A gracEmail subscriber asks whether one who is truly saved can finally be lost.
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Jesus himself assures us that those whom the Father has given to him are secure in God’s keeping so that no person, circumstance or unforeseen set of events can ever snatch them away to destruction (John 6:37-39). This blessed reality offers no comfort to the person who only pretends to be a believer, however, even if he or she has prayed the “sinner’s prayer,” has been baptized and actively participates in church activities. As the late J. Vernon McGee used to say, “Beloved, the Bible teaches the security of the believer, but it doesn’t teach the security of the make-believer!” The final outcome will make plain who belonged in each category (Col. 1:22-23; Heb. 3:6). Until then only God who knows the hearts knows the difference (Matt. 13:24-30).
The key to grasping this wonderful truth is in looking at God and not at ourselves. If our salvation depended on us, its outcome would be questionable indeed. However, the Bible assures us that God takes the initiative throughout the process from first to last, and that he is the one who will bring to completion what he has started (1 Cor. 1:8-9; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thes. 5:23-24; 1 Pet. 1:3-5).The better we understand that Christ has fully accomplished the work which sets us right with God and that he did it as our representative and in our stead — so that all we can do is trust, receive and gratefully respond in obedience, service and praise — the more clearly we will see that our salvation is perfectly secure in him, and thus enjoy the assurance which that knowledge brings.
“Security” is the objective reality. “Assurance” is our subjective response to knowing about it. This is not a matter of human determination or emotional intensity. It is a matter of God’s purpose, pleasure and power. Those joined to Christ by faith are secure whether they understand that fact or not. But they will feel much more joy if they know it! The more often and the more intently we look at Jesus and all that he has accomplished for sinners, the greater our assurance will be (Heb. 10:19-22).