I had a great discussion concerning the above on a recent Sunday evening that lasted way past my normal bedtime when I have to work the following day. The discussion began while talking about the morning sermon at a local church from Hebrews 6.
While not a debate, on one side was the opinion that genuine salvation begins at the moment of belief and will carry the believer safely into eternity no matter what might come to pass in between. On the other side was the thought that salvation can be forfeited essentially because of human will. You can readily imagine some of the passages of scripture that were brought up and tossed about.
The personal challenge for this old guy was trying to arrive at the simplest way to support the position that genuine salvation will never be lost, forfeited, or rejected once received. Are there passages of scripture that should settle the matter no matter how convincing passages suggesting otherwise appear? Perhaps there are, in the very words of Jesus:
At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:22-30 ESV)
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (John 5:24 ESV)
Aside from the sometimes hotly debated meaning of ‘snatch’ in the John 10 passage, we have two statements.
1. John 10:28 tells us that Christ gives eternal life to his sheep, his true followers, and they shall never perish. Exactly when does he give them eternal life? There are only two options; in this life or at the judgment seat. Jesus answers that also.
2. From the moment a person hears the message of the gospel, repents of sin and believes the message that Christ died for our sins, he/she has passed from death to life.
Do those two passages, John 10:28 & John 5:24 settle the matter? Well, if they mean exactly what they say, all the other passages that seem to indicate salvation can somehow be reversed, must mean something else.
Think about it. . .