As we face all kinds of challenges, trials, and personal failures in life, they tend to overwhelm us and discourage our walk with God.
Do these painful, terrifying, and guilt-inducing tragedies show that God has abandoned us to our own devices? Could it mean that we are no longer safe and secure in his loving hands?
Does it suggest we may have wandered far enough away from his goodness to become worthless and irredeemable? What does Scripture teach us about our security?
Some have concluded that the consequences of our sinful mistakes are eternal in nature. They think the salvation we received in the past has been cancelled out and overridden by our failures of the present.
Could this be true? Is our continuous safety in Jesus dependent upon our own perfection? Let us consider this deep and troubling challenge to our hope of eternal life.
A Lesson from Trees
Please take a moment to look out your window or front door. Do you see a tree? If necessary, go outside and take a look at one. Trees are solid, and they are held upright by roots planted deep in the soil.
God designed them to be this way – steadfast and sure. They cannot be moved by human hands. Trees are a good illustration of what it means to be secure.
Metaphorically, the Bible speaks of believers as trees (cf. Psalm 1:3; 52:8; Jer. 17:7, 8). Paul taught about Christians being grafted into God’s mighty olive tree by faith (Rom. 11:17, 18).
Like trees, children of God are fixed firmly in place. Every true Christian is safe and immovable. You have probably read what Jesus said about this topic:
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”John 10:28, 29, NIV
As we can see from Jesus’ assuring words, we are absolutely secure in his hand and the hand of our Heavenly Father.
We have as much a chance of pulling our own souls out of his grip as we do of pulling a strong, sturdy pine tree out of the ground.
The Lord’s hands created every tree on earth, and they were made by him to be immovable. His hands are able to keep us strong and sturdy, as well.
We are absolutely secure. In spite of every failure, our merciful God will not part with a single believer!
All of us are flawed human beings, but we stand as steadfast as a great, towering redwood because he holds us in place.
One Absolute Security
In spite of whatever may have happened in your life, God promises that he “will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).
This is something not possible for our weak humanity to do on its own. We need supernatural help and guidance from him (See 1 John 5:18).
You know how weak you are. We all know our own weaknesses. Most of all, “the God of all grace” knows.
You do not have the power (or even the right) to come to Christ and gain your own salvation from sin and its ruinous consequences. God alone grants this right to those who are born from above (John 1:12, 13).
The Bible teaches that Christ saved us when we were “powerless” (Rom. 5:6). The Father drew us to him so that we could be saved (John 6:44).
Likewise, we do not have the power to keep ourselves saved. God sent his Son to be our Savior and reconcile us to himself. Therefore, he alone is qualified to keep us saved from condemnation and the wrath to come (See Rom. 5:9, 10).
We cannot become saved by merit because it is the free gift of God, and we cannot lose salvation by demerit for the same reason (Eph. 2:8, 9; Rom. 11:29).
There is no place for doubt or fear. Questioning our spiritual status would be tantamount with questioning our Savior who changed our spiritual status to begin with.
None of us have the power to uproot what our Father has planted. His Son’s work on the cross is finished! His forgiveness was freely supplied!
We have nothing left to add to this salvation because it is “not by works we have done in righteousness” (Tit. 3:5).
Our salvation was given to us by grace through faith, and it rests secure in our hearts on the basis of the mercy of God. Nothing else!
One Sacrifice – One Perfection
Salvation is the final and permanent act of God upon the soul. It cannot be undone or reversed. It began in the past, continues in the present, and remains perfect forever.
We have been brought to God by Christ’s once-and-for-all-time sacrifice at Calvary (1 Pet. 3:18). It was everything needed for us to be safe in his loving arms.
“For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”Hebrews 10:14, NIV
Even though we are “being made holy” (continuous action in the present), we are already in a condition of perfection through Jesus’ death and subsequent resurrection from the dead (comp. Rom. 4:25).
His sacrifice “made perfect forever” (completed action in the past) every sanctified believer in him.
Less or more holiness in your life does not change something that has already been accomplished “forever”.
Holy living certainly does demonstrate our salvation to the world, but it changes nothing about our spiritual status already granted through the work of Christ on the cross.
God has justified the one who “does not work, but believes in him who justifies the ungodly” (Rom. 4:5). Good deeds and proof of salvation follow as an evidence of what God has previously done (Jas. 2).
“Perfect forever” means exactly that! He will always maintain our condition because he made us to be like a firmly rooted tree that solidly stands forever!
One Continuous Salvation
The drastic change that salvation brings is described by Jesus in this way:
“He who hears my word and believes in him who sent me has eternal life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”John 5:24, NIV
Moving from a condition of “death” into a condition of “life” is a spiritual resurrection of immense consequences. It shows an eternal change has taken place, and death (separation from God) has been ended!
There is no mention in Scripture of a Christian passing from life back into death again.
Moreover, if we were saved by the new birth, and later had lost that salvation, would it not require yet another new birth to be saved again?
Of course, the Bible does not teach multiple births for the believer! Christians often fall short and make mistakes throughout life, but they are never “unborn“.
They will even make some extremely egregious errors at times, such as Peter’s three denials of Jesus (Luke 22:31 – 34; 23:54 – 62).
We are still surrounded by a sinful environment, and we all succumb to weaknesses and temptations from time to time, but these failures do not change what happened (and what continues to happen) by God’s saving grace!
“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, And He delights in his way. When he falls, he will not be hurled down, Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.”Psalm 27:23, 24, NASB
There are consequences for falling, but sin does not change a Christian into a non-Christian. He will not be “utterly cast down” (KJV).
On the contrary, God himself restores the erring one, upholding him with his righteous right hand (See also Isa. 41:10).
In no instance will sin reverse your new nature. If you are saved, you are a “partaker of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4).
This is true even when sin takes its toll on your flesh (cf. Rom. 7:25; 1 Cor. 5:5).
There is one new birth (John 3:3 – 5). There is one seal of the Spirit (Eph. 1:4, 13, 14). We have all received this birth and seal since God knew us before the foundation of the world (Tit. 1:2).
Therefore, the believer’s salvation is a permanent reality of a one-time, unrepeatable event. It remains in force until the day of redemption, when it accomplishes exactly what it was designed to do (Eph. 4:30).
Since these saving acts of Yahweh cannot be repeated, we know they cannot be lost or forfeited either. Everything God accomplishes is perfect and final.
Whatever you have done yesterday or today, and whatever sins you may be struggling through tomorrow, there is absolute security and no need to be afraid!
(We will conclude this study with some additional passages concerning our security in Part 2).
– Michael A. Hildreth