One of the utmost spiritual battles–if not the utmost–a believer will ever fight is the battle for assurance of salvation. The devil plies his trade well. His modus operandi has not changed. He is a deceiver, accuser and liar ( John. 8:44, Rev. 12:9-11, 1 Tim 4:1). He sows doubts into our minds, and incites us to doubt and disobey God. He asked Eve, “Did God actually say…?”(Genesis 3:1) He made a request of Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…?”(Matthew 4:3).
His line of questioning was to get Eve to doubt what God has said and consequently disobey God’s command. Disobeying God was the agenda. Prior to Matt 4:4 also, Jesus has just been declared the Son of God–“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”(Matt 3:17). Again, doubt and disobeying God was the agenda.
Faith pleases God (Heb. 11:6) and your faith and trust in God is the devil’s primary target. If he gets you to doubt God, His word and His promises, he has gained a foothold–an entry point in your life from where all attacks against you will be launched. Do you have doubts? Are you trapped in the ebbs of the accuser’s onslaught of doubt about your salvation? The remedy is to look up in faith to the Saviour; our redeemer and sin Bearer. Look to His finished work on Calvary. Attend to His promises: “We have …. a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”(Hebrews 6:19-20).
No Christian; born again, regenerated by the spirit of God will lose their salvation. The Christian is secure: “… sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance…” (Ephesians 1:14). “Once Saved Always Saved”. I believe that.
Eternal security or Perseverance of The Saints(Preservation of The Saints) is a comforting doctrine believers must delight in, but unfortunately this is not the case. There are believers who fiercely contest the eternal security of the Christian and do in fact assert that, a Christian can lose their salvation.
Now, if salvation can be lost, then God is not faithful to His promises. Truly, there are warnings in the Bible, but these warnings are there to ensure we don’t presume on the grace of God. In all instances I have discussed this doctrine, I have always made one observation; and it is that people always jump to the conclusion they could live their lives any how they please when they hear “Once Saved Always Saved”. As if by default, I am always asked, “so I can live my life anyhow and still go to heaven?” With a grin on my face, I respond, “of course, that’s not what I am saying.”
Salvation is a gift of God and Scripture tells us the calling and gifts of God are irrevocable (Eph. 2:8-9, Rom 11:29). A believer’s eternal security, is founded on the character and faithfulness of God first, not how good we perform or not. God is faithful to His promise because of His character, not our performance. “…when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.”(Hebrews 6:17-18).
It is bizarre how when you say “Once Saved Always Saved”, people tend to hear “live in sin, it makes no difference, you are saved.” The doctrine of eternal security however, is not a license for a cavalier attitude towards sin. The dangers of sin are real and no true believer, who has a grasp of grace will live in sin and flaunt grace. (See Rom 6:1).
There are indeed many imperatives in the Bible. Nonetheless, the faithfulness and love of God remains. Following are a few examples:
In Jer 31:3 God gives us an indication of the nature of His love: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” In 1 Cor 1:8-9, Paul writes, [God will] sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. In John 6:39 Jesus said, “…this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day”. Paul tells us in Romans 8:39 that nothing shall separate us from the love of God. In Phil. 1:6, we are told [God] who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
Jude in his doxology points us to the faithfulness of God in the believer’s eternal security: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy…” These and many other texts point us to the eternal security of the believer.
What “Once Saved Always Saved” simply means is that God is faithful to His promises. If He saves a person, that person is saved with an eternal salvation. Not a salvation that vacillates on our performance. Christians, just like all fallen humans, sin. But our sins do not cut us from the love of God. Our Salvation doesn’t depreciate with our sinful human nature. Christ’s atoning sacrifice atoned for sins of our past, present and all sins we will possibly commit in future. Our sins are paid for and they will not tamper with our eternal security. That however, does not give us justification to indulge in sin. We are told that anyone who has the seed of God in him doesn’t make a practice of sinning.
There are many imperatives in the Bible warning against ungodliness. However, these do not repudiate the truth of God’s faithfulness towards the eternal security of His elect. Those who call themselves Christians and live in sin without repentance and justify their sins may not truly be saved. But if they are saved, we can count on the faithfulness of God to bring them to repentance. God will not let go of any of His own that go astray. He pursues us to restore us back to fellowship. He pursues us with discipline and correction till we are restored. This is love:
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives…. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.(Hebrews 12:6-11).
We are secured. Nothing can undo our salvation:
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will 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 the Father’s hand.(John 10:27-29)