Is it true that you can be saved today, for all time? I often hear Christians state that they are saved and they usually follow this statement with a question; are you saved? This letter is to address the issue of being spiritually saved, as it relates to God’s word.
Some theologians teach that once a person accepts Christ as their personal savior they are immediately saved, once and for all. However, scripture clearly teaches that a believer cannot be saved before physical death. The following discussion is designed to increase your understanding and knowledge on these matters via biblical reference.
When Christians say they are saved, what are they being saved from? Revelation 20:7-15 shows we are saved from God’s end time judgment. This is a future time period also referenced in Malachi 4:1-6 as the ‘End of Days’. It is at this time that Christ’s work on the cross will be substituted for the sins of believers, allowing these sinners to escape the fate of the second death (Revelation 20:14-15). This means that we must experience a first death. Why, then, do teachers wrongly instruct followers on these matters? Misinterpretation of scripture and the lack of study is the cause of this error. Matthew 24:13 says, he who endures until the end will be saved. In this passage, what does Matthew mean when he says ‘endure until the end’? The answer is found in Hebrews 6:4-6; here we learn that a believer may have been enlightened, have tasted the heavenly gifts, partook of the Holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and still turn away from Him. A person of this type is also said to be beyond renewing because they are again crucifying Christ to themselves and are putting him to open shame (Hebrews 6:4-6). In other words, not only can a believer turn away from God after partaking of the Holy Spirit, but they are also unable to return to Him. This is why Matthew said endure until the end. Until this age is completed, man’s free-will reigns and we are quite capable of turning against God and often do.
The issue of being saved is directly related to the judgment of God during Christ’s return and reign as King. This finding is supported by Jeremiah 23:6 & 33:16; here the tribe of Judah is predicted to be saved during the end days, another reference to the future ‘Day of The Lord’. When we say we are presently saved, it’s simply because we don’t know God’s word. Acts 16:31 teaches, if you believe in Christ you will be saved. Romans 10:9 says, if you confess with your mouth that Christ is Lord and God raised him from the dead you will be saved. Romans 10:13 instructs, whoever calls upon the name of The Lord will be saved. Mark 16:16 says, whoever believes and is baptized will be saved. John 10:9 says, whoever enters by Christ will be saved. Acts 15:11 says, we believe we will be saved by the grace of Christ. In each of the above references the term ‘will be saved’ is used, not ‘you are saved’, because they all refer to a future time period. Nowhere in scripture is the term ‘you are saved’ used in reference to Christ’s atonement for man’s sin. Recall, the words of Hebrews 6:4-6 discussed earlier. No person can claim to be saved at the moment, even if they do believe in The Lord and love Christ, because the time for being saving has not arrived. We must all endure until the end, as instructed by Matthew.
Christ shared that we, believers, have a new commandment; to love one another as Christ loved his disciples (John 13:34-35). This is why it’s necessary to correct false teachings, it demonstrates our love for Christ and God. God’s word needs no interpretation, it simply needs to be mastered. This mastery of scripture allows our senses to be exercised and gives us the ability to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:14). This is the spiritual maturity addressed in Hebrews and it separates us from those who lack experience in the word of God (Hebrews 5:12-14). This spiritual maturity also leads to the faith needed to reveal our spiritual gifts from God. Although we will be saved in the future it is our works and actions now which demonstrate our faith. In response to his disciples’ question of whether a blind man’s sin or his parents sin were responsible for his blindness, Christ said neither were the cause. Instead, he said the man’s blindness was an opportunity to display God’s power by giving him sight (John 9:1-4). He added, that we who believe must also do this same work. After healing this man, blind from birth, the Pharisees still refused to believe Christ was the promised messiah. The Pharisees had interrogated the blind man and his parents about his blindness, in an effort to undermine Christ’s power of healing (John 9:13-34). Although the Pharisees were supposed experts in the law, they refused to follow God’s written word and also failed to recognize God’s only begotten Son.
This is the same predicament we must avoid today. We must replace false instruction with truth so that we can recognize our shepherd’s voice (Christ) when he calls (John 10:1-5). His written word is the voice we must heed and it begins by knowing and following it. This can only be done when we eliminate those teachings which conflict with scripture and prevent our spiritual growth. I trust you understand that this letter is not to discourage believers but rather to spur your zeal and thirst for the truth. May you have love, faith and peace in all your godly endeavors.