Friday, October 17, 2014

Once Saved Always Saved Part VIII c

Faith is putting your confidence in Christ and resting on Him alone your cleansing. It's a disposition we have, entered into voluntarily, and continued in willfully. And since salvation is by grace through faith, it necessarily only works as long as channel of faith stays open. That means for it to be effective for us we must be faithful until the end. This is the testimony of Scripture: only those who persevere until the end will be saved.

Matthew 10:22b 

"But the one who endures to the end will be saved."

 1 Corinthians 15:1-2

"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel ... by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you."

Colossians 1:22-23

"He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith."

Galatians 3:9 

"And let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart."

Hebrews 3:6 

"And we are His house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope"
Only those who hold fast to the word, the truth of the gospel, will be saved.
Only those who keep the faith will be saved.
Only those who continue in the faith will ultimately be made holy and blameless.
Only those who do not grow weary and do not give up will reap a reward.
Only those who hold fast are really His house.

Those who like the plant on rocky soil who spring up fast and then wither are not saved because for faith to do any good it must abide. The logical consequence of this is that there are some who at one point had faith that would save, and then at a later point lost it.

Again, let's let the Scriptures speak for themselves on this. They do not merely hold out the possibility that salvation can be lost, like it's some abstract hypothetical, rather, it clearly states that some have lost their faith, and with it, their salvation:

1 Timothy 1:18-20 

"[...Hold] on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme."

1 Timothy 4:1 

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 

2 Peter 2:20-21

"If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.

It hardly needs to be said that the warning passages here are real, clearly stating that faith can be lost, and some have already lost it. How then do we reconcile this with what we've established in all the previous posts so far?
The answer is that for the non-elect, faith can be gained, lost, and ultimately, will be lost. They can, by their own volition, put their faith in Christ, but it doesn't last. Eventually they grow tired of trusting in Christ, quit, and walk away from a faith that really would have saved had they carried it until the end. Meanwhile the elect are those who simply don't lose their salvation. For them faith once gained abides until the end.
And with that we've come back to the definition we started with in the first post. The saved are all those who go on to be saved. 

Empty Threats?

The protester will argue "But doesn't it mean that since the elect will not lose their salvation they ultimately cannot?" Well, yes. In the same way Jesus the man could sin, but Jesus the God-man couldn't. Or how natural man has the God given faculties to repent, but won't, and therefore, can't. Or how Jesus prays in the garden asking the cup to pass in sweat and fear, but still wanting to do the Fathers will prays humbly, "thy will be done." 
So in one sense the elect are immune to falling away by divine election, but that's worked out in the fact of them availing themselves of the ordinary means of salvation available to anyone. They are saved because they keep the faith and refuse to give it up.  Means, not just ends.

These threats are those means. These very real threats strengthen and encourage the Christian to keep on the narrow path and persevere until the end lest they be lost. Because the Scriptures tell us to make our calling election sure, we do. And without them, we wouldn't. This is how God motivates us.
How many of us know this to be true as parents? How many of us have gone camping and told our children not to get too near the fire when they roast their marshmallows or they will be burned? And because we said that, they listened and kept clear. What happened on the rare occasion when they didn't listen well enough or got clumsy? Did we just let them fall in and get burned, or did we grab their arm and pull them away with another admonishment? So it is with God. These verses are the real and practical motivation means He uses to keep His elect safe and persevering until the end.

Next: Part IX - Final Words

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