The Bible teaches clearly that we are saved by grace and not by meritorious works (Eph. 2:8). Furthermore, we have access to God’s amazing grace through our faith in Jesus Christ who died for our sins (Rom. 5:2). But this faith is not a dormant and dead faith, for faith only will not save (James 2:24). It is, rather, a faith that obeys as one repents of his sins and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). We are buried with Him by baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). This new life is an obedient life; one that walks in accordance with God’s will. Having put Christ on in baptism, we are now sons of God by faith (Gal. 3:26, 27), and as such should walk as children of light (Eph. 5:8). But what if we do not? Many say it won t matter, for once you are saved you are always saved. But Paul was concerned about Christians falling away from God’s amazing grace. He warns those Christians in Galatia who would revert back to the Law of Moses, you have fallen from grace (Gal. 5:4). He even writes of himself, I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected (1 Cor. 9:27).
Most religious folk in our society acknowledge that for the person who has never become a Christian, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). But Satan has deceived many into believing that once a person has been forgiven of his past sins, he may thereafter sin with immunity.
The prophet Ezekiel made it abundantly plain that not only can a rebel repent and become a servant of God, but a servant of God can change his mind and become a rebel, if he so chooses. “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die... But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath transpassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die” (Ezek. 18:21, 24).
I grew up among a body of religious folk who insisted, “You can’t fall from grace.” Imagine the shock I felt the first time I ran across Gal. 5:4, where Paul plainly says some had done just that — they had fallen from grace. Note what the Bible says in the plainest of language:
1. Jesus says that in time of temptation, some DO fall, Luke 8:13.
2. The Holy Spirit expressly says that some SHALL depart, 1 Tim. 4:1.
3. The Scriptures clearly indicate that some ARE in a fallen state, Gal. 5:4.
4. Paul says that on one occasion 23,000 FELL in one day, 1 Cor. 10:8.
5. The Scriptures insist that Christ will not return until there has been a FALLING AWAY, 2 Thess. 2:3.
“Kept Through Faith.” As I was growing up, I head much talk about “the security of the believer” and how we are “kept through faith.” There is much truth in what I had heard. If, by the term “the believer” we main “the faithful,” then there is indeed security for such. The faithful are not in jeopardy, Rev. 2:10; Matt. 25:21, etc. And the Bible clearly teaches that we are “kept by the power of God through faith” (1 Pet. 1:5). But in order to be kept through faith, we must keep the faith! Numbers of believers down through the ages have chosen to leave the faith, and in doing so, have sealed their own doom. Note these illustrations, all taken from Paul’s first letter to Timothy:
1. Some have swerved from the faith, 1:6.
2. Some have made shipwreck concerning the faith, 1:19.
3. Some shall depart from the faith, 4:1.
4. Some have denied the faith and become worse than infidels, 5:8.
5. Some have cast off their faith, 5:12.
6. Some have erred from the faith, 6:10, 21.
All these had ceased to be faithful. They lost the security that was theirs as long as they kept the faith.
A Gradual Process. Jesus compared lost people to lost sheep, Luke 15:4-7. Sheep seldom if ever become lost suddenly. They carelessly, gradually drift off from the flock. A straying sheep can be reclaimed, but he must be reclaimed before he is in the clutches of the wolf. In the fold of God, we need to be watchful and helpful to each other, lest we become lost. Straying Christians need to be restored before it is too late, James 5:19-20; Gal. 6:1. If the gradual drifting continues indefinitely, there is grave danger that a hardness of heart will set in, making repentance impossible and forever sealing one’s doom, Heb. 6:4-6.