Eternal security is such a foundational part of the Gospel message. Although the evangelical saying of “once saved, always saved” is perhaps simplistic and certainly not a phrase that is in the Bible, the message behind it is very true.
In Romans 8:28-30 Paul writes:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Note how in this passage Paul shows that from God’s foreknowing us and predestining us comes the time when He calls us. When He called us He had already decided in His Sovereign will that He would save us. And especially note the last stage: “these He also glorified.” (v.30). In God’s sight we have already been glorified. There is no shadow or feathering here – the glorification we shall experience as God’s children is a certainty, so much of a certainty that God speaks of it in the past tense.
Peter also speaks of the great security we have in Christ. In 1 Peter 1:3-5 he writes:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Our inheritance isn’t one which moths and worms can eat away or one which a robber can come and steal away. Our inheritance is sure – it is certain, and if any would doubt and think that the inheritance is there but whether we are given it or not depends on our performance note what I have emphasised in verse 5: we “are kept by the power of God.” Is God’s power limited in any way that we could choose or otherwise cause this word to be of none effect? Of course not! God’s power is infinite and Almighty, and it is that power which keeps us.
Some may say, “what if we sin”? Sin is exceedingly wicked and profoundly displeasing to God. Jesus says on more than one occasion to those He has forgiven: “go and sin no more”. Sin is repugnant to God. The Apostle John writes about sin in 1 John chapters 1 and 2, and he writes this book so that we might not sin. Yet he is also aware that we do all fall short from time to time, and even says to those who think themselves to be sinlessly perfect that they are deceiving themselves.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
“My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” – 1 John 2:1-2
We can indeed to be assured of salvation if we truly belong to Christ, and we shall never be left to fall away. Yet we must, indeed, be sure that we belong to Christ in order to have this assurance, and if we doubt that we truly belong to Him we must seek after Him even more so that we may be sure, for if we are deceived that we are saved when we are not, then we are in great danger.
But for those who are earnestly seeking after God, note what God says to the saints (not the whole world, but those who are seeking God’s Kingdom and Righteousness):
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long-suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:9
God will keep us, lead us, guide us. We can fully place our trust in Him and in the redeeming work of the Blood of Christ. We need not fear the future, neither fear the past, but we can trust in the present, trust for the future, and have that which is in the past forgiven. It is an amazing grace!