Saturday, July 26, 2008

Is once saved always saved right?

Is once saved always saved right?

By Abraham Israel

To fully understand the answer to this question we must first ask ourselves ‘what is salvation?’. Jesus said “Salvation is of the Jews [i.e. Jewish root of true religion which Jehovah the Lord instituted through Moses] pointing to Himself through whom God provided to mankind the grace of salvation through faith (John 1:17), as that answer to mankind’s desperation for deliverance from evil. Also when Zacchaeus being convicted by his past lawless life tried to cleanse his conscience by the law of Jewish restitution when Jesus visited his house, Jesus immediately pointed to Himself as the only means of salvation and corrected his wrong understanding of salvation, “And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:9-10). In other words Jesus said to Zacchaeus, ‘Salvation is not in what you do to set your relationship right with God, rather your very salvation is in me who as a person have already come to your house. Don’t try to get saved; you are already saved because of your faith in me and in the purpose of my coming to this planet earth.’

Here we see that Jesus was pointing Zacchaeus also as a son of Abraham. Is He pointing to Zacchaeus physical relationship with Abraham in the natural as his father because of him being a Jew? By no means. The reason Jesus called Zacchaeus as also the son of Abraham was given in verse 10 where Jesus is pointing to His very own mission of seeking and saving the lost as an answer to Zacchaeus quest for salvation. This clarifies that Jesus was pointing to Zacchaeus spiritual connection to Abraham based on his faith in Him qualified him [i.e. even though a lost sinner who only deserves hell if judged according to the law] also to be a son of Abraham to enter heaven because of his faith in Jesus. “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.” (Rom 4:3-5). Zacchaeus too by faith in Jesus Christ is also a son of Abraham because he too believed God like His father Abraham [no matter how much sin he has done in the past].

The Bible says in Galatians 3:7-9, 29, “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with believing Abraham. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” By this we know that only those of us who are of faith are the true sons of Abraham. This shows that it is not by what we do we are saved, but it is hundred percentage of what Jesus Christ has done for us through which we are saved. The Apostle Paul very clearly conformed this by saying, “…we shall be saved by His life [Whose life if we ask ourselves? By the perfect sinless life that Jesus Christ lived as a substitute for every one of us in this planet earth as a perfect man].” (Rom 5:10).

After receiving Jesus as their Lord and Saviour, many believer’s slowly and steadily slide in to doing some works to be added to their faith even without realizing their wrong thinking. Many stumble in to works because it is very easy and comfortable for our fleshly mind to depend on it. They want something more than just faith in the finished work of Calvary to depend on. To these people the Bible warns, “Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.” (Rom 4:4).The Galatians believer’s because of false teachers tried this sort of transition in which they who started with faith in Christ slowly started to add their works by keeping the Law of Moses to be saved. Apostle Paul rebuked them by saying, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? Have you suffered so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Therefore He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you, does He do it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galatians 3:1-5). A believer receives the Spirit by hearing and accepting the crucified Lord Jesus as His Savior and Lord. He will be on the safe ground as long as he continues in the truth. The moment they try to add some works of the flesh to the already wrought salvation [i.e. the person of Jesus Christ], they start to deflect from the truth by disobeying it.

A believer is saved as long as He walks in the eternal truth of salvation or else whatever they have suffered to lose for receiving the message of the cross becomes a waste. The very nature of the salvation that we have received is eternal because the person of Jesus who is our salvation is eternal. Jesus has become our salvation (Heb 5:9;Ex 15:2; Is 12:2). This truth of the gospel opens a channel of relationship for us with Jesus as our shepherd and guide throughout our life on earth as a believer, which will give us eternally a qualified entry in to heaven because we have believed. This is why Jesus emphasized relationship factor as the foremost necessity of a saved person by saying “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” (John 10:27-30). Apostle Paul always emphasized this faith [i.e. relationship with Jesus Christ on a daily basis] factor by saying, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified [Why? Firstly, because Salvation is eternal. Secondly, just like we were not saved by our own effort, we cannot be unsaved by our own effort].” (2 Cor 13:5-6). Here he exhorts the believer to check whether Jesus Christ is in them by faith. In other words the Apostle Paul is asking the believers to be sure that they have a strong relationship with Jesus Christ through His Spirit. At the same time he is also encouraging them and telling them that they are not disqualified because Jesus is faithful to save them in the future. He is encouraging them not to become unnecessarily fearful. This shows that a person who loses his relationship with Jesus by rejecting His voice consistently for a long period of time is in danger of Judgment (Genesis 6:3, 5-8).

When a believer is judged, he will be judged in the flesh so that his soul and spirit willl be saved because of their faith in Jesus (1 Cor 5:1-5; 1 Peter 4:6). So only Apostle Peter warned the Church that “… the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17). This is the Judgment that was manifested in the Corinthian Church when they did not discern the Shed Blood and the Broken Body of Jesus Christ while taking communion. As a result of God’s Judgment [i.e. removal of God’s protecting hands] which manifested inside the Church, Paul said to the Corinthians, “For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (1 Cor 11:30-32). In this same book of 1 Corinthians Apostle Paul confirmed that every believer's work that is burned [i.e. that which will be considered useless because it was done with wrong motivation and intention outside the leading of the Spirit] will receive no reward, yet the believer will be saved because of what Jesus has achieved for him (1 Cor 3:15). This is also confirmed in the book of Hebrews which says, “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (Heb 9:28). The believers are the one who actually wait for Christ’s second coming where the future part of the salvation of the believer’s will be fulfilled when they will rise up in the brand new resurrection body.

All the believers will rise up in that day of resurrection. This is what happened to those people who were disobedient during the days of Noah, all those disobedient believers died along with the unbelievers, but they were saved when Jesus preached [declared to them the salvation] to them who were kept in sheol till they were resurrected along with Jesus (1 Peter 3:18-20;Isaiah 26:19; Matt 27:52-53). Even the Israelites who were disobedient in the desert died because of God’s judgment, but their souls were saved. You may ask how do you know that? Because God Himself said that, “He has not observed iniquity in Jacob, nor has He seen wickedness in Israel. The LORD his God is with him, and the shout of a King is among them.” (Num 23:21). These were the same people who died because of plague due to harlotry with the women of Moab later (Numbers 25:1-9). Did God change his mind regarding the salvation status of these Israelites. The answer is no because He himself has said through Balaam, “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num 23:19; Rom 8:38-39). God also has said in Psalm 89:34, “My covenant I will not break, nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips.” In other words God’s faithfulness toward fulfilling His spoken word and His long suffering toward those to whom He had promised is salvation (2 Peter 3:15).

Salvation is a blessing of God to his people and no one can reverse it, especially Satan cannot reverse it through sin or his deceitful temptations (Num 23:19-23). Only he can push God’s people to become involved in sin which will make them to be judged by God which is what Balaam deceitfully did to the Israelites (Num 25:1-4; 31:16,8). But those who deny Him and His covenant will be denied salvation. What it means to deny Him? To deny is to say to God, ‘Do not bother me when we are convicted by the Holy Spirit of God.’ To deny is to turn the grace of God in to lewdness [unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence] (Jude 4). The Greek word used for the English word ‘deny’ is ‘arneomai’ in Jude 4, 2 Tim 2:12 and also in Titus 1:16. The various meanings for the word deny in Greek is ‘to deny, to deny someone [to deny one's self, to disregard his own interests or to prove false to himself, act entirely unlike himself], to deny, abnegate, abjure, not to accept, to reject, to refuse something offered’. These people always will profess themselves to be godly people but in their works they will deny Him. In other words when God convicts them when they do wrong they will not care to repent of their deeds but will continue to go their own way and do their own things as they will (Titus 1:16). These people will have a outward form of godliness but will deny the power of God when God wants to transform their lives through it (2 Tim 3:5). Many of these people will start to think and act as though they are going to earn their salvation by works. They will be having faith in what they do for God to save them rather than a relationship with God. Because of lack of faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ, these people will start to habitually live in sin believing that what they do for God through His anointing will save them from eternal death (Matt 7:21-23). But one thing that they forget to consider is that even Satan was a anointed person who have started using it for Himself and thus became the author of all sin. Satan was able to continue in the power of the anointing because the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable (Ezekiel 28:14-15; Isaiah 14:16-17; Rom 11:29). With out faith in Christ’s sacrifice, every man will sink in to sin because of lack of relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Only our faith in God through Jesus Christ will only give us the power to restrain ourselves from continuing in sin (1 John 3:4, 9).This is the reason we need to fight [i.e. against the devil’s unbelief, lies, sinful and lustful desires] in order to win for the conservation of our faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. This is described as common salvation (Jude 3).

Faith is one of the most important thing in a believer’s life. Faith is not something that we produce by mentally believing the promises of God. It is rather a sovereign act of God’s impartation that comes in to us when we first start to hear God (Rom 10:17). Jesus is the one who is the author and the finisher of our faith. Our job is to focus on Him as long as we live (Heb 12:2). When we humble ourselves before God and live in submission to his love, we will be able to stand fast and stead fast in the faith against all the temptations of the devil who will try his best to make us give up our faith that God has given us as a gift (Eph 2:8-9; 5:24; 1 Peter 5:5,8-9; 1 Cor 16:13). This is why Jesus knowing the weakness of the fleshly inclination of Peter which was going to make him deny Him, prayed that Peter’s faith may not fail during the crisis time (Luke 22:31-32). Peter denied Jesus three times, but Jesus was faithful enough to restore him back in to relationship with Himself because of His love towards him. Peter was able to return to Jesus because his faith in Jesus did not fail through the crisis (Luke 22:31-32; 22:61-62; 2 Tim 2:12-13). Peter wept with godly sorrow which led him to the path of repentance unto life but in the case of Judas it was worldly sorrow which led him in to the path of repentance unto death (Matt 27:3-5; 2 Cor 7:8-11; Rom 2:4). Because of Jesus’s faithfullness in praying for us believer’s, our faith is kept safe from failing (Rom 8:34). If a believer has no chance to fall away from faith why should Jesus have prayed for Peter and also for us unnecessarily? Hence faith is the factor that determines whether we are saved only for a period of time or for eternity.

Apostle Paul Himself at the end of his life’s journey declared triumphantly, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7). Hence we too need to keep our faith until our end. When we have done that, we too can triumphantly declare that we have kept the faith and look forward to our reward which we will receive from the Lord in heaven. If we reject Jesus and His offer of salvation, He too will deny us (2 Tim 2:12-13). What does it mean to reject? It means to remain stubbornly in sin with out humbling and submitting ourselves. It means to practice sin willfully, habitually and without restraint or sorrow for having done it. This is equal to falling away from the faith that God has given to a believer, they will have a hardened heart because of continuously living with an unrepentant heart for a long period of time. Since they have become unrepentant, it is equal to crucifying again for themselves the Son of God and putting Him to an open shame (Heb 6:6; Rom 2:5; Luke 23:33-34). This is described as willful sinning in which the sinner who has been redeemed and separated to live a holy life will completely become hardened because of living completely in sin and will finally reject the voice of God which will convict him, so that it will become impossible for him to receive righteousness from God because of him rejecting to appropriate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ as his substitute (Heb 10:26, 29; John 16:8-11).

As long as the believer will have an iota [i.e. smallest dot] of worldly thought in him, the Holy Spirit will convict the believer of sin and will turn Him to righteousness pointing to the judgment which has taken place on a substitutionary basis for them on the cross by our Lord Jesus Christ. These verses in Heb 10: 26-32 is speaking about people who were formerly obedient to the truth of the gospel because of illumination or enlightenment, therefore the Apostle who wrote this Book of Hebrews is encouraging these believers not to throw away their confidence which is faith (Hebrews 10:32,35; 11:1). Finally he says that the secret of a believers life is that they will live by faith in Jesus Christ and hence encourages the believer not to draw back in to the old ways of sinning with out restraint or becoming hardened and unrepentant towards God (Heb 10:38-39). Is once saved always saved? The answer is yes as long as the believer does not consciously draw back to perdition or destruction by rejecting the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross.

A sinner is justified [i.e becomes just as if he has never sinned] only by his faith in Christ (Galatians 2:16). After having been justified [i.e. in the present time] we shall be saved from wrath [i.e. in the future when every human who has ever lived will be judged for their works (Rev 20:11-15)] through Him [i.e. through Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins which deserves God’s wrath] (Rom 5:9). So only the moment a person confesses with his mouth the Lord Jesus Christ as his Saviour and believes in his heart that God has raised Him from the dead [i.e. remembering God’s promise of already having forgiven all our sins of past, present and future (Eph 4:32)], from that same moment he will be saved forever (Rom 10:9). This person is saved because of the promise of God. Here we must consider the salvation of this particular person who is saved as a journey with God to his destination [i.e. heaven]. In other words God has promised that He will be with this saved person no matter what happens to him on the way, no matter how many times he falls completely because of hardship and even overconfidence in his own ability to live the Christian life, God has promised to raise him up because of His very own faithfulness (Prov 24:16; Ps 37:23-24; Heb 13:5-6). We should notice here that salvation has been achieved by our Lord Jesus Christ once and for all time [i.e. past, present and future]. The promise of the Lord stands true forever. The only thing that we need to do on our part is to keep walking towards the destination by faith until we reach the end. We need to hold on to the promises of God and walk in faith toward the destination where the salvation of God [i.e. resurrection of our corruptible body which by then will be transformed in to an incorruptible body forever] will be manifested physically. This is the real salvation.

Some people may ask here what about Phil 2:12 which says, “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”? Here we must understand that many people quote this verse to prove and justify that we need to work out our own salvation. But the main thing they miss is in the next verse which gives the answer in context to our own salvation by saying, “for it is God [who works 100% and we do not even have to work 0.01% by our self effort] who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). Hence we work out that which He works in us. In other words because God works hundred percentage in us, we are given a choice to allow Him and co-operate with Him to work out the salvation [which is already present in our spirit (Heb 12:23; 1 Cor 6:17)], by resisting the soulish influence by the power of God working in us (Eph 3:20). The Bible also says that the nature of the salvation that we have is an eternal one because salvation is the person of Jesus Christ rather than just a belief on our part (Heb 5:9). So only salvation is all about following Jesus and obeying Him in everything. The only way a person can lose this eternal salvation is when he intentionally walks away from Jesus, who is the only way any human can be saved. The Apostle John pointed to this particular sin that leads to death but he said that all unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:16-17). What does this mean? It means that all sins can be covered under the blood of Jesus except the sin of turning away from Him which has no other way out but only death (Matt 25:24-30). In other words it also means that a saved person can never be lost unless and until “….they fall away [i.e. stopping or abstaining from continuing to walk under the Lordship of Jesus Christ by voluntarily indulging in sin and saying no to the voice of Jesus like Cain (Gen 4:4, 16; 1 John 3:11-12)], to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” (Heb 6:6).

To fall away is to be enticed by sin completely and to reject the Son of God’s sacrifice which was achieved for us to walk in victory through obedience to His voice (Titus 2:11-15). This will not even come under over confident sin [i.e. to fall in to sin because you are confident of overcoming its power by your own ability]. In order for the readers not to misunderstand the meaning of this scripture, in Heb 6:6 the Apostle who wrote the Book of Hebrews explains this verse using a metaphor in the preceding verses. These verses compare a saved person to the earth which naturally has the ability to produce crops. Salvation is compared to the ground to which God continuously supplies water which is represented by the power of the Holy Spirit and the person of the Holy Spirit. If that person uses the power of the Holy Spirit and His supernatural protection from evil to be used to promote himself and his own lustful desires, it will produce only a harvest of weeds in the end which will not be useful to anybody (Jude 4; Matt 25:24-30). But if he uses the person and the power of the Holy Spirit to stay connected to Jesus and be obedient to the voice of Jesus, he will produce fruits in his life which will bring glory to God the Father which is the ultimate purpose for which we are saved. Is once saved always saved right? It is right as long as our focus in on Jesus who is the author and finisher of our faith! You servants of the Most High God, Rejoice because “God is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25). Praise the Lord!


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