Articles of Faith |

Once Saved, Always Safe?

In one year when I was ministering in the southern United States, I met two pastors who had to quit their ministries because of the people. The pastors wanted to teach what the Bible actually says, but the people did not want to be corrected. Apparently church was just a social thing and they wanted to live anyway they wanted to during the week. One of the pastors became an evangelist and the other opened a Christian bookstore.

Many professed Christians who ascribe to the “once saved, always safe” doctrine can fall into the category of the people that were described to me by those pastors. This doctrine eliminates free will. Therefore if you come to Christ it is because God predetermined that you are to be saved, and has nothing to do with a person’s choice; therefore you cannot lose your salvation. So to many, this means that it does not matter how you live.

If God did not create people with free will, that would mean when our first parent’s sinned in Eden it was predetermined for them to do so. That would make God responsible for all the evil in the world and not the devil or people. That concept is not supported by the bulk of scripture.

Most people do not know that the origins of this doctrine were derived from a pagan Greek philosophy called ‘determinism.’ That is the belief that everything that happens has already been predetermined. This philosophy was introduced to the Christian church by Augustine and was adapted by Calvin.

This doctrine, which is known as “predestination,” also contradicts the Apostles’ teaching that God operates through His foreknowledge (I Peter 1:2, Romans 8:29). That is, He knows in advance who the person is and what they will choose. Therefore He calls everyone to give them the opportunity to be saved, (Many are called, but few chosen - Matthew 22:14), but He knows through His foreknowledge who will come when He calls and who will be faithful to Him. While all mankind is degenerate, God prepares the hearts of those He knows will receive Him, for “with God all things are possible,” (Matthew 19:26); even the regeneration of the worst possible sinner.

The people who have come to God by their free will in response to His working in their lives, and who believe in His plan of redemption which is Jesus’ atonement for their sins and His resurrection from the dead, cannot lose their salvation because they will not do the things that would cause them to lose it.

The Bible says that there are two ways that a person can lose their salvation; denying Christ (Matthew 10:33) and unforgiveness (Matthew 6:14,15). I believe that prejudice is another form of unforgiveness; some people cannot forgive folks who are of a different race or color.

For some who follow Calvin’s version of determinism, the word repentance becomes merely the recognition of the need to believe the gospel, instead of the Biblical definition of repentance which means to change, to turn from sins (Ezekiel 13:22, Luke 13:1-5, Mark 6:12).

The evidence of a genuine salvation is a changed life, this is what it means to be born again. The Apostle John tells us that, “Whoever is born of God does not commit sin; for His seed remains in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (I John 3:9). The original Greek in which this verse was written means to continually practice sin. In other words, no true Christian willfully, deliberately and continuously practices sin. A Christian can sin through the weakness of human flesh and be restored (I John 1:9), but it is not the desire of the individual to commit sin or anything that offends the Lord.

The evidence of salvation is righteousness. “Little children, let no man deceive you: he that does righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous” (I John 3:7). “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone that does righteousness is born of Him” (I John 2:29). This is not only an outward righteousness, but one that is produced from an inward transformation; the imparting of the divine nature (II Peter 1:4), the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22,23) that are developed over time in the believer by the Holy Spirit of Christ, for without Him we can do nothing (John 15:5).

It is always important to remember that it is our faith in the atonement of Jesus that saves us. Our works and spiritual development are the result and evidence of our salvation and not the means.

All believers must stand before the Lord at the judgment seat of Christ (II Corinthians 5:10). Jesus’ and the Apostles’ words are meant to prepare us for that time when we will stand before the One who knows every thought that comes into our minds and the motives of the heart. For true believers this is not a judgment for condemnation, it is for rewards; but for some it is not going to be a pleasant experience (Matthew 25:14-46, Ezekiel 34, Matthew 21:33-41).

Anyone who professes to be a Christian, but does not want to be corrected by the scriptures, and avoids reading the Bible, needs to evaluate their spiritual condition and “make their calling and election sure” (II Peter 1:10). Repent and say a prayer to rededicate yourself to the Lord. Make Him the Lord of your life and let Him lead you by His Spirit (Romans 8:14). This should be the natural response to the gospel.

Children, read God’s word and let His Spirit and His words change you into the person He wants you to be. We don’t have to be perfect, we just have to be willing to be perfected.

You seek out of the book of the Lord and read, no one of these shall fail…(Isaiah

Copyright 2024 by H.D. Shively

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