Today, we are happy to share the words of Jim Pearce, husband of our team member Christy Pearce. Jim is a Bi-vocational Pastor in the Midwest. His greatest passion is teaching the Bible and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jim has been ministering and studying God’s word for over twenty years.
Let’s see what God has laid on his heart today:
Three Reasons True Christians Will Not Reject Christ
by Jim Pearce
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. Hebrews 3:12
Many of us have had a friend, family, or someone we know profess faith in Jesus Christ, but after a while—because of trial, temptation, or even negative pressure from unbelievers—they seem to turn away from God altogether. A common phrase mentioned in times like this is: “Once you are saved, you are always saved.” Is this true? In this article we will answer the question:
Can a Christian’s heart be hardened to the point that a person may even turn away from Christ and still be saved?
The Short Answer:
A person who is truly born again, regenerated, saved, indwelled by the Holy Spirit can never lose their salvation.
The main word here is “truly.”
Only God can look upon the heart. Man looks on the outward appearance.
Three Reasons True Christians will not turn away from Christ
Reason 1: The phrase “Once saved, always saved,” is not actually written in scripture, though it describes a biblical principle. This statement, however, is really incomplete.
It needs to be stated, “Once saved, always saved, IF truly saved!”
According to Jesus, there is a way to “believe” and “receive with joy” the gospel without actually being saved. In Matthew 13:1-23 (Read it now), Jesus tells us “The Parable of the Sower.” Jesus explains four ways people generally respond to the gospel of the kingdom, describing them with an analogy of soil types on which the seed of the word of God is sown: Hard soil, Thorny soil, Rocky soil, and Good soil.
Only good soil actually produces fruit and enduring faith because the word of God has taken root. The other three types of soil differ in that the word of God does not take root, and lacks any lasting effect on the person who hears it.
Note when the seed is sown on what Jesus calls “Rocky ground,” He explains,
“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.” Matthew 13:20-21
Outwardly, a person can hear the gospel and appear to receive it with joy. But inwardly, the gospel word does not take root at all. Because the gospel doesn’t take root, the individual eventually falls away, or stops believing though they appear to believe “for a while.” From our perspective, the person appeared to have faith in Jesus Christ but later turned away from Him. But Jesus actually teaches us that such a person was not truly regenerated in the first place. The word did not take root and bear fruit. John teaches the same principle in his first letter in 1 John 2:19.
John indicates “they were not of us” though they had been with them for a time. That brings us to…
Reason 2: True saving faith is always marked by enduring faith that will not let go of Christ.
Think for a moment. If I understand that Christ and His death on the cross on my behalf is my only hope for forgiveness of sin and entrance into the kingdom of God, then my hope will squarely rest on him.
In times of sin, failure, or even persecution in life, I will not leave Christ if I truly believe He is my only hope. In times like that, I will hold onto Him all the more. In times of Christian successes, I will not be swayed away either, because I will know that my only hope is in Christ’s finished work on the cross and not any work of righteousness I have done.
True faith holds on to Jesus enduring to the end because true faith acknowledges Jesus is the only hope. But that is simple logic. What do the scriptures actually say? The following is only a sampling of scriptures that teach the truth that the faith that produces salvation must endure to the end:
For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. Hebrews 3:14
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:23-27 [Note: The phrase “go on sinning is referring to is the particular sin of unbelief or shrinking back from faith in Christ as the context bears out reading on to the end of the chapter.]
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:36
See also Colossians 1:21-23, Hebrews 10:39, 2 Timothy 4:7-8, and Hebrews 10:35-36.
“True saving Faith is always enduring faith, but how can we say such a thing? This leads to…
Reason 3: Salvation is a work of the Spirit of God.
When the Spirit does a saving work within a man or woman, he actually creates a new person with a new heart and a new spirit. The glorious distinction between the old covenant and the new covenant is the gift of the indwelling spirit of God who works in us to will and to do His good pleasure. Observe:
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. Ezekiel 36:25-27
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 2 Corinthians 5:17-18
More on this: Philippians 2:12-13, Philippians 1:6, Hebrews 13:20-21, Jude 1:24, John 10:26-29
What I am not saying:
I am not saying that one can have saving faith in Christ and lose their status as saved. Once saved, always saved, if TRULY saved.
I am also not saying a person who professes to know Christ cannot have times of doubt or even temporarily hardened hearts and continue in sin for a period of time. In such cases, the Father knows how to discipline His children and bring His sheep back to Himself when they stray (See John 10 and Hebrews 12).
What I am saying:
I’m simply saying that anyone who outwardly appears to have faith in Christ and develops a hardened heart and permanently walks away from God, cannot have any confidence that they will be saved when Christ returns. Such an experience is evidence that the word of God never really took root (regeneration), though it may have been received with joy and belief for a short time.
True saving faith…
Endures because the believer has no other hope than Christ.
Endures to the end because the Holy Spirit has actually indwelled the believer and is working in Him to keep Him.
The spirit of Truth, through the gospel of Christ, produces lasting fruit because it is God Himself producing it. This is encouraging, because in this true believers realize that Christ Himself is the author and finisher of their faith.
In the end, the testimony of our lives must be, “Jesus is my only hope.” So let us hold fast to the confession of our faith without wavering, because He who promised is faithful!
Have you had times of doubt or even hardness of heart in your life? Read that parable of the Prodigal son in Luke 15. There Jesus teaches us that the Father is always waiting with open arms for those that will return to Him.
In times of doubt, you simply must remember that Christ and His death on the cross for you is your only hope. So run to Him in faith renewing repentance and trusting Christ again.
You shouldn’t be alone in times like these (Hebrews 3:13).
How can we pray for you and with you? How can we encourage you to hold on to Christ?
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