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AM I REALLY SAVED?
“Am I Really Saved?”.
Many scholars believe in the doctrine of Eternal Security. This doctrine is also known as Absolute Final Perseverance. It is more commonly referred to as “Once Saved Always Saved”. This doctrine is Calvinist in origin and was asserted in 1647 at the Westminster Confession of Faith. The Catholic Church on the other hand does not believe in Eternal Security. A person who loses their faith is said to be guilty of apostasy. This lesson will study both Eternal Security and the arguments against it.
According to Nelson’s Bible Dictionary - The salvation that comes through Christ may be described in three tenses: past, present, and future.
1. When a person believes in Christ, he is saved (Acts 16:31).
2. But we are also in the process of being saved from the power of sin (Rom 8:13; Phil 2:12). God releases into our lives today the power of Christ's resurrection (Rom 6:4) and allows us a foretaste of our future life as His children (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:14).
3. Finally, we shall be saved from the very presence of sin (Rom 13:11; Titus 2:12-13). Our experience of salvation will be complete when Christ returns (Heb 9:28) and the kingdom of God is fully revealed (Matt 13:41-43).
Eternal Security 101.
Eternal Security theology teaches that once you are saved, God protects you in such a manner that you can never become unsaved again. Other scholars believe that you can lose your salvation. Eternal Security believers also state that a saved person does not have to do good works order to stay saved. In other words, when you become saved you can sin and still not lose your salvation. Eternal Security teaches that if a person lives a life of sin, then the person was never really saved. Why do some people believe in eternal security?
1. Guilt…… some people feel a sense of guilt that they cannot live up to God’s commands, so they want to believe that they are always in God’s favor.
2. Compassion...... Some people want to believe “Once saved always saved” because they hate the thought of a loved one losing their salvation because of the sinful life they live.
3. Uninformed…… Other people simply have not read the appropriate scriptures or researched the subject.
4. Cop-out…… Finally, some people believe this theology simply because it does not require a real commitment to following Christ.
Pro Eternal Security scriptures.
First, we will look at scriptures some people use to defend Eternal Security.
1. I John 10:28….. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.
a. If you believe in Eternal Security, this verse says that once you have eternal life, no one can take you away from God's protection.
b. This is a classic scripture that is used to support the idea of Eternal Security. Nobody can take you away from God’s salvation without your willingness. The catch is that the very idea of being snatched away indicates that it is being done against one’s will. This verse does not say that you can’t lose your salvation by voluntarily turning away from God.
2. Ephesians 2:8-9…... For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
a. This verse is used by people to support Eternal Security. They claim that we receive salvation by God’s grace and that if we have to be good or do something to be saved, then we ought to thank ourselves instead of God.
b. The problem with the above idea is that these 2 verses are talking only about being saved and not about staying saved. It is very true that only faith can grant us salvation. No good deeds, no sacrifice, no works of any kind can give us salvation. However, this scripture is talking about the time before we are saved and not the time afterwards. It does not say that one can live a life of sin and still be saved.
3. JOHN 3: 16-18…... "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. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
a. Eternal Salvation supporters believe this scripture guarantees eternal life once we believe in Christ.
b. The problem here again is that the scripture is taken out of context. The scripture is talking about being saved and not staying saved. This scripture makes no mention of what happens if a person sins after they are saved.
4. Rom 3:22-26…... This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
a. It is often suggested by the Eternal Security believers that Paul is saying here that everyone sins, so God understands this, and we are always covered by his grace.
b. To the contrary, this scripture is talking about those who are not saved; not those who are saved. Of course, everyone has sinned and is in need of salvation. This is a simple concept to us, but it needed to be taught to the Jews who thought that only being Jewish was good enough to please God. After all, they are his chosen people.
5. Matt 7:17-20…... Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
a. This parable is open to interpretation. It implies that good people (ones that have been saved) cannot sin badly enough to be thrown into Hell.
b. It also says that bad people can never keep from sinning and will be thrown into Hell.
c. On the other hand, a bad person can become a good person by being saved.
d. What is unclear is that it does not say if a good person can later decide to be a bad person by returning to a life of sin.
Scriptures that contradict "Eternal Security."
We will now study scriptures that appear to contradict the theory of Eternal Security. We will read about the necessity of obedience as well as examples of backsliders and those who lost their salvation.
1. Gal 5:19-23…... The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
a. This scripture clearly details specific sins that lead to condemnation. This scripture makes no exception for those that have received salvation.
b. Salvation does not change our sinful nature, but it does give us more power to fight against it.
2. Galatians 6:7-10…... Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. 9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
a. If we would look at verse 1 of this chapter, we would see that Paul refers to his listeners as “brothers” so he is apparently addressing those who are already saved.
b. He is warning those who are already saved not to become “weary in doing good”. To be saved and do evil is a mockery of God. Only those who sow “from the Spirit will reap eternal life”. This message is surely to those that are saved because the unsaved could not be “weary in doing good”.
3. 1 John 2:24-25…... See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us — even eternal life.
a. We see here very plainly that if salvation “remains” in you, then you remain in the Father.
b. If salvation remains in you, eternal life is the reward.
4. Hebrews 10:36-39…... You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay. 38 But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him." 39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.
a. First of all, we are told to “persevere”
b. Secondly, we are told not to “shrink back”
c. Thirdly, those who continue to believe will be saved and those who shrink back will be destroyed.
5. I Timothy 1:18-20…... Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, 19 holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.
a. Here we see Timothy told to hold on to his faith so that he does not lose it like Hymenaeus and Alexander who lost their faith. They must have been saved or they could not have “shipwrecked” their faith. In other words, you can’t shipwreck something you don’t have.
b. We also see that “shipwrecked” means they completely destroyed their faith and salvation because they were “handed over to Satin”.
6. Hebrews 10:26-29….. 26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
a. This scripture speaks of a people who not only hear the truth but have actually “received” it for themselves. They insult the blood that Jesus shed because they accepted salvation but later trample it under foot by continuing to sin the way used to do. By not accepting the new life they were given they will be punished worse than a person who was never saved.
b. A person believing in Eternal Security will say that “received” means “encountered”. This would also be a proper interpretation based on the dictionary. Which meaning do you think is meant here?
7. James 5:19-20…... My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
a. This scripture clearly is about bringing a person who was once saved back to salvation.
b. This scripture only makes sense if we assume the person is being brought back to salvation. One would not be told to bring a person back to a state of being unsaved.
c. This scripture also cannot be talking about bringing a person back to just hearing the word of God because that would not be enough to save him from spiritual “death”. Only salvation can do that.
8. Jude 1:4-7…... For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. 5 Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home-these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
a. This scripture is a warning to those who are saved.
b. It is mentioned that godless sinners have slipped among them and are tempting them with immorality.
c. The people are told that they are no better than the fallen angels or the people brought out of Egypt. Both groups of people were saved but later were punished and lost their salvation.
9. II Peter 2:19-22…... They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity-for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. 22 Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."
a. This scripture tells of people who were clearly saved. They “escaped” worldly corruption by knowing Jesus Christ as their Savior and then turn back to a life of sin because they loved sin so much, they wanted to return to it.
b. They lost their salvation and are worse off than before they were saved.
Jesus explains salvation.
Without a doubt, the best explanation of staying saved comes from Jesus in the thirteenth chapter of Matthew. Jesus wanted to make sure that everyone understood this concept, so he told a parable and then explained it in detail. First, we see the parable in verses 3-9 and then the explanation in verses 18-23. One cannot explain this parable any better than Jesus explained it. All one might do is try to twist his words to his own interpretation.
1. Matt 13:3-9…... Then he told them about many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 He who has ears, let him hear."
2. Matthew 13:18-23…... "Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22 The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23 But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
We have studied quite a bit about salvation. It is always imperative that you keep the scripture in context. Is the scripture talking about being saved or about staying saved? Is the scripture addressing people that are not yet saved or people that already are saved? The theology of Eternal Security should not be a stumbling block. It should also not be a point of contention among believers. If you think about it, both sides of the debate agree on the important issues.
1. Both sides believe in the same process of salvation.
2. Both sides agree that a good person who later lives a life of perpetual unrepentant sin is probably not saved. The only difference is that one side says this person was never saved, and the other side says he was saved before he became unsaved. To argue about this difference is worthless.
The important issue is whether you are really saved. If you do not feel the presence of the Holy Spirit leading you in the right direction and giving you a new power that you did not have before, then you should be concerned. If you do not love to speak to God in prayer and to seek his guidance through his Word, then you should be concerned. If you do not enjoy being with other Christians and sharing your faith with others, then you should be concerned. If you are not obeying the major teachings of the Bible on a regular basis, then you need to be concerned. Whether you think you were once saved is not important.
The important message is found in 1 John 2:3-6…... We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
1. How would you define being saved? State the important issues.
2. Do you believe that being saved is different than staying saved?
3. Do you believe that you are saved if you believe in Jesus, but break one of the Ten Commandments?
4. Do you sometimes doubt your salvation?
5. What did you learn about salvation from the scriptures in this lesson, and how have they helped you?
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