Security in Christ: Conditional…or not? – Part 1
By Adrian Bateman
As a pastor and as a moderator for a major online Christian community known as Rapture Forums for the past decade, I am constantly coming across people who live in utter fear that they have lost their salvation. Something they have done, or something they have not done, has caused God to turn away from them.
Now, we should never take God or His salvation for granted. Godly fear is a good thing. But let it be godly fear, not man-made fear; let it be scriptural, not spurious. So I want to share with you what I have shared with literally hundreds of people before, the truth that God brought me, myself, into after years of living in fear, bound by discouragement and defeat in my daily walk. It’s a truth that will both liberate you and equip you for victorious living.
Jesus prayed for Peter that he would not lose his faith, though Satan sought to sift him. The Father answered that prayer. He answered EVERY prayer of Jesus. And He still does. Jesus is currently interceding for us just as He did for Peter. His prayers are no less efficacious today than they were back then. And if He prayed for Peter’s faith, we can be assured He prays for ours.
John tells us that Jesus said, “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.” (John 6:39) And what has the Father given into Christ’s hands? All who would come to Him. So for all those who have truly come to Christ, Jesus will ensure that He loses not one. He will seek the missing hundredth sheep. He will welcome the prodigal home. He will hunt for the missing precious item.
God says through Paul that “He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) He. Not we. In 1 Corinthians 1:8 Paul, again speaking under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, says, “[Jesus Christ] shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That word translated “confirm” is the Greek βέβαιος (bebaios) which literally means “to secure”, “to make sure”, “to sustain in a position.” Understand that. The Holy Spirit is saying that JESUS—not you, not me, not anybody else—only Jesus Himself can and will secure us …TO THE VERY END!
And as if to stamp “Done! Signed! Sealed! Delivered!” to this statement, we find the very next sentence. “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:9) GOD! GOD! GOD! Is faithful! He Himself adds Himself to the certitude and the security of the statement that Jesus will perform what He has promised in us—to the very end.
Do we not think that Christ has the power to do that? Do we not think that His ministrations today are as powerful, efficacious and all-sufficient as they have been since the moment when He created all that exists? Jude thought so. The apostle concluded his epistle with the words, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25)
Does someone want to argue that God is able, but might not want to? That He is able, but somehow He withheld His ability from us? He is able, but we just slipped through a crack? He is able, but He who has named all the stars, who has numbered the hairs on our heads, who accounts for every grain of sand in the sea, who knows all the days of our lives before there is yet one written, He who upholds all things by the breath of His mouth, just somehow let us slip? It is ridiculous to even consider that.
Does someone want to argue that just as we choose to follow Christ, we can choose to not follow Him? At least this has the appearance of logic behind it. But it is no less false. When God determined to give man freedom to accept or reject Him, it was not without limit. God is still God. And it is clear from Scripture that once we surrender to Christ, we are now His and serve at His pleasure. We are not our own any longer, we are bought with a price. A man’s slave might run from his wicked earthly master; Christ’s slave cannot run from his heavenly Master. Wherever he or she goes, God is already there (Psalm 139:7-10).
Nor would he want to run from his heavenly master! Those who have never been Christ’s in truth might turn from Him. The parable of the seed and the four types of ground shows that. But one who has been truly touched, who has been truly reborn, who has truly become a new creation, in whom dwells the Holy Spirit who has sealed Him to the day of Redemption (Ephesians 4:30), such a one can NEVER walk away from Christ, no matter the provocation. Anymore than he or she can willfully and carelessly live on in habitual and unrepented sin.
I tell you where the idea that a true Christian can be lost comes from. And it isn’t from Scripture. Oh, you can find verses that appear to indicate that someone who is saved can be lost; but in order to place that reading on those scriptures, you have to take them in isolation and ignore all of the other Scriptures that show it is God’s work to keep us and His promise to secure us. Just as no man can keep himself holy by his own efforts, no man can keep himself saved by his own efforts. It is God that does both. But the Holiness people, the legalists who develop long lists of rules for church members to follow, who inspect the outward what they call “fruit” of believers and who see all sin as NOT being covered by Christ’s blood, these people have created a gospel in which one must meet these standards or be lost forever.
The KJV does not help in that because it sometimes uses the word “damnation” when the Greek actually signifies “condemnation”. And God condemning something you do is quite different from God damning you!
The fact is that once we are truly saved, we are secure. Our behavior does not impact our salvation following salvation, any more than it impacted our salvation prior to salvation. We were enemies of God (Romans 5:10) and abominable in His sight (1 Peter 4:3). Yet He sent His Son to die for us while we were yet in that condition. His love for us was despite our filthy rags and our abominable nature. The prodigal son did not clean up and return home, he went there in fear and trembling in the rags he possessed. Yet the father “saw him while he was yet afar off” (Luke 15:20) and “moved with compassion” didn’t stand there waiting for the raggedy, stinking son to come up to him; no, the father RAN to that filthy wretch and hugged him tight and kissed him and called for clean clothing and His own ring. That ring, my friends, signified that all that the Father had was now that son’s. We … are that prodigal son. God is that Father. And all that He has He gives us because we are in Christ. Nothing we can do will change that. And having once been away from the Father, nothing could ever induce us to leave again. As the disciples said, when Jesus asked them if they would leave Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68) Exactly. There is no place to go for those who are Christ’s, for they recognize that in Christ they have everything and they trust Him with all that they have.
So, is personal righteousness, holy behavior, not important? We’ll examine that in part 2.