Faithful to the End
Dr. Russell Frazier
THE ARMINIAN MAGAZINE. Issue 1. Spring 2011. Volume 29.
Date Posted July, 2011
Perhaps you've heard it said, "Once saved - always saved." Those who use the dictum desire to protect their peculiar doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. However, my concern is that the saying envisions the perseverance of sinners in salvation who never really quit the sin business. Let me explain.
People argue that evangelical conversion resolves once and for all the question of one's future destiny. In this way of thinking, believers can live like they want to live without their behavior and attitudes affecting their final destiny. Thus, conversion becomes a license for all kinds of lawless behavior. Like the radio preacher, those who hold this view say, "Live like you want to live; do what you want to do - just send more money!"
The rationale runs like this: "I've been saved - my eternal destiny is certain. Thus, there is no need for the Ten Commandments. After all, Paul says, 'By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified (Galatians 2:16).'" The Bible becomes a sort of scrapbook or a cut-and-paste book. People take or leave certain portions of Scripture as they will. Not only are the 10 Commandments jettisoned, but the moral declarations which Jesus made in the Sermon on the Mount are set aside or explained away. Some commentators who hold this view assert that the Sermon on the Mount belongs to an earlier dispensation, and that the words of Jesus are no longer valid for Christians today. Those who hold to this view, "once saved - always saved," discard practically the majority of the Bible because the only thing that really matters is their "faith."
This view not only does violence to the understanding of Scripture, but it also does violence to another doctrine. If one holds the view "once saved – always saved" there is little or no significance to the final judgment. The judgment is simply the authentication of an experience in which one went to the altar for relief of guilt or joined the church or shook the preacher's hand. God becomes a doting grandfather who overlooks the rebellious crimes against His holiness. God wears rose-colored glasses and sees everything through them; He is deceived and doesn't see sin in the lives of believers.
However, those who believe that God overlooks sin are really deceived themselves. They walk in "the futility of mind"; their "understanding is darkened." They are "alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness" (Ephesians 4:18-19).
I believe that you, my dear reader, "have not so learned Christ" (Ephesians 4:20). You are aware that you are responsible - that God will hold you accountable. There is a judgment day coming. God will judge us not only according to the way that we have received Christ, but He will also judge us for our deeds. He will judge us not only for our faith in Christ, but He will judge us for our faithfulness to Christ.
In a post-modern, relativistic society, few will dare to declare absolute truth. In the blah-blah world of evangelical Christianity, there are few prophets which will warn you of this truth. Too often, we have overemphasized the beginning of the Christian life and have failed to emphasize the ending. In the society today, a subtle deception arises saying that the way we live our lives makes no difference. It does make a difference! Apparently, the same deception was around in the early Church; Paul wrote, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap" (Galatians 6:7). In fact, the difference is an eternal one - between heaven and hell.
John the Revelator assures us of the future judgment of our works, "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books" (Rev. 20: 12, emphasis added). God is keeping records. So, I encourage you, the faithful, continue to be faithful - faithful to the end! The finish line is just ahead!