Can Salvation be Lost? Part 4
Salvation is of the Lord: The Work of Jesus and the Spirit
In the other articles we have already covered the fact that salvation can never be earned because we are all sinners and fall short of God's glory. God's standard is perfection and therefore none of us can ever be worthy on our own. Rather, salvation is a free gift of God's grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ upon the cross. And if it cannot be earned by works, it cannot be lost by works.
We have to say here that works do play a vital part in the Christian life. They are the result of salvation and not the cause. A living apple tree produces apples. A living Christian produces good works. But good works play no part in getting us saved (Titus 3:5). Indeed, if we could earn salvation, Christ would not have had to die. It is his death and resurrection alone that gives us any assurance of eternal life. And it is His work and the work of the Holy Spirit that will keep us from ever losing salvation.
The believer is a part of God's eternal plan and has been chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1). That was a plan which took place before we ever sinned. Indeed this was a plan that took place before we were even born.
We are saved regardless of our feelings to the contrary. Salvation is of the Lord, and He has promised that He who has begun a good work in us will bring it to completion (Philippians 1:6).
With all of this in mind, let us begin to look at how God assures that the believer is eternally secure in Christ.
I. The Work of Christ Gives Assurance
Scripture teaches that the death of Jesus on the cross paid the total price to save all who will ultimately surrender to Him in faith. Jesus finished the redemptive work that he was sent to accomplish. We can find this in Hebrews 10:10-14. Note verse 14 which plainly states:
"For by one offering He has perfected forever those that are sanctified."
The word sanctified here simply means 'set apart' from sin for God. It means to be 'made holy'. The tense of the verb can best be translated as "those who are being made holy". In other words, those who are saved and are being transformed to the image of Christ. Being perfected involves a perfect standing before God in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. We are forever in this state, so can never be lost.
Beyond Christ's work on the cross, there is another work which He is continuing to do to this day. He is our Great High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for us. The Bible says that believers have access to God the Father because Jesus intercedes for His own (Hebrews 7:25-28).
Our Lord is now our present advocate in heaven. He acts a lot like a defense attorney on our behalf. Christians are not totally sinless yet and sometimes do the wrong thing. Satan glories in this and is the great accuser of the brethren (Revelation 12:10). But our Lord is always there to point out that His blood has forever cleansed us from sin (I John 2:1).
II. The Work of the Holy Spirit Gives Assurance
By the Spirit every true believer is said to be baptized or placed into the Church, the Body of Christ (I Corinthians 12:13). We become part of Christ and of His family which includes both present and future believers, as well as those in this Age of Grace in which we now live, who have died and are now with the Lord in Heaven.
Besides this, the Spirit comes to indwell, or live in every truly saved person (I Corinthians 3:16). The Spirit's indwelling proves that we are not our own. We belong to Christ.
The Bible teaches also that we are sealed with the Spirit until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). In those days a seal denoted ownership. A good illustration of this work of the Spirit is a piece of registered mail. Any time something is registered at the post office it is sealed until delivered. Only two persons can open this mail. One is the sender, if it is delivered back to him. The other is the recipient. In the case of the believer, God sends him on the way to heaven, and He is also the recipient. He receives the believer into heaven. Only God can break the seal and He promises not to do so. The presence of the Holy Spirit guarantees this, for He is the one in whom we have been sealed by God.
Of course there are other works of the Spirit which help to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ as believers. They include teaching (John 16:12-15), guiding (Romans 8:14), assuring the believer that he is a child of God (Romans 8:16) and interceding or praying on our behalf (Romans 8:26). Not only does He pray for us but Ephesians 6:18 indicates that the Spirit guides and directs our prayers to the Father as well.
We still have a bit more ground to cover in order to do this subject of eternal security justice, but I hope that you are getting the picture here that our salvation is far more than what most people realize. It is beyond what our puny minds can completely comprehend.
It's interesting that all Christians believe in some form of security. Many of them believe that their security will begin when they have reached heaven. They picture themselves as stepping over the threshold of the Celestial City and saying: "Finally, I made it!" But the fact is that no one is safe because he is in heaven. The Scriptures teach that some of the angels fell from heaven. Security is not in a place but in a person. His name is Jesus Christ. We are safe in Christ, and that is the only safety we will ever need, in this world or the next. Through faith in His name, we have been given the Holy Spirit of promise who seals us until Christ comes to finish the work He started. All we can say to this is: "Praise be to God for His unspeakable gift of eternal life!"