Christians: have you lost your salvation today?

“For it is by grace you have been saved…”  All Christians know this as the opening for Ephesians 2:8-10, the most oft-cited verses regarding the link between good works, grace and salvation.

It’s helpful to begin by understanding what exactly “grace” is. Grace is usually defined as “God’s unearned love and favor towards man.” Grace comes from the Greek word charis, which means “gift.” From it we get the word “charisma,” which refers to an almost magical power to charm. So grace is the power from God to DO something.

While it is true that grace is a gift, we must remember that a gift must not only be received, but also kept and used. If it is refused, given back, abandoned, etc. it no longer serves its purpose. There are those who think that they can receive the gift of salvation and then behave as they wish, for they believe they are not saved by effort or “works.”

From Scripture, we learn that Christians don’t and can’t sin. (1 John 3:9-10, Romans 6:2.) It is clear, from observing most Christians that they do sin. So, if we believe the Bible, there can only be two explanations:

Christians do sin, but it “doesn’t count.” It is immediately forgiven and forgotten by God.

OR

When a Christian sins he or she is no longer a Christian-until he or she repents.

Now, if the first one is true, then we can be sure that several things are also true: that a Christian cannot do something to bring judgment upon himself, that he cannot be punished for sins, and most importantly, he cannot lose his salvation. If the second is true, then Christians spend a certain amount of time vacillating back and forth between a state of being saved and a state of not being saved, and it is vitally important to seek God and know that one is in the state of being saved-a state of grace.

Once again, we must turn to the Scriptures. We see God’s judgment falling against Christians who disrespected the body of Christ during Communion, (1 Corinthians 11:23-32) and against Christians who lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11.) Surely these things could not happen to a person whose sins “don’t count.”

The Bible also talks about the loss of salvation in several places. (Hebrews 6:4-6, 10:26-27) These verses would make no sense if “once saved always saved” were true. So what we are left with is the second option-that our souls are constantly in flux. It is imperative, then, that we continually ask God to prod our consciences and bring us awareness of our sins so that we can repent at once. Paul himself said “I am the worst of sinners.’ (1st Timothy 1:16.) Not that he used to be the worst, but that he still sinned in a manner as grievous as any other.

Some people think they can sin as Christians and still go to Heaven, but the Bible makes it clear in that this is not the case (John 15:1-6) Also see 1 Corinthians 6:9, Ephesians 5:5, Gal 5:19 for lists of sins that will keep people out of Heaven. It does not say “except for Christians who do these things.” 1 John 5:16-17 reminds us that there is a difference between sins that end in death and regular sin. From this, the Catholic Church gets the doctrine of mortal (deadly) and venial sin. The Bible instructs that Christians should pray about non-deadly sins, and God will forgive them, but we are not to pray for another believer regarding mortal sin-the implication is that this sin cannot be erased except through repentance. If all of our sins were instantly forgiven, these verses would make no sense.

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