It’s important to be aware that the only means by which the human race can “escape” the enslavement of Satan, sins and the law of sin and death is Jesus Christ, God’s Son Acts 4:12, Romans 8:2.
The word “escape” is synonymous with “saved or a believer”—that is, a mortal who’s engaged to God. It’s the highest honour we mortals can get and it happens instantaneously by believing in the once for all time sacrifice of Christ Romans 10:9, 1 Peter 3:18. God is not married to any mortal. Paul, the apostle affirmed this truth when He said, I betrothed you to one Husband 2 Corinthians 11:2. In God, there’s coming a due season when believers will put on immortal body and then will come the everlasting marriage Revelation 19: 6-8. This truth brings us to the controversial doctrine of “once saved, always saved or eternal security” which is sadly gaining extensive traction among Christians.
The doctrine has roots in rigid predestination and new age thoughts. For this reason, it’s worth stating that the birth, crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ manifested the reality of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world as the Book of life. Whoever believe in or accepts His sacrifice willingly receives Salvation (Is Saved). It has to be willingly because God is not a dictator although He’s sovereign.
How can totally depraved human ever be willing? This mystery is resolved because before Adam and Eve (Our first parents) fell, God had sacrificed His Lamb (Son) from the foundation of the earth (Verse 8 of Revelation 13KJV). Notice that the phrase: “From the foundation of the earth” is in relation to when the Lamb was slain and not when God determined for some people to be Heaven bound and others to damnation.
God foreknew Satan will use predestination to lie against Him therefore, God’s inspired word to His prophets and apostles as written in the scriptures is, whoever—whoever—whoever accepts Salvation is sealed (given) “not locked” — with the Holy Spirit as a deposit … Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Corinthians 1:22. This is the new birth wherein believers stand by faith.
In a nutshell, the doctrine of “once saved, always saved” states that, ‘once a person has actually received the gift of Salvation, thereafter, no matter how he or she stray after Satan (Verse 11 & 15 of 1 Timothy 5ESV) and keeps practising sin for which Christ died and rose to sanctify believers unto obedience 1 Peter 1: 2, John 8:12, his/her salvation is secured eternally’. Some of its proponents put a proviso, ‘No one who is actually saved can afterwards go back to practising sin’. This doctrine misconstrue the phrase of verse 8 of Ephesians 2 which says, “our Salvation is the gift of God …” to mean that God gives humankind a gift named salvation because of Christ by grace through faith. This is far from the truth!
The truth is, Christ is the gift God gives to humankind as Salvation by grace through faith. In other words, Christ is the Salvation those who believe receive into their hearts and not some imaginary gift apart from Himself. That’s why He’s our Righteousness 1 Corinthians 1:30. Receiving Christ into our hearts by grace through faith is our Salvation (Regeneration, Engagement and Courtship); of which its culmination is marriage (Salvation to the utmost) Hebrews 7:25, 1 Peter 1:9, 13. Notice that intercession is still being made for the engaged people (Bride) to be saved to the utmost. That’s why Christianity is a lively relationship with the living Triune God. Because it’s a relationship and can be walked away from, believers are admonished to remain or abide (don’t disengage or stop beholding Christ’s face) as His purpose and mission to have us as His wife is being accomplished John 15:4, 2 Corinthians 3:18.
Worthy of note is this: Having difficulties in a Courtship, and walking away from the relationship are two different kettle of fish. Walk away, and there’ll be no marriage! Persevere and love will conquer all!
This picture is illustrative of how believers’ safety is only in their abiding in Christ. To come out of the safety of the car is to expose oneself to the roaring lion—it’s suicidal, no doubt! For this reason, we must abide in Him as the Holy Spirit is driving 1 Peter 5:8, Romans 8:14. Our Salvation journey is more about us being led by the Holy Spirit than we making efforts. The pilgrim journey gets sweeter everyday if and only if we accept to be led by the Holy Spirit.
Christ, our salvation and righteousness makes all whom He indwells to desire His sinless perfect life Philippians 2:13. This doesn’t mean we’ve reached “sinless perfect living” hence the need for repentant lifestyle by reason of use. Nonetheless, the desire to live daily in and as Christ by His motivation differentiates those who’re being saved to the utmost from those who choose to crucify Him the second time, the self-righteous and the wicked Hebrews 6:6.
As a people betrothed to Christ, we’re encouraged to walk in the Holy Spirit—growing from glory to glory in righteousness (Christ) Galatians 5:25, Philippians 3:9-10, 1-8. Living daily from the position and enablement of the Holy Spirit is a new way of life to all believers who, hitherto, wallowed in and were accustomed to disobedience and unfaithfulness since we were dead and had “unrevived minds”. As a result, we need renewing (Pruning) as branches in the Vine John 15:5. Although we’re believers, we can stop the almighty God pruning us by us not presenting/submitting ourselves or abiding in His Son Romans 12:1-2. How can any doctrine that deny this truth be right!?
Some may ask, “What happens to a person who gets engaged to Christ and falls dead the next minute”? Well, the question answers its self—the person was still engaged before departing to await his/her immortal body with which to enter the marriage supper in due time. Unfortunately, the concept of “once saved, always saved” says, “Christ is bound to marry those who disengaged Him while they were clothed with their mortal bodies”. This hypothesis goes against both spiritual and natural principles.
By deliberately or unintentionally misinterpreting the truth in 1 Peter 2:24, the “once saved, always saved” precept subtly saps Christians of the grace to live (submit) to God and resist Satan’s temptations especially in the area(s) of besetting sin(s) that war against our souls 1 Peter 2:11. War against our souls—meaning, wooing us to disengage Christ, court another and live to our flesh Romans 8:12, 2 Corinthians 11:3.
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus emphasised that believers’ willing submission is pivotal because God’s imputed righteousness (Christ), does not enslave anyone engaged to Him rather; all who come to Him become bond servants (followers) of righteousness willingly because of His love towards them. Paul’s point in Romans 16:7 and Philemon 1:9 is not that Christ imprisoned them but a reference that the wicked ruling people unjustly imprisoned him and others because they were faithful to their engagement to Christ, their Lord.
Christ brings His sheep into His Kingdom (Himself) full of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Notice the Holy Spirit doesn’t bring righteousness, peace and joy to anyone instead, all who are in Him enjoy these virtues. They give themselves as slaves to something they enjoy and not enslaved by something they don’t desire. That’s why the law of the spirit of life in Christ produces righteous lifestyle only in believers who thirst and hunger for righteousness Matthew 5:6, Romans 8:13b.
Emphasis! God’s imputed righteousness in believers is Christ’s nature and He doesn’t force Himself out of a believer. As a result, a person who has Christ (saved or redeemed) can decide to stop following or abiding in Him, choose to grieve the Holy Spirit and even blaspheme Him. This is the reason we Christians can still disobey the Holy Spirit to forgive one another and continue murdering one another with hatred 1 John 3:15. No believer who hate and refuse to forgive any other person on earth will be married to Christ (saved to the utmost!) Matthew 6:15.
Scriptures outline factors that make it possible for a Christian to fall away and live unperturbed as an unfaithful fiancée. In the main, it’s looking away from Christ, neglecting the voice of the Holy Spirit and not resisting Satan James 4:7. With this in mind, we’re exhorted and admonished, “Abide in me & I in you. … John 15:4” and don’t grieve the Holy Spirit Ephesians 4:30, James 4:7. Why? The Spirit’s work/fruit is cultivated only in Christ and exhibited via the abiding branches (People of the Way), the Church. While our human kind deeds can attract God’s attention, it’s not the basis upon which God puts His Spirit in us. Christ is the basis and it’s the reason God had to send Peter to philanthropic “Cornelius”. The Cornelius’ of this world need Christ to be saved and saved to the utmost.
When a person receive Salvation, he or she becomes a branch that has all it needs (All of God’s resources) because of the Vine and must abide and bear fruit. Any branch that refuses to abide (stay on bearing fruit) in the Vine is cut off. Those that abide are pruned to continue to bear more fruit John 15:2.
Christ is not only the Righteousness of believers—He is our High Priest, Evangelist, Apostle, Prophet, Shepherd and our God. As our High Priest, He understands our weaknesses having tasted all we can ever experience in our pilgrimage especially the weakness of attempting to look away from Grace and suppose we’re still on the journey. Jesus always looked to or abided in His Father and we’re instructed to look to or abide in Christ Jesus (our road map, destination or destiny). He’s always in front of us and this being the case, our “every weight and besetting sin(s)” is/are always behind us. Against this background, we must set aside (overcome) by not looking back or away from Christ. No one can be looking at Christ and sinning at the same time Hebrews 12:1-2, Philippians 3:13, Luke 9:62. You may have noticed how mere religious environments makes us pious. How much more will we be truly godly by looking to or beholding Christ’s face!
As His disciples, we can fall for any sin we imagine or consider more attractive than the Lamb because it’s with our imagination we look to or look away from things James 1:14. Hence, God inspires us to set our imagination on the perfect sinless blood of His Lamb. It’s the centre of His attraction. From His Blood, we have life and draw life. We live above any sin we don’t relish more than Christ, our bridegroom Colossians 2: 6, 2 Peter 1:3-11. However, the fact we can choose to sin, walk away or refuse to abide in Christ highlights the error of “once saved, ever saved”, and nullifies the prideful doctrine of “sinless perfection”. While a static vehicle will not reach its destiny, a moving vehicle eventually will Hosea 6:3, Philippians 3:12, 1 John 3:3.
As God’s beloved children and bride of Christ, He knows when our love is fading away from Him—when our touch of Him grows cold as if someone else controls our very soul. Although He’s patient with us, it doesn’t mean He’s not hurt seeing us flirting with the Anti-Christ. We may still call on His name and be churchy but it doesn’t stop Him knowing we’ve lost our first love for Him—He feels the emptiness inside of us Matthew 24:12, Revelation 2:5. This is why we’re lovingly and extensively exhorted and admonished in the inerrant scripture (Bible) to keep our imagination on the stature of Christ and we’ll not fulfil the sinful instincts fighting to destroy our souls Philippians 4:8-9.
It’s only when we look away from Christ that sinful instincts prevail over us. Therefore, if we get miserable, guilt ridden, depressed, confused, lose our joy and get offended with Christ because we were overtaken or fell into sin, we need to meditate on the thought below:
Was the dominion we had over the sin that has now overtaken us our own righteousness or was it the one we received as a gift by faith in Christ while we looked to Him? If it is the latter, then, we need to get up quickly! —Repent! And Stop enjoying corruption and rottenness. Pig’s pen is not meant for sheep! Get back to His blood and fix your eyes there. If our hearts (eyes) is not divided but single—centred on Christ, His temple on earth (our whole being – Spirit, soul and body) will be full of His light Luke 11:34.
But, if we choose to remain in the miry clay it’s because we’re enjoying sin and not wanting to abide in Him as a branch or fiancée. If we stay there—taken in by sin’s deceitfulness and our hearts harden, it goes from falling into sin—to living, practising or walking in sin (Darkness) Hebrews 3:13. In which case, we may be lured into grabbing the ramshackle doctrine of “once saved, always saved”.
Rightly, as stated by J D. Walt, “The need to convince oneself of their eternal security is itself the greatest sign of eternal insecurity” therefore, He continued “Our greatest need isn’t for a doctrine of eternal security but the graciously granted gift of Divine assurance which comes from the Holy Spirit”. We don’t convince ourselves rather, the Holy Spirit does in each believer’s heart Romans 8:16.
Our journey in and with Christ is one way and onward ever with the good luxury and privilege to run to the throne of grace when we’re becoming short-sighted and weary. The Christian soldier’s onward march is in and towards the God of love, mercy, grace and holiness. He is a consuming fire that burns away sins from all who run to Him for mercy, forgiveness and overcoming grace.
Our engagement to Christ is glorious and described as the hope of glory Colossians 1: 27. So, when comes the glory? At the consummation which is the marriage! Those who have this hope in them purify themselves (Are faithful in courtship) as He was and is 1 John 3:3, 1 Peter 1:14-15. Amen!
Therefore, the decision to abide in Christ or not is our choice. God has done and given Christ’s bride everything she needs to live godly, faithfully, justly, mercifully and humbly in this present life and to finish well (Abide to the end) 2 Timothy 4:7. The Lord’s greatest desire is to see us finish well—keep the faith. I trust and pray that you and I will finish well by His grace that’s working in us and with us. Amen!