Never Lost Again
Often in counseling other Christians, they quietly admit to me that they believe they have lost their salvation. They believe they were once saved, but now have been condemned by God for resisting his will.
This happens especially with people who have sensitive consciences, are prone to guilt, and are pretty sure they don’t measure up to God’s standard of holiness. They want to, they wish to . . . but they know they don’t.
Of course, it’s true that they don’t measure up to God’s standard of holiness! But the key words that they use are want and wish. If someone can honestly say, from their heart of hearts, that they want or wish to follow and live for Jesus, then they can be assured they are a Christian.
Think about this for a moment. Where does the want to live for Jesus come from? It can’t come from within ourselves. In our broken and fallen state, drowning in a cesspool of self-grasping desire, how could we generate a fresh new desire, out of nowhere, to live not for ourselves, but for Jesus Christ? We couldn’t! So, then, where does the desire to live for Christ come from? When we regret not following Christ, where does that regret come from? It has to come from outside ourselves.
It comes from Holy Spirit. The entire time, in the midst of our doubts about whether we are saved or not, the Holy Spirit is still at work in our hearts, saving us.
We know that salvation is more than believing certain things about Jesus and his atonement. What happens in salvation is not just a change of things we believe, or a change of outward behaviors, but an inward change of heart; in particular, one’s will is requisitioned supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. The want or wish or will to live for Christ itself is what most clearly distinguishes a Christian from a non-Christian.
A person who does want to live for Christ — even if in practice he or she seems to be struggling and failing (as it is with all Christians) – can know that God has done a supernatural work in his or her heart. No one wants to follow and live for Christ apart from a saving work of the Holy Spirit in his or her heart.
The good thing about this is that a person’s salvation is not conditioned on what that person does. Instead, it is a result of what God does in our hearts. When we’re tempted to worry about losing our salvation, we’re being tempted to find our source of righteousness in our own works. Can we do something to lose our salvation? No! We didn’t do anything to gain it, so how can we do anything to lose it? Salvation is entirely the work of the Holy Spirit. We were found, and we will never be lost again.
Consider what the Apostle Paul writes, in 2 Corinthians 5:14-17:
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
This truth is reassuring, and I’m thankful for it often!