“The hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
So – is there another and a greater salvation awaiting true Christians in the last days, or have we received everything that it is possible to receive, right here and now?
More importantly, is there a “salvation to come” in the future that the unwary, unrepentant, false, and blasphemers will lose – while those who “endure to the end” and “run the course” will attain to it?
That is what I want to examine.
Heb 12:1-2 “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
The bible says that Jesus is not only the Author but also the Finisher of this “race” [the One who perfects].
He is both our Saviour and our Coming King. He fires the starting pistol but he also stands at the finishing line to crown the winners.
It is this crown of faithfulness that we aspire to, as those who not only began in hope but who finished the race without faltering of falling. BOTH are necessary.
Our Present Assurance
If you’re anything like me, you will have been “born and bred” into the classic Evangelical Church where – quite properly and correctly – the absolute assurance of your salvation will have been preached.
Depending on the denomination you attended, you may also have been taught various versions of the doctrine called OSAS or “once saved, always saved”. This doctrine of ‘eternal security’ teaches that, no matter what, nobody can be lost once having accepted the Lord.
Full assurance and eternal security go hand in hand, and they are hotly defended from the scriptures by some teachers.
The Blessings of Assurance
The positive side of teaching eternal security is this: Christians who suffer from a guilty conscience, or waver in their faith, or fear the consequences of sin, are given complete assurance that redemption is by the shed blood of Jesus and not by good works or human effort.
It is good for Christians to know that “there is therefore no condemnation…” Romans 8:1 and that “none can snatch you out of his hands“. John 10:29
Complete assurance is a vital and correct doctrine, but it must not be taken out of context.
There is no such thing as a cover-all “get out of jail free card” for those who ultimately fall away from the faith and deny the Lord.
It is IMPOSSIBLE to restore those who deliberately deny the Lord! [Hebrews 6:4-8]
The Problems with OSAS
Some people insist that a person who has once received the Lord can NEVER thereafter lose the benefits of redemption, no matter what.
This puts God into the position of having to incorporate into the Body of Christ those who sin willfully and without repentance; it forces God to overlook unfaithfulness, false doctrine, blasphemy and every other kind of offense against himself without being able to (as he vows) vomit them out of his Body [Rev 3:16] or blot them out of the book of life. [Rev 3:4-6]
The scripture plainly says “if we deny him, he will deny us”. That is his privilege as God the Almighty.
Biblical Assurance and Judgment
The bible, if understood correctly, teaches that our present salvation is based upon the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus, and thus we receive it by faith in Jesus Christ and not by anything we have done.
It also teaches, at the same time, that those who once availed themselves of that blood-bought redemption from sin can then willfully turn away from it, deny it, and choose to leave the Lord’s covering to go back to sin and the world.
Anyone who rejected the Law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think one deserves to be punished who has trampled on the Son of God, profaned the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge His people.”
Not Contradictions but Confirmations
As so often, the bible presents two EQUALLY true doctrines that can be held simultaneously without doing damage to either.
- the importance of both good works and faith (read the letter of James)
- the legitimacy of both the Law and Faith (Epistle to Hebrews)
- the usefulness of riches and also their wickedness
- the need for water baptism and also that it has been superseded
- that God is all-powerful but also cannot do certain things
And so we could go on.
But back to the point: that total assurance can be held fully while at the same time knowing that it’s possible to deny the Lord and forfeit salvation while still on earth.
It cannot happen by accident, nor without intent. You cannot unwittingly displace or lose your redemption. God is not fickle, nor easily angered.
You cannot lose it by behaving badly, or having times when you are not close to the Lord – so long as you ultimately respond to his mercy and kindness, return, repent and restore your fellowship with him.
(Remember Jesus telling the story of the Prodigal Son who demanded his inheritance, wasted it all, then returned to his father! What forgiveness and restoration awaited him!)
The Fate of Blasphemers
However, it IS possible for those who have “once tasted the heavenly gift” to subsequently turn again and, in effect, “trample the Son of God” thus choosing to opt out of the blood-bought redemption they could have received. Their end is to be burned!
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, 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. For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes often upon it, and brings forth plants fit for them by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God: But that which bears thorns and briars is worthless, and is near unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
OUR FUTURE SALVATION
So now I want to look at some scriptures that I feel have been misunderstood and wrongly interpreted for many years. This takes us into a realm beyond our present salvation.
These are all the scriptures that speak of a FUTURE salvation that is to be hoped for, and eagerly anticipated, along with the knowledge that it can be LOST under certain circumstances.
Paul spoke repeatedly of the need for endurance and consistent faith, as well as good conduct, since our future salvation depends on staying the course:
1 Thess 5:8-9
But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of our hope of salvation. For God has not appointed us to suffer wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
It seems that Paul was speaking of this future hope of salvation as the rescue of those who remain on earth in the last day of terror for mankind. [See his previous statements in 1 Thess 4:16-17]
That indeed is my own understanding of our “future salvation” especially as the very word “salvation” means RESCUE and DELIVERANCE.
And as it is appointed to men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation.
1 Peter 1:3-13
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time…. 13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
Peter spoke of a salvation, a rescue, and the gaining of an eternal inheritance, that was to be revealed “in the last time” and “at the revelation of Jesus Christ”
That once again raises the question of a future salvation which must be attained by faithfulness and endurance, and which can in the last days be LOST!
The IF statements
It cannot have escaped your notice as you read the bible, that the apostles ALL use the word IF when speaking of the blessings to come.
What can they have meant, except to say that there are certain conditions to attaining the last-days future salvation, the PRIZE for running the race that Paul so eagerly awaited.
Some of the IF Statements
2 Tim 2:11-13
This is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He will also deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
For if God did not spare the natural branches (the Israelites), He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, IF you continue in His goodness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
1 Corinthians 15:2
…the gospel which I preached to you … by which also you are saved, IF you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain.
He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight —IF indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel
…Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are IF we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end…. For we have become partakers of Christ IF we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.
For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: “… Now the just shall live by faith; but IF anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.”
Need For Endurance to Obtain the Coming Salvation
We want each of you to show the same diligence to the very end, so that your hope may be fully assured. Then you will not be sluggish, but will imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
If these verses don’t convince you, nothing will!
I see no way to avoid the conclusion that there is both full assurance of faith AND the possibility of losing out on the salvation/rescue plan of God at the end. The letters written to the churches in Revelation warn of the same thing, for…
He who overcomes shall inherit all things … and he shall be My son.
Because you have kept my command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing.
In Conclusion – Endure!
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
I cannot finish in a better way than to give you this passage of scripture, which says all that I have pointed out, and more.
It calls for endurance, it warns of the penalty of falling away, and it tells of the glories to come.
Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.
For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears….
 See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.