SALVATION

"What is salvation? What is the Christian doctrine of salvation?"

Salvation is deliverance from danger or suffering. To save is to deliver or protect. The word carries the idea of victory, health, or preservation. Sometimes, the Bible uses the words saved or salvation to refer to temporal, physical deliverance, such as Paul’s deliverance from prison (Philippians 1:19).

More often, the word salvation concerns an eternal, spiritual deliverance. When Paul told the Philippian jailer what he must do to be saved, he was referring to the jailer’s eternal destiny (Acts 16:30-31). Jesus equated being saved with entering the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24-25).

What are we saved from? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, we are saved from “wrath”; that is, from God’s judgment of sin (Romans 5:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:9). Our sin has separated us from God, and the consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23). Biblical salvation refers to our deliverance from the consequence of sin and therefore involves the removal of sin.

Who does the saving? Only God can remove sin and deliver us from sin’s penalty (2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5).

How does God save? In the Christian doctrine of salvation, God has rescued us through Christ (John 3:17). Specifically, it was Jesus’ death on the cross and subsequent resurrection that achieved our salvation (Romans 5:10; Ephesians 1:7). Scripture is clear that salvation is the gracious, undeserved gift of God (Ephesians 2:5, 8) and is only available through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

How do we receive salvation? We are saved by faith. First, we must hear the gospel—the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection (Ephesians 1:13). Then, we must believe—fully trust the Lord Jesus (Romans 1:16). This involves repentance, a changing of mind about sin and Christ (Acts 3:19), and calling on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

A definition of the Christian doctrine of salvation would be “The spiritual, eternal deliverance which God immediately grants to those who accept His conditions of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.” Salvation is available in Jesus alone (John 14:6; Acts 4:12), and is dependant on God alone for provision, assurance, and security.

"How can you know that you are saved?"

A two-year-old boy was once staring at a heater, fascinated by its bright orange glow. His father saw him and warned, "Don’t touch that heater, son. It may look pretty, but it’s hot." The little boy believed him, and moved away from the heater. Some time later, after his father had left the room, the boy thought, "I wonder if it really is hot." He then reached out to touch it and see for himself. The second his flesh burned, he stopped believing it was hot; he now knew it was hot! He had moved out of the realm of belief into the realm of experience.

Christians believed in God’s existence before their conversion. However, when they obeyed the Word of God, turned from their sins, and embraced Jesus Christ, they stopped merely believing. The moment they reached out and touched the heater bar of God’s mercy, they moved out of belief into the realm of experience. This experience is so radical, Jesus referred to it as being "born again." The Bible says that those who don’t know God are spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1; 4:18). We are born with physical life, but not spiritual life. Picture unbelievers as corpses walking around who, by repenting and placing their faith in Christ, receive His very life. There is a radical difference between a corpse and a living, breathing human, just as there is when sinners pass from spiritual death to life. The apostle Paul said if you are "in Christ," you are a brand new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Those who now have God’s Spirit living in them will love what He loves and desire to do His will; they will have a hunger for His Word, a love for other believers, and a burden for the lost. The Holy Spirit also confirms in their spirit that they are now children of God (Romans 8:16). Those who believe on the name of the Son of God can know that they have eternal life (1 John 5:12,13).

Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, "My speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2:4,5). What Paul was saying was, "I deliberately didn’t talk you into your faith, but I let God’s power transform you." He didn’t reach them through an intellectual assent, but through the realm of personal experience.

Suppose two people—a heater manufacturer and a skin specialist—walked into the room just after that child had burned his hand on the heater. Both assured the boy that he couldn’t possibly have been burned. But all the experts, theories, and arguments in the world will not dissuade that boy, because of his experience. Those who have been transformed by God’s power need never fear scientific or other arguments, because the man with an experience is not at the mercy of a man with an argument. "For our gospel came not to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance . . ." (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

There are so many voices out there, and so much confusion. It was a joy for me to discover the following ten assurances of our salvation from God's Word.

   I believe God wants His people to KNOW FOR SURE that they are born again children of God. As John wrote in 1 John 1:4, "these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full." 

1. We know we are saved when we find that we are able to believe the Gospel! 

    a. The Gospel is foolishness to the natural man. Until a person is born again, they cannot receive anything from the Spirit of God. ("Gospel" means "good news") 

        (1) 1 Cor 1:18 and 2:14 say "the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are (being) saved it is the power of God." and "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned." 

        (2) John 5:24 says "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that (presently) heareth my word, and believeth (trusts and relies) on him that sent me, hath (is presently possessing) everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is (has already been) passed from death (spiritual) unto life (spiritual)." 

        (3) 1 John 5:1 says " Whosoever (presently) believeth that Jesus is the Christ is (has already been) born of God. 

        (4) 1 John 5:12 & 13 say "He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe (trust and rely) on the name of the Son of God."

2. We know we are saved because we can love our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ. (No matter what "denomination" they "belong" to). 

    a. 1 John 3:14 says "We know that we have passed from death (spiritual) unto life (spiritual), because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth (presently) in death (is spiritually dead)." 

    b. John 13:35, Jesus said "By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." 

3. We know we are saved because we can confess that Jesus is God himself come in the flesh. 

    a. 1 John 4:1&2 says "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 

    b. 1 John 5:13 says "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." ("believe" in the Scriptures means "trust in and rely on"). 

4. We know we are saved because God's children hear us. 1 John 4:6 says "We are of (out from the source of) God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error." 

5. We know we are saved because we desire to keep his commandments (the imperatives of the New Testament epistles to the Churches). 1 John 2:3&5 says "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him." 

6. We know we are saved because His Spirit is in us. (Internal evidence). 

    a. 1 John 4:13 says "Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit." 

    b. Romans 8:16 says "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God". 

7. We know we are saved because we can hear and love God's truth. 

    a. John 8:41-44&47 Jesus is speaking to scoffers and he says "Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; (accusing Jesus of being an illegitimate child) we have one Father, [even] God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? [even] because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell [you] the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear [them] not, because ye are not of God." 

    b. In John 10:26-29 Jesus said "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any [man] pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father's hand. I and [my] Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him." 

8. We know we are saved because we can confess that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 4:15 says " Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God." (Notice THE Son of God) 

9. We know we are saved because we can confess that Jesus is the Lord Himself. 1 Cor 12:3 says "Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and [that] no man can say that Jesus is THE Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." (In the Church at Corinth, someone was claiming to be speaking by the Spirit of God, but cursing Jesus). (Jesus is not just "Lord", but "THE Lord") 

10. We know we are saved, because the faith that saves us is not of ourselves, it is the gift of God: 

    a. Ephesians 2:5 says "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God" 

    b. 2 Thess 3:2 states that all men do not have faith. Only God's children have true faith. Are you still reading this paper on salvation evidence? Do you believe that Jesus Christ is God Himself come in the flesh? Do you find yourself loving God's Word and His people? Rejoice! That is evidence that you are a Born Again Child of God! 

"What are the steps to salvation?"


 
“In [Jesus] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).


Giving steps to salvation can be misleading because it implies that a person can work his way to heaven by completing "steps." As the above verse says, salvation is by His grace; we cannot earn it (Titus 3:5). Being dead in sin, an unbeliever doesn’t have the capacity to love God (Ephesians 2:1).

Thankfully, “while we were yet sinners” (Romans 5:8), God redeemed us. Redemption is paying the price to loose from bondage. By sacrificing His Son on the cross, God paid the price for sin (which is death), freeing believers from sin’s oppression. By resurrecting Christ from the grave, God proved the sacrifice was effective, giving the Lord Jesus authority to rule and intercede at His right hand (Romans 4:25; Mark 16:19).


Although we cannot merit heaven by taking steps to salvation, we are called to respond to Christ’s redemption with repentance and faith. Even that response is a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Thus, the question is correctly worded, “What are God’s steps to salvation of sinners?” He did it all through Christ!

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified [declared righteous/not guilty] as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; . . . Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (Romans 3:23-24; 27-29).


The next question is, “What should be our response, by God’s grace, to Christ’s death and resurrection? Let’s review the following three responses. Discern whether you need to respond to God’s grace to be saved from sin and its sentence of hell.



Steps to Salvation (i.e. Response to Christ’s Redemption)

  1. Recognize need: Before receiving Jesus as Savior, you must understand why you need a Savior. Most people think if they live a law-abiding life, they deserve heaven. The problem is their definition of law-abiding. On Judgment Day after death, we won’t stand before a fallible, human judge. We will answer to a holy God, who rightly judges our thoughts, words, and actions.

    God gives His law in the Bible, summarized by the Ten Commandments. Have you kept them? You might be thinking, “Well, I’ve never murdered anyone.” But Jesus revealed the true meaning of the law. He equated hatred with murder (Matthew 5:21-22; 1 John 3:15). Looking at someone with lust, Jesus taught, was adultery of the heart (Matthew 5:27-29).

    Besides, all of us have broken the two greatest commands: loving God wholeheartedly and loving others as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). By loving possessions more than God and loving ourselves more than others, we have all “sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).


Are you guilty? “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). The penalty for sin that we all deserve is death, eternal separation from God in hell (Romans 6:23). Do you realize your need for a Savior from sin? That is God’s grace in convicting you!

  1. Repent of sin: In believing in Jesus as Savior, you must change your mind. Repentance isn’t a “Sorry I got caught” reaction. It is a change of mind, a heartfelt sorrow of how sin grieves God, resulting in turning away from it to Christ who gives the power to overcome sin. You cannot embrace both sin and Christ.


Although repentance leads to a change of behavior, it doesn’t mean we’ll never sin again. But we will have a different attitude toward it. Instead of craving the gratification of sin’s enticements, we’ll learn to detest it. God changes the lure of sin for the pure desire of delighting in Himself.

After convicting us of sin (first response), God’s grace gives us the repentant desire to change (second response). Turning from sin, we turn in faith to the only Savior from sin. This trust in Christ’s payment for and triumph over sin involves the third response to God’s grace.

  1. Receive Christ: For repentant sinners, God provides salvation from the penalty and power of sin through Jesus. Our response must be faith in who Christ is and what He has done. Jesus lived a perfect life for He was God in the flesh; Jesus died a redemptive death for He is the Savior from sin; Jesus resurrected as the Victor over sin and death for He is Lord over all.

    By God’s grace, we repent of sin, trusting Christ as Savior from sin and following Him as Lord of life. We’re born again to new life by the Holy Spirit. Thus, He changes our desires to joy in glorifying the Lord.

In conclusion, a person cannot merit heaven through taking certain steps to salvation. Rather, God calls a sinner to respond to Christ’s redemption. Even the response of repentance and faith is His grace. Christians have nothing to be proud about; they boast only in the Lord!

 

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air [Satan], of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, 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 ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them” (Ephesians 2:1-10).

 

Note that God saves Christians unto good works. All other religions require earning salvation by good works. Islam, for example, requires keeping the Five Pillars as steps to salvation.

In our pluralistic society, claiming one religion as truth seems arrogant. But God is not confined by men’s wishes and beliefs. As sovereign Judge, He could have let the law condemn us, resulting in eternal separation from Him in hell. But in love, God sent Christ to save His own from sin. Glory to God alone! How do you respond?

"Do I have eternal life?"

The Bible presents a clear path to eternal life. First, we must recognize that we have sinned against God: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). We have all done things that are displeasing to God, which makes us deserving of punishment. Since all our sins are ultimately against an eternal God, only an eternal punishment is sufficient. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

However, Jesus Christ, the sinless (1 Peter 2:22), eternal Son of God became a man (John 1:1,14) and died to pay our penalty. "God demonstrates His love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). Jesus Christ died on the cross (John 19:31-42), taking the punishment that we deserve (2 Corinthians 5:21). Three days later He rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), proving His victory over sin and death. "In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).

By faith, we must change our mindset regarding Christ - who He is, what He did, and why - for salvation (Acts 3:19). If we place our faith in Him, trusting His death on the cross to pay for our sins, we will be forgiven and receive the promise of eternal life in heaven. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that anyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). Faith alone in the finished work of Christ on the cross is the only true path to eternal life! "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, here is a sample prayer. Remember, saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. It is only trusting in Christ that can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. "God, I know that I have sinned against you and deserve punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness - the gift of eternal life! Amen!"

"I have been born again many times."

Like Nicodemus, many people have no concept of what it means to be born again. He thought Jesus was speaking of a physical rebirth. Others see the experience as being a spiritual "tingle" when they think of God or a warm fuzzy feeling when they enter a building they erroneously call a "Church." Or maybe they are of the impression that one is born again when one is "christened" or "confirmed."

However, the new birth spoken of by Jesus is absolutely essential for sinners to enter heaven. If they are not born again, they will not enter the kingdom of God. Therefore it is necessary to establish the fact that one becomes a Christian by being born again, pointing out that Jesus Himself said that the experience was crucial. The difference between believing in Jesus and being born again is like believing in a parachute, and putting one on. The difference will be seen when you jump. (See Romans 13:14.)

How is one born again? Simply through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Confess and forsake your sins, and trust in Jesus alone for your eternal salvation. When you do, you receive spiritual life through the Holy Spirit who comes to live within you. See Ephesians 4:18 and 1 Peter 1:23 footnotes.

"Is water baptism essential to salvation?"

While we should preach that all men are commanded to repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38), adding any other requirement to salvation by grace becomes "works" in disguise. Even though numerous Scriptures speak of the importance of water baptism, adding anything to the work of the cross demeans the sacrifice of the Savior. It implies that His finished work wasn’t enough. But the Bible makes clear that we are saved by grace, and grace alone (Ephesians 2:8,9). Baptism is simply a step of obedience to the Lord following our repentance and confession of sin. Our obedience— water baptism, prayer, good works, fellowship, witnessing, etc.—issues from our faith in Christ. Salvation is not what we do, but Who we have: "He that has the Son has life" (1 John 5:12). See Acts 2:38 footnotes.

Is Repentance Necessary for Salvation?

It is true that there are numerous Bible verses that speak of the promise of salvation, with no mention of repentance. These merely say to "believe" on Jesus Christ and you shall be saved (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9). However, the Bible makes it clear that God is holy and man is sinful, and that sin makes a separation between the two (Isaiah 59:1,2). Without repentance from sin, wicked men cannot have fellowship with a holy God. We are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) and until we forsake them through repentance, we cannot be made alive in Christ.

The Scriptures speak of "repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18). We turn from sin to the Savior. This is why Paul preached "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ" (Acts 20:21). The first public word Jesus preached was "repent" (Matthew 4:17). John the Baptist began his ministry the same way (Matthew 3:2). Jesus told His hearers that without repentance, they would perish (Luke 13:3).

If belief is all that is necessary for salvation, then the logical conclusion is that one need never repent. However, the Bible tells us that a false convert "believes" and yet is not saved (Luke 8:13); he remains a "worker of iniquity." Look at the warning of Scripture: "If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth" (1 John 1:6). The Scriptures also say, "He that covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoso confesses and forsakes them [repentance] shall have mercy" (Proverbs 28:13). Jesus said that there was joy in heaven over one sinner who "repents" (Luke 15:10). If there is no repentance, there is no joy because there is no salvation.

When Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, he commanded his hearers to repent "for the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). Without repentance, there is no remission of sins; we are still under His wrath. Peter further said, "Repent . . . and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 3:19). We cannot be "converted" unless we repent. God Himself "commands all men everywhere [leaving no exceptions] to repent" (Acts 17:30). Peter said a similar thing at Pentecost: "Repent, and be baptized every one of you" (Acts 2:38).

If repentance wasn’t necessary for salvation, why then did Jesus command that repentance be preached to all nations (Luke 24:47)? With so many Scriptures speaking of the necessity of repentance for salvation, one can only suspect that those who preach salvation without repentance are strangers to repentance themselves, and thus strangers to true conversion.

Is Suffering the Entrance to Heaven?

In January 2000, a well-known ex-televangelist said on a worldwide TV talk show, "I believe that every person who died in the Holocaust went to heaven." He was very sincere, and if he was seeking the commendation of the world, he surely got it with that statement. Who wouldn’t consider what he said to be utterly compassionate?

However, let’s look at the implications of his heartfelt beliefs. His statement seemed to limit salvation to the Jews who died in the Holocaust, because he added that "their blood laid a foundation for the nation of Israel." If the slaughtered Jews made it to heaven, did the many Gypsies who died in the Holocaust also obtain eternal salvation? If his statement includes Gentiles, is the salvation he spoke of limited to those who died at the hands of Nazis? Did the many Frenchmen who met their death at the hands of cruel Nazis go to heaven also?

Perhaps he was saying that the death of Jesus on the cross covered all of humanity, and that all will eventually be saved— something called "universalism." This means that salvation will also come to Hitler and the Nazis who killed the Jews. However, I doubt if he was saying that. Such a statement would have brought the scorn of his Jewish host, and of the world whose compassion has definite limits. If pressed, he probably didn’t mean that only the Jews in the camps went to heaven, because that smacks of racism.

He was likely saying that those who died were saved because they died in such tragic circumstances. Then Jesus was lying when He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me" (John 14:6). There is another way to heaven—death in a Nazi concentration camp. Does that mean that the many Jews who died under communism went to heaven? Or is salvation limited to German concentration camps? If their salvation came because of the grim circumstances surrounding their death, does a Jew therefore enter heaven after suffering for hours before dying in a car wreck . . . if he was killed by a drunk driver who happened to be German? Bear in mind that his suffering may have been much greater than someone who died within minutes in a Nazi gas chamber.

Many unsaved think we can merit entrance into heaven by our suffering. Their error was confirmed by this sincere, compassionate man of God. They may now disregard the truth, "Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). They can now save themselves by the means of their own death . . . if they suffer enough.

The ex-televangelist was concerned that his indiscretions of the 1980s brought discredit to the kingdom of God. However, those actions fade into history compared to the damage done by saying that there is another means of salvation outside of Jesus Christ, on a program watched by untold millions around the world. Who on earth needs to repent and trust in Jesus, if millions entered the kingdom without being born again? No one.

"Can a Christian lose salvation?"

Before this question is answered, the term “Christian” must be defined. A “Christian” is not a person who has said a prayer, or walked down an aisle, or been raised in a Christian family. While each of these things can be a part of the Christian experience, they are not what “makes” a Christian. A Christian is a person who has, by faith, received and fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9).

So, with this definition in mind, can a Christian lose salvation? Perhaps the best way to answer this crucially important question is to examine what the Bible says occurs at salvation, and to study what losing salvation would therefore entail. Here are a few examples:

A Christian is a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This verse speaks of a person becoming an entirely new creature as a result of being “in Christ.” For a Christian to lose salvation, the new creation would have to be canceled and reversed.

A Christian is redeemed. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19). The word “redeemed” refers to a purchase being made, a price being paid. For a Christian to lose salvation, God Himself would have to revoke His purchase that He paid for with the precious blood of Christ.

A Christian is justified. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). To “justify” means to “declare righteous.” All those who receive Jesus as Savior are “declared righteous” by God. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and undeclare what He had previously declared.

A Christian is promised eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Eternal life is a promise of eternity (forever) in Heaven with God. God promises, “believe and you will have eternal life.” For a Christian to lose salvation, eternal life would have to be taken away. If a Christian is promised to live forever, how then can God break this promise by taking away eternal life?

A Christian is guaranteed glorification. “And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:30). As we learned in Romans 5:1, justification is declared at the moment of faith. According to Romans 8:30, glorification is guaranteed for all those whom God justifies. Glorification refers to a Christian receiving a perfect resurrection body in Heaven. If a Christian can lose salvation, Romans 8:30 is in error, because God could not guarantee glorification for all those whom He predestines, calls, and justifies.

Many more illustrations of what occurs at salvation could be shared. Even these few, though, make it abundantly clear that a Christian cannot lose salvation. Most, if not all, of what the Bible says occurs to a person when he/she receives Jesus Christ as Savior would be invalidated if salvation could be lost. Salvation cannot be reversed. A Christian cannot be un-newly created. Redemption cannot be undone. Eternal life cannot be lost and still be considered eternal. If a Christian can lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and change His mind - two things that Scripture tells us God never does.

The most frequent objections to the belief that a Christian cannot lose salvation are: (1) what about those who are Christians and continually live an immoral lifestyle? – and – (2) what about those who are Christians but later reject the faith and deny Christ? The problem with these two objections is the assumption “are Christians.” (1) The Bible declares that a true Christian will not live a continually immoral lifestyle (1 John 3:6). (2) The Bible declares that anyone who departs the faith is demonstrating that he/she never truly was a Christian (1 John 2:19).

No, a Christian cannot lose salvation. Nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can remove a Christian from God’s hand (John 10:28-29). God is both willing and able to guarantee and maintain the salvation He has given us. Jude 24-25, “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

"Is eternal security a "license" to sin?"

The most frequent objection to the doctrine of eternal security is that it supposedly promotes the idea that Christians can live any way that they want to - and still be saved. While this is "technically" true, that is not the "essence" of eternal security. A person who has truly accepted Jesus Christ as his or her Savior "can" live a sinful life - but he or she "will" not do so. We must draw a distinction between how a Christian should live - and what a person must do in order to receive salvation.\

The Bible is abundantly clear that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; John 14:6). A person is saved by faith - faith alone. The moment a person truly believes in Jesus Christ, he/she is saved and secure in that salvation. It is not that salvation is gained by faith, but then maintained by works. The Apostle Paul addresses this issue in Galatians 3:3, "Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?" If we are saved by faith, our salvation is also maintained and secured by faith. We cannot earn our own salvation. Therefore, we cannot earn the maintenance of our salvation either. It is God who maintains our salvation (Jude verse 24). It is God's hand that holds us firmly in His grasp (John 10:28-29). It is God's love that nothing can separate us from (Romans 8:38-39).

Any denial of eternal security is, in its essence, a belief that we must maintain our own salvation by our own good works. This is completely antithetical to salvation by grace. We are saved because of Christ's merits, not our own (Romans 4:3-8). To claim that we must obey God's Word or live a godly life to maintain our salvation is equal to saying that Jesus' death was not sufficient to pay the penalty for our sins. Jesus' death was absolutely sufficient to pay for all of our sins - past, present, and future, pre-salvation and post-salvation (Romans 5:8; 1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21).

So, with all that said, does this mean that a Christian can live any way he/she wants to and still be saved? This is essentially a hypothetical question, because the Bible makes it clear that a true Christian will not live "any way he/she wants to." Christians are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Christians demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), not the acts of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). 1 John 3:6-9 clearly states that a true Christian will not live in continual sin. In response to the accusation that grace promotes sin, the Apostle Paul declared, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2).

Eternal security is not a "license" to sin. Rather, it is the security of knowing that God's love is guaranteed for those who trust in Christ. Knowing and understanding God's tremendous gift of salvation accomplishes the opposite of giving a "license" to sin. How could anyone, knowing the price Jesus Christ paid for us, go on to live a life of sin (Romans 6:15-23)? How could anyone who understands God's unconditional and guaranteed love for those who believe, take that love and throw it back in God's face? Such a person is demonstrating not that eternal security has given him or her a license to sin, but rather that he or she has not truly experienced salvation through Jesus Christ. "No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him" (1 John 3:6).

"What happens to those who have never heard about Jesus?"

All people are accountable to God whether they have “heard about Him” or not. The Bible tells us that God has clearly revealed Himself in nature (Romans 1:20) and in the hearts of people (Ecclesiastes 3:11). The problem is that the human race is sinful; we all reject this knowledge of God and rebel against Him (Romans 1:21-23). Apart from God's grace, God would give us over to the sinful desires of our hearts, allowing us to discover how useless and miserable life is apart from Him. This He does for those who reject Him (Romans 1:24-32).

In reality, it is not that some people have not heard about God. Rather, the problem is that they have rejected what they have heard and what is readily seen in nature. Deuteronomy 4:29 proclaims, “But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.” This verse teaches an important principle: everyone who truly seeks after God will find Him. If a person truly desires to know God, God will make Himself known.

The problem is, “there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God” (Romans 3:11). People reject the knowledge of God that is present in nature and in their own heart, and instead decide to worship a “god” of their own creation. It is foolish to debate the fairness of God sending someone to hell who never had the opportunity to hear the Gospel of Christ. People are responsible to God for what God has already revealed to them. The Bible says that people reject this knowledge, and therefore God is just in condemning them to hell.

Instead of debating the fate of those who have never heard, we, as Christians, should be doing our best to make sure that they hear. We are called to spread the Gospel throughout the nations (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). The fact that we know people reject the knowledge of God revealed in nature must motivate us to proclaim the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Only through accepting the Gospel of God’s grace through the Lord Jesus Christ can people be saved from their sins and rescued from an eternity apart from God in hell.

If we assume that those who never hear the Gospel are granted mercy from God, we will run into a terrible problem. If people who never hear the Gospel are saved…we should make sure that no one ever hears the Gospel. The worst thing we could do would be share the Gospel with a person and have him or her reject it. If that were to happen, he or she would be condemned. People who do not hear the Gospel must be condemned, or else there is no motive for evangelism. Why run the risk of people possibly rejecting the Gospel and condemning themselves – when they were previously saved because they had never heard the Gospel?

"What happened to those who believed in God before Jesus?"

Since the fall of man, the basis of salvation has always been the death of Christ. No one, either prior to the cross or since the cross, would ever be saved without that one pivotal event in the history of the world. Christ's death paid the penalty for past sins of Old Testament saints and future sins of New Testament saints.

The requirement for salvation has always been faith. The object of one's faith for salvation has always been God. The psalmist wrote, "Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him" (Psalm 2:12). Genesis 15:6 tells us that Abraham believed God and that was enough for God to account it to him for righteousness (see also Romans 4:3-8). The Old Testament sacrificial system did not take away sin, as Hebrews 9:1-10:4 clearly teaches. It did, however, point to the day when the Son of God would shed His blood for the sinful human race.

What has changed through the ages is the content of a believer's faith. God's requirement of what must be believed is based on the amount of revelation He has given mankind up to that time. This is called progressive revelation. Adam believed the promise God gave in Genesis 3:15 that the Seed of the woman would conquer Satan. Adam believed Him, demonstrated by the name he gave Eve (v.20) and the Lord indicated His acceptance immediately by covering them with coats of skin (v.21). At that point that is all Adam knew, but he believed it.

Abraham believed God according to the promises and new revelation God gave him in Genesis 12 and 15. Prior to Moses, no Scripture was written, but mankind was responsible for what God had revealed. Throughout the Old Testament, believers came to salvation because they believed that God would someday take care of their sin problem. Today, we look back, believing that He has already taken care of our sins on Calvary (John 3:16; Hebrews 9:28).

What about believers in Christ's day, prior to the cross and resurrection, what did they believe? Did they understand the full picture of Christ dying on a cross for their sins? Late in his ministry, "Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day" (Matthew 16:21). What was the reaction of His disciples to this message? "Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, '‘Far be it from you, Lord; this shall not happen to you!'" (16:22). Peter, and the other disciples, did not know the full truth, yet they were saved because they believed that God would take care of their sin problem. They didn't exactly know how He would accomplish that, any more than Adam, Abraham, Moses, or David knew how, but they believed God.

Today, we have more revelation than did people living before the resurrection of Christ, we know the full picture. "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son" (Hebrews 1:1-2). Our salvation is still based on the death of Christ, our faith is still the requirement for salvation, and the object of our faith is still God. Today for us the content of our faith is that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He rose the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).

"What does it mean for salvation to be a gift from God?"

The word gift is an important one in the Bible, and it is good that we understand its definition and implications.

In the New Testament, there are several Greek words translated “gift.” Some of these words are used in contexts other than God’s gift of salvation, such as the reciprocal gift-giving of celebrants (Revelation 11:10), the things received from fathers (Matthew 7:11), offerings to a ministry (Philippians 4:17), and the gifts of the magi (Matthew 2:11).

However, when it comes to the matter of our salvation, the New Testament writers use different Greek words—words that emphasize the gracious and absolutely free quality of the gift. Here are the two words most commonly used for the gift of salvation:

Dorea, meaning “a free gift.” This word lays particular stress on the gratuitous nature of the gift—it is something given above and beyond what is expected or deserved. Every New Testament occurrence of this word is related to a spiritual gift from God. It is what Jesus offers to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:10). It is called the “free gift” in Romans 5:15. It is the “unspeakable [or indescribable] gift” in 2 Corinthians 9:15. This gracious gift is identified as the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38; 8:30; and 11:17.

The adverb form of this word is dorean, translated “freely” in Matthew 10:8; 2 Corinthians 11:7; Revelation 21:6; 22:17. In Romans 3:24, immediately following God’s pronouncement of our guilt, we have this use of dorean: “Being justified FREELY by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” The gift of salvation is free, and the motive for the gift is nothing more than the grace of the Giver.

2) Charisma, meaning “a gift of grace.” This word is used to define salvation in Romans 5:15-16. Also, in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the GIFT [charisma] of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” This same word is used in conjunction with the gifts of the Spirit received after salvation (Romans 12:6; 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; 1 Peter 4:10).

Obviously, if something is a “gift of grace,” it cannot be earned. To work for something is to deserve it, and that would produce an obligation—a gift of debt, as it were. That is why works destroy grace (Romans 4:1-5; 11:5-6).

When presenting salvation, the New Testament writers carefully chose words that emphasize grace and freedom. As a result, the Bible could not be more clear—salvation is absolutely free, the true gift of God in Christ, and our only responsibility is to receive the gift by faith (John 1:12; 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9).

"Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works?"

This is perhaps the most important question in all of Christian theology. This question is the cause of the Reformation - the split between the Protestant church and Catholic church. This question is a key difference between Biblical Christianity and most of the "Christian" cults. Is salvation by faith alone, or by faith plus works? Am I saved just by believing in Jesus, or do I have to believe in Jesus and do certain things?

The question of faith alone or faith plus works is made difficult by some hard-to-reconcile Bible passages. Compare Romans 3:28, 5:1 and Galatians 3:24 with James 2:24. Some see a difference between Paul (salvation is by faith alone) and James (salvation is by faith plus works). In reality, Paul and James did not disagree at all. The only point of disagreement some people claim is over the relationship between faith and works. Paul dogmatically says that justification is by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) while James appears to be saying that justification is by faith plus works. This apparent problem is answered by examining what exactly James is talking about. James is refuting the belief that a person can have faith without producing any good works (James 2:17-18). James is emphasizing the point that genuine faith in Christ will produce a changed life and good works (James 2:20-26). James is not saying that justification is by faith plus works, but rather that a person who is truly justified by faith will have good works in his life. If a person claims to be a believer, but has no good works in his life – then he likely does not have genuine faith in Christ (James 2:14, 17, 20, 26).

Paul says the same thing in his writings. The good fruit believers should have in their lives is listed in Galatians 5:22-23. Immediately after telling us that we are saved by faith, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9), Paul informs us that we were created to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). Paul expects just as much of a changed life as James does, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17)! James and Paul do not disagree on their teaching on salvation. They approach the same subject from different perspectives. Paul simply emphasized that justification is by faith alone while James put emphasis on the fact that faith in Christ produces good works.

"What is the Romans Road to salvation?"

The Romans Road to salvation is a way of explaining the good news of salvation using verses from the Book of Romans. It is a simple yet powerful method of explaining why we need salvation, how God provided salvation, how we can receive salvation, and what are the results of salvation.

The first verse on the Romans Road to salvation is Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." We have all sinned. We have all done things that are displeasing to God. There is no one who is innocent. Romans 3:10-18 gives a detailed picture of what sin looks like in our lives. The second Scripture on the Romans Road to salvation, Romans 6:23, teaches us about the consequences of sin - "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." The punishment that we have earned for our sins is death. Not just physical death, but eternal death!

The third verse on the Romans road to salvation picks up where Romans 6:23 left off, "but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 5:8 declares, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Jesus Christ died for us! Jesus' death paid for the price of our sins. Jesus' resurrection proves that God accepted Jesus' death as the payment for our sins.

The fourth stop on the Romans road to salvation is Romans 10:9, "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Because of Jesus' death on our behalf, all we have to do is believe in Him, trusting His death as the payment for our sins - and we will be saved! Romans 10:13 says it again, "for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins and rescue us from eternal death. Salvation, the forgiveness of sins, is available to anyone who will trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

The final aspect of the Romans road to salvation is the results of salvation. Romans 5:1 has this wonderful message, "Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Through Jesus Christ we can have a relationship of peace with God. Romans 8:1 teaches us, "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Because of Jesus' death on our behalf, we will never be condemned for our sins. Finally, we have this precious promise of God from Romans 8:38-39, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Would you like to follow the Romans road to salvation? If so, here is a simple prayer you can pray to God. Saying this prayer is a way to declare to God that you are relying on Jesus Christ for your salvation. The words themselves will not save you. Only faith in Jesus Christ can provide salvation! "God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. With your help, I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness - the gift of eternal life! Amen!"

"Is baptism necessary for salvation? What is baptismal regeneration?"

Baptismal regeneration is the belief that a person must be baptized in order to be saved. It is our contention that baptism is an important step of obedience for a Christian, but we adamantly reject baptism as being required for salvation. We strongly believe that each and every Christian should be water baptized by immersion. Baptism illustrates a believer’s identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Romans 6:3-4 declares, “Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” The action of being immersed in the water illustrates being buried with Christ. The action of coming out of the water pictures Christ’s resurrection.

Anything in addition to faith in Jesus Christ as being required for salvation is a works-based salvation. To add ANYTHING to the Gospel is to say that Jesus' death on the cross was not sufficient to purchase our salvation. To say that we must be baptized in order to be saved is to say that we must add our own good works and obedience to Christ's death in order to make it sufficient for salvation. Jesus' death alone paid for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Jesus' payment for our sins is appropriated to our "account" by faith alone (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). Therefore, baptism is an important step of obedience after salvation, but cannot be a requirement for salvation.

Yes, there are some verses that seem to indicate baptism as a necessary requirement for salvation. However, since the Bible so clearly tells us that salvation is received by faith alone (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5), there must be a different interpretation of those verses. Scripture does not contradict Scripture. In Bible times, a person who converted from one religion to another was often baptized to identify conversion. Baptism was the means of making a decision public. Those who refused to be baptized were saying they did not truly believe. So, in the minds of the apostles and early disciples, the idea of an un-baptized believer was unheard of. When a person claimed to believe in Christ, yet was ashamed to proclaim his faith in public, it indicated that he did not have true faith.

If baptism is necessary for salvation, why would Paul have said, "I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius" (1 Corinthians 1:14)? Why would he have said, "For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel - not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power" (1 Corinthians 1:17)? Granted, in this passage Paul is arguing against the divisions that plagued the Corinthian church. However, how could Paul possibly say, “I am thankful that I did not baptize…” or “For Christ did not send me to baptize…” if baptism were necessary for salvation? If baptism is necessary for salvation, Paul would literally be saying, “I am thankful that you were not saved…” and “For Christ did not send me to save…” That would be an unbelievably ridiculous statement for Paul to make. Further, when Paul gives a detailed outline of what he considers the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8), why does he neglect to mention baptism? If baptism is a requirement for salvation, how could any presentation of the Gospel lack a mentioning of baptism?

Baptismal regeneration is not a Biblical concept. Baptism does not save from sin, but from a bad conscience. Peter clearly taught that baptism was not a ceremonial act of physical purification, but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. Baptism is the symbol of what has already occurred in the heart and life of one who has trusted Christ as Savior (cf. Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12). To make the source of salvation perfectly clear, Peter added, “by the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (cf. 1 Peter 1:3). Baptism is an important step of obedience that every Christian should take. Baptism cannot be a requirement for salvation. To make it such is an attack on the sufficiency of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

"What does it mean to be a born again Christian?"

What does it mean to be a born again Christian? The classic passage from the Bible that answers this question is John 3:1-21. The Lord Jesus Christ is talking to Nicodemus, a prominent Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin (a ruler of the Jews). Nicodemus had come to Jesus at night. Nicodemus had questions to ask Jesus.

As Jesus talked with Nicodemus, He said "...Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, You must be born again...." (John 3:3-7).

The phrase "born again" literally means "born from above." Nicodemus had a real need. He needed a change of his heart--a spiritual transformation. New birth, being born again, is an act of God whereby eternal life is imparted to the person who believes (2 Corinthians 5:17; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1-4, 18). John 1:12,13 indicates that "born again" also carries the idea "to become children of God" through trust in the name of Jesus Christ.

The question logically comes, "Why does a person need to be born again?" The Apostle Paul in Ephesians 2:1 says, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins..." To the Romans in Romans 3:23, the Apostle wrote, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." So, a person needs to be born again in order to have their sins forgiven and have a relationship with God.

How does that come to be? Ephesians 2:8,9 states, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast." When one is "saved," he/she has been born again, spiritually renewed, and is now a child of God by right of new birth. Trusting in Jesus Christ, the One who paid the penalty of sin when He died on the cross, is what it means to be "born again" spiritually. "Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation..." (2 Corinthians 5:17a).

If you have never trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, will you consider the prompting of the Holy Spirit as He speaks to your heart? You need to be born again. Will you pray the prayer of repentance and become a new creation in Christ, today? "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe on His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13).

If you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Savior and be born again, here is a sample prayer. Remember, saying this prayer or any other prayer will not save you. It is only trusting in Christ that can save you from sin. This prayer is simply a way to express to God your faith in Him and thank Him for providing for your salvation. "God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You for salvation. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness - the gift of eternal life! Amen!"

"Will there be a second chance for salvation after death?"

While the idea of a second chance for salvation is appealing, the Bible is clear that death is the end of all chances. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that we die, and then face judgment. So, as long as a person is alive, he has a second, third, fourth, fifth, etc. chance to accept Christ and be saved (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10; Acts 16:31). Once a person dies, there are no more chances. The idea of purgatory, a place where people go after death to pay for their sins, has no biblical basis, but is rather a tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.

To understand what happens to nonbelievers after they die, we go to Revelation 20:11-15 which describes the Great White Throne judgment. Here takes place the opening of the books and “the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” The books contain all the thoughts and deeds of those being judged, and we know from Romans 3:20 that “by the works of the Law is no flesh justified.” Therefore, all who are judged by their works and thoughts are condemned to hell. Believers in Christ, on the other hand, are not judged by the books of works, but their names are found written in another book—the “Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). These are the ones who have believed on the Lord Jesus, and they alone will be allowed to enter heaven.

The key to understanding this is the Lamb’s Book of Life. Anyone whose name is written in this book was “saved before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4) by God’s sovereign saving grace to be part of His Son’s bride, the church of Jesus Christ. These people need no “second chance” at salvation because their salvation has been secured by Christ. He chose us, He saved us, and He will keep us saved. Nothing can separate us from Christ (Romans 8:39). Those for whom He died will be saved because Jesus will see to it. He declared “all that the Father has given me will come to me” (John 6:37), and “I give to them eternal life, and they shall never ever perish, and not anyone shall pluck them out of My hand” (John 10:28). For believers, there is no need for a second chance because the first chance is sufficient.

What about those who do not believe? Wouldn’t they repent and believe if they were given a second chance? The answer is no, they would not because their hearts are not changed simply because they die. Their hearts and minds “are at enmity” against God and won’t accept Him even when they see Him face to face. This is evidenced clearly in the story of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31. If ever someone should have repented when given a second chance to see clearly the truth, it was the rich man. But although he was in torment in hell, he only asked that Abraham send Lazarus back to earth to warn his brothers so they didn’t have to suffer the same fate. There was no repentance in his heart, only regret for where he found himself. Abraham’s answer says it all: “And he said to him, If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded, even though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31). Here we see that the witness of the Scriptures is sufficient for salvation for those who believe it, and no other revelation will bring about salvation to those who do not. No second, third or fourth chances would be enough to turn the heart of stone into a heart of flesh.

Philippians 2:10-11 declares “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” One day, everyone will bow before Jesus and recognize that He is the Lord and Savior. At that point, though, it is too late for salvation. After death, all that remains for the unbeliever is judgment (Revelation 20:14-15). That is why we must trust in Him in this life.

"Where do I find the age of accountability in the Bible? What happens to babies and young children when they die?"

The Bible tells us that even if an infant or child has not committed personal sin, all people, including infants and children, are guilty before God because of inherited and imputed sin. Inherited sin is that which is passed on from our parents. In Psalm 51:5, David wrote, "I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." David recognized that even at conception, he was a sinner. The very sad fact that infants sometimes die demonstrates that even infants are impacted by Adam’s sin, since physical and spiritual death were the results of Adam's original sin.

Each person, infant or adult, stands guilty before God; each person has offended the holiness of God. The only way that God can be just and at the same time declare a person righteous is for that person to have received forgiveness by faith in Christ. Christ is the only way. John 14:6 records what Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." Also, Peter stated in Acts 4:12, "there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved." Salvation is an individual choice.

What about babies and young children who never reach the ability to make this individual choice? The “age of accountability” is a concept that teaches those who die before reaching the “age of accountability” are automatically saved, by God’s grace and mercy. The “age of accountability” is a belief that God saves all those who die before reaching the ability to make a decision for or against Christ. Thirteen is the most common number given for the age of accountability based on the Jewish custom that a child becomes an adult at the age of 13. However, the Bible gives no direct support to the age of 13 always being the age of accountability. It likely varies from child to child. A child has passed the age of accountability once he or she is capable of making a faith decision for or against Christ.

With the above in mind, also consider the following: Christ's death is presented as sufficient for all of mankind. 1 John 2:2 says Jesus "is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world." This verse is clear that Jesus' death was sufficient for all sins, not just the sins of those who specifically have come to Him in faith. The fact that Christ's death was sufficient for all sin would allow the possibility of God applying that payment to those who were never capable of believing.

The one passage that seems to identify with this topic more than any other is 2 Samuel 12:21-23. The context of these verses is that King David committed adultery with Bathsheba, with a resulting pregnancy. The prophet Nathan was sent by the Lord to inform David that because of his sin, the Lord would take the child in death. David responded to this by grieving, mourning, and praying for the child. But, once the child was taken, David's mourning ended. David's servants were surprised to hear this. They said to King David, "What is this thing that you have done? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept; but when the child died, you arose and ate food." David's response was, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows, the LORD may be gracious to me, that the child may live.’ But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me." David's response can be seen as an argument that those who cannot believe are safe in the Lord. David said that he could go to the child, but that he could not bring the child back to him. Also, and just as important, David seemed to be comforted over this. In other words, David seemed to be saying that he would once again see the child (in heaven), though he could not bring him back.

Though the Bible leaves open the possibility, the one problem with saying that God applies Christ's payment for sin to those who can't believe is that the Bible does not specifically say that He does this. Therefore, this is a subject for which we should not be adamant or dogmatic. We can, however, be dogmatic about the fact that God ALWAYS does what is right.

Knowing the love and grace of God, God applying Christ’s death to those who cannot believe would seem consistent with His character. It is our position that God applies Christ's payment for sin to young children and those who are mentally handicapped, since they were not mentally capable of understanding their sinful state and their need for the Savior. Of this we are certain, that God is loving, holy, merciful, just, and gracious. Whatever He does, it is ALWAYS right and good. 

Once saved, always saved? Can we lose our salvation?

Most Christians believe we are justified and saved by faith alone, but good works are the necessary result and evidence of that salvation. In contrast, there is a modern doctrine, popularized by some evangelists and organizations, that believing Jesus Christ is the Son of God and our Savior is all that is required for salvation, and we can never lose that salvation. According to this doctrine, we are saved by belief in Christ alone; it is not necessary to repent, and good works do not necessarily result from being saved. Bible passages such as John 3:16 and John 10:27-29, as well as Paul's teachings in Romans 8:35-39 and 2 Cor. 1:20-22 are cited in support. This doctrine has tremendous popular appeal because it teaches that we can be assured of our salvation without the obligation to change our sinful ways. In this view, God loves us and accepts us just as we are, and it is up to God to change us if He wants to.

However, the overall weight of Biblical evidence points to the conclusion that a person who goes on willfully sinning has either intentionally abandoned his or her faith or never sincerely made a faith commitment in the first place. True faith involves a commitment to trust God and to do our best to live according to His commandments:

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb. 10:26-31)

Cling tightly to your faith in Christ, and always keep your conscience clear. For some people have deliberately violated their consciences; as a result, their faith has been shipwrecked. (1 Tim. 1:19)

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Gal. 5:19-26)