Summary: In this series I will answer the question "Can a Christian walk away from their salvation." In this message we will examine four Scriptures that are often referenced for those teaching the doctrine "once saved, always saved."
Can Christians Walk Away From Their Salvation?
Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” If the Word of God says “the wages of sin is death” then divine justice is under obligation to give sinners their wages or be in debt to them forever. However, eternal life is a free gift. Men merit hell, but eternal life is free. So, if I continue to allow sin to be my “work” then my payment will be death (hell) as that is what I earned. Now, eternal life through Jesus Christ is a gift that God Himself paid for me, if I choose to accept it. Let me explain it another way. Let’s say I work my fingers to the bones at a job that stresses me out while barely allows me to pay my bills. Then someone dies and “gifts me” an inheritance which not only makes me rich, but affords me the opportunity to fully retire. I have all the money that I need and more. If that happens, can you envision any scenario where I would continue to go to that job and work day after day? Absolutely not – I would give my two weeks’ notice, because that would be the right thing to do, and then I would be out. This is what God has given us – an eternal retirement which allows us to no longer “work” in the occupation of sin with a final retirement of hell. I want you to keep Romans 6:23 in the back of your minds as we go through this series I’ve titled: “Can A Christian Walk Away From Their Salvation?”
I have a weekly call on Saturday mornings with my siblings and nephew to touch base and just catch up. During these conversations we inevitably start talking about Scripture. Last week the question was asked if the saying “once saved always saved” was true. Immediately I felt led to address this subject in this series. I want to say up front that the Bible’s answer to this question will trouble some people who grew up as I did in a Church denomination that taught this. I have said on many occasions that I do not believe this and time after time I have been confronted by people who outright told me I was wrong. I remember one instance back in 1985 when I told my Sunday school class that this teaching was wrong and the response was not pretty. Two of the older members who studied the Bible religiously laid into me. After that verbal beating I almost changed what I knew to be true. I felt that I did not know as much as them and obviously I had missed something or had interpreted the Scriptures incorrectly. I was only 24 years old at the time and had only been preaching for 4 years so you can imagine the respect that I received after that statement. Since that time I have confirmed what the Scriptures says and I have matured enough to understand that it is my job to teach the truth and what people do with it is their responsibility.
Several years ago I was preaching a sermon at my Church and there was a visitor present who was a deacon at his own Church. As I delivered the message I said that it was dangerous to teach people that once they were saved they would always be saved without telling them how and why. Teaching that doctrine without teaching what it means to be saved and how we are to live in holiness opens the door for people to live however they choose and still expect to go to heaven when they die. We witness this lived out in Churches today where leaders and members alike are having affairs, stealing, fornicating, and all sorts of other stuff without any requirements to repent by others in the Church. To complicate this further, from what I have read in the Bible, the Bible does not teach this. So when I made this statement in my sermon on that Sunday I could see in his face that he had a problem with that statement. Sure enough, when the service was over he came straight for me and asked how I could believe such a thing as a pastor. I tried to explain to him some of the Scriptures, but he was not hearing me. Finally I asked him for his address so that I could follow-up with him in writing and share the Scriptures that I believed supported what I said. I told him that once he received the letter and had time to review it, to call me if he had any questions and I would gladly discuss the Scriptures with him. I went home and wrote the letter with the Scriptures and mailed it to him. I never heard back from him.