Several years ago, despite a desperate desire to live a sin-free life, I became overwhelmed by the notion that I could have kicked myself out of God’s grace or that His grace towards me could have run out because of my own sin – no matter how much I prayed or genuinely confessed. It came to me, after a lengthy study of the matter, that I was not the only one who had gone through such conflicts. Indeed, one of the biggest torments to the Christian is the underlying fear that their salvation could be rescinded because of something they did; this comes from the few who hold to the belief that there are things a genuine Christian could do which would forever condemn them to eternal damnation. The matter has actually become quite the topic in the Christian community and I whole-heartedly place myself in the defense of the belief that what was given could never be lost.
In this issue, I typically take the concept of “once saved always saved” from the negative, as in: “not saved, never was”. All in all, I hope that, in this quick defense, those who find themselves desperate to know whether or not they have done so much to negate God’s grace and forgiveness would be comforted enough to know finally that God’s grace is truly unfathomable and limitless.
First, what we have in the position that a true Christian can lose their salvation is a life of complete uncertainty or a misguided certainty that one is truly saved. From disobeying the just laws of the land (even slight speeding) to lying (lying by omission is still lying) and countless other things we can and will do, we will sin and stumble as we are conformed to the likeness of our Lord. This inevitably leads to a futility not unlike the idea that a Muslim can do enough good works to overcome the bad deeds they have performed. Essentially, no person can be assured that all of their sins have individually been answered for if, for each one, they are merely a spider held over a fire by the hand of a greater power.
Secondly, Jesus taught that all of those who were given to Him by the Father would not be lost (Jn 6:37-40). It is sufficient to say that they would never be lost; this is what is being said. If we see that there is one Christian who sins, but does not seek a repentant heart – does not seek out God in genuine confession, were they ever truly saved? If one Christian sins and seeks God with a penitent heart and confesses their sins, were they any more saved than they were before they confessed their sins? Certainly not to both. Those who were given to Jesus by the Father were never lost, which is why I choose to write it as “not saved, never was”.
Finally, despite common belief, this is not a license to sin. Paul wrote, “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” He goes on to write that we are no longer mastered by sin, for we are not under the law, but, instead, under grace (Rm. 6:1-14). Christ’s blood is great enough to cover over every sin, those we have committed and those we will commit, even the ones we are ignorant to see.