Once Saved, Always Saved?

Christianity has a number of different denominations, all too many of which don’t act very lovingly towards those that disagree with them. Probably the thing that divides Christians most frequently has to do with the interpretation of Scripture. No matter how true I believe the Bible is in its entirety, I’m the first to admit that the Bible contains many things I cannot hope to understand with certainty.

And one of those is a doctrine known to those who believe in it as “once saved, always saved.” In layman’s terms, that means that once a person becomes a Christian–confesses his sins, asks God’s forgiveness, and places his life under the lordship of Jesus Christ–he or she has an irrevocable ticket to Heaven.

At its most extreme, I would assume that someone who became a Christian at an early age and later chose to become a devout Muslim would still be counted a Christian at death. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, does it?

I have a cousin who grew up in a fine Christian home and undoubtedly became a Christian when he was younger. I forget the name of the group he now follows, but it’s one of those religions that rejects Christianity’s claim to be the only way. Jesus Himself said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

That’s pretty specific, don’t you think?

But how can my cousin still be counted a Christian at the time of his death? Again, it doesn’t make sense.

People who believe in “once saved, always saved” tend to put a disclaimer on the idea. Anyone who TRULY becomes a Christian–not someone who simply goes through the motions–is permanently saved. And, yes, that makes sense.

But it still doesn’t answer the question about the Christian-turned-Muslim or the cousin-turned-whatever.

I think about this often because I pray regularly for my cousin as if he is not a Christian. But then I start thinking about some well-known folks who seemingly became very devout Christians, but whose faith I know nothing about now.

One case in point is Eric Clapton. I loved his song, “The Presence of the Lord.” And the song he wrote after the death of his son, “Tears in Heaven,” still has Christian references. But did he abandon his relationship with God during that time? And if he did, would he still be considered a Christian?

I honestly don’t know.

Another case in point is Bob Dylan. You younger readers may not be as familiar with him, but he was the voice of his generation back during the 1960s and 1970s. And he became such a strong Christian that he not only recorded three Christian albums, he quit singing his old secular songs in concert for a while, which greatly displeased the non-Christians in the crowd. To the best of my knowledge, he’s gone back to secular music, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But does he still have that saving relationship with God through faith in Jesus?

I wish I could tell you.  But I don’t know the answer to that, either.

I’m going to sum this whole question up in the way that seems most satisfactory. God knows the hearts of everyone. And He’s the one who’ll make the proper determination when the time comes. The perfect determination, because God Himself is perfect.

How thankful I am not to have His job!

Do you have an opinion about the “once saved, always saved” doctrine or about any of the questions I’ve raised? Please share a comment if you do.

~*~

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

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Ultimate Significance

The Rolling Stones “can’t get no satisfaction” and Bob Dylan wants to have a “satisfied mind” when he dies. Why do I get the impression Dylan and the Stones are pursuing different goals–probably very different ones?

What is satisfaction, anyhow? Is it what the WordWeb dictionary I’m using defines as “the contentment one feels when one has fulfilled a desire, need, or expectation”? And is satisfaction a realistic goal?

Perhaps I’m being unfair. Maybe even a tad judgmental. But it seems to me that whatever the Rolling Stones are hoping to get satisfaction from is apt to be very temporary in nature. A person may eat until he’s satisfied, but he’s still going to get hungry again. No need to elaborate.

At least Dylan’s goal is to be satisfied when he enters eternity. Whatever gives him final contentment must be of an eternal nature. Since “Satisfied Mind” is on one of Dylan’s Christian albums–yes, he wrote and recorded at least three of them–I hope he’s talking about satisfaction with the way he’s lived and his confidence in where he’s going at death. Definitely not temporal.

But what about significance? That’s what this post is supposed to be about.

Significance means importance; that’s the definition I’m using here, anyhow. Contentment and importance are not one and the same, and neither are significance and satisfaction. Those two words are not only not synonyms, they’re almost antonyms.

Time to get personal. I get contentment from a number of things. Having a wonderful wife. A comfortable–but modest–home. Food and clothes. A decent camera and good musical instruments. I have everything I need and  plenty of things I don’t need.

But the contentment those things provide isn’t enough.

Could it be I “can’t get no satisfaction,” either? I’m extremely thankful for all of the blessings God has provided, but do they fulfill my real goal–my desire to be important? Or at least to do something so important it will continue doing good for years after my death.

Five thousand people bought Found in Translation. Twenty-five hundred bought Lost in Dreams. I’m proud of those figures, because I want to believe at least that many people read those books and were both entertained and blessed by them. That did more than make me content. It made me feel important. Or at least that I’d done something important.

Ah, but what about The Devil and Pastor Gus? It’s been out exactly one year. I don’t have the total sales figures, but it seems likely that only a hundred copies have been sold. Perhaps fewer. And this was the novel I’d considered my legacy for future generations. I felt it had the strongest message of anything I’ve ever written–and probably will ever write. In short, that it would be my most important novel.

No matter how much the people who’ve read The Devil and Pastor Gus rave about it–it currently has a 4.4 star rating on Amazon–I’m not content. I wonder whether my best effort to accomplish something truly important has fallen flat on its face.

I could get depressed about this if I allowed myself to. But the truth of one of my original songs keeps coming to mind:

I believe God’s working behind the scenes;
He’s helping me in ways I can’t see.
God understands all my problems;
He knows my best efforts are not enough to solve them.

I believe God’s working behind the scenes;
He’s renewing my faded hopes and dreams.
He always provides the things He knows I need.

I believe God’s holding me in His hands;
He’s shaping me according to plan.
Despite my fears and confusion,
He knows He provides the only real solution.

I believe God’s working behind the scenes;
He’s drawing from His limitless means.
He always provides the things He knows I need.

Maybe it’s time to let faith take over. What’s most significant ultimately is not what’s important to me, but what’s important to God. And He doesn’t have to do it my way. Or on my timetable. What a mess my life would be in if He’d done everything the way I thought they should be done!

Why should I fret about feeling important here on earth, anyhow? I’m much more desirous of hearing, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” when I arrive in Heaven.

What do you think? Are you satisfied? Do you feel significant? How about sharing a comment?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger