Category Archives: Jesus Christ

CAN A CHRISTIAN LOSE SALVATION:

First, the term Christian must be defined. A “Christian” is not a person who has said a prayer or walked down an aisle or been raised in a Christian family. While each of these things can be a part of the Christian experience, they are not what makes a Christian. A Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior and therefore possesses the Holy Spirit (John 3:16Acts 16:31Ephesians 2:8–9).

So, with this definition in mind, can a Christian lose salvation? It’s a crucially important question. Perhaps the best way to answer it is to examine what the Bible says occurs at salvation and to study what losing salvation would entail:

A Christian is a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). A Christian is not simply an “improved” version of a person; a Christian is an entirely new creature. He is “in Christ.” For a Christian to lose salvation, the new creation would have to be destroyed.

A Christian is redeemed. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18–19). The word redeemed refers to a purchase being made, a price being paid. We were purchased at the cost of Christ’s death. For a Christian to lose salvation, God Himself would have to revoke His purchase of the individual for whom He paid with the precious blood of Christ.

A Christian is justified. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). To justify is to declare righteous. All those who receive Jesus as Savior are “declared righteous” by God. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and “un-declare” what He had previously declared. Those absolved of guilt would have to be tried again and found guilty. God would have to reverse the sentence handed down from the divine bench.

A Christian is promised eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Eternal life is the promise of spending forever in heaven with God. God promises, “Believe and you will have eternal life.” For a Christian to lose salvation, eternal life would have to be redefined. The Christian is promised to live forever. Does eternal not mean “eternal”?

A Christian is marked by God and sealed by the Spirit. “You also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13–14). At the moment of faith, the new Christian is marked and sealed with the Spirit, who was promised to act as a deposit to guarantee the heavenly inheritance. The end result is that God’s glory is praised. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to erase the mark, withdraw the Spirit, cancel the deposit, break His promise, revoke the guarantee, keep the inheritance, forego the praise, and lessen His glory.

A Christian is guaranteed glorification. “Those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). According to Romans 5:1, justification is ours at the moment of faith. According to Romans 8:30, glorification comes with justification. All those whom God justifies are promised to be glorified. This promise will be fulfilled when Christians receive their perfect resurrection bodies in heaven. If a Christian can lose salvation, then Romans 8:30 is in error, because God could not guarantee glorification for all those whom He predestines, calls, and justifies.

A Christian cannot lose salvation. Most, if not all, of what the Bible says happens to us when we receive Christ would be invalidated if salvation could be lost. Salvation is the gift of God, and God’s gifts are “irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). A Christian cannot be un-newly created. The redeemed cannot be unpurchased. Eternal life cannot be temporary. God cannot renege on His Word. Scripture says that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).

Two common objections to the belief that a Christian cannot lose salvation concern these experiential issues: 1) What about Christians who live in a sinful, unrepentant lifestyle? 2) What about Christians who reject the faith and deny Christ? The problem with these objections is the assumption that everyone who calls himself a “Christian” has actually been born again. The Bible declares that a true Christian will not live a state of continual, unrepentant sin (1 John 3:6). The Bible also says that anyone who departs the faith is demonstrating that he was never truly a Christian (1 John 2:19). He may have been religious, he may have put on a good show, but he was never born again by the power of God. “By their fruit you will recognize them” (Matthew 7:16). The redeemed of God belong “to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God” (Romans 7:4).

Nothing can separate a child of God from the Father’s love (Romans 8:38–39). Nothing can remove a Christian from God’s hand (John 10:28–29). God guarantees eternal life and maintains the salvation He has given us. The Good Shepherd searches for the lost sheep, and, “when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home” (Luke 15:5–6). The lamb is found, and the Shepherd gladly bears the burden; our Lord takes full responsibility for bringing the lost one safely home.

Jude 24–25 further emphasizes the goodness and faithfulness of our Savior: “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

Prophet Nathan’s Sermon

SALVATION IS BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH:

Salvation by grace through faith is at the heart of the Christian religion. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9). The statement has three parts— salvationgrace, and faith—and they are equally important. The three together constitute a basic tenet of Christianity.

The word salvation is defined as “the act of being delivered, redeemed, or rescued.” The Bible tells us that, since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, each person is born in sin inherited from Adam: “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Sin is what causes all of us to die. Sin separates us from God, and sin destines each person to eternal separation from Him in hell. What each of us needs is to be delivered from that fate. In other words, we need salvation from sin and its penalty.

How are we saved from sin? Most religions throughout history have taught that salvation is achieved by good works. Others teach that acts of contrition (saying we are sorry) along with living a moral life is the way to atone for our sin. Sorrow over sin is certainly valuable and necessary, but that alone will not save us from sin. We may repent of our sins, also valuable and necessary, and determine to never sin again, but salvation is not the result of good intentions. The road to hell, as the saying goes, is paved with good intentions. We may fill our lives with good works, but even one sin makes us a sinner in practice, and we are already sinners by nature. No matter how well-intentioned or “good” we may be, the fact is that we simply do not have the power or the goodness to overcome the sin nature we have inherited from Adam. We need something more powerful, and this is where grace comes in.

The grace of God is His undeserved favor bestowed on those He has called to salvation through His love (Ephesians 2:4–5). It is His grace that saves us from sin. We are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24). Being justified, we are vindicated and determined to be sinless in the eyes of God. Our sin no longer separates us from Him and no longer sentences us to hell. Grace is not earned by any effort on our part; otherwise, it could not be called grace. Grace is free. If our good works earned salvation, then God would be obligated to pay us our due. But no one can earn heaven, and God’s blessings are not His obligation; they flow from His goodness and love. No matter how diligently we pursue works to earn God’s favor, we will fail. Our sin trips us up every time. “By the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight” (Romans 3:20, NKJV).

The means God has chosen to bestow His grace upon us is through faith. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). Salvation is obtained by faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ, in what He has done—specifically, His death on the cross and His resurrection. But even faith is not something we generate on our own. Faith, as well as grace, is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). He bestows saving faith and saving grace upon us in order to redeem us from sin and deliver us from its consequences. So God saves us by His grace through the faith He gives us. Both grace and faith are gifts. “Salvation belongs to the LORD” (Psalm 3:8, ESV).

By grace, we receive the faith that enables us to believe that He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross and provide the salvation we cannot achieve on our own. Jesus, as God in flesh, is the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Just like the author of a book creates it from scratch, Jesus Christ wrote the story of our redemption from beginning to end. “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves” (Ephesians 1:4–6). The Lord died for our sins and rose for our justification, and He forgives, freely and fully, those who accept His gift of grace in Christ—and that acceptance comes through faith. This is the meaning of salvation by grace through faith.

Prophet Nathan’s Sermon

PROFESSION OF FAITH:

To profess something is to openly declare it. When we use the term profession of faith, we usually refer to a person’s public declaration of his or her intent to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Because words do not always reflect the true condition of the heart, a profession of faith is not always a guarantee of true salvation.

Romans 10:9–10 shows the value of a profession of faith in Christ: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Faith in the heart is accompanied by a profession of the mouth. Those who are saved will speak of their salvation—even when that profession could lead to death, as was the case for the Christians in Rome to whom Paul was writing.

Our part in salvation is minimal because salvation is a spiritual work performed by the Holy Spirit. Our words don’t save us. Salvation is by grace through the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8–9), not by words we speak. Jesus’ rebuke of the Jews’ hypocrisy was based on their empty profession: “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘These people honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me’” (Mark 7:6).

In the days of the early church, and in many parts of the world today, confessing Jesus as Lord could be costly. Professing faith in Jesus as Messiah invited persecution, even death, for Jewish believers (Acts 8:1). That was one reason Peter denied three times that he knew Jesus (Mark 14:66–72). After Jesus rose from the dead, ascended back into heaven, and sent the Holy Spirit to indwell believers, the formerly fearful disciples confessed Jesus boldly in the streets and synagogues (Acts 1–2). Their professions of faith won converts but also brought persecution (Acts 2:1–414:1–4). They refused to stop speaking about Jesus, remembering His words: “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). So, one purpose of our profession of faith is to declare that we are not ashamed to be called His followers.

Of course, words without a heart change are only words. A mere profession of faith, with no corresponding heart of faith, has no power to save or change us. In fact, Jesus warned that many who think they are saved because of a profession will find out some day that they were never His at all: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21–23). So simply professing faith in Jesus, even when the profession is accompanied by good works, does not guarantee salvation. There must be repentance of sin (Mark 6:12). We must be born again (John 3:3). We must follow Jesus as Lord of our lives, by faith.

A profession of faith is the starting place for a lifetime of discipleship (Luke 9:23). There are many ways to make professions of faith, just as there are many ways to deny Jesus. He said, “I tell you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will also confess him before the angels of God” (Luke 12:8). One such outward profession is baptism, which is the first step of obedience in following Jesus as Lord (Acts 2:38). But baptism does not guarantee salvation, either. Thousands have been immersed, sprinkled, or dabbed with water, but that ritual cannot save. “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing” (John 6:63). Baptism should symbolize the new life we have in Christ, the inner change of allegiance we possess. Without that new life and change of heart, baptism and other professions of faith are simply religious rituals, powerless in themselves.

Salvation occurs when the Holy Spirit moves into a repentant heart and begins His sanctifying work of making us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29). When Jesus explained this action to Nicodemus in John 3, He compared the Spirit’s moving to the wind. We cannot see the wind, but we see where it has been because it changes everything it touches. Grass moves, leaves shudder, and skin cools so that no one doubts that the wind has come. So it is with the Spirit. When He moves into a believing heart, He begins to change the believer. We cannot see Him, but we see where He has been because values move, perspectives shift, and desires begin to line up with God’s Word. We profess the Lord Jesus in everything we do and seek to glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:31). The way we conduct our lives is a more sure profession of faith than mere words. Words are important, and a believer in Christ will be unashamed to identify as such. There were times when Jesus pressed for a verbal profession of faith (e.g., Matthew 16:15), but He also pressed for more than words: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).

Prophet Nathan’s Sermon

ARE YOU A TRUE CHRISTIAN?

According to Acts 11:26, the followers of Jesus were first called Christians at Antioch. Why were they called Christians? Because they were “followers of Christ.” They had committed their lives to “walk as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6).

Other Scriptures explain how a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ and begins this relationship. For example, Ephesians 2:8-9 reveals that a person becomes a Christian by faith, not by following a list of rules or good works: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” A true Christian has faith in Jesus as the Savior.

Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” A true Christian is unashamed to say Jesus is Lord and believes Jesus was resurrected from the dead.

First Corinthians 15:3 says this message of the resurrected Jesus is of “first importance.” Without Jesus’ resurrection our faith is “futile,” and we are “still in [our] sins” (v. 7). A true Christian lives by faith in the resurrected Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:13-14).

Paul writes, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. . . . The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:9, 16). A true Christian has God’s Holy Spirit living within.

The evidence of a true Christian is displayed in both faith and action. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). James says, “I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). Jesus put it this way: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). A true Christian will show his faith by how he lives.

Despite the wide variety of beliefs that fall under the general “Christian” label today, the Bible defines a true Christian as one who has personally received Jesus Christ as Savior, who trusts in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ alone for forgiveness of sins, who has the Holy Spirit residing within, and whose life evinces change consistent with faith in Jesus.

Prophet Nathan’s Sermon

KEEP THE FAITH:

Keeping the faith requires remembering what brought us to faith in the first place. We need to be intentional about remembering God’s grace in our lives. Hebrews 12:1b–3 says, “Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Practically, this means remembering the wonderful gift of God’s salvation and following the example of our Savior, who “endured” the trials of this life. We must “fix our eyes” on Jesus. Many people find prayer and journaling helpful in this regard. The Old Testament saints often demonstrated the importance of remembering. The Israelites were instructed to set up memorials, and many of the Jewish feasts were designed to remember and celebrate God’s deliverance. Deuteronomy 4:9 says, “Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Psalm 103:2 says, “Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” When we praise God, we remember His past goodness, and that makes it easier to keep trusting Him now.

Keeping the faith requires a love of truth and a commitment to the Word of God. First Timothy 4:1 says that, in the latter days, those who abandon the faith “follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” To accept “another gospel” (Galatians 1:6–7) is to fall into error. Paul exhorted Timothy to “fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience”; those who ignore this command “have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith” (1 Timothy 1:18–19). We must “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1). The Spirit of truth will never lead us into untruth (John 16:13).

Keeping the faith also involves growth in Christ. Jesus is the author of our faith (the one who initiated the relationship), and He is the perfecter of our faith (the one who will see it through to the end). From beginning to end, Jesus is the source of our faith. We remember what He has done, and we look forward to what He will do. Practically, this involves having an active prayer life, studying God’s Word, and digging in to His truth.

Keeping the faith is also about community. The Christian life is not lived exclusively between God and the individual; it is lived in community with other Christians. Hebrews 10:23–25 says, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Fellow believers can encourage us to keep the faith. They can exhort us when we are going astray. They can join in our gladness and in our sorrow (Romans 12:15).

We will face trials and temptations in life (John 16:33James 1:2–4). Our faith will be challenged. But it is not only in the difficult times that we dig in our heels and fight for our faith. No, we contend for our faith always. What we do today prepares us for what is in store tomorrow. God is always at work in our lives. Our faith should be ever-growing. Second Peter 1:3–11 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. . . . For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . . My brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We keep the faith by remembering God’s faithfulness and continuing to grow in relationship with Him.

Prophet Nathan’s Sermon