Will God ever turn His back on me?
Amazingly, He did this to a lonely Man, agonizing under the load of my sins, in the awful darkness of Golgotha. Hezekiah paints the first part of this picture for us in Isaiah 39:17- "Thou hast...cast all my sins behind Thy back." All right then - my sins have been cast behind God's back. But what if He turns around? What if my sin, even since salvation, comes into His full view again? Can this call my salvation into question? Will the gift of God, eternal life (Rom 6:23), ever be taken away from me because of my sin? James gives us the last part of this picture, and it is soul-thrilling. He says "every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (James 1:17). My sin is behind His back. He has given me the perfect gift of salvation. And He will never change, nor turn His back on me. So He will never see my sins again, nor will He ever take from me His perfect gift of salvation.
Does God ever fail to finish what He started?
Whatever God does, lasts forever (Eccl. 3:14). Our salvation is called a work of God (Phi 1:6). In this passage, Paul states that God, Who started it, will also eternally finish it. It is not up to you or me; it is solely up to Him. There are three aspects of our salvation, and all are covered in this one verse. God saved us from the penalty of sin, when we first trusted His Son (Rom 5:9). He saves us from the power of sin every day we live (1 Cor 1:18 - "unto us who are BEING SAVED, it is the power of God..."). And when the Lord Jesus comes, or when He calls us home by death, He then saves us from the presence of sin forevermore. God began the work of salvation in my life. It is up to Him, and not me, to finish it. His eternal goal for His own is to perform the work of salvation to its perfect completion. If God starts it, He will finish it; no matter what I might do.
What part of "saved" is so hard to understand?
Saved. There are many other NT synonyms describing this state of spiritual regeneration. But this one word literally means "rescued." When viewed alongside the meaning for "born again" (literally, "born from above"), we can then say that to be saved, means to be "rescued from above." Have you ever been physically rescued by another from a natural peril? The person rescued will never forget that moment! All of this is accomplished without the help, assistance, or work of the one in peril. And so it is with God's salvation. Once I have been rescued, nothing I can either do or not do will affect that moment. Nothing I might do can "un-rescue" the rescue. I have been saved. The hymn-writer said it this way: "I was lost, and undone - without God, or His Son; Then He reached down His hand, for me." When God reaches down His great, saving hand to rescue a dying soul from hell, that soul is simply, yet profoundly, rescued forever.
Why forget about the Holy Spirit?
Those who teach that they can be saved and then lost are totally discounting the Person and work of God's Holy Spirit. Scripture makes it crystal-clear that the moment a soul is saved, he is "sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise" (Eph 1:13), and this sealing is "unto the day of redemption" (Eph 4:30), when God brings us home to heaven. Paul makes it also very clear that the Holy Spirit is the internal force that aids the Christian in overcoming the sinful nature, still within (Rom 7 and 8). The NT tells us that we can "grieve" the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30), and we can "quench" Him within us (1 Thess 5:19). But the Spirit, given to us to eternally live within us at salvation, and called "the earnest" (2 Cor 1:22, 5:5), or the "engagement ring" from the Bridegroom to His bride, can never be taken away from us. Not one single, solitary example of this supposed phenomenon is found within the pages of the NT. Yet those who teach "saved, then lost," assume that the Spirit of God, with Whom we are sealed, and promised as Christ's bride, can be taken away from us by something we might do. This concept is totally foreign to Scripture.
How much should we fear losing our salvation?
We shouldn't. Not even one little bit. But those who live with the possibility of having their salvation stripped from them really do live in fear. If the concept they teach were really true, it would discourage anyone from getting saved early in life; for the longer they naturally live, the longer they would then have to live in the abject fear of "sinning away" their salvation. If this were so, why would the Lord Jesus Himself say, "Allow the little children to come to Me, and forbid them not...."? So then, should we who are saved live in this fear? Is this part of the normal Christian life? Not if you believe what Paul wrote to Timothy, in 2 Timothy 1:7; "For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." No mind is sound, living day-to-day with the hope of being saved, yet having the threat of ending up in hell. No soul can truly enjoy the love of God, if this same love can be snatched away from him at any arbitrary moment. And if a soul, truly saved by grace, lives every day since salvation in fear of being eternally lost, he can be very sure of this one thing: the fear did not come from God.