'Once saved, Always saved': God's Assurance or Satan's Deception/
Jen grew up in church going to camp every year. Wednesday night during her freshman year youth camp, she gave her life to Jesus. She was extremely happy, was baptized the following Sunday, started reading her bible, and went on every mission trip possible. After she graduated she went off to Texas State and began to enjoy college and freedom. She didn’t go to church, partied often, and really just enjoyed herself. When she came home for holidays she would tag-along with her parents to church but that was pretty much it. Jen graduated 2 years ago. She’s focused on her job, great girl, doesn’t give much thought to church, but if asked if she is a Christian she would strongly says “yes.”
So…Is Jen a Christian? Has the assurance of salvation allowed her to rebel against God but still be saved by His grace? Was she saved in high school but then lost her salvation in college? Has she just backslid a little bit but at the core her affections are still for Jesus?
These are tough questions that all of us wrestle with. All of us are Jen to some degree or some fashion. However the difficulty arises when somehow Satan has taken the phrase “once saved, always saved” and allowed people to stay in a “spiritually moved” state instead of a ‘Gospel-transformed’ life. The writer of Hebrews articulates two fascinating, difficult, assuring, yet convicting verses in the third chapter concerning this very thing.
“And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.” Heb 3:6 “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” Heb 3:14
Is the writer saying you can lose your salvation or suggesting you have assurance no matter what? It is important to see how the writer frames the beauty of this passage. They are both conditions. The ‘if’ statement declares that the first part is true “we are his house” and “For we have come to share in Christ” if the second part is true “we hold fast our confidence and boast in our hope” and “we hold our original confidence firm to the end.” First look at what this passage is not saying. It is not saying that you once were in His house but then when you let go of your original confidence you are no longer. It is also not saying that you were in His house, then when you drifted you weren’t, but when you came back to church then you were, as in some way you could jump in and out of salvation. What it is saying is that you will know the first to be irrevocably true if the second is happening.
So what do I do? Take some much needed time to evaluate if you are:
holding fast your confidence in Jesus
boasting in Jesus
holding your original confidence all the way to the end
If you are, then carry the assurance that Jesus has taken root in your life, turned your affections for Him, and is leading you to ultimate glory with Him. If you aren’t, then question whether Jesus truly transformed your heart and soul, or did you fall into a trap of Satan where your “salvation experience” was merely an intellectual, emotional, ethical, or cultural experience. The beauty of this truth is that, because you are alive, you still have a chance to respond to Jesus, surrender your life to Him, and allow Him to transform your affections.
The truth is we have watered down the message of the Gospel therefore leading people to a form of spirituality but not the Gospel impact of transformation that is only possible when Jesus turns our affections towards Him. The writer is saying that you will know that Jesus took root in your life because you will cling to Him and boast in Him all the way to the end!
Jesus doesn’t just leave you all by yourself to try to figure this out. He gave us the two beautiful gifts of the Holy Spirit and the church to guide, encourage, and rebuke when our confidence in Jesus slowly slips away and we boast in ourselves more than Jesus. Sandwiched between these two conditions are two commands: Take care of your heart and exhort one another.
Take care of your heart (v. 12) - This is a personal plea to guard, protect, and fight for your heart’s affections. Everything in this world will battle for your affections. It will happen through media, money, relationships, and religion. You have to fight for it.
Exhort one another (v. 13) - This is a corporate necessity to speak the Gospel into one another, DAILY! You need people who know the true affections of your heart (transparent), who are blunt with you (bold), who know where you should be (Gospel-centered), who truly have an interest in you (committed), and who pray for you DAILY (faithful).
This is a lot of work and commitment, but the end is worth it. Oh, to be able to assuredly say “I am sharing in Christ” and “I am part of His house” without any hesitation even in my darkest days!