My name is Bethany and I just want to say that I truly enjoy reading your work. I do have a question, and its if you believe that once you’re saved nothing you can do can make you unsaved?
Sometimes when I read some of your answers I find myself wondering if you believe in eternal salvation. I’m not sure if you will even read this much less answer me but I thank you for all that you do and the help you have provided me simply by helping others.
Thank you for your letter and your kind words of appreciation. To answer your question, the first thing that comes to mind is this Scripture:
“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:9).
The previous Scripture is speaking of those who abandon biblical truth in favor of error. Such folks were never saved to begin with: “They all are not of us.” Many people make a profession of faith, spend year after year going to church, talking about the Lord and involved in church activities, yet are not saved.
Worldliness greatly influences those who are not really committed to Christ and His ways. Some eventually leave the faith all together or get involved in very liberal churches where there is no accountability to true biblical standards.
The conduct and lifestyle of some professing Christians are not in keeping with God’s ways:
“Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God” (Philippians 1:27-28).
Some say Christians should be more tolerant and are accused of being self-righteous when all they are really doing is not compromising their faith. To tolerate behavior that is ungodly would compromise the truth. We must keep in mind that a person who is truly born from above is a changed individual. One’s thoughts will change from sinful ones to holy ones.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
In these last days there is an abundance of lukewarm professing Christians who blend right in with the world because their behavior is no better than those who have no profession of faith; sometimes much worse.
Do these people have eternal salvation? No, not if they are not saved to begin with. The heart intent of a person must be fully committed to Christ in spirit and in truth. Unless a person is truly born-again, they are not redeemed and covered by the blood of Christ.
We know we are saved by faith through grace and we cannot earn our way into heaven. Nothing we can do will ever pay our way into heaven. Only Christ’s blood sacrifice can account for our sins. But making a profession of faith and showing little or zero desire to walk with Christ and surrender the old self to the new does not a add up to being a born-again believer. It is only lip-service.
This is where the issue of eternal security gets skewed. We cannot be eternally saved if we are not truly born-again by the Spirit of God. We are either saved or we are not. When a person comes to know Christ as his or her Savior, they are brought into a relationship with the Lord which offers eternal salvation.
“And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:28-28).
The Scripture is clear, that if a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in false.
“That whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:15-16).
The mindset of true believers must be complimentary to the Scriptures and we should understand that Christians operating with corrupt standards demoralizing the entire body of Christ and not bearing good fruit for God’s kingdom, cannot be considered truly born-again by the Spirit of God. In order to be a genuine Christian, one must heed Paul’s admonition to the brethren:
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5).
The mind of Christ denies self and is giving wanting to please Him.
[Jesus said,] “Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
Our precious Lord and Savior stepped out of eternity to obey God the Father. Jesus suffered an agonizing death so we could be saved. Our minds must be in the process of renewal not in a continuous state of deceptive corruption and moral depravity:
“But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:2-24).
A Christian should have a new mind, not the former corrupt, sinful mind dwelling on ungodly traps this world offers:
“And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others” (Ephesians 2:1-3).
How willing are we to have a compliant mind? The rebellious, defiant, and resistant refuse to conform to God’s will. How willing are we to let go of the things that are clearly out of God’s will for our lives?
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
As believers, Scripture teaches we should work on the disciplined renewing of our minds daily, growing in the Lord, committed to getting a better understanding of God’s true will for our lives. Sometimes we can be so busy doing things we think we are doing for the Lord, but miss His best for us.
An example of this would be not studying and comparing teachings in the light of Scripture, but instead one might function in complacency—on autopilot, never delving deeply into some important issues of doctrine.
Or attending church on Sunday, but the rest of the week spending more time on social events and the selfish pursuit of personal projects that far outweigh the time given to the Lord; things that have nothing or very little to do with renewing one’s mind and growing as a believer.
A true believer will never be without sin, but our efforts and intentions must be honorable. We all struggle with sin as the Bible says:
“For the flesh desires against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh, and these things are opposed to one another that you should not do the things that you want to do” (Galatians 5:17).
Yet we will have a strong desire to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33) and to live a holy life:
“But according as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it has been written, “Be holy for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).
During our long, spiritual journey there will be peaks and valleys and there may be times when we wander away from the Lord for a season. Yet if we are truly born from above we will always come back as the prodigal son did (Luke 15:11-32).
If someone is a habitual prodigal son straying away and then coming back over and over, again and again—something is wrong. It is strong evidence that he or she may not be born-again.
The only way anyone can have full assurance of one’s salvation is to see consistent spiritual growth with an attitude of humility and faithful devotion to the Lord.
A true child of God will see spiritual growth, and develop strong spiritual habits. He or she will not have a love for the fleshly distractions of the world or function with hidden agendas designed to hurt and undermine others.
Also, keep in mind the statement by James concerning our faith:
“So also faith, if it has not works is dead, being alone. But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works’” (James 2:17-18).
Some believers think they have faith greater than the Apostles, but if that faith does not also produce good deeds (fruit) it is useless.
After we are saved, it can take some time to really begin to surrender to the Holy Spirit and consciously start the process of transforming and the renewing of the mind. But the commitment must be serious.
Growing in the Lord is a never-ending, ongoing process. Salvation should not be the only goal in knowing God. We are saved by faith and faith alone, but we should want to learn how to live our lives to please the Lord and follow His teachings—as expressed in Colossians 1:10:
“That you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
The salvation message is a revelation of the Holy Spirit that makes known the mind of Christ. We can all become vulnerable to falling into personal lifestyle comfort zones, and not regularly reexamining the meaning of the Scriptures.
When the Lord commanded us to not be conformed to this world, but to be “transformed by the renewing” of our minds, He was sending us a very important message.
Every person is individually accountable to God. Perhaps we won’t always be popular when we take a strong stand for biblical truth, but at least we will not become part of the “lukewarm” church. Safety in numbers has been proven to be a myth.
Selective acceptance and application of only some of the teachings the Lord left us in His Scriptures is guaranteed to keep us from experiencing a close, personal relationship with Him. Messiah Jesus spoke strongly against continuing to live in a manner that would show little commitment to Him, Revelation 3:15-16:
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.”
Anyone can make a “profession of faith.” But not everyone who makes a profession of faith follows through with a repentant heartfelt commitment, lifestyle and attitude change. Are they truly saved one might ask?
It is true that some professing “believers” are simply social “pew-sitters” with little or no interest in examining the Scriptures, much less applying the teachings of the Bible to their daily lives. But Christ asks more of us. We are commanded to love the Lord with all our hearts, souls and strength (Deuteronomy 6:5).
If we are sincere in our professions of faith believing God and accepting His teachings in the Bible, then loving the Lord and serving Him should be at the top of our itinerary each day; studying our Bibles, spending time in prayer, communicating with fellow believers, and sharing the salvation message with others. Our love for the Lord will spill over into all areas of our lives and life will be a blessing and a joy.
Our minds should be set on heaven:
“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians3:2).
Are the “pleasures” of this world keeping us from having an authentic relationship with the Lord? Those who care more about social trends, worldly esteem, vain glory, or whatever fleeting thrills this world might have to offer have “gone out from us,” and we can without hesitation say, “They were not of us.”
“For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19).
A born-again Christian does not love the world or the things of the world. Paul warned that we should not be led astray. A repentant heart operates within the individual guided by the Holy Spirit.
“Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels, intruding into those things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind” (Colossians 2:18).
Those who “are not of us,” become evident in time:
“You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, norcan a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:16-20).
Eternal salvation applies to those who are truly saved, but not to those who are playing games with God, and living a life of continuous rebellion. That does not mean we will not sin, it means that we do not live a life of deception day after day in deliberate rebellion knowing full-well that our behavior and lifestyle choices are ungodly. That is why we are urged to take personal inventory:
“Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5).
The Lord calls us ALL to repentance:
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Recently this is what I shared with someone via an email response regarding repentance:
Scripture tells us that we must make a full honest commitment to the Lord, not a partial one where we continue to give in to our lusts day after day. Nowhere in Scripture does it say to partially repent.
Jesus wants to enjoy our lives, but not live irresponsibly by carelessly hurting others or getting into trouble and live immorally. Once we are saved we must all be careful not to use God’s grace as an excuse to continue deliberately living in sin.
Christ did not die so we could habitually break basic moral guidelines. Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf is not a permit to party recklessly the same way much of the unsaved world does. He wants us to be set-apart and behave with thoughtfulness and kindness, and not get caught-up with the wicked things that go on in the world. We live in a world filled with deception at every turn. What is wrong is promoted as right. What is right is much too often said to be wrong.
Definition of repentance:
To turn away from: real penitence; sorrow or deep contrition for sin, as an offense and dishonor to God, a violation of his holy law, and the basest ingratitude towards a Being of infinite benevolence. This is called evangelical repentance, and is accompanied and followed by amendment of life. Repentance is a change in heart and mind which results in a change in outward actions.
Some people associate repentance with emotions, like shedding tears and feeling sorry for wrong actions and thoughts. Repentance is not emotion. It is a decision. Emotions sometimes accompany true repentance.
But it is possible for a person to feel great emotion and to shed many tears,but to never truly repent. Likewise it is possible that a person may not shed many tears, but truly makes a lasting deep decision in the heart to turn from their ways and toward God.
Repentance is a change of mind, or a conversion from sin to God. Repentance is the relinquishment of any practice, from conviction that it has offended God.
The apostle Paul struggled very much with sin, yet this is what he had to say:
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
The blood of Jesus covers our sins, and yes we will all sin to some degree until the day we die but that does not mean we can recklessly live like the heathen and think there will not be eternal consequences.
If you are making a REAL and sincere effort to let go of the flesh and live in a godly manner, and slip-up on occasion then that is one thing. But if you are using grace as an excuse to continue participating in chronic sins, then I would ask you to re-evaluate your commitment to the Lord.
So there you are, that is what I shared with a young man who was struggling with sin.
The strongest argument for eternal salvation for those who are truly savedis found in Romans 8:38-39:
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Bethany, I hope the many points I have made here have helped answer your question. A true born-again believer has eternal salvation, but a phony Christian is facing a very, very tough eternal destiny.
God bless you,
“For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Peter 2:20-21).