My first thought, when writing this post is “Oh Lord Jesus, I don’t know how to write this one”…But He tells me…”Write, Holy Spirit🕊will lead you”. So here we are. In this conversation, we will also talk about 3 “Churchy” words that all relate to one another and yet are different…Salvation, Justification, and Sanctification. People in the Church may have some idea what these mean, but we can go into them in a little more depth and also differentiate between them. At the end of this, we will dip our toe into the extremely controversial “Once Saved Always Saved” doctrine.
First, let’s differentiate between Salvation, Justification and Sanctification. Even in the “body of Christ” many believers confuse these three words. First, I want to say that ALL of these THREE (SALVATION/JUSTIFICATION/SANCTIFICATION) are COMPLETED by and through the finished work of Christ on the Cross. The final “work” of the Holy Spirit is GLORIFICATION, and of that, we likely can’t even fathom how TOTALLY AWESOME that day will be!
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
The Hebrew word for Salvation is Yeshua (Jesus). When we RECEIVE SALVATION through the Shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross, we are SAVED from God’s Wrath and from ETERNAL DEATH, which is the FINAL SEPARATION from our CREATOR. The soul who sins will die, this is written. All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. We are all guilty before a HOLY GOD which is why God Himself, wrapped in the LIKENESS of human flesh, came down to earth, lived a sinless life, and buried sin at the CROSS. All we need to do to be SAVED from ETERNAL DEATH is to BELIEVE (Cling to, Trust in) in Christ’s FINISHED WORK on the CROSS. Each person’s DEBT must be paid. WE can either pay this debt ourselves..OR we can receive Jesus Christ’s atoning work at the Cross, and allow Him to PAY the DEBT FOR US! I CHOOSE JESUS CHRIST!
It is important to understand that we are SAVED by GRACE and NOT BY WORKS so that no man will boast..it is the FREE GIFT OF GOD.
Grace is God’s RICHES at CHRIST’S EXPENSE. Grace CANNOT be not earned, and it is unmerited. There is nothing we can do to “earn Grace”. When presenting salvation, the New Testament writers carefully chose Greek words for GIFT and FREE that emphasize grace and freedom. As a result, the Bible could not be more clear—salvation is absolutely free. our only responsibility is to receive the gift by faitH. Obviously, if something is a “GIFT of grace,” it cannot be earned. To work for something is to deserve it, and that would produce an obligation—a gift of debt, as it were. That is why works that are done with the intention to either earn or maintain Salvation destroy grace. The “Good works” that God prepared for the Believer should be done out of LOVE and GRATITUDE, as the Holy Spirit nudges our hearts, never for the purpose of earning or maintaining Salvation. Salvation is the FREE GIFT of God that is received by Faith alone.
Romans 4:1: What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
Romans 11:5-6: In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.
Justification means to be made Righteous, or in Right Standing with a Holy God. After the Fall, ALL FLESH was separated from God. There was a Great Chasm in-between us and God, and there was absolutely NO WAY for us to Cross. When we ACCEPT Christ as our SAVIOR and BELIEVE that His atoning work on the Cross SAVED US from SIN, from ETERNAL DEATH, then we are not only SAVED…we are also JUSTIFIED. This means that you stand before God as though you had never sinned, completely sinless and clothed in white. We see in Romans 3 that JUSTIFICATION IS ALSO a FREE GIFT of GOD (GRACE), and CANNOT be EARNED.
Romans 3:21: But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the prophets 22 even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.
The word Sanctification means to set aside as HOLY. Theologians speak of three distinct types of Sanctification —positional, progressive, and perfective (glorification). Positional Sanctification is the “legal standing” we have been granted in Christ. It’s what the verses above concern: we are Sanctified and set apart when we trust in Christ. From that moment on, God sees us as righteous, SANCTIFIED, HOLY.
Although we have been declared righteous, the fact is that we still sin, even after we’ve been saved. That’s where progressive Sanctification comes in. Progressive Sanctification is the ongoing process of being made Holy by the Lord. “But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day” (Proverbs 4:18).
Proverbs 4:18: But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, that shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
PROGRESSIVE sanctification involves a believer becoming more and more like Christ. This is not something we do, but something God does. We increasingly yield our will to God’s Will and perform the good works that He prepared for us through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 9:8).
Ephesians 2:10: For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
2 Corinthians 9:8: And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
1 Peter 1:2: Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
2 Thessalonians:13: But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
Progressive Sanctification, the Battle between Spirit and flesh
Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden, mankind has been born into “original sin”. What this means is that because of the fall, mankind is clothed in sinful flesh and therefore has a “sin nature”. Sin literally dwells in our flesh and there is nothing we can do about it. This is the reason that the flesh gets sick, gets old, and dies. The flesh is our temporary “Tabernacle” (dwelling place) while we are on planet earth. Ephesians 2 makes it clear that the flesh sets its mind on various desires that are against God. As a matter of fact, Romans 8:7 even goes so far as to say that the flesh (sin nature) is at ENMITY with GOD.
Romans 8:7: because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,
Ephesians 2:3: Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Galatians 5:17: Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The Bible describes “The flesh” as mankind’s “natural position” UNTIL we BELIEVE in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the Cross and RECEIVE His Holy Spirit. This is what is known as being BORN AGAIN. All of those who do not believe in Jesus Christ, who do not have His Holy Spirit, are slaves to the flesh which is at ENMITY with GOD. People think that they are “free TO sin”..but that’s not the truth. The truth is, until a person receives Jesus Christ as their Savior and LORD, until a person receives the FREE GIFT of GRACE and the HOLY SPIRIT, they are actually a SLAVE to the SIN that is in their flesh. Every time a person agrees to do something that is outside of the will of God, when they agree to participate in something that God”s Word calls sin, then they are obeying their master…sin. Sin becomes “master” over them. They think it’s just fun and games. They think that it is “their decision” to have that extramarital affair, to pilfer money from their company, to have that homosexual relationship, to lie to their friend, to do that particular drug, to look at pornography, or even to hang on to hatred and unforgiveness, but it is really them just obeying their master…sin.
John 8:34: Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.
Romans 6:12: Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.
Sin has only one solution – Jesus Christ and His Finished work on the Cross
Many atheists and people from man made “religions” believe that they can stop sinning of their own volition, of their own “strength” and willpower. Of course, those in man made religions also define sin differently than Biblical sin. To an atheist, sin is whatever YOU decide it is..so sin to one person may not be sin to another. This way, an atheist can continue to “sin” by simply redefining what constitutes sin. In other man-made religions, such as Islam, the laws (Sharia) “force” people to abide by their religious definition of sin…meaning that if they catch you in what they consider a sin, they will kill you or put you in jail, or shame you. The sheer fear of retribution will keep some people from committing some “sins”…or at least cause them to do “them” in the closet so that they not seen by men. But still, the sin that is in their flesh reigns over them.
The only way to be FREE from the DESIRE to sin is to abandon one’s “own will” and yield to the Will of God through the POWER of the HOLY SPIRIT who lives and dwells within each Believer. The Bible describes this condition as “crucifying the flesh”. This is a Metaphor for the Spiritual battle that the Christian finds himself in shortly after being saved. Yes, that is right, the Born again, Believing Christian will still have sin in the flesh, but now their mind and heart is changed. Now, they have God’s Holy Spirit 🕊 working inside of them. God’s Spirit is powerful enough to heal the sick, to make the blind see again, and to raise the dead.
God’s Spirit 🕊 will…
- GUIDE the Believer
- will CONVICT the Believer by pointing out sin
- and will EMPOWER the Believer to turn away from sin.
This does not mean that the Believer will never sin, but it does mean that the Holy Spirit 🕊 is now working against the law of sin and death that is in our flesh. Christ’s finished Work on the Cross is what gives the Holy Spirit the LEGAL MEANS to do this work in the Believer. The Holy Spirit cannot and will not dwell in sin. Mankind had to be FORGIVEN of ALL SIN before the Holy Spirit could take up residence in us. This is why the Holy Spirit did NOT PERMANENTLY dwell in Old Testament Saints. Old Testament Priests and Prophets could sometimes have the Spirit “come upon them”, sometimes the Holy Spirit would empower them for a particular purpose, but they did NOT have the Holy Spirit INDWELLING them PERMANENTLY. This work of GRACE did NOT happen UNTIL Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit began to be poured out on ALL FLESH (Joel 2:28-29/Acts 2:17-18). HE (HOLY SPIRIT🕊) is a SPECIAL GIFT given to the Believer during this AGE OF GRACE. One might even call the Holy Spirit a WEDDING GIFT. In the ancient JEWISH WEDDING CEREMONY, it was common for the GROOM to give the bride a GIFT during the BETROTHAL (ENGAGEMENT) to remind her of why she was WAITING for her groom. The Bride would need to wait for one to two years for the groom to build a room on his father’s house, then he would come back to get her in GREAT FANFARE!
But you may be thinking…I’m a Believer, I have the Holy Spirit 🕊, but I still struggle with (fill in the blank sin). Why can’t I seem to get VICTORY over that sin? My first response to you would be the sheer fact that you RECOGNIZE that (blank) is a sin is by the CONVICTION of the Holy Spirit, WHICH IS A good thing. Also, the fact that you are STRUGGLING is actually a good sign, you are in the BATTLE! Stay in the Battle and DO NOT GIVE UP!!! God’s “conviction” does NOT mean CONDEMNATION, but it really means to know, understand, and even DREAD our own sin. Blessed are those who MOURN (their own sin), for they shall be comforted! God’s Holy Spirit will bring about this feeling in the Believer. Every time we yield our “self-will” to God’s Will and choose to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh, we grow in progressive sanctification and spiritual maturity. It’s not always a comfortable process, but it is normal, and it is necessary. While we are alive on this planet in HUMAN FLESH, the BELIEVER will have an INNER BATTLE, and won’t reach perfection until the time of our glorification, when the dead in Christ RISE. Even the Apostle Paul felt this war between God’s Holy Spirit and his own flesh ….
Romans 7: 21: I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, 23 but I see a different law in the members of my body (FLESH), waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.
Galatians 5:16 instructs, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (NASB). The Holy Spirit🕊 empowers us to resist sin and obey God.
The apostle Paul wrote, “The Spirit🕊 also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27).
To walk in the Spirit🕊 means obeying His initial promptings. We do it by going through each day aware of the Holy Spirit’s presence with us. We submit to Him as we feel Him pulling us in a certain direction or tugging at our heart to take a particular course of action, even if we don’t quite understand why.
For example, we may be convicted to drop a conversation, turn away quickly from a television program or leave a place that is questionable. Whatever it is, we need to do so immediately—the Spirit is warning us about a temptation to sin that we may be unable to resist unless we obey Him instantly.
Progressive Sanctification is done over a Believer’s lifetime through the power of the Holy Spirit..again, so that NO MAN (or woman) can boast! The Believer’s sanctifying walk will look different for each individual. Some people take the LONG PATH, and others have a QUICK WALK. The end result is that the Believer will look MORE like Jesus Christ, displaying MUCH FRUIT of the HOLY SPIRIT. But we must understand that even THIS WALK will NOT be done by our own power, but by the POWER of the HOLY SPIRIT who has been given LEGAL MEANS to sanctify us through Christ’s finished work on the Cross (Romans 8:2).
Romans 8:2: For THE LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE in Christ Jesus HAS SET YOU FREE FROM THE LAW OF SIN AND OF DEATH.
Philippians 1:6: Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Fight the Good Fight of Faith….
“I’m deep in the battle, throughout a long night… I’m barely hanging on, it’s been a fierce fight. I saw an enemy soldier who crossed the battle line. But as that scout came closer, I saw his face was mine. I know there’s two of me, both fighting to survive. I wish that one was dead and the other was alive. I’m deep in the trenches, in warfare, where evil collides. I’m fighting my heart out, but I’m on both sides. This combat is my struggle, while trying to break free. I’m filled with indecision, deciding which one’s me. I want to earn my rank, but I don’t stand a chance. I’m hiding here defeated, and I’m helpless to advance.”
“The King who is my General has called me out by name. He says that I’m His treasure and He loves me still the same. Though I am undeserving, I’m weak and I’m unable. He invites me to His Home where I am seated at His Table. I’ve failed and failed again, though I have tried my very best. But when I delight in HIM, it’s there I find my rest. All is silent for a moment just seated with Him there. His strength becomes my own, and His burden I can bear. In Him, the weak are strong..He whispers with a vow. His voice inside my heart, I love you right now. I’m still deep in the battle, though the victory is already won. The battle is worth the fight and my soldier days will soon be done.”The King’s Messengers
Grace, a license to sin?
There has been a concern by some believers that people will think that they can receive the FREE GIFT of God’s Grace and then use it as a license to sin. This happened during the days of Paul and also happens today. If the person is truly CHOSEN by God, then that individual WILL EVENTUALLY TURN (REPENT) and FULLY hand over their lives to the LORDSHIP of Jesus Christ. They may not do it immediately, but eventually the Holy Spirit will convict them of sin, and they will turn. If the person was NOT CHOSEN by God, and their hardened hearts NEVER,EVER TURN…then we expect to see this…
Matthew 7:21: Not everyone who says to me, ‘LORD, LORD,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Hebrews 10:26: For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Romans 6:15: What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! 16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.
Once saved always saved?
The question that has been milling around in many people’s minds is…Is Once Saved, always saved a thing? Basically, people want to know about the security of the Believer’s Eternal Salvation. Do the above verses indicate that a Believer in Christ CAN lose Salvation? Is this possible? Does constantly and willfully sinning, after believing the truth, cause one to LOSE salvation? There is major divide in the Body of Christ right now on this question. Honestly, I can only give my opinion on this because there are very critical scriptures that SUPPORT both sides.
Once Saved always saved was originally a Calvinist view. John Calvin was a French Theologian, Pastor, and Reformer in the 1500’s. Raised in the Catholic Church, he broke away from the Church in 1530. John Calvin believed in the doctrine of Eternal security. He also believed in the doctrine of Predestination, meaning that he believed Jesus only died for those whom God Predestined to be part of His Kingdom. Calvin taught that those whom God chose cannot lose their eternal salvation. Of course, that didn’t sit well with many Christians who looked at the verses above showing that Apostasy and “willful sinning” can occur in a professing Believer.
What are my thoughts? Honestly, I didn’t really want to step into this “pool” because it seems to be so controversial, and there are good Scriptures that support both sides of the debate. There are also problems and potential pitfalls on both sides. There could be some proponents of OSAS who use Grace as a license to sin, thinking that it’s okay to sin because they can’t lose their salvation. We pray for them to repent. Those who do NOT believe in OSAS have the distinct possibility of becoming Pharisees, or creeping into a “works based salvation”..also a heresy, we also pray for them to repent.
Verses that those who believe in OSAS often quote…
Ephesians 4:30: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Ephesians 1:13: In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,
John 10:27: My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
Hebrews 13:5: Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”
Romans 8:30: and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
John 15:16: You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
What do we know?
- Salvation, Sanctification, and Justification are FREE GIFTS from GOD that happen immediately when a person BELIEVES on JESUS CHRIST’S finished work on the CROSS. No works are necessary for SALVATION, SANCTIFICATION, or JUSTIFICATION. To believe works are necessary to obtain or maintain salvation, sanctification or justification is to put faith in “self” instead of Christ and fall from Grace. (Ephesians 2:8, Galatians 5:4)
- The person who BELIEVES on the finished work of CHRIST on the CROSS is SANCTIFIED (set apart as Holy) and JUSTIFIED (made righteous before God) IMMEDIATELY. This is the believer’s legal and positional standing before God. The ONLY WAY anyone can be Justified or Sanctified before a Holy God is to receive Jesus’ Christ’s finished work on the Cross as the payment for the debt we all owe. Our own works, efforts at obedience do not, nor can they accomplish this. When we receive Jesus Christ into our hearts, we also receive and are (SEALED) with the FREE GIFT of the HOLY SPIRIT who is the Pledge / promise of our INHERITANCE IN CHRIST. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- Because of our FAITH in CHRIST, the Holy Spirit will then go to work breaking the power of the sin nature over us. He (Holy Spirit) will SANCTIFY(PROGRESSIVE SANCTIFICATION ( the BELIEVER (conforming us to the IMAGE of CHRIST); however, it is up to the BELIEVER to YIELD to the teaching, the guidance and direction of the HOLY SPIRIT. Progressive Sanctification is necessary but CAN BE painful as we endure testing and correction. Some people will be PROGRESSIVELY sanctified faster than others. For many, it will take an entire lifetime. The more we GROW SPIRITUALLY, the more fruit of the Spirit we display, the more we look like CHRIST...which is the GOAL.
- GOD CHOSE all who would become BELIEVERS, we did NOT choose HIM. (Ephesians 1:4-5)
- No one can snatch a Believer from the Father’s Hand. (John 10:28)
- It is possible for a PROFESSING Believer to willfully sin and trample underfoot the Grace of God, GRIEVING the Holy Spirit; HOWEVER, If they continue to do this over and over and over, and NEVER repent, EVER, then did they REALLY BELIEVE to begin with? Do they realize that it was their sin that put JESUS on the CROSS? (All of our sin put Jesus on the Cross). Do they CARE? Where’s the LOVE? Were they chosen by God? Or…were they a “believer in name only”, claiming the name of Jesus, and never chosen by God? Only God can decide who is a “slow growing wheat” and who is a “weed“. (Matthew 7:21, Hebrews 10:26-30, Romans 6:15-19)
- If a person once BELIEVED that Jesus Christ is the ONLY PROPITIATION for sin (GRACE), and then they are deceived into agreeing with the Judaizers, who state that we MUST WORK in order to KEEP salvation, then they have “fallen from GRACE” and moved to a “works based salvation” which CANNOT SAVE. This is what Hebrews 6 is all about. Ironically, the OPPONENTS of OSAS can easily fall into this category if they begin to think that ANY work of the LAW adds to or is necessary TO MAINTAIN salvation. (Galatians 5:4). God SEEKS the HEART.
Honestly, I don’t have the answer so I’ll just relate my own “life experience”. I grew up believing in Jesus Christ, but not really understanding the Gospel. I did not understand why Jesus had to die..but I believed it because my parents taught me to believe it. In my childhood years, Jesus was very important to me. I had the fear of God. At about 6 years of age, I remember asking my mom how I could love a God I couldn’t see? It really bothered me that I didn’t know how to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. I was only 6 years old! My beloved mom comforted me by responding gently that if I loved my mom and dad, it’s like loving God. I also remember one circumstance (age 8) where my sister and I had gotten into a fight, and I was willing to “swear on a Bible” to prove my innocence. Then, I began to get scared because I had heard that if a person swore on the Bible and LIED..that they would go to hell. Of course, this wasn’t Biblical, but someone told me that. So I was really, really scared. I hadn’t lied, but I was afraid that if I was simply WRONG that I could go to hell. This really scared me.
As I grew older, my faith became simply a series of “traditions”. Christmas, Easter, Church, all the traditions that went into my faith were more important than the faith itself. As I grew into an older teen, my faith was tested by temptation. I fell into all types of sin as I moved away from Jesus and tried to keep up with the “popular crowd”. Was I saved at this point? I think so…but only God truly knows. I didn’t really think about Jesus much. I got married very young, moved back to Christ in a “traditional sense” and began to raise my young family, having two young children.
A few years later, fell back into the sin pattern and ended up divorced. I believed the lies of the enemy that things weren’t “black and white”..that there were “shades of gray”. I believed this because I used it to justify my immoral behavior. Everyone’s doing it…right? Surely God wouldn’t send EVERYONE to hell, would He? I had never read the Bible, but strangely I knew somehow that one day I would. At this point, I was afraid of the Bible (thought of it as something in a scary movie like the exorcist), and at the same time I was willfully sinning. I had some bad influences in my life too, people who talked me into sin. But still, it was my own fault for listening to them. Was I saved at this point? Had I lost my salvation? Again, only God knows. What I do know is that because of my willful sinning, I suffered through some terrible trials and ordeals. God Disciplines those whom He loves. I could have easily LITERALLY DIED during these 3 years of TRIBULATION in my life..but God did not allow me to die.
Eventually, I cried out to Jesus in genuine repentance, something that I had been shown years before in a vision of the night, and He came to me immediately. He ALWAYS knew the exact moment in time that I would cry out to Him. He knew, but I didn’t..even though He had shown me in a vision years earlier. Is this when I was saved..or was I saved earlier because I had been chosen…but later severely disciplined? Sadly, it took that discipline for me to “see the light”.
From this point on I began my “slow ascent” into Progressive Sanctification. Two steps forward, 1 step back…but no more willful sinning. Those days were over. But still, I had everyday sin that had to be overcome, like pride, vanity, materialism. The very day that I cried out in genuine repentance and sought God’s help in overcoming temptation, He sent me my current husband. I am 100% certain that God sent me my current husband, my husband of nearly 24 years. He is a Godly man who has brought me closer to Jesus. It was love at first sight! We married 5 weeks after we met (5 is the number of Grace). Two more children, a second chance, let’s do it better this time. Let’s listen to the Holy Spirit who made it clear to me that my “job” was to NOW PUT my family first..not any career. No outside job worked out for me. We struggled financially, but that was also part of the plan. God always provided. Time to get to know Jesus through His Word. My husband has worked and I have stayed home with the kids. God has graciously provided for all of our needs. The more my husband and I trust Him..as a team, the more He has provided. Both my husband and I have grown in Grace over these past 24 years. God has also given me plenty of time to sit at His Feet and LEARN of His ways. I have read the Bible cover to cover many times, and have participated in many Bible studies. I LOVE God’s Word! It is FOOD for the SPIRIT! After more than 15 years of sitting at the feet of Jesus and LEARNING of HIS WAYS, I am now head over heels in LOVE with HIM..which I think you can probably tell through this blog. I also believe that JESUS is coming soon...a lot sooner than many people in the “Church” think!
The question is…WHEN was I saved? As a believing child? As a rebellious teen? What about a foolish young woman? How about when I finally FULLY repented and LISTENED to the Holy Spirit? Or how about now, as a MATURING woman of God who has been learning, listening, TRUSTING, and falling in love with Jesus? Did I always believe in the shed blood of Jesus? Yes, in a way…but I did not understand, had weak faith, NO ARMOR, and rebelled against the God who saved me. I am very sorry I did not yield much sooner. I think of all the time I lost and all the works I could have done for God…not for salvation but because I LOVE Him. Now, SIN REPULSES ME. I MOURN my sin! My Sin killed my Savior! The blinders are off, and I now see sin for what it is..evil! Sin causes pain and suffering and sickness and death! I have no desire to sin,and like Paul, I hate it that I have this sin nature that I constantly have to fight. I loathe sin in myself and others and look forward to the day when we are GLORIFIED.
Once saved always saved? You be the judge. For me, I believe God chose me before the foundation of the world, and that in HIS MERCY He did not let me die in my sin because HE KNEW that SOMEDAY my heart would be SOFTENED..and I would cry out in Repentance and SORROW for my sin, asking for His Help to RESIST TEMPTATION and FULLY EMBRACING HIS SAVING GRACE. Yes, He put many painful “Divine Bumpers” in the road to correct me and discipline me, for which I am now thankful. Perhaps that makes me a “Calvinist”, I don’t know. I just know that our God has never left me or forsaken me even though I have been completely faithless in my life. He has been faithful to gently nudge and draw me with His Spirit and correct me when I need correction. He never gave up on me, so we should never give up on anyone in our lives! He is my best friend! When I get to Heaven, I will place my crown at the feet of Jesus. The Only Thing I will Boast about is Jesus Crucified and the Faithfulness and long-suffering PATIENCE of our God.
Jesus Christ did that for me, He will do that for you too. I have been on the long and painful “progressive sanctification” path. Others are on a shorter, whirlwind path. Still others never stray, and spend their entire lives serving Jesus. For those reading this now, you may not have the same luxury of “time” as some of us older people have had because the hour is late, Jesus is coming soon. But Holy Spirit is doing the work of Sanctification and He can’t fail. If you require a quicker work because JESUS is coming soon…He will do it. God is Faithful to complete the Good work that HE started....in YOU!