Our answer to this question defines what we think of God and salvation. If not answered correctly, it can leave us with a highly distorted view of God.
When I first came to the Lord and started my journey through the Bible, I used to take scripture out of context and wrongly divide the truth. I didn’t see a difference between the OT and the NT. I didn’t consider the many dispensations or today’s covenant of grace. Therefore, I didn’t really understand the message of the gospel and the meaning of salvation.
If you were like me, you used to take the Bible as a weapon to condemn everyone to hell. I failed to realize my own needs and how I was far from perfect too!
My distorted view of God began to restructure once I got a hold of God’s grace. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32, NIV).
“For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17, NKJV).
As my Pastor Dr. Creflo Dollar says all the time, “Grace is the truth that sets man free. Grace is truth and it is the person of Jesus Christ!”
To settle this debate right now, we can consider the entirety of the Word of God, and a few bible verses in the NT. Why did Jesus come in the first place? Because man was fallen and doomed to eternal death. So, God sent His One and Only Son Jesus to perfect and fulfill the law of Moses so that anyone can receive salvation (eternal relationship with God) through Jesus’ finished works on the cross. Therefore, it is by FAITH alone in Jesus that we’ve been saved. There’s nothing we did or could ever do to deserve or earn salvation. So how in the world could anyone other than God himself (Jesus), lose something that we received through a spiritual faith encounter?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV).
“For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved…for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:10, 13, NIV).
John 3:16-18 (NIV), “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”
In my current class (John’s Writings and General Epistles), we are comparing what faith means in Hebrews 6 and 11 and how it ties to Romans. Take a look at my answers to this week’s discussion post:
How does the book of Hebrews portray “faith”, especially in chapter 11?
The Bible states in Hebrews 11:1 (New International Version), “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” “Faith includes living in consciousness of unseen realities (11:1b, 27) and steadfastly holding on until hope is realized (11:1a, 8-16, 24-26)” (Marshall, Travis, & Paul, 2011, p. 249). The entire eleventh chapter of Hebrews talks about popular people of God from ancient times who were known for their faith. “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13, NIV). Faith has substance. Faith trusts that God will do what He said no matter what. Yes, the people in Hebrews died, but they still reached their ultimate goal. God wanted to give them an eternal resting place, not just temporal earthly things. “All these heroes of faith ‘did not receive what was promised’ because in God’s purpose they were waiting for Christ’s faithful people to join them (11:39-40)” (Marshall et al., 2011, p. 249).
What does this concept of faith relate to the people who deserted Jesus and went back to the world in chapter 6?
In Hebrews chapter six, the author says that spiritually maturity is dangerous because it leads to people turning away from their faith (6:1). “For if any fall away after experiencing the saving power of God, ‘it is impossible to restore them again to repentance’ (6:4-8). So, they should press on with patience, placing their hope in God’s secure promises (6:9-20)” (Marshall et al., 2011, pp. 247-48). Hebrews 6:4, says that it’s impossible for people to come back to God if they turn away after experiencing a genuine Christian life. The concept of ‘once saved, always saved’ is countered in 6:4-8. I always believed that people could lose their salvation. But now that I have a better understanding of grace, I question this. If you’re truly saved, the holy spirit will come and live in you until you go to heaven. So, I think that chapter 6 is talking about people who were never saved in the first place. They are people who play Christian and don’t have a heart for God. Therefore, it is impossible for them to be saved…
[Reference: Marshall, I. H., Travis, S., & Paul, I. (2011). Exploring the New Testament: A guide to the letters and Revelation (Volume 2).Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press]
First of all, I am not going to believe every word in my textbook as truth because my trust is in God’s inspired Word. I think the commentators in this book may come from a tough christian denominational background or they simply have a distorted view of God. Overall, I believe they they took Hebrews 6:4-8 and 10:26-31 out of context. Have they consider the original audience, setting, background, cultural-context, or the author’s true intentions?
Anyway, the point I am trying to get across is that we are saved by grace through faith, and we can’t ever lose what God has given us. Jesus said, “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37, NIV).
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day” (John 6:39, NIV).
So to answer this tough question…. Yes, once you’re saved, you’re always saved! Nothing can separate us from the love of God and the Father’s hand.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39, NIV).