Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.” ( John 6;28-29)
Salvation cannot be obtained by our personal merit. Thank God , because there is not one of us who could ever merit salvation. We cannot earn it, nor can we who have received the gift, ever lose it due to lack of merit. The scriptures make it obvious, “By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight…”.
None of us can earn our salvation, nor can we in anywise put God in debt to us, all that He gives is freely given, it is grace. Salvation is Grace, undeserved favor.
If we couldn’t do anything to earn it, neither can we forfeit it by what we do. I do not believe that there is any particular sin that a believer can do which would cost him his salvation.
I cannot emphasize these blessed and simple truths enough, because those of us who set out the case against ‘unconditional assurance’ , (ie Once Saved Always Saved) are always accused of preaching ” good works”, or works based salvation.
Thank God for scriptures like Ephesians 2:8-10,
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. ( Ephesians 2:8-10)
There is nothing I could ever do to earn my salvation, nor to lose it, nor to add to it or take away from it, thank God. Therefore there is nothing I can personally boast in, all of the glory for my salvation goes to Jesus, who, “…has Loved us and bought us from our sins with his own blood”.(Revelation 1:5)
Salvation is not unconditional however. There is one, and only one condition, and that is that we must believe. “He that believes…shall have eternal life”. “This is the Work, that you believe on Him whom the Father has sent”.
Over and over again, we are told by the Apostles that we must believe to be saved. All the Father requires is belief, steadfast, loyal faith. He knows we are weak, unsteady, liable to sin, fall and defect, yet all he requires is belief.
Is the requirement to believe, in the bible a “one time” experience, or is belief seen as an ongoing loyalty which sustaines to the very end, (the goal) of Salvation ?
Popular Bible teacher Charles Stanley presents a very common misconception about saving Faith when He assures people,
Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy.” (Stanley Charles, Eternal Security- Can You Be sure? Thomas Nelson pg 93)
The Apostles never taught anything like that. Instead they taught believers to “Hold fast the profession of their hope … to the end…”
But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. ( Hebrews 3:6)
The danger to the soul, according to the teaching of Hebrews , is ‘unbelief’. The example from the Old Testament was the incident with the 12 spies. All of Israel heard the gospel of the land flowing with milk and honey. All of them rejoiced, until they came to Kadesh Barnea, where they saw the Giants.
From then on, only two out of that entire whole truly believed! The rest fell short of entering into God’s rest, because they cast aside their confidence, in unbelief.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; ( Hebrews 3:14)
What does this say about people now, who once believed passionately in Christ and the gospel, but who no longer “hold fast”? I know people who set out believing in Christ, but who no longer maintain faith. Are they still saved? As we pointed out in the last message, “whoever goes on believing shall be saved…” , not whoever ever believed at one time!
Saving Faith is not mere mental assent to a set of propositions. It is an ongoing commitment of a loyalty to a Revelation from God, much like the vows at a wedding. it is “faithfulness”, a response to what God has done and revealed. Jesus called it “abiding in the vine” in John 15.
Neither Jesus or the Apostles ever held forth anything similar to Charles Stanley’s proposition that one can be saved on a temporary belief, which one eventually defects from. Believers “go on believing” whatever it takes. If that belief calls for self renunciation, so be it. When the belief requires personal repentance, true believers repent. None of those things are “works” they are simply elements of the one and only condition God has set on salvation, Faith.