Have you ever doubted your own salvation? Or were unsure if you were really saved in the first place? What if one leaves the church? Can a person’s name be erased from the Book of Life? Can one commit the “unpardonable sin” today? And can a person lose their salvation after they have been saved? Is it a true saying that “Once saved, always saved?“. First, let’s look at how salvation is attained.
Some infer works are part of acquiring our own salvation. But a definition of grace by humans and what the Bible consistently declares are not always the same thing. Don’t believe what I say. Just believe what the Bible says. It can’t be wrong; I, and others, can be! The fact is that the believer's right standing with God is “without works” (Romans 4:6), “without the deeds of the Law” (Romans 3:28), “not of works” (Ephesians 2:9) “It is the gift of God,” (Ephsians 2:8). If you have to earn your salvation by human effort, then yes…it could be lost. Humans are frail and make mistakes. For many Christians, their feelings about the state of their salvation, or being saved, can waver from day to day. There are days when they even can doubt their own salvation or if they‘re really saved at all.
Here’s why’s it’s called the Good News (Gospel). Our assurance of eternal salvation and security is not based upon what we believe, or what we feel or what we think, but on what God has done (Hebrews 9:26)! Can we not believe what Jesus has told us about Him and the Father, that not even one would ever be lost (John 10:28-29)? There seems to have always been attempts to make the believer's response part of their own salvation. It is completely, humanly natural. But clearly, that is to look upon grace as “a help” which flatly denies Biblical truth, “…if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace…” (Romans 11:6). The simple Biblical message is that “the gift of righteousness” in Christ Jesus is a gift, resting on His all-sufficient sacrifice on the cross, “For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ“ (Romans 5:17).
So it is as Christ Jesus Himself said, He died in place of the believer, the One for many (Mark 10:45), His life a ransom for many. As He declared, …this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins“ (Matthew 26:28). This is also what Peter proclaimed, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God…” (I Pet. 3:18). Paul's preaching is summarized at the end of 2 Corinthians 5:21), “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him..” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
It seems overwhelming when we take on all the responsibility of working out our own salvation. Literally, I thank God that it is not all our responsibility. I feel it is more, our response to His ability. Many have never felt absolved (Mark 1:15). Originally for me, repentance and feeling saved was very difficult. I had thought that salvation was “meriting,” “earning,” or “being good enough,” instead of simply accepting with empty hands, the gift of righteousness in Christ Jesus. To refuse to accept what God commands is the same sin as that of the religious Jews of Paul's time, “For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:3). I finally understood that Jesus has done it all, once and for all! Holiness is not the way to Jesus, Jesus is the way to holiness. As has been said before, God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. What works can save us? Here are the only “works” we can do to receive salvation, from Jesus own lips: “…This is the work of God, that you believe on Him Whom He has sent” (John 6:29). As has been said before, God doesn’t call the qualified…He qualifies the called. Now isn’t that‘s a big relief? More on this later.
Here is my story: I grew up fundamentalist Baptist. I repented of all my sins and accepted Jesus Christ into my heart to be my Lord and Savior at age nine…and again in my early teens…just to be sure. In my early 20’s my family moved to another state where we attended a non-denominational, evangelical mega-church (which taught Baptist doctrine) for several years. In my mid to late 20’s I stopped going to church because I didn’t “feel” God inside me and he didn’t seem to listen when I prayed.
I remained unchurched until I was married in my forties. I started attending liberal churches. When we had children, I started looking again at more conservative/fundamentalist churches, something closer to what I had believed as a child and teenager. We joined a conservative, orthodox Lutheran church. I became very involved in the church. I was happy and content in my orthodox Christian belief system. I read the Bible and prayed regularly.
One day I was surfing the internet and came across an atheist’s website. He was a former fundamentalist Baptist/evangelical pastor! I was shocked! I started to engage him in conversation, and also tried to bring him back to the Faith, to belief in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
However, this man pointed out to me some very big assumptions in my Christian belief system which I had never thought of, such as:
1. Just because there is evidence for a Creator does not mean that the Creator is the Christian God, Yahweh.
2. Our current Bibles contain thousands of scribe alterations, most of them inconsequential, but a couple of them are shocking. Why did God allow scribes copying the original Scriptures to change, delete, add, or alter his inerrant, Holy, Word?
3. How do we know that the books of the New Testament are the Word of God? Is there a verse that tells us? Did Jesus give us a list? Did Paul?
4. Do we really have any verifiable eyewitness testimony for the Resurrection or is it all hearsay and legend?
5. Modern archaeology proves that the Captivity in Egypt, the Exodus, the forty years in the Sinai, the Conquest of Canaan, and the great kingdoms of David and Solomon are only ancient Hebrew fables.
At first I fought him tooth and nail. I fought him for four months. At the very end I had to admit that there are no verifiable eyewitness accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus in the Bible or anywhere else. All we have are four anonymous first century texts full of discrepancies and contradictions. The only thing I had left to attach my faith to was the testimony of the Apostle Paul: why would a devout Jewish rabbi convert to a religion he so hated unless he really saw a resurrected dead man on the Damascus Road?
But after studying the five Bible passages that discuss Paul’s conversion, I had to admit that Paul never says he saw a resurrected body. All Paul says is that he saw a light…and that this event occurred in a “heavenly vision”. Visions are not reality…not in the 21st century nor in the 1st.
And as for the improbability that a Jewish rabbi would convert to a hated religion, there is a Muslim cleric in Israel today who not too many years ago was an ardent Zionist Jewish settler and rabbi, intent on ridding the Muslims from Jewish land.
Strange conversions occur. They do not prove that the new religion is true and inerrant.
I was broken-hearted, but I saw my Christian Faith was nothing more than an ancient superstition that had been modified in the first century by Jesus, a good man, but a dead man. There is zero evidence that this first century Jew is alive and the Ruler of the Universe.