A true believer won't ever leave the faith.

I believe that Judgment will address two separate issues (in two separate phases):

1- A determination of one's salvation. God will already know this outcome. He knows it right now, as a matter of fact. It is written in His Book of Life even as I type this. The Judgment, then, will be predominantly to show the saints, all God's angels and the person being judged that God is a fair, loving, just and merciful Lord. He is magnificently so!

2- Once that aspect is completed, the next phase will determine the type and degree of an individual's reward. Some saved individuals will have lived more faithful, righteous and holy lives than others. Justice demands that they have a greater reward in God's Kingdom, "For in My Father's house there are many mansions...I go to prepare a place for you." Some will get a "dozen rooms" while others will get a hundred or more! (These are likely not literal "rooms" but they represent the type, size, or degree of possible rewards).

There is a Scripture that states that everyone's works will be "put through fire" to test them for their value. It specifically states that although some will experience a great loss as a result of this trial by fire, yet the people shall themselves be saved.

1Cr 3:15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

(Always read the entire chapter of a Scripture to keep it within its intended context.)

In other words, within the group of saved individuals, there will be a great range of individual rewards. Even with God's angels, some are physically closer to Him than others. Proximity or placement in relation to Father God, I feel, will also be a factor in our own reward determinations. Closeness is probably the greatest reward of all! And, I always said that it is far better to be a "boot polisher" in Heaven, than a "general" in Hell! I will gladly accept the measure of any reward that Father God bestows upon me! My crown will be His crown. I deserve nothing, He deserves it all.

God is not a punishing God. Rather, He is a perfectly just God. BIG DIFFERENCE! I never understood why folks have such a difficult time comprehending this. Our own earthly judges do this day in and day out, year after year. They consider all the circumstances and variables of individual cases to ultimately determine guilt or innocence. Then, they proceed to the punishment phase in the event of a guilty verdict. The only difference is that with Father God, an innocent verdict also carries a "reward phase."

By the measure of one's reward then, we can conceivably see that some of the saved will be "punished." This punishment, though, simply results in a smaller reward than others who have greater works. Those will receive the greatest rewards. God does not "take away" rewards that were never deserved. He simply never bequeaths them in the first place! It's like in school, you received only a silver star because you simply did not meet the standard for a gold star! But, you DID get a star (reward)! It's the same with Father God! God does not give you a gold star only to take it away! He measures reward according to His standards or degrees of perfection within an individual and gives a silver or a bronze "star" instead.

It is sin that takes lives, not Father God! By that I mean that people die (lose their physical lives) everyday. They do this from smoking and drinking and doing illegal drugs, and lust and gluttony and sloth, etc. You know the seven deadly sins. These are the physical consequences of sinful (unhealthy) behaviors. Scientists' version of this "law of sin" is stated as, "For every action (sin), there is an equal and opposite reaction (consequence).

God's main business is not in saving lives (although He can and often does!), God is in the SOUL SAVING business!

Ralph, I would be interested in learning exactly what it is that you feel about a "once-TRULY-saved person" that would render him no longer saved. If he continues on in a life of sin, then was he really saved in the first place? If he falls, but refuses to ask God to pick him up, cleanse him and set him back on the path, (or simply believes that He can't or won't) was he truly saved to begin with? Surely you don't think that God lies, or that He changes His mind.

Surely you realize that things like simple church attendance and water baptism themselves alone do not "save" a person. Only God saves a soul. Baptism and church attendance are simply rituals that allow the world to see the results of one's salvation. They are the outward signs of inward Grace! They inspire non-believers, and encourage and strengthen existing believers.

Saved people are and will always be sinners (while on Earth). This appears to confuse you. Salvation will never enable any person to become perfect. And, sin does require punishment. Most of this "punishment" occurs here on Earth while we are in the midst of those sins. If a teenager has a baby out of wedlock and aborts that baby, she may experience remorse and later ask Jesus to save her. But, that baby is still dead and gone and nothing will bring it back. If the girl is truly saved she will have no more premarital sex and there will be no need for more abortions. The one abortion will be a very bad "dark spot" on her record that will surely affect the type or degree of her reward. And, she will commit other (different) sins as she grows in Christ. But, she is stilll saved!

Part of the beauty of being saved is in realizing that despite our sins, God still loves us and will save us from eternal death (a pretty nice "reward" don't you think?) because of them as long as we keep His Covenant. Many people find this hard to accept. Many don't accept it at all. Part of being saved is holding onto the faith that God is true to His promises. When we start doubting His promises have we been truly saved? The following statements sum it up nicely:

"Saved people are not perfect, just forgiven!"

"Saved people are still not exactly what they ought to be; but, thank God for Jesus they are no longer what they used to be!"

If you are not certain of your own salvation:

1- ASK God to save you through His Son Jesus

2- PRAY that God will show you exactly what it means to be saved

3- KEEP FAITH in God's Promise of Salvation. HE WILL DO EXACTLY WHAT HE SAID HE WOULD DO! The real question is, "WILL YOU?"

4- ALWAYS GIVE God the benefit of any doubt that exists in your own mind. MAGNIFY HIM! Doubt is not of God. It is born within ourselves. It is born of sin and fear.

2Ti 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

God and doubt never mix. Fear always comes from the enemy. It is far better to say to God in prayer, "I don't presently understand this so I must be missing something. But, I will take you at Your Word, and pray that the understanding will follow," than to ever say to Him anything that resembles, "I doubt You and/or Your Word." Just ask Adam and Eve!

In your low moments, when you have stumbled and God feels far, far away from you, that is YOUR OWN doubt speaking to you. DO NOT question God's salvation that results from your own doubt. God is exactly where He says He will be, right by your side, and within your heart as Jesus. In those moments, pray that your feelings of doubt and uncertainty (in a word, fear) quickly pass. Acknowledge to Him that the shortcoming is YOUR OWN, NOT HIS! And, before you know it, you are up and running as before, cleansed, forgiven and most importantly back in the race! It works for me every single time within twenty-four hours or less!

God bless you, SIr!

P.S. Not to question, or to make light of, your refuting Scriptures, but if you will change directions or attitudes and start looking for Scriptures that support a loving and merciful saving Lord, I PROMISE you will find more than you will know what to do with! Try looking at the overall picture rather than concentrating on a handful of verses that may have been removed from context, honestly misinterpreted, or that simply do not perfectly address the legitimate questions that you have. I have personally found that I can read the very same Scripture from day to day, and depending on my need, my mood or my personal expectations, I get entirely different interpretations! Pray that you wil have a pure and open heart anytime you study Scripture. We unwittingly pollute God's Word when we try to bend it to make it fit our preconceived notions.

If I do not hear back from you, I count it an honor to have made your acquaintance. Whenever presented with difficult choices (and you will be -Satan is really good at this, just ask Eve), always give God the benefit of any doubt that you will ever have! I pray that salvation is yours, and that your reward is great!


My response is in Green:

Okay, let me restate what I believe you have said. You do believe that our sins were all forgiven at the moment of salvation, but you also believe that we will have to pay a punishment price for them in this life and at judgment day.

I have a real problem with that idea, as I stated in the article. When God forgives something, it is under the blood of Jesus Christ and will no longer be remembered by God. So if we are still punished for something that God has forgiven and forgotten, that means He did not forgive it fully, which means Jesus' death as an atonement for our sins was not complete. That is not biblical!

I will admit I was somewhat insulted by several of your statements. For example you quote 1 Cor 3:15 and then admonish me to keep things in context. That is good advice, but you should follow it yourself. Read the 3rd chapter of Corinthians and you will see that this passage has nothing to do with rewards for a believer. That's right, nothing to do with rewards for a believer, even though this is the most common quote by people who believe OSAS and that we will lose rewards.

So what is this passage speaking about? Simple, it is speaking about teachers/preachers who build on the foundation of Christ with worthless doctrines. Let me quote the passage in context so you can see what I mean:

(1 Corinthians 3:1-14 NIV) [1] Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ. [2] I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. [3] You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? [4] For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?
[5] What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe-as the Lord has assigned to each his task. [6] I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. [7] So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. [8] The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. [9] For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
[10] By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. [11] For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. [12] If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, [13] his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. [14] If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.

Notice Paul is addressing the problem of this church claiming to follow one person over another, instead of just following Christ. Then Paul goes on to say who are the teachers, and what do they matter. He says that as long as they build on the right foundation, which is Jesus Christ, then they are on the right track, but goes on to say that the teacher is nothing, they are just workers. He talks about how the teachers build on that foundation and some will build worthwhile things (gold, silver, or costly stones), these will be of some eternal good, but if the builder (teacher) builds worthless things (wood, hay or straw) those things will have no eternal value at all. The teacher, because he had the right foundation will be saved but all his work will be for nothing.

Now let me try to explain this to you. Let's say that you and I are both teachers or preachers, whichever you prefer. We both believe the gospel and therefore have the right foundation to build on. You preach the doctrine of OSAS and I preach that people must continue in the faith and follow Jesus Christ. We can't both be right. We both have salvation, because we both have the right foundation, but one of us is wrong in our doctrinal stand.

Because I don't want to insult you, I will continue the illustration with the assumption that my doctrine is wrong. When I get to heaven, and I will since my foundation was correct, I will find that none of my work that I put in hours doing was worth anything. It will be burned up. I won't lose rewards, I just will find that I wasted my time and energy on something worthless. My work will be burned up and disappear.

Are you seeing my point? And more importantly do you see Paul's point. It has nothing to do with a believers rewards or those rewards being burned up because of their sin as a Christian.

I also take exception to your idea that I am worried about my salvation or my security. That just shows you have no idea what I believe but you have made assumptions. I am as eternally secure as I want to be, I just disagree that there is nothing that could keep me from heaven. The Bible is full of warnings not to quit believing or following Christ. We don't lose our free will when we become Christians. If we choose to quit following Christ then we can't claim to still be saved. Like I said there are many passages which show this and I have posted them numerous times on my site.

I also have a problem with another part of OSAS and you pretty much restated it in your message to me. That is the idea that a Christian will continue to sin all their lives. I have even heard this expressed as "we all sin in word, deed and thought every day." You did not say that, but you did say; "Saved people are and will always be sinners (while on Earth)."

That flies in the face of Scripture:

(Romans 6:16-18 NIV) [16] Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey-whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? [17] But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. [18] You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness!!

(Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV) [26] If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, [27] but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

We can't just keep on sinning and get to heaven!

(Ezekiel 18:21-24 NIV) [21] "But if a wicked man turns away from all the sins he has committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, he will surely live; he will not die. [22] None of the offenses he has committed will be remembered against him. Because of the righteous things he has done, he will live. [23] Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
[24] "But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die.

We remain responsible for our actions. Yes we might stumble and sin, but if we are truly saved the Holy Spirit will convict us of that sin and if we come back, confess our sin and repent of it, we will continue in our salvation, but if we refuse, for whatever reason, including, not believing we need forgiveness, then we have begun the separation of ourselves from our salvation.

(John 15:6 NIV) If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

We have to remain in Christ and continue in our faith.

(James 4:4 NIV) You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

James is speaking to believers. Check the context. But you can tell who he is speaking to, just from this verse. A sinner can't 'become' an enemy of God because they were born into this world as a enemy of God. Only someone who is not now an enemy of God can 'become' one, and that means it has to be a believer!

Now let me show you what happens to the enemies of God:

(Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV) [26] If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, [27] but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

Yep, the same passage that tells us that after we are saved we can't deliberately keep on sinning, and it says the enemies of God will be consumed by fire. Not their rewards, they will be consumed.

You asked what I felt could possibly cause a true believer to abandon the faith and lose their salvation. Let me let God's word answer that. First is the passage I just quoted from James, which says that anyone who loves the world becomes an enemy of God. And there is this one:

(2 Timothy 4:9-10 NIV) [9] Do your best to come to me quickly, [10] for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia.

Now I guess you could try to say that Demas was not a true believer in the first place, but I think Paul would know and look what he said in an earlier letter:

(Philemon 1:23-24 NIV) [23] Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. [24] And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.

(2 Peter 3:17 NIV) Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.

How can a person fall from a secure position if they were never in a secure position in the first place?

(1 Timothy 4:1 NIV) The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

Again how can you abandon something you never had? You can't, so Paul has to be talking about people who were in the faith and then abandoned it.

(2 John 1:8-9 NIV) [8] Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. [9] Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

This is another passage that people try to claim means loss of rewards, but a person who does not have God has no place in heaven much less any rewards. These warnings should make you stop and think. It is important for us to continue in the faith and teachings of Christ.

You tell me to change attitudes or views and read the scripture looking for assurance, again I tell you I see plenty of assurances, but they all are conditioned on our following Christ. I would urge you to put off the lens of your doctrine and read the Bible for what it says, not what you want it to say. It really is pretty clear if you will just read and believe what it says.

Ralph

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