From Initial to Final Salvation, 2

Dan Corner

initial salvation

Saved And Salvation Used In Different Ways

salvation nearer now than when first believed At different times, the Lord taught an initial and final salvation with his usage of the word saved. In the following verse he refers to initial salvation:

Then He said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you. Go in peace" (Lk. 7:50, NKJV).
But in Mt. 10:22, Jesus told those who were already saved (vv. 1,2) that they would be hated for his name's sake and he mentioned their need to endure to the end of their lives for salvation's sake:

And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved (NKJV).
This last passage is one of the clearest in all of Scripture to prove a conditional security. In it, Jesus refers to final salvation, or an actual entrance into the kingdom of God. Here, just like with the rich, young ruler, the word saved is referring to an entrance into the kingdom (Lk. 18:25 cf. v. 26).

Similarly, Paul referred to final salvation as he wrote believers from two different church groups:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12, KJV).
And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed (Rom. 13:11, NKJV).
In the latter passage, Paul referred to a salvation that was nearer for the Christians than when they first believed. This is final salvation, and to reap eternal life he said we must continue to sow to please the Spirit, instead of our own sinful natures, and do not give up (Gal. 6:7-10). This is true grace teaching.

At yet a different time, Paul wrote:

Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved (1 Cor. 10:32,33, NKJV).
Let's take a close look at this passage. Paul said of himself that he was seeking the good of many that they may be saved. But to whom was he referring? Verse 32 surprisingly shows it was Jews, Greeks and the church of God! This means those who never came to the point of saving faith, as well as those who have, are the ones to whom he referred. Hence, he said all men in verse 33. The point is, Paul wanted those who belonged to the church of God to be saved in the sense of actually entering the kingdom of God. This statement from Paul is related to what he wrote in 1 Cor. 8:10-13:

For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall (NIV).
Clearly, Paul believed one who was in Christ could fall and be destroyed through an example of a Christian having knowledge who was eating in an idol's temple.

Two Times To Overcome

At the point of initial salvation, we are shown to be overcomers:

You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world (1 Jn. 4:4, NKJV).
See also 1 Jn. 2:13,14; 5:4,5.

Yet in a different sense, the Lord referred to final salvation when he addressed those already saved. He stated that we must be faithful to the point of death to overcome and not be hurt by the second death:

Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death (Rev. 2:10,11, NIV).
See also Rev. 2:7,17,26; 3:5,12,21.

These verses were all addressed to those who already overcame in the sense of 1 Jn. 5:4,5 but have not overcome by being faithful to the point of death so they would not get hurt by the lake of fire.

Paul also used overcome in this same sense as he wrote to those who already overcame for initial salvation:

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:21, NIV).
Note: evil is ever trying to overtake the Christian. This reflects our continuous, spiritual warfare even after the point of initial salvation.

Son Used In Two Ways

We clearly become a son of God at the moment of our faith in Christ, that is, at initial salvation. Paul and John, respectively, wrote of this:

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26, NKJV).
Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is (1 Jn. 3:2, NKJV).
Yet we must be an overcomer in the sense of entering the kingdom to be God's son in eternity and not have a place in the lake of fire:

He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death (Rev. 21:7,8, NKJV).
Rev. 21:8 describes the non-overcomers, that is, the ones who don't inherit the kingdom (vv. 1-7) or as Paul stated earlier those who reap destruction (Gal. 6:8).

Again, the book of Revelation was written to people who had already experienced initial salvation (Rev. 1:4,11). Yet, the same would have to overcome by being faithful to Jesus to the point of their physical death, so they would not be hurt by the second death, also known as the lake of fire (Rev. 2:10,11; 12:11 cf. 21:8).

Revealed Other Ways

The distinction between initial and final salvation also surfaces in certain individual verses like 1 Pet. 1:9:

For you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (NIV).
Peter wrote this to people who already had been saved. This is apparent since they were redeemed with the precious blood of Jesus (1:18,19) and were born again (1:23). Yet, Peter mentions they are receiving ... the salvation of their souls! This is the final goal of their faith. This type of talk, again, reflects an aspect of salvation that even born again people have not received in its entirety.

Paul's Justification

Paul refers to an aspect of justification which is seldom mentioned:

So that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7, NIV).
In contrast to this and other clear Scriptures, but yet in conformity with OSAS, MacArthur wrote:

It is a done deal, not a goal we work toward. Eternal life is a present possession, not a future hope.
Dear reader, which contrasting message will you believe?

1 Peter 4:18

In Peter's first epistle, he wrote:

And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?" (1 Pet. 4:18, NIV).
Peter used the word saved in that passage the same way he heard the Lord use it in Mt. 10:22. Furthermore, he said it is hard for the righteous to be saved. Again, that was addressed to those who were already righteous (or saved)! Perhaps Peter had Lk. 13:24 in mind when he wrote that.

We are also told by Peter to add to our faith in Christ, of our own free will, various virtues to make our calling and election sure (2 Pet. 1:5-10). [Verse 10 does not refer to salvation assurance as some say, but rather to making our election sure. This passage is a real problem for the Augustine-Calvin double predestination theory.]

In addition to all of the aforementioned, it is also possible for the Christian, between initial and final salvation, to fall from grace to the point where Christ is no longer of any value (Gal. 5:2-4), to be disowned by Christ himself for disowning him (Mt. 10:33), to become an enemy of God again by choosing to be a friend of this world (Jam. 4:4b), etc. Unfortunately, spiritual disasters like these have happened to people who were once saved, as disturbing as it may be to ponder.

In clear contrast to Mt. 18:34,35 and especially Jam. 4:4, Hal Lindsey wrote:

We have been justified and now God is at peace with us and nothing will ever cause Him to stop being at peace with us (italics his).

Matthew 18:1-3

Besides all of these Scriptures, Jesus shockingly told those who were already saved they would not enter the kingdom of heaven unless they would change and become like little children (Mt. 18:1-3)! Of course, this is understandably denied by the OSAS crowd, but irrefutably supported by the immediate context.

J. Vernon McGee interprets verse 3:

He called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said: "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children ..." (v. 3). You have to be converted, of course, but you have to become as a little child if you are going to become great in the kingdom of heaven. He is speaking to them about a conversion and then about their conduct.
Dear reader, in the final analysis, you must decide for yourself how you will understand Mt. 18:3, but below is the entire verse, with the missing words bolded:

... and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 18:3, KJV).
Clearly then, in the light of all the cited material, after initial salvation a Christian's entrance into the kingdom of God can be negated. This basic, but often denied, truth explains those awkward passages on eternal life, which declare it to be a hope yet to be reaped and received in the age to come, but only for those who persist in doing good and don't give up. This was the original grace teaching.

It is only when one embraces a conditional view for the believer in Christ that all of these passages on eternal life, the different ways saved is used, etc. can be reconciled to yield one harmonious picture of the believer's spiritual race now. That picture is given piece by piece throughout the Scriptures.

Those Who Actually Enter The Kingdom

We can learn much by pondering the various ways the overcomer of Rev. 21:7, who inherits the kingdom, is described elsewhere in Scripture. This is also the person who gets on the road to life and faithfully endures to the end to be saved.

Dear reader, as you reflect upon the following, ask yourself: Are these verses which refer to those who enter the kingdom describing me?

Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven .... Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock (Mt. 7:21,24, NIV).
And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved (Mt. 10:22, NKJV).
Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me." Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?" The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" (Mt. 25:34-40, NIV).
He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice" (Lk. 8:21, NIV).
And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation (Jn. 5:29, KJV).
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me (Jn. 10:27, KJV).
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life (Rom. 2:7, NIV).
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Gal. 6:8-10, NIV).
And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him (Heb. 5:9, NKJV).
Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? (Jam. 2:5, KJV).
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (Rev. 12:11, NIV).
They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings -- and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers (Rev. 17:14, NIV).
If you didn't readily know these important verses, perhaps you need to spend quality time pondering and even memorizing them.

Those Thrown Into Eternal Fire

Much to the surprise of many, Scripture does not say anywhere that the ones who will end up in eternal fire are people who never had a moment of true faith, as we are being taught in our hour:

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt. 13:41,42, NIV).
Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me." They also will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?" He will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life (Mt. 25:41-46, NIV).
... those who have done evil will rise to be condemned (Jn. 5:29, NIV).
If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned (Jn. 15:6, NIV).
But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Rom. 2:8,9, NIV).
The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers. Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:7-10, NIV).
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21, NIV).
The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life (Gal. 6:8, NIV).
For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person -- such a man is an idolater -- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them (Eph. 5:5-7, NIV).
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death (Rev. 21:8, NIV).
Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life (Rev. 21:27, NIV).
But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie (Rev. 22:15, NKJV).

Run With Perseverance

In view of our spiritual race, which has been described in various ways, Heb. 12:1-4 appropriately says:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood (NIV).
Unlike some, Paul kept the faith to the very end of his life (2 Tim. 4:7). Dear saint of God, you can too, but you must faithfully follow the Scriptural directions cited in the Bible as to how this is done. (See the Safeguards chapter for various things to keep in remembrance.) Remember, the Christian in this life will reap eternal life, only if he doesn't give up sowing to please the Spirit (Gal. 6:8-10).

Acts 14:22 seems to be especially important to remember:

Strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. "We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God," they said (NIV).
Be encouraged, dear saint, it's easier to stay on the road that leads to life than to actually get on it in the first place, which is equated to passing from death to life and from darkness to light. Multitudes will, in the end, actually enter the kingdom (Heb. 11:12; Rev. 7:9-17), yet we are all incapable in our own strength! All of us must lean heavily on God, while we do our part, as Scripture teaches. Notice the synergism in Rom. 8:13:

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live (Rom. 8:13, NIV).
We are responsible to put to death the misdeeds of the body, but this can only be done by the Spirit!

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might (Eph. 6:10, NKJV).

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