There’s the common question asked by people about God: “Is belief in God enough?” What lies beneath that question are further questions about earning or even losing God’s favor. What’s the answer? ♦
You’ve heard the question, “Can a person lose their salvation?” That is, can a Christian/Believer fall out of favor with God so much that he/she loses their eternal place in heaven? It’s a big issue that has caused many people angst and doubt and even heated arguments with fellow believers on historical doctrine of the Calvinists or any variations of reformed theology.
Should I as a Christian be fearful or at risk of falling out of favor with God? Is there something I need to do to ensure my ticket to heaven is still valid?
The good news is that it’s actually fairly straight-forward. There is no bad news. One’s eternal security is really a function of one’s own will or volition. God does not change His mind. He is Sovereign and Man is Free to do as he wills. You want eternity as laid out in the Scriptures? Then merely believe what God has so graciously granted to us all. You don’t want any part of it? Then walk away.
It’s not something taken away. That’s not the character of God.
One Can Choose to Lose
In many ways, the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) is the right example of the choice we all have. We have each been given a wonderful inheritance that has been presented to us from a proven, trustworthy, and legitimate source. In this parable the son chooses to take his inheritance in advance, a great affront to his generous father, and squanders it on selfish and reckless living. At the point where the money was gone and he realized he was living worse than his father’s servants, he chooses to return home and face his just rewards. The kind and loving father takes him back with no questions asked and restores his status as honored son and even lavishes him with gifts and a welcome-home party.
It’s almost unimaginable grace. The father displays true, unconditional love.
The son has all the cards in his hand to play out as he wishes. Money and status, as he soon finds, is consumed or eventually fades away. The father merely loves and allows total freedom and choice. The son chooses poorly and reaps the consequences, but he never loses the love of the father. It’s always there. Waiting for his return.
It’s Actually Assurances Forfeited
While the love of the father cannot be lost, it can actually be forfeited. Think of it this way: if the prodigal son decided to never return home, he would have lived the rest of his life apart from the blessed life that was always available to him. It was his call to take it or leave it. In that sense, he could have forfeited his rights to the wonderful inheritance and rejected the love available to him and kept going on his own way. His destiny was in his own hands – his eternal separation from such amazing circumstances was all under his own control.
Now that’s Free Will.
That’s actually the perfect example of love. And that’s what God offers us. No forced hands, no strict reprimands. Only freedom to come and go and live and die and choose or refuse the love of the greatest proven, trustworthy and legitimate source of Love itself, Holy God Himself of all Creation.
Yes, we do have an option. But there’s an unfortunate consequence for our choice; namely, separation from the same God who give us such freedom:
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. – Romans 1:18-20
In fact, we all have no excuses. The creative hand of God is all around us on display everyday. That we miss it and go our own way is but our own choice. Like the Prodigal Son, we choose our own destiny.
So, is Belief Enough?
Yes, it is. I’m reminded so by one of my own sons, who’s actually writing and teaching a Bible Study on Abraham. He highlights the Biblical back story foundation. God made a promise/covenant with Adam (Genesis 2:15-16) to have a blessed life. Adam chose poorly and therefore God put in place a plan for redemption through his line. To Abraham God made a promise of blessing to him, his descendants, and all of mankind (Genesis 12:2-3) – an unconditional promise. Abraham believed (Genesis 15:6) and was reconciled to God, setting the path for all of humanity. We need to simply believe.
God made a conditional promise/covenant with Moses and the nation of Israel. The clear conditions set forth in Deuteronomy 28 of blessings and curses were specifically for the Hebrew nation. Through Moses, God delivered the Law to purposely set them aside as a Godly people in a pagan landscape. Their purpose was for the eventual delivery of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, as the fulfillment of the promised blessing to Abraham by which all the nations would be blessed. Despite the gross disobedience of punished Israel, today they nor anyone else are any longer subject to the Law which served a purpose of showing our imperfections in the eyes of a holy and pure God.
And as we are all sinners, we all do need a Savior. One in which we wholeheartedly believe and fully follow. No other proof actions are required. Now, through Christ, ALL the nations and mankind indeed are blessed, through a choice freely available and already revealed before them. The New Covenant was first introduced by Christ Himself (Luke 22:20). It is an unconditional promise, once again, an available blessing for all those who merely believe (John 3:16) the gift of love of Holy God. With our mere surrendered belief and identity in the Risen Lord, our assurance of forgiveness is complete, our eternity is secure, save we stay on the path of abiding in the arms of the true Good Father.
Do you believe?
“For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16