There is a danger of believing “Once saved, always saved.” Some teach that it is not a biblical doctrine. They believe a person is only guaranteed eternal life if they persevere after salvation. There are others who do believe in “Once saved, always saved,” yet there are dangers to believing that. Continue reading
“Jesus did not want to save all men!” Continue reading
Does a Christian have to persevere in order to be saved?
This is a great question from an astute student of God’s Word. It comes from one who has heard of the acrostic attributed to Calvin called TULIP. Each of the letters is descriptive of an aspect of what a person believes, who says he is a Calvinist.
The letters describe a person’s theology. Do not, however, judge a person who says he holds to the TULIP principle until you fully understand what he personally means. Some believe in the acrostic TULIP, but have different understandings than what Calvin taught or many modern day theologians who hold to Calvinistic theology.
Allow me to give a brief explanation of each of the letters, without digging below the surface. The “T” stands for Total Depravity. Man is totally depraved and can do nothing that merits any recognition or reward from God. The “U” stands for Unconditional Election and defines God’s sovereign choice in electing believers in Jesus Christ. The “L” stands for Limited Atonement and implies that Jesus’ death was only applicable to those who are elect (An article will appear very soon to explain how this one is clearly not Scriptural). The “I” stands for the Irresistible Grace of God that a person cannot refuse when it is his time to be saved. The “P” stands for Perseverance of the Saints and implies that once a believer is saved, he must continue in the faith, or he really was not saved. I am only addressing the last letter, the “P” of TULIP.
Does a person have to persevere to be saved? There are certainly different understandings of people who hold to this theology, so I do not want to categorize everyone in a particular way. The gist of the principle is that God elects a person to be saved. At salvation, God gives eternal life and the person enters into a relationship with God. Based on Scriptures like John 15, the person who abides in Jesus will bear fruit and if the person is not bearing fruit, then “the person was not really saved,” according to this view. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) In other words, “they” will say, if you are not bearing fruit, you are not abiding in Jesus and you are therefore not a believer. Consequently, if you are not bearing fruit, you are not persevering and you must not be a believer. “They” will normally not define what “bearing fruit” is, but they will not allow a person to act carnally and be considered a believer (see the article posted on June 4, 2013).
Hence, “they” will say a person must persevere in life and not fall into life dominating sin patterns. For example, a good example of one who was a believer, but chose life dominating sin patterns was King Saul. There are clear indications that King Saul was a believer according to 1 Samuel 10. Yet how was it that he fell away from the Lord and pursued killing David? He acted according to his flesh, rather than humbly submitting to the sovereign will of God.
David himself is a good example of a believer, who fell into life dominating sin patterns. While David is called a man after God’s own heart, he committed adultery and murdered Bathsheba’s husband Uriah the Hittite. Then he continued for nine months of independence from God until Nathan the prophet came and rebuked him of his sin. David was living in life dominating sin until Nathan rebuked him. David repented, but he bore the consequences of his sin.
Lot is another example of a believer, who lived in life dominating sin patterns. Lot was the nephew of Abraham and allowed himself to slowly acclimate to the culture and darkness of Sodom and Gomorrah. While he lost his sons-in-law in the city destruction, his wife who turned into a pillar of salt and he committed incest with his two daughters, God still called him “righteous Lot.” Peter records,
· 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly;
· 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked
· 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soulfrom day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)–
· 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, (2 Pet. 2:6-9)
Lot foolishly stayed in that filthy, degenerate environment and tormented his “righteous soul” in the process. Yet, in all of Lot’s sins, he was a believer. Lot was saved, not because he persevered, but because God persevered. God perseveres in His mercy, so that anyone who trusts in God’s provision of salvation, God will deliver them into eternity as His child.
Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? If you do, you become a child of God. John writes, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12) If you not only know that Jesus died for your sins and you agree that Jesus alone is, and could be, your substitute to pay the penalty for sin, then your trusting faith accepts Jesus as the gift of God and you are given the right to become a child of God. You do nothing but accept the gift. Once you become a child of God, you can never not be a child of God. That is not a license to sin, because God will discipline the disobedient child. That is not freedom to live any way you want, because you will lose out on all the blessings and rewards God intends for you. That is not a reason to choose what you want to do in life apart from God, but an opportunity to pursue the holiness of God and mirror that holiness to the world around you. That is not a reason for you to become indifferent and check out from God, but a reason to respond with grateful, humble obedience to do His will in life.
We all have life dominating sin patterns. Some get into drunkenness and immorality. Some are more refined and suffer in life dominating sins of worry and doubt. Some choose life dominating sins of complacency or indifference to witness their faith to others and disciple them to Jesus Christ. Often, people who argue for perseverance of the saints as the measure of their Christianity have the big sins under control and struggle with more acceptable sins of personal agenda control and hidden anger that no one normally sees. May God grant us all mercy as we seek His righteousness and His understanding.
Does a Christian have to endure to be saved?
This is a basic question that many Christians struggle through in their Christian walk. It comes from a passage in Matthew which says, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13) Does this mean that if a Christian does not endure, in some way, he will not make it into heaven? This is an example of Christians who may know considerable Scripture, but do not know how God divided Scripture into dispensations.
What is a dispensation? A dispensation is a period of time, from God’s perspective, where God shows that man, no matter how much truth or blessing is given from God, will choose to rebel and be separated from God’s presence, unless he humbles himself to God’s will. There is no way you can rightly divide God’s truth and harmonize it from Genesis to Revelation without an understanding of dispensations. Most Christians are dispensational, but many do not admit it.
Matthew 24 is called the Olivet Discourse. Jesus had taken the disciples out of the city of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives and was describing what would happen during a specific period of time.
- Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.
- 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
- 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
- 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. (Matt. 24:1-4)
Note several things about this passage. First, it is right after Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees (Matt. 23). Secondly, Jesus prophesied that the stones of the city, in fact, the temple, would be thrown down (Matt. 24:2) For this reason some have attempted to define this chapter to the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., but that is a misunderstanding of Scripture. Thirdly, the disciples want to know what will happen at the “end of the age.” (Matt. 24:3) The disciples did not fully understand the ages as they reveal their lack of understanding as recorded in Acts 1:6. The end of the Age will be the last segment of the Jewish Age in which they were living. This will be described in a future article related to Daniel 9:24-27 and the seventy weeks that Daniel describes. Fourthly, Jesus tells them to listen and be alert, because there will be many who will try to deceive them. In fact, the enemy, Satan himself, wants nothing more than to deceive, confuse, divide and destroy those who are pursuing the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then Jesus begins to describe what the end of the Age will be like. Jesus said,
- 7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
- 8 “All these are the beginning of sorrows.
- 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
- 10 “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
- 11 “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
- 12 “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. (Matt. 24:7-12)
The end of the age will be filled with nations warring against nation, with famines, with earthquakes and tribulation. Notice that Israel, “you,” will be the target of the enemy in the tribulation. Notice there will be many false prophets, that is, there will be great confusion and deception. And notice that the love of God will grow cold, because people will not remain faithful to God.
That is a description of the last seven years of Israel’s history. That period of history is so destructive, because it is the last opportunity for the enemy, Satan, to destroy the Jews. He wants to destroy the Jews, because if he can destroy the Jews, then God cannot fulfill His covenants He made to Abraham and David. Those will be fulfilled at the Second Advent when Jesus returns. If there were no Jews, then the covenants could not be fulfilled.
We are experiencing troubled times today, but it will intensify during that period. So, in the middle of describing that tribulational time, Jesus made the statement, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13) Every word has meaning.
The basic meaning of the word “saved” is “delivered.” When a person is saved at salvation, he is delivered from condemnation. When a person is “saved” in the Tribulation, it means that he is delivered from the coming wrath of the Lord Jesus Christ and subsequent torments when he returns at the Second Advent and delivered into the new age called the Millennium. Hence, the verse means that the person who endures, that is, he holds onto his faith in life, he will be delivered into the Millennium.
It is not talking about “saved from eternal condemnation.” Once a person genuinely trusts in Jesus Christ as his Savior, he has eternal life. He is eternally secure. He did nothing for salvation. He can do nothing to lose his salvation. His salvation did not depend on him. His eternal security does not depend on him. It all depends on the mercy and sovereign will of God.