We read in Revelation 2-3 about the seven churches of Asia. Jesus has some good things and bad things to say about them, but one promise bookends every message to them: “to he who overcomes…” There are different things spoken about that will be given to “he who overcomes”, such as “I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (2:7), or “will not be hurt by the second death.” (2:11), or “I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” (2:17). We could continue, but the point here is that there are great promises for those who overcome. This is primarily about staying faithful to God.
The common idea among religious circles today seems to be that there is no way to fall from grace. It is impossible. Verses like John 10:28 are used to prove this concept, where Jesus says, “And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them from my hand.” On the face of it, we can see this idea, that no one can interfere directly with my salvation in Christ. This is biblical. However, we must ask the question, what about the clear examples we have in Scripture of some being “In Christ” who fell away?
The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 5:4, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” This is a very plain statement from the Apostle about some who were trying to be justified by the observance of the Old Law of Moses. These believing, baptized Christians had fallen from grace.
Our works do not save us. Salvation is a gift from God (Eph. 2:8). However, our works can plainly condemn us. Ananias and Sapphira were members of the Church at Jerusalem, yet they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5), and were struck dead because of it. Were they in God’s favor at that time? Simon the Sorcerer, who obeyed the Gospel in Acts 8:13, sought to purchase the healing power that the Apostles displayed (8:18-19). It was Peter who soundly rebuked him in verse 20-23: “You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity." If Simon needed to repent, it surely did not mean that He was alright with God at that moment!
“Once saved, always saved” is a lie of disastrous proportions, leading so many away from faith in God, and wrapping them with faith in men. The answer to this falseness is to live a life that is faithful to God. Christians WILL overcome when this life is over if they are pleasing to God. “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). -Steven McCrary