From the days of the early church — Christians have been concerned about the possibility of losing their salvation. However, Scripture is very clear that once salvation is obtained – it will never be taken away.
Christians are never in danger of losing what God has freely given to them. Romans 8:29-30 clearly reinforces this truth.
29 For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (these are Christians).
30 And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.
These verses describe God’s unbroken pattern of redemption. They say God knew His people in advance – that’s before He ever created them. And then the passage talks about the steps of redemption – from being chosen all the way to glorification. Glorification is when God completes His redemptive work and makes His people just like Himself.
Now, we know many people do not become believers. So, does that mean God chooses some people to be saved and excludes others? And — if that’s true – where does faith fit into the process? You see, the Bible teaches that faith is also necessary to be saved.
For example, let’s look at Hebrews 11:6.
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him (in this case to be saved) must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
There are other passages which say the same thing. For example, Ephesians 2:8-9 says,
8 God saved you by his grace when you believed (it takes faith to believe). And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.
9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT
This passage says it takes faith to believe — and God provides it — as a gift.
Romans 10:9-13 is another example. It says,
9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead (that’s all done through faith), you will be saved.
10 For it is by believing (through faith) in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth (through faith) that you are saved.
11 As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
12 Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him.
13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:9-13 NLT
So, having faith is an essential part of being saved.
Now, all these passages seem to be in conflict with Romans 8:29 which says God chooses those who are saved.
So how do we make sense of all this?
Well, scholars have been trying to do that for centuries. However, there is still much confusion. But, there is one explanation that may clarify this apparent dilemma. And that explanation is this — God CHOOSES EVERYBODY He creates to receive salvation. John 3:16 – which is perhaps the most famous verse in the Bible — says,
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Notice the passage uses the expression, “the world” That includes every human being God has created. 2 Peter 3:9 says God wants everyone to repent. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. So, having said that – how does free will of human beings fit in to the process of salvation?
Well, the answer is — even though God chooses everybody to receive salvation — they HAVE TO CHOOSE HIM BACK TO GET IT. They have to make a decision to accept or reject God’s offer of salvation.
God is committed to our free will. He gives everybody the ability to choose, and He will not override it. So, God offers salvation to everybody, but He leaves it up to each individual to accept it or not.
Now, that doesn’t mean God will not try to influence people’s decisions. He does that all the time, but He won’t change people’s decisions – once they have made them.
That’s it for now. Next week we will talk about the process of redemption that God uses.
Until then – have a good week …