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Continue in the Faith

All of this concerns the day we got saved and where we spend eternity. How does all of this affect our lives today? What does all of this have to do with the verse I quoted at the beginning of this lesson: “The just shall live by his faith”?

Salvation, like sanctification, is a process. The Scriptures speak of salvation as a past event.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began (2 Tim. 1:8-9).

The Scriptures also speak of salvation as a future event.

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life (Rom. 5:9-10).

So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation (Heb. 9:28).

That is why the Scriptures speak of us as being saved.

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Cor. 1:18).

For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing (2 Cor. 2:15).

That is also why Jesus says that those who endure to the end will be saved.

“And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 10:22).

Notice that Jesus did not say this to unbelievers but to believers, his disciples.

Those who support Calvinism believe that the believer will endure to the end, that the believer cannot lose his salvation. They believe in the perseverance of the saints. Since God in his sovereignty chose who would be saved, and since the will of God cannot be thwarted, all of the chosen ones will endure (persevere) until the end and be saved. The believer’s perseverance, therefore, depends on God’s ability to make him or her persevere. Even some Arminians believe that once a person has freely chosen to be saved, God will make sure he perseveres. And there are Scriptures to back this up.

Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it (1 Thess. 5:23-24).

“This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day” (John 6:39).

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand (John 10:27-30).

However, the majority of those who support Arminianism believe that the believer can lose his salvation. They believe it is possible for a believer to fall from grace. Since the believer freely chose to be saved, he or she can endure to the end only if he or she continually chooses to do so. The believer’s perseverance, therefore, depends on the believer’s ability to make himself or herself persevere. And there are Scriptures to back this up.

“Fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28). (Notice again that he said this to his disciples, which means that it is possible for the disciples of Jesus to end up in hell.)

You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off (Rom. 11:16-22).

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:26-31).

See also 2 Pet. 2:20-21 and Heb. 6:4-8.

When it comes to enduring to the end, therefore, the Scriptures teach both: God helps us to persevere but we must choose to persevere.

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:10-11).

Therefore, my beloved, as you 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; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure (Phil 2:12-13).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Pet. 1:3-5). (We are kept by God, but through faith.)

And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister (Col. 1:21-23).

These verses from Colossians tell us how we can lose our salvation. Eph. 2:8-9 tells us that we do not gain our salvation through works, so we do not lose our salvation by works. Those verses also tell us that we gain salvation by grace through faith. Therefore, we lose our salvation through unbelief. That is why Paul admonishes the Colossians to “continue in the faith.”  That is also why the writer to the Hebrews warns us not to develop “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12-4:11).

Salvation is a process, but we can choose to drop out of the process. Suppose that you have a brain tumor and the doctor says, “I can remove it in an operation, but first you must take these medications, change your diet, and go through six weeks of chemotherapy.” If you do all of those things and you are cured of the tumor, who gets the credit? The doctor does, because he knew what to do. But if you die from the tumor because you decided that it was too much trouble to take the medications, that you weren’t going to change your diet because you really like the food you eat, and that you weren’t going through the chemotherapy because you don’t like the side effects it produces, so the doctor was unable to perform the operation, whose fault is that? It’s your fault. God has set things up so that if we make it to heaven, he gets all the credit, but if we do not make it, we get all the blame.

The point is that we should not take our salvation for granted. Salvation is a precious gift which only God can give, but we can throw the gift away. Salvation is a process which only God can accomplish, but we can choose to drop out of the process.

Let me end this with this quote from Heb. 10:38-39:

“Now the just shall live by faith;
But if
anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.

Do not be one of those who draw back to perdition. Be one of those who believe to the saving of the soul. Continue in the faith.

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