Once Saved, Can We Always Be Saved?
The Lord Jesus’ redemptive work has spread to the ends of the earth, reached every home and become a household name, and it is also because of the Lord Jesus’ redemption that mankind has survived until today. There are many brothers and sisters who back up the viewpoint of “once saved, always saved,” with the words of the apostle Paul, “For with the heart man believes to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation” (Romans 10:10). They think: Since the Lord Jesus redeemed us through crucifixion, we have already been absolved of all our sins and saved by our faith, and once saved, we are always saved, and so long as we endure until the end, we will be directly raptured into the heavenly kingdom when the Lord returns. However, some other brothers and sisters can’t help but question: “Is it really so easy for us to be saved? Can we attain salvation and enter into the kingdom of heaven through faith alone?”
It is worth us reflecting on and exploring the above questions, for this issue is directly linked to the important matter of whether or not we will be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven. First, let’s consider this: “Does the saying that ‘once saved, we are always saved’ have any basis in God’s word? Did the Lord Jesus say such words? Did the Holy Spirit reveal or testify to these words?” If the answers are all no, it proves that this saying is the product of man’s conceptions and illusions and cannot stand. Even if spiritual adepts and Bible expositors all accept this saying, this just represents their views, rather than how God feels. We must understand that only the Lord Jesus is the King of the kingdom of heaven and has the final say in the conditions under which we enter it. So, if we want to gain salvation and enter into the kingdom of heaven, we must take the Lord Jesus’ words as our principle and basis. If we don’t focus on the word of God, but live in our own notions and imagination and hold on to these baseless words, then our belief in God will eventually end in failure.
The True Meaning of Being Saved
In order to gain some clarity on this issue, we must first fellowship about what it means to be saved. Chapter 2 verse 32 in the Book of Joel in the Bible says, “Whoever shall call on the name of Jehovah shall be delivered.” We all know that during the Old Testament Age of Law, Jehovah God issued 613 laws and commandments through Moses and used them to place limits on the people of Israel. The people believed that as long as they kept these laws and were not condemned, then they would be saved. But at the end of the Age of Law, because mankind was being corrupted more and more deeply by Satan and lost their reverence for God, they failed to keep the laws and committed more and more sins; there was no longer any sin offering they could make that could sufficiently expiate their sins, and so they were faced with the danger of being condemned and sentenced to death by those laws. God couldn’t bear to see mankind, which He’d made with His own hands, be destroyed in such a way. So, God Himself became flesh and was nailed to the cross for mankind, performing the work of redemption, and thus freely redeeming mankind from the laws. Thereafter, so long as people prayed, confessed and repented in the name of the Lord, then their sins were forgiven, and they were no longer subject to the condemnation and punishment of the laws. Neither did God see man as sinful any longer, and those who lived under the laws, therefore, were saved by Him. The “being saved” here refers to not being condemned by the laws.
We can understand from the above fellowshiping that in the Age of Law, as long as people kept the laws of Jehovah God, then they were saved. In the Age of Grace, as long as people trusted in the Lord Jesus, confessed their sins and repented to Him, then they were saved too. But this “being saved” means only that our sins are absolved, and that we won’t be condemned or sentenced to death by the laws; it does not mean, however, that we are following God’s way and that we have cast off all sin, much less does it mean that having been saved once then we are always saved. The Lord Jesus never said that all who have been saved and absolved can enter into the heavenly kingdom. Thinking of how we believe in the Lord Jesus, we have some changes in our behavior—we can be tolerant and patient toward others, sacrifice and give, and even put aside secular entanglements, endure hardships and run around everywhere expending ourselves—but what is undeniable is that we still commit sins despite ourselves, fail to practice the Lord’s word, and have yet to extricate ourselves from the bondage and control of sin. For example, in order to be admired and looked up to by others, we often talk about how we suffer for the Lord before them, thereby exalting and testifying to ourselves; to achieve our own purposes, we often involuntarily lie and deceive people; to protect our own interests, we shirk our responsibilities and shift the blame on to others; to secure our own positions, we can form our own factions, exclude and suppress those who dissent. We believe in God nominally, but we do not have a place for God in our hearts nor seek the truth in everything, and instead worship the pastors and elders. When we encounter trials and tribulations, natural or man-made disasters, we blame God and misunderstand Him, and sometimes we may even betray Him once we become passive to a certain extent. There are many brothers and sisters who are the same as worldly people, pursuing evil trends and relishing the joys of sin, etc. For people like us who are covered in filth and corruption, no matter how many times we are forgiven of our sins, we are not qualified to enter into God’s holy kingdom. This is because the Bible says, “You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:45). “Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). God’s substance is holy. God guards the gate to the kingdom of heaven. The impure and corrupt will not be allowed by God to enter into His kingdom, and instead will receive His righteous punishment because of continuing to sin. Just as the Bible says, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).
How to Be Eternally Saved and Enter Into the Kingdom of Heaven
Up to this point, many brothers and sisters may feel confused, and will say, “The Lord Jesus died on the cross for us. Even though we still sin, our sins can be absolved through repenting and confessing to the Lord, so why wouldn’t we be able to enter into the kingdom of heaven? Besides, the Lord has promised that He will rapture us into the kingdom of heaven. According to the fellowshiping above, won’t the Lord’s promise come to nothing? If we can’t enter into the kingdom of heaven, then won’t the work of the Lord be in vain?” Actually, this is not the case. Let’s read a passage of words from a gospel website.
“The sins of man could be forgiven through the sin offering, but as for just how man can be made to sin no more, and how his sinful nature may be extirpated completely and transformed, he has no way of solving this problem. The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within his corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation. … Therefore, after that stage of work was finished, there still remained the work of judgment and chastisement. This stage is to make man pure by means of the word, and thereby give him a path to follow. This stage would not be fruitful or meaningful if it continued with the casting out of demons, for it would fail to extirpate man’s sinful nature, and man would come to a standstill at the forgiveness of his sins. Through the sin offering, man has been forgiven his sins, for the work of the crucifixion has already come to an end and God has prevailed over Satan. But the corrupt disposition of man still remaining within him, man can still sin and resist God, and God has not gained mankind. That is why in this stage of work God uses the word to expose the corrupt disposition of man, causing him to practice in accordance with the right path. This stage is more meaningful than the previous one, as well as more fruitful, for now it is the word that directly supplies man’s life and enables the disposition of man to be completely renewed; it is a much more thorough stage of work. Therefore, the incarnation in the last days has completed the significance of God’s incarnation and completely finished God’s management plan for man’s salvation” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)”).
From these words we can understand that during the Age of Grace, according to mankind’s needs, the Lord Jesus did the work of redemption. As long as we confess and repent to the Lord, then our sins can be forgiven. However, after the Lord Jesus completed His redemptive work, we have not yet been fully saved. This is because the Lord Jesus merely redeemed us of our behavioral sins, but did not redeem us of our sinful nature which is deeply rooted within us. We are still firmly bound and controlled by it, so we always live a life whereby we sin in the daytime and confess in the evening. If we want to break away from the binds and restrictions of our sins and enter into the kingdom of heaven, we must get rid of our corrupt disposition and be cleansed and changed. To achieve such results, we must accept the work of the returned Lord Jesus. The Bible says, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come” (John 16:12-13). “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:47-48). “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin to salvation” (Hebrews 9:28). We can see from these scriptures that when the Lord returns in the last days, He will do another stage of work—expressing the truth to judge and cleanse man. When we accept God’s work of judgment and have our sinful nature cleaned and changed, we will then be fully saved by God.
From the above fellowshiping, we can understand: “Since we have been redeemed by the Lord Jesus, we believe that ‘once saved, we are always saved.’ This view is untenable. Only after being judged and cleansed by God’s work in the last days can we be eternally saved.” Brothers and sisters, what attitude should we take when it comes to God’s salvation that appears in the last days?