assurance of salvation
This is a letter of encouragement I wrote to a friend who grew up in Foursquare and the Assemblies of God, then spent many years in Calvary Chapel. She’s given me permission to post it here. Please know that although it’s 5860 words in length I did my best to make it as compact and streamlined as possible. Feel free to comment, to question, and to challenge me on any point. ~David
Now when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Romans 8:15-16).
I’d like you to know that I have some understanding of the Assemblies of God mindset as it relates to the doctrine of salvation. From my freshman year in high school through my early twenties I attended two different AoG churches, and from my experience with these and other Pentecostal churches I came to see with my own eyes how utterly false and destructive their teachings on salvation have become to the Body of Christ.
In their presentation of what must be called out as a false gospel these churches—including Foursquare and Calvary Chapel—have promoted a false religion that involves a most cursed way of relating to God (see Galatians 1:6-9). The bad fruit of these teachings poison the very spiritual and emotional lives of those who eat from her tree.
I remember a long conversation I had one Saturday evening with a man who attended the same AoG church I did. We were in the back room of a Christian coffee house located just down the hill from our church. He had done some bad things and was tormented by the implications of his sins as they affected his salvation. He was living a joyless peaceless life of despair. “David,” he said with tears, “I’m trying so hard to be a Christian.”
“My friend,” I said. “We don’t try to be a Christian. We just are—we just are on account of a sovereign decision God made for us, on our behalf, that we would become His eternal children. It’s a settled and sealed deal, my brother. We love Him, because He first loved us. We choose Him and come to know Him because He first knew us and first chose us in Christ before the foundations of the universe. The priority of our choosing and knowing God begins with Him—for He is the Originator and Perfecter, the Author and Finisher of our faith.
“Ultimately, after all is said and done, we did nothing to gain our salvation, and there is nothing we can do to lose our salvation. Scripture tells us, ‘Nothing can separate us from the love of God—not even ourselves’” (see Romans 8:35-39).
Yet our brother felt he had, indeed, done something to separate himself from God—for that is what he was taught.
From their position papers, here’s what the AoG teaches:
The Assemblies of God has taken a strong stand against the teaching that God’s sovereign will completely overrides man’s free will to accept and serve Him. In view of this we believe it is possible for a person once saved to turn from God and be lost again.
The believer’s security. . . is solely through faith, both in the receiving of salvation and in the keeping of salvation. This security is made possible. . . as long as he maintains a living faith in Christ.
[W]e need not fear that something external will overpower us and take away our salvation. Only our willful choices can do that.
Here’s the problem with pinning the responsibility of our salvation upon the exercise of our wills—the Gospel of John tells us, “to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (1:12-13).
Jesus reveals something of the mystery of our being “born of God” when he tells Nicodemus, “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, where it wills, where it pleases, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:7-8).
According to Jesus our regeneration—a Biblical word synonymous with our being “born again”; “born of God”; “born of the Spirit”—happens “not of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man,” but as a result of a decision God makes on our behalf. This entirely sovereign and secret act of God flies directly in the face of those who assert that believers have a decisive say in their being saved, in their being born again.
As the Teacher taught His disciples, John teaches us that our regeneration precedes our believing in Christ. In John’s First Letter he writes, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God” (5:1).
[[ It is important to note here that the underlying Greek verb for “has been born” is gegennetai (γεγέννηται). Without getting too technical I merely want to point out that the tense of this word is in the perfect indicating a “completed action that occurred in the past but which produced a state of being or a result that exists in the present. The emphasis of the perfect is not the past action so much as it is as such but the present ‘state of affairs’ resulting from the past action” (from Michael Heiser’s morpho-syntactic glossary). Also, the voice of this verb is the divine passive—meaning that it is God who initiates the action. ]]
Our faith in Jesus as our Messiah comes only after our being born of the Spirit. Regeneration must first take place in order that we might see and believe with spiritual eyes and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior with a sanctified heart and mouth. “Give us life, and we will call upon your name!” (Psalm 80:18).
Regeneration is the voice of the Wind calling us, waking us up to Himself. The Master says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:27-30).
Stephanie, you were five when you heard the Master’s call and became a believer and follower of Christ. I was six when I heard and responded to His voice. And it would be a bit of an anachronism to say that we “asked the Lord Jesus into our hearts.” Why? Because when we came to that moment of recognizing and desiring Jesus as our Savior it was only after His Spirit was already at home within us—He was already there in our hearts. Our accepting Christ was in response to our having already been born of the Spirit.
Of course we don’t understand this until after we’ve come to faith and have spent some time studying the Scriptures, but our confession of belief in the Lord Jesus follows from what God was already working within us, for according to the Apostle Paul: “no one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3).
When Simon Peter confessed, “‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven'” (Matthew 16:16-17).
Elsewhere, Jesus said, “‘It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray him.) And he said, ‘For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father'” (John 6:63-65).
[[ Note: the Greek for “has been granted” is dedomenon (δεδομένον), a participle that is also perfect in tense and divine passive in voice. ]]
As we did not choose to be physically born, Neither did we choose to be spiritually born. We were completely passive on both accounts.
When Jesus said that “in order to see the kingdom of God one must be born again,” Nicodemus asked, “Am I to enter a second time into my mother’s womb to be born again?” Jesus answered him, “There is a physical birth and there is a spiritual birth. Being born again means being born of the Spirit.”
Our keys to understanding the redemptive significance of what Jesus was revealing to Nicodemus can be found in the Genesis Two and Three accounts of man’s creation and fall.
If we look back to the Genesis Two account of the creation of Adam we see how the LORD God formed a body out of the dust of the earth, then breathed into it the breath of Life, “and the man became a living soul” (נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה, nephesh chayyah, Genesis 2:7).
This double act of creation perfectly illustrates for us the two-fold nature of humanity. We, by design, were created spirit-body beings. Our physical nature enables us to connect and interact with the material universe; and our spiritual nature enables us to connect and interact with God—for “God is Spirit” (John 4:24).
Yet we know from Genesis Three that something severe and catastrophic happened at the beginning of human time. We read how “the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden. . . and commanded him, saying, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die’” (Genesis 2:15-17).
[[ Note: in the Hebrew text there is a repetition of the word for death—מוֹת תָּמוּת (mot tamut)—which literally reads: “in dying you shall die.” This verbal construction is academically called an infinitive absolute and is used for emphasis, drawing our attention not only to a certainty of death—you shall surely die—but also, as I read it, to the reality that one type of death will be followed by another. ]]
We know the story. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
Which begs the question: Did Adam, indeed, die in the day he ate of the forbidden tree?
The answer is Yes—on the day of his disobedience he died a spiritual death! And then, in time, he died a physical death. For after being driven out of the garden of God he fathered sons and daughters and “all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, then he died” (Genesis 5:5). So the reality for Adam is that he (and Eve) experienced two deaths.
Of key importance in understanding the nature of Adam and Eve’s spiritual deaths are the ideas we find in Scripture that serve to define life as a relationship of oneness; and death as a separation of that union.
—the immediate spiritual deaths Adam and Eve experienced involved the removal of God’s living Presence from their lives. Scripture reads, “Your sins have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you” (Isaiah 59:2). Their sins also caused them to hide their faces from the presence of the LORD (Genesis 3:8). After the LORD clothed them He cast them out of His garden (Genesis 3:22-24).
—the eventual physical deaths Adam and Eve experienced involved the separation of their spirits from their bodies. Solomon tells us that “the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
So as “the body without the spirit is dead” (James 2:26), so the spirit without God is dead. Every child of Adam and Eve born physically into this world enters life spiritually dead—spiritually separated from God. Therefore we who are to see God and inherit the life prepared for us from the foundation of the world must be born of the Spirit. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:19).
The source of our being born again, according to the Apostle Peter, is the “imperishable seed—the living and abiding word of God. . . . And this word is the good news that was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:23-25).
Here is the gospel from the lips of our Savior, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
In this most famous of verses our Master relates to us the why, how, and extent of our salvation. The why is because God loves us; the how is the sacrificial death of Jesus and our believing in Him; And the extent of our salvation is eternal. . . forever. . . everlasting!
So, What does it mean to have eternal life?
Jesus in a prayer to the Father defined eternal life as a relationship of oneness with the Godhead. He said, “This is eternal life—that all who believe in Me would know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. . . . Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be perfectly one, even as we are one” (John 17).
And here is something beautiful from the lips of Jeremiah: “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this—that he understands and knows me.’” (9:23-24).
As we’ve been brought into an eternal relationship with the Godhead, it is by His Spirit as He applies the word of God to our hearts that we come to understand that “nothing can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:35-39).
Our coming to faith in Christ was a predestined and irrevocable gift. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29).
The Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Romans shines much light on the mystery of our being predestined and called in Christ. In chapter Nine we see how God’s purpose of election has nothing to do with either our good or our bad works, but is an entirely sovereign work of Him who predestines and calls us to become His children—solely on account of His mercy and compassion. “So then it depends not on human will or how we run [the race], but on God who has mercy” (verse 16).
Why isn’t this clear to the teachers in the Assemblies of God, in Foursquare, in Calvary Chapel?
In terms of our salvation there is no such thing—spiritually speaking—as “free will.” This doesn’t sit well with the pride of the flesh that wants a share of the boasting. Yet not only is this humbling—this knowledge that we ultimately have no say in our salvation—but its freeing too! It completely frees all of us, especially those among us who were taught falsely that both the acquiring and keeping of our salvation has to do with our willing and our running.
Our salvation is a free and irrevocable gift of God. It is in no way performance based beyond what the Lord Jesus has already performed on our behalf. Our eternal destiny from beginning to end is in His protective and providential hands. “Have confidence that He who began a good work in you will bring it to perfect completion” (Philippians 1:6).
And in the process of our cultivating our free gift of salvation He promised us He will never leave us or forsake us. He began it; He will energize us to “will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). With fullness of joy we will bear fruit for His glory as we abide in Him. That’s the eternal life we now have in the Spirit.
This is the relationship we now have with the Father through His Son: Jesus tells us, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (John 15:15; cf., 1 John 5:10-15).
The knowledge of God’s sovereign grace sets us free from any fear that we might somehow lose our relationship with the Godhead. The matter of our adoption has already been decided, settled and sealed. Knowing and applying this reality frees all of us—from the spiritually strong to the weak in the flesh—frees us all from either pride or despair in our relationships with God and others.
We come to understand more and more the mystery of how the Spirit of grace operates in our salvation as we grow and mature in our walk with the Lord. Although we’re on the inside of it now, from the outside this mystery is incomprehensible—foolishness to the Greeks and a stumbling block to the Jews. Yet: “To them [i.e., called out ones, ἐκκλησία] God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
All told—the mystery of God Himself is revealed to little children at the discretionary pleasure of His Spirit. Praise the LORD!
In Matthew Eleven Jesus proclaimed, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (vss 25-27).
“Blessed is the one whom You choose and cause to approach” (Psalm 65:4).
In Acts 13 when the Gentiles heard how God’s salvation had been extended to them—that through their believing in the gospel of the risen Jesus they would be forgiven of their sins, justified and “freed from everything from which you could not be freed from the law of Moses. . . . they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.”
[[ Note: Luke (the writer of Acts) is very intentional here in his wording, choosing the language of predestination to show how our believing comes about due to the ordaining work of God. The Greek verb for “appointed”—tetagmenoi (τεταγμένοι)—is perfect in tense, divine passive in voice and can also be translated designated, ordained, destined. It is God who pre-destines His children to eternal life. ]]
When the Philippian Jailer in Acts 16 asked, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul and Silas simply answered him, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.”
From our end it’s as simple as that. “For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved” (Romans 10:9-10).
This echos the prophet Joel: “And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the LORD has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the LORD calls” (2:32).
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. . . . And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).
So there’s the beginning and end of it, Stephanie. Salvation is a process that we’re smack dab in the middle of. . . a process wherein all things are working together for our good to the end that we might one day stand before Him with a glorified resurrected body—and seeing Him face to face, we’ll be like Him, perfect in every way!
Although our glorification is an already predetermined and promised reality it has not yet been accomplished in time. We are still on this side of Christ’s return—imperfect in spirit and body. So essentially our salvation won’t be entirely complete until we stand before Him in our resurrected bodies. Only then will we be perfectly whole as our Creator God determined from the beginning for us to be.
Yet to believe that it is possible for we who have been born of God to somehow along the way lose our salvation would be to fall prey to a most unbiblical lie that can only find support by subscribing to a whole cluster of other lies. I hope the various Scriptures we’re considering here might be evidence enough to out as false the doctrines and precepts that might be causing you to worry and fear. Also, I trust these Scriptures might serve to encourage you to rest confidently in the truth of our eternal security in Christ.
For the Assemblies of God, Foursquare, Calvary Chapel and others to teach that the security of our salvation depends ultimately upon ourselves is to teach a legalistic man-centered gospel which is no gospel at all, neither is it good news.
Officially these churches promote a very “different gospel” than the one of salvation by grace. “As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:9).
The accursed cluster of lies being taught in these churches manage not only to mangle and twist the life out of their people, but these lies serve to mangle and twist the life out of their gospel as well. Case in point: They teach that the words “falling from grace” means that it is possible for a once saved person to lose their salvation. But does the context of these words teach this reality, or is it—as I maintain—a blatant perversion of Paul’s gospel of grace?!
Paul is writing to the called out ones in Galatia to correct a grievous error being promoted among them—that believers are justified by a mixture of faith plus adherence to a legal requirement. He writes, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4).
Grace plus works is not grace—it’s a synergistic gospel that poisons those who would attempt to secure their salvation by their own fruits of righteousness. To fall away from grace does not mean to lose your salvation, it means to give yourself over to a false gospel, to a false way of relating to God for the justification of your salvation.
You have fallen away from grace—means you have decided to forgo your freedom by subjecting yourself to the spiritual bondage of a legalistic system.
It essentially means you have subscribed to a false religion—even to a false gospel. . . such as (( irony of all ironies )) to the distorted gospel preached by the Assemblies of God, Foursquare, Calvary Chapel and other such Houses of Bondage.
Here’s our bottom line in all this: If we believe that we can lose right standing with God by anything we can ever will, do, be or believe—then we’ve quite frankly cut ourselves off from the singular source of our salvation which is the faithfulness of Christ Jesus alone. If we believe we can lose our salvation then we’re living a debilitating lie. A lie that serves to cut ourselves off from but a superficial measure of peace and joy. A lie that will either lead us toward doubt and despair, or toward self-righteous conceit and all the ugly sins and miseries that go along with religious pride.
When we come to understand that our eternal destiny is not in our hands and never was we can (and perhaps only then) experience a true confidence and humility and peace and joy and power for living that we were somehow cut off from before as we looked to ourselves for the security of our salvation.
This, of course, does not mean that believers who falsely ground the hinge of their salvation upon their own willing and working are not saved. No, it just means they’ve cut their own hearts and minds off from the true fountain of peace and joy and righteousness. They’ve essentially severed themselves from Christ.
Stephanie, I hope we can do away with any fears over losing our salvation. We look to Christ alone and all the power of God to secure our destiny.
Also, I want to do away with any doctrine of salvation that makes our “free will” the hinge upon which the acquiring and keeping of our salvation depends.
[[ Note: this salvific issue of man’s “free will” versus “God’s sovereign choice” was, according to Martin Luther, the “grand hinge” upon which the protestant reformation swung. In the form of a question, here’s the crux of the matter: Is salvation determined by man’s free will in cooperation with God (synergism), or Is salvation determined by God’s sovereign pleasure alone (monergism)? The Papacy taught “free will.” The reformers taught that it’s all God! So from Luther’s perspective the reformation itself was really a war of Rome versus the Word of God. ]]
Scripture tells us that “no one understands; no one seeks for God” (Rom 3:10-12), so the initiative has to be all God. Saving faith is not a quality inherent in natural man. The Wind of God has to blow on us, wake us up spiritually to Himself, affect a Godward change in our affections and will. Regeneration is entirely the determinative work of God alone causing our hearts and minds to be enlightened, enabling us to discern and believe the truth of the Gospel.
Paul writes, “We impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God. . . . Now we have received the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. . . But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:7-14,16).
I hope we can conclusively see from Scripture that we must be born of the Spirit first before we’re able to understand and accept the truths of the gospel. Again, regeneration precedes enlightening faith. Not the other way around as the AoG and others teach. For those who are spiritually dead there is no such thing as free will unto salvation. Apart from the enlightening work of the Spirit even the words of the gospel are incomprehensible and foolish.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love. He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory (Ephesians 1:3-14).
Stephanie, this is the simple Gospel of Grace as we’ve received it:
God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which he prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:4-10).
Let’s reiterate and emphasize our prepositions: “We’ve been saved by grace, through faith, (not by but) for good works.”
With these three prepositions—by, through, and for—Paul is grammatically underscoring how grace is the basis of our salvation; faith is the means of our salvation; and good works are the purpose of our salvation. Basically, our good works are the preordained fruit of God.
In a Biblical discussion on the assurance of salvation we must clearly and categorically separate the issue of our works from the issue of our salvation.
And while it is true that our being made alive in the Spirit has a determinative influence upon our willing, doing, being and believing. . . the inverse of this—that our willing and running have a determinative effect upon the state and security of our souls—is not true. Good works are a product of our salvation. Our salvation, however, is not from or in the hands of sinners, but from beginning to end in the hands of a perfectly loving and sovereign God. “But now, O LORD, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You are our Potter; we are all the work of Your hand” (Isaiah 64:8).
Ultimately we look to the grace of the Father, to the faithfulness of the Son, and to the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, to save, secure and seal us as his children.
Ultimately we have been created and recreated to be perfect expressions of His good pleasure, faithfully bearing fruit in every good work (see Colossians 1:9-12). Our way of happiness and holiness is to trust and obey.
And, again, while our good works will most certainly determine the measure of peace, joy and blessed assurance we have on this side of eternity and also the measure of rewards we will receive when Christ returns, Despite these determinative powers, our good works have absolutely no bearing upon our adoption as children of God. The eternal aspect of our sonship (a legal term) must be held apart from the temporal issue of our works.
The reality for us is this: as we walk in the Holy Spirit and abide in Jesus Christ we most naturally bear fruit to the glory of our Heavenly Father.
But what happens when our fruit becomes rotten, our works evil, when our lives no longer line up faithfully with the Spirit?
First off, we grieve the Holy Spirit and place ourselves in danger of becoming pruned a la John 15:2 and disciplined a la Hebrews 12 (we can talk more about this later, if you want), but please know that however miserably we may fail to live up to the standards of our calling, we will never ever lose our salvation.
For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:11-15).
The foundation of our eternal security is (the faithfulness and righteousness of) Christ. Jesus is the Rock of our salvation. While gold, silver and precious stones are emblematic of our good works; wood, hay and straw are emblematic of the works of the flesh. As the Day of the Lord will test our works by fire, this we know: fire serves only to consume wood, hay and straw, Yet it refines gold and silver. So no matter what loss of rewards we may suffer (in the now and hereafter) as a result of our living in the flesh, we ultimately know—regardless of our works—we in the end will be saved. Even if God must take us out early because of wicked living, we will be saved in the end. His word assures us of this.
Our passage continues, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NKJV).
Just a few paragraphs later Paul addresses a situation among the Corinthian church regarding a member’s sexual sin that is considered an abomination even to the pagan world. The Apostle instructs them: “When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (5:1-5).
There you have it—so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
Bottom line: If we look for assurance of salvation in anything other than the finished work of Christ—we essentially nullifying the very source from which our sanctified souls bloom and bear fruit.
“For if we are chosen by grace then it is no longer on the basis of works—otherwise grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:5-6).
Your friend and brother,