Yesterday I was late with my post. Today, well today I am somewhat early.
If you have missed the posts in this series or desire for some reason to go back to one you read, I have made a table of contents (click the link!) for easier navigation. So, if you missed yesterday’s post you can check it out there, or just click this: Who Am I? I Am No Longer Condemned.
Today’s post revolves around a heavy doctrine. I know this is part of our identity now that we are in Christ, but this is also a theological issue that has been the topic of debate for centuries. The question often debated, although in my mind it really shouldn’t be debated, is can someone lose their salvation? Can the devil, his demons, your sins, someone else’s attempts, or anything separate you from God and thus you lose your salvation? Can God himself remove you from his fold? Will he ever cast you out of his hand?
I am sure that by just looking at the title you can figure out my view, but in case you cannot…. I strongly believe that nothing/no one can separate us from the Love of God if we are in Christ. This means that one cannot lose their salvation! Not even God himself would remove you from his hand of grace. Rather than arguing about why I believe this, I will assume that you agree with me in this or at least are humble enough to keep reading.
This doctrine is sometimes referred to as Perseverance of the Saints (By those who are Calvinists), Once Saved always Saved (Somewhat different, but very similar and is used by those who would not hold to Calvinism) or simply as eternal security (which I have already posted about in this series Who Am I? I Am Secure).
R.C. Sproul has written on this topic and he says, “Writing to the Philippians, Paul says, “He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it to the end” (Phil. 1:6). Therein is the promise of God that what He starts in our souls, He intends to finish. So the old axiom in Reformed theology about the perseverance of the saints is this: If you have it—that is, if you have genuine faith and are in a state of saving grace—you will never lose it. If you lose it, you never had it.”
As Sproul concludes his argument on this doctrine he clearly states that perseverance of the saints is a misleading phrase. It makes it seem like this is something that we do as if we could strive hard enough to stay in God’s mercy/grace. This is not what this doctrine teaches, Sproul points out. He, and frankly I must concur, would rather use the term “Preservation of the Saints.”
This is how he words his reasoning, “[T]he process by which we are kept in a state of grace is something that is accomplished by God. My confidence in my preservation is not in my ability to persevere. My confidence rests in the power of Christ to sustain me with His grace and by the power of His intercession. He is going to bring us safely home.”
Now that I have introduced this doctrine, let me show you how this is the Christian’s identity from Scripture.
Many of us have read/ heard the Good Shepherd discourse before. It is found in John 10. After healing a man born blind (Something never done before) Jesus continues to talk to the Jews and other people present. He uses a word picture of a sheep pen to illustrate that he is the Door and the Good Shepherd. He claims he will lay down his life for his sheep and he also has the authority to take his life back up again (Jn 10:18)! The Jews think that Jesus is crazy and speculate that he must be demon possessed. They ask Jesus to tell them plainly if he is the Christ. Jesus responds by saying, “I told you, and you do not believe.”
Then, a couple of verses later Jesus makes a wonderful claim.
John 10:27–30 (ESV)
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
Do you want to know what I mean by preservation or perseverance of the saints? I mean what Jesus means. Christ gives his sheep, those who believe, eternal life. His sheep will not perish. Along with this, he adds, “and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” In case you don’t have a clear understanding of who “no one” is, well, it really means what it says. And in case you are not convinced, Jesus continues, “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” This is double security! If you had doubts on how well Jesus Christ could hold on to you, well fear no more! Not only are you in Christ’s hands, but you are in the Father’s hands as well! But, here is the kicker. Jesus adds, “I and the Father are one.” Boom! Mic drop.
Is Jesus God? Well, he clearly states that he is. So clearly in fact that the Jews now want to stone him for blaspheming. Again, I bring up C.S. Lewis’ quote:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
So, without being too long-winded let me close with the words of Paul (As if Jesus’ own words were not enough).
Romans 8:31–39 (ESV)
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God’s love will not let you go. No sin you commit after placing your trust in Christ’s work of salvation for you can rip you out of Christ’s hands or out of God the Father’s hands. The Father sent his Son for a purpose. This purpose was to reconcile ruined sinners to himself. Christ on the cross achieved that purpose. Why would God cast those whom he reconciled away like garbage when he gives them the right to be called sons and daughters?! If we are fellow heirs with Christ in the Kingdom then you can rest assured that, “He who has begun a good work in you will finish it.” Jesus’ dying words on the cross were, “It is finished!”
The battle is won. Sin, death, and judgment are defeated. Nothing can separate those in Christ Jesus from the love of God. Who am I? I am in Christ and nothing can separate me from the love of God.