Elon, North Carolina
Last week we asked a very important, as well as controversial question and it is this: Can Christians lose their salvation? Does the Bible teach “Once saved, Always Saved” or does it teach that you can be “Saved Today and Lost Tomorrow”? We said that the body of Christ is divided on this topic. There are some Christians who believe that you can lose your salvation and have some very good verses for their position.
There are some Christians who say that you cannot lose your salvation and they also have some good verses to support what they believe. I said last week that there is truth to both sides but in order to understand it you have to understand five things. If you do not see all five of these truths, you will end up with a completely false or imbalanced view of salvation. Last week, we looked at the first two points. Today, we will look at the next three.
Last week, we looked at several verses that teach the doctrine of eternal security. Jesus said in John 10 that he knows his sheep and gives them eternal life. He says that they will never perish and uses a double negative in Greek to emphasize that fact.
He says that no one will or even can snatch them out of his hand. The sheep are in Jesus’ hand and in the Father’s hand, so they are perfectly safe, because, as Jesus said, “the Father is greater than all”. We saw in John 6 that the saved are a gift from the Father to the Son.
We also saw that all of the sheep will come to Jesus and when they come to him he accepts them, regardless of their background or past. No one is rejected. Jesus then promises to keep all that come to him and not lose any. All will be raised up on the last day. We saw the chain of salvation in Romans 8.
Paul says that everyone God foreknew, he predestinated. Everyone he predestinated, he called. Everyone he called he justified and everyone he justified he glorified. No one was lost in the process. It is an unbroken chain of salvation
I have a question for us to think about. Doesn’t the doctrine of eternal security just encourage people to sin?
Does this doctrine mean that you can do absolutely anything you want and you are still going to heaven, because there is no way you can lose your salvation? Does this mean you can have can commit premarital sex, adultery or even homosexuality, because nothing you do can change your eternal destiny once you are saved?
Does it mean that we can commit any sin, including murder, and still go to heaven? You may or may not have heard of the 2009 LA Fitness shooting but on August 4th, 2009, some fruitcake enters a Pittsburgh fitness club with a gun, shut the lights off and fired 50 rounds into an aerobics class. He killed three people and injured nine others.
What you probably did not know about this man is that he was a professing Christian. He wrote on a blog that he believed that “you can commit mass murder then still go to heaven”. He believed in eternal security. That only leads us to our next question.
Does this doctrine encourage people to sin? Does the Bible teach the doctrine of OSAS? Yes it does. Does it encourage people to sin? No. That is a doctrine of demons. What is the problem here? The problem is that people are only reading half of the Bible. Beware of reading only the parts of the Bible that you really like (the promises) and avoiding the parts that you do not like (warnings).
Yes, the Bible says that the sheep have eternal life and will never perish but it says “Don’t be deceived. The wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God” (I Corinthians 6:9). It specifically says that the sexually immoral and murders will NOT inherit the kingdom.
I am going to share you three things about eternal security, because I believe that the Bible teaches all four. I have gone on the Internet and haven’t seen these five points anywhere but the Bible teaches all four of them. We have already looked at the first two. The first point was that people who are saved are eternally secure. The second point was not everyone is saved who claims to be saved.
People Who are Genuinely Saved Show Signs of Salvation
One verse that shows this is II Corinthians 5:17. When we become a Christian, Paul says that we become “a new creation”. It’s almost as if we become a different person. The old person that we were before we became a Christian is gone. It doesn’t exist anymore. Paul says, “All things are new.”
Salvation is not just a change in a person, it is a radical change (a child of the Devil to a child of God, go from being spiritually dead to spiritually alive, from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light) and if you are really saved, your life will be different, a lot different. There are all kinds of testimonies of people who used to be crack heads or prostitutes or practicing homosexuals or cold blooded killers before their life was completely transformed by the gospel.
The Apostle Paul is an example of someone who changed one hundred and eighty degrees after he got saved. Before he became a Christian, he tried to stamp out the Christian religion. After he got saved, he tried to spread it as far as he could, preaching to everyone and taking three missionary journeys. Before he became a Christian, he persecuted Christians.
He went around arresting men, women and children. When they fled to another city, he traveled one hundred and fifty miles to track them down. After he became a Christian, he was the one was being persecuted, arrested and beaten for his faith. Has there been any change in your life, since you became a Christian?
Now, all of us have not lived a life of sin. Some of us may have become Christians when we were five. If you are physically alive, there are signs of it. You have some vital signs (pulse, heart beat, breathing). If you are spiritually alive, there are signs of it as well. There should be some clear differences from you and from nonbelievers. Are there any signs in your life that you are genuinely saved? What are some signs that a person may be saved? If there is no change in your life, you’re not saved.
In 1974 Larry Flynt began publishing a well known pornographic magazine. In 1977, someone witnessed to him and he claimed to be a Christian. He went around saying that he was born again. Did he change his life and stop making pornographic magazines? Not at all. He continued to do what he had always done. There was no change. Was he saved? No. We need to be sure that we are saved (II Corinthians 13:5).
We are very quick to examine and test others to see if they are saved but before we do that we need to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith ourselves. Someone said that this is the difference between Methodists and Presbyterians. He said, “A Methodist knows he’s got religion, but he’s afraid he may lose it. A Presbyterian knows he can’t lose it, but he’s afraid he hasn’t got it.”
Is there any fruit in your life. Christians should bear fruit. The Bible teaches that we should all be fruity Christians. Jesus said “by their fruit you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). He said a tree is known by its fruit (Matthew 12:22). What is Jesus saying here? In the context, he is talking about false teachers but there are some general lessons we can learn.
- Jesus uses trees as metaphors for people (cf. 7:16-19).
- He says that there are two kinds of trees (good and bad trees).
- You can tell the difference by looking at the fruit on the tree.
The fruit tells you what kind of tree it is. You can tell whether someone is saved or not by the way a person lives. Now what is Jesus saying? Even the best tree makes rotten fruit now and then. Jesus is saying that you might have two trees that are both apple trees. They look like the same kind of tree until you get a little closer and look at the fruit and see that one is a good tree and one is a bad tree. They may be wolves in sheep’s clothing.
Last week, we read a very disturbing passage in Matthew 7:21-23. Jesus is going to invite some people to enter Heaven (25:34). He is going to tell other people to depart into hell (7:23). In fact, in Matthew 25, Jesus just tell people to depart, he tells the goats to depart INTO EVERLASTING FIRE prepared for the devil and his angels (25:41). The people in Matthew 7 were shocked to hear that from Jesus.
These people were not Hindus or Muslims but professing Christians who call Jesus Lord, are religious, work in the church, are engaged in ministry and do all kinds of things in Jesus name. Why don’t they get into heaven. What was wrong with these people? Let’s look at Matthew 7:23. There Jesus says, “Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
The problem with these people who were very religious (called Jesus Lord and did things in Jesus name) is that EVILDOERS. That is what Jesus called them. You can be religious and still be an evildoer. Look at the Muslim fanatics who are blowing up buildings and chopping people’s heads off. They are very religious but they are also evildoers. It’s one thing to be religious. It’s another thing to be moral. God is not impressed with people who are religious and immoral at the same time.
This point was brought out very clearly in the OT (Isaiah 1:10-17). You can also profess the name of Christ, claim to be a Christian, get baptized, work in the church and live a life of sin (cf. Titus 1:16; I John 2:3-4). James says that faith without works is DEAD (2:14-26). It does absolutely no good. It saves no one.
People Who are Saved Never Commit Apostasy
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” There are several questions that I want to ask about this verse.
John 3:16 and Perseverance
1) How do you get eternal life?
John 3:16 says very clearly that eternal life can be received simply by believing in Christ. It does not say that you have to do good works to earn your salvation.
2) Who gets eternal life?
Eternal life is offered to everyone. John 3:16 says “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”
3) What does it mean to believe?
How do you know if you have believed? Is believing in Christ the same thing as believing that George Washington was the first President? Saving faith is not just intellectual or academic or mental. The demons have that kind of faith. They believe that Jesus is the Son of God but they are still demons. Faith involves knowledge but it also involves trust. It is not belief ABOUT Christ but trust IN Christ that saves the soul.
Knowing who Jesus is saves no one. You have to first believe that you need to be saved and ask him to save you. You can be dying and have medicine that will save you. Knowing the medicine will treat your disease and how effective it is does you no good unless you take it. Knowing Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world does you no good unless you personally ask him to save you from sin.
4) Does believe mean believe one time only?
Most people do not realize that the word believe in John 3:16 is in the present tense in Greek. That generally means a continual process, not just a one-time act of faith.
5) What happens if you stop believing?
What if you make a profession of faith and were even baptized but later become a total atheist. Are people saved who used to believe but no longer believe? Some say that they are. Charles Stanley, a famous Baptist pastor, wrote a book on eternal security. It is in our church library. He says they are still saved. He’s wrong.
The Bible says that you are saved IF YOU CONTINUE TO BELIEVE. Some people do not know this but it is what the Bible says, not once but over and over again (cf. I Corinthians 15:1-2; Colossians 1:23; Hebrews 3:6; 12-14; I John 2:24).
The Bible says that people who commit apostasy will be lost (Matthew 24:13; II Timothy 2:12). Apostasy is not the same thing as backsliding or falling into sin. Apostasy takes place when you completely renounce the Bible and the Christian faith and say, “I don’t believe it anymore. I am no longer a Christian”.
It is total and permanent. There are many reasons why this happens (false teaching, persecution, temptation to sin, weak faith). How many students who go off to college give up their faith and never get it back? Those kind of people are not saved and will not be in heaven.
Let’s go back to John 10. Last week we saw this great promise of eternal security. Jesus says this group of people will never and can never perish but who are these people? What does Jesus say about them? They listen to Christ’s voice and follow him (10:27) and in Greek this is in the present tense. It is something that they do all of the time. If you no longer follow Christ or listen to his voice and haven’t done so for thirty years, then the promise of 10:28 doesn’t apply to you. You are not one of his sheep.
6) Will a true believer commit apostasy?
No. The reason that they do not commit this sin is that God keeps them from this sin. We are kept BY THE POWER OF GOD and not by our own power (I Peter 1:4-5 KJV; Jude 24; cf. I John 2:19; Hebrews 10:36-39). That makes sense in light of John 10, because remember that we’re in Christ’s hand. He is holding our hand, we are not holding his. But that does not mean that we do not take these warnings seriously.