When I, or any of my staff teach people that God accepts them unconditionally in Christ, because they are forgiven past, present and future, (Colossians 2:13-14, Ephesians 1:7) and because they are 100% righteous in Christ, even when they sin (Romans 5:19 and 2 Corinthians 5:21), I/we often get this question. “Do you believe in ‘once saved, always saved'”? This question is really about whether a person was “once saved”. In other words, did a person actually become united with Christ so that He is in them, and they are in Christ? If so, that person’s salvation has been sealed by their union with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).
However, Scripture does talk very honestly about people who once proclaimed faith in Christ but did not continue that faith, ultimately denying Christ as their savior. Here are a few of those verses. Colossians 1:21-23 “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body, through death, to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.” Others include 1 Corinthians 5:1-2, Hebrews 3:6 & 14, and 2 Timothy 2:11 to name a few.
What are we to make of these? They certainly seem to be saying a person can be in Christ at first, then be out of Christ later. Here’s a different way of understanding them. No matter what a person professed regarding faith in Christ, if they eventually walk away from Him, it is evidence they were NEVER united with Him. He IS eternal life. The person who continues to have faith in Jesus Christ until the end of his/her life, proves that they were truly united with Christ and has new life.
If a person who is in Christ could actually walk away from Him for good, denying the faith, that person would have to be brought down from the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:6), un-resurrected with Christ (Ephesians 2:6), un-buried with Christ (Romans 6:4), un-crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6), become un-alive with Christ (Ephesians 2:5) become spiritually dead again (Ephesians 2:1), and be placed back into Adam (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Here’s the bottom line. Anyone who believes in Jesus until the end of their life was genuinely saved. Anyone who does not, was never saved. “Faith that fizzles before the finish had a flaw from the first.” (D.L Moody) Keep believing, no matter how hard life gets. Or, how disappointed or angry you get with God! Don’t turn away from Jesus Christ. Turn to Him. He loves you even when circumstances in life scream otherwise. He also loves you even if you don’t feel His love for you at times. If you are united with Him, it’s your very nature to keep the faith until the end, and you will!
Live with great assurance of your salvation in Christ this week!
© Mark Maulding