“Once Saved, Always Saved, & Being Saved”
To properly answer the
question, “Are you saved?,”
we must see the two
distinct sides of salvation:
“Do you believe in the security of salvation? In ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’”?
That is a pretty common and basic question among Christians. And if someone were to ask me if I believe that, I would answer that yes, I do. But I would also add, there is more to it than what you seem to think. A better way to express it, I would suggest, is,
“Once saved, always saved, and being saved.”
So, what does that mean?
Basically that, in regards to the New Testament teaching concerning salvation, there are two sides, the “once-for-all,” completed side, and the “day-by-day,” ongoing side; only when we account for both can we understand salvation in a complete way. Sadly, throughout the entire history of the church, so many Christians have only been willing to see one side, while refusing to see the other, and this has resulted in an enormous amount of confusion and contention regarding God’s plan of salvation.
First, no doubt, the moment we believe in Christ we can and very much should have the assurance of our eternal salvation; praise the Lord for that!
Truly, truly, I say to you, He who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life, and shall not enter into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
— John 5:24; cf. Ephesians 2:8
This is the “once-for-all” aspect of our salvation, which relates to our eternal destiny. But while this is indeed a wonderful New Testament truth, the refusal of Christians to see the other, balancing side of the truth has caused so many believers become careless regarding their following of Christ.
In reality, one of the great themes of the New Testament, of which it speaks explicitly in several places, is that salvation is also an ongoing process:
For if we, being enemies, were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved in His life.
— Romans 5:10
So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
— Philippians 2:12
[You are] receiving the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
— 1 Peter 1:9
For it is time for the judgment to begin from the house of God; and if first from us, what shall be the end of those who disobey the gospel of God? And if the righteous man is saved with difficulty, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
— 1 Peter 4:17-18
“For whoever desires to save his life [same word in Greek as ‘soul’] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
— Matthew 16:25
To stand in “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27) we must account for these verses that deal with the “day-by-day” side of salvation, and not only for those that show us the “once-for-all” side.
And the way to account for them is to understand that, while our eternal destiny is secure, “once-for-all,” we cannot have that same assurance regarding where we will spend the Millennium, the 1,000 year reign of Christ on the present earth that will come between this age and eternity; that will not be decided until we stand before the judgment seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10).
In brief, if we are faithful to Christ “day-by-day” in this life, that age will be a time of reward and unspeakable blessing for us; this was the prize the Apostle Paul was seeking to gain (1 Cor. 9:24-27). However, if we are not faithful, it will be a time of discipline for us; this is what the Lord Himself spoke of to His disciples when He warned them they could “lose” their soul when He returns (Matt. 16:24-27; cf. Luke 13:23-30).
To win this prize of reigning with Christ we must experience, throughout our lives, the ongoing aspect of salvation referred to in the verses above; namely, what Peter calls “the salvation of the soul.” (Watchman Nee has a very good, short book on this very topic entitled just that, The Salvation of the Soul.) That is, we must allow the Lord to save us, not only from the Lake of Fire (we are already saved from that, thank the Lord!), but from ourselves, to conform us to His own image (Rom. 8:29-30).
This takes place through a process the New Testament calls “transformation” (Rom. 12:2, 2 Cor. 3:18), and this is the “day-by-day,” ongoing aspect of our salvation.
We will consider what transformation actually is in the next Note in this series.
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— 11 November 2023 —