Far too many people feel God is remote, impersonal, and unknowable. Because of that, many Born-Again Christians suffer from an inability to feel forgiven, and live with nagging doubts and fear about their relationship with God. Failure to love and trust God often comes from picturing Him as unlovable and untrustworthy.
In the 50+ years, since I gave my life to Jesus and became Born-Again, I have come to understand experientially that a person's theology is shaped by the way they picture God. A dysfunctional picture of God results in a dysfunctional way of relating to Him and studying His Word, the Bible.
Jesus revealed this truth; "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead?" asked Jesus. "Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him" (Luke 11:11-13 NIV).
Those that had a father who was never around when they needed him, or has experienced trauma, abuse, or extreme discipline, will have a challenging time preaching about - and pursuing - an intimately loving and trusting relationship with the Heavenly Father. They will see God as a vengeful judge - spewing out wrath and retribution when saved sinners do by nature, what they do best - sin!" The message of super-abounding grace and God's unmerited favor is very difficult for them to accept.
No one can come to Jesus unless it is granted by the mercy of the Father who chose them as the firstfruits to be saved and sanctified by the Holy Spirit to obtain the glory of Jesus (John 6:65; 1 Peter 1:3, James 1:18; Titus 3:5; 1 Thess 2:13-14). The Holy Spirit sovereignly draws dead people and makes them alive because no one can come to Jesus without Him, and He will raise them up on the last day (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13; John 6:44; Acts 16:14).
Saved by the Faith of Jesus
After a person moves from being just a believer in God, like the demons in Hell, and chooses to receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior, they become Born-Again according to His great mercy, and not by any work they could ever do, because He takes up residence within their spirit, mind, and body as the new Holy of Holies – His dwelling place, and changes their sinful heart of stone by giving them a heart of flesh, and sets them free from sin so they can love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love their neighbor as themselves, because they are a new creation and have been blessed with every spiritual blessing by becoming holy and blameless as partakers of His divine nature (John 3:16, 36; Acts 2:38-39; Rom 6:22; 1 Cor 3:16, 6:19; 2 Cor 5:17, 6:16; 1 John 3:24, 4:13; 1 Peter 1:3; 2 Peter 1:3-4; Eph 1:3-14, 2:8; Col 2:13-14; Titus 3:5; see also Deut 30:6; Ez 26:25-27, 36:26; Jer 17:9).
Salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and not of any self-effort (Eph 2:8). Those who seek to be justified by the keeping law and working their way to Heaven will ultimately fall from grace (Gal 5:4). Continuous good works that result from genuine conversion proves that the Holy Spirit lives within them, and their faith is indeed alive and not dead (James 2:26; 2 Cor 1:22, 5:5).
The Born-Again Christian doesn't need to work for or work up their salvation. However, they must continually work out their salvation by doing the things that accompany salvation because they abide in Jesus. God has given them eternal salvation as a free gift in Jesus Christ, and it is His will that they obey Him, not to save themselves, or to help God save them, but because they are already saved. It is God who provides the complete salvation (Phil 2:12-13).
The Power of the Christian Life
The Christian life is a miracle of God that is formed from within. The power of the Christian life is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but the Born-Again Christian is not to be passive. They are to be controlled and led by the Holy Spirit and walk after Him so they can mind those things He desires. Otherwise, they are just spiritual infants who refuse to wean themselves off of spiritual Pablum because they can't handle the solid food of God's grace through faith that saved them (Eph. 5:1; Rom 8:4-5, 14; Gal 6:25).
It is the hideous sin of pride, which God hates, that causes a person to imagine that they have some part in their salvation and then must maintain it as if they are the author and giver of the free gift of salvation from the one who willingly chose to leave the glory of Heaven and die a horrifying death on the Cross (Prov 6:16; Phil 2:5-8). Salvation comes by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ and not on the basis of works otherwise grace would no longer be grace (Rom 11:6).
The Born-Again Christian knows that they have already crossed over from death and have been appointed to eternal life because Jesus lives inside of them through the rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit (John 5:24; Acts 13:48; 1 John 5:11-12; Titus 3:5-7). Jesus said He would "lose none" of those the Father gave Him (John 6:39) and will keep them securely until the day He returns (1 Cor 1:8).
Guarded Heirs and Children of God
The Holy Spirit confirms to the Born-Again Christian they are no longer a slave to sin, but are a child of God through faith in Jesus (John 1:12; Rom 8:16; Gal 3:26; 4:6; 1 John 3:1-2). They can't become righteous by their own works because "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23, 3:10). It is according to the mercy of Jesus, who establishes them through the washing of regeneration of the Holy Spirit and guards them against the evil one who has no control over them (1 Thess 3:12-13; 2 Thess 3:3; 1 John 5:19).
Nothing can make them fall away (Ps 119:165). They are justified by His grace and have become heirs "to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven" for them and are guarded by "God's power"…"through faith" with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in them "for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:4-5; 2 Tim 1:14; Titus 3:3-8 ESV).
As children of God they have been "given new birth into a living hope and an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade because they are justified by His grace and heirs and co-heirs with Jesus (1 Peter 1:3-4; Rom 8:17; Eph 3:6; Gal 3:29; Titus 3:6-7).
The God who is love promised to sustain the Born-Again Christian as guiltless and to keep them from stumbling, presenting them blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy, and He will never leave, forsake, cast out, or drive away because He gave them the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of salvation (1 Cor 1:8; Jude 1:24-25; John 6:37, 8:12; Heb 13:5; 2 Cor: 5:5).
The Father deals with each Born-Again Christian just as a loving earthly parent does with their children to encourage, comfort, teach, train; warning them of the many snares of the old nature, and discipling them like a judge who decides a ruling in a trial (1 Cor 11:32; 1 Thess 2:11-12; Heb 12:5-6; Rom 7:24). That is why they must learn to walk daily in repentant humility to maintain a close relationship with God and discipline themselves (1 Cor 9:27).
When the Lord judges a Born-Again Christian, they are being disciplined so that they will not be condemned with the world (1 Cor 11:32; Col 2:13-14). The Bible is very clear that the only sin that can never be forgiven in this life, or the next, is rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (John 11:26). No person comes to Jesus unless the Father draws them by the Holy Spirit (John 6:44,65, 10:25-27,16:13-14; 1 John 5:6; 2 Thess 2:13-14; Titus 3:5). Those that reject His drawing up to the moment of their death have committed the unpardonable sin (Mark 3:29).
The Born-Again Christian does not deliberately keep on sinning (Heb 10:26). Every Born-Again Christian must be careful that they don't fall after being tempted to sin (1 Cor 10:12). However, if they do, God is faithful, and He will not let them be tempted beyond what they can bear and will provide a way out (1 Cor 10:13). Jesus is their advocate (1 John 2:1)
The Bible is very clear that those who understand the message of Jesus, and have tasted of the heavenly gift of God's Word and walk away, or leave the faith, and "deliberately keep on sinning," rejecting "the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left," it is impossible to restore them again to repentance since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their harm and holding him up to contempt” because they were a "bad tree" that only produces "bad fruit" and were never Born-Again, and Jesus never knew them, because they would have continued with Him (Heb 6:4-6,27,10:26; Matt 7:16, 13:1-9, 18-23; Rom 8:13;1 Jn 2:19, 3:7-10).
The 'falling away' will continue until the very end of days when there will be those who make the reprehensible and blasphemous act of willful defiance against God by taking the mark of the beast, which is essentially worshipping satan. Those who take the mark will have made the choice to serve satan rather than obey God and receive Christ as Savior. When people make that decision during the tribulation, God will grant their request to be eternally separated from Him.
Moses was able to persevere in trusting-faith because he saw the coming Messiah (Heb 11:27). Because God is Love, the Born-Again Christian dwells in love and love in them, they rejoice "with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres" (1 Cor 13:6-7 ESV). They will persevere in trusting-faith under all circumstances even in the face of extreme opposition because they were reconciled to God" (Col 1:21-23 ESV; also 1 Tim 4:16; James 1:3-4, 12, 5:11; 2 Peter 1:6; Rev 2:2-3,19).
Their perseverance will be blessed by the promises of God (Heb 10:36, 12:1; James 1:12). Those who have not received Jesus as their Lord and Savior will "shrink back to destruction" (Heb 10:39 ESV; also, Matt 13:19-21). Those who do not hold fast and endure for the promise of the resurrection have believed in vain (1 Cor 15:12-19).
Every Born-Again Christian is to "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching...." "..., always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry" (2 Tim 4:2-5 ESV).
The Born-Again Christian is an heir of the righteousness that comes by the faith of Jesus (Heb 11:7). They cannot do anything apart from Him, so He helps them naturally and automatically produce good fruit that accompanies salvation (John 15:1-1).
It is by the bearing of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, that a person proves they are Born-Again (Gal 5:22; 1 John 3:10). Even if they are in a dry period, they remain a 'good tree.' Those who look back after putting their hands on the plow were never good trees to begin with (Luke 6:43-45, 9:59-62). Anyone who loves this life more than Jesus, and is not willing to walk in repentant humility before God, will never produce good fruit because they were never planted in Jesus (Matt 37:38).
A person who considers themselves Born-Again needs to examine their fruit to test and see if they are according to the Bible (2 Cor 13:5). The Bible is obvious on this, "Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother" (1 John 3:10).
The Holy Spirit is given to those who obey God. He is not given to those who pretend to obey Him, but to those who naturally obey (Acts 5:32). They are able to abide in Him because they have the Holy Spirit living within them and, as a result, love His Word, the Bible (John 8:31,35-36). They are born of God and He protects them because they are "good soil" and a 'good tree' that abides in Jesus with "an honest and good heart" and, as a result, practice only righteousness with patience that leads to sanctification and eternal life, because Jesus has set them free from being a slave to sin (Luke 8:15; Rom 6:22; 1 John 2:29, 3:9, 5:1,18; 2 John 9-10). The Born-Again Christian proves they are abiding in God by loving others, which is how the world knows they belong to Him (John 13:35, 4:13-15; 1 Jn 3:17-18).
The Bible says that when the Born-Again Christian sins (and they will conditionally because they are just saved sinners), they "have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous," and He will not cast them out (Matt 12:31; 1 John 2:1). They are heirs of the righteousness that comes by the faith of Jesus (Heb 11:7).
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning because God abides in them. They are His dwelling place, the new Holy of Holies (1 Cor 6:19-20; 1 John 3:9-10; 5:4-5; Rev 3:5). Born-Again Christians are "sons of God" who hold onto the teaching of Jesus because they are saved (John 8:31). God has given the Holy Spirit to "those who obey Him," and they are led by Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32). Those who chose to live under the Law and not under grace will be condemned by it (Rom 8:12-13).
The Bible says that the person who holds to the teaching of Jesus, and keeps His commandments by obeying them, has His seed in them because they have been born of God and the Holy Spirit, who "began" the "good work in," and lives in them, and "will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (John 8:31, 14:15-16,21; 1 John 2:4, 2:19-20; 3:9-10, 24, 5:4-5; Heb 6:9; Phil 1:6 ESV)
Those who are genuinely Born-Again naturally turn away from unrighteousness because they have become justified and righteous in Christ, and they will never die (Jn 11:26). They will always do "better things" (Heb 6:9). Just as God has always done, He will not allow them to be tempted beyond their ability to withstand the test (1 Cor 10:13).
Salvation is a gift from God, and is not based upon works, or abiding by obedience to the Law, or anything a person could ever do, but upon what Jesus did on the Cross (Acts 2:38-39). Jesus said that genuine overcomers are those who are Born-Again and have been born of God through the new Birth of the New Covenant, and they will never be blotted out of the Book of Life because their names are written in it "from the creation of the world" (Rev 3:5 ESV). They will stand firm to the end, even in the face of persecution, because they are living by trusting-faith in Jesus, who is in them, and greater than he who is in the world (1 Matt 10:22; 24:12-13; Mark 13:13; Luke 10:19; 1 John 4:4, 5:3-5).
They overcome the enemy "by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death" (Rev 12:11 ESV; also Matt 19:28, 25:31; Heb 8:1, 12:2; Rev 3:21).
The Born-Again Christian has been delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Jesus (Col 1:13). They no longer remain in the flesh, and the Holy Spirit dwells in them (Rom 8:9). Jesus seals them as a guarantee, and “death and life, angels and rulers, things present and things to come, powers, height and depth, and anything else in all creation, are not able to separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus” because “all things work together for good” (Eph 1:13; Rom 8:28-31, 8:38-39).
The Born-Again Christian is called according to God's purpose, foreknown, justified, glorified, chosen, and sealed for the day of redemption as a child of God, who is an heir with Christ for glorification in Heaven, having already received an inheritance, and is predestined at the moment of salvation to be conformed to the image of Jesus who works all things according to the counsel of His will, and is always for them (John 6:37; Rom 11:6; 1 Cor 1:8; 2 Cor 1:22, 5:5; Eph 1:11-13, 2:8, 4:30; Heb 13:5; Jude 1:24-25).
For anyone to say that an individual could lose their faith/salvation and be separated from the love of God, or remove themselves from the firm grasp of the One who bought and paid for them, becoming His possession as well as His dwelling place, the Holy of Holies, and who gave them the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of salvation, promising to sustain and keep them from stumbling so that they will be presented before Him with great joy because He will never let them die, be thirsty again, leave, forsake, cast out, or drive them away, or let anything grab hold of them to separate them from His love is, at the very least, illogical and intellectually incongruent. When God makes a promise, He never reneges on, or breaks, His word (John 4:14, 6:37, 8:12, 10:27-29, 11:25-26; Rom 8:38-39; 1 Jn 2:1; 1 Cor 1:8; Phil 1:6; Jude 1:24).