Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Once Saved Always Saved - Part VII

So far in this series we've gone through a number of arguments the Scriptures make for Once Saved Always Saved:

1. Men naturally hate God, so salvation must be in the hands of God from the very beginning.
2. God doesn't revoke the gift of faith and repentance He grants to men.
3. God is faithful to shepherd His elect to eternal life.
4. The whole point of Jesus coming, dying, and praying, was and is to save His sheep.
5. The Holy Spirit lives in the hearts of believers as a guarantee of their salvation.
6. Salvation has always depended on God pronouncing forgiveness.

Now there are two more things I'd like to point out before bringing the positive arguments for eternal security to a close. The first is a modest defense of it from a common objection, and the second is the proper way to understand it.

1 JOHN 2:19 

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." 
Once when I debated a Church of Christ man over Once Saved Always Saved he objected to it strenuously, saying that if it was really true there should be at least one verse that said those fall away never were saved to begin with. He didn't appreciate it when I brought this passage to his attention.

If all of those false teachers who once seemed so sound in the faith really were Christians then they would have persevered until the end. But they didn't. They got tired, quit, and fell away, so that it would be evident to everyone that true Christians persevere. False Christians, those who have a said faith that never made it past their mouth into their hearts, will eventually fall. When they do it's manifestly obvious to all that they were not among those who were born again from above and given the Spirit as a lasting inheritance.

MATTHEW 7:23-24

On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
That day here refers to the final day of judgment where God separates the sheep from the goats. On that day many of the professing Christians will appeal to Him on the basis of their good works, (rather than on the merit of His Sons blood) crying out in anguish and anger "But I did all those good things!" What is God's response? I never knew you. Not "it's over between us", or "but you fell away", but "I never knew you." It strongly proves the point that those who are saved are always saved, and those who fell away were never saved to begin with.

TURNING THINGS RIGHT SIDE UP

In my dealings with skeptics I've found that the most common objection to Once Saved Always Saved comes from people who are simply fearful. They dread to accept it because they think that were they to believe, it would act like a deadly poison on their pursuit of holiness. And to be fair, since many of them pursue holiness through legalism, they'd be right about that. This doctrine is indeed caustic to legalism and pride.
But when you are humbled enough into accepting the handout of free grace, Once Saved Always Saved no longer seems so threatening. It starts looking sweet even. The man who has nothing to lose casts everything on Christ only to find Once Saved Always Saved to be the greatest comfort of all.That's how the Apostles used it--as a warm reminder that God would be there for them no matter what, and as an expression of His inexhaustible love that catches you when you fall. Let me show you.

2 CORINTHIANS 1:10 

[He has] delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver [us]; we trust in Him that He will still deliver us.”
When has God ever let you down? When did it ever become about how tightly you grip Him when He's gripping you? How much has He already guided you though? Don't you think that if you could fall away you would have by now? Then trust in Him to continue to deliver you.

2 THESSALONIANS 3:3

"But the Lord is faithful, He will establish you, and keep you from evil.”
Paul comforts the Thessalonians with these words, with the reminder that God is faithful. Because He is faithful. And if this means anything it means He will not only establish you, but keep you. He will bring you close to Him and hold you like a Father holding his baby. There is not an evil that can stand against His love for you Christian.

1 PETER 1:5 

“[You] who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
In his letter to the exiles one of the first things Peter does is reassure them by reminding them to take comfort in God's character. He points out of the consequence of casting their cares upon Christ--they're kept until the end. Just because it hasn't been revealed yet doesn't mean there is anything to be concerned about. "Do not fear little flock, your Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom."

2 TIMOTHY 1:12

“I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed to Him against that day.”
Do you remember the song set to these words? God is willing to save. He is able. He is already keeping your salvation under lock and guard. So Paul boasts that he won't be ashamed, or fear, or lay awake at night sweating in bed worrying about keeping his salvation, because he's committed everything to God in faith. Paul knows His power, he knows His faithfulness, and is fully persuaded that He is glorious enough to handle all his sins. It is no less true for those of us who are tempted to panic. God is guarding for us what we cannot guard for ourselves.

2 TIMOTHY 4:18  

"The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen."
This is the special doctrine Paul took to his chest to hold tightly. Not the Lord has rescued, which would be true, but the Lord will rescue. Once Saved Always Saved was the soft bedding that he would lie down upon in times of distress. Was life tough? God is strong. Was he weak? God is faithful. Was he worried about not making it into heaven? No, God is going to bring him safely into His glorious kingdom. Amen and amen.

Moving On

Let's now turn from how the doctrine is a personal comfort to the passages that seem to present the opposite side of the argument: that men can lose their salvation.


Next: Part VIII - An Introduction to the Warning Passages





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