The following guest study is from Pastor Charles Smoot of ‘Simple Church Ministries’ of Lancaster, PA.
While Charles and I may view some things a bit differently, I have found his study on the security of the believer to be well written. I thought it would be good to offer it here for the benefit of my readers.
Note: Charles’ web site is: http://charlessmoot.org/
There are many promises in the Word of God giving assurance to the true believer in Christ that he cannot lose his salvation. To be saved is to have eternal life.
Eternal life is not based on human merit, but is a gift to all who come to Christ in faith and place their trust in him and his finished work of the cross. To have eternal life is to experience everlasting joy and peace in the presence of God forever. Jesus promised:
“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” (John 10:29).
However, not all who profess salvation are genuinely saved (Matt. 7:21). There are also warnings in the Word of God to make your calling and election sure (1 Pet. 1:10). Indeed, there are tares that grow among the wheat (Matt. 13:24-30). There will be some who will fall away from “the faith” and reveal their true nature as counterfeit believers (2 Pet. 2:1; Jude 4). Only the process of time will reveal who is truly saved and who is not (I Pet. 1:5).
The Apostle John writes:
“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” (1 Jn. 2:19)
Even Jesus had followers who walked with him for a while, but afterward walked away from him in unbelief (Jn. 6:64-66). Judas Iscariot was chosen by Jesus, but afterward became a “son of perdition.”
Nevertheless, a genuine believer can and should have full assurance that he is indeed saved, and that heaven will be his eternal home. Yet, how is it that some Christians live from day to day with insecurity about their salvation?
Salvation is a Finished Work
What is sad to me is: Many believers do not yet understand that salvation is a “finished” work. They do not understand the New Covenant of Grace and the basis from which they are saved. In addition to not understanding salvation through Grace, many believers do not understand how the believer is subsequently sanctified through Grace.
Often, because of incorrect teaching and ignorance of God’s Word, a believer may embrace some form of legalism (righteousness through human merit) which will distort his understanding in the area of the assurance of salvation. In view of the fact, that legalism encourages a spirit of self-righteousness; the believer, regretfully will look at his performance to validate or invalidate his salvation, rather than to the truth of the Word of God.
Based on their performance (works) or even on the way they feel on any given day (emotions) some believers are just unsure about whether they are going to heaven. Thus, a person’s lifestyle may contradict their profession of being a Christian, and introduce doubt, as to whether they were truly saved in the first place.
Remember, it is Satan’s business to cause the believer to doubt his salvation and his relationship to God.
How can the believer know and be assured that he is saved and that his salvation is secure? He must understand two things:
1) The Word of God makes the believer sure.
2) The blood of Jesus makes the believer secure.
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 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” (1 Jn. 5:11-13).
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12).
Often, because of failure to obtain the “perfection” encouraged through legalism, some believers may become discouraged to the point of disillusionment. They may even eventually backslide and stop serving God altogether. This is tragic.
Putting Things into Perspective
Let’s put some things into perspective.
1) As a work of grace, the believer’s salvation is a past, present, and future work that has already been “finished” in Christ.
a) We are saved – (justification) past
b) We are being saved – (sanctification) present
c) We shall be saved – (glorification) future
Paul writes in the book of Romans:
It is in the present tense that we as Christians live. This is the “sanctification” phase of our relationship with the Father; a process which is both an instantaneous and progressive work of God’s sanctifying grace. However:
2) As a work of grace, the believer’s sanctification has been already been completed and perfected in Christ.
Thus, the writer to the Hebrews says:
“For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).
This scripture teaches us that our sanctification and perfection is based solely on the blood atonement of Jesus Christ and His finished work of the cross. It has nothing to do with our works, performance, or the way we feel. Notice, He has perfected us “forever!”
Once a Son, Always a Son
In order to understand how sanctification works in the life of the believer we must have an understanding of the difference between the two aspects of relationship and fellowship and how sin and disobedience affects each.
a) Relationship: has to do with our standing or position in Christ. The aspect of relationship is not subject to change. Regardless of the fruitfulness, level of maturity, or degree of victory in the believer’s life, we are sons and daughters, heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ.
b) Fellowship: has to do with the quality or level of intimacy of our relationship with Christ. It can range from intimacy and complete submission, to estrangement and rebellion. The aspect of fellowship is subject to change and directly affects the fruitfulness, level of maturity, and the degree of victory in the believer’s life.
How does sin affect the believer in the aspects of relationship and fellowship?
The answer is really quite simple. Sin (disobedience) separates the believer from intimate fellowship with the Father, but sin cannot separate us from His love, favor, and our standing as sons and daughters. As a son, regardless of the quality of our fellowship or lack thereof, our relationship to God the Father remains the same. ”Once a son, always a son.”
A good biblical example of these two aspects is given in the story of the prodigal son (Lk. 15:11-31). Understanding the restorative grace displayed in this parable will help the believer understand that:
Though we may often fail, we are by birthright a child of God; a son or daughter completely loved and accepted of the Father. Though we are children of God, we all have the freedom to leave the Father’s house, to stumble, to fail, to repent, and to find grace, mercy, forgiveness, and restoration.
The bible teaches us that broken fellowship can be restored through repentance and faith. We must understand, however, sin and disobedience will affect the quality of our relationship to the father. Sin will impair intimacy, cause estrangement of our relationship, and it will provoke the correction, discipline, and chastisement of the Father who waits with loving arms for the prodigal. A chastisement that may even end in a premature death (Acts 5:1-11).
John the beloved writes:
“Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (1 Jn. 3:9).
Personally, I have no problem with the implications of “once saved, always saved.” In my opinion,
The eternal security of the believer is the greatest testimony to the efficacy of the cross of Christ. Therefore, an assault on the eternal security of the believer is, in effect, an assault on the efficacy of the finished work of Christ. Moreover, any doctrinal position with regard to the security of the believer which takes into account human merit (in any sense and to any degree) presents an anthropocentric (man-centered) view of the atonement and diminishes the efficacy of the cross.
Just my thoughts,
One other item for this blog entry….
Congratulation to the graduates of the Christian Challenge International 48th School for Christian Workers. May the Lord bless you in all that you do for His name’s sake, and may you become even more fruitful in the harvest work of God’s kingdom.