People often wonder what is the most common question I’m asked on Open Line. The answer is a surprise, because the it hasn’t changed in all the years, going back to the time when Pastor Cole hosted this program. If nothing else, people are consistent in their questions.
So what is the most common question asked? Here it is: Once I know the Lord Jesus and have been forgiven by Him, can I then lose my salvation? This question takes a variety of forms; sometimes people ask if they’ve committed “the unpardonable sin” or they want to know the meaning of an admittedly confusing passage like Hebrews 6. But, over and over, the main question appears to revolve around the possibility of genuine believers losing their salvation. I am convinced that the Bible teaches that we are absolutely secure and we need never be worried or concerned about losing our redeemed relationship with God through Jesus the Messiah.
The simple reason is we’re safe because of the work of the entire God-head—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—in securing our salvation. In the next few weeks, we’re going to examine the saving work of each Person of the one true God, so we can be assured of our security in the Lord. Today, we’re going to focus on the security we have because of the God the Father’s work. This is based on three simple truths.
First, we need to remember that God is completely holy. In 1 John 1:5 it says, “God is light and there is absolutely no darkness in Him.” This means God is completely righteous and there is no evil in Him whatsoever. It shows the high standard we have to meet in order to have a relationship with God. Imagine what it would be like to stand before a judge who never has and never will sin. In fact, One who only does what is good and righteous.
This leads to a second biblical truth: Humanity is utterly sinful. For example, Ecclesiastes 7:20 says, “There is certainly no righteous man on the earth who does good and never sins.” The Hebrew prophet Isaiah says “All of us have become like something unclean, and all our righteous acts are like a polluted garment; all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities carry us away like the wind” (Isaiah 64:6). He is saying that even the good that we do is not good enough for God. It’s why Paul says that we all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23) and that, as a result, we are spiritually “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). How could any of us fallen and broken people ever expect to enter into a relationship with a holy God?
The good news is that there is a the third simple truth: Salvation is entirely by God’s grace. One of the clearest teachings of Scripture is that God’s forgiveness is a gift from Him. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.” This means that God the Father forgives because of His undeserved kindness and that this gift of salvation does not come from us but entirely from Him. But how can a holy God give this gift?
Since it’s not from our works, the Bible reminds us that forgiveness from God is based entirely on His work. An important passage that discusses this is Romans 3:24-28. There we’re taught that we are declared righteous before God only by God’s grace through the redemption that is available through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. God demonstrated that He is a just judge, a Holy God who wouldn’t overlook sin but required a satisfying punishment for sin, a punishment paid for by God the Son, the Lord Jesus. By forgiving us in this way, God would be both “righteous and also declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:28). Our forgiveness and deliverance from the penalty of sin is entirely God’s gracious gift and God’s gracious work. It’s not from our effort or goodness.
So how does all this teach our security in the Lord? It’s simple. We did nothing to achieve our salvation, no good work, no righteous deeds, no balancing act of more good than bad. It was all from God. So if we could do nothing good enough to obtain salvation then we can do nothing bad enough to lose it. If we can’t earn our salvation by doing good then we can’t lose it by sinning. Our salvation is entirely a work of God and therefore no human action can undo it. And that’s the great news for all of us who feel like spiritual failures and unworthy of our salvation. We’re right in our assessment of ourselves but mistaken in our view of God. We don’t become God’s children by being good; we enter into a forgiven relationship with the Father because of what the Father has done for us—He’s redeemed us by grace greater than all our sin.