The question of eternal security is usually one asked by Christians. And this 2-article series is specifically addressing professing Christians, but certainly has value to those of other belief systems or atheists. This article clearly teaches how to become a Christian if you aren't one already or want to make sure that you are.
Before specifically answering questions like, "Can a Christian lose their salvation?" or "Is once saved always saved true?", I will ask the first question. Are you sure you're a Christian?
I write this article in America, where studies have shown that the vast majority of people claim to be Christian. Pew Forum claims that 78.4% of Americans identify themselves as Christian. Wikipedia says 73-80%, and a 2012 Gallup Poll finds a statistic of 77%. All and all, that's a lot of people in the United States who think they are Christians. But looking at the general moral landscape in America, could that really be true? That is for each professing Christian to decide for himself or herself, whether you are in America or anywhere else in the world.
The apostles Paul, Peter, and John all prompted us to examine the validity of our own faith:
Paul said, "Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified." (II Corinthians 13:5, NKJV)
Peter taught that if Christ's divine power was truly operating in our lives, we would add to our lives faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love (II Peter 1:1-8). He concluded with, "For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble." (II Peter 1:9,10, NKJV)
John got straight to the point:
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. – I John 2:3-5, NKJV
Nobody is perfect, this is true. Even if we are Christians, we will still have a hard time choosing between doing our own thing and the desires of the Holy Spirit who lives within us (Galatians 5:16,17). But do we have a conscience about how we live? Let's test ourselves like Paul told us to. Do we seek to live by the godly character that Peter spoke of as best as possible? Do we care whether or not we obey God's commandments as John said? We do not earn our salvation by obeying God. We could never be good enough. We are only saved by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:10-26). But if we are true Christians led by the Spirit of God, we should at least want to obey Him because we are His spiritual children and have an obligation to our Father in heaven (Romans 8:1-16).
Just another quick question. Do you care whether or not you go to church?
We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. – Hebrews 10:25, GW
They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us. – I John 2:19, HCSB
How many of you have left the church once your parents couldn't force you any longer? Church attendance has been polled at 37-40% of Americans at best. So at least half of all professing Christians in the United States don't even attend Church. Don’t get me wrong. It doesn’t mean you are not a Christian if life’s circumstances have driven you out of church, but it’s something to think about. It's just one more way to examine your faith.
No matter what kind of professing Christian you are–whether or not you attend Church, whether you are Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox–every one becomes a Christian at a specific point in time. How many people in the church really know how to become a Christian? Nobody is born a Christian. They become one at a point in time by choice–when they recognized Christ as their only way of salvation, were forgiven of their sins, and were born spiritually (John 1:12,13; 3:1-7). Many people can't point to a specific moment or a specific prayer. That doesn't mean you aren't a Christian. Your eternal security is dependent on where your heart is right now. What do you believe right now?
Do you believe the Bible?
Do you believe that the original manuscripts of the Bible are the inspired word of God in their entirety (II Timothy 3:16,17; II Peter 1:20,21)? Or do you pick out just the things you like and discard the rest. If you do not believe it all, how do you know what to really believe–if anything?
Do you believe you are a sinner?
Do you realize that you were born a sinner, that death is both physical and spiritual, and that Jesus had to die in your place to save you from spiritual death (Romans 5:12; Romans 6:23; Romans 5:8,9)? Without Jesus’ death, we cannot have any sense of eternal security.
Do you remember ever feeling guilty about your sins? Or worse, did you always think you were a pretty decent person ever since you can remember? That's dangerous. Remember, we were all born sinners. If all you ever did wrong in your life was gossip a little, you are no better than a murderer in God's eyes. One sin separates us from a relationship with God (James 2:10).
Everybody has heard the phrase, "repent of your sins." Repent means a willingness to change the direction of your life because of your natural tendency to sin. The reason we believe in Jesus Christ is because we know He died in our place because of our sins. So if we know He took our place so we could live forever, that means we need to also have a change of heart in how we live. Repentance of sin and faith in Jesus Christ are a package deal:
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. – Acts 2:38, NKJV
The gift of the Holy Spirit is where being spiritually reborn comes in. At whatever point in time we truly believed in Christ, the Holy Spirit came inside of us to stay with us (Galatians 3:14; Ephesians 1:12-14). That is how we can now enjoy a relationship with God. He is inside of us and His Spirit helps us to live the way God wants us to.
Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to God?
According to statistics, the majority of professing Christians in America believes that there are many paths that lead to God or eternal life. What does the Bible say?
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. – John 14:6, NKJV
Let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, …Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. – Acts 4:10-12, NKJV
Another important thing to note is that Jesus is also the only Christ, the only Messiah. There are no other christs before or after Jesus. Jesus Christ alone can give us eternal security.
Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14, NKJV
Jesus is described as "the Word" in John's gospel. That is fitting because He was sent here in the flesh of a baby to fulfil a heavenly mission. He came to present God's Word in person. He is declared to be "the only begotten of the Father." He took that Title on because He was born of a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit and came, not only to die for our sins, but to show us how to become rightful children of the Father. But only Jesus Christ was divine as a human. We can never attain the same stature.
Jesus Christ once tested the faith of His disciples, and was pleased with Peter's answer:
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” – Matthew 16:15,16, NKJV
Peter not only acknowledged Jesus as the Son of God, but also as the Christ. That is a running theme no matter what we believe–that Jesus is the only Christ
The apostle John also confirmed that admitting that Jesus is the Son of God is one of the ways to examine our faith. He said, "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God." (I John 4:15, NKJV)
Do you believe that Jesus is God in the flesh?
Jesus took on the Title of Son of God because of His purpose for coming to earth in the flesh, but it is important that we recognize that Jesus is also God Himself. There is One God in three Persons–God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; I John 5:7). There are no other gods in heaven, space, or earth (Isaiah 37:16; 43:11; 44:6; I Cor. 8:6; Eph. 4:6; I Tim. 2:5). We are NOT gods ourselves and there is no divine energy flowing through all of creation that makes us equally god.
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” – Matthew 1:23, NKJV
And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh. – I Timothy 3:16a, NKJV
By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. – I John 4:2,3a, NKJV
The question of how to become a Christian is answered by what we believe and say in our hearts and our lips.
Have you passed the test? Have you examined your faith? Do you believe in the full inspiration of Scripture? Do you believe you are a sinner? Do you believe that Jesus is the only way to God and that He is the only Christ? Do you believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God? Do you believe that Jesus is God in the flesh? And finally, do you believe that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead? Those are probably the first important questions we should ask ourselves.
If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. – Romans 10:9,10, HCSB
If you believe all this, perhaps you truly are a Christian. You must decide for yourself. It is your life and your eternity.
If you are unsure of how to become a Christian, or have come to recognize truths that you didn’t know before, I encourage you to make confession to God today:
Father God, thank you for sending Jesus to die on the cross in my place. I believe that you raised Him from the dead. I repent of my sins and I confess that Jesus is Lord. I confess that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. I confess that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is Christ come in the flesh. Please forgive me. Cleanse me in the blood of Jesus and fill me with your Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name, Amen.
If you have sincerely prayed this prayer or are already assured that you are a Christian, you cannot lose your salvation. Nothing can take away your eternal relationship with our Creator–nothing you do or don’t do. You have been bought with the price of Jesus’ blood (I Cor. 7:23). No take-backs!
In the next article, we will clearly see what the Scriptures teach about that: Understanding eternal security Bible-style II, You can't lose it