Safe, If Saved!
Can a child of God so apostatize as to be finally lost? The Word of God, and it alone, can authoritatively, satisfactorily, and finally answer this question. Experience cannot answer it, for experiences vary among different individuals, and even in the same individual, and therefore cannot speak with authority, for it has a varied voice. Observation cannot answer this question because observation cannot have full and perfect information. First, one can never know by what he sees and hears of another whether that other is a saved person or not. And second, if he knew that much, he could never know whether or not that one was finally lost. And to prove the certainty of final apostasy one must show beyond all doubt one of two things: (1) That the one lost had been a saved person; (2) that the one saved was lost.
None can answer but the divinely inspired, unalterable, and eternal Word. The Bible must be our final court of appeal in all matters of faith and practice. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine … for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16), “to the law and to the testimony” (Isa. 8:20). “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures” (Matt. 22:29). Let us therefore “[reason] … out of the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2) and “search the Scriptures” (Jn. 5:39), and in so doing be “more noble” (Acts 17:11) than others and also shall through comfort of the Scriptures have hope (Rom. 15:4) and light (Psa. 119:130) and wisdom (Psa. 19:7) and faith (Jn. 20:31) and joy (Psa. 19:8). What, then, do the Scriptures teach regarding the safety of a saved soul?
Dependent on the Object of Faith
First, the Scriptures teach that the saved soul is surely safe because it is dependent for safety upon Him who is able to keep it.
First Peter 4:19, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.”
When you are saved, responsibility for your soul’s safety passes out of your hands into God’s. Just as money deposited in a bank is as safe as the burglar-proof, fire-proof vault and the financial strength of the bank can make it, so the soul committed to God is as safe as the omnipotent power of Jehovah can make it.
Colossians 3:3 tells us, “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” The bosom of the Almighty is the resting place of the life of the believer, and there it is safe.
First Peter 1:5, “Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” It is God’s power and not man’s that does the keeping. “But,” says one, “it is also ‘through faith,’ and that faith can be broken.” Faith can be broken only by the person or thing in which faith is reposed and not by the one faithing or believing. Faith in a person does not depend upon what the one exercising the faith is or does but alone upon what the one believed in is or does. Therefore, when faith is one reposed in Jesus Christ it can never be changed, for He is unchangeable, “the same yesterday and forever.”
Second Timothy 1:12, “I know whom” (not in whom) “I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” Surely, God who is able to save a soul is able to keep it saved, and will. If He cannot, He is not what the Bible represents Him to be—an omnipotent God. If He does not keep it, He becomes a perjurer, a covenant breaker, and a liar. That is what the doctrine of apostasy makes God.
1. A perjurer, because He fails to keep His oath, having sworn by Himself, because He could swear by no greater, “that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast” (Heb. 6:18-19).
2. A covenant breaker, because He covenanted with the Son, as Christ declares, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me … and this is the Father’s will … that of all which He hath given Me I should lose nothing” (John 6:37, 39).
3. A liar, because He has said, “I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish” (Jn. 10:28). To the dogs with a doctrine that makes our God such an one as this! We believe in a God who is true, though every man be a liar (Rom. 3:4), and who is faithful to His covenant. Let others trust whom or what they will; our trust is not in the puny arm of flesh but in Him whose council standeth forever (Psa. 33:11), who changes not (Mal. 3:6), “with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17), “the same yesterday, and to day and for ever” (Heb. 13:8), even God “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psa. 90:2). And it is He who says. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee … yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness” (Isa. 41:10).
Nothing Can Separate
Second: The Scriptures teach that there is no created thing in heaven, earth, or hell that can ultimately destroy a child of God or take him away from God.
Satan cannot do it, for “he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 Jn. 5:18). Satan may take his property and take loved ones and take his health, as he did Job, but “only upon himself put not forth thine hand,” saith Jehovah.
Sin cannot do it, “for sin shall not have dominion over you” (Rom. 6:14). Sin may have influence over God’s child but not “dominion.” It is not the reigning one in his life; Christ is that.
Temptation cannot do it, for “there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13).
The world cannot do it, “for whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world” (1 Jn. 5:4).
The saved one himself cannot do it, for saith God, “I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me” (Jer. 32:40). Israel may long for the flesh pots of Egypt, but God says, “No; you shall not return” and they didn’t.
Tribulation cannot do it.
Distress cannot do it.
Persecution cannot do it.
Famine cannot do it.
Nakedness cannot do it.
Peril cannot do it.
The sword cannot do it. For “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom. 8:35, 37). What it means to be “more than conquerors” I do not know. That is language too high for one whose feet are tied to earth. One must needs soar into the third heaven and hear things unlawful to be spoken (2 Cor. 12) to get a grasp of what it means to be “more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” We can only understand that it was intended to teach that somewhere, somehow, some-when, the child of God should be brought “through many dangers, toils, and snares” to his home, at last a triumphant victor, waving his palm of victory (Rev. 7:9) over death, hell, and the grave.
No other creation can do it; “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” (Rom. 8:38-39).
The Nature of Salvation
Third: The Scriptures teach that the nature of salvation is such as to preclude or prevent its ever being changed.
The saved are elected: “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world … having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself according to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:4-6).
The saved are regenerated: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Ye must be born again” (Jn. 3:3, 7). In nature the relation of parent and child cannot be changed. Much less can it be in grace.
The saved are children of God. They are no more servants with a relation to the Master dependent upon their own work, but sons, sustaining a relation as unchangeable as the nature of God (Gal. 4:7). “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (Jn. 1:12). Think you that God’s child shall ever sink into hell?
The saved have eternal life. This is declared forty-three times in the New Testament. Some of the most familiar of these passages are John 3:14-16, 36; 5:24; 10:28: “everlasting life,” “eternal life,” “hath everlasting life,” “I give unto them eternal life.” Note the present tense of the verbs “hath” and “give.” The salvation of the soul is always, everywhere, in Scripture spoken of as a present possession. Now, if it is eternal life and a present possession, where will the possessor ever lose it? Not until eternity ends. If whatever he has comes to an end and he is lost, it was not eternal. If eternal, it will never end.
The saved are not condemned nor ever shall be. “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). “He that believeth on Him is not condemned” (Jn. 3:18) “and shall not come into condemnation” (Jn. 5:24). Certainly if the believer is not now condemned nor ever shall be, then there is no probability, not to say no possibility, that he shall ever be lost.
The saved are saved by grace and not by works (Eph. 2:8-9). “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” If salvation depended in any way upon us, we might face Jesus Christ at the Judgment and say: “You did Your part very well, Jesus, but unless we had held out faithful we never would have gotten here; now because we were good and served You, we demand that You let us in.” What blasphemy! God has determined to exclude all boasting and, to do so, has taken the matter of salvation entirely out of the creatures’ hands and assumed all responsibility Himself.
God’s Character and Work
Fourth: The Scriptures teach that God’s character and work are such as to guarantee eternal salvation to those who trust them.
Jeremiah 31:3, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” God’s character is pledged to the safety of those who trust Him.
If He loses one of them, His honor is gone, for then there is no assurance that He can save any. If the devil can get one of God’s children, then he can get all. And if he can get all, and does not, then those whom he does not get are saved by the disgrace of the devil and not by the grace of God.
“But what is to be done with the Christian who sins?” one asks. It is true that God’s character of spotless holiness will not allow Him to condone or palliate sin even in His child. Therefore, He says (Psa. 89:30-32): “If his children forsake My law, and walk not in My judgments; if they break My statutes, and keep not My commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes.” He will, like a loving Father, chastise the disobedient or wayward child but will not cast him off forever. “Nevertheless My lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer My faithfulness to fail” (Psa. 89:33).
In His work of redemption Jesus Christ bore in His body “our sins”—not a part of them, but all of them. “Jesus paid it all.” The penalty of broken law was death, and Jesus poured out His soul unto death and thereby met the demand of violated law. Now, God’s character being what it is, He cannot exact a second payment or satisfaction for the same sin. He said He was satisfied with Christ’s death (Isa. 53). We who accept Him therefore, as our substitute, are free indeed.
Christ’s work was and is intercessory, as well as sacrificial and substitutionary. “Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me” (Jn. 17:11). Will God the Father hear and answer this prayer of His only begotten and well beloved Son? Concerning this, Christ Himself said, “Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me, and I knew that Thou hearest Me always” (Jn. 11:41-42).If the Father always hears Him, then this prayer was heard, and God will do what His Son has asked Him. He will “keep … those whom Thou hast given Me.” “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word” (Jn. 17:20). It is a blessed thought that our Savior, while weighted down with the world’s sin upon Him, looked down the long vistas of time and beheld every wayward, thoughtless, and stumbling child of God and prayed for them, “Holy Father, keep them.” Not only did He pray for them but does yet. “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34). “Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Jn. 2:1).
It is a blessed privilege for any person to have friends to pray for him. It is a blessing beyond measure to have an affectionate wife or loving mother to pray for you. But better than all these is to have a loving Savior to plead our cause at the throne of God. And blessed be His name; His prayers shall not go unheard. Oh glorious gospel of the eternal security of every child of God and of the absolute certainty of their reaching that glorious land of the redeemed! No, God’s children have no desire to take their fill of sin because they believe this, neither would you if you were regenerated. But, on the other hand, it brings them in humility before God, increases their desire to live a pure life and to render obedient service, and brightens their hope for the world to come. If there are those who can get any comfort out of the constant dread and fear of being lost, they are welcome to it. But our greatest consolation is that we are saved, once and for all, through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, and that this work of grace was once wrought never to be done over—never to be undone.
“Fear not I am with thee; oh be not dismayed;
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My righteous omnipotent hand.
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose I will not desert to His foes;
That soul though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no never, no never, forsake.”
— By Monroe Elmon Dodd (1878-1952). Reproduced from Foundation magazine, Issue 2, 2017. This article originally appeared in the August 1911 issue of Grace and Truth.