This or That or Some of Both

Do you sometime wake up in the morning with something on your mind, maybe a song or something from your past? This morning I woke up thinking about the small village in South Carolina where I was born and lived for many years. The first few years of my life were difficult times. My mother made dresses for my sister from the hog feed sacks. The feed companies made the sacks with pretty designs and colors so that could be done. Did you ever have times like that?

Anyway, I woke up this morning with this village on my mind as it was in my youth. There were two small grocery stores and three churches – a Baptist church, a Methodist church, and a Presbyterian church. I don’t remember the Presbyterian Church having much significance; I suppose that’s because I didn’t attend any services there. My father was an Episcopalian, but since there wasn’t one in our area he attended the Methodist Church. My mother was very much a Baptist. So as a youth I sometimes went to the Baptist church and sometimes the Methodist. The thing I remember most about the Methodist Church is that they sang as if they were afraid someone might hear them. The Baptist Church, on the other hand, had a little more volume in their singing. Oh, the hymns were different, too. The Baptist hymns were a little more upbeat, and they sang, “When we all get to Heaven.” The Methodists sang, “I come to the Garden alone.”

There was always a contrast between the two churches. The Baptists said, “Once saved always saved.” The Methodists, on the other hand, said that a Christian could lose his salvation if he didn’t live right. So the greatest contention was over one’s personal salvation. Are you always saved regardless of how you lived or can you lose your salvation if you do not live right? The Methodists weren’t always sure of anything and the Baptists were always right. If you don’t believe it, ask them. So the scales seemed to tilt in their direction. I’m talking about the little village where I lived. Methodist churches and Baptist churches may not be like that where you are.

During my young adult years a Pentecostal church began in an old store front building. That was the talk of the town; everybody was a little afraid of those “Holy Rollers.” According to the stories going around, those were some weird people! I became a Christian shortly after that. Can you guess which church I joined? Yep, I became a Holy Roller! About three or four years later God took me out of the Pentecostal church, and that is when I began learning how to walk with God. We’ve been walking since that time. The only walking you can do in an organized church is around in circles. So the Lord said, “You have walked around this mountain long enough; turn northward.” Since that time the Lord and I have had a great time walking together.

Now I’ve got to get back to the Methodist and Baptist churches in my hometown, because that is what I woke up thinking about this morning. The Baptists believed “once saved always saved.” The Methodists believed it was possible for a Christian to lose his salvation. (Later I met some Presbyterians who told me they were both wrong; it was a matter of predestination.) Anyway, the favorite scripture of the Baptists was John 10:27-28. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. Now that seems to really confirm their belief, doesn’t it?

Now what did the Methodists say to that? They quoted Ezekiel 33:18. When the righteous turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, he shall die because of it. Of course the Baptists couldn’t accept that. That was Old Testament and grace came in with Jesus Christ. “Ok,” say the Methodists, “how about James 5:19-20?” Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

This is a sample of the problems that immature Christians face with a surface reading of the Word of God without revelation. What do you do with Scriptures like these? Do you accept the one you like and reject the other? That is what many do.

Immature Christians tend to think in absolutes – either you are saved or not saved! The fact is; no one is completely saved the moment he becomes a Christian. That messes up the mind of an immature Christian. “What do you mean, you are not completely saved? If a person is born again, he is born again; it isn’t a partial birth.” Do you see what I am talking about? He is thinking in absolutes. He is thinking that everything is completed when he accepts Jesus Christ as Savior. They tend to forget that salvation is expandable. The birthing process into God is ongoing, or should be. Too many repent of their sins, receive forgiveness, and never go any further.

So what is the answer to the problem at hand? Is it once saved always saved or can one lose his salvation? The fact is it isn’t this or that, but some of both. The Scriptures are very clear that an immature Christian is in danger. However, there is a line, so to speak, that is called “the irreversible dedication line” whereby one has reached a place of spiritual maturity in God and cannot fall away. “Give me chapter and verse about that line of irreversible dedication.” Sure, it is the same one the Baptist use – John 10:27-28. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. But to apply that to an immature Christian is very dangerous. Many Christians cannot hear the Voice of the Lord. Many do not follow Him. Many can be snatched out of His hand! For they are the children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men (Ephesians 4:14).

Refuse to remain an immature Christian! Set your heart to become all that God has provided for you. Listen to what Peter has to say about it. Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. II Peter 1:2-11.

Copyright © 2005 by Henry DuBose