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Once Saved Always Saved: Is This How The Holy Spirit Works?

Posted by Job on July 19, 2007

Well, for this I have to credit (or blame) the most excellent brother Laz, even if he didn’t do it on purpose! Motivated by a post asserting the opposite by Independent Conservative, I posted by beliefs Christians: Once Saved Always Saved? I Say Not So! to which Laz made this reply during which he referenced the argument of a oneness pentecostal. Perhaps unknown to Laz, the three issues that I am extremely emotional about in no particular order are 1) abortion, 2) anti – Trinitarians, and 3) those who mislead Christians into thinking that they are old covenant Israel (which is done not only explicitly with false Christian teaching but also implicitly through religious right politics). I also somehow totally misunderstood Laz’s post (though I read it several times!) into thinking that he was, while debating the opposite point, citing views that were similar to mine expressed by an anti – Trinitarian in the course of making his argument. Result: I made this comment to the effect of “I will become a five point Calvinist before I ever side with a oneness heretic over a brother in Christ.” Laz quickly corrected my error, but it was too late: I had already said (or written) it, and could not take it back! (Which is precisely why the Bible calls speaking in haste or out of emotion a sin.) So, I was stuck thinking about the issue all day long, and the excellent replies that I received from Steven, Marge, Marcus, Laz, Independent Conservative, etc. weren’t helping.

Now lately I have been giving into the temptation of listening to talk radio even though it is not good for a person with a temperament such as mine, and as it happens they are talking about the Michael Vick case ad nauseum. I stopped being a fan of Michael Vick when he gave a woman herpes, I was so frustrated with the pro – abortion PETA crowd who love dogs more than people on the radio (including this ESPN radio host who claims that “we should have EVOLVED to the point where we no longer enjoy dogfighting”) that I wasn’t exactly the peacemaker at work that God called me to be the rest of my workday! So later when I again turned on talk radio while driving home and heard more Michael Vick news, a little whisper tells me “Now you know that you caused all sorts of trouble that your coworkers didn’t need today because you let something that you shouldn’t have been listening to anyway get you angry. The Bob George Show is on right now on 1010 AM, turn to that.” (Bob George is great Christian teacher, his website is http://realanswers.net).

I do so, and this sweet old lady who has been ATTENDING CHURCH ALL OF HER LONG LIFE called in because she was vexed by the whole salvation thing. The churches that she had been attending, apparently, had neglected to tell her the meaning of what Jesus Christ did for her on the cross, and as a result she had spent her entire life trying to work her way out of the lake of fire. Apparently, she had made several such calls in a short period of time on this topic, because the hosts of this nationwide live show knew her and put her right on. So the host explained (and I could tell that it wasn’t the first time) how once you accept Christ, God forgives all of your past, present, and future sins. I do not remember all of her questions or his responses, but he broke it down for her. I do think I remember this exchange when the woman, filled with emotion, “But what if I sin and can’t stop sinning? How I handle that, and what does God do or feel about that?” If I recall, something to the effect was “Well you can either go out and find yourself a calf or lamb to go sacrifice, or you can start trusting God for your salvation.”

The notion of a sweet little old lady that had been attending church all of her life wracked with fear and guilt over sin was extremely disturbing to me. And yes, I was also mindful of my own sin just a few short hours earlier of causing strife and confusion on my job. And on top of all that, I was still thinking of my hasty reply to Laz earlier, what it meant in general intellectual terms, what it meant to my own recent sin, and what it meant to this terrified old lady in emotional turmoil on the phone. So while I had always given agreement by virtue of “intellectual assent” to “God forgives all of your past, present, and future sins upon salvation”, I had never stopped to think what that ACTUALLY MEANS. That is, until now.

Well, the good news is that the sweet little old lady FINALLY understood and believed and began to trust Jesus Christ and not dead works of religion or her church, pastor, or doctrine for her salvation that day. Now I fully expect this woman to be attacked by Satan, so I must remember to pray for her though I know not her name or anything else about her. But I now had something to think about regarding my “you can’t lose your salvation but you can throw it away” personal doctrine. If all of your past, present, and FUTURE sins are forgiven when God saves you, then the present or future sin that would cause you to allegedly “throw your salvation away” is already forgiven! And if your sin is already forgiven even before you commit it? How can it possibly throw your salvation away? The answer is simple: it cannot. It is forever dealt with, done, cast away, removed, forgotten, as far from you as the east is from the west. You cannot undo what God has done. What God does is not dependent on man. God’s operation is not a function of man. And it cannot be that God has forgiven your past and present sins but not your future ones, because that does not fit my own personal concept of God: an eternal spirit that exists outside of time. Since God exists outside of time, He does not have to wait for you to commit some future sin to forgive it. He does not need one procedure for your past sin, this thing for your present sin, and a separate process for your future sin: existing timelessly in eternity has its advantages! Thus, I repeat, you cannot “throw away your salvation” with an action or even a series of actions that God has already forgiven you for!

So then, it is true. I can no longer deny it. Once saved always saved. This is going to permanently alter how I view Christianity and in a very significant fashion, including totally changing my approach to reading scripture.

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26 Responses to “Once Saved Always Saved: Is This How The Holy Spirit Works?”

  1. Stuart said

    “Once saved always saved” is not a good way (samantics) to put it. I know it is a Calvinist term (and your not Calvanist) but, “Preservation of the Saints” or simply but “God preserving those who are saved” is a much better way of expressing it. I run into folks all the time who think that it’s “once saved always saved” and they assume that this means that you can be “saved” but then go back to your old way of life. If you are truely “saved” and are a “new creation” and a “new heart” is been put inside you then you wouldn’t want to go back to the old ways (if you will). At least in my experience “once saved always saved” is just a bad way of putting it. But “God preserving those who are saved” sounds to me like he will enable you to “BE” the regenerated being/the reborn child he has made you to be.

    just a thought.

    another is I actually attend a Methodist church with is obviously Arminion/Weslyian and our pastors believe then that you can “loose” or quote fall away from grace after being “saved”. They say that if you can’t and you do believe in “free-will” then God would be taking a bit of your ability of being “free-willed” away if you then could not go back on what you free will choosed.

    I think this might be hyper-free-will but…your thoughts?

  2. Stuart: Thanks for pointing out that the “P” in TULIP means “preservation of the saints.” It is actually not “hyper free will” at all. Free will means that man, by his own power, has the ability to accept and reject God on his own terms. So, if you have the power to choose your salvation, then you have the power to reject it. My justification was that “God gave us free will because God does not want robots” but that leaves this HUGE GAPING PROBLEM: if we cannot save ourselves, how then can we keep ourselves saved? By our own inherent righteousness? Through works? It just does not fit. Wow, would I have said such a thing just yesterday? I guess not.

  3. kimita said

    Praise God! I am very excited to read about how the Holy Spirit has turned your heart to such a great yet controversial message of Christianity! Christ died for our sins WHILE we were sinners! And I completely agree with what you said about His death covering ALL of our sins – past, present and future. I try to explain this to people who say you can lose your salvation but only the Holy Spirit can convict others of it.

    God did not send His Son to die for people who would later have to question their salvation – that is a trick of the enemy. For what sins will disqualify us from keeping our salvation? Then that too is based on works, which we know salvation is not. It is finished means more than just Christ’s death – it means that the continuous sacrifices for sin are finished! Christ died ONCE for ALL!

    I read a great book called Basic Christianity by John Stott, I think, which says that Christ’s death on the cross paid for all of the horrendous sins of the entire human race. Imagine that – the sins of people like Hitler and Saddam and serial killers and rapists (the sins we consider horrendous but carry the same weight as adultery or jealousy, in God’s eyes.) This is often difficult for people to grasp because why should people like that be offered forgiveness? Well, they are offered such a wonderful gift but only some will accept it.

    We can’t change what God has done for humanity – we can only accept it and live in freedom. For where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!

  4. Kimita: Thank you sister in Christ. True, very true. On Hitler and Saddam, Nebuchadnezzar was like them, and he was saved. Also, God is so holy that when He is the comparison point, gossiping is just as bad as genocide! Isaiah 6, it is all about Isaiah 6!

  5. Melissa said

    Praise God! It was just a few months ago that the Lord brought me to the same conclusions. A sister in Christ and I actually studied this issue, because we both believed, at the time, that one could lose their salvation. I thought that we had come to a consensus that it was impossible for a true Christian to lose their salvation. I still believe in the “Preservation of the Saints” or the “Security of the Believer” (I hate the term “once saved always saved” because so many people think they are saved yet live according to their flesh). My sister, however, has reverted.

    Please pray for her (and others) as I do that the Lord will be merciful and give them understanding that it is He who does the work and it is He who brings our ultimate salvation and sanctification to pass.

    This gives me much hope, for I love her dearly and want her to trust in the Lord for: “He Who began a good work in [us] will complete it until the day of Christ” (Phil 1:6) and that “…the God of peace Himself sanctify [us] completely; and may [our] whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls [us] is faithful, who also will do it!” (1 Thess. 5:23-24)

    AMEN!

    • Miryam Sakeena Nahar said

      Praise God for you dear sister!
      I believe that God has placed me in a church where l most, if not all believe and preach that you can lose your salvation. It grieves me and I believe it grieves our Lord also. I have just today said to my homegroup leader, who believes you can lose your salvation, that I will do a study on “once saved always saved” and then I will present it to him. I think i will present it to the seior Pastor also, as I believe it is very important to God that His children know this.
      What you say has encouraged me so much as you say the same things as I have been saying to him to explain that “Once Saved always Saved.” The problem is, somehow, and I am unsure how, people who believe Christians do and can lose salvation will also preach ” Preservation of the Saints” and the “Security of the Believer. For me “Once saved always saved ” hits teh nail on the head. “Once saved, always saved” does need to be preached however in the whole counsel counsel of God, explaining the consequences of living in disobedience, out of the love of God. And none of these consequences include loss of salvation, not of body, soul, or of spirit. This because of , ” He who calls [us] is faithful, who also will do it!” (1 Thess. 5:23-24)

    • Miryam Sakeena Nahar said

      (errors ammended)

      Praise God for you dear sister!
      I believe that God has placed me in a church where most, if not all believe and preach that you can lose your salvation. It grieves me and I believe it grieves our Lord also. I have just today said to someone in my church, who believes you can lose your salvation, that I will do a study on “once saved always saved” and then I will present it to him. I think I will present it to others also, as I believe it is very important to God that His children know this.

      What you say has encouraged me so much as you say the same things as I have been saying to him to explain that “Once Saved always Saved.” The problem is, somehow, and I am unsure how, people who believe Christians do and can lose salvation will also preach ” Preservation of the Saints” and the “Security of the Believer. For me “Once saved always saved ” hits the nail on the head.

      “Once saved, always saved” does need to be preached however in the whole counsel counsel of God, explaining the consequences of living in disobedience, out of the love of God. And none of these consequences include loss of salvation, not of body, soul, or of spirit. This because of , ” He who calls [us] is faithful, who also will do it!” (1 Thess. 5:23-24)

      • Miryam Sakeena Nahar said

        However, Romans 14 : 1-12 tells us not to dispute over issues which the body of Christ dispute over. So perhaps seek the Lord about how not to use the expression “Once saved always saved”.

        It is good to remember what Jesus says about the issue though.

        ” You foolish Galations! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publically exihibited as crucified!The only thing Iwant to learn from you is this:Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?”

  6. Brother, when you get the opportunity, read over Romans 9. By God’s own sovereign design, it is He who makes one heart open to Him and it is He who hardens another according to His will.

    I don’t understand it all, I just know He’s told me how things are.

  7. Steven said

    HTL:

    As I read through your post, I hope that I understood your premise correctly. That is, that God has forgiven all of our past, present and future sins. That because of that even the future sin of walking away from Him would be (has been?) forgiven. I would urge you to consider a couple of Scriptures in regards to this. I certainly hope you will not think of this as a debate but an exploration of the Scriptures “to see if these things (are) so” (acts 17:11)

    First, you mentioned the radio preacher’s statement that Jesus’ blood washes us of all of our past, present and future sins. It really really depends on how that is stated! If he means that Jesus’ blood is ABLE to cover all our sins, past, present and future, I totally agree. There is no limit to the sins that are able to be forgiven (Heb 10:12) Jesus’ blood was offered for sins of all time. (I must clarify that I don’t think you would apply this to non believers either so when I talk about people here in this post, I am only talking about believers. ) If you think that Jesus’ blood applies to all sins, repented of or not, that is a whole different proposition.

    Look at I John 1:6-7. If WE say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in the darkness, WE lie and do not PRACTICE the truth; but if WE walk in the light as he Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

    I emphasized the WE and PRACTICE here but suppose I could also emphasis the IF. We cannot teach that those who walk in darkness are in fellowship with God and darkness cannot be defined as simply evil, murderous, reprobate people as the world counts it, but must be defined as GOD defines it. ALL sin is unrighteousness and living in sin continuously is walking in darkness for sure. Notice that he is talking to Christians not the world and notice that the next parts says that if we ‘walk in the light’ His blood cleanses us from all sin.

    If a brother or sister decides to move in with their girl/boyfriend and live with them as if married, can we say that they are walking in the light? I don’t think so! Now if this same couple makes it known that they had slept together once and were sorry for it, and striving not to let that happen again….v9 applies. But if they are not repentant and will keep doing it, v 6 and v8 apply.

    Romans 6, the whole entire chapter is devoted to how we are to live our lives, not in sin, but in righteousness. It ends with this statement v21 “Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? FOR THE OUTCOME OF THOSE THINGS IS DEATH. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    Notice he did not say that the “Outcome of those things WAS or WOULD HAVE BEEN death” Paul says the outcome IS death.

    Who is your master? It is shown by what you do. again refer back to chapter 6. Tie in James 2 and you have a whole bunch of ‘what you do, shows who you belong to’ Paul’s whole argument is that while we are saved by faith through God’s grace, we cannot abuse God’s grace by sinning thinking that God loves us sooooooooooooooooo much that He will forgive us! May it never be!

    When you find that passage that teaches that all sins we ever will commit are forgiven even before we commit it and regardless of our repentance, please say what it is, I don’t think you will find it. I know that some preachers have said it, but that doesn’t make it so. (acts 17:11) Does that statement coincide with Paul in Romans 6:1-2 or does it contradict him?
    Good luck as you study.
    Agape,

    Steven

  8. kimita said

    Steven,

    I believe you may be correct that the Bible perhaps does not contain a verse/passage directly stating that all of our sins – past, present and future – are forgiven before we ever commit them.

    However, the key verses that make it clear that all our sins are forgiven, when we ask for forgiveness and repent, is Romans 5:6-11. Paul here writes that WHILE we were enemies of God, WHILE we were sinners, Christ died for us – the ungodly. This is obviously incomprehensible that someone would die for ungodly people – one will hardly die for a righteous man, Paul says. But God’s love is so much greater that He is willing to sacrifice His Son for sinners. This is obviously talking about unbelievers – Christ died for the ungodly.

    When Christ died years upon years ago, I was not born yet. I had no idea what sins I would commit but Christ did and yet He still died FOR my future sins without waiting for me to repent (since I wasn’t born yet to do so.) For 22 years of my life, I committed many sins and did not seek forgiveness. However, when I came to know Jesus Christ six years ago and accepted by faith the sacrifice He made for me and my years of sin, I was forgiven. On His shoulders, Christ took ALL the sins of the world and those sins had to be future sins since so many more people came after Christ. Of course, salvation and forgiveness is based upon repentance – if I never repented and claimed Christ as Lord, then His sacrifice would mean nothing to me.

    He also promised to in His Word to forgive me of all sin if I confess it (1 John 1:9). Because Christ’s sacrifice covers all sin (meaning that His sacrifice is the only thing needed for us to receive forgiveness of sins as Hebrews talks about), IF we turn to Him and confess our sins we will be forgiven. The one condition is that we do repent, and as Christians we will sin at times after conversion and will need to seek that forgiveness again. I’m guessing this is what you mean when you say that future sins, repented of or not, are a different story. We, Christians, can’t expect to say that we’re OK because Christ died without seeking repentance for sin. That is a form of pride and actually shows ignorance on the part of a believer.

    Since I am sealed with the Holy Spirit, who dwells in me, He makes me aware of my sin so I can quickly repent of it. Christ knows that I and other believers will sin again and those sins can and will be forgiven as we repent. You are right, as cited in Romans 6, that we are not to abuse God’s grace. And those who do so should question whether Christ is truly Lord of their life. Once you know the enormity of Christ’s sacrifice, you will strive to obey Him and only Him out of love and gratitude. But we will fail, as a heavenly war ensues, and He is faithful to always forgive us.

  9. Steven: “If a brother or sister decides to move in with their girl/boyfriend and live with them as if married, can we say that they are walking in the light?” The answer to that – and to similar such questions – is that a person that is willing to continue in sin has never experienced true Holy Spirit regeneration in the first place. And if you have not received true Holy Spirit regeneraton, your sins have not been forgiven yet! Perhaps the best keys to this are not in the New Testament, but of the Old Testament prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, and similar. They stated that under the New Covenant, God would give you the ability to keep the law. So that means that if you are a New Covenant saint, you are able to avoid continuing in sin if you choose to. Right? But here is the deal: you are not a new covenant saint UNLESS you have chosen not to continue in sin. Why? Because before you can TRULY be saved – meaning before Holy Spirit regeneration can take place – you must repent of sin. By that I do not mean that the things that you have done in the past, or of the things that you are willing to give up, but all of your sins: past, present, and future. Repent does not mean “saying I am sorry and I promise to try my best to never do it again.” That is what most modern Christianity tells you that “repent” means, but actually that is not “repentance” but rather REMORSE. Well, lots of utterly wicked figures in the Bible showed remorse at one time or another, including the evil kings Ahab and Manassah. A lot of Christian doctrine teaches that repentance means to be grievously remorseful … they even say “be ‘Godly sorry’ over your sins and ask God to forgive you and save you”! Nay, REPENTANCE means to “to turn aside from, reject, renounce!” So, the “brother and sister living together” are not saved and were never saved because they never REPENTED of past, present, and future sexual immorality! On a more general level, they are not saved and never were saved because they never REPENTED of their desire to rebel against and reject the authority of God in their lives! Simply: regeneration cannot happen until you repent of your flesh and all of the desires thereof, and the unregenerated person is the unsaved person. That was what I was trying to express with this prior post: https://healtheland.wordpress.com/2007/07/05/final-answer-the-sinners-prayer-is-not-only-unnecessary-for-salvation-it-may-not-be-expedient/

  10. Steven said

    HTL:
    Well, count me confused then because I am not sure I follow this very well. Yet at the same time I really do want to understand the steps that you are taking to reach the conclusion that you did.
    Would I be wrong to conclude from what you posted that if person who otherwise had been doing right and under all practical observation was living a godly life, stopped living a godly life that your conclusion would be that they were never saved in the first place?

    Where would you place the individual that Paul addresses in I cor 5? He was a member of the church and Paul told them to kick him out with the purpose of saving his soul. Gal 6 tells us to restore brethren taken in trespasses.

    Please don’t think I am trying to be argumentative, honestly, it would be good for me to understand a different viewpoint. However, I have to wonder that (if that is your conclusion), if only those who have died will be able to know that they were faithful and really truely saved because up to the point of death, a person might fall in sin and suddenly realize that they were never saved.

    Oh, if you have some links on here about any of the following let me know: Holy Spirit regneration, Godly sorrow, repentence.

  11. Steven said

    Kimita:

    I think we agree. If we do not repent then there is no forgiveness, yet the blood of Jesus is there ready to forgive.

  12. Steven said

    I happened to be reading Galations today. As I did, this thread came to mind. As Paul writes to the church in Galatia, he keeps warning them about trying to be justified by the law. The works of the law will not justify us but he who lives by faith will be.

    At a couple of points he writes things that have a bearing on this thread about Christians always being saved and not being able to lose their salvation. In 1:6 he says that he is amazed that they are ‘so quickly deserting Him who called you…for another gospel’.

    In 3:1-5, he wants to know if what was ‘begun by the Spirit’ will now be ‘finished by the flesh?’,(rhetorical but of course the answer is NO!) an indication that they had begun a walk as Christians. He finishes that chapter by telling them that are sons of God through faith in Christ having been clothed in him in baptism and are now not Jews or Gentiles but offspring of Abraham heirs according to promise.

    In 5:2-8, He tells them that those who wish to recieve circumcision (the law) are severed from Christ and fallen from grace. They were running well, who hindered them from obeying the truth?

    I think that this book shows Pauls desire to remind/teach them that the Gospel he preached was the one they needed to continue in but that means that they had started it. They had become partakers of the knowledge of Christ and blessing of the Spirit and Paul wanted to be sure that they continued in Christ.

    Anyway, Food for thought and prayer,

    Agape,
    Steven

  13. Melissa said

    Steven, you brought up a scripture that came to mind: Galatians 3:1-5, “he wants to know if what was ‘begun by the Spirit’ will now be ‘finished by the flesh?’”

    It is God Who draws ua and God Who saves us. Why do we then put so much emphasis on our own ability to keep salvation or to lose it? If God purposed before the foundation of the world those who would be chosen to be His called out ones, then where do we come in? If not for His Holy Spirit, I would still be unregenerate. So still, I cannot try to keep my salvation through the flesh, when it was begun in the Spirit. There is NO WAY I could keep a salvation that did not start with me anyway.

    I am sure that then, like now, there were many who professed Christianity, but who were still unregenerate. Paul WARNS the Galatians, some of whom were truly saved, yet being led astray. We need warnings, too, to bring us back in line and make us seek the Lord in His word and in prayer.

    I could go on and on, but i try not to go too long on these blogs and such. This same issue has been debated and wrestled over and over. But to me, the bottom line is: continued faith in the Lord to sanctify us completely and obedience to His word. It is faith in Him that will help us endure to the end. it is our continued focus on Him that will help us keep our eyes on eternal things and not temporal things. It is through His love that He bestowed upon us that we can say, “the love of Christ compels us” because of what He has done.

    God has given us the faith to believe and He will keep thos Who are His.

  14. Steven said

    Melissa:
    I agree with you in this: continued faith in the Lord to sanctify us completely and obedience to His word.

    Without Faith is impossible to be pleasing and without obedience how can we say we ahve faith? Of course, I think some think that I am suggesting ‘perfect obedience’ which is not possible. W/o the forgiveness of sins that we commit, our initial salvation and relationship with God would be short lived.

    I see there are two subject threads on basically the same topic. I am not sure how to link to the comment on made on other Once saved, always saved thread, but it is in recent comments if you want to read it.

    My Point in bringing in the Galatians is that his warnings would be pointless if we cannot fall away. If there are some that are TRUELY saved and some that are NOT TRUELY saved, Paul doesn’t seem to make any such distinction. He refers to them all as Brethren.

    YOu may be refering to Ephesians 1, when you mention that God choose us before the foundatons of the world. There are two ways to look at that. 1) He choose each of us individually (which seems to fly against Him wanting All men to be saved) or 2) He choose the type of person who would be saved, one who would recieve with humility the implanted word which is able to save our soul.

    I think option two is more likely and much more in line with our being free will agents, able to choose or reject God’s gracious (and undeserved) Grace.

  15. Melissa said

    First, Paul refers to them all as brethren just as the Lord referred to all of Israel as apostate in the OT but He still called them (as a whole) His people. There were those in Israel who were not apostate yet they suffered the judgement of God along with the rest. Similarly, there are MANY who are professed Christians, yet they do not belong to the Lord because He told us that FEW will find and go through the narrow way.

    Second, how can we be “free will agents” if we are slaves to sin? If we had a free will, would we choose to continue in sin knowing its consequences? But that’s what happens, right? Until God grants us mercy and grace. If I had a free will to choose what to do and what not to do, then there are many things I never would have chosen to do. Yet, in me, that is, in my flesh dwells no good thing. I have no “free will” and would never have sought after God unless He sought me and drew me first. I know that there was something about Romans on the other posting. But if you read Romans 9-11, you cannot deny that God has mercy upon whom He has mercy, and He hardens whom He wills. it is His good pleasure. That is His Sovereign right.

    Salvation begins and ends with God, not us. The bible tells us that He made us alive when we were DEAD in sin. The bible tells us that NO ONE seeks after God. So where is my “free will” to choose God’s grace over wallowing in the sin in which I had so much “fun.” The argument bears no weight.

    Understand, that I was once where you are. And it was God mercy that gave me understanding. We would be miserable, thinking that “oh, I could lose my salvation if I don’t do (fill in the blank)”. My friend is unstable because of that thinking, as was I – uncertain in God’s power and His grace. That is a works righteousness, when it is grace. That does not mean that we ahould not continually strive against sin. As we strive, we still know that it is God Who will grant us victory, and not any of our own “will.”

    Telling people that they have the “will” to choose Christ is where the false profession comes in. They “make a ‘decision’ for Christ” as if it were up to them. Then they fall away…Why? Because their salvation began with them and not with God humbling them and showing them their own depraved, wretched state. If you profess Christ, yet continue in sin habitually, then your profession is meaningless.

    Ok. I’m done. 🙂

  16. Bryan said

    Melissa:

    Thanks so much for referring this thread. You make some interesting points. I certainly respect your right to hold and express your views.

    I would be the first to say that for those persons who are abiding in Christ and whose lives continue to manifest the fruit of the Holy Spirit, eternal security is not an issue at all.

    But to conclude that a person who has merely begun a walk with God can never abandon their position in Christ requires some “semantic somersaults” which I find difficult to reconcile not only with scripture, but with logic as well.

    Scripture does not indicate that isolated “sins” of my flesh will compromise my place in Christ, but there are serious warnings in Hebrews and elsewhere to those believers who make the unfortunate choice to continue in habitual “sin”, which is rebellion. Sadly, however sincere my heart may be, my flesh cannot – and will not – serve God and is always looking for a “way out.” The only option is for the flesh to be brought under subjection to the spirit: that is a (sometimes painful) process which is part of spiritual growth and the refining of my faith.

    When a baby is conceived, it is “sealed” in the womb, just as we are “sealed” in Christ when we receive him as Savior. However, just as it is possible for a physical miscarriage to occur when a fetus ceases to develop, I believe scripture teaches that spiritual miscarriage can occur when a believer turns away from God: it’s called “apostasy.” (How can you “fall away” from something you were never attached to begin with?)

    I wish there was time and space for me to elaborate more on my views using scripture, but you can read them at http://www.webspawner.com/users/eternalosas/index.html

    You seem to have a considerable zeal for God! I hope that never changes…

    In Christ,

    Bryan

  17. Steven said

    The way that we can be ‘free will agents’ and still be slaves to sin is because we when we sin, it is a choice. We choose to sin and/or not to sin. James (1:12ff) makes it very clear that sin is the result of our own desires which get the better of us and when we give into those desires in an unlawful way, we sin. If we continue in those desires, we continue in sin. Paul states in I Cor. 10:13 that there is no temptation that is greater than what we can bear, so we choose to do wrong. Cain was even warned by God Himself, that if he would do well, he would be rewarded and yet Cain choose to kill his brother.

    What we CANNOT choose is the consequences of those actions and aside from any present world consequences, all sin pays the same: Death.

    Do you not choose to sin even today? Or is there someone or thing that forces you to do so? I know that when I sin, I look back and see that I choose to do so. The tempter tempted and I gave in, is it not that way for you too? We may be weak and give in but even Paul in Romans 7:18 says that within him is the desire to do well.

    I agree that Salvation begins with God. Back to my drowning man analogy, the drowning man has no means of being rescued unless someone intervenes. His rescue will NOT begin with him. It will begin with someone else. Nor will he get the glory for the rescue, someone else will. If I throw the rope in I have provided a means of rescue. If he catches it, I can pull him in if he holds on. Who saved him? I did. Did he do anything? Yes, but he did not save himself and in a real sense, his actions were not enough to save him. If there was a rope and no one on the other end….no rescue. If there was a rope and I changed my mind, again, no rescue.

    The Bible does say that he made us alive while we dead or when we were dead and He did it through Jesus. But that death is a spiritual death and does not mean that we did not agree to serve him in Faith. I think you were thinking of Eph 2 right? It mentions both Grace AND Faith in verse 8 in that context.

    Now, one thing that you have said in your post is highly important. Your friend who is unstable because of of uncertaintity in God’s power and Grace: S/he needs to be taught better that God does not require PERFECT OBEDIENCE in order to save us. Christ’s blood cleanses us. He does require trusting obedience and your friend should be taught that God is not now sitting with a Lightning bolt ready to strike us down at every single sin. If your friend is involved in an ongoing sin (Say adultery or theft or lying), s/he should be warned and encouraged to not continue in that and to repent. But I don’t find any problem believing that if I turn my back on God and continue in that path, that I would be condemned (I John 1:6-9) Because of that I will not do so.

    So let me ask you: If you were standing in front a group of non believers and preached the Gospel to them and they believed, would you be able to say as Peter did “Save yourselves from this perverse generation?” The Scripture says “those that RECEIVED his word were baptized and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” Their receiving of the word did not save them without the sacrifice of Christ, but had they not received it they would not be saved either.

    The Scriptures also teach that God wants all men to be saved. If you are correct and God chooses some and not others, how can God say He wants all men to be saved?

    Agape,
    Steven

  18. Steven said

    Colossians 2: 6-23 is a very good passage to review in relationship to this topic. In it, you will see that Paul is addressing Christians and I think that by the statements made, it must be concluded that he is addressing (as some like to use the term) “TRULY saved” individuals.

    Paul tells them to lead a life that is worthy of the way that they were taught Christ, that they have been firmly rooted and are currently being built up in Him. He warns them not to let anyone take them captive in regards to other philosophies which are of men and not Christ, because in Christ we have been made complete, that the body of the flesh was removed from us, that we have been buried and raised up with him through our baptism and faith by the power of the resurrection. Paul tells them that they were dead but now we are alive and we owe it to the work that Christ did on the cross.

    He is clearly addressing Christians. Then in verse 18 he says “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self abasement and the worship of angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.”

    Pay close attention to that idea of defraud. Here is a warning not to let it happen and the means by which it will happen is by some philosophical person who does not hold fast to the head. “Defraud” is a very good word for fooling someone into giving up something that has value for something that has no value. Paul’s warning to not let someone continue to defraud indicates that some were being defrauded or could be.

    I would think that if a Christian is defrauded of his prize that he has given up his prize for something of no value. If he can’t give it up, then this warning is a non-sequtir. Only if the person could be defrauded does Paul have to warn him. If this is a person who was not TRULY a Christian then he can’t be defrauded in the first place because he didn’t have the prize to begin with, so that wouldn’t make sense either.

    God is truly able to save us because we cannot save ourselves. Yet, his providing for us salvation does not mean that he will not require something of us and I think the scriptures do show that He does. In this passage, we are required to have continued allegiance to Christ because HE is the fullness of the church and the means of our salvation.

    In continued study of His word,

    Steven

  19. Bryan said

    Good comments, Steven.

    Healtheland, thank you for this excellent forum!

    There is one more thing I would like to share with regard to “works” as they pertain to salvation.

    The Greek word ergon in the New Testament refers to just about any knd of human “activity” or “works”, including:

    1) Physical Labor
    2) Doing Good Deeds
    3) Keeping the Letter of the Old Testament Law
    4) Acting Upon Faith by Obedience to God

    #1, #2 and #3 have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING – I repeat, ABSOLUTE NOTHING – to do with receiving or maintaining our salvation!! However, please take the time to read what James has to say about #4 !! (James Chapter 2)

    This is what I mean about throwing out the “baby” with the rest of the “works” bathwater.

    However, as Steven points out in his post, we can never achieve “perfect” obedience in this life; this is really a matter of the HEART! However, my sinful flesh – even while kicking and screaming – must inevitably face the reality of its own death and be “crucified with Christ.” Again, this is a lifelong PROCESS and is by far the hardest part of a walk with God.

    There are many people who have prayed a “sinner’s prayer”, but who are running here and there in their own understanding and doing their own thing. But in reality, God has never been able to place His “yoke” on them!

    At the heart of this whole salvation issue is the matter of giving up CONTROL. In words that a child can understand, “Jesus, YOU be the boss!”

    The main thing to remember is that God is LOVE, and He is not about to let anyone who comes to him with a sincere and honest heart fall through the cracks!!

    Bryan

  20. Steven said

    Bryan: I hadn’t heard about the different types of works. I kinda think #2 and #4 are pretty close in scope since we are created for good works but I agree with the actions of trusting and obedience which Abraham demontrated.

    I look at the works like this.

    In Romans and James the word ‘works’ is used in different senses.

    In Romans, Paul’s point is that we cannot EARN our salvation. None of our WORKS will result in our doing enough to be PAID salvation. It is also used here in the sense that someone beleives that they can keep the law good enough. That they are good enough because of what they DO.

    James, on the other hand, uses “works” as an action that natural follows a person’s faith. It demonstrates it, defines it, and characterizes it. The type of faith I have can be seen by the type of works I do. If I shut up my compassion against my brother who has a need, my ‘faith’ is not saving faith. James actually is the only place in the Scriptures where “Faith” is taken apart to help understand it.

    Faith is not simply a ‘mental ascent’ to a fact. Like saying “I beleive God exists” (the demons beleive and shudder) One can mentally ascent to that fact and not have it impact their life at all. We can agree to a fact but not have a faith that saves.

    Faith is more than that, it is a belief that results in action. I think that outside of James, there are no examples of the words ‘faith’ or ‘beleive’ (I don’t remember which is the verb and which is the noun) used in a simple ‘mental ascent’

    Even in John 3:16, it has to mean more than ‘mental ascent’…”That whosoever ‘believeth’ on Him should not perish…” It has to be more than that because there were those in that day who believed but would not confess Him, and as James says ‘the demons believe and shudder’

    Agape,
    Steven

  21. Steven said

    Another thought comes to mind as I read I Peter. in chapter 5 Peter tells us to be sober and be alert (the world needs more lerts. badum-dum! :-)). He says that our advesary is like a roaring lion and seeking someone to devour.

    That someone can’t be in the world because they are already devoured. they are lost and condemned. So how can he devour someone who is already devoured or devour someone who CAN’T be devoured?

    Peter goes on and says that we need to resist him and be firm in our faith…after we have suffered god will strengthen us and establish us and so on.

    It seems that Peter says there is still a battle to be fought for our soul. If we go to sleep or become intoxicated with the pleasures of the world so as to be distracted, Satan is there to devour us. We need to resist him and not give in to those temptations.

    So I suppose the question should be: What if we do not resist Satan? What if we are not sober and alert? What then?

  22. sjonss said

    This truth you have found will actually help you to depend on Christ more and more and make you more eager to please Him…I know it has me! Isn’t He so good to constantly be teaching us His truths? To God be the glory!

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