Saved By Whom?
Vol: 22 Issue: 21 Saturday, May 21, 2016
There are certain doctrines that need to be revisited from time to time; there is probably not one more deserving of our attention than the doctrine often mocked as OSAS, or ”Once Saved, Always Saved”.
Personally, I prefer to call it by its more descriptive appellation, “eternal security.”
It is mocked as a “license to sin” or as a “free ride” and while both charges are true in the practical sense, they are at the same time completely inaccurate.
“Once saved, always saved” and its various other nicknames, put all the focus on the believer and none of it on the Savior.
By way of contrast, the doctrine of “eternal security” puts all the focus on the Savior and none on the believer.
Do you see the difference? The argument opposing once saved, always saved, is that believers who sin after salvation are still obligated to keep the Law, or at least, some parts of it, and those that don’t are liable to lose their salvation.
Opponents of OSAS don’t usually demand a post-salvation life of perfect obedience, but they argue that maintaining one’s salvation requires not sinning too much.
While the opponents of eternal security can’t say which sin, or how many sins cause one to lose one’s salvation, they are sure that if you sin enough, you will. The problem with this view is, nobody can be sure that they are saved.
This doctrine could be called “temporary salvation” but its seminary name is “conditionalperseverence”.
Conditional perseverance is rooted in the theology advanced by Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch Reformation theologian who lived one generation after John Calvin.
There are varying degrees of Arminianism, with some believing a person can be saved, lose their salvation and then get saved again. Others believe you get saved once, but if you lose it, you are forever lost and there is no going back.
Conditional salvation does not necessarily argue that there is a sin so great that God cannot forgive it. Instead, it holds forth that a person consciously surrenders their salvation through a free will choice.
They argue that belief is a free will choice and consequently, when somebody falls, they fell because they had consciously decided they don’t believe anymore.
Again, Arminianism puts all the heavy lifting on the believer and not on God.
There are other problems, as well. If predestination negates free will, then it logically follows that God didn’t know from the foundation of the world who would be saved, but instead, He had to wait until you decided.
But God DOES know your eternal destiny from the foundation of the world, as the Bibleclearly says;
“According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love. . . (Ephesians 1:4)
“Look here,” says the Calvinist. “We were chosen before the foundation of the world. Is that not predestination?”
“Aha!” says Arminianism. “It says we should be holy and without blame — does that not argue against OSAS?”
Both arguments ignore the full teaching of the Scriptures. We were chosen — IN HIM — that is to say, He knew for whom He was sacrificing Himself. And we are holy and without blame — BEFORE HIM — in love.
Not because of ourselves. Because of Him. The subject of this verse is not “us” but “Him”. The difference between foreknowledge and predestination is one of perspective and nothing more.
We were foreknown — which from the perspective of a man with limited knowledge sounds like predestination. But from God’s perspective, then what a limited man might call ‘predestination’ would be what God calls ‘prophecy.’
If there is a practical difference between predestination and prophecy, I cannot see it.
For example, the Gog-Magog War will unfold precisely as it was prophesied.
Does that mean that the various participants are predestined to clash on the mountains of Israel? Is there another way to see it? Are we then to infer that none of them have free will?
I am not a Calvinist, but I believe in predestination. I believe in predestination because I believe in Bible prophecy and you cannot have one without the other.
If you believe that the Lord will return in the last days because the Bible prophesied it, then you believe the Lord is predestined to return in the last days, since that is what the phrase, “from the foundation of the world” refers to.
“Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:20)
“For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” (Hebrews 4:3)
So if you were chosen before the foundation of the world to be saved, or put another way, if God already foreknew that you would be saved, it raises an important question.
Were you saved according to the Plan of God, or according to your own will?
“But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him.” (John 6:64)
No matter how hard I try to get a handle on the idea that my salvation is conditional on my perseverance as a Christian, I keep running into verses that tell me that I am saved by the will of the Father, through the Son, and not because I made the smarter choice. (Lest any man should boast.)
“And He said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto Me, except it were given unto him of My Father.” (John 6:65)
What does that mean? Does that mean that everybody is called equally and that only the smart ones respond correctly to the call? Who does that glorify? God? Or the unbeliever’s smarter brother?
I would submit that it glorifies the one smart enough to believe more than it glorifies the One in Whom they are believing. “God didn’t choose me, I chose God. And I can unchoose Him any time I want.”
Who has the power in this case? You? Or God? Where does the Bible place the power of eternal life and eternal death? (Here’s a hint. Who holds the keys to heaven and hell?)
According to the doctrine of eternal security, nobody can be saved by their conduct. Indeed, nobody is lost by their conduct. The division between those who are saved and those who are lost is not based on conduct.
If it was, then most Mormons would have a better shot at heaven than you do.
Mormons tithe, do obligatory religious work, regularly attend services, don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t swear, don’t drink coffee or tea, don’t engage in premarital sex, and follow strict rules regarding sin and how to deal with sinners.
I dunno. You know you. How do you stack up against that?
Salvation is based on grace through faith. God’s grace extends the offer of salvation, and we are saved by our faith that God’s grace is sufficient.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
If one is saved by faith, then it does not follow that they can be subsequently lost by their own conduct. This is not in any way intended as an apologetic for sinful behavior – sin is sin and sinhas consequences.
The consequences of sin are severe and far-reaching, but your sin does not punish God.
“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39-40)
God has already restored you to fellowship with Him because HE wants fellowship with you.
If you can sin yourself out of salvation, then God would lose that fellowship (that He says means more than the whole world to Him) forever.
God does not lose.