain that we absolutely cannot save ourselves. They teach that we can only be saved by work of Christ on the across – his atonement for us, his justification of us and having his righteousness imputed to us. But then they say that works are still required to either prove it or keep it. John MacArthur and John Piper are famous for this in their teachings.
Basically they both teach that while works are not “meritorious of salvation” they are still “required”. But then they say but since God does the works in us as after salvation then it is really not us doing the work. But then they do double speak and talk of human righteousness having great value to God when comparing to the imputed righteousness of Christ. They also both teach the “pattern of righteousness” theory. Basically this teaches that God will forgive momentarily lapses and sins here and there in the life of a Christian – but if a Christians life is not a pattern of righteousness where righteous living is the pattern and sin is an occasional exception then he may not have true saving faith.
While I agree that true saving faith will produce a change in one’s life and produce fruit – we all will have different levels of growth and produce different amounts of fruit. Their “pattern of righteousness” teaching smacks of “if my good out-weights my bad then I will go to heaven”. John Piper has admitted after years of preaching the word he still doubts his salvation at times because of some old habits he has never gained completely victory over.
On then topic of the “coming to Jesus” moment – I agree with you. I have known many great Christians who can’t pin an exact day on when their faith became real for them but they just know it is. They believe there is one God and that Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the God man. They have applied the sacrifice of Christ to their lives and live each day recognizing their sin, confessing their sins and trying to please God with their lives. I will not say because you can’t point to an exact day that you believed you are not saved as I have heard some people falsely do. And you are right that this come to Jesus moment can make people believe because they prayed a prayer and felt something they are saved. But true saving faith produces a change, a lasting change and it will still be present now as it was then if it is real.
I love that hymn! It was one my favorites growing up. 🙂
I am very familiar with Calvinism as I used to be a Calvinist a few years in my early twenties. One of my favorite authors was Charles Spurgeon who you probably know was a five point Calvinist. But I later left Calvinism because while I agreed from a Scripture point with many things they taught there were some things that I came to reject as lacking Biblical support. But I have no wish to debate the points of Calvinism here – that would be a long and tiring argument.
Thanks BGR. I think this quote of yours really nails it:
“Basically they both teach that while works are not “meritorious of salvation” they are still “required”. But then they say but since God does the works in us as after salvation then it is really not us doing the work.”
Good works through the Spirit definitely are “required” in a sense. But it is God’s work through the Holy Spirit and not our own, so that no man shall boast. If this were not so, then the book of James would be false. However, we recognize that these works/fruit do not earn us anything (salvation is not a wage), but are expressions of our love for God through the freedom won for us by Jesus.
What happens to a person who has never heard of Jesus Christ, after they die, and on the judgement day? (like perhaps the tribal people living in forests)
@Subin God has designed every person not mentally handicapped and/or incapable of understand to be able to tell He is real from his Creation(Romans 1:18-32), and therefore even if they never heard the name Jesus, if they understood there was a God who is creator, yet as the cited Scripture shows chose to reject Him they will go either to Hell or the Lake of Fire one when they die for having done so, and will still stand trial before Jesus on Judgement Day to answer to Him for all their sins and be condemned to Eternity in the Lake of Fire anyway. If a person, understanding there is a God, chooses to seek Him and not reject Him, God will reward them by sending one of His people to minister the Gospel of Jesus to them, that they may be saved if only they will believe in and accept Jesus as their personal LORD and Savior by sincerely believing in Him to be the Son of God, who died for their sins, was buried, and rose from the grave on the third day(Acts 8:26-39, John 3:16, 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Before one can ever even have the possibility to be saved, they must first believe that God is real and seek Him, as the Ethiopian eunuch in the cited Scripture from Acts did, and if they do, God will send someone to witness of Jesus and Gospel, or at least make it so they hear of it through some means, just as He did with Philip in the Scripture from Acts here. I hope this answers your question, and clears up any confusion you may have.
@Subin Likewise, someone unable to understand there is a God, or that they are sinners in need of Salvation shall always be under grace and be allowed into Heaven automatically, as they Bible reveals that the Kingdom of God is made up of such as small children, which such handicapped people and those too young to understand whats been mentioned above are certainly examples of(Luke 18:16, Matthew 19:14).
Wonderful article by the way, BGR! 🙂 Loved it!
Hebrews 6 suggests you can but you must voluntarily reject it.
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen[c] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
Hebrews 6:4-7 is refers to people who heard the Gospel and even appeared to be Christians but never truly believed. They may have worked in Church ministries and done everything other professing believers did but they were never truly genuine believers. This same group is alluded to in these passages of Scriptures:
Christ did not say “I knew you and you then fell away”. He says “I never knew you“.
John refers to this group of fake Christians when he writes:
If a professed believer voluntarily rejects Christ never to return it simply proves they never were Christ’s to begin with.
I definitely agree that many “Christians” are not Christians. Revelation 2 and 3 is a lot about that.
However, I went a looked up some commentaries on this passage, and various commenters seem to disagree.
Matthew Henry seems to agree with your stance:
John Chrysostom seems to believe that the passage indicates that those who fall into apostasy may repent again but there is no second baptism (alluding to verses 1 and 2 on baptism).
In any case, I don’t have more time for this at the moment, but it still seems dubious to me if you are implying there is a ‘once saved, always saved’ — correct me if I’m wrong though — especially as that negates free will.
I absolutely believe in the “once saved, always saved” position. But also I do not believe this position violates free will(which I also believe in) as I am not a Calvinist. The Calvinists teach we are incapable as unregenerated persons in responding to the Holy Spirit’s call to salvation. I whole heartedly reject that doctrine of Total Depravity. I believe we have the God given nature God designed us with but it has been poisoned and deformed by our sin nature which was inherited by Adam. But we are not so corrupted that we cannot reach out to God in salvation for his help. This is the one thing we must do as Christ states:
It is like in my story in this post where I said the man in the water in need of rescue needs to accept the help of the rescuer. But from that point forward he held and kept by that rescuer.
So how does God keeping us saved, in the same way that rescue attaches his harness to the person being rescued, not violated our free will?
Because God one we as an unregenerated sinner reach out in faith and accept God’s help he transforms our mind:
While we still battle the old man and the flesh and we can sometimes wander away from God as believers it is that transformation, the regeneration of our will that first happened when we truly believed that will keep pulling us back to God. Otherwise if we could reject God after true regeneration than what Christ said here would not be true:
And Paul tells us:
What God began in us the day we believed will be completed by God, not by us.
I can quote Scriptures on the opposite as well:
Colossians 1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[g] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
2 Peter 2:20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,”[g] and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”
1 Corinthians 15:1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
From Jesus Himself:
Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation,[a] but deliver us from the evil one.[b]’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
The thing is that “Once Saved, Always Saved” is a Calvinist doctrine like Total Depravity, Pre-destination, and so on. Neither Catholic, Orthodox, or other Protestants (like Martin Luther and many other denominations) adhere to it. It fits, of course, if you believe in strict pre-destination, which is part of Calvinism.
And if you truly are a new creature you will continue in your faith. If you do not continue you simply prove you never were a believer to begin with.
So what do the dog and pig symbolize?
This passage is actually a proof text for once saved always saved. The symbolism of the the dog and the pig is that the person was never truly saved to begin with. If you wash a pig – he is still a pig and he returns to the mud. He must be transformed into a new creature where he no longer is a pig or a dog.
This particular passage with the Lords prayer and forgiveness speaks to our daily walk with God – our progressive sanctification. It has nothing to do with our justification and imputed righteousness which is based on faith alone in Christ alone. Now I will say that it is possible that if a person never shows any type of forgiveness to others their whole life after a profession of faith this is similar to a person who can’t admit they sin after they make a profession of faith. It sends an alarm bell up that the person may not have been genuinely saved. However true Christians can fall into unforgiveness because of deep hurts and this does hurt their walk with God and they need to forgive and let things go.
However if you base your salvation on never having any unforgiveness in your heart toward anyone then you are basing your salvation on your own works and we are not saved by our works.
One other note I would like to add. Once saved always saved and perseverance of the Saints are similar but not identical doctrines. Many OSAS believers think a person can completely abandon their faith never to return and still be saved because they said a prayer. I do not embrace that position. I believe truth faith will persevere even if it wanes for periods of time it cannot truly be lost if the person is truly saved. But then I don’t agree with the perseverance of the saints doctrine that believers will always persevere in faith and righteousness with only “moments of failure” as many Calvinists today teach. So I would still consider myself a OSAS but leaning toward Perseverance of faith.
Ok first of all – Calvinists(who were the founders of the Presbyterian church) are Protestants and in the United States there are about 6 million of them that adhere to the Westminster Confession of Faith which contains the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints.
But then you have another Protestant denomination which is the largest Christian(and Protestant) denomination in the US – Baptists(with over 38 million followers) that adheres to the OSAS or Perseverance of the saints doctrine. Most Baptists in the US(probably like 65 to 70%) would not consider themselves Calvinist(so they teach OSAS) while about 30 percent do.
And you are incorrect that you have to believe in strict pre-destination to believe in OSAS. In fact the vast majority of OSAS theologians I know reject five point Calvinism.
Just out of curiosity – what is your denominational background? I come from a Baptist background.
Non-denom Church with a Baptist background.
OK, I see the issue here. You’re not espousing the typical definition of “once saved, always saved” that I’ve seen from various Churches, which is namely:
Once you pray the sinners prayer, you’re going to heaven.
Obviously, this is false.
I agree that if someone is “saved” and their life displays repentance, good works, and the fruit of the Holy Spirit unto death, they’re most likely (as we don’t know hearts) “saved always.”
You are correct in your understanding of my position – I do not think saying the sinners prayer makes someone saved for life. It is a faith which makes one a new creature that saves.
But what I was trying to let you in on was the debate within the OSAS side. You are correct that there are those that simply teach if you said a prayer even if nothing in your life changed or even if the person totally shows no fruits or they completely deny God and never return that they were saved because of that prayer. I know friends who believe that and I adamantly disagree with them.
But there are a larger number of OSAS advocates including my Baptist Pastor and large host of others who do not believe simply saying the prayer saves you but it is only a faith that makes a person a new creature evidenced by a change in their life that saves.
But then we have an even further debate among those of us who believe that a person’s life will change and they will produce good works that are the fruit of the Holy Spirit within them. That debate is “how much change and how much good works?”
Some of my friends who are on my side of the aisle of OSAS(that a new creature is required that produces change and good works) believe in what is called “the pattern of righteousness” position. What that means is they believe not only will a person have change and good works but they will always grow and for the most part always do what is right with only “moments of failure”. This is where I disagree with them. I believe true believers grow at different rates, some much slower than others. I also believe that because of blindness or stubbornness in certain areas Christians may not always please God in all areas of their lives. But if there has been change and growth since their profession of faith – and their faith in God still abides even if their growth is not where we think it should be or they have not had victory over certain sins that does not mean they are not saved. I have friends who will say they are not.
So there are some finer points of debate in that area – but yes I do not believe just saying the sinners prayer saves anyone. If it is not a heart felt faith, a genuine faith which seeks forgiveness and seeks to please God thus allowing God to regenerate that person and make them a new creature – then it is only words and nothing more.