Once-Saved Always Saved, Chapter 5

Table of Contents

Living Like This

  • Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)

How can you live your life like that? Thinking that if you fail to obey at any moment you might lose your salvation?” People will often ask me this question, and the answer is simple. I do what Jesus told me to do. I fix my eyes on Him who gives me grace and scorn the “shame” of the cross. In other words, I do not allow the suffering and humiliation of the cross to keep me from living this out. Instead of resorting to a comfortable once saved always saved doctrine that removes the offense of the cross, I rejoice in it and embrace its power to crucify me. After all, I have hope that I will be saved. And because I have this hope, I “purify myself” and therefore I am saved.

Paul declares this true when he speaks in Romans 8:24–25, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” The most ironic thing about this is that, when a man hopes he will be saved, it is as if he “were saved.” And the saddest thing of all is that those who believe in eternal security have no hope of being saved.

They have received their “salvation” and thus have no reason to “wait for it patiently.” As a result, the classic opening for the wide gate gospel call often goes like this; “If you died right now, are you sure you would go to heaven?”

In other words, their transformation by the saving grace of God never grows any greater than it is when they were first “saved.” In presumptuous self-righteousness, eternal salvationists believe they will always remain in Christ. But for those that know they have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved, transformation becomes an ongoing process. Indeed, they do not fully know what they will be in Christ. Therefore, those who have this hope “purify themselves.” They want to press onto the prize of full salvation and transformation of becoming like Christ. Someone who holds to once saved always saved has no such hope, for they deny the need for hope in salvation.

Most people cannot even comprehend this concept. They think it must be terrible not to believe in eternal security. After all, how can anyone live like this? How can they live with such fear and trembling? How can a person endure all the soul searching and the offense of the cross? How can they accept all the humbling and pain God works in their life, fearing that they could lose their salvation if they say no to the leading of His voice? The answer is simple—because of the joy! A happiness and contentment so profound that I would never trade it for a mere façade called once saved always saved. God’s way brings peace, and working out our salvation with fear and trembling should be every disciple’s joy.

The Good News

In fact, the most unhappy people in the church today are those who believe in once saved always saved. What a heavy load of defensiveness and justification they carry around. It takes a lot of self-righteousness, and a lot of effort, to argue against God’s Word every day and keep convincing themselves that this doctrine is true.

Those of us who have entered God’s rest can easily see their pain and suffering. How sad, for it is easier to obey God than to kick against the goads. They would find real peace if they just said “Yes” to the Lord instead of wearing themselves out arguing the points of eternal security. Another bad fruit of this doctrine is that it robs so many of true peace in the Lord, all in the pretense of trusting God. What a bizarre illusion.

As I do radio show interviews, hosts often ask, “Don’t you talk about the positive things of the gospel?” I’m always astounded by such a question. It only goes to show the poor state of the church. The cross is the good news. As Paul declares, it is the “power of God.” Most Christians do not see this as “positive” because we don’t understand it and refuse to have real faith. We want to keep our sin and our “self,” and so we harden ourselves against the good news. Nothing else explains such reactions except that they are thieves trying to get into heaven some other way.

After all, why can’t people set aside the discussion about eternal security and simply discuss how to obey all of Scripture? What is better? To discuss the concept of eternal security, or to actually obey all that God commands us to do by the power of the Holy Spirit? Often, in debates with those who believe in eternal security, I will ask them, “OK, how then do I obey the Scripture in question?” They always refuse to discuss the practicalities because it is obedience they are trying to avoid. They are using eternal security as a smoke screen to avoid giving loving obedience to God. They would rather stick to the empty philosophy of eternal security. They forget Jesus told us to teach that all men should obey everything. Indeed, the great commission is obedience.

At this very moment God convicts me of sin, reminding me of the day of judgment when I must bow before Him to give an account, of the seriousness of sin, and the slowness of my heart to obey His leading. But I am also filled by His Holy Spirit with “an inexpressible and glorious joy.”

  • Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8–9)

I have a “goal,” the “salvation of my soul.” Unlike those who believe once saved always saved, I refuse to sit still. I am in the process of “receiving the goal of my faith.” For those who accept this it is not a matter of theological debate or dry dialogue, but of pure joy. Supreme joy! A joy the world and the worldly know nothing about. I know what it means to always, always, carry in my body the death of Jesus, so that I might have His life. So why would I ever trade this joy for the selfish lie of once saved always saved?

  • We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:10)

The race is not over, the test has not ended, and I have not passed through heaven’s gate. Great dangers lie on the outside and on the inside. Every conviction of sin, every hardship, every rebuke, and every denial of self that God lays before me, I count as an inexpressible joy. And if, by grace, my heart remains soft, mercy will uphold me as I stumble along the way. What joy is mine while, with fear and trembling, I seek to “attain” that which I do not yet have, “the resurrection from the dead.” How sad it is for those who have accepted once saved always saved, for they have no need to seek or attain anything. They are like runners sitting on the sidelines celebrating their victory before even running the race. Unlike Paul, who in the passage below speaks of sharing in the sufferings of Christ “so, somehow, to attain the resurrection from the dead.” For Paul it was no sure thing he would go to heaven.

  • I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10–11)

The Power of Grace

For those who believe in once saved always saved, this is a bitter drink to swallow. While giving lip service to the Scriptures, they refuse to accept them. Such believers turn the grace of God into a soft, passive, convenient kind of love, rather than the power of God that enables us to obey. Remember, God can keep you from falling. He can give you the power to change and the power to love Him. The question is, are you willing to fall to the ground and die? Are you willing to hate your own life, hate your father and mother, give up everything, hate and despise money, deny yourself and pick up a cross? Are you willing to do all these things? Do you really want God to work this saving obedience? For now, just read God’s description of His grace.

  • For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11–14)

God declared that His grace provides the power to “say ‘No’ to ungodliness.” It is the power to deny self and the power to follow the directions of the Holy Spirit. When a man honestly surrenders to the grace of God, you will find rich obedience to the commands and ways of God in his life. If God’s grace is absent, you will find rebellion and stubbornness toward His commands as you do in a once saved church. Scriptures are culturalized and apply only to things in the past.

You do not find a group of people “eager to do what is good” in those who believe once saved always saved. Instead, you find stubbornness toward any thought that someone might actually have to obey God with regard to one’s salvation. Their doctrines are locked in place, their ways predictable, and you can spot them miles away. They want His “mercy,” but never offer themselves to God’s obedience as “living sacrifices.” They do not have a true spiritual worship but have created a righteousness completely different from what God demands. This may sound like a broad and sweeping judgment but, if you are serious in investigating the proof for this, obtain a copy of the book The Essential Piece.l However, be warned. It is not easy or comfortable reading.

  • Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)

At the Core

This core problem explains why so many people believe in once saved always saved. They want salvation, yet they also want to keep their lives. They want mercy, but without true surrender. For them, grace leads to an indulgence of sin, a covering over of sin, not the empowerment to overcome it. Therefore, those who believe in eternal security do not allow God to “purify” them. Simply stated, they remain too stiff-necked and resistant to the Holy Spirit. Every time they are challenged on some aspect of their lives, they say, “What are you talking about? I’m saved!” If they give this reaction to men, one can only shudder at the stubbornness they take into the prayer closet.

Eternal security forces anyone who believes in it to be so defensive and self-centered that they cannot take Scripture at face value. Often, when discussing this issue, I will just quote a verse without making any other comment. Of course, they immediately claim that it is “out of context,” or that Jesus didn’t really mean what He said. If there is one thing such people enjoy more than Scripture, it is their own opinion. They love to make up their own little scenarios to prove once saved always saved true. Next time you find yourself in a discussion with someone who believes in once saved always saved, agree that neither side will use any analogies or illustrations to make their arguments, and watch the frustration level rise. Chances are, they will not even be able to articulate their position. They would rather make up their own parables than surrender to the parables of Jesus.

Indeed, God’s grace, if accepted on His terms, causes us to shake in holy fear. If we can lose our salvation, then naturally we should tremble. God’s Word declares that we must have a holy fear. In the context of obeying, fear and trembling become a reality. Notice how the word “work” is used without any qualms by Paul. Yet to quote this passage to a eternal security person would produce a knee jerk reaction that yells, “See you are making this a matter of works. You used the very word, works, yourself.” Never mind that we only quoted Scripture.

  • Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, (Philippians 2:12)

Where you find belief in once saved always saved, you find smugness and self-righteousness. Where you find a people full of the true Grace of God you find “fear and trembling.” Where you find a people who understand by the Holy Spirit the value of the grace of God, you find a people busy to “work out” their salvation. Now, must I stop and justify the word “work?” Did any of the writers of the New Testament stop and explain themselves every time they mentioned work or obedience?

However, as Jesus often sighed, so with a sigh I will state this once again. This is not a work that earns salvation, nor does it involve a fear of making one wrong step and losing your salvation. It is a balanced, reasonable, and joyful fear in Jesus. For no one loses their salvation because they stumble in one step. Once saved always saved waters down the fear of God to only lip service. In truth, such teaching omits honest, Holy Spirit inspired fear that also understands the “forgiveness” of God. God’s power to forgive or not forgive causes us to fear Him in a holy way.

  • If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared. (Psalms 130:3–4)

House Full of Grace

Think of God’s grace as a house or household. A home is filled with many good things, like love and joy. Yet, the family has respect for the father and the rules of the house. Parents never kick a child out of a house because he stumbled in one small way against a rule. When my children made mistakes, or even sinned, I did not throw them out of the house. I brought them to repentance. If they had refused to repent, their soft hearts would have hardened and, over time, that would have cost them the privilege of living in our house. No more than I would permit one son bent on rebellion to destroy a home, will a God of justice allow the unfruitful to destroy His house. There comes a moment in time when, if a person remains bent on going to hell, God’s mercy will simply stop. In short we must be found worthy. But those who believe in eternal security rightly declare no one is worthy. They are blinded to how someone can be unworthy of God’s grace and still need to prove themselves worthy of entering heaven.

  • But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead . . . (Luke 20:35)

Over time, as a person hardens his heart instead of repenting of those small missteps, he will fall away. As a side note, it only appears like a small mistake can cost someone his salvation because of our unspiritual minds. We cannot see what goes on behind the scenes and in the heart. As a result, many congregations find themselves caught by surprise when someone leaves their church and falls heavily into sin. They are unspiritual concerning their own sins and therefore cannot see the seriousness of sin in others. This is why Jesus said we must be faithful in little. Therefore, Paul wrote the following passage to Timothy.

  • Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. (2 Timothy 2:19–21)

A house contains things used for “ignoble” purposes. If a man “cleanses himself” from these things he will become “noble” in the Lord, “holy, useful” and full of God’s grace. Likewise, many in God’s household believe in once saved always saved and are, therefore, used for ignoble purposes. Only those who cleanse themselves from doctrines that produce bad fruit will receive a rich welcome into the kingdom of heaven. For they understand the sheer joy of working out one’s salvation with fear and trembling.

The Deception

Don’t be deceived. Those who believe in eternal security cannot work out their salvation with fear and trembling. It is impossible to have such an attitude if you believe nothing you can do will cause you to lose that salvation. This is another major problem with once saved always saved. One lie inevitably leads to another. For, while such people claim to work out their salvation with fear and trembling, they remain full of pride and self-righteousness. Often they will try to “interpret” that Scripture as referring to some kind of heavenly reward, and not actual salvation. They would rather twist and mock God’s Word than accept the truth. After all, when was the last time you heard anyone weeping with fear and trembling because they lost a heavenly reward or two? I am sure the reader has never seen an altar call for individuals to come forward who have lost some of the rewards that were theirs in heaven. Even if Scripture truly meant what they claim it does, they still don’t live it! Believers in eternal security are complete hypocrites. You will simply never meet a humble advocate of once saved always saved. They will always fail the test of humility. For, no matter what sin you bring to these people, it holds no eternal importance. They are saved and that’s all there is to it. Conviction is cut off at the start and they never discover the blessings of true repentance. They have become haughty, self-righteous, and self-assured by misusing the very blood of Jesus they claim to have faith in.


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Disclaimer

The Consider Podcast attempts to express opinions through God’s holiness. Nothing concerning justice or injustice should be taken as legal advice or a call to action. There is no political agenda. There is no individual moral life advice. Indeed, each person is solely responsible before God and man for their actions or inactions. The Consider Podcast is narrowly focused on one thing, and only one thing – the need for all to surrender to a life of repentance according to the whole gospel.

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Examining today’s wisdom, folly and madness with the whole gospel.
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