ONCE SAVED, FOREVER…

The grace of God is the most unfathomable mystery ever witnessed and experienced by humanity. It is simply amazing – to put it mildly.God intends his grace to hold you spell-bound and in awe for the rest of your life. How can the creator of the universe set himself up to be beaten, maimed and killed by the very people he came to save? It is only in the gospel of grace that we find the hero dying to save the villain (According to Andy Mineo).

 

Ravi Zacharias also puts it nicely (as always), he said “it was not the volume of sin that sent Christ to the cross; it was the FACT of sin”. Meaning, Jesus didn’t come to die on the cross because there was too much sin in the world, He would have still done so even if there was just a teeny-weeny dot of sin in the world. If it was about the volume of sin, he would have come during Noah’s time. Furthermore, it means that if I were the only person on this earth, Christ would have still come to die for me on the cross. What manner of love is this? This is perfectly depicted in the Parable of the good shepherd. I always picture myself as that one sheep who went astray, never thinking I was deserving of the master’s very presence yet here he comes in urgency to look for me. ‘You have 99 others’ I tell him, but he says ‘the 99 others will never make up for the anguish of losing you’. This is awe-inspiring; it drives me to my knees daily. Like, ‘Lord I don’t even think of you this much. Why are you so mindful of me? Jupiter, the galaxies, space, the sun and the moon are all more majestic and enormous in size than I am. How am I this visible that you can look past your ‘greatest’ creations and care so much about me?’

 

Isaiah, Job and David all said something to this effect. How undeserving we are of God’s grace. In their song ‘Avalanche’, hillsong put it nicely when they said ‘I am caught up in Grace like an avalanche’. By the way, an avalanche is a mass of snow, ice, and rocks falling rapidly down a mountainside. You need rescue from an avalanche. You need salvation from an avalanche. You can’t just up and leave, the force is too overwhelming; it will sweep you off your feet and toss you around like a doll. This is what hillsong has likened God’s grace to. Indeed, it is very overwhelming.

 

With that in mind, does that mean we are saved forever? So, no matter our actions are we still locked up in God’s grace? Is ‘once saved, forever saved’ biblical? Well, let’s go to scripture. Even before that, let’s look at one aspect of God’s nature that is mind-boggling as well: God’s unwillingness to violate the human will. Moses said in Deuteronomy 30:19 (clearly inspired by God) that, I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants. God almighty, creator of the heavens and the earth is the very epitome of love and justice combined. He has set before you life and death but won’t force you to choose life, but rather admonish you to do so. This is the reason why there is evil in the world. Because God didn’t create a robot when he made man, he created a being. In the very sense of the word, a being can choose what it wants to be. Therefore, if God won’t violate the human will, it means he wouldn’t impose his grace on anybody. If so, then it means that human beings can willingly and actively walk away from His grace. His grace is precious and boundless, it is not a cage or a trap. It doesn’t have a laser beam demarcating its boundaries. Therefore it is safe to say that one can be in God’s grace and walk right out of it. That is why there is such a term as ‘backsliding’ or ‘falling away’… better still, apostasy.

 

Prophetically, the bible actually admonishes us to expect a massive falling away of Christians leading to the revelation of the anti-christ. The bible says in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 that, ‘Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the FALLING AWAY comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition’. Even if you are still not convinced that a Christian can lose his salvation, let’s hear what Jesus himself said will be one of the most shocking incidents on judgment day. He said many will step up to him and say they cast out demons and healed the sick in his name but he will tell them plainly, I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU workers of iniquity’. Now these aren’t ordinary Christians. These, to me, appear to be men of God who lost their salvation even without knowing it. Yes, you can lose it and not know it. A man of God I listened to recently said that, ‘God is the only boss who can fire you and keep you working for him’. The gifts and callings of God are irrevocable. Hence, you can be operating in spiritual gifts and not make it to heaven. These are the sort of people Jesus was talking about here. They were Christians; they did miracles in the name of Jesus. Yet he called them ‘workers of iniquity’. Brethren, be not deceived, the grace of God is no licence to sin. It is free but not cheap, therefore we must handle our salvation with utmost care and reverence as we work it out daily!

 

Now that we have seen what scripture says about falling away from the faith, let’s take a look at the implications of that. Can I come back to Christ when I fall away… especially when I verbally denounce him and go after another god? The answer from scripture is a big NO! Here it is:

 

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

6 If they shall FALL AWAY, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

 

There it is. God abounds in grace but he won’t have his grace trampled under the foot of men. The verse literally means, those who fall away from Christianity have literally done what the Romans did – they have crucified Christ and shamed him openly. He offered himself for us once and dealt with the problem of sin once and for all. So when you walk away from this offer, especially when you have tasted it before, you can’t just come back like God’s grace is an option and not the ultimate.

It is even more scary when you find out the writer of the book of Hebrew repeated this truth in Chapter 10 (v 26). Here he stated that anybody who continues to ‘WILLINGLY sin’ after becoming a Christian will eventually fall away and there will no longer remain an offering for him. He would have to go find his own Christ and nail him to the cross for his salvation. Which is absurd and impossible. Therefore I would like to admonish all Christians who read this post to remain in the grace of God. Do not fall away. No matter what you go through in this life, hold on to your faith in Christ. No earthly pain and anguish can be compared to a minute’s relief in hell – if even there is such a thing. When you have questions, search for answers and don’t allow yourself to be swayed by any wind of doctrine… the leaven of the Pharisees, as Jesus calls it.

 

I told a friend recently that, hell is the reverse-reality of the love of God. How terrible the punishment of hell is, reveals to us how deeply hurt God is by those who have no regard for his grace. Plus, he loves you so much to save you from hell. Read about hell once in awhile when you don’t feel loved and you will know how deeply loved you are of God. He loved you enough to save you from it. Jesus is the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for his sheep. He is the good shepherd and not the good goatherd. Goats are stubborn and adamant in their ways. Sheep are obedient and very compliant. That is why Christ said ‘my sheep know me and they hear my voice’. Be a sheep today and even to the end of time.

 

Comments

There are 13 comments for this article
  1. O'Zionn February 5, 2016 2:51 pm

    Chale, such an insightful read.

    May God bless you with more insight into His Word so you continue with such valauble write-ups.

    This next line may sound funny but, sheeping till the end of time.

    • elisabblah February 5, 2016 6:14 pm

      Hahahahahahaha sheeping indeed.

  2. Triumph February 5, 2016 6:53 pm

    The truth can only be said as it is. God bless u bro . May you influnce many in this generation and beyond, drawing us closer to Christ.

    • elisabblah February 6, 2016 6:49 am

      Thanks a lot for reading. I am encouraged.

  3. Psuché (@MsAnarfi) February 8, 2016 4:29 am

    Finally, I am here!

    Reading about ‘falling away’ here reminded me of something I’d read from Spurgeon some weeks back, I think the title is ‘A Defense of Calvinism’ or so, where he touched on Falling Away. I’d like to know your thoughts on it, it’s article-length and the soft copy can be found online.

    Now I have been on Tozer’s ‘A Disruptive Faith’ for the past week and not long after I read your post, the next chapter I was reading in the book touched on falling away. (These are the coincidences I was talking about).

    I am not particularly disagreeing with some of the things you’ve said, but let me quote what Tozer said here, because I am interested in your thoughts on that as well.

    “What does the scripture mean by “fall away”? And just how far does a person fall? Is this talking about backsliding? Well, if it is, then I see several difficulties. Two of the outstanding backsliders in the New Testament were Peter and Mark, The scriptures tell us that both of these men backslid but then repented, were forgiven and came back into full fellowship (see Mark 14:66-72; Acts 15:36-41). Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost gave birth to the Church. After Mark’s repentance, Paul found him useful for the ministry. So, I have a difficult time seeing this ‘fall away’ to be backsliding… Certainly this is not what Hebrews is talking about at all… Let me give you a little rule here that might prove helpful. I am sure this rule will hold throughout the whole church of God around the world, for all time – If you worry about committing the unpardonable in, you have not committed it. The person who has gone far in apostasy that there is no hope for him never worries about it. In Matthews 12:3, the Pharisees gave vent to certain words, which Christ branded as evidence of the unpardonable sin. Yet, these Pharisees were not the slightest bit worried about it. They believed themselves to be righteous. There was no penitence in them, no compunction, no sorrow, no humility, no meekness. They were bold believers in their own righteousness. Jesus said they had committed an unpardonable sin in that they had attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to the devil. So, if they had feared they had committed it, they would have been humble, lowly, meek, frightened and would have come like the jailer, shaking and trembling, and saying, “Lord, what must I do to be saved?” But they had no thought of this at all… The very fact that you are worried about it indicates the Spirit of God is moving in your heart; the Spirit of God does not move in the heart of a man who has committed a ‘sin unto death’… If only we knew what “fall away” meant. It must mean something that goes so far that the man does not care about it, does not worry about it, has no further feeling concerning it and shrugs it off as a foolish thing.”

    What I think of this in relation to what you have written is this;

    Let me use myself as an example. I was a ‘believer’ when I was neck-deep in all manner of rot, some I willingly committed, like the hymn says;

    I have long withstood His grace,
    Long provoked Him to His face,
    Would not hearken to His calls,
    Grieved Him by a thousand falls.

    This was Charles Wesley. And man, this was me through and through two years ago. But by the Grace of God I grew sick of my sins, and here I am, forgiven – I know it to my very soul! So yes, I did backslide. There were phases in my ‘lost years’ that I doubted greatly a lot of things, and may have thought or said some things, I would shudder to think or say now, but here I am. A thousand falls, Charles Wesley said…a thousand! Yet, when you read the rest of the hymn you will see what the poet here was talking about. He couldn’t believe that there was still Mercy enough for him still – Title of the hymn is – Depth of Mercy. I have written about this before. There is a famous story about this hymn, where a woman who played in theaters and lived the life of a prostitute, basically grew so sick of her sins, she got on stage one day and instead of saying her lines, burst out singing this hymn….part of the audience were angry, part were moved. But this woman quit the theater, dedicated her life to the church afterwards. A thousand falls.

    I think I get what Tozer was trying to draw our attention to. He redeems, oh He redeems the vilest offender…but there is a point that a man gets to that ‘there is no hope’…because there has been a dying of something inside that leaves the person unfeeling. I agree that this can happen when one willingly sins over and over, keeps ignoring the promptings of the heart, till someday, there is no compunction (not even the slightest bit of it). This is not to say that so then believers can ‘feel free’ to backslide and not fear that they cannot return, No. Absolutely not what I am saying. But the believer who has backslid, comes to and grieves all the way down into his heart…there is Mercy still reserved for that one…because as Tozer said, it indicates the Spirit of God moving that heart. Whenever someone asks me how or why I became born again. I can only say… God favoured me. Really, cos…oh I can’t begin to describe what was happening with my heart that night I went down on my knees and surrendered all…I can’t begin to! Mercy! But then there is the point at which one falls away…and we must not be silent about that.

    This is quite a lot to meditate on, and trust me, it has been in my thoughts for days now, but as I said, I’d like to hear your thoughts on all of these.

    • elisabblah February 8, 2016 5:40 am

      This is such an amazing comment. And I agree with Tozer. I believe this is what the story of the prodigal son represents. A son takes half of his father’s wealth, goes to a far country and wastes it all on irrelevant things. THE FACT THAT HE CAME TO HIS SENSES, means there was still hope. I believe you have spoken so much about this in your comment. The fact that the promptings are still there. This son was ready to become a servant in his father’s house for he knew even those servants weren’t at the point where they were being tempted to taste food for pigs. I believe this is what qualifies one for GRACE: accepting the fact that you don’t deserve what you used to have or what the master is offering you. In the story though, Ravi points out that Jesus said something that might have caught the people who heard it off guard. He made mention of the fact that middle-eastern fathers are known to be very abusive and strict on their kids. The father running with arms opened wide to receive the prodigal son when he was almost home, represented a father’s love that Jews weren’t used to.

      I like what Tozer said concerning “to what extent has the person fallen away”. How far has the person gone? Very very important. And true, “sinning willingly” and making a practice of refusing to heed to the inner promptings will slowly lead you to apostasy. I think this is so gradual that the believer might not notice. But I believe the fastest route to apostasy is to verbally denounce Christ. I don’t know if the said individual will get inner promptings immediately afterwards. But i think it is a big deal to convert and denounce Christ and accept another ‘god’. And oh, what Tozer said about ‘Pharasaical pride’ being one of the most common ways to fall away – that is an eye-opener too. Self-righteousness is a killer. Usually, when I think of falling away, i think of Judas. He is a clear example. I think he got to the point where he couldn’t be prompted by the spirit anymore. Or hr felt like he wasn’t worthy of being restored to his forner position. Did he not hear the parable of the prodigal son from Jesus? Funny how Peter broke down and cried after betraying Jesus, Judas did same, but never got restored. He cried too oo. Isnt that remorse? Sometimes I think it is because the outcome was prophesied by Christ himself, how Judas would turn out after betraying him. Prophesy is a prediction of the future. It doesn’t set you up and forces you to play along. It simply tells you what will happen in the future. Therefore, I conclude that Judas was beyond the reach of the spirit.

      The most important thing I am taking away from your comment is ‘how far has the believer fallen?’. Is he still redeemable? I believe that there is hope once the person still receives an inner-check, other than that, I might say that chaley, that’s it for him/her. Thanks for the comment.

  4. ammakonadu February 8, 2016 5:59 am

    Lol! When I was younger, I would cry when my parents found out some mischief I’d been up to, and I remember my mom always asking, “Eheh, so now why are you crying? Are you sorry for your stubbornness, which means this won’t happen again, or you are crying because Mommy caught you and beat you?” Whenever I repeated some mischief I had been punished for before, she’d tell me “you see, you are crying for nothing!” Thinking of Judas reminds me of these. Jesus knew before it happened that like my little self back then, Judas will be crying for nothing. Not necessarily crocodile tears, but misplaced tears, if I should put it that way.

    This discussion can go on and on, it’s actually exciting! ?

    • elisabblah February 8, 2016 10:50 am

      Ikr? I am even shocked this blog got the sort of attention it got. Not in terms of numbers, but in terms of people expressing their opinion of it to me.

  5. victoryosaretin March 2, 2016 5:54 pm

    ” I NEVER knew you: depart from me, ye workers of iniquity”. This statement carries so much weight any time it crosses my mind because it appears that the person in question sincerely thought that God knew them and so had the boldness to walk up to him and say “Lord, i did this and this in your name”. So does it mean that someone can just be there thinking they are serving God and yet God NEVER even knew them from the start… or somewhere along the line they fell apart?
    Does this mean that it is possible to fall apart without even knowing as opposed to the “sinning willingly” phase raised above?
    I hope i get answers to these questions but even if i dont, it is my prayer that we never fall out of God’s grace.

    • elisabblah March 2, 2016 6:11 pm

      Hi, thanks so much for reading. I will say yes to all your questions. God won’t impose himself on anybody. He expects us to WILLINGLY surrender our wills to his. Therefore when one is willingly indulging in sin, and refusing to heed to the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit, it will reach a time when the individual cannot hear God anymore. The said individual, if not careful will assume he/she is still serving God when he/she isnt. Such people will walk up to God on judgment day and expect to be given entry into Heaven. Maybe because they were performing miracles in God’s name while on earth. But he will say to them, depart from me, you workers of iniquity. Miracles are very good and a strong proof of God’s power. We need the supernatural in our ministries. However, the FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT are what we are supposed to bear and they are the greatest proof of the transformational power of God. God is good. Grace is available in unimaginable quantities. Therefore we are sure we can come back to him when we faulter. Let’s heed to the voice of the Holy Spirit always.

  6. victoryosaretin March 2, 2016 6:30 pm

    Thanks so much, more grace for understanding of the word!

  7. Maxmercy October 3, 2016 4:11 pm

    There’s so much I want to say about this post. But Eli, maybe I should summarize them as just a set of questions…..
    1.Is it possible to actually fall away from GRACE? As in this unfathomable, unimaginable, extremely vast grace? Is it possible?
    2. When the Bible talks about the whole depart from me, yea workers of integrity…. Who was Jesus actually talking about? I would think He was making emphasis on peoples works, not necessarily their heart conditions. You know there are a lot of people who actually think they are working fervently for God, in his name but are just doing their own thing…..
    3.I think this would be the last…. Being saved, does it have anything to do with your works? Are your good or bad works capable of fluctuating your salvation? If it is a thing of belief….. Why can’t my salvation remain forever, as long as I believe, despite my works?

    I have to add that I raised this questions so we ponder on them. I am in no way trying to dispute the post. I simply want to learn. And if the questions seem a bit too basic, pardon me for I am just a learner.

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