(The Abundant Life Series – Batch 2)
To answer this question, I will begin by saying that there is eternal security to a person that is found to be abiding in Christ until the end, whose faith in him is found to have continued to the end. If a person believed on the resurrection of Jesus for a while but then stopped believing therefore (and his actions will clearly reveal whether this is the case or not), then he will not be saved if he dies not believing. For, there is no way to get to heaven outside of believing in and having faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, that one who died and rose up from the dead on the third day.
There is eternal security to the BELIEVER, not necessarily the one who has professed to believe with his lips and professed that Jesus is Lord or that believed once and then stopped believing. In fact, Romans 10:9-10 gives a two-fold requirement for salvation. It requires an individual to believe in his heart (not in his head) that Jesus rose from the dead and that truth being planted there irreversibly, to then confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord.
Without that heart belief therefore, the words amount to nothing more than vain babbling.
Genuine belief is followed by obedience. A true believer is known, not by what he has professed with his mouth only or his Church attendance or the nice things he does but by him demonstrating that he genuinely believes by obeying the commands of the Lord. If a person says that he believes but yet lives in blatant rebellion to God’s Word the Bible, his ways, rules and commands and does not repent, then this shows that he does not really consider the Lord to be the Lord. He does not truly believe that Jesus the Son of God rose from the dead and that he is worthy of our complete allegiance. Such a person is worshiping Jesus with his mouth and calling him Lord but his heart is far from him.
In Luke 6:46, Jesus himself asked, “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”
In any event, God knows those who are his, so he knows those who are phonies or self-deluded into thinking that they are saved when in fact they are not, from the get-go.
We tend to think of a believer as a person that is definitely a Christian and saved but this is not necessarily so. For, a person could believe today (in which case he is a believer) and stop believing tomorrow. Such a person, though a believer today is not saved and never was because the kind of faith he has is not the enduring kind that saves but one that WITHERS and FALLS AWAY.
Where a believer stops believing (as is always evidenced by his actions), he is no longer a believer. If he does not ever believe again (this time from his heart) and so never repents, Jesus takes his name out of the book of life. For, once faith dies, it never having been of the enduring sort to begin with this means that a person is spiritually dead. That is, he was never made alive by the Spirit of God.
In Revelations 3:1-5, Jesus stated about the Church at Sardis:
- “…I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that OVERCOMETH, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
No man can pluck those who belong to Jesus out of his hand therefore but as the scripture above clearly attests, he himself has the power to remove the names of people written in the book of life, if they TURN AWAY and stop believing.
In Deuteronomy 29:18-20, God stated through his Prophet in relation to the Israelites:
- “Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart TURNETH AWAY this day from the Lord our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven.”
To my mind, the Lord blotting out someone’s name from under heaven or out of the book of life does not mean that such a person was once saved and then became lost. Maybe he blots out all those that are not saved. Maybe he begins with a list in his book of life that contains the names of every human being created and then, by a process of elimination, deducts all those who never believed or believed but then stopped believing because both categories pf people are lost, meaning that they were never saved, meaning that they were never delivered from the power of darkness, which is an irreversible deliverance.
Then again, maybe he keeps a list of all who believe (consisting of those with enduring faith (the saved) and those with a faith that he knows will eventually fail (the unsaved), only removing people when they stop believing, although he knows that they were never saved.
I do not know.
However, I know that a person is saved who possesses enduring belief, that which never dies. A person who believes for a while and then stops was never saved (although he and those around him may have thought he was) because his belief, not being the enduring kind, failed.
People ought not to think that once a person’s name is on the list and not yet blotted out, that that means that the person is saved. God knows the end state of all mankind and saved means that a person is safe now, safe at the end of the world and safe for all eternity.
I will like to repeat that: SAVED means that a person is safe now, safe at the end of the world and safe for all eternity. SAVED does not include in its meaning, the concept of being safe now but unsafe later. There is no such thing as being safe now but unsafe later, when it comes to God’s salvation and his Kingdom.
Such a concept were it to have existed, would surely send a person mad with nerves. Imagine waking up one morning thinking that you are safe, then by evening, thinking that you are unsafe, then by nighttime, thinking again that you are safe, based on the circumstances happening around you and the things you do or refrain from doing.
Having established what SAVED means and that to be SAVED, a person must BELIEVE and die or be found by Jesus when he returns, in a continued state of BELIEVING, there is the question:
CAN A PERSON WHO BELIEVED AT ONE POINT, REALLY STOP BELIEVING?
The answer is yes!
The Bible is fraught with scriptures of people departing from the faith, believing at one point but then turning away. Such persons once they don’t repent and start believing again are lost, despite the fact that they once made a profession, did once believe and may even still be attending Church as good little ‘Christians’. They are explained perfectly in the second category of the sower and seed parable that Jesus gave and it is clear that they were never genuine Christians to begin with.
They believe for a while and then FALL AWAY. We think falling away means no longer attending Church or doing things for the Lord but it means falling away in their heart, which waywardly then rises up and lives in rebellion to God.
There are many professing people sitting in the pews, singing songs of praise, engaged in Church activities and calling themselves Christians but they are no longer obeying God because deep down, they no longer believe in Jesus as Lord. They therefore do not allow him to control their lives.
Some never did believe but others did for a while and then stopped, revealing that both were never saved. Those that believed for a while and then stopped, stopped because there was a defect in their faith system from the get-go. They did not receive the gospel on good ground.
Whether we believe is always evidenced by our actions. A believer will not be perfect but he will have a repentant heart, like David, that sorrowfully keeps coming to the Lord when he has messed up and asking for forgiveness. He does this because he really believes that Jesus is Lord, that in him is life, he loves him and wants to please him above everything else in the world.
A mere professor who does not believe on the other hand or who has a belief that is not genuinely enduring and so will eventually fail or who once believed but then stopped believing is unmoved when he does wrong and continues on in life with a hardened heart and without any remorse when he fails the Lord. For, he has no relationship with the Lord. In short, he does not know and never knew sweet fellowship with him and he does not love him.
In John 14:14-17, Jesus stated:
- “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
In Matthew 13:20-23, Jesus stated of the Sower and the Seed, which he used to illustrate the different responses people give to hearing the gospel message:
- “When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. (This 1st CATEGORY OF HEARERS NEVER BELIEVED, IMMEDIATELY REJECTED THE WORD AND WAS THEREFORE NEVER SAVED)
- But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. (This 2nd CATEGORY OF HEARERS BELIEVED BUT THEN STOPPED BELIEVING, IN TIME, REJECTED THE WORD AND WAS THEREFORE NEVER SAVED)
- He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. (This 3rd CATEGORY OF HEARERS BELIEVE AND DO NOT REJECT THE WORD BUT THEN BECOME CONSUMED WITH THE CARES OF THE WORLD AND OTHER DISTRACTIONS, TO THE POINT OF BEING UNPROFITABLE FOR GOD’S KINGDOM WORK AND PURPOSE – SOME HERE APPEAR TO BE SAVED ONCE THEY CONTINUE TO BELIEVE BUT THEY BRING NO FRUIT (WHICH THEY SEEM TO HAVE STARTED), TO PERFECTION, DUE TO LIFE’S DISTRACTIONS CONSUMING THEIR TIME, DEVOTION AND ATTENTION.)
- But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (This 4th CATEGORY BELIEVED AND CONTINUE TO BELIEVE TO THE END, NEVER REJECTING THE WORD, OBEYING JESUS, PUTTING HIM FIRST AND BRINGING FORTH FRUIT)
A LIST OF SCRIPTURES THAT SHOW FURTHER BEYOND A DOUBT, THAT SOME PEOPLE WHO HAVE RECEIVED THE GOSPEL ON FAULTY OR STONY GROUND (AS EXPLAINED IN CATEGORY 2 OF THE SOWER AND SEED PARABLE), BELIEVE FOR A WHILE (MEANING THEY HAVE FAITH FOR A WHILE IN JESUS AS LORD) AND THEN STOP BELIEVING (STOP HAVING FAITH IN HIM AS LORD)
- 2 Timothy 4:10 – “For Demas hath FORSAKEN me, having LOVED THIS PRESENT WORLD…”
- Luke 9:62 – “No man having put his hand to the plough and LOOKING BACK, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
- Hebrews 3:12 – “Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of UNBELIEF, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
- The writer is talking here to people who consider themselves to be part of the Church body. He is therefore urging them to examine whether they are really in the faith or merely have imitation faith. If someone becomes hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, it means that even if they were once obeying the Lord because they BELIEVED, they are no longer doing so but doing their own thing and without any kind of conviction as to their sin because they NO LONGER BELIEVE. Obedience is in most cases, evidence of salvation. Starting off in obedience and appearing to have faith though, does not mean that that person will continue in obedience and that his faith will survive trials and tribulations. The sower and the seed parable is a good example of this.
- Hebrews 3:14 continues, “For we are made partakers of Christ, IF we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” This speaks of the need for our faith to endure until the end, the writer knowing that for some, faith will eventually fail because THEY WILL STOP BELIEVING.
- This is why Jesus asked, “…when the Son of man cometh, shall he find FAITH on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). It is why he also told Simon in Luke 22:31, “…Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy FAITH FAIL NOT…”
- 1 Timothy 4:1 states “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times SOME SHALL DEPART FROM THE FAITH, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”
- Luke 14:27-30 states “And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after her hath laid the foundation and IS NOT ABLE TO FINISH IT, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build and was not able to finish.”
- Now, I’ve heard it said by different believers, that Matthew 24:12-13, which states that he that endures to the end will be saved, refers to enduring through the great tribulation period and was therefore not meant to be generally applicable to Christians in the pre-tribulation period. I cannot say for sure whether the verses pertain to the great tribulation period which will take place after the rapture. I will say though, that, given all of the other verses in the New Testament that clearly speak of the need for the Christian to continue on in the faith and for that faith not to fail, I am of the firm view that the principle of enduring faith as opposed to imitating faith, which lasts for a while and then fails is very much applicable to believers generally and not just those in the great tribulation period.
- That is, the scriptures (even without Matthew 24:12-13), make it is clear, that it is absolutely necessary that a person’s faith in Christ not fail, up to the point that they die or that Jesus returns. It thereby follows, that even if Matthew 24:12-13 is not applicable to Christians in general but is referring to those believers who live during the period of the great tribulation (as many Christians believe), the many other scriptures in the Bible make it clear, that enduring faith is a precursor to heaven.
- This is not about works but about continuing to have faith in Jesus right up until the end of that Christian’s existence on earth, no matter the persecution. Every genuine Christian will continue to have that faith. It will not fail because he is indwelled by the Spirit of Christ, which is the Spirit of truth. The faith of imposters though, will fail, just as was seen in the parable with the sower and the seed.
- It is important to remember as well, that whereas believers who are born in the great tribulation period will go through intense persecution, believers in the Bible days and even today, have gone through and continue to go through persecution because of their faith. Persecution is not a foreign concept that will only be applicable during that great tribulation period therefore. The need for the Christian to endure and for his faith not to fail in the midst of opposition, suffering and pressure, has therefore been a theme since the Bible days. This is why for example, the glorified Jesus Christ wrote to the Church at Smyrna that was enduring intense persecution, encouraging them to: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have TRIBULATION ten days: be thou FAITHFUL unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”
- Remember, without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 10:38-39 states, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who DRAW BACK UNTO PERDITION; but of them that BELIEVE to the saving of the soul.”
- Galatians 3:11 states that “…the just shall live BY FAITH.” Verse 14 and 26 further state: “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit THROUGH FAITH… For ye are all the children of God BY FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS.”
- Unbelief rising up in the heart and residing there, destroys faith. Which is why in verse 11 of Hebrews 4 it says, “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man FALL after the same example of UNBELIEF…. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us HOLD FAST OUR PROFESSION.”
So yes, there is eternal security for the BELIEVER, the BELIEVER being one that is found at the end to be ABIDING in Christ, enduring in FAITH, still BELIEVING and OBEYING his New Testament commands because he believes that Jesus is entitled to give commands as Lord. If a person’s faith in Jesus as Lord fails (as it sadly does for some), then that person is no longer a believer (and was never saved), so his eternity CANNOT be secured until and unless he truly believes with enduring faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God and it is by grace that a person is saved THROUGH FAITH.
What many in the Church do not realize though is that many of the people that they think are Christians because they muttered something with their mouths, do not fall into the 4th category of the sower and seed story of those who hear the gospel, believe, continue believing and in submission to Jesus’ Lordship, bring forth much fruit. Many fall into the 2nd category of people who believed but stopped believing and these people, once they do not repent and believe again on the Lord, (this time properly, where roots are set down), they are lost.
Like the 4th category of Christians, some persons fall into the 3rd category where they are Christians because they have believed and continue believing. However, they have become distracted by the earthly things of time and sense and will therefore be ashamed of themselves when Jesus returns.
EVIDENCE OF SOMEONE WHO BELIEVES AND WILL CONTINUE BELIEVING
The 4th category in the sower and seed parable, gives us insight into what will accompany the life of a true believer who is submitted to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, lives a life to please him and NEVER STOPS BELIEVING IN HIM because the gospel was planted on the right ground, in his heart.
In addition to him obeying the Lord’s commands because the Lord truly has control over his life (and repenting when he does not), he WILL bear fruit for the Lord. That is, it is impossible to have the Spirit of the Lord indwelling a person, to be submitted to that Spirit and that person not go out and witness to others with the gospel, so as to build up, not himself but the Lord’s Kingdom.
Many people sit in the pews and are engaged in many of the ‘activities’ in the Church but refuse to witness to the lost about what Jesus did for them when he died on the cross. This can be evidence in some cases, as to whether they are truly believers or not. For, if they refuse, they are disobeying the Lord’s commission. They are rebelling against what he said for those who believe on him to do and this comes naturally to them because they either lack or have quenched the Spirit of God.
In John 7:38, Jesus said: “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” This living water cannot be contained. It feels compelled to go forth and reach souls with the gospel, in season and out of season because it is borne of the Spirit and that is the agenda of heaven.
Notice in the above scripture, that Jesus did not say that he that once believed (past tense) on me but he that believeth (present tense). He spoke of the current state, not the past.
Many sitting in the pews once believed but life happened, they grew weary and because the gospel was never properly received in their hearts in the first place, it did not take root, so they believed for a while, maybe weeks, months and even years and then stopped believing. Naturally therefore, having no root in Jesus, they have become preoccupied with life and although they used to witness to others about the saving grace of Jesus, they have stopped. They feel no way about it because once you are not believing, this is proof that you are spiritually dead, just like many at the Sardis Church were.
In Jeremiah 20:9, we see perfectly what happens, when someone who truly believes in the Lord with a faith that will never fail, is abiding in him, submitted to his Lordship and has rivers of living water flowing from his belly, tries to keep silent about the Lord.
The scripture reads of the Prophet: “Then I said, I will not make mention of him, nor speak any more in his name. But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay.”
At the end of the day, what a believer does is not what saves them but if they truly believe, they will do the will of the Father. In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus stated: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
It is when we do the will of the Father and not our own, that we demonstrate that he is Lord over our lives and we don’t do it as a chore. We feel that fire in our bones that takes control of us and makes us feel that we must.
There is eternal security therefore, not for someone who believed (past tense) but for the person that Jesus finds believing when he comes (whether this meant they died truly believing because their faith in him did not fail or they are still alive on the earth and still believing in faith, when he comes). This will be evidenced by what they did, based on the Lord’s commands, although a person can obey the Lord’s commands and still not believe in his heart that he is Lord.
Notwithstanding, figuring out where each person stands poses no difficulty to the Lord, although at times we as humans may not know. He knows those who are his.
Whereas there is eternal security to a person who BELIEVES UNTIL THE END, there is no guarantee of eternal security of a mere professor, which is the case of many sitting in the pews.
To my mind, the question we ask about whether a person once saved is always saved therefore is not the right question to ask. For, there is no magic formula that, once applied, guarantees a person access to heaven. The Bible makes it clear that it is he that has confessed with his mouth and BELIEVES IN HIS HEART the Lord Jesus, that will be saved.
Since one can confess with his mouth without truly believing and one can believe today and stop believing tomorrow, it is the person whose belief and faith in the Lord endures to the end and who is therefore ABIDING in Christ, that will be saved. Nobody else.
This is why the devil is after our faith. He knows without it, we can’t get to heaven. At the Judgment, we can’t tell God that we used to believe but then stopped because of the cares of life, riches, the pleasures of life or any other flimsy excuse and therefore, based on that past belief, we should be let in to heaven. Former belief doesn’t get us into heaven. Believing until the end does.
ETERNAL SECURITY (SALVATION) FOR THE ENDURING BELIEVER
For those who have enduring faith which never fails and believe in Jesus right up until the end of their lives or when Jesus returns (whichever is sooner), the Word of God is clear, that the salvation they received is eternally secure. They can never lose it. God knows each one of them by name and none of them can ever be lost.
When a person that God has called and chosen genuinely believes in his heart on Jesus and confesses him with his mouth as Lord, that person gets washed in the blood of Jesus, regenerated by God’s Spirit coming to dwell with him, he is redeemed, made a new creature and re-positioned from the devil’s domain to God’s Kingdom of light. God does not reverse such a work and give out salvation one day but then take it back the next.
There are some who believe that he has given them salvation when he never did, as discussed earlier but once God has, upon a person’s genuine belief and confession, outpoured upon him, the free gift of salvation and accepted him into his heavenly family as an adopted royal child, he does not then change his mind and kick any of those that he has justified, redeemed and perfected by Christ’s righteousness, back out, ever. Due to God’s faithfulness, this covenant is forever.
At times, that child may disappoint him in his behaviour and choices yes and the Spirit within him may be grieved (as the Bible tells us can occur) but the person (once he has genuinely believed in his heart and received the Spirit of Christ) is still saved, even if scarcely so and solely because of the faithfulness of God.
This does not mean that a person can take the fact that he is saved for granted and live any kind of life and do anything that he wants. Firstly, if a person is genuinely saved in that he genuinely has God’s Spirit in him, he will never want to live his own life and do his own thing because it will hurt him to know that he is hurting the Father, who he loves. He would also be convinced that God’s ways are best and know deep down in his heart (even when he tries to downplay it), that only God’s path leads to success. Secondly, where a child of God is stubborn, obstinate and rebellious, as his children can sometimes be, God does not leave him to himself but chastens him as a Father would a son, so that he would change and stop the wrong that he is doing. In fact, God’s Word states that if a wayward person is not chastened by him, then that person is not God’s child but a bastard, meaning that he does not belong to God but another.
God’s Word states in Hebrews 12:5-11:
- “And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”
Further, where a child remains defiant even after chastening or even before, sometimes God makes the decision to remove that child from the earth through death.
The fact of the matter is therefore, that a person receiving God’s salvation which is permanent is not a licence to do as he pleases from that point onward because he cannot ever be lost. Once saved through genuine faith, God takes responsibility for him and does not ever leave him to his own pursuits. For, once he has been purchased with the blood of Christ (which is precious) and truly been born again, he no longer belongs to the devil or to himself but to God, for ever. God will therefore faithfully keep his side of the bargain and get him to heaven, even where that son may fail him but that son will reap consequences for any disobedience on his part, while on earth.
VERSES THAT CONFIRM THE ETERNAL SECURITY OF THOSE WHO ARE SAVED (BELIEVERS WHO NEVER STOP BELIEVING)
Of the eternal security of the believer, who, once truly saved through a faith that endures, remains saved forever, there are verses in the Bible that are instructive in this regard. These verses make it clear that those who truly believe on Jesus in their hearts (where they never stop believing) are saved eternally, meaning forever more.
For example, in 1 John 5:13, it states: “These things have I written unto you that BELIEVE on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have ETERNAL LIFE, and that ye may BELIEVE on the name of the Son of God.”
In John 10:26-29, Jesus told some Jews who were not saved because they did not believe on him, that they did not believe because they were not his own. In short, they did not believe because they did belong to him. On the other hand, he let them know that he knew those who were his (the saved), that he had given them eternal life and that they would never perish. It was impossible also for any person to pluck them out of his hand of ownership.
- “But ye BELIEVE NOT, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them ETERNAL LIFE; and they shall NEVER perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”
In Ephesians 1:11-14, it states of genuine believers who God predestinated even before they were born, to be saved for his purpose, that upon them believing in their hearts the truth, they were sealed (which is irreversible) with the holy Spirit of promise. The scriptures state:
- “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye BELIEVED, ye were SEALED with that holy Spirit of PROMISE, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the PURCHASED POSSESSION, unto the praise of his glory.”
John 3:15-18 reminds us:
- “That whosoever BELIEVETH in him should not perish, but have ETERNAL LIFE. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever BELIEVETH in him should not perish, but have EVERLASTING LIFE. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that BELIEVETH on him is not condemned: but he that BELIEVETH NOT is condemned already, because he hath NOT BELIEVED in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
John 5:24 states “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and BELIEVETH on him that sent me, hath EVERLASTING LIFE, and shall not come into condemnation; but is PASSED from death unto life.“
These verses reinforce the truth, that at the heart of the matter is whether a person truly BELIEVES in his heart in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. This separates the sheep (who belong to Jesus) from the goats (who belong to the world and the devil). Those who belong to the world and the devil never believe or believe from their heads for a while without the truth truly taking root in their hearts and then stop believing.
On the issue of eternal security, people may ask, well what then about verses like Hebrews 10:26 and Hebrews 6:4-6 and 2 Peter 2:20, which seem to suggest that a person can have salvation one day after having believed and lose it the next?
Well, lets take a look at these verses, keeping in mind that God’s Word does not contradict itself and therefore, 1+1 must be equal to 2.
Hebrews 10:26 states:
- “For if we SIN WILFULLY after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that DESPISED Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath TRODDEN UNDER FOOT the Son of God, and hath COUNTED THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT, wherewith he was sanctified, AN UNHOLY THING, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
The person in Hebrews 10:26 therefore, although at one point, received the knowledge of truth, now sins wilfully without repentance, despises the Word of God and everything that Jesus and his people stand for, has trodden under foot the Lord Jesus, which suggests that he sees no need for him or value in him and considers him a complete waste of time and he counts the blood of the covenant to be an unholy thing, which suggests, to my mind, that he wants nothing to do with it and regards it with proud contempt and disdain.
Hebrews 6:4-6 states:
- “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall FALL AWAY, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
The person in Hebrews 6:4-6 was once enlightened by God’s truth and tasted some of what it means to be affiliated with him. However, after he departed from Jesus and the path of righteousness, it appears that he never saw the need to repent of his sinful way and so remained content in that fallen condition.
2 Peter 2:20-22 states:
- “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and OVERCOME, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, TO TURN from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is TURNED to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”
The person in 2 Peter 2:20-22 had once escaped the pollutions of the world by affiliating himself with God and the things of God. However, he became entangled again in sin and instead of overcoming it, remained entrapped therein and was overcome by it. He therefore has turned away permanently from the path of truth, although he knows it and chooses never to return.
Of all three portions of scripture read above, note that although such persons received knowledge of the way of the Lord, had knowledge of the truth, tasted the heavenly gift and the good word of God and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, nowhere do the scriptures state that they were ever saved.
No doubt they thought they were and the people around them as well. They are even referred to as having once been ‘sanctified’ and ‘washed’ (perhaps because those writing are mere human beings, operate from a place of limited knowledge and therefore, not being in a position to know the hearts of all men as God does, regard all those who made a profession as if they were saved, although they knew that some were not really).
Whatever the reason for the use of those terms, notice, that such persons DON’T EVER REPENT when they fall away. That is, they NEVER RETURN from their sinful state with any remorse or godly sorrow for how they have fallen. They FEEL NO CONVICTION, nothing, although this is characteristic of a person that is indwelled by the Spirit of Christ. In fact, they DESPISE THE THINGS OF GOD, REGARD THEM WITH SCORN and WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH JESUS. In effect, although they were exposed to the truth and once believed, they clearly don’t anymore, have walked away from the Lord for good are BRAZEN WITH THEIR SIN AND IN THEIR DISOBEDIENCE, have EMBRACED the world are COMFORTABLE and at home with it and have REJECTED the truth they received.
This is not characteristic of someone in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells. Even in the case of a backslider that possesses the Spirit of Christ, God does not leave him to his own exploits (as he seemingly does with those above) but chastens him and when he is chastened, he repents and returns with godly sorrow or God removes him from the world. Even before he is chastened because God’s Spirit is in him, he is never at peace with his sin and never at home in the world.
Yet, the people who have rejected Jesus and chosen the world without repentance after knowing his truth, never feel repentant for what they have done and go on living their lives as if they’ve done nothing wrong and all is well in the world. They behave in this manner because they never had the Spirit of Christ indwelling them. They therefore never experience conviction for their sins, as an erring believer would experience and never truly appreciate the gravity of their sin.
If they never had the Spirit of Christ, although they had a taste, through religiosity, as to the things of the Lord, the Bible makes it clear that they are none of his. They do not belong to him and never were his children. Never having been born again (saved), they are therefore overcome by the world and its allures, identifying with it for the rest of their existence and never again with Jesus Christ.
1 John 5:1, 4-5 makes it clear that a person is born of God (saved) upon genuine BELIEF in Jesus and that whoever is born of God, OVERCOMES the world. He may struggle but the world and the entanglements of sin do not overcome him, as is the case with the person who merely tasted of the knowledge of truth but outrightly then made the decision to reject and walk away from it for good.
1 John 5:1,4-5 states:
- “Whosoever BELIEVETH that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him…For whatsoever is born of God OVERCOMETH the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that BELIEVETH that Jesus is the Son of God?”
I believe therefore, that the people who FALL AWAY from the knowledge of the truth, reject it, want nothing to do with it ever again and are overcome by this sinful world without repentance are not people who were saved and then lost but PEOPLE WHO ONCE BELIEVED BUT THEN STOPPED BELIEVING. As we have seen, this sometimes occurs, as was evident in the 2nd category of persons in the sower and the seed parable.
As stated before, such persons were NEVER saved, although everyone may have thought they were. They were NEVER born of God (saved) because they NEVER had the enduring kind of belief from the heart, that was necessary for salvation. They were NEVER like the 4th category of believers who received the gospel on good ground, in the sower and seed parable and therefore went on to bring forth much fruit. Indeed, they did not even belong to the 3rd category of persons who continued to believe but allowed the things of time and sense to distract them, preventing them from bringing the fruit they started, to perfection.
Where persons return to the world without ever repenting and wanting nothing to do with Jesus, this is evidence that there was a defect in their BELIEF and faith system from the get-go, which, though sometimes surprising to us, God knew from the start. The gospel that they claimed to have received was never received on good ground and they are simply now manifesting this reality later on in their lives. They NEVER truly believed the truth in their hearts with the enduring, saving kind of faith that never fails, which a person needs in order to be saved. Instead, theirs was an imitation faith, one that was temporary and would not stand when the pressures of life came, although they and others around them, may have genuinely thought that they were saved.
The Bible tells us that by their fruit, we will know them (Matthew 7:20) and they are clearly not bringing forth fruit meet for repentance, having departed from the things of God, returned to sin and content to dwell there.
This contentment in sin and a life in the world, shows that this was their true nature all along, even if they were self-deceived. Hence the reason that Peter refers to them as a dog returning to his own vomit and the sow that was washed, returning to her wallowing in the mire. A dog will always be a dog and a sow (a pig) will allows be a pig and love the things that dogs and pigs love indulging in. Inevitably therefore, no matter how much they try to settle down in their new environment away from the filth of the world’s system, this will only be temporary. For, in time, they will return to the filth to which they belong.
The people mentioned in the three portions of scriptures raised therefore are comfortable in the world because they were always of the world. They never belonged to Christ. They are not people that were saved and then lost. They are people that never truly BELIEVED on Jesus’ resurrection from their heart with the enduring sort of faith that never stops believing. They were therefore never saved or rooted to Jesus Christ and never born of God.
They are the 2nd category set of people mentioned in the sower and seed parable, as stated in Matthew 13:5-6 and 20 and 21, who BELIEVE AND RECEIVE THE WORD OF GOD FOR A WHILE but then FALL AWAY because they have stopped believing in Jesus and never return.
The scripture states of them:
- “Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because THEY HAD NO ROOT, they withered away…But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that HEARETH THE WORD, AND ANON WITH JOY RECEIVETH IT; Yet hath he NOT ROOT IN HIMSELF, but DURETH FOR A WHILE: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
Mark 4:16-17 says of them:
““And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground: who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so ENDURE BUT FOR A TIME: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended.”
Of the same people, Luke 8:6 and 13 state:
- “And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture…They on the rock are they, which, WHEN THEY HEAR, RECEIVE THE WORD WITH JOY; and these HAVE NO ROOT, WHICH FOR A WHILE BELIEVE, and in time of temptation FALL AWAY.“
As you may recall, the person described earlier in Hebrews 6:4-6 was also said to be a person that FALLS AWAY. That person is therefore the same person described in the category 2 hearers of the Word in the sower and seed parable, who believe only for a while but then, not ever having been rooted to Christ and therefore, never having been truly saved, stop believing. They endure but for a time and then unbelief steps in.
Hebrews 4:11 confirms that a person falls (which I take to mean falling away and never returning) through UNBELIEF.
For, it is believing in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and that he is Lord that tempers a person, keeps them in check and restrains them from evil. When a person stops believing, he no longer sees the need to operate within the parameters that God has set or to please him because he does not believe on His Son. He therefore pursues after the things that he thinks will bring satisfaction to himself (not the Lord) and does whatever he thinks to be right, in his own eyes.
Hebrews 4:1-11 stresses on the importance of CONTINUING TO BELIEVE, as enduring faith in Jesus and his testimony is essential to one’s salvation. The scripture states:
- “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have BELIEVED do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world… Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of UNBELIEF…There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man FALL after the same example of UNBELIEF.“
In summary, I believe the following to be true and that each assertion is supported by the scriptures:
POINT 1 – ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED
To be saved, one must genuinely BELIEVE FROM THE HEART in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and therefore have faith in him as Lord and Saviour.
When one genuinely BELIEVES from the heart, the FAITH that ensues is of the enduring kind, which never fails or ceases. This is the result of the gospel having been RECEIVED ON GOOD GROUND and therefore, this faith never whittles away, withers or dies, no matter what temptations or trials come. It is a faith that OVERCOMES because that person is BORN OF GOD (BEGOTTEN OF GOD).
Having that enduring (not imitative, temporary) faith, such a person CONTINUES TO BELIEVE in Jesus and never stops. Through this genuine faith, he is passed from death to life. Hence the reason that Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and BELIEVETH on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
Having been delivered from the power of darkness and translated by God into the kingdom of his dear Son, Jesus (Colossians 1:13), that person is now one of God’s adopted children (Ephesians 1:5; Galatians 4:5-7) and becomes a partaker of an eternal inheritance, one that is incorruptible, undefiled and reserved in heaven for him (Hebrews 9:15; Colossians 1:12,1 Peter 1:4).
He will never lose his salvation therefore because God keeps him through that faith that he has which continues to operate, continues to believe, continues to hope in Jesus and does not fail, stop or cease.
In 1 Peter 1:3-5, such a person is described, when it states:
- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you. Who are kept by the power of God THROUGH FAITH unto SALVATION ready to be revealed in the last time.”
POINT 2 – NEVER SAVED, ALWAYS LOST
Whenever a person who once believed on Jesus (in his head), STOPS BELIEVING the truth, distances himself from him and his people, wants nothing to do with him ever again and lives life as he pleases in the world without any remorse, that person has FALLEN AWAY.
He has fallen away because he has STOPPED BELIEVING (which, from the scriptures, happens with some people) and he has stopped believing because he NEVER RECEIVED THE GOSPEL ON GOOD GROUND.
That is, the Word of God was NEVER PROPERLY PLANTED IN HIS HEART. He received the gospel on stony ground and therefore was NEVER ROOTED TO JESUS CHRIST.
He NEVER POSSESSED THE ENDURING KIND OF FAITH THAT LASTS but a temporary, imitative one, which LASTED ONLY FOR A WHILE AND THEN STOPPED.
This is not the kind of faith or belief that is associated with salvation. Those that are saved do not depart from Jesus Christ without ever repenting, do not reject him and are never comfortable in the world. The Prodigal son, being a son, repented, came to his senses and RETURNED but those that were never truly saved do not. They now regard the things of God and God’s people with scorn and their TURNING AWAY is one that they never regret. They actually think that they are better off than those they left behind, who are still serving the Lord Jesus, a Jesus which they now believe, by their actions, to be fictitious or not the Lord of the scriptures. It is clear that such people who once believed but then stopped believing were NEVER INDWELLED BY THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST (which is a permanent and irreversible indwelling) and therefore were always unregenerate.
On the other hand, when a person is indwelled by the Spirit of Christ, otherwise known as the Spirit of truth (as described in Point 1 above), he may backslide but he is never comfortable in the world and does not stay there. He does not FALL AWAY as in permanently TURN AWAY from God without being sorry for his sin. For, through God’s chastening hand, he either returns or is removed from the earth. God will never, in his faithfulness, allow him to just do as he pleases because he is his child and he takes responsibility for him.
Additionally because the Spirit of Christ is in him, the child of God who has been born of God NEVER STOPS BELIEVING the truth from his heart. His faith in Jesus endures, even when he is being stubborn and rebellious. Even when he is not living right, he has high regard for Jesus, his Word and the people of God because he knows that in Jesus is life and that he belongs to him. This is why he usually returns and repents. He knows that Jesus has the words of eternal life and because he truly BELIEVES on him, he knows that he could never pursue his own way and win.
Whereas the person who was never indwelled by God’s Spirit continues on proudly in his rebellion and disobedience therefore, hating the things of God, loving what the world has to offer and considering the truths contained in God’s Word to be foolishness, fiction for the gullible and a complete waste of time, the child of God usually humbles himself before God and RETURNS to his heavenly Father.
The end of the matter is therefore this: Once saved, always saved and never saved, always lost.
(Written on 5th October, 2018, added to thereafter)
Dear Reader, if you found this Article useful, edifying or interesting, you may also be interested in reading the following Articles under the ‘Bible-Believing Daughters’ Page:
- Note 17 – ‘In Relationship With God Or Just Religious?’
- Note 100 – ‘Do You Have Imitation Faith Or Enduring Faith’
- Note 111 – ‘Are You Truly Saved? – Eight (8) Biblical Indicators To Examine Whether You Are In The Faith’
- Note 150 – ‘Faith – Do You Have It?’
- Note 73 – ‘Are You Really Saved? Here Are Some Indicators’