11 April 2015 by Adeline Lum CM-
On April 7th, Paul Chan came to shed light on the much-debated topic of Grace in the Full Gospel Businessmen (FGB) Fellowship of the Ebenezer Chapter under Steven Toh.
He answered many pertinent questions, of which I requested the permission to expand his review under his scrutiny.
Can a Christian lose his or her salvation?
You can lose your salvation if you renounce Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour deliberately, consistently, and finally, publicly.
Although Jesus said that no one would snatch his believers from His Hand (John 10:28; John 6:37), we have the free will to abandon our faith. And if we choose to renounce God, God will honour our decision. (Matthew 10:32-33) This is also what you call as apostasy.
Apostasy means the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief or principle.
Can a backslidden Christian lose his or her salvation?
The question here is how long do we stay backslidden. Unlike apostasy, Paul shared that a backslidden Christian is not repentant of his or her sin but still believes in Christ.
If the backslidden Christian repents at any point of his or her lifetime to God, then his or her salvation is certain.
And I would say, most of us have undergone the backsliding “state” before, where we refuse to repent to God for certain sins at a certain point in our life.
Though not uncommon, this is a risky state to be in for long. This is because a backslidden Christian who deliberately and continuously sin without repentance can hurt his or her conscience, which is important in helping us to discern right from wrong and truth from lie.
All humans are given a conscience. And the most effective way of purifying our conscience is by frequently meditating the Word of God. But if we neglect chewing God’s Word for too long, the line of a lie from the truth becomes increasingly muddled.
Left unaddressed, we can face the risk of believing a lie as the truth. This deception can cause us to slowly fall away, risking our salvation. (Heb 6:1-8; Heb 10:24-29; 2 Pet 2;20-22; James 5:19-20)
What if the backslidden Christian consistently refused to repent, making him or her “perpetually” backslidden?
This becomes a paradox because 1 John 3:6 said, “no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.”
According to this verse, I would wonder if a “perpetually” backslidden Christian actually seen or known God. And what I meant by “perpetually” refers to very long period of our life, which may even stretch to the rest of our life.
This is because seeing or knowing Christ would inevitably lead us into repentance at a point in our life.
Scripture also seem to suggest a wholesome type of Christian faith, whereby faith and action must come hand-in-hand, together as one. In other words, we cannot say we believe in something and do something else that does not mirror our belief.
Without action, faith is dead, making us hypocrites. (James 2:17) And without faith, any action would be displeasing to God, making us mere humanists. (Heb 11:6)
Faith must be wrapped in action. And there seems to be no other way.
For example, if a person says he believes that killing sharks is inhumane. Yet, we find him eating shark fin soup in a restaurant every week. His action does not mirror his belief. It is easy for us to point out that either he is lying about his belief or he is ignorant of his belief, not knowing that huge number of sharks are killed to make shark fin soups. This is the same with our Christian faith.
Finally, what can we say about Eternal Salvation versus Losing Salvation?
Salvation is such a serious matter that I understand how important this question is for many Christians. It is a good topic to study.
However, in my humble two cents, before we come to the answer, I would also like to ponder about the purpose or motivation behind asking this question. I wonder if this is an important question to ask, if my purpose is to walk closer with God.
This is because asking on this question only almost seems to me like entering a football game, where the players go back and forth discussing how they can bend the game rules without being fouled. It also seems to me like a husband entering marriage asking how much he can badly behave without getting divorced by his wife.
Asking the questions appears strange, if the goal were to win the game and have a blissful marriage. Perhaps, the more effective questions we could ask ourselves are “How can we win the game?” and “How can I have a blissful marriage?”
Am I suggesting that one should not ask this weighty question about salvation? Of course not. Many respected bible scholars have made a well-researched case about this topic.
But what I meant is that this should not be the only question I ask about my Christian faith, as if my whole faith rests on this question alone. There are so many other more facets about our faith and really about God Himself to explore, wonder, and admire of his majesty and mystery.
Hence, besides pondering on the question of salvation, I would also ask myself a more pragmatic question such as “How can I know God in a more wholesome and accurate manner?” I can read commentaries and articles written by authors, preachers, scholars, and speakers. But nothing beats understanding these materials from the solid foundation of reading God’s Word myself.
And since I have offered my two cents now, here would be my personal verdict: I believe I can never earn my salvation but I can certainly lose my salvation if I choose to abandon my faith in Christ.
Put in another way, this would be my stance (though not comprehensive): “I cannot earn my salvation, but only through believing that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins and was resurrected on the third day, I am righteous before God. I am fully accepted as His beloved daughter. And because I am His and He is mine – by the power and the working of the Holy Spirit in me and my free will to constantly submit to God and abide in Him – I am walking in and to the Will of God. I am secure in my salvation, knowing that nothing (except myself) can separate me from the love of God for me.”
| Share the Good News |