Salvation

Q/A Friday: Can I Lose My Salvation?

I am probably asked this question more than any other. And it normally comes from a professing believer who either can’t recall biblical teaching on the subject or hasn’t read the Bible enough to discover the answer to their question.

In short, “No, you cannot lose your salvation.”

First, we must make sure that we agree that is a Christian is not someone who has made a profession of faith. A Christian is someone who has genuinely had his heart and mind converted as a follower of Jesus Christ. It is someone who knows Him as Lord and Savior. It is not someone who simply says, “I am a Christian” and can offer no evidence.

Second, here are just a few reasons why we cannot lose our salvation.

  • We cannot lose our salvation because God does not take back the gifts He gives us (Romans 11:29). God does not accept returns on His gift of salvation. This means we are guaranteed to belong to Him for the duration of our lives on earth. Jesus didn’t die on the cross to offer salvation to us, give salvation to us, and then think to Himself, “You know, I take it back!”
  • We cannot lose our salvation because God promised that once we come to Him, we will have eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus never says, “You have eternal life for a time, but you might lose it. So, watch out!”
  • We cannot lose our salvation because the Holy Spirit has sealed our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14). A seal is a guarantee; it is not a “maybe.” When we have been regenerated, the Holy Spirit’s indwelling is a moment of “I am here to stay!”

So no, we cannot lose our salvation.

I commend to read to read I John for more Scriptural proof about the eternal security of the believer. R.C. Sproul’s short book Can I Lose My Salvation? or John MacArthur’s book Saved Without a Doubt are of great value to this question.

Questions

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please it to charlesheck@cox.net or pose your question in the comments section of this post.

You Can’t Buy Your Way Into Heaven

Psalm 49:5-9– “Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit?”

Some see their money as their salvation or their “end all.” These are the individuals that would subscribe to the 1980’s bumper sticker mantra “he who dies with the most toys wins.” They depend and “trust” in their riches.

There is a story about the French atheist and philosopher Voltaire (1694-1778). He was a man who trusted in his riches for he was a very wealthy man. During the last few days of his death, he begged his doctor, “I will give you half of all I possess if you will give me six more months of life.”

It didn’t happen; none of his riches could slow the certainty of death. Those who trust in their riches think they can buy life.

Eternal life cannot be bought. It cannot be bought with good works or prestige or popularity or riches. Peter would say it this way, “Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (I Pet 1:18-19). It was “costly”; it cost the Son of God His life. And no “silver or gold” can “redeem his brother.”

Jim Clark, who co-founded Netscape, is an incredibly rich man who grew in his reputation of buying whatever he wanted when he wanted it. He once said, “I grew up in Texas, the prototypical poor boy. When you make it, you start to think there isn’t anything you want than you can’t buy.” He couldn’t be more wrong.

Wealthy people might be able to buy better health care or live in safe environments to extend their life but they cannot buy eternal life; God alone redeems.

Ligon Duncan said in his sermon “Trusting in Wealth” (based on Psalm 49),

“Riches cannot buy talent. They cannot buy the excellency of mind or heart. They cannot give a good physical constitution. They cannot prolong life. They tend to increase rather than diminish our fears. They cannot soothe a guilty conscience. They cannot cool a fever. They cannot fix a headache or a heartache. They can contribute nothing to salvation.”[1]

One commentator just simply says “Death laughs at bags of gold.”[2]

Wealth has always been insufficient and it will always be. It cannot purchase exemption from eternity in hell. Wealth cannot buy eternal life. It’s like trying to buy a house or car with Monopoly money; it just can’t happen. Money does not solve everything and it certainly can’t solve the biggest issue in life – our eternal destiny.

money

[1] J. Ligon Duncan, “Trusting in Wealth,” www.fpcjackson.org/resources/Psalms/Psalms%2042-72/25bpslm49.htm.

[2] Exposition of Psalms, pg. 540.

Friday Q/A: How Can I Strengthen My Assurance of Salvation?

In life, we want assurance. We buy life insurance to guarantee our loved ones are cared for in the event of our sudden death. We buy health insurance to guarantee assistance in paying for expensive health care. And we all want assurance we will spend eternity in heaven so we can live our lives free of doubt, despair and discouragement.

Many Christians struggle with the assurance of their salvation. Many Christians live the way the Puritan Thomas Brooks wrote in 1864 in his treatise Heaven and Earth,

“Assurance is the believer’s ark where he sits, Noah-like, quiet and still in the midst of all distractions and destructions, commotions and confusions. … However most Christians live between fears and hopes, and hang, as it were, between heaven and hell. Sometimes they hope that their state is good, at other times they fear that their state is bad: now they hope that all is well, and that it shall go well with them for ever; then they fear that they shall perish by the hand of such a corruption, or by the prevalence of such or such a temptation. … They are like a ship in a storm, tossed here and there.”[1]

Assurance is a precious commodity that is not worth trading for anything else. And the lack of assurance can be paralyzing and demoralizing.

I John 5:13 (and the rest of the book) shows every reader he can be convinced of his eternity – “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

This Epistle is primarily for Christians. And here’s the simple truth: assurance is meant for the Christian. Assurance is a knowledge gained by experience and reflection, which is a common thread in this Epistle (I John 2:3, 29; 3:1, 6; 4:2). If you know Christ, you are not meant to live without assurance.

AssuranceBut if you are a Christian who struggles with assurance, it could be for any one of the following reasons. Maybe you misunderstand the difference between justification and sanctification. We quickly forget the act of justification is something Christ accomplished on the cross. His perfect sacrifice atoned for sin. Your sins are paid for! They are forgiven. Justification is a perfect work. On the other hand, the process of sanctification – the process of being made like a holy Christ – is an imperfect and incomplete work. That doesn’t happen at once. As long as we remain imperfect, sanctification is not over. But that does not change us being justified. Some people who struggle with assurance look at their imperfect and incomplete work of sanctification and then forget their act of being justified.

Maybe the reason you struggle with assurance is simply biblical ignorance of the teaching of this doctrine. This is where I John has been so helpful. John’s purpose has been to educate the clueless. Some people don’t understand a sovereign God’s role in drawing us to Himself and then how he produces assurance in us as we grow in Him.

Maybe the reason you struggle with assurance is because your hear strong or imbalanced preached. Don’t get me wrong: strong preaching is a healthy dynamic for the local church. Too many churches have too many shallow, shabby, jellyfish preachers. But when you preach the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), you come to understand just how high God’s standard is for all of us. And when you see how high the standard is and how often you miss the standard, you can easily doubt your salvation.

Maybe the reason you struggle with assurance (this one resonated with me) is because you compare yourself to other believers: “How come I don’t pray like Him? Why don’t I quote Scripture as naturally as her? Why don’t I possess the level of love and compassion of him? Why does parenting come much easier for that father or mother? How was she able to discern right from wrong in that situation quicker than me? Why couldn’t I answer that question from Scripture as timely as that person?” People who do this can struggle with assurance because they fail to remember everyone matures and grows at different rates.

There is a remedy that can help enforce what the Bible has to say about a Christian’s assurance of salvation: study the person and work of Christ. Don’t be afraid of terms like expiation, redemption, propitiation, advocacy, justification, sanctification, etc. These terms explain in a more thorough way the marvelous work of Christ on the cross and they show us the permanency and thoroughness of salvation achieved for us. And they will help remove doubt when you see their awesomeness.

Robert Murray McCheyne, a Scottish minister in the 1800’s, said,

“Learn much of the Lord Jesus. For every look at yourself, take ten looks at Christ. He is altogether lovely.”[2]

Make a commitment in 2016 to study Christology. Read books like Christ’s Glorious Achievement by Charles Spurgeon or The Incomparable Christ by John R.W. Stott or The Passion of Jesus Christ by John Piper or Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Christ by D.A. Carson or Who Is Jesus by Greg Gilbert.

Study the One who saved you and seals you.

 

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please send them to charlesheck@cox.net or ask them in the comments section of this post.

[1] Heaven and Earth, pg. 11

[2] http://www.thevillagechurch.net/sermon/assurance-of-salvation/

John Calvin Explaining What the Gospel Does

The Sunday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is all about quotes. No commentary from me, no reflection, etc. Just a provocative or informative quote from a saint in church history.

 

“Without the gospel everything is useless and vain; without the gospel we are not Christians; without the gospel all riches is poverty, all wisdom folly before God; strength is weakness, and all the justice of man is under the condemnation of God.

But by the knowledge of the gospel we are made children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ, fellow townsmen with the saints, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, heirs of God with Jesus Christ, by whom the poor are made rich, the weak strong, the fools wise, the sinner justified, the desolate comforted, the doubting sure, and slaves free.

Calvin JohnIt is the power of God for the salvation of all those who believe. It follows that every good thing we could think or desire is to be found in this same Jesus Christ alone. For, he was sold, to buy us back; captive, to deliver us; condemned, to absolve us; he was made a curse for our blessing, [a] sin offering for our righteousness; he died for our life; so that by him fury is made gentle, wrath appeased, darkness turned into light, fear reassured, despisal despised, debt canceled, labor lightened, sadness made merry, misfortune made fortunate, difficulty easy, disorder ordered, division united, ignominy ennobled, rebellion subjected, intimidation intimidated, ambush uncovered, assaults assailed, force forced back, combat combated, war warred against, vengeance avenged, torment tormented, damnation damned, the abyss sunk into the abyss, hell transfixed, death dead, mortality made immortal. In short, mercy has swallowed up all misery, and goodness all misfortune.

For all these things which were to be the weapons of the devil in his battle against us, and the sting of death to pierce us, are turned for us into exercises which we can turn to our profit. If we are able to boast with the apostle, saying, O hell, where is thy victory?

O death, where is thy sting? it is because by the Spirit of Christ promised to the elect, we live no longer, but Christ lives in us; and we are by the same Spirit seated among those who are in heaven, so that for us the world is no more, even while our conversation is in it; but we are content in all things, whether country, place, condition, clothing, meat, and all such things.

And we are comforted in tribulation, joyful in sorrow, glorying under vituperation, abounding in poverty, warmed in our nakedness, patient amongst evils, living in death. This is what we should in short seek in the whole of Scripture: truly to know Jesus Christ, and the infinite riches that are comprised in him and are offered to us by him from God the Father.”

– John Calvin, in a preface of a French Translation of the Bible

John Stott on How the Cross Humbles Us

The Sunday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is all about quotes. No commentary from me, no reflection, etc. Just a provocative or informative quote from a saint in church history.

 

Stott John“Every time we look at the cross Christ seems to say to us, ‘I am here because of you. It is your sin I am bearing, your curse I am suffering, your debt I am paying, your death I am dying.’ Nothing in history or in the universe cuts us down to size like the cross. All of us have inflated views of ourselves, especially in self-righteousness, until we have visited a place called Calvary. It is there, at the foot of the cross, that we shrink to our true size.

– John Stott in his Galatians commentary