Thursday, September 11, 2014

Once Saved Always Saved Part V

In the previous posts I made the case that a low view of the effectiveness of the work of Christ leads to a refusal to believe in Once Saved Always Saved. Believing our ability to sin is stronger than His ability to save is for a lack of a better word, insulting. Christ is a savior.
Now we'll consider the necessity of Once Saved Always Saved given that the Holy Spirit lives inside believers.
I suppose it could be argued like this: if Holy Spirit lives in the heart of believers, then a believer going to hell would take the Holy Spirit with them, and since that's absurd, it must be the case that anyone the Holy Spirit lives in goes to heaven.
But that's not where this post will go. Instead I'll just point out that the Scriptures make a plain assertion that since the Spirit lives in believers so that they will be saved, Once Saved Always Saved must be true.

The Argument, Formally Stated

The Scriptures say that because of the Spirit, believers will be with God forever. 
Therefore, believers will be with God forever.

Ephesians 1:13-14

"In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it to the praise of his glory."
This is without a doubt the most famous and powerful verse to the point. When someone hears the word of truth and believes in Christ they receive not just adoption, nor even justification, but the Holy Spirit Himself as a seal of their salvation. And that's significant because when the ancients would write a letter they would seal it to ensure its security and authenticity, and for us the Spirit is that seal, stamped and melted over our very lives, to ensure nothing separates us from God again.
But if that weren't enough, this verse goes on to say that the Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance. He's the down payment. He's the earnest money which proves God is interested, willing, able, and certain to stay the course in our lives. Until we acquire a glorified body we can rest secure knowing that we have a guarantee of salvation from God Himself--God Himself!

2 Corinthians 1:22

"And [it is God] who has also put His seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee."
In Acts 19 Paul discovers that the Ephesians had not yet heard of the Holy Spirit. Because of the work of Apollos, they were all still being baptized into John's baptism, not knowing the rest of redemptive history to that point. So when Paul writes his letter to them it's not surprising he's quick to point out just what the Spirit has done for them, namely being a guarantee of their inheritance. But when Paul writes the second letter to the Corinthians he begins by saying he intended to visit but was unable, then follows it up with a reminder that they can always trust God, because the Spirit is there forever. It seems to just rise up and burst out of him, demanding he proclaim the Spirit to be ours, our guarantee of our inheritance. Because that's what the Spirits indwelling is about--He's the promise, the seal, the surety. God knew we would be tempted to doubt Him, or His workers, so just for good measure He wrote it down twice telling us that because we have the Spirit we have eternal life.

Romans 5:5

"Hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
In context Paul has been arguing that in light of justification our sufferings are good because they grow in us hope, and hope doesn't disappoint. It's at this point that the argumentative cynic would pipe up, "Why not?" and the apostolic rejoinder comes to the rescue: because we have the Holy Spirit. Because He lives inside of us. Because He's been given to us. And that means we will never again be put to shame.  Our hope in eternal life will certainly pay off. Therefore we may take comfort in both our hope and our God, because we have His Spirit.

1 John 4:4 

"Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world."
The Apostle John loves this form of address--little children. It reminds both him and them that they are adopted to Gods family, heirs of His glory and co-heirs with Christ. But John does not dwell on this, it was just his introduction, because his real point is that Christians have already overcome sin. Notice that it's in past tense. Believers are overcomers, sin can no longer touch them. Our enemy the devil simply doesn't have the strength to regroup and capture us again. Why not? Because as John says, "He who is in you is greater." Greater than anything in the world, greater than the sinful world itself. Our God is greater and He is imminent. That means that we are securely in Him because He is in us.

The Abiding of the Spirit

What more needs to be said? What other verses should be added? The Spirit lives inside us. How shall we be lost? His very presence is proof that we are eternally secure. 

Next: Part VI - Justification and the Covenant of Grace

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