Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Does God's pencil have an eraser?

Can someone loose their salvation?

From the sixth grade until my graduation from High School I attended a Christian school. This was a fantastic experience for which I am very grateful to my parents. Now, in that I did not attend a public school during this time I am not certain as to what sort of things were debated around the proverbial water cooler. However, at this fine Christian institution I often witnessed debates amongst perfectly qualified middle-schoolers as to whether or not someone might become unsaved. Truthfully the question never bothered me. I thought it was perfectly logical that if one could become saved then it was equally possible for them to reverse the situation. Now, in my twenty-seventh year of life, and for some time leading up to it, I have changed my position and would like to offer some reasons why. Please note that much more learned men than myself have exhausted themselves over this subject so please don't think this is definitive, nor is it comprehensive.

#1 Grace alone

I believe, as the scriptures clearly indicate, that it is by grace alone that a person receives salvation. It is by no action or effort on my own part but only a willing acceptance of a gift. I receive Christmas gifts by no action or effort of my own but simply by the generosity of the giver. I must only open and accept the gift. It is the complete power of God that offers and carries out the work of salvation, no work of my own. Unlike ill-fitting Christmas gifts that I may return of my own accord the gift of salvation is not so easily rejected once accepted. Primarily, it would be an utter fool who returns such a gift and the scriptures are equally clear on this matter. We are told that one who has seen the gift and turns from it is in no way able to regain it. Why would one taste of the glory of God and experience the gift of salvation and turn from it? It would be senseless. Thus the age old statement, if you loose your salvation you never had it to begin with. More on this later.

#2 Russian Roulette

How many sins does it take to exclude one from Heaven? I submit, only one. Now, does one stop sinning after they have become saved? I am proof that this is not the case. Even saved folks have the remnants of the sin nature and are bound to slip and fall. Look no further than Paul who wondered out loud why he did what he did not want to do and did not do what he wanted to do. Let me give a short scenario. I, who am saved, get up in the morning and go to work. At some point during the day I sin in some manner. On my way home I am in a horrific accident and die. Because I did not repent for that sin of the day am I cast into Hell? Did I lose my salvation at that moment? If this is the case then not only can we lose our salvation, we do several times each and every day! Suddenly our salvation comes not by the grace of God but by our adherence to the Law that we claim to be freed from. This, my friends, smells suspiciously like works salvation. Granted, this would keep the streets of Heaven conveniently uncrowded. Luther would say that it is much the same as the man who finds himself accosted by thieves in the woods on his evening walk.

#3 God's pencil does not have an eraser.

In my own theology, and that of many other Christians, God is omniscient. God knows everything. Thus, if a person approaches God for salvation that God knows will eventually be rejected would God give it on a temporary basis? The image is used of the "Book of Life" in which God inscribes the names of His children, the saved. Why would God write someone's name in this book if He knew, because He is all knowing, that He would end up erasing it? If one is falsely converted then God can look into that person's heart and see that it is false, He can see that it is only temporary. A person cannot lose their salvation because God knows if a person is truly saved and He knows if a person will become "unsaved" therefore they never were to begin with. We may not be able to tell if someone is honestly saved but God can and that is what matters.

All that being said, we can know that we are saved. This comes not from a feeling that we are saved but a knowledge from God, His Word, and the Holy Spirit. So many people get caught up in feeling like they are saved and as soon as this feeling leaves then they are left wondering about their eternal destination. This is dead wrong. What about those times when you find yourself in the dry, arid places or those "dark nights of the soul" when there is the feeling that even God has abandoned you? To be sure, as Christians we should be in a constant state of repentance for the sins that we do commit on a daily basis. However, as I've heard it said, faith is trust that God has saved you, cleansed you of your sins, and forgiven you. It is a peace that passes all understanding. God's work on the cross is greater than our sin and nothing, I mean nothing, can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ.

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