In this article, I want us to think a little more about what salvation really means. If you haven’t read the previous article, Can We Lose Our Salvation? (Section 1), you might want to do that before reading this one. The first article and this article are meant to lay a kind of ground-work before we get to answering the question at hand, “can we lose our salvation?” In this section, I want to consider whether salvation is a free will choice or something ordained by God, then I want to consider how salvation comes about.
For Whom is Salvation Promised?
In the beginning of Section 1, some different views about salvation were mentioned in brief. For example, some believe that salvation is offered to all and we just have to accept it. Others believe that salvation is only offered to those God chooses to salvation. I believe that the scriptures show us that salvation is under the complete authority of God, and it is only meant for those whom He is raising up to be heirs of eternal life.
I understand there are a lot of questions that come to mind when considering whether salvation is a free will choice or predetermined by God. Rather than getting into this idea in detail here, you can take a look at the article: God’s Predetermined Will for the Election of His Children in Christ.
How Does One Become “Saved”?
What must we do in order to become saved? First, consider what salvation is and to whom it is prepared. Salvation is to be freed from the bonds of this world that lead to death, as well as freedom from the judgment that we all have coming to us as fair punishment for our sins – the second death.
Salvation comes about by the predetermined and sovereign will of God. It is the fulfillment of His purposes of the creation: bringing up sons of God. You might debate the “free will salvation” issue, but in any case, we know that our salvation is God’s work and not ours. It is a work of faith—a faith that was given to us by God.
Salvation Comes By Faith.
We understand that salvation begins when we place our faith in Jesus Christ. We believe that He is Son of God and that He died and was raised as a sacrifice for our sins. But, is making a one-time declaration of faith salvation?
Does a “Declaration of Faith” Bring Salvation?
The answer to this question lies in another: Is salvation by faith or works? We know that salvation comes by faith. A declaration, in essence, is a work. It is not the act that saves us, but the faith that is being expressed – a faith that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
Approaching the declaration of faith, or the “sinners prayer” in a legalistic manner is flawed because it does not fully consider the heart of the one speaking. Surely not every person who recites the sinners prayer fully believes in what they are saying. Some are coerced into it for one reason or another. Many also do not have clear understanding, like the masses of children that are often herded to the alter. But, that’s a discussion for another time.
Getting back on track… When we make our declaration of faith and dedicate our lives to the Lord, what is it we are putting our faith in?
When the faith we have is in the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, we place our faith in all that Jesus stands for and all that he promises. When we believe that Jesus came to write the laws of the kingdom in our hearts, that He rewards those who diligently seek Him, and that Jesus is faithful in completing His work in us, we have a faith that leads to something.
Real Faith Leads to Life
We read in James Chapter 2 that faith without works is dead. What does that mean? Our faith should lead to something. It should bring forth fruit, growing us up in the things of God and His righteousness. Otherwise, it is manifest that we have not put our faith in Jesus as we should, and our faith is dead.
Our faith is what counts us a righteous before God, even as we continue to struggle with sin. Because of this, dead faith is not something we want.
We want a faith that shows us to have a heart for the Lord that loves light over darkness and strives to live a life that is pleasing to Him. We want a faith that believes that all things are possible for those who believe in the Lord, even the overcoming of sin. We want a faith that seeks after the Holy Spirit and the things of the Spirit, rather than denying that the Spirit still works in a tangible way today and has instead “ceased.” We want a faith that stands despite all the obstacles and distractions of this world, moving onward and upward until the Day of the Lord and the final act our faith brings – resurrection from death and entrance into life eternal as joint heirs with Christ and sons of God.
Salvation is a journey wrought in faith – faith given to us by God and fulfilled by the work of Christ in us. It is by Him we are changed and not by our power, so the “works” that our faith leads to are the works of the Lord that are manifest in the ways in which our heart is changed away from the things of this world and instead towards the things of God.
What about those who seem to have dead faith?
When we see people we care about who do not have the full measure of faith in Christ, this can be concerning. We might ask, “what about those who do not believe that Jesus will change their heart and free them from sin? Will those who fail to put their faith in the fullness of the gospel be saved?”
The faith and salvation of others is not something we can go around judging. One thing we know for sure is that Jesus is very merciful, and we are each rewarded according to the measure of faith we are given. But, my answer to you is this: If Jesus can heal you from the present sin and ruler of this world now, why refuse that? Do we love our sin or do we love righteousness? Is the Lord powerful enough to overcome Satan? Is Satan stronger than He?
My hope is to help those who want more than status-quo Christendom find hope in all that is offered in Christ Jesus.
Though we cannot judge the salvation of others, we can all search our own hearts and ask ourselves this important question: Why do we believe in Jesus?
Are We Asking the Right Questions?
To wrap this up, instead of asking the question, “what must I do to be saved?” I think it is better to ask, “what work is the Lord doing in me as evidence of my election to salvation?” There is nothing any of us can do to make ourselves worthy of eternal life. From the gifting of faith to everything that proceeds it, our salvation is in God’s hands, not our own.
I also hope this makes clear that salvation is not something that just happens in one instant, but instead salvation is a way of life that leads to substantial change within those who believe. Through the Spirit and our life experiences, we are taught how to live according to the righteousness of God rather than after the bonds of this world. Our salvation is complete when we are raised from the dead and made heirs of eternity with Jesus Christ. From God’s perspective however, our salvation is already accomplished, so because of this there is nothing wrong with claiming to be “saved.”
We’re Almost There…
I know this is a lot of information just to lead up to that one question we have been getting to. Hopefully by considering salvation more fully, you already have some idea of the answer you might expect to the question, “Can We Lose Our Salvation?”
This article is part of the series, “The Severity of Sin and the Mercy of Jesus.”
Next Section: Can We Lose Our Salvation? (Section 3)