The extremes of belief systems, so to speak, leave openings for errors in application of the promises of God. For example, when the person who believes one can be ‘saved, then lost and saved again, even over and over’ says to the one who believes he is ‘once saved, always saved,’ “If I believed that, I could get saved, then do whatever I wanted to do without repercussion.” But it does not work that way.
Starting with the first party, he believes that he must maintain his salvation by doing good works, but those works are done with the wrong motive—not in faith of obedience but in the works of the flesh. And Romans 14:23b says “For whatever is not from faith is sin.” The words of Philippians 2:12-13 say this: “…Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure.” Therein is how faithful works are accomplished, not in the flesh but on the foundation of Christ indwelling his life.
This foundation is key to the possession of eternal life, as 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 clearly says: “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
The summation is that faith produces qualified works, but works do not produce qualified faith.
It is a biblical truth and a fact of history that Christ only died once; and Hebrews 10:10 and several other places say that Jesus died “once for all,” meaning both for all time and eternity and for all people, just as Romans 5:18 says. It is a gift ready for the giving to those who want it.
You can see that a heavy responsibility is placed on the mere foundation of Christ as sufficiency for salvation. So what is the danger in this doctrine devised by man, of “being saved and lost, over and over again?” It is spelled out in Hebrews 5:13-14 where the Scripture sees believers who are still struggling with trusting the promises of God as to their redemption as “babes in Christ” (see also 1 Peter 2:2):
“For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
It is further identified as a problem that has great influence on a person’s progress of growth in faith when the following passage in 1 John 5:13 is viewed in that context:
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
That pertinent last part… “that you may continue to believe…” is the present focus, for it means that as you believed and know that you have eternal life, so continue to build on that certain foundation. Otherwise, the repetition of backtracking to a start-over position means there is no forward progress to maturity which has to do with application of the Word to one’s life.
The contention of this device of man is that God’s love is conditional, that is, there must be some personal action of man before God’s love is available to him. However, Titus 1:2 tells us that before time began God prepared the way of salvation, as later defined in Ephesians 2:89, that “By grace are you saved by faith and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest any many should boast.” Before man existed, God’s unconditional love for lost mankind was already in place.
What, then, is the danger, or dangers, of the belief that “once saved, you are always saved?” One of my mentors once said that mankind struggles with these kinds of pride—pride of face, pride of race and pride of place. Those facets of pride appear in one who is “saved and satisfied” or one who believes he is chosen and therefore more worthy than one who is obviously not chosen. That kind of pride is a creeping thing that takes on an assumed license of liberty that is not a mark of godliness.
Akin to that danger is one that arises from a misunderstanding of a believer’s position and responsibility in the family of God. That is, “if God does the choosing of who is to believe, then it is not my job to interfere in that.” William Carey of England, remembered as the “father of modern missions,” was faced with that issue when he urged his peers to have a responsibility to take the gospel to the lost in India. His concern was met with scoffing, saying, “If God wants to save anyone in India, William Carey, He doesn’t need your help!” (The term “Hard-shelled Baptists” properly fits that attitude.)
Apparently Carey had discovered Romans 10:13-15 and 17:
“For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!’… So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
The directive, even from the Old Testament, is this: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy, and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south” (Psalm 107:2-3).
The commandment is even more strongly made in the New Testament, and with a promise, in John 15:16:
“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”
This is what Jesus was praying for His disciples in John 17:9 and 20, that as they would be successful in their fruit-bearing, so should those believers who followed them—you and me!
There are more dangers than these, possibly, for man has a strong tendency to develop set patterns of behavior for God’s program, but God is only boxed in by His attributes of character and His promises that He has made.
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