Have you been saved? How would you respond to that question? The answer is not always as straightforward as one might think.
[Chris Rowland] I wanted to start off with a story.
One day, when I was younger, elementary school age, a friend of mine had come over and was playing at my house. And we were riding our bicycles in my driveway, you know, up and down the front of the street, in front of the house. Across the street from where I live there was a car parked, and inside the car, there was a girl and her little brother. They'd been sitting there for a long time. The girl was probably about our age, and she was just waiting out in her car while her mom was doing some business in our neighbor's house.
Well, my friend and I came up with an idea, we thought it might be a good idea to make faces at this girl. You know, I don't remember exactly what kind of faces, but they weren't nice faces. Maybe we stuck our tongues out at her, we made crazy looks as we zoom by on our bicycles peeking in the window or something, and after a while, her mom returned to their car and they left. Well, the next week my friend and I we were back riding our bicycles around, and well, what do you know? The scene repeated itself. We made some crazy faces at this girl and then we went to go play in my garage.
Well, after a few minutes this terrible thing happened. This girl got out of the car and she crossed the street, and she was coming towards my house, up my driveway, and she approached us. She told us that she was worried. She was worried about us, she didn't want us to spend eternity in hell. That's what she said. She then asked us, "Have you been saved?" Well, my friend and I, you know, we're pretty young we looked at each other, and my friend said to me, "Well, you go to church why don't you answer her." And then we both kind of giggled and I said, you know, "Saved from what?"
Well, the girl was ready, you know, she handed us this little religious tract that she had with her and she said, "You need to read this." And on the cover of this tiny little brochure was a drawing in black and orange, I think, of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man was making kind of a frowny face while his body was engulfed in flames, it was kind of a frightening picture. After the girl told us that we needed to read this and she handed it to us, she said, "I'll be praying for you two." And then she crossed the street and got back in her car with her brother.
Well, had I been saved? You know, what did this girl want me to be saved from? Does she want me to be maybe saved from dancing around on fire like the guy on the front of that little book? Well, I looked through it and, you know, I jumped to the end to see what the conclusion is. It says that if we want to be saved we simply need to repeat a little three or four sentence prayer, that was already printed right out there in the book, accept Jesus Christ as our Savior. And then that would be it, problem solved, we wouldn't have to go to hell, and we could move on.
Well, we quickly forgot about that booklet, and we went back to doing whatever it is that 9 or 10-year-olds do. But, you know, looking back on it now, what was that little girl talking about? You know, what did I need to be saved from? Well, that's a good question. The title that I've given to this sermon is, "Have You Been saved?” Have you been saved? How would you answer this little girl if she came up to you? Hopefully, you weren't making the faces like I was first. Have you been saved?
If we were facing some sort of a disaster that was coming our way, maybe a tornado or a house fire, maybe a shipwreck if we're on a boat. Well, then if we were to be saved from that disaster that would make us survivors. We wouldn't have been killed or otherwise irreparably damaged by whatever that disaster was. Well, what disaster is coming my way that I need to be saved from? You know, I can look outside today, everything seems relatively safe, my family seems to be safe, my friends seem to be safe. What kind of disaster do I need to be worried about?
Well, I think most of us know the answer to that question. But it's a good thing to think about. Do you realize that there is a disaster coming your way that you can't see with your eyes, you can't hear it coming with your ears. It's actually a death sentence. Our Creator told our ancestor Adam that if he disobeyed that he would come under a penalty of death.
We won't turn to these scriptures right now, but Ezekiel 18:20 Ezekiel 18:20The soul that sins, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be on him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be on him.
American King James Version×says that "The soul who sins shall die." And in Romans 6:23 Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
American King James Version×Paul wrote that "The wages of sin is death." So why does death strike someone? Why did it strike Adam? Well, he disobeyed God's command. He sinned. The two scriptures that I mentioned from Ezekiel and from Romans they link death to sin.
So it really comes down to the fact that this disaster this death, it only really affects one group of people, just those who've disobeyed and who sinned. What a relief. Oh, wait a minute there, which group am I in? Well, let me think back. Am I in the group that has sinned or am I in the group that has never sinned? Well, that's the bad news too. I'm sorry to say is probably bad news for you too. Paul wrote in Romans 3:23 Romans 3:23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
American King James Version×that, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." That means we're all in this group of people who have earned the death penalty for some of our behavior.
This disaster that's headed our way is death. And it's not even this first death that is the biggest concern from us because that's a death from which we will obtain a resurrection. The really big disaster coming our way is called the second death. That's a death that will result in total annihilation, it's something permanent. Now, I don't know how you would view it, but being completely and totally destroyed for the remainder of eternity. That's a pretty big disaster on a personal level.
It's not something you can bounce back from afterwards. You just don't exist. And I think that most people would want to avoid that fate, most of us have a sense of self-preservation, we'd like to still be around. We want to be survivors, we don't want to be victims. But is there a way out? Is there a way that we can avoid the penalty and to avoid the certain disaster? That's what this girl across the street was trying to explain to me or point out.
There is something that needs to be done so that we can be safe from that disaster so that we can become survivors. Some of the material in that little booklet that she handed to me was true. But some other things that were in that little booklet about spending eternity in an ever-burning hell, they weren't necessarily factual. But her general question to me, you know, "Have you been saved?" That was a valid question. What is going to happen to us? What will happen? What is our eternal fate?
Have we done anything to be saved from that inevitable punishment for sin? The word the Bible uses for this act of being saved is salvation. Salvation, you know, maybe has become more of a religious sounding word that can sometimes be more complicated than it needs to be. Salvation simply describes the act of being preserved or delivered from something bad. If I were in a house fire my salvation might come from the local fire department because they would be the ones who would save me from that bad circumstance.
So when we use the word salvation it simply refers to the same thing, being saved from something. So what are the conditions for salvation? And what do we need to do to be saved from the wrath to come? Well, if I look back at that little brochure that I received, it had some instructions in it to apply in that situation. I simply need to repeat a little three or four sentence prayer and accept Jesus Christ to be my Savior.
It sounds pretty simple, we could all get that done here in the next two minutes. I better just get that out of the way right now, and then it's smooth sailing after that for the rest of my life. According to what I read if I took that action, if I accepted Jesus Christ, whatever that meant, as my Savior, then I would be saved. I wouldn't have to worry anymore about God's judgment. I wouldn't have to worry anymore about going to hell. I would be born again.
So today I want to look a little bit deeper than that at this concept. I want to see more about how is this described in the Bible? How does the Bible define and describe salvation? We'll find that being saved has different senses that it's used in the Bible. It's not quite as simple as being saved from a house fire, a house fire it happens pretty quickly and it's pretty easy to determine what does it mean to be saved or not. Either you're taken out of harm's way or you're still there in trouble.
But salvation from sin isn't as simple for us to see, we'll find out it's not just a momentary experience or a momentary decision, and there are different aspects of it in the life of a Christian. In preparing this sermon I wanted to understand better the popular view of salvation, so I took a few quotes and looked at a couple of books from a prominent minister called Mr. Charles Stanley. Charles Stanley is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Atlanta, and according to his church's website he has a television program that's seen on over 200 stations and 7 satellite networks and can be heard in every nation on the earth by radio shortwave or television.
So he's an influential person in Christianity. You've probably heard of him yourself and the things he writes could be considered representative of what a lot of people do believe. So in Mr. Stanley's book, Handbook for Christian Living page 190, he talks about salvation and how it relates to our faith in God, and how we are saved. So I'd like to read that to you. Mr. Stanley's writing that some have asked him this question, "If our salvation is gained through believing in Christ, doesn't it make sense that salvation can be lost if we quit believing?"
He answers, "Faith is simply the way that we say yes to God's free gift of eternal life. Faith and salvation are not one and the same any more than the gift and the hand that receives it are the same. Salvation stands independently of faith. Consequently, God does not require a constant attitude of faith in order to be saved — only an act of faith in Christ." Mr. Stanley continues, "You and I are not saved because we have enduring faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed our faith in our Lord… I don't know about you, but I've learned that a gift that can be taken back is no gift.”
“True gifts have no strings attached. You can say, ‘But what if I give it back?’ You can only give it back if the giver accepts the return. In the case of salvation, God has a strict no-return policy. Christ came to seek and save the lost. Why would He take back what He came to give?” Well, does that passage describe what God wants from us? So this terrible fate, this disaster that we've talked about, this penalty that will come upon us for our sin can be avoided by doing what?
Well, according to Mr. Stanley we can avoid this by expressing our faith in the Lord at a moment in time. After that no matter what we do, no matter what we say, we've been saved. We will not have to go to hell, we will not surely die. Who else told mankind that they would not surely die? Well, or maybe this one moment in time that Mr. Stanley is talking about is something that is so deeply spiritual and meaningful that God has no choice after that to do as we ask. What does this moment in time look like when we express our faith in God? The only time in our lives where He says that expressing that faith is necessary.
Well, on the next page of his book on page 191, he writes this. "If you're not sure you are saved, why not make sure now? If you recognize your need for forgiveness and you believe Christ's death made your forgiveness possible, you are ready. Pray, ‘God, I know I am a sinner. I know my sin has earned for me eternal separation from You. I believe Christ died in my place when He died at Calvary. I accept His death as the full payment for my sin. I accept Him as my Savior. Thank you for saving me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.’" And that's it, and that's it.
You just need one moment in your life where you believe that statement and when you can say that and pray it to God. And after that the gift is yours, and God can't take it back. Now, don't get the wrong idea, you know, you've probably listened to that prayer, there's nothing wrong with the words of that prayer. Christ did die in our place, we do accept His death as the full payment for our sin, and we do thank God for saving us, and we accept Christ as our Savior. I would expect that all of us who have been baptized have expressed our faith to God through a prayer that was in many ways similar to that one.
So what is wrong? What is the problem there? Well, what's wrong is to believe that after we've expressed that faith that we no longer have to show any faith in God. That we've been saved no matter what it is that we do for the rest of our life. What's wrong is to believe that we can't lose our salvation after we've stated those magic words to God. Let's turn to John 10:27 John 10:27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
American King James Version×, I'd like to look at one of the pivotal verses that is used to justify the concept that we cannot lose our salvation.
In this passage Jesus Christ is talking about His sheep. John 10:27 John 10:27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
American King James Version×, Jesus Christ says here, "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."
Jesus says that no one is able to snatch His sheep out of His Father’s hand. That sounds reassuring, you know, maybe that even supports this idea that we cannot lose our salvation. What is the context here? You know, Jesus made this statement when He was at the temple during the Feast of Dedication. It was in response to some people who had questioned Him as to whether He was the promised Messiah.
Jesus was simply affirming that He was the Messiah and the Father had given Him the authority and had given Him the sheep. Jesus stated that He gives His sheep eternal life. Do you have eternal life yet? What is the time period that Jesus is talking about? Certainly to those who He has given eternal life, they cannot lose their salvation because they would be immortal having already escaped death.
Jesus also stated that no one is able to snatch the sheep out of His Father's hand, well, that means that no external power such as Satan could take them away. But Jesus is not saying here that a human mortal Christian could not fail due to some fault of their own. Other verses show that it is possible to be once enlightened and then to fail to continue down the path of righteousness. So we need to look at more scriptures on this topic before we can make a conclusion. This concept that you cannot lose your salvation has been termed the doctrine of once saved always saved. And another term that's used for this concept is the phrase eternal security.
That's actually the title of one of Dr. Charles Stanley's other books, one specifically on this doctrine that we're looking at today. And I'll quote from chapter 10 of his book, Eternal Security beginning on page 93. He writes, "Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy. Christ will remain faithful… Christ will not deny an unbelieving Christian his or her salvation because to do so would be to deny Himself. Why? Faithful or not, every person who has at any time had saving faith is a permanent part of the body of Christ. Whatever action Christ takes against a believer, He takes against Himself, for each believer is a part of His body… And last, believers who lose or abandon their faith will retain their salvation, for God remains faithful."
Wow! Until I had read this in writing I really didn't believe that anyone could believe or teach other people this way, especially someone who claims to understand the Bible. Now, what do we believe about this topic? You know, maybe, more importantly, how do our beliefs on this subject affect the way that we live our lives? How do they affect the relationship that we have with God? This is an important topic and it's important that we understand it.
If we don't understand this correctly then we may be at risk of not being saved from annihilation and from death. Unlike the popular Christian teachings of once saved always saved or eternal security, the Bible actually describes salvation or being saved in three different tenses, in three different ways; representing three different phases of our salvation. So to answer the question, "Have you been saved?" In today's sermon, we will look at these three phases of being saved and see what they can show us about the process of salvation. Sometimes the Bible refers to salvation as something that happened in the past, so the first point is the past tense.
The forgiveness of past sin. So sometimes salvation is referred to something that happened to us in the past. Let's quickly turn to several scriptures that seem to explain that being saved is something that happened to us in the past, and we'll start in Luke 7. Luke 7, now in this passage… beginning in verse 36, we're told the story of a woman who was a sinner who washed Christ's feet with her tears, and who brought a flask of fragrant oil and anointed His feet with the oil. But let's start in verse 47 of Luke 7.
Jesus says, “‘Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.’ Then He said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ And those who sat at the table with Him began to say to themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Then He said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.’” In this example, Jesus forgave that woman's sins, which were many. And then what did He say to her in verse 50?
He said that her faith has saved her. This is expressed in the past tense, it just happened, Jesus didn't say your faith is saving you or your faith will save you in the future. He said it was something that has already happened. Her faith had saved her using the past tense. So how did her faith save her? What's clear from this example is that her faith had saved her by the forgiveness of her past sins.
I'd like to turn to 1 Peter 3:21 1 Peter 3:21The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×, and see another example describing salvation in the past tense. Peter is writing here in 1 Peter 3 about Noah and the ark. How eight souls were saved through water of the great flood; continuing in verse 21. 1 Peter 3:21 1 Peter 3:21The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:
American King James Version×, Peter writes, "There is also an antitype” meaning another similar symbol, “which now saves us — baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience towards God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him."
So what event was Peter talking about that He says saves us? Peter said that baptism saves us. So if we have been baptized in the past, have we already been saved? Yes, we have. In an earlier verse, verse 18, we are told more details about this salvation. 1 Peter 3:18 1 Peter 3:18For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:
American King James Version×, he writes, "Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God…”
Christ suffered for sins for the unjust, so we are saved from our sins through baptism. So for those of us who have been baptized, we can confidently state that we have been saved. We've been saved by a past event, baptism. After baptism we're no longer doomed to the death penalty, we were saved from that death through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ. Our sins were blotted out when Christ's sacrifice is personally applied to us at that moment of baptism.
Now, those who believe in the doctrine of once saved always saved believe that when we express our faith to Jesus Christ at that moment in time, that Christ forgives all of our sins at that moment. Our past, our present, our future sins, that's what they believe. But is that what happens when we are baptized? Let's turn to 2 Peter. Turn forward to page of 2 Peter 1:5 2 Peter 1:5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
American King James Version×and let's see what sins does Christ forgive at our baptism?
2 Peter 1:5 2 Peter 1:5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
American King James Version×, Peter writes, "But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love." We see Peter describing here a progression, a maturing process that we should be going through as Christians to put on those godly qualities.
And then in verse 8. "For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For He who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins." Peter explains which sins we've been cleansed from. Does Peter say we're cleansed for our present and our future sins?
No, he explains that those who were baptized were cleansed from their old sins. Those which were done in the past, we have been saved from those old sins before our baptism. I'll just refer to a couple of other verses which plainly state that believers have already been saved in the past tense. We won't turn to them in this sermon for the sake of time, but you can write these down if you like.
In Ephesians 2 both verses 5 and 8, state, "By grace you have been saved… By grace you have been saved. This saving is not of ourselves lest we should boast, but it is the gift of God.” Paul uses the past tense in this passage to indicate that we have already been saved by grace. Let's turn to Romans 8:22 Romans 8:22For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.
American King James Version×and read another passage where Paul explains that believers have already been saved. Romans 8:22 Romans 8:22For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.
American King James Version×.
Paul writes, "For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body." Paul's talking about us now, we are waiting. We still have corruptible bodies and we are groaning and waiting for God to transform us into incorruptible beings.
Continuing in verse 24, he says, "For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance." So Paul says that even while we're here awaiting that ultimate redemption of our bodies that we've already been saved in this hope. We've been saved before this hope has been fulfilled, we've been saved while we were still corruptible flesh.
But is being saved only a past event? Is it only something that culminated in our baptism, or is there more to salvation than just that? So the second point is the present tense. The present tense, the ongoing transformation to godly character. In addition to using the past tense, the Bible also refers to salvation as something that's happening to us right now, at the present time. Let's turn to several scriptures that seem to explain that being saved is something that is still happening to believers.
Let's turn to 1 Corinthians 1:17 1 Corinthians 1:17For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
American King James Version×. 1 Corinthians 1:17 1 Corinthians 1:17For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.
American King James Version×. The apostle Paul writes, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with the wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. 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." In this passage, Paul doesn't describe salvation using the past tense. He didn't write to us who have been saved, it's the power of God, he didn't write to us who are being saved, is what he wrote.
He wrote that instead we are being saved, that's a use of the present progressive tense. He's describing something that's happening right now, and it's going to continue happening moving forward in time. When Paul says that we are being saved that's something that's progressive, we're continuing to be saved. It's more than just a one-time event. And he contrasts that with those who are perishing but haven't perished yet. The nonbelievers around us are perishing while the believers are being saved.
If we turn to 2 Corinthians 2:15 2 Corinthians 2:15For we are to God a sweet smell of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
American King James Version×, we see a very similar statement by Paul in that letter. 2 Corinthians 2:15 2 Corinthians 2:15For we are to God a sweet smell of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:
American King James Version×, he writes, "For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing." Again, Paul divides everyone into two categories; those who are being saved and those who are perishing. This being saved it's talking about now, it's using the present tense. So if we receive salvation at baptism, why do we still need to be saved afterwards?
Do we even need salvation apart from that salvation that we receive at baptism? Let's turn to 1 John 1:6 1 John 1:6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
American King James Version×and see what the apostle John wrote about our forgiveness. 1 John 1:6 1 John 1:6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
American King James Version×, John writes, "If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth." John explains that our fellowship with God depends on something. It depends on how we walk, how we live our lives. If we walk in darkness, if we stop practicing the truth, then we don't have fellowship with God.
Continuing in verse 7, "But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we've not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.”
Is there anyone who does not sin after baptism? Is there anyone who has avoided all unrighteousness after they were baptized? If we think that we have we deceive ourselves. John explains that we need to continue to confess those sins that we commit. When we do so, when we repent, when we ask God for forgiveness, God is faithful and just to forgive those sins.
This is a continual process of salvation that occurs throughout a Christian's life. After baptism, a person must continue to ask forgiveness for those new sins that have been committed. For the rest of their life whenever they commit new sins they need to repent and confess and ask for forgiveness. Based on that understanding, once saved always saved cannot be true, because if one falls away from God, if one quits asking for forgiveness from the new sins that are being committed, well, God will quit forgiving him and then he is doomed. But some believe that we can't fall away from God and we can't lose that forgiveness.
Let's turn to Hebrews 6:4-6 Hebrews 6:4-6  For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
 If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
American King James Version×, and see whether this is so. Is it possible for someone who has been baptized to not have their sins forgiven? Hebrews 6:4 Hebrews 6:4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
American King James Version×says, "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 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." Well, those who have been baptized are those who had been once enlightened, and when they receive the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands they tasted the heavenly gift. But does that experience provide them eternal security as some would call it?
Well, in verse 6 it says, “…if they fall away," this verse indicates that it certainly is possible for someone to fall away after baptism. And this passage indicates that if they do fall away that it's impossible to renew them again to repentance. And if they won't repent then they won't be forgiven. So it's possible for someone to fall away and you might say lose their salvation. If one falls away from God, he stops yielding to God and quits going through that process of being saved or being converted and transformed.
He stops that process that we looked at of adding virtue to faith, adding knowledge, adding self-control, adding perseverance, adding godliness, adding brotherly kindness, and adding love. The present tense meaning of salvation refers to that ongoing process of salvation, which we call conversion. It's a progressive transformation of our nature into godly character. So in addition to using the past and the present tenses, the Bible also refers to salvation as something that will happen to us in the future. So the third point is the future tense, which is the ultimate sense of salvation.
Let's turn to several scriptures that seem to explain that being saved is something still yet to come. Let's turn to Matthew 10. Matthew 10:22 Matthew 10:22And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.
American King James Version×, and read what Jesus Christ said about those who would suffer many persecutions. He's talking in this chapter about those who'll be brought before governors and kings for the sake of Christ's name. He's definitely talking here about those who are following Him, people who have the Holy Spirit, God's Spirit even speaks through them as it says in verse 20.
But let's look now at verse 22. Matthew 10:22 Matthew 10:22And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endures to the end shall be saved.
American King James Version×says, "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved." Now, what did that last sentence say? These servants of God will not be saved unless what? Unless they endure to the end. It's not describing them here as having already been saved or even being saved at the present time.
Jesus said that they weren't going to be saved unless they endured to the end. Jesus is also quoted as making the same statement in Matthew 24:13 Matthew 24:13But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.
American King James Version×and in Mark 13:13 Mark 13:13And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.
American King James Version×. So there is some element of salvation that won't occur until “the end.” So what is this “the end” that's being spoken of?
Let's turn to 1 Corinthians 5:4 1 Corinthians 5:4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
American King James Version×, and see something that Paul wrote in this section concerning a sexually immoral person at the congregation in Corinth. Paul gives a little bit more insight as to when this future salvation will occur. 1 Corinthians 5:4 1 Corinthians 5:4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,
American King James Version×, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when you are gathered together, along with my spirit, in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus."
So when may the spirit of this man be saved? Paul writes that it may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. Isn't that ultimately when we will all be saved? Isn't that the time when all of God's people will receive that gift of eternal life and become incorruptible? So if you think about the phrase once saved always saved in that sense of our salvation that happens at the return of Jesus Christ, well, then certainly that's true.
Once God has resurrected us, once He's transformed us into spirit beings and thereby saving us, we're always going to remain safe from that point forward. We will maintain that state for all eternity and we can no longer fall away. Once we are spirit beings in the Kingdom of God nothing can hurt us and we will never turn away from God, we will be forever safe. Talk about eternal security. Let's turn now to 1 Peter 1:3 1 Peter 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
American King James Version×and read a number of verses that Peter wrote about this ultimate gift of salvation.
1 Peter 1:3 1 Peter 1:3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy has begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
American King James Version×, Peter writes here, "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 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." Peter writes that our living hope is an incorruptible inheritance. He says that we're kept for salvation by the power of God. Do you realize that God is using His power along with your faith to keep you for salvation?
Salvation is an inheritance that would be revealed as it says in the last time, continuing in verse 6, 1 Peter 1:6 1 Peter 1:6Wherein you greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, you are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
American King James Version×. "In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 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, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith — the salvation of your souls." So what is the end of our faith? What's the ultimate outcome of our faith that we're looking forward to? Peter explains here that it is the salvation of your souls.
Now, think about it for a few moments. The doctrine of eternal security that we've looked at earlier, it basically places the timing of salvation of our souls to be at the time that we start on our journey to faith when we first learn that we want to follow Jesus Christ. Let me repeat this quote again from Mr. Stanley. He says, "You and I are not saved because we have enduring faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed our faith in our Lord."
Now, doesn't that statement directly contradict what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:9 1 Peter 1:9Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
American King James Version×, which says that "The end result of our faith will be the salvation of our souls." The popular doctrine of once saved always saved says that our enduring faith doesn't save us, but we are saved because we expressed faith at one moment in time. Peter's the one who has it right, that our ultimate salvation is a direct result of the faith that we act on throughout our lives. Yes, we do at some moment in time express faith in our Lord, but it's God's power that keeps us in conjunction with our enduring faith so that we ultimately will be saved at His return in the coming of His Kingdom.
So have you been saved? You know, today I've looked at three different ways that the Bible talks about being saved. I think it's important that we keep that concept in mind when we do talk about the subject of salvation. It's not wrong to think about salvation as something that happened in our past. By grace, we have been saved. It's not wrong to think about salvation as something that we're still going through.
We are those who are being saved. And it's also not wrong to think about salvation as something that we're still waiting for in the future. We who endure to the end will be saved. So it's important that we don't get locked into just thinking of one of those time periods when we discuss salvation, we should reflect on this amazing process that God has put in place for our salvation to save us. We can reflect on the forgiveness of our past sins that came when we committed our lives to God at baptism, how he saved us from the death penalty at that time. We can reflect on how we're developing our character by putting on the mind of Christ each day as we mature spiritually.
How we are being saved by being transformed as opposed to those of this world who are perishing. And we can reflect on how we eagerly long for the day when God will change us into spirit beings who will never turn away from Him and save us from death and save us from corruption. Those who follow the false belief of once saved always saved or eternal security, they feel that their present and their future actions can in no way affect their salvation, that's dangerous. They've misunderstood the concept of God's amazing grace, that type of belief leads people to believe that it's not important to obey God's laws, it's not important to please Him.
But we should all know that obeying God's laws isn't what earns us salvation. However, keeping God's laws is what demonstrates our faith, because faith without works is dead. And the end result of this faith is the salvation of our souls. So how should I have responded to that young girl who was maybe justifiably worried about us, and came over and asked my friend and me whether we had been saved? She was obviously concerned about us and probably took a lot of braveness on her point to try to share her beliefs with us.
Was it right for me to flippantly answer her back, "Saved from what?" Even though, you know, I've been in church for a while, I knew what she was talking about. And what is the best way to answer someone who might ask you that type of a question? Should we try to make fun of them as my friend and I did? How many times I've heard members and sometimes pastors of the Church make a big deal about words that other groups use about different concepts, including this question, "Are you saved?" But what we really need to do in response to someone is to answer the underlying question that they want to ask instead of focusing on the words that might have been used.
So as I reflect on the situation with this young girl now that I'm older and maybe a little wiser, I realize that she wasn't primarily asking me whether my salvation was complete, she wasn't asking me whether I was now a perfect incorruptible being. She wasn't asking me whether I believed that all I needed to do was to accept Christ and then be free to do what I wanted the rest of my life, even if she believed that. What she was asking me is whether I had a relationship with God and whether I had committed my life to Him. That's not a bad concern to have about people. What could I have said? Had I been saved?
Well, I wasn't baptized at that age, but I certainly could have said, "Well, I believe in God and I attend church services every week. I try to live by the Bible and grow in my relationship with Him." Or if someone were to ask me the question now that I'm older, now that I have been baptized, I might answer, "I know that Jesus Christ alone can pay the penalty for our sins and I accepted Him as my savior at baptism." That's really all someone wants to know if they're asking you that type of a question and they'll be pleased to hear that. There's no need to argue with them just because that's not the type of question that we would go around asking people or argue with them because we wouldn't phrase it that way.
You know after you answer that question in the affirmative we can always explain that topic a little bit further. Not only am I saved now, but God is working with me to make me more like Him, until the day of my ultimate salvation when I am made a spirit being at Jesus Christ’s return. Now, a response like that is much more likely to provide an opportunity to explain God's plan than a response like, "Saved from what?" Or, "God isn't going to torture sinners forever in the flames of hell." You know, important principle is to agree where you can agree.
You can use that commonality as a springboard for further discussion. Even the apostle Paul when he was in the Areopagus started his discourse by referring to the altar that those people had built to the Unknown God. He started from something that they understood and he used that as a starting point to explain to them about the true God who they didn't know. So when having a discussion with someone else it's often helpful to first look for and to affirm those things that you do have in common before you branch off into your differences of opinion. There is a disaster that's heading our way that we need to be saved from, and it's not the first death it's the second death.
But God has provided a way out from this disaster, you can be rescued, we can be saved from that disaster, we can be survivors. It's not just from a momentary statement of faith that has no effect on our future behavior. It's not a belief that God is going to remain faithful to us even if we're deliberately unfaithful to Him. Let's remember that in our present state it is possible to fall away. It's possible that we can miss out on that ultimate salvation if we forsake God and if we forsake His ways. It's a long race and we must endure, we must continue in the faith to the very end.
Even the apostle Paul did not say that he was assured of salvation, he wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:27 1 Corinthians 9:27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
American King James Version×, "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." If Paul realized the possibility that he could become disqualified then we need to realize that that's a possibility for us too. So let's be thankful that God has promised to save us through baptism, through the transforming of our minds throughout our life, and through being changed to spirit beings at Christ's return. What a miraculous rescue! Let's continue to put our faith in God and the power that He has to save us.