Christian brothers and sisters, it is in your new, born-again nature that you believe in Christ.
As we said before,1 your old, spiritually dead, sinful nature was enmity against God; you did not seek after God; you did no good; you were a child of wrath. Before you were born again—before you were given a new heart—what Christ said was true about others was also true about you: “ye [would] not come to me, that ye might have life” (John 5.40). If you were not of Christ’s sheep, then you would never have come to believe in him (John 10.26). You must know, remembering your old heart the way it was, that you would not have turned to Christ at all if God had not drawn you to him (John 6.44).
But you have come to Christ.
Now you hold on tightly to him, hoping all the while that he is holding on tightly to you. And you can be sure that he will keep you safe—saved forever—because he is true to his word: “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6.37-40).
Whether a person saved by Christ can lose “their” salvation is not a question within Calvinist circles. Calvinists believe in the perseverence and preservation of the saints. But it is a debate that is had among those who assert that Jesus doesn’t save all whom he died for.2 Those who hold to the Arminian system in full, i.e. consistently, must argue that since their salvation depends upon their own faith, then it follows that if they lose their faith then they lose their grip upon that potential salvation which (they say) Christ provided.
That is what they take Christ’s own words to mean where he said to his disciples in his warning of the terrible times to come, “he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13.13). In other words, Arminianism teaches that you are not necessarily eternally saved, and it may turn out that you are eternally lost—even though you are a believer now—unless you keep on believing until the end of your life. But Jesus was comforting and encouraging his people; he was not saying that their faith-grip upon the Saviour is what saves them, or what keeps them saved.
Similarly, Paul would later say to one of the churches suffering Roman persecution, “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure” (2 Thessalonians 1.3-4).
Though there may be times when Christians backslide and fall into sins—sometimes very grievous sins, Christians always repent, return, and renew their walk with Christ. And they thank God always for everything—everything including the faith that they have. Though some of Lord’s people may be overwhelmed for a while in their intense trial, they always repent and turn back to him. The true Christian is one who either remains faithful to Christ, or who if they backslide, do repent and return to faithfulness to Christ. They are not lost.
Many Arminians are happily inconsistent. They believe the promises of the Christian’s complete perseverance and preservation in the Bible, same as Calvinists do. They prefer to call this doctrine (or such parts as they agree with) “once saved always saved.” They do believe Jesus’s own promises: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish,3 neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10.27-29; see also John 6.39; Hebrews 13.5-6).
As our Saviour himself teaches us in his parable of the Sower, none of those who are saved (i.e. seeds planted in the ground made good) will wither away or get choked out of the kingdom of God by tribulations, persecutions or enticements (see Matthew 13.3-9,18-23).
And, as the apostle Paul elaborated on this same doctrine: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. … And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. … Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.18,28,35-39).
There is your peace, Christian!
Your peace with God is peace from God, same as your salvation is from God. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Our salvation—our peace with God—is all from God, from beginning to end.
If any part of your salvation depends upon you, then so does your peace with God. But, thank God, none of it depends upon undependable you!
Your salvation is not hypothetical, potential, or temporary, depending upon whether you believe in Christ or not, and upon whether you endure in your faith until the end; but it is an actual salvation. True Christians are those who endure to the end, and who always repent and turn to God thorugh their Lord Jesus Christ.
You are actually saved already, now. As Christ himself promised, you already have everlasting life. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3.16). “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (John 4.47).
Note the present tense: we have this everlasting life—we have this salvation—we have this peace with God, forever. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dear Christian, “The LORD” Jehovah, as like a Shepherd, makes us to lie down in green pastures and leads us beside still waters and restores our soul—he gives us his peace, in other words—and he gives us such an assurance of everlasting peace, that we can continue to sing with the Psalmist, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Psalms 23.1-6).
Such promises of peace with God as God made to his faithful, believing people in the Old Testament are ours too in the New Testament, for we have been grafted into the same covenant family (Romans 11.17; see also Galatians 3.6-8,14,26-29; Romans 4.12):
- “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (Psalms 85.10; see also 2 John 1.3).
- “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9.6; see also Romans 14.17; Hebrews 7.2).
- “And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever” (Isaiah 32.17; see also Romans 5.1).
- “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52.7; see also Romans 10.15).
- “Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore” (Ezekiel 37.26; see also Hebrews 13.20-21).
It is with us, Christians, as the apostle Peter taught us: “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue… Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1.2-3,10-11).
We shall never fall out of salvation. And we shall add all these things to our faith.4 We shall not perish but have everlasting life. For the Lord is our Shepherd. “Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13.20-21).