In our last post we pushed from two sides on the question of “Once Saved Always Saved?” I acknowledged that on this issue “there has been longstanding disagreement in the body of Christ” not because I don’t have an opinion, but because it is a fact. Real believers in Christ have disagreed on this.
Sometimes the disagreement is unfortunate, as when real children of God live in constant fear that they are going to lose a grip of faith on Christ—when he in fact has them in his grip (John 10:28). Others press the question in an honest attempt to interpret difficult warnings in the Bible (passages that have been interpreted in a wide variety of ways—depending on assumptions brought to them) (Hebrews 6:1-12).
Another group pushes back on the idea of “once saved always saved” out of a concern that this one idea contributes to a false sense of security and, in turn, to a loss of real faith. Such persons often talk about the danger of relying on a “decision to receive Jesus” rather than pursuing changes that provide an ongoing evidence and assurance of genuine saving faith.
On this point, many of us agree that it is possible that some who over time fail to distinguish themselves as the children of God have never experienced a real spiritual birth. For that reason we urge such persons not to rely on a moment of decision, but whether that decision represents a real faith in who Christ is and what he has done for us.
Beyond that many of us are also convinced that God alone knows the truth about those who claim faith, without ongoing evidence (2Tim 2:19) (Matt 13:24-30)
It’s at this point that I’m convinced it is so important to understand the many factors that can sideline and neutralize the faith of the Lord’s people. When we look at the whole story of the Old and New Testaments we see in the history of the nation of Israel as well as in the Body of Christ that genuine people of faith can be as bad if not worse than those who have never experienced the new (second) birth Jesus talked about (John 3:3).
We’ve named some of these factors in a brochure titled “Ten Reasons Real Christians Can Look Like They’re Not.” The number 10 may not be the right number, but I’m convinced that there can be devastatingly real consequences of:
1. Disappointment With God; 2. Distraction; 3. Dangerous Relationships; 4. Unchanged Tendencies; 5. Self Reliance; 6. Prayerlessness; 7. Carelessness; 8. An Unexamined Heart; 9. An Unseen Enemy; 10. A Lack of Accountability
You can probably think of other reasons. But these give us a beginning point for why it is so important for us not only to be lovingly communicating the Good News to all, but also to be encouraging one another to the challenge that remains (Heb 10:24). Even if it is true that we cannot lose our salvation– there is a living faith, love, and truth that is always at risk.