Hello! I was just looking through you’re site – a very interesting one, very thought provoking – and came across this article: http://www.evidenceforchristianity.org/once-we-are-saved-is-out-salvation-set-in-stone/. Now, I should say at the forefront that I am what you may call a “Calvinist” – that is, I believe that the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is a Biblical one. But this doesn’t mean I haven’t stopped seeking after scriptural truth. You gave an intelligent answer to Romans 8:28 (in a different article), and I wanted to see how you would answer this question: a). How do we know when we have trampled upon the blood of Jesus? If you have deliberately sinned against God after having been born again, yet turn and follow him, could you possibly be deceived in your Christianity? (could you follow Christ after having turned away, not realizing that he has actually taken his Spirit from you forever?) b). On that note, are you saying that if you have been born again, you could possibly become “un-born again”? An adopted child of God can once again become a child of Satan? And c). is it by our own strength that we keep ourselves in the faith? If it is, do we muster this faith up? Is this faith mustered up from our free will? And how do we truly know if we’re saved, since really it relies on our own works to keep us in the faith in the first place? I used to be a strong “Arminian.” Now I’m not, but I could definitely be wrong in my beliefs. I just want to see if I missed something in my own reasoning when I was an “Arminian.” Thank you, and Grace and Peace in Christ!
a. We do not have a little dot on our forehead indicating that we have the Holy Spirit in us. We, as human beings, cannot know for sure who is saved and we cannot know for sure whether someone has fallen away. Bottom line, we cannot know absolutely for sure if a Christian has trampled on the blood of Jesus sufficiently that the Holy Spirit would leave us and we would lose our salvation. Of course we human beings want to know who is saved and who has lost their salvation, but God has not given us that power, and we need to be humble enough to accept this truth. There are a few things I know for sure, based on scripture: 1. God is amazingly patient. He will tolerate an amazing amount of rebellion on the part of his children. 2. All Christians sin (1 John 1:8f), and we even sin willfully at times. 3. It is possible to fall away, and once the Holy Spirit leaves us, it is impossible for us to be renewed to repentance (Hebrews 6:4-6).
b. Could we be deceived in our Christianity? Of course we can. However, if a Christian is willing and able to repent, then we can know for sure that they have not fallen away, at least in the Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26f sense. So, if a believer is repentant, then they have not fallen away. The point is that we do not need to live in constant fear. We simply need to keep our hearts sensitive to God’s will. If God has taken the Holy Spirit away from someone, then you will not find them at church trying to repent.
c. Yes, if we have been born again, it is possible for us to lose our salvation. The entire book of Hebrews makes this clear. The Bible does not use the phrase “unborn again.” I would not say that we can be “unborn again” because this is not a biblical phrase and I am not sure the phrase even means anything. So, let me rephrase your question. Can we lose our salvation? Sure. An adopted child of God can, through our own decision, willfully continue in sin and we can lose our place in God’s family. Yes, that can happen. This is absolutely clear from Hebrews.
d. We cannot save ourselves by our own strength and we cannot keep ourselves saved by our own strength. However, God has given us free will and he allows us to choose to leave him. He commands that we “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12). He also tells us to “make every effort” to make it to heaven (Hebrews 4:11) We cannot stay saved by our own effort, but God commands us to use all our effort to make our salvation sure. This is not a contradiction!!! If we make every effort to stay faithful, it will help us to remain faithful, and if we do, then God will keep us saved. Anyone who thinks he or she stays saved by their own power, then that person is deceived.
e. John tells us that we can know that we are saved in 1 John 5. If we have repented of our sins, put our faith in Jesus and been baptized into Christ, then if we follow the admonitions in 1 John we can be confident of our salvation. Can we know, absolutely, without any conceivable doubt that we are saved? I suppose that we cannot, as, like I said before, we do not have a little dot on our forehead telling us that we are saved. Even our salvation is part of our faith.
f. Your last point is not correct. Our remaining saved does not rely on our works. Nowhere does the Bible say that we are saved by our own works or that we remain saved by our own works. Our works as Christians is because we are saved, not so that we can be saved. Works salvation is not biblical. Do our faithful works help us to stay faithful? Of course they do, but they do not save us.
I hope this helps.