I'd say the majority of Christians (folks who say "I believe Jesus is my Savior") still doubt whether they will make it to heaven (God's presence) when they die. But I am FULLY convinced it doesn't have to be that way for those following Christ!
*Catholics fear purgatory (click here here: purgatory - for full study on this false idea).
*Mormons may only get to a lower heaven(click here Mormonsinshock for info on this false idea).
*Jehovah's Witnesses presume heaven is filled up and the new earth is the best they can expect(for response:
click here: JW 144 ).
*And many others wonder if some sin or sin-pattern will forfeit their salvation, and they will end up in hell.
(We will talk about that.)
May I present to you a group of PRECIOUS PICTURES from the Bible that give great confidence to those who have believed in Christ that they WILL end up in God's presence? Now I often hear "But what about James 2 or Hebrews 6 or... (you fill in the blanks). So part two of this article addresses all the verses that seem to conflict with these precious pictures, which support a sort of once-saved-always-saved view. I'd simply modify it to say "Once GENUINELY saved, always saved," as there are many who think they are saved who are not. And I want readers to know I am more than willing to talk by e-mail with them one-to-one about these things. Address is at the end.
Over 125 times in the new testament we are told that faith is what saves us. But faith is no better than its object. All the faith in the world in a leaky boat only gets you wet. But just enough faith to step into a sea-worthy boat is what we need. I believe many have put their faith into their performance, rather than the value of the performance of Christ on the cross FOR them, IN THEIR PLACE. The following faith-building illustrations from the Bible spell out the security God wants us to have.
1. The Back-to-the-future Picture. God offers salvation to us as the one who knows every sin you and I will ever sin. He has already seen the DVD of your WHOLE life. In spite of it He states that the one who comes to Him will not be turned away....no way (my paraphrase) (John 6:37) So when He offers salvation... He does so from a timeless perspective.
2. The Perfection Picture. Sin is what keeps us out of heaven -- Matt. 5:48 says we must be as perfect as God is. Being half-way good won't work as James 2:10 says only one broken rule makes us as guilty as if we had broken them all. This SEEMS impossible, but God has made a way for us to be legally viewed as perfect. Look at Heb. 10:10 and 14. It shows that we are seen as PERFECTED FOREVER as those set apart (sanctified) by the sacrifice of Christ. This is a legal standing with God known as imputed righteousness and is described in Romans 4 and I Cor. 5:19-21 and is separate from our performance, being give to us when we BELIEVE in Christ. It is THIS legal declaration that will guarantee that we get "in the gate"! For more on this, click here: Imputed Righteousness
One of the first questions asked when this is taught is this: Does that mean we have a license to just sin-sin-sin? The answer is no-no- no. There are many reasons why that isn't so. Realizing how much God loves me inspires me to do RIGHT and please him, not to do wrong. And He as a Father disciplines us when we need it. Our salvation is a package deal in that when we believe the Holy Spirit enters our life (Gal. 3:14) and His presence is there to change us. One could say the Spirit changes our "want-to". Philippians 2:13 speaks of God being in us to will and do of His good pleasure. This has proven true in my life and the lives of those in my church and other churches I have had association with - it is true of all genuine Christians. One who says I believe, and then lives exactly as before did not receive the Spirit, and was not saved. John 10:28 says God's sheep hear his voice, and He knows them, and they follow Him. It is Biblical to say I know that I HAVE (present tense) eternal life (I John 5:13). God WANTS us to have that assurance so we can relax and serve Him out of love, not fear.
3. The Adoption Picture. In Jewish culture, once one was adopted they could not be unadopted. Romans 8:14-16 says we have been adopted as God's children.
4. The Medicine Picture. A formula of medication to cure spiritual cancer is not improved when we add our blood, bacteria-laden sweat and tears(real or phoney) to it. The one tangible item that cures or cancels sin is... the blood of Christ shed on the cross. When we add rules and regulations to the formula, we devalue the blood and ruin the formula, and it is in fact a GREAT insult to the value of Christ's shed blood.
6. The "Tetelestai" Picture. That is the word Christ uttered on the cross toward the end of His suffering, and it was translated as "It is finished" but more literally means paid in full. A price was required by God. It was FULLY paid. God's justice is satisfied. This is also seen in the word "propitiation" (Romans 3:25 and I John 2:1-2) which describes Jesus' sacrifice as being enough to satisfy God's requirements... to pay the debt.
7. The Point-Blank picture. God knows how to say what He means, and the gift he offers us is called ETERNAL life. John 3:16, 5:24, Rom. 6:23. This is unlike Grape-nuts cereal, which is neither grapes nor nuts. This spiritual life is defined in John 17:5 as a relationship of personally "knowing" God and Christ, and thus that will never come to an end... beyond this life we will know Him even more closely than now. God never offered temporary life.
8. The Marriage picture. When Jesus offered the cup of the new covenant at the last supper, it reminded Jews of how a man would propose marriage to a girl, offering her a cup of wine, and if she took it, she was accepting the proposal. Believers are referred to as the bride of Christ. Please note that God hates divorce. While we are in a sense in the engagement period, He has given us an engagement ring if you will, (Eph. 4:30) also called the earnest or seal of His promise to take us to be with him at the marriage supper of the Lamb. That earnest item is the Holy Spirit placed within all believers, and that Spirit is not a fair weather friend. Instead we read that the Spirit of Christ will never EVER leave nor forsake us. Heb. 13:5
9. The Throne-room picture. Ephesians. 1 pictures us as seated with Christ in the heavenly places, and calls us saints, and says we are accepted in the beloved. With God this is already as good as done, in spite of our present imperfection.
10. The Project Picture We are God's project... Rom. 8:29-30 says we are in a process of being conformed to the image of Christ. The promise is that what God starts He WILL finish -- Phil. 1:6 repeats this idea.
11. The Double-hand-hold picture This is seen in John 10:28-29:
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them,and they follow me;
and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish
neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand; my Father, who gave them me,
is greater than all; and no man is ale to pluck hem out of my Father's hand.
12. The Priesthood picture The Old Testament Israelites were forgiven each year by the action of the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. Their forgiveness for the year depended only on whether God accepted the shed blood sacrifice offered by the High Priest. It didn't matter if people sinned a lot or a little, if they repeated sins, if they did or did not regret them, if they repented of them and quit them, or if they confessed them. The shed blood was the whole basis of forgiveness. That principle is still true, but now Jesus is our High Priest according to Hebrews chapters 7 and beyond, and HIS sacrifice covers all time, not just one year. Hebrews 10:12 says: "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God."
13. The LOVE-letter picture Romans 8 tells us NOTHING will separate us from God's love. Is that good enough, or can God still love us, yet reject us because of sin? Our security is based on knowing that it is love that is at the foundation of God's choice to forgive us and keep us as His forever. It is somewhat like a parent whose child may disobey, but the parent does not disown the child -- though He may discipline him. I John 4:16-18 indicates that this perfect unending love gives us confidence in the day of judgment...not fear! That is powerful.
14. The Father picture. A good dad will discipline, not disown. Discipline for us is an earthly thing, and does not affect our eternal life. What we sow, we reap...but note that it is "in the flesh" (Gal. 6:8)....on earth. Once we are glorified, we will not need correcting.
15. The Escalator picture. When I had doubts, this was the scripture I just couldn't get past! It is an automatic escalator...you get on the first step and will invariably be carried to the last step... all (ALL) those justified will be glorified. Rom. 5:1 says we are justified by faith. Not when we measure up, for Rom. 5:6 says God justifies the ungodly. See also the story in Luke 18 of the man who was justified as soon as he prayed, admitting he was a sinner and asking for mercy from God.
16. The Nailed to the cross picture. Not Jesus... Colossians 2:14 says the list of all the sins against us was nailed to the cross. This was because the custom at that time was to take a cancelled notice of debt and nail it in a public place in front of the home of the one whose debt was all paid. There is no list of sins on us to bring up before God.
17. The Command picture. God gave Jesus a command. He gave US as believers, as a gift to Jesus, and told Jesus not to LOSE any of them. Jesus will of course obey that command! I find it interesting that nowhere in the Bible does it speak of anyone ever "losing" salvation or redemption or eternal life or forgiveness... but this command tells us why that is just not an issue.
18 The building picture. Believers are also pictured as a building being built. Note that Matt 16:18 says the gates of hell will not prevail against this building project. Similarly, we are referred to as the "body" of Christ, and such would not be dismembered, would it?
19. The Covenant picture. This is the essence of the promise of God to us. Sin could keep us out of heaven only if it is an issue in heaven. But Heb. 812 and 10:17-18 both tell us that God is no longer remembering our sins and is going to be merciful (that means not getting the punishment one should get) to our iniquities. There is no "small vs. big" sin designation here... all sins and iniquities are gone. Note that God doesn't forget -- that would suggest a slip-up...rather He CHOOSES not to remember them so they are not an issue!.
20. More word pictures: East-West. Psalm 103:12 says God removes our sins as far away as the East is from the W. Consider: go North and keep going and you end up South. But it is not that way with East and West. Snow. Isaiah 1:18 speaks of our sins being washed as white as snow. Garment We are given a garment of salvation ...a robe of righteousness according to Isaiah 61:10. This fits perfectly with the concept of Imputed Righteousness (Romans 4).
There is seemingly no end to the ways God has tried to convey to us that we can KNOW where we stand with Him, that we can relax and enjoy our salvation, and then serve Him out of love and gratefulness, not fear.
"But what about...?" Would be glad to talk to you about your concerns...
Why, then, do some people believe salvation can be lost? Perhaps, in part, because they have misunderstood the following scriptures:
Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26(paraphrased) It is impossible for those enlightened to be renewed to repentance IF they fall away. Interestingly, this seems to say "If you lose it, you can’t get it back." But those I’ve talked to DENY THIS!
Let’s check the context. What are "Hebrews"? Jews. What were they in danger of falling away TO (pardon the grammar). Sin? No, back into faith in the first (law) covenant as their source of righteousness, rather than in Christ alone as their source of righteousness. This book was written before 70 AD and the Jewish temple was still standing; animal sacrifices were still being offered. But remember - such were symbols in the old covenant period of what Christ would do on the cross once-and-for-all to remove sin. So when this passage warns about crucifying Christ afresh, (6:6) it isn’t talking about sinning some sin... Christ paid for EVERY sin with His one sacrifice. We do not crucify Him over again when we sin. It is talking about renewing the symbol as a substitute for the real thing. The theme of Hebrews is how the new covenant is better than the old.
Christ fulfilled the symbol, thus they DARE NOT continue it. This was a time-limited sin (temple destroyed in 70 AD) and probably not repeatable in our time - only a Jew would even consider doing it.
Note also that Paul presented this as a hypothetical situation ("if"), but in verse 9 he says he knew the Hebrews wouldn’t knowingly do such a thing (after having the situation explained). Think about it. To do such would be the same as saying the blood of Christ was of less value than the blood of animals. It is a clear-cut either-or choice and to choose the old would be to say they had no faith in Christ.
Galatians 5:4"Ye are fallen from grace." One can fall from grace, but the question is, how? The context states that we fall from grace through lawkeeping in order to be justified. Not lawbreaking, lawkeeping. This is not the definition of falling from grace that I have heard from anyone who thinks salvation can be lost! I must say (for LDS readers) that this passage scares me, because I see Mormons as guilty of this sin of thinking their justification comes through "obedience to laws and ordinances". There are no "laws and ordinances" in the gospel. The gospel message is that Christ died for our sins. That’s it. (I Cor. 15:1-4). To think that lawkeeping somehow completes justification is a false gospel.
This passage was also written to counteract the Judaizers who wanted all Christians to be circumcised and keep the Mosaic law. The "if" in verse 2 tells us Paul was again speaking hypothetically, as verse 10 confirms.
Matt. 10:22, 24:13, Mark 13:13"He that endureth to the end shall be saved."
This thought occurs only in these 3 places in the Bible, and each is in the context of a description of a time of persecution or tribulation. Note that in each what the people need to be delivered (saved) from is the physical persecution and physical death, rather than spiritual death.
The Bible indicates that all who have been justified WILL be glorified (Romans 8:30), thus it does not depend on my endurance, but whether the shed blood I have trusted in is SUFFICIENT to cleanse from all sin. THAT is what the object of faith is to be. And it is sufficient. That is what propitiatory means in Romans 3:24.
Philippians 2:12"Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
There’s a bit difference between saying, "work out" to a saved person, and "work for" to one not in possession of salvation. This book is addressed to saints (set apart ones - ie. saved persons). Phil. 2:13 clarifies that God was working IN these people. Paul was telling them to let that power loose so it could change their life - enable them to grow in their sanctification and overcome problems described in Philippians 2 (see vs. 2-4, 14 ). But Philippians 1:6 promises these people that they would be preserved to the day of judgment.
Hebrews 5:9"He became the author of eternal salvation (there is no other kind!) to all those who obey Him." The key word here is obey. In what way? 100% obedience? If it depends on such, James 2:10 and Galatians 3:10 tell us that 99% won’t work. For how long? How many commands? It makes more sense to link this to the "obedience of faith" described in Romans 1:5. When Jesus was asked how to do the works of God, He said to believe in Him. John 6:28-29.
James 2:26"Faith without works is dead." God isn’t weeding out naughty children here, he is describing genuine faith, which always results in a changed life in God’s time. This tells me that some who profess Christ don’t possess Him.
But there is a perspective here that must be grasped. In James 2 we read, "ye see" and "shew me", and , "I will shew you", indicating that the passage is talking about how HUMANS can SEE if someone is a genuine Christian. The flip side of that coin is in Romans 4:1-6 where Abraham is spoken of (as in James 2).
But here, it indicates how GOD justifies one. And because God know the future and can "see" our faith, the basis for justification by Him is faith, not works.
Verse 5 says specifically, "to the one that worketh not, but believeth on him who justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. The only way to avoid a contradiction of thought in these two passages is to put them in their separate perspectives... how God justifies, and how humans can judge whether one is saved by what they see.
II Peter 1:5-8We’re talking here about the result of salvation, not the means. As Christians grow in this pattern, the verses tellus they will be fruitful and they will be less likely to "stumble" (trip up; not the same Greek word as is used of a permanent fall), and they will be abundantly (as opposed to sparingly) rewarded in heaven.
Psalm 51:11Old covenant context. The Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell then as He does now. Compare John 14:16-17.
I John 5:16-17Physical death or spiritual death? Compare I Cor. 6:5 and 11:30. Some think they may have reference to Christians who broke the law of the land which carried the death penalty.
I John 1:9No (other) verse in the Bible requires Christians to do a day-by-day confession of sin to be forgiven. The immediate context (1:8 and 1:10) historically applied to the Gnostic problem (other Gnostic problems are also discussed in the book of I John). Gnostics denied sin was sinful. The reference is to people who said they did not have a sin nature or sinful deeds. What it says to such people is that His word and His truth are not in you. In other words those Gnostics were NOT saved. They denied sin, the very thing they needed to be saved from. Thus these 3 verses, taken together(I John 1:8-10) are saying that the Gnostics needed to change their view of sin and admit they were sinners by nature and by action and confess that in order to be saved.
Now note that I John 2:12 makes a very STRONG statement about forgiveness... It says that for God's dear children, "your sins are forgiven you for His sake." In the Greek it is the perfect tense meaning that your sins are permanently forgiven...once for all time...no need to repeat. See also Colossians 1:14 and 2:13.
Have I missed some verses which you feel teach insecurity?
I’d be happy to discuss them with you, but you must remember.
God doesn’t doubletalk.
Therefore, before I would be willing to change my view on this issue,
one would not only need to present verses in context which
prove you can lose your salvation, but would also need to demonstrate
that all the arguments/scriptures I have presented above are somehow false.
Sharon -- email@example.com