Lets take a closer look at the question of unbelief. Those who believe salvation can be lost often ask an insightful question about the relationship between salvation and faith. The question goes something like this: If our salvation is gained through believing in Christ, doesn't it make sense that salvation can be lost if we quit believing? To answer this question, we must see what saves us. Paul tells us that we are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8-9). God came up with a plan and carried it out through Christ. We didn't take part in it: we didn't deserve any part of it. it was grace from start to finish. We are saved by grace through faith. "Through faith" is important, but often misunderstood. "Through" is translated from the Greek word dia, which carried the idea of "means" or agency. Faith was the agent whereby God was able to apply His grace to the life of the sinner. Faith is simply the way we say yes to God's free gift of eternal life. Faith and salvation are not one and the same any more than a gift and the hand that receives it are the same. Salvation stands independently of faith. Consequently, God does not require a constant attitude of faith in order to be save---only an act of faith in Christ. You and I are not saved because we have enduring faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed faith in our Lord. Notice how Paul ends Ephesians 2:8-9: "It is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." Salvation Paul says is a gift. God has a no-return policy. Christ came to seek and to save the lost. Faith is our way a accepting God's gift. Faith serves as our spiritual hands by which the gift is received at a particular moment in time. Again, saving faith is not necessarily a sustained attitude of gratefulness for God's gift. It is a singular moment in time when we take what God has offered. Eternal life is received by grace through faith, It is a once-and for-all transaction that can never be undone. Because of the nature of God's grace, once you become a Christian, you are always a Christian.
My response is in Green:
This gets to the heart of Once Saved Always Saved. Is salvation a 'one moment in time' transaction or do we have a responsibility to continue on in the faith? I will try to answer that biblically using this paragraph from a letter I received on the issue.
First I want to point out a fallacy many people fall into. They try to take a passage of Scripture and use words in that passage to justify a whole theological argument. Sometimes this works but more often it leads to serious error. You can see that happening in this message. This person uses the word gift and therefore states that because salvation is a gift God has a no-return policy. That sounds great, but is it true? Do you lose your free will once you are saved?
The point I am trying to make is that you can't take the word gift and form a doctrine on it, you need to search the Scripture and make your doctrine on the totality of what God's word says.
I won't dispute that salvation is a gift, that it is given freely and to people who do not deserve it. I agree that it is by grace not of works. I have no problem with any of that, that is what God's word says. But it also says that the person must have faith (believe that Jesus is God's Son who died for their sins).
So far this gentleman and I agree totally. Where we disagree is whether this is a one instant in time faith or a continuing faith. I will try to show that faith is an ongoing requirement for salvation.
Many of the quotes I will use in this article come from Young's Literal Translation of the Bible. It is often hard to read, but can shed great light on the meaning of passages, both for the same reason. That reason is because it is translated so literally.
I want to start with a very well known passage or at least a passage which contains a very well known verse: John 3:14-18 (YLT) 'And as Moses did lift up the serpent in the wilderness, so it behoveth the Son of Man to be lifted up,  that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during,  for God did so love the world, that His Son--the only begotten--He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during.  For God did not send His Son to the world that he may judge the world, but that the world may be saved through him;  he who is believing in him is not judged, but he who is not believing hath been judged already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. (Emphasis added) Notice that it does not say who has believed, it says who is believing. There is a difference. One is a one time event the other is a continuing condition.
Now let me look at something else which is closely related. People say that a person who has been saved can never come back under condemnation. Well let's look and see what Jesus had to say about that. Jesus said: Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)  For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Now it is important to know to whom Jesus said this, to believers or to unbelievers? If you look back to verse 9 of this same chapter you will find what is commonly called the Lord's prayer. Would anyone disagree that it was to believers that Jesus taught that prayer? Of course not.
Here is another passage which clearly shows that we must continue in the faith. I will quote it from both versions (the NIV and YLT): Romans 11:17-22 (YLT)  And if certain of the branches were broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wast graffed in among them, and a fellow-partaker of the root and of the fatness of the olive tree didst become-- do not boast against the branches; and if thou dost boast, thou dost not bear the root, but the root thee!  Thou wilt say, then, 'The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in;' right!  by unbelief they were broken off, and thou hast stood by faith; be not high-minded, but be fearing;  for if God the natural branches did not spare--lest perhaps He also shall not spare thee.  Lo, then, goodness and severity of God--upon those indeed who fell, severity; and upon thee, goodness, if thou mayest remain in the goodness, otherwise, thou also shalt be cut off. (Emphasis added)
Romans 11:17-22 (NIV)  If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,  do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.  You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in."  Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. (Emphasis added)
Take either translation, they both say that we stand by faith and that the Jews who were cut off were cut off because of unbelief. It goes on to say that if we will continue to stand only by faith.
I will only quote one portion of one letter to the church in Sardis from Revelation, but Jesus says much the same to all the churches: Revelation 3:5 (YLT) He who is overcoming--this one--shall be arrayed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the scroll of the life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before His messengers. He who is overcoming, not he who has overcome. Here again the grammar of the original text shows a continual belief.
Do not be fooled, many will come to Jesus at the judgement and call Him Lord, Lord, but not all well enter His abode. For a long time I did not want to address this issue because it can be very divisive, but the more I have studied it and the more questions I receive on it, the more I realized that it has to be addressed. Once Saved Always Saved, sounds good because of our evil nature. We want to believe that having once accepted Christ as our Savior we can be free to do anything we want and never have to worry about our relationship again. But that is NOT what God's word says.
My last quote is from the Old Testament. Many people will dismiss it because they lived under the Law and we live under grace, but my question is; does God change? If your answer is that God never changes then read this passage carefully and you will have your answer: Ezekiel 18:24 (NIV) "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."
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