One day when I was feeling convicted, I knew that God was calling me to repent. I realized that it was up to me to turn away from my sins and turn to the Lord in repentance. Though I was willing, I wondered how I would be able to stop committing all of the sins to which I was bound. Instantly, I knew that He would give me the strength to do it. I had no strength of my own with which to accomplish this, but I was certain that once I took a step of faith, the Lord's strength would be provided for me. The decision was mine, and had always been mine. I gave up my sins and asked for forgiveness in Jesus' name. It became clear in my spirit that God was not just calling me to repent, but that He was calling me to Himself. I knew that He wanted my whole life and that I was not to try to keep it. I could not pick and choose my sins, nor could I be my own master. If I did not submit completely to God, I would leave a foothold for the devil and I would inevitably yield to and be controlled by sin. I gave God my valued possessions, naming them off one by one as if I would never see them again. All of the things and behaviors that had previously defined who I was were no longer mine. Now I had nothing to lose. I gave God my life, my whole life. I turned to Him, away from my sins, and He set me free from them. I experienced the redemptive power of God in my life on that day. I knew that I was not simply hoping to be free from my desires and sins, but that I truly was free. Even my habit of swearing, which I thought would take a while to unlearn, was instantly broken.
This freedom was new to me and I wanted to know if my experience could be substantiated by Scripture, so I prayed and asked the Lord to reveal to me what His Word says about freedom from sin, about grace, and about salvation.
Formerly, I had not truly believed the Word of God, even though I thought I did. Instead, I had believed the teaching of men who presented partial truths as whole truths. I had been taught that God did not require my obedience, faithfulness or righteousness. And unlike the teaching found in 1 John 3:7-8, I had been taught that the only righteousness that I could ever have was the righteousness of Jesus which He imputes to believers regardless of their actual behavior. I was told that to believe otherwise was legalism or salvation by works, an insult to the cross, for Jesus had done it all for us and would hold and keep us unconditionally. I, in turn, spread the same falsehoods.
Years ago when my good friend Stephanie was a new Christian looking to me for guidance, I tried to dissuade her from being obedient to the Word of God. I told her that because she was saved she did not have to worry about any of that stuff. I thank God that she did not listen to me, for she has been truly blessed for her persistence. Watching her grow and blossom as I withered was convicting indeed. The truth is that I had been dead in my sins, while falsely believing that I was secure in Christ.
The Bible very clearly shows that our salvation is a conditional one that requires our effort to hold on, hold firmly, maintain, persevere, persist, continue, endure, obey, remain, overcome and stand firm to the end to be saved. Jesus did not preach a works salvation, but He spoke the truth in Luke 13:24 when He commanded us to "make every effort to enter through the narrow gate." James 2:14-26 teaches that saving faith produces good deeds, and that faith without deeds is dead and useless and unable to save. The Apostle Paul, who taught that we are saved by grace, had this to say about the gospel he preached:
"First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." "Acts 26:20It appears that there exist today two gospels: the one described in the Bible and the one that coincides with the easy doctrine of eternal security (also known as "once saved always saved"). Those who preach the doctrine of eternal security say that they are trusting in Jesus for their salvation. If they truly trust Him, why do they disobey Him and deny His teaching? The essence of their doctrine is a direct contradiction of the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom they say they believe.
After the Lord opened my eyes to the truth and I began to see with startling clarity that the consistent message of the New Testament is "Get Saved and Stay Saved." I started wondering how it was that no one else believed this way. I felt like I was going crazy. Either I was becoming deceived or the majority of the Christian community already was. I kept asking, "Lord, can this be right?" I was praying for the truth and had to frequently remind myself to trust that God was faithfully revealing it to me. Fortunately, the Lord provided me with two people who also hungered for the truth - my parents. I would call my mom on the phone and read her verse after verse. She would say, "Wow! It says that?" and then she would go get her Bible and look it up for herself.
With so many well-trained counter-cult ministries on the radio tirelessly investigating other ministries for potential heresy, I used to doubt the possibility that any dangerous form of false doctrine could ever gain widespread acceptance within the Christian community. How was I to know that these well-respected leaders had already embraced, and were actively defending, the most dangerous and deadly false doctrine ever conceived? This doctrine of eternal security, or "once saved always saved," takes Christians off of their spiritual guard against the eternal danger of personal sin. It allows believers to drift into a state of apostasy, totally oblivious that such is even possible.
This is about salvation! This is not a minor or peripheral issue on which we should compromise, but a foundational and essential truth concerning the eternal destination of countless souls. Not long ago, I asked an associate pastor if he and his church believe in the doctrine of eternal security. He said that although they do not believe or teach eternal security, they fellowship and work together with churches that do. He told me that he did not even consider it to be an issue at all. I found it amazing that this associate pastor, for the sake of unity, was willing to partner with (and expose his congregation to) those who preach a different, and therefore false, plan of salvation! In Ephesians 5:5-7, we are commanded not to be partners with those who deceive with empty words regarding the immoral, impure or greedy inheriting the kingdom of God. Eternal security proponents believe that there are immoral, impure and greedy Christians who will inherit the kingdom of God even though Godís Word says that we can be sure they will not. Romans 16:17-19 urges us to keep away from those whose doctrine is deceptive and contrary to sound teaching. The sound teaching found in the book of Romans and elsewhere in the New Testament states that true Christians can once again become lost and unsaved (Romans 6:15-16, 23; 8:12-13; 11:19-23; Galatians 5:21; 6:7-9; 1 Timothy 1:19; 3:6; 5:6, 8, 15; 6:21; 2 Timothy 2:12; Hebrews 2:1-3; 3:12-14; 4:1, 11; 6:4-12; 10:26-31; 12:14-17, 25; James 4:4; 5:19-20; 2 Peter 1:10-11; 2:15, 20-22; 3:9, 14-15; 1 John 5:16; Jude; Revelation 2:11; 3:3-5, 16; 13:8-10; 14:9-12; 21:7-8, 27; 22:11-15, 19), whereas "once saved always saved," by definition, denies this fact.
"Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." "John 3:20-21Verse 20 describes my previous condition. I "believed" in Jesus but would not draw near to Him because of the wickedness I cherished in my heart. He says that such people hate the light. In Romans 6:15-23, those presently under grace are warned that they can once again become slaves to sin which leads to death, or they can remain slaves to obedience which leads to eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 says that only by sowing to please the Spirit will we reap eternal life, whereas sowing to please our sinful nature will result in destruction. In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says that we cannot serve two masters, and that either we will hate the one and love the other, or we will be devoted to the one and despise the other. If sin is our master, then Jesus is not truly our Lord. He asks:
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?" "Luke 6:46I passionately oppose the teaching of eternal security because I had been blinded and deceived by it for many years. If I had died I would have died in my sins and gone to hell. I thank God that He is patient and merciful and that He opened my eyes to the truth. This is my testimony of how God granted me repentance and gave me knowledge of the Scriptures to make me wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 3:15).
Completed September 9, 2004.
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