This article is the result of reading other postings on this website. With a huge number of readers and followers believing that a true saint can lose his salvation and be lost again, I came across this verse of Scripture, upon which I write this article.
I will cause you to walk in my statutes. Ezekiel 36:27.
This sentence just quoted was uttered by none other by God himself through the prophet Ezekiel. And he spoke this to the exiled Jews who were taken by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar in 586BC.
But to put it in context, here is the more complete quotation:
For I will take you (the Jews) from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. (The land of Israel, or Erech Yisrael). Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take out the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgements and do them.
And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
Ezekiel 36:24-28 K.J.V..
This is one of several extraordinary prophecies found in the Old Testament. This one, along with Jeremiah 31:31-34, also quoted in Hebrews 8:8-12, are prophecies addressed to the sons of Israel who will dwell peacefully in their own land after the Return of Jesus Christ, who himself will sit at the throne of his father David in Jerusalem. So these prophecies are still unfulfilled at this time. It is true that many Jews have returned to their own land and Israel became a sovereign nation in 1948. But today the Jews dwell in unbelief, that is to say, not accepting the Christian Saviour Jesus Christ as their Messiah.
I will cause you to walk in my statutes. This being the result of a new heart and a new spirit put within the person. What does this mean? It would mean that the new heart is a set of new desires and wishes, the longing to know God personally and to do his will. This also includes not wanting to sin, the desire to abstain from all that is evil. The new Spirit can only mean the Holy Spirit, who indwells every believer to guide him to the right way to please God.
And this is a good description of the Christian today, one who has been born again through faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The true believer is given a new heart, a desire to know God personally and to please him. He is against the idea of sinning willfully. 1 John 3:9-10 says,
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil; whosoever does not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.
So here we have two groups, the children of God and the children of the devil. History tells us that both can dwell in any church today, which is endorsed by Jesus himself when he gave the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24-30). When Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude wrote their letters, they were addressed to a church assembly or a group of church assemblies. Paul for one, wrote to the church in Rome, to the Church in Corinth, to the Churches in Galatia, to the Church in Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse and Thessalonica. All of these churches must have had some unbelievers within the assembly, as Paul often writes that they will partake in the resurrection if they remain in the faith, e.g. Colossians 1:22-23. Even to Timothy, Paul warns that there will be unbelievers mingling with the true saints under his pastoral leadership. Hebrews 6:4-6 tells of a person who partakes in the Holy Spirit yet if he still falls away, he would be "crucifying the Son of God all over again." When an unbeliever dwells with the saints, he receives all the goodness of the Holy Spirit within each individual and he is convicted of his sins. But if that person, especially from a Jewish background, decides that this Jesus Christ was not the Messiah the Jews had been waiting for, and returns to Temple sacrifices, then there is no more hope for him. This is because once his mind is made up, no persuasion can ever change his mind again. He cannot be brought back to repentance, and he leaves the church.
And this was exactly what John says:
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 1 John 2:19.
Notice what John says here. Those who went out were unbelievers. They were never saved because they never believed in the first place, despite being made partakers of the Holy Spirit and tasting the good word of God. So this is what "falling away" is all about. Apostasy is not a believer becoming an unbeliever, but an unbeliever convicted of his sins by the Holy Spirit yet deciding that Jesus was not the Christ, therefore attempting to find salvation through means of another route, if bothering at all. Eventually they are the ones who drop out of the church.
So the apostle's letters were addressed to Christian churches, which have some unbelievers in them. Sooner or later, these people will manifest themselves by deserting the faith. Only those who persevere to the end are proved to be true saints and will be saved.
And that is what our salvation is all about. It is a gift, a gift from God given to every believer by grace through faith. It can be likened to a box full of good things: forgiveness of sins, a new heart, the Holy Spirit, communion with God, eternal life, adoption into God's family, already seated in Heaven, a Heavenly inheritance and perseverance. Yes, perseverance is as much as a gift of God as eternal life itself. This particular gift fulfills two purposes, (1)-it keeps our faith in God strong during the most trying times of our lives. And (2)-it has the power to separate the true saint from an unbeliever, especially when the lives of both of them are virtually identical for a time. I have personally watched those who I thought were devout Christians leave the church after turning against God himself and everything else spiritual. Trying to persuade them back to the faith was of no avail. They have gone forever. Just as Peter also writes, the sow has returned to wallow in the mud and the dog to its own vomit. Why did the pig return to wallow in the mire after it has been washed? Because it is a pig, and that is what pigs do. The context to this was that the apostate had returned to his sinful ways because he was a sinner, as all sinners do if they never underwent regeneration. (2 Peter 2:20-22).
There may be other verses which indicate that a true believer could fall from his secure position. 2 Peter 3:17 is one example, 1 Corinthians 4:4 is another. But are these verses threatening Hell? It really depends what is read into them. Only those who believe that one can lose his salvation would read damnation into these verses. I doubt very much that the writer had this in mind. A true saint's walk with God is not always peaches and cream, just as our walk with our natural fathers were not always tranquil! As my own case was proved, a true saint can have his faith shaken. I went through this myself. In one of my last blogs, Your Future Is In His Hands, (published November 27th, 2011) - I related an experience I had while I was a volunteer in Israel, back in 1994, where my faith was so low, that I near enough renounced it altogether, with the decision to go my own way, regardless of the consequence. But I didn't remain that way for long. You see, it wasn't God I was disappointed with, it was formal Christianity, established in an English setting, which had let me down. But from the moment God called me in his still small voice, I responded immediately. If there was a case of forever losing my salvation and passed the point of no return and be lost forever, that occasion would have been it.
It was impossible for me to hate God. Being angry with God, maybe yes. King David was angry with God for letting an ox stumble while carrying the Ark of the Covenant in a cart, which cost the life of one of the King's closest helpers. (See 2 Samuel 6:1-11). It is alright to be angry at God. Confessing one's anger and the cause of it is all part of one's relationship with God. After all, God would have known about the incident and the consequential anger long before it would ever occur, yet God still saved him at the point of repentance and faith. But for a believer to hate God would have been impossible, since the Holy Spirit dwells in him (Romans 8:15-16) and that no one who has the Holy Spirit can say, "Jesus be cursed." Rather, the believer is a child of God, adopted into his family forever. (See 1 Corinthians 12:3).
So the true believer has been adopted into God's family and is also a member of the Bride of Christ. When the bride walks up the aisle of a church, all her body parts are there. Some are hidden, others are on show. But when she presents herself to the groom, she is fully complete with every part functional, down to the last cell. The Bible also likens the church as the body of Christ, with every part fully functional in him.
So the true believer is a child of God, adopted into his family. God knew that such a person would become a believer from eternity past. So if God also already knew that one would lose his salvation sometime after he turned to Christ, would God have saved the person in the first place? At the Judgement, it is Christ himself who says,
I never knew you, depart from me, you who work iniquity. Matthew 7:23.
I never knew you. This does not sound like a once-saved person who had lost his salvation sometime afterwards. If that had been the case, then Christ wouldn't be telling the truth when proclaiming judgement, because there was a time in the man's life when Christ did know him. This verse therefore, indicates that either Jesus Christ knew him from eternity past, or never knew him at all. There is no halfway point here. It's either one or the other.
Then take a look at all the great saints in the Old Testament. Among all the named saints, from Abel right through to Malachi, there is not a single case of any losing their salvation and ended up in Hell. Could this be the result of eternal foreknowledge of God, and his ability to preserve the faith of every believer, even in Old Testament times? Can we really imagine that such men as Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, along with others not named here, were in danger of losing their salvation? Didn't Jesus, on at least one occasion, declared to the Pharisees that they shall see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, along with all the prophets, sitting in the Kingdom of God, while they were shut out?
Sure, there are a couple of uncertainties. One of them was King Saul. There is a controversy whether his soul went to Heaven or Hell at his death. In this case I don't know, neither is it up to me to say. It totally depends whether God knew King Saul from eternity past or not, although I personally believe he did, if David's lamenting over him and his son Jonathan had any value attached to his grief. (2 Samuel 1). Such as the greatness of God's grace and mercy upon such a king who erred so deeply during his reign.
The other case was that of the unnamed prophet of God from Judah, who after rebuking King Jeroboam, disobeyed God when he was deceived by an old man to refresh himself and eat while on his journey home. Soon afterwards, he was slain by a lion (1 Kings 13). Did his soul went to Heaven at his death? Personally, I'm convinced that he did. Why? Because God knew him. He was a good example of what Paul had written to the church in Corinth. He wrote about anyone who abused the Lord's supper was slain, but his soul was saved, but as by fire (1 Corinthians 3:12-15, 11:27-32).
So what must we do to be saved? First we must realise that each one of us have broken the Law, enshrined in the Ten Commandments. Have you ever looked at a woman with a lustful eye? Then you have already committed adultery with her in your heart. (Matthew 5:27-28). Likewise, he who hates his neighbour without a cause commits murder (Matthew 5:21-22). Also if you have ever lied, then you are guilty of being a false witness against your neighbour. Have you had a desire for somebody else's possession? Then you are guilty of coveting. Is the Lord your God the very first priority in your life, above absolutely everything else in you life? If not, then you are guilty of idolatry. Have you ever shouted, "Oh, for Christ's sake...!" Then you are guilty of blasphemy. Have you ever cursed your parents, or disrespect them? Then you are guilty of dishonouring your parents.
So we are guilty of breaking the Law of God as given in Exodus 20. If we have broken the Law, then we are guilty before God, and deserving of Judgement. Paul says that even if we have kept the Law perfectly, but stumble at just one point, we are guilty of all of it.
But the good news is, that Jesus Christ who died on the cross to atone for our shortcomings, is now able to cleanse us from our sins, forgive us fully and impart eternal life. This salvation being the imputation of Christ's sinless righteousness on our life's account. In other words, we are pronounced, "Not Guilty" by the righteousness of Christ in our lives. Furthermore, our body and soul becomes the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, who will dwell in us forever, giving us the desire and power to know God personally and to do his will. The very conviction of our sin, revealed by the Law, makes us want to run to Christ for mercy. Once safe in his arms no one in his right mind would want to be separated from him ever again.
This is the meaning of Once Saved Always Saved, which I wholeheartedly believe.
With such sovereign power of God, his love, grace and mercy, why doubt such a wonderful truth?