IT’S THE QUESTION OF THE WEEK.
It comes from Artha Waycaster. She wins a free book for her trouble.
How do you feel about the subject once saved always saved? I tend to think you can lose your way after becoming a Christian. My sister thinks [if you lose your way] you were not saved in the first place. Is there anything biblical about this? How much wrong can you do and still remain saved?
As to that last question, I hope for my sake the answer is “a lot.”
Artha, beyond that question, you’re asking me two more questions.
Are you practicing to become a member of the White House press corps?
First you’re asking for my opinion on the matter. And then you’re asking what the Bible says about it.
As for my opinion, I leave the saving stuff to God. I’m not about to lay any bets on who flies and who fries.
That’s partly because the Bible writers send mixed messages on the topic.
The Bible isn’t a book. It’s a library. We’ve got a bunch of different writers with different ways of thinking and different ways of expressing themselves.
Some writers seem to work extra hard at assuring us that God, like the best parent in the universe, loves us no matter what…and that once we’re his kid, we’re his kid forever:
- Done deal. “I tell you for certain that everyone who hears my message and has faith in the one who sent me has eternal life and will never be condemned. They have already gone from death to life” (Jesus, in John 5:24, CEV).
- Done deal ditto. He has given us new birth…. a gift that can never be destroyed. It can never spoil or even fade away. It is kept in heaven for you. …Your salvation is going to be completed” (1 Peter 1:4-5, NIRV).
Other writers emphasize the need for God’s sheep to follow his lead instead of nibbling their way into trouble:
- Death walk. “If anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another, you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death” (James 5:19, NRSV).
- The “If” clause. “You must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life he promised us” (1 John 2:24-25, NLT).
When it comes to theology—God talk—I’m not sharpest tool in the Craftsmen toolbox (though I’m sharp enough to know about product placement ads). Men and women a whole lot smarter than I am have lobbied fiercely on both sides of this debate.
John Calvin (1509-1564) said “Eternal life is foreordained for some, eternal damnation for others.” Lots of Baptists and Presbyterians take their cue from him. Call them Calvinists. But don’t call them late to the potluck.
John Wesley (1703-1791) taught that God lets us make our own decision about eternal life because “he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost” (2 Peter 3:9, CEV). Go Methodists. Salvation Army, too. Call them Wesleyans. But keep your voice down.
As far as I’m concerned, I’m willing to let other people throw punches in that argument.
All the while, I’ll be keeping my hands in my pockets and my eyes on the Shepherd.