Medieval Catholics lived in fear of judgement from day to day based on their variable moral and spiritual performance.
Then came Martin Luther and declared that salvation is a free gift from God which we cannot earn. This is true.
- We access the grace and favour of God by trusting once and for all in the finished work of Jesus who paid for all our sin on the cross, once and for all time. This is also true.
But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for
- “the just shall live by faith.” Galatians 3:11 (NKJV)
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves;
- it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
But then Luther and Calvin really overreacted and adopted an extreme opposite teaching to Catholicism.
- They said a believer once saved can never be lost.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26 (NKJV)
Yes of course all true Christians believe this.
Eternal life is the free gift of God and eternal life means what it says.
Luther and Calvin rightly taught that we cannot earn salvation and they were right.
- But that does not mean salvation is unconditional.
Salvation is conditional on our decision to trust in the love of God who gave His only Son to die for our sins.
- Right through the Bible, God gave free choice to men and women, to choose for Him or against Him, to trust or mistrust, to obey or disobey.
But the LORD God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
- If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Genesis 2:16-17 (NLT)
God created Adam in His own perfect likeness, with the moral character of God Himself and the free gift of eternal life but for Adam, eternal life was conditional.
- Adam could keep or lose eternal life depending on his decision to continue trusting God.
It is the same for us today.
Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38 (NKJV)
Of course we may grieve God and still be His children. This was the true revelation of the Reformation.
- But if we keep on presuming on the mercy of God without a serious attitude of repentance, we cannot take our home in heaven for granted.
Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 (NIV)
The Bible cannot be telling unsaved people to make and effort to be holy. That makes no sense at all.
- The writer of Hebrews is telling born again believers they must be serious about living a holy life after they are saved or else they will not stay saved.
So often we can become like the church in Laodicea and there is no automatic ticket to heaven for lukewarm Christians.