Now what do I do? That’s the question we need to ask whenever we learn a truth from Scripture. In the last few weeks, I’ve used this blog to go over the biblical evidence for the eternal security of the believer. So, now we need to ask, “Now what?”
This is especially important, because one of the most common criticisms of the biblical teaching about eternal security is that it seems to gives Jesus followers carte blanche to live wild. Since we’re assured of heaven, we can even deny our faith in Messiah or sin wildly here on earth without any consequence. Nothing could be further from the truth. Although nothing can ever separate us from the love of God, we need to act on that truth. In light of being secure in God’s love, now what do we do? Here are four ways to live in light of our security.
First of all, we now need to hold firmly to our faith. In Hebrews 4:14, we’re reminded that we have a great high priest who always intercedes for us. That should motivate us to “hold firmly to what we believe” (NLT). My friend and teacher Stanley Toussaint, now with the Lord, would frequently say, “Endurance is the mark of election.” If we really know the Lord Jesus, we’ll never give up our faith in Him. When the crowds left Jesus after the bread of life discourse, the disciples stayed. When asked why, Peter said, “Lord, who will we go to? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that You are the Holy One of God” (John 6:67-69)! If we genuinely understand our forgiveness and security in the Messiah Jesus, we’ll hold on to Him no matter what.
Second, we now have to live holy lives. In Romans 4-5, Paul lays out his teaching about being justified by God’s grace. A critic might say, if God’s grace saves us, then we should sin more and more to get more and more grace. Paul’s answer, in Romans 6 is an emphatic, “No!” He says, “Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? . . . just as Messiah was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life ” (Romans 6:1-4). Paul’s point is that when we came to faith in the Messiah Jesus, the old us died and was raised to new life with Jesus. We can’t live as we once did because we’re no longer the people we once were. Years ago I had a teacher who told us about what it was like to be abandoned by his dad. He was angry and frequently acted out. Then his mom remarried and her new husband actually adopted this rebellious little boy and gave him his last name. Very soon afterwards, when this boy was in the midst of behaving badly, his new dad, took him aside and reminded him of his new name. He said, “Son, you have a new identity and you need to behave that way. You now have my name and you need to act like it.” That’s what grace has done for us—we have a new identity in the Messiah Jesus and we need to live like it.
A third response to our security in Messiah is that we now need to focus on doing good works for Him. After reminding us that our salvation is a gift of God, received solely by God’s kindness through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9), Paul declares that God’s grace has made us “His workmanship, created in Messiah Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). Although grace is the root of our salvation, good works should be the fruit of it. God saved us to do His work in the world. Good works are what God has saved us to accomplish for Him. Even though good works can’t bring us God’s forgiveness or keep us in a relationship with the Lord, they should be the natural result of our salvation.
Finally, our security should now motivate us to serve the Messiah Jesus so we can receive a future reward. Paul says that we can build on the foundation laid by our Messiah by serving Him. Figuratively speaking, he says that we can build with with wood, hay and straw or with gold, silver and precious metals. At the Bema Seat of Messiah Jesus, our service will be judged and if our work endures, we “shall receive a reward” (1 Corinthians 3:14). There should be no greater desire for us than to one day stand before the Lord and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23) And of course, if we receive a crown, we’ll cast them before the Messiah’s throne, because He alone is worthy to receive glory (Revelation 4:10-11). But I still long to hear those words, “Well done,” don’t you?
Sometimes I hear people fear that understanding our security in Messiah Jesus is bad for us because it will make us lackadaisical in our walk. But the reality is that when we’re secure in the perseverance of God’s redeeming love, it will produce in us a firm faith, holy lives, good works, and faithful service. How can that be bad?