He Only Thought He Was Saved. . .
Vol: 29 Issue: 15 Wednesday, November 15, 2017
I was talking with a friend when the topic turned to a mutual acquaintance who got saved but about six months later, he was right back where he had been before meeting Christ.
My friend, who shares my faith in the doctrine of eternal security remarked, “I guess he only THOUGHT he was saved.”
I suppose my friend made that assumption because of his bedrock faith that salvation is a one-time event that cannot be repeated. In that regard, he has Scripture firmly on his side.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)
This is an interesting passage in that I’ve heard it used as a “proof text” against the doctrine of eternal security. In point of fact, it teaches the opposite. The Scripture says it is impossible for a saved person that falls away to be renewed unto repentance because it would require crucifying the Lord again.
It baffles me how that verse can be construed to mean that one can lose one’s salvation because it so clearly says that is impossible. When Jesus prayed in Gethsemane, He prayed:
“those that Thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” (John 17:12)
My friend said that Judas was the example of a guy that thought he was saved but he really wasn’t. I can’t get there from here, since before Pentecost, NONE of the Apostles had any assurance of salvation. Salvation requires the Presence of the Holy Spirit.
Without His Presence, the things of the Spirit are foolishness.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
The Holy Spirit did not indwell the Apostles until Pentecost. Prior to the infilling of the Spirit, they were afraid, cowering in hiding, until the Holy Spirit came upon them. With the infilling of the Spirit comes the assurance of salvation, after which they became bold as lions.
They didn’t become perfect. Sometime in the winter of AD 51 the Apostle Peter made a visit to Antioch. At first, he made a great effort to live like the Jewish converts of the church at Antioch. From there, he preached to the Gentiles, and even sat with them to eat.
Then messengers arrived from the Lord’s half-brother, James in Jerusalem. James wanted to strengthen the Jewish identity of converts from Judaism.
This was James’ justification for interfering in Antioch. He felt that he had the right to demand a much higher standard of Jewish observance from the Jewish converts there. Above all they were not to trust pagans and, in consequence, could no longer eat with them.
Only in isolation could Jews preserve their traditional values. They began to teach that in order to be saved, one had to obey Jewish law. Peter and Barnabas were swept into this movement. When the Apostle Paul arrived in Antioch, he went ballistic.
“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. . . Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” (Galatians 2:11,16)
Either Peter and James were teaching falsely, or the Apostle Paul was, since they were teaching conflicting doctrines.
Wait! Are you saying that Peter and James were false teachers? Well, if they weren’t then Paul was because things, (including doctrines) that are different are not the same. And the doctrine that Peter and James were teaching was salvation by works.
Did that mean they only thought they were saved?
On the other hand, Paul was teaching salvation by grace through faith and not of works. Did Peter stand up to Paul and defend his doctrine? Or did Peter accept the rebuke and correct his doctrine?
In 2 Peter 3:16 Peter refers to Paul’s letters as “scripture” indicating Peter’s respect for Paul’s authority. But nowhere does the Bible suggest Peter needed to get saved again after teaching false doctrine.
Neither is there any suggestion he had only thought he was saved until he received Paul’s rebuke and correction. Yet Peter and James and Barnabas had all been saved out of Judaism and there they were, trying to Judaize converts to Christianity.
They were just like the guy that got saved and six months later, he was right back where he started.
Do you recall the day you were saved? Do you recall the moment when you knew that you were washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb? Do you recall that moment of sinlessness when you prayed through the tears for Jesus to save you?
The Bible teaches that at that moment, your eternity was as certain as if you were already in heaven.
“Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” (Ephesians 2:5-6)
At that moment when you were saved, the Bible says you were transformed from what you had been, either a Jew or a Gentile, into a new creature.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Galatians 6:15)
“Creature” is an unfortunate rendering of the original ktisis which means, “creation.” Let’s substitute creation and see how it reads then.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation : old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (Galatians 6:15)
It’s not that complicated, really. WHO is the Creator? Are YOU the creator? No? Then if YOU aren’t the Creator, then Who created the new creature? Was it YOU by your action of calling on Jesus? Or was it the Creator in response to your action?
So, at the moment when you were saved, God stepped into action, transforming you into a newcreature that had not existed prior to that moment. That’s what the Bible says, (unless you intend to claim the title of Creator.)
Now to summarize. At that moment when you were saved, you were transformed into a new spiritual creation of God. Unless you have God-like power, you cannot transform yourself into a new creature. Can you?
But if you sin enough, you can transform yourself back?
What if you think you are saved but you are not? Frankly, I do not see how that can be possible. If a person wants to be saved, the Bible explains how. In all of Scripture, there is no other place where the question is asked and answered more clearly than the jailer in Acts.
“And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Acts 16:30-31)
Is it possible to sincerely think you believe when you really don’t? It is possible to believe and then doubt, or to believe and then be proved wrong, but I do not see how it is possible to sincerely thinkone is a believer at the moment one first believes.
Everybody wants to believe it is possible to reach some kind of spiritual state of nirvana where they don’t sin, even if they’ve never experienced it themselves. It is discouraging when they can’t. And they can’t because it is not true.
Sinning is what human beings do. Guilt is the most important tool in the enemy’s arsenal of weapons against us. We find it hard to forgive ourselves. But the Lord God knows what we do not, and He forgives us when we ask Him.
Every time we ask Him. And His forgiveness is perfect.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:12)
“For I will be merciful in their unrighteousness, and their sins and transgressions will I remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:12)
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” (Romans 8:1)
It is the nature of man to sin. It is the nature of God to forgive. All we need do is ask.
Featured Commentary: Swarms Without Number ~Wendy Wippel