I’m beginning to wonder if my kids are right that I’m losing my mind with age, forgetting entire conversations (or so they say). There is definitely a trace of truth to their evaluation, but I do sometimes wonder if they claim we talked about something simply to mess with me or to orchestrate a desired result.
At the same time, I find myself experiencing moments while studying the Bible or hearing it taught when something I know I’ve seen or read repeatedly before, something that is so simple and apparently so clear to most, and yet it strikes me between my eyes of understanding as if I’ve never seen it before.
This Sunday was one of those times. As my pastor preached, it occurred to me that the evidence of salvation isn’t found in perfection but in endurance. It was a profound “aha” moment for me because there are times when I sometimes struggle with sin (okay, okay, it’s daily) and have genuinely questioned whether or not I’m really saved. If I were, would I still do the things I do? If I genuinely love Jesus and He has done a transforming work in my heart, would I really continue to sin? If I truly grasp what Jesus has done for me, would I take it so lightly by doing things that are in essence spitting in the face of the grace and mercy He’s extended to me?
And then when I read I Peter 1:16, “Be holy, for I am holy,” or Matthew 5:48, "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect,” I experience a sinking dread that I AM DOOMED!
In my mind, my lack of holiness and perfection must substantiate a lack of salvation. As a child of God adopted through the blood of Jesus, my life should certainly exhibit decreasing works of the flesh (see Galatians 5:19-21 and Romans 1:28-32) and increasing fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), but my imperfect performance doesn’t necessarily prove me unsaved. As Galatians 3:3 questions, “Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?” In other words, our salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit, and so will be our perfecting. Performance isn’t the measure.
There really is nothing we can do to earn salvation – God does a work in our hearts to turn us to Jesus (Ephesians 2:8), gives us the measure of faith with which we respond in belief (Romans 12:3), and then completes the work (Philippians 1:6). Yet, as Philippians 2:12-13 explains, “…as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). I believe this describes the believer’s life as characterized by fearing God, obeying Him, and repenting when we don’t.
So what about losing our salvation? Can we be saved, but then not endure or overcome, and end up unsaved? I once was terribly unnerved by scriptures where Jesus said “he who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22, 24:13, 13:13), or the eight times in Revelation when the letters to the churches indicate “he/him who overcomes” receives eternal life and/or rewards.
The thought terrified me, again, because of my imperfection in following Christ at all times in all things. Then God showed me Jesus’s words in John 6:39-40: “This is the will of the Father who sent me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up in the last day.”
God desires that Jesus not lose one of those He has given Him. Blessed assurance!!! To be sure, Hebrews 7:25 tells us, “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Jesus is able to save us to the end because He lives to make intercession for us!
When Jesus saves us, there will be a change in us for sure, and He won’t let us go. Our lives will reflect His work in our hearts, and He will continue that work to the end. Therefore, we will overcome. We will endure.
Peace floods my soul. The evidence of salvation isn’t the perfect absence of sin but the continual turning back to Christ when I do sin. The continual return to Him and His ways. The never giving up. The never deciding that Jesus isn’t working and I’m out. Perseverance.
Sometimes we don’t want to hear the hard stuff, yet 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? – unless indeed you are disqualified.”
Lord, thank You that You do not desire to lose one of those You have given Your Son, Jesus. We thank You for His continual intercession on our behalf that we would become more wholly Yours as we endure to the very end.