For those who believe that a Christian is solely “justified” by faith alone, there is an appeal in this idea that once a person, more specifically a Christian is “saved” (bear in mind that God is the final judge, not our fellow human beings), he or she is always saved, and cannot lose that saving grace ever.
Think about that for a moment.
Here is the problem for me with that idea. If taken to its logical end point, a “saved” Christian could consciously and willfully engage in terribly sinful and evil actions for many years and still rest comfortably with a clear conscience and a confidence that he/she is still saved. It follows, of course, that such a person also believes that Christ’s forgiveness is automatic and unconditional.
If you claim to have faith and yet do not live a moral life, avoiding both sins of commission and omission, then your faith is shallow and looks like mere lip service. It is, after all, so very easy to mouth the mantra “Jesus is my personal Lord and Savior” several times a week. A person can easily talk the talk in these degraded times, but it is much more challenging to actually live an authentic Christian life (i.e. walk the walk so to speak). Christ warned us about the “luke-warm”.
As to the forgiveness of sins, we ought not deceive ourselves that forgiveness is automatic and requires nothing of us. In one Gospel account, Christ uses these words “Go, and sin no more”. The logical conclusion to draw is that forgiveness does in fact require of the sinner sincere repentance and a firm commitment to make amends of his or her life.
A grotesque example of believing that when one is once saved, he or she can never lose that condition is the case of the infamous, late term abortionist, George Tiller (who I seem to recall was gunned down in 2009 or so). Here was a man that routinely mocked God by performing “baptisms” on children whom he had aborted and who were already dead. I do not recall exactly which Christian denomination in Wichita, Kansas he was a Church elder at; it may have been one of the Presbyterian churches there. Do you think Tiller retained his saving grace year after year as he killed thousands with his hands? (The actual estimates of this man’s murders, which he from time to time boasted of, were in the tens of thousands.) We could quote the OT here and remind readers that God hates the shedding of innocent blood. This is a worthy example to ponder when thinking that “once saved, always saved” is a true concept (hint: this novel idea has only been around for a relatively short time in Christian history).
Just some spicy food for thought here. And, that is the end of my Sunday evening sermon.
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