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Tuesday, January 03, 2017

How Secure Is My Salvation?

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul effectively explains something that many Christians adamantly cling to as a truth.  They sometimes act is if it is more true than anything else in the Bible!  I'm talking about the security of one's salvation. 

Many preachers explain the act of receiving eternal life as a "transaction" that occurs when one says a simple prayer to acknowledge that Jesus Christ was born a virgin birth, lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, and rose again before ascending into heaven to prove that He is God.  They also confess that they are a sinner in need of His salvation, and announce that they freely accept it.

For some of us, this prayer was said in our teens, maybe at a church camp or in a youth group.  And then we go on to live our lives in no particular way - but doing whatever we think best.  After saying such prayer, we may do nothing to educate ourselves about the nature and character of God, or about what He has to say to us in the Bible (we don't read it, much less study it).  So our lives as Christians may look no different than the lives of others in the world.

I won't go into the Scripture references here, but I have studied the Bible - and there are many references which convince me that saying a simple prayer does NOT make one a Christian.  I understand from Bible study that belief must be backed up with action in order to be true.  It supports the old adage that people may not always do what they say - but they will always do what they believe.  So if someone truly is a Christ-follower, it should be evident in the way that they speak and the way that they live their lives. 

My thinking has evolved to the point that I don't see salvation as a transaction that occurs on any particular date - at least not for most of us.  Rather I believe that it occurs over time as I develop my beliefs and they shape my words and actions in life.  In the end, we all understand that God will judge our hearts.  He will know for sure who is a Christ-follower and who is not.  However, there are some clues - some evidence - that may suggest now how that judgment will turn out.  So I allow the Holy Spirit to convict me each time I sin against God or someone else.  And to be clear, I do sin.  Much to my dismay, I have NOT been able to live a perfect life - even after surrendering my life to Christ.

So why am I not adamantly declaring that my salvation is secure and that I can never lose it?  Is it because I doubt the Bible's promises of "once saved, always saved?"  Indeed not.  Those promises are definitely true.  But what is questionable in my mind is whether one is truly saved.  Jesus explained that those who love Him will obey Him.  So I look at my obedience - and wonder if the effort is truly sincere.  I look at how I've surrendered my life to Him - and wonder if there is anything else I can do to effectively surrender. 

I'm confident in my relationship with God, Jesus Christ, and His Holy Spirit.  I'm so in love with the Lord!  But I am not so cocky as to think that my sin doesn't matter.  I ask the Lord to examine my heart and show me what still displeases Him.  And then I try to make my efforts to align my words and actions with His as sincere as I possibly can.  But I understand that in the end, my fate rests on judgment day - and I trust Him with my life.  In fact, I trust Him so much that I don't need the Bible's promises to defend my salvation.

I know this is a very controversial topic among Christians.  But I also know that I can live with the apparent ambiguity of not knowing whether God sees my heart the way I see my heart.  How about you?  What are your thoughts on this subject?

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