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Monday, December 22, 2008

Loss of Salvation

I do a lot of discipling. It's a process where people who are seeking to grow spiritually seek out others who can help them. I'm one of those they seek out. While we might think that most everyone has a different path of spiritual growth (and perhaps they do), there are some common themes. They keep coming up, with a majority of the people I'm talking to. One is knowing God's will. People earnestly seek to know what God's specific will for their life is. The other is the security of their salvation. It's what I'm going to talk about today.

"I'm not sure I'm saved." It's a common statement, especially among people who are finally overcoming the false belief that they are "basically a good person." They are confronting the fact that their sinful bent is insidious, pervading all aspects of their being. It haunts them. It makes them fret and worry. They want to be saved (from their sins). They understand the punishment of sin is an eternity burning in what the Bible calls the "fiery pit of burning sulphur." They want to be certain that they aren't headed there.

The popular doctrine of many Christian religions (like the Baptists) is that you cannot lose your salvation. I wrestled with that for years. I wanted to be sure I was saved. I finally came to the understanding --- where the Holy Spirit led me --- that whether or not I could ever lose my salvation wasn't the right question to ask. A better question to ask was whether or not I ever had my salvation in the first place. A lot of people "get saved." They make a one time decision for Christ. Many can pinpoint the precise day they did. And yet they wonder. Popular theology will simply say it's the devil attacking their peace and serenity. "Once saved, always saved," is a common theme to that theology. Or is it?

Look at what Jesus has to say in the Gospel of John 15:1-3, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, ...." He continues in John 15:6, "If anyone does not remain in me he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; ..." And then Jesus concludes His point with some fairly clear words. John 15:10, "If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love ..." and John 15:14, "You are my friends if you do what I command." Are you getting the picture here? Do you see what Jesus is saying to us?

Many of us want to believe the "once saved, always saved" theology. We'll argue that it's Biblical (and it is). However, there is far too little attention being paid to the definition of "saved." Jesus said that in order to be "saved" all one needs to do is to believe on Him. However --- and this is a big however, He clearly defined believing in Him. According to Jesus, those who truly believe will obey. Those who obey will naturally be pruned (by God) and produce fruit (e.g. be vessels of God's will.)

So my dear friend, if you are wondering about your salvation, wonder about your obedience. It is the clearest sign of the true faith in Him that Jesus says is required for entrance to heaven. I can't believe one day, and then not believe the next day --- with an expectation that my salvation is secure. I can't make a one-time "decision" for Christ --- and then go out and live like a heathen with an expectation that my salvation is secure. But when our obedience is sure, then our salvation is surely secure!

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