How simple is that? It couldn’t get simpler, in fact. Nor can you get more saved.
At the same time, our relentless Adversary would like to muddy matters by:
A. Convincing us that as we walk on the path of salvation we personally have zero to do with our growth, outcome, or ongoing sanctification; AND/OR
B. Nothing we might choose to do, while in our relationship with our Lord, can in any manner jeopardize our position in Him.
Both are faulty.
At the end of the day, or better yet, at the end of this age, what stands firm is the word of God (hey, the Word even goes beyond THAT AGE). Whatever convincing arguments or temporarily popular doctrines that might be put forth will be weighed against the entirety of the Word, which we are clearly told will last forever.
1 Pet 1:25
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.” Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you.
Of further note is that God does not change. Ever. He didn’t go from easily-angered to easily-pacified because His Son came and died for our sins. In fact, the scriptures that assure us God does not change, pointing to His never-ending mercy, are found in Malachi, in the Old Testament.
6 “For I am the LORD, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
Point is – as we dare to press in to the Word of God, we will understand the fullness and workings of a God Who:
A. Is not willing that any should perish; and yet at the same time has
B. Granted to every individual a free will, and it is the poor and consistently rebellious exercising of that free will to contradict the purposes of God that has caused and will continue to cause men to perish.
And our free wills are not circumcised (cut away) from our hearts when we get saved.
To the contrary, a love relationship requires an ongoing exercise of free will by all parties involved. Ask any happily married couple. Ask any divorced couple.
Paul was so convinced of the ongoing free-choice volatility of man’s will that he said:
28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.
29 To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.
Paul, the writer of most of the New Testament, the same man who admonished the Ephesians to redeem the time, tells us not only that he himself was warning every man, but that it was the inner working of the Spirit in him that was initiating this energizing and motivation to warn. He was being obedient to the Spirit in warning EVERY man.
Some Prophetic Insight:
It is the Spirit of God that is right now moving upon the hearts of God-fearing teachers, preachers, prophets and seers, convicting and convincing them to not hold back any truths of Scripture. We are in a season where floodwaters of weak and powerless doctrine would try to overflow the church, immobilizing us in complacency and false grace. God is lifting up ones who will speak all the truth at all time, at all cost.
BACK TO PAUL IN COLOSSIANS:
There is indeed something about which to warn every man, both saved and unsaved. That warning is to press into the Lord – either coming into salvation for the first time (if one is not yet saved) or purposely continuing to press into salvation, so that the work that was become in us can be completed successfully, and fully.
1 Pet 1:22
22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart,
There’s some proof text as to self-purification, spoken to the ones who had already received the grace of salvation, and now, finally, had the freedom to choose to come into a deeper place with God. They could purify themselves. Oh boy. They had something to do with their walk. Go figure.
1 Tim 4:16
16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
Careful obedience to the Word will save both yourself and others. Hey – aren’t I already saved? Yes you are, and yes there’s more. Salvation – an ongoing, growing encounter with God.
35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.
36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
37 “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
The writer of Hebrews warns his readers not to make the terrible choice (by inaction or by allowing hardness of heart to set in) of casting away their confidence. He tells them they need to stick with the program, and then tells them (v38) that God is not too happy with those who draw back, to perdition. V39 ends on a high-note, the hopeful proclamation that the readers will not be in that group (the same group as mentioned in 1 Cor 10 and in Jude, and elsewhere, by the way).
“Perdition” (Heb 10:39) is taken from the Latin. You French students will recall that “perdre” is the verb meaning “to lose”.
Amazing Grace: “I once was lost but now I’m found” – and Hebrews says don’t return to the lost place again. It’s worse the second time.
Peter confirms that:
2 Pet 2:20-22
20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.
21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
They had known, had been cleansed, and then went back to the place from which they had been delivered. And the end result was way worse.
For us to conclude that a church-going, hand-raising, song-singing, testimony-bearing saint who wholly returns to the worldly lifestyle was therefore NEVER SAVED is actually building a case for works having to be accomplished in order for salvation to be truly manifested. That contradicts grace at its very roots. If we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts our salvation experience begins. Simple. Pure.
How saved are we? 100%!
In that 100% do we have something to say about the outcome of our faith? Much, and every day.
Is there more than what I am walking in?
And after 40 years of redemption, I am thrilled to say I am still discovering the greatness of God, and the still-being-revealed intensity of the salvation experience. I couldn’t have handled it all, earlier. It’s intended to be that way.
The gospel remains an invitation to increasing intimacy and greater maturity:
14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
3 And this we will do if God permits.
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
Maturity, growth, greater relationship, all available as we continue to walk this out.
Hebrews chapter 6 then lists some basic doctrines of our faith that the church today often won’t even address.
And then verse 4 tells us we’re not to screw up our having-been-fully-delivered, enlightenment experience, because its restoration, according to these verses, would be impossible. Wow. That’s sobering, as it ought to be.
So where is the line, where is the cliff, over which, if someone walks, he is once again lost, and this time forever? We don’t know. There is One who corrects, and warns, and judges. Thank God for God.
Instead we’re told to lay hold of our 100% salvation and to press in – but not with a false sense of no-matter-what-I-do-I’m-fine attitude. It certainly didn’t work that way for Esau. Or Ananias and Sapphira:
Paul – who I am inclined to rely upon for doctrinal accuracy more than any current doctrine-du-jour, puts it this way – telling us he hadn’t arrived yet (can you comprehend the silliness of us saying we, but not Paul during his life journey, have already arrived?):
13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you.
16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame– who set their mind on earthly things.
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.
Ain’t there yet, but getting there.
The mature will understand this (the immature, likely not).
Paul (like Jude, talking about love-feast attendees) says there’s some even some walking a walk, but it’s not THE walk, because they mind earthly things and would perhaps rather recite analogies than tremble at scriptural accuracy. Dangerous.
We’re on a journey to a destination to which we have not yet arrived (v20), but we’re getting there day by day. THE Magical Mystery Tour, for sure!
Blessed is the man whose heart is set on pilgrimage.
A wonderful gospel. Not all that complex, but still chock full of surprises and yet to be revealed glories as we choose to press in the One Who is worthy, trembling at His word, declaring and embracing His awesome power and His relentless pursuit of us.
Salvation is a journey. Believing is an ongoing active state, not a threshold into a room we can never leave. Christ is our reward.
1 Pet 1:6-16
6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,
7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,
8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
9 receiving the end of your faith– the salvation of your souls.
(CONTINUING IN PETER – SOME FAVORITE VERSES that tell us the OT writers were told by the Spirit that THEY were specifically writing to US – NT believers – so we would do well to not write off the OT as non-applicable. We’re NOT accountable to the Mosaic law. We ARE accountable to the God who never changes)
10 Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you,
11 searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow.
12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven– things which angels desire to look into.
BOTTOM LINE – Here’s what we can choose to do, in cooperation with the Spirit of grace)
13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance;
15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
All Scriptures NKJV.