Sunday, January 15, 2006

Once Saved, Always Saved

Once Saved, Always Saved
Text: Romans 10:9,10


Summary

Whoever once truly believes that Jesus is raised from the dead, and confesses that Jesus is Lord, will go to heaven when he or she dies. Such a person will go to heaven when he or she dies no matter what work (or lack of work) may accompany such faith.


Introduction

The Presbyterians trace their heritage to John Calvin, one of the most important leaders of the Reformation. He improved on the theology of Martin Luther. The distinctiveness of the Presbyterian or Reformed theology can be summarized as TULIP.

  • Total depravity of man. Man is completely incapable of reaching out towards God. Man is totally at enmity with God (cf. Romans 3:10-23)

  • Unconditional election by the grace of God. There is absolutely no condition in any person for which God would save him. As a matter of fact, long before man was created, God chose or predestined some to everlasting life. He did it out of his own mere good pleasure (cf. Ephesians 1:4,5)

  • Limited atonement. God in his infinite mercy, in order to accomplish the planned redemption, sent his own Son, Jesus Christ, to die as a substitute for the sins of a large but specific number of people (cf. Romans 8:29,30).

  • Irresistible grace of God. This is the effectual work of the Holy Spirit moving upon a particular person whom He has called, applying the work of redemption (cf. John 3:5,6)

  • Perseverance of the saints. This is that gracious work of sanctification whereby he enables a saved person to persevere to the end. (cf. Romans 8:30,38,39 and Philippians 1:6)

The perseverance of the saints. Once saved, always saved.

A. Once Saved

Romans 10:9,10
9 That 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.
10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified,
and
it is with your mouth that you confess
and are saved.


Paraphrased, the passage means whoever once truly believes that Jesus is raised from the dead, and confesses that Jesus is Lord, will go to heaven when he or she dies. Such a person will go to heaven when he or she dies no matter what work (or lack of work) may accompany such faith.

There are two component to be saved, signifying the internal (the heart) and the external (the mouth).

  1. Believe in your heart that Jesus has raised from the dead.
Internal is believing in your heart that Jesus has raised from the dead. It is to believe that something supernatural has occurred. That this Jesus of Nazarene, who was born in Bethlehem about 2000 years ago, has died and came back to life again. Paul asked, ”Can you believe this?” You with your scientific minds. You with your determination that you must see and touch something before you want to believe. Earlier in the book of Romans, Paul has been talking about justification by faith. That Jesus, by his death on the cross and by his blood has paid the price for us. We are justified and regarded as righteous by God because of what Jesus has done. Yet, when Paul comes to the point about salvation, he said one of two things you need to believe is that Jesus has raised from the dead. Look at the day of Pentecost. Peter preached, his theme is on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and three thousands believed and were saved. Paul warned the church in Corinth that 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. (1 Cor.15:14-17)


  1. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.
The second component is to confess that Jesus is Lord. This is the external deed. Confess, the Greek homologeo (confess) has the same root meaning of agreeing with or speaking of the same truth. It means we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord. Lord of our lives. It means that we trust in Jesus enough to call Him Lord. It also means the Holy Spirit is working in our lives.
no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor.12:3b).

To receive salvation, we need only to believe that Jesus has raised from the dead and confess that He is Lord. You do not need to know any theology. Salvation is a free gift of God. This is why it is so hard for some people to accept. It is so easy. And it is free. We have been brought up in a culture where we are told that is no such thing as a free lunch. Everything comes with a hidden price tag. Well, there is such a thing that is free. Jesus has brought us free salvation. And don’t let anyone tell you different. Don’t let someone tell you that you can only be saved if you have lived a holy life or you must be water baptized in a particular church or in a particular manner or you have had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Paul said believe in the resurrection of Jesus and confess that he is Lord then you are saved.



B. Always Saved

There are three component to the perseverance of salvation:

  1. God’s purpose
The Bible teaches that God will saves those He chose. Paul declares in answer to the question:
(Rom 8:35) 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? Answer:
(Rom 8:29,30) 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

(Rom 8:38,39) 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 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.
Jesus said (John 10:27-30)
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one."



  1. Jesus’ intercession
The author of Hebrews wrote (Heb 7:25)
25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
Jesus in John 17 prayed, among other things that the Father would keep those who believe and that they might enjoy the blessings of eternal fellowship with him.



  1. God’s ability to keep
Paul wrote:
(Phil.1:6)
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

(2 Tim 1:12)
12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.

Once saved, always saved. It is a great doctrine for us to believe in and hang onto. Whoever once truly believes that Jesus is raised from the dead, and confesses that Jesus is Lord, will go to heaven when he or she dies. Such a person will go to heaven when he or she dies no matter what work (or lack of work) may accompany such faith.

Let me clarify here the difference between salvation and sanctification. When we are saved, three things happened.

  • We are imputed righteous in God’ sight.

  • We become adopted sons and daughters of God, meaning we become a ‘new creation’.

  • We receive the Holy Spirit.
Sanctification/regeneration/spiritual growth and bearing of spiritual fruits/spiritual formation occurs after salvation and is a totally separate event. Many pain and crisis can be avoided if we recognize this fact. Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Christ in every aspect of our lives.
Lessons for us:

How can believing ‘once saved, always saved’ affect the way we live our lives. Let me give you three examples:


  1. Basis for joy and security.
Without the assurance of salvation, our Christian lives will be a roller coaster of fear and insecurity.
We have to be contantly to be on the alert that we do not sin against God. Imagine the insecurity. If we die at the moment we are far from God, we lose our salvation and go to hell. That means we must be constantly trying to be good, trying to work for our salvation. We know how easily we back backslide. How weak our fresh are. How often we know what is the right thing to do and yet we do not do it. How often we struggle with pride, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, anger, greed, avarice and lack of faith. So how to have joy and security in the Lord. Our Christian life will be a life of fear.

Emperor Constantine refused to be baptized until he is close to death. He feared that if he receives his salvation early and was baptized, if he sinned, he would lose his salvation. So he waited until the last minute to be safe.
The Roman Catholics has the belief of purgatory. It is a place where the dead goes to have a second chance to work for their salvation. The reason is that there is no assurance of salvation. They believed that they could lose their salvation. Hence it is necessary to be given a second chance.


  1. Basis for fellowship with God.
‘Once saved, always saved’ is the foundation for our fellowship with God. It gives us the freedom to love God, to relate to Him and to worship Him. There is no fear that we would unintentionally anger Him and thus lose our salvation. Our fellowship is not based on performance but on love.
Take for example, a relationship between a husband and wife. If they take their marriage vows seriously and commit to remain together, their relationship will be different from one in which the wife said if you do not do what I want, I would leave you. In the latter, the relationship is based on the husband’s performance. If the husband do not live up to her expectation, she will pack her bags and leave.
With the assurance of salvation, we can move on in our relationship with God.


  1. Basis for rewards on the Day of Judgement.
Whoever once truly believes that Jesus is raised from the dead, and confesses that Jesus is Lord, will go to heaven when he or she dies. Such a person will go to heaven when he or she dies no matter what work (or lack of work) may accompany such faith.

When I mention this statement, I can hear alarms bells ringing in the mind of our leaders. Alex, you must not say that. Then our people will not be motivated to be good. To be matured in Christ. To serve in church ministries. They have their ticket to heaven. They are going to sit back and relax.

Well, let me tell you something. Yes, you have your ticket to heaven. That means you have eternal life. That means that you will not spend eternity roasting in hell. But what are you going to do in heaven. And what you do now after you are saved to the time when you reach heaven has eternal significance.

The Bible taught that there is a Day of Judgement. Christ himself will judge. All men will be judged; none will be absent. Even the angels will be passed under judgment. Every aspect of life will come into account, including the ‘secrets of men’, ‘the purposes of the heart’, and ‘every careless word’. The judgment will not be confined to unbelievers. Christians too will face a judgment. There can be no avoiding this coming judgment; it is as certain as death.

Christians will be judged by their Lord in respect of their stewardship of the talents, gifts, opportunities and responsibilities granted to them during the course of their lives. The reference to this judgment in 1 Pet. 1:17 is particularly significant in conveying its character. The divine judgment of the people of God will be a fatherly judgment. It will not be such as to place in peril the Christian’s standing within the family of God; it will have all of a father’s understanding and compassion; and yet it is not therefore to be lightly or carelessly regarded. Christ will exercise this fatherly judgment at his coming. There will be rewards.
27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (Matt. 16:27)
35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (Luke 6:35)
Paul talked about a ‘reward’ in 1 Corinthians, a ‘prize’ in Philippians and a ‘crown’ in 2 Timothy. James talked about ‘crown of life’ and Peter by the ‘crown of glory’.
Jesus said,REV 22:12 "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. (Rev.22:12)

Somehow, we take this concept of rewards lightly, as if it is beneath our dignity to motivate our behavior because of rewards. The Bible did not elaborate what this reward, prize or crown is. Paul took it seriously, willing to give all now rather than to live in a ‘rewardless’ heaven.

If rewards do not motivate you, what about punishment? For we have to give an account to Jesus on the Day of Judgement. Some scholars believe that no rewards for eternity is punishment enough. Others believe that God will punish us in other ways.

Many of us are motivated to invest for the future, either in education, in our children and in building a financial portfolio. We are advised to invest for our retirement. It is time to think of investing for eternity. The currency for investment for eternity is not ringgits or the euros or the USD but service for the kingdom of God.



Closing remarks.
C.H.Spurgeon, the great preacher of the nineteenth century, once told this story. He said he was sitting in church and listening to a rather boring sermon. His mind begins to wander. “Why is it that I am a Christian?”, Spurgeon asked himself. “I am a Christian because I heard and believed the gospel,” he thought. He continued, “But why do I believe?”. He answered, “I believe because..” Then like a flash God opened the floodgates of heaven and Spurgeon concluded. “I saw God was at the bottom of it all’.

Once saved, always saved. This is the foundation of our Christian life. God is at the bottom of it all. God is the One who calls us. He is the One who saves us. He is also the One who keeps us saved.

Soli Deo Gloria

8 comments:

The Hedonese said...

Amen, amen....

the doctrines of grace, no hope without them!

Alex Tang said...

well said.

It is a difficult doctrine to believe but it does lead to a lot of freedom in other ways.

But basically, it is as you siad, GRACE and nothing but GRACE.

The Hedonese said...

I learnt them while working at Evangel bookstore, cleaning shelves and browsing thru RC Sproul's "Grace Unknown"... :)

Wonder if Gereja Presbyterian Malaysia still does catechism with the Westminster Confession though? heheh...

Alex Tang said...

Well, that's a good place to learn Reformed Theology. I am sure R.C.Sproul helped too.

Gereja Presbyterian Malaysia is using a modified version of the Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Confession for our catechism classes.

Shalom

peter said...

Quote from your sermon:
"Without the assurance of salvation, our Christian lives will be a roller coaster of fear and insecurity.
We have to be contantly to be on the alert that we do not sin against God. Imagine the insecurity. If we die at the moment we are far from God, we lose our salvation and go to hell. That means we must be constantly trying to be good, trying to work for our salvation. We know how easily we back backslide. How weak our fresh are. How often we know what is the right thing to do and yet we do not do it. How often we struggle with pride, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, anger, greed, avarice and lack of faith. So how to have joy and security in the Lord. Our Christian life will be a life of fear.

Emperor Constantine refused to be baptized until he is close to death. He feared that if he receives his salvation early and was baptized, if he sinned, he would lose his salvation. So he waited until the last minute to be safe.
The Roman Catholics has the belief of purgatory. It is a place where the dead goes to have a second chance to work for their salvation. The reason is that there is no assurance of salvation. They believed that they could lose their salvation. Hence it is necessary to be given a second chance."


Dr Alex, with due respect, I am afraid you are misinformed on the Catholic notion of what 'purgatory' is.

Please refer to the following url -

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12575a.htm

I have quoted the passage before you referred to the Catholic's notion of 'purgatory' - the reason I did so is to put in context your comment on the Catholic's purgatory.

Reading your passage before your comments on the Catholic's purgatory, the reader may infer that Catholics therefore believe that they have no certainty of salvation, and is on a roller coaster path of insecurity and fear in their faith rather than the certainty that your denomination's beliefs has.

I also do not know why you inserted that comment on the Catholics' belief - why was it necessary?

By the way, this topic of 'grace' and 'salvation' is a huge topic, and I do not believe it can be dealt with so offhandedly.

Nevertheless, my intention in commenting, since your blog allows comments, is to draw your readers as well as your attention to what Catholics believe, which is not as written by you.

I have no intention of offending anyone, and I am not offended by your paragraph - I do believe exchange of information is important and I hope you look at it in that light.

Thank you.

Peter

Alex Tang said...

Dear Peter,

Thank you for your comments on this blog. First, I wish to state that I do have any intention of offending anyone and I ask your forgiveness if I have offended you in what I have written.

Thank you for bring my attention to the Roman Catholic Doctrine of purgatory. And thank you for your link to the Catholic Encyclopedia which explain what the doctrine of purgatory is all about.

In the context of the sermon, it is not mu intention to infer that Catholics do not have assurance of salvation and purgatory was a second chance for them. You are right to point out this error. In this section of the sermon, I was at great pains to ressure the listener that whom God has chosen will be saved. They will receive this assurance of salvation. I do not mean that Catholics are not chosen by God and do not receive their assurance of salvation. I believe it is God's grace that calls all whom He has chosen be them Catholics or others. That is why I included the Catholic in this sermon which was given in a Prebysterian church. I want to remind the listeners that the grace of salvation are given to others outside our tradtions.

I agree with you that the topic of 'grace'and 'salvation' is too large a subject to be covered by just one sermon.

Thank you for reading the blog and adding your comments. I believe in dialogue and learning from one another.

Shalom

Alex

peter said...

Thank you, Dr Alex, for your response.

Generally, I find Catholic beliefs to be fascinating, and if you are interested, do explore them online.

There is the Catholic Catechism, and the Encyclopedia.

There is also a whole lot of misunderstanding and falsehoods about Catholic beliefs, which, through repetition, becomes 'truth'.

You can refer to Catholic apologists' sites online (do a search on the net) to clear up any of these falsehoods.

As I tell Catholics too, if they want to know about other denoms or other religions, do go and find out from them directly, and not from Catholic writings about these other denoms or religions.

At the end of the day, though, my personal view is, it does not matter very much all these 'differences' between denoms - I do not remember reading about Christ talking about different denoms, after all.

Peter

Alex Tang said...

hello Peter,

I agree with you that sometimes we are too superficial and accept things without checking the facts.

I also agree with you about the denominations and the three branches of Christianity: Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox and Protestants. We are all followers of Christ and there are enough common grounds for us to dialogue together.

Interesting thoughts :)

Shalom

Alex