Once Shaved, Always Shaved?

shaving_greenI have a beard so you may find this hard to believe, but I shave every day. Most men do. I understand many women also shave regularly. Perhaps you were shaved at one time, but that doesn’t mean you are shaved now. You have to work to stay shaved. You may profess a belief in shaving but faith without regular shaving works shaves no one.

Shaving is a tricky business. You need to hold fast when you shave. You have to work out your shaving with fear and trembling because only he who stands firm to the end will be shaved.

I’m grinning as I write this. Why? Because apparently being shaved and being saved have much in common. You have to work hard at both of them. At least that’s what some people think. I know this because I spent the month of January doing a massive study on the subject of eternal security.

(I know what you’re thinking, What a great way to spend a month. It was! I love to study.)

My goal was to study every single New Testament scripture that speaks to the issue of our eternal security. All told, I found 300 scriptures that are used either to support or attack the idea of “once saved, always saved.” I then filtered every scripture through the lens of Jesus and his finished work to see what I might learn. And what did I find?

Lay down your razors because once shaved, always shaved. Haha!

Seriously, in my heart I have always known that I am secure in my Father’s love – he holds me, he keeps me, and he will never let me go. But many people are not secure. They’ve been told they have to abide, continue, hold fast to end, overcome, obey, endure, and otherwise do things to stay saved. Naturally, this unsettles them. What if I don’t do what God expects of me? What if I stumble at the last hurdle? What then?

If this is you, this series ought to help. I’m going to look at some of the toughest scriptures I can find. And after we unpackage these scriptures in light of who Christ is and what he has done for us, you’re going to be so blessed. You’re going to want to shout and thank Jesus from the roof-tops.

But before we jump in to this Bible study, let’s take a moment to polish our spectacles and check for cracks in the lenses.

Get your glasses checked here

What you look through determines what you see. If you look at the world through a cracked lens, everything will appear to be fuzzy and distorted. Similarly, if you have a distorted view of God, everything you read will be filtered through your distortion.

The Bible was written in such a way to confound the wisdom of the so-called wise. It contains scriptures that appear to contradict one another making it impossible to be used as a rule-book. The only way to get life out of the written word is to filter all you read through the Living Word – who Jesus is and what he has done. That’s what I am going to try and do in this study.

However, I am well aware that I am stepping into an ancient minefield of divisive and ugly Christianity.

Consumer health warning

In my study I visited countless websites and online ministries devoted exclusively to one side of the issue or the other. In many cases, what I saw was not a pretty sight. Mocking rhetoric, ad hominem arguments, and provocative metaphors like the shaving one I sent up above.

Of course I am going to try and rise above all this and stay on the high ground. But to be honest, I’m not confident that I can. If you have followed E2R long enough you may have seen me responding to critics in all my stinking flesh. There have been occasions when I have put winning ahead of loving and I am not proud of that.

The problem is, God made me a debater and I’m good at it! I’m good at arguing. I confess I sometimes use my superpowers for carnal, unloving purposes and there’s a fair chance that will happen again. Please forgive me when I do.

Four blind spots in the theology of the insecure

Now that I have confessed my weaknesses to you, I want to humbly suggest that those who preach insecurity (i.e., your salvation is not assured and you must work to stay saved), have four blind spots. (Don’t be threatened. We all have blind spots. The sooner you see yours, the better.)

These four blind spots, or cracks in the lens, if you like, are as follows:

old_vs_new_sm1. The cross changed nothing

Since they don’t know what makes the new covenant new, insecurity preachers typically interpret conditional statements in the New Testament as threats, rather than promises. They read them just as they would in the old covenant:

“You have to (insert activity here) in order to receive (insert reward here) or to avoid (insert punishment here).”

Since their theology of mixture affects all they say, they argue that your eternal security hinges on you and what you do rather than Christ and what he has done. A classic example is the commands of Jesus which are interpreted as instructions you must obey or you will lose your salvation. I will return to this issue of obedience in the new covenant in a forthcoming post.

2. Hell is for under-performing Christians

Insecurity preachers wear hellfire-tinted lenses, meaning, they see one consequence for everything we can get wrong: eternal condemnation. I’m not diminishing the seriousness of hell but I want to tell you there is no condemnation for those who are one with the Lord. You may think that God will kick you out but he promised he wouldn’t. As we will see in the next post, the chances of a saint losing their salvation are the same as the chances God will break his promises, i.e., zero.

I don’t doubt for a second that there are serious consequences to wandering, going astray, falling from grace, etc. But the consequences are clearly spelled out in scripture and for the saint none of them is hell. I’ll list 14 consequences in a forthcoming post.

3. Salvation comes in a box

Insecurity preachers seem to think that the gift of salvation comes in a box, meaning, it’s something you have to hold on to or lose. You might think, then, that such folk would be preoccupied minding and not losing their own salvation boxes, but they are not. Instead, they are busy attacking other people’s boxes with doubt and strife. They seem to derive security by making others feel less secure. It works too. Fearful, insecure Christians lap it up revealing their distrust in God’s awesome grace. This is the tragedy of our age.

Happily, salvation is not a box. It is the miracle of new life. It is Christ himself living in you. Paul said, “Christ is your life” (Col 3:4). Whether you hold onto him strongly or weakly, he holds on to you, and the good news is he will never let you go (Joh 6:37). If you were to wander and go off track, Christ won’t kick you out for he’s a good shepherd who knows his sheep and won’t lose any (John 6:29, 10:14). And he won’t come after you with a rod to break your leg either, for he’s our compassionate high priest who deals gently with those going astray (Heb 5:1-2).

4. Some sin is excusable

Those in the insecurity camp think there are different classes of sin, that they are capable of avoiding willful sin, and that God is not troubled by their unintentional sins. This would be laughable if it wasn’t so widely believed.

Sin is sin. If God kept a record of sin, who could stand (Psa 130:3)? The good news is not that God has forgiven only some of your sins – the ones you did by accident – but that he has forgiven all your sin for all time! Am I promoting grace as a license to sin? Of course not! I’m saying be Christ-conscious instead of sin-conscious. Since God keeps no records of your sins, neither should you.

I have been brief here but in this new series I plan to go slow. I want you to see clearly from scripture how secure you are in the Lord. “But, Paul, what about this scripture and that scripture?” Patience, my young Padawan. We’ll get there. (If you want to see the scriptures I plan to address in this series, check out this page.)

Just for fun we’ll start at the ending. In my next post I want to put my best cards on the table and show you 12 promises from the Lord that you can take to the bank. Stay tuned!


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Comments

  1. Doubt has a terrible and destructive effect on one’s perceived relationship with God. But doubt doesn’t change one bit how God sees us. When He looks at us… He sees a reflection of Himself regardless of how we feel… regardless of “our” faith… regardless of our actions.
    I was insanely fortunate to lose every last tiny bit of doubt in a crazy unexpected turn of events one night a little over 3 years ago when I had said “goodbye” to God. The next morning, I woke up and found myself fully engulfed in God’s love. It made no sense to me since I was going against my understanding of the bible. I told God… “but the bible says”… and He grabbed me so tight I couldn’t speak. It was over a year before I found a word to describe what was happening to me. Grace.

  2. This looks like a book to me. I sure hope so.

  3. So good! You have such a talent for this! This blog has been the most refreshing truth. It is so rare to read something so accurate. I really appreciate all the study. God is using you. E2R has been a huge blessing to me. I love it. 🙂

  4. I’m ready and excited about the next lessons. Nobody believed in losing your salvation like I did until I got free and under pure grace. It’s true the belief in losing your salvation empowers so much sin because of sin conscience. Eternal security empowers righteous living! The truth is every Christian believes it. The difference is we believe it the day we got saved while others don’t believe it until the day they enter heaven. How funny! I used to preach so strongly against eternal security but always look forward to heaven so I can finally rest and not lose my salvation.lol! That’s all there is in heaven, “eternal security” it’s not a doctrine but who Christ is.

  5. I have a feeling this series is going to become an awesome much needed book in the future. I’m looking forward to it.

  6. Just something I am learning, God forgives all because all sin had been dealt with through the blood of Jesus, BUT the question is, where our your heart, because this is where the treasure lies.
    If I run a red light, I am in danger of being smashed by another vehicle, (in a place I shouldn’t be). If I commit sin, goes the same, I am in a place I shouldn’t be, and guess who’s lurking around like a roaming lion ready to devour anyone. These are good blogs, but they fail to mention the Devil and his legal right, he is the accuser, and when we give him legal right to come into our lives, he will not hesitate, and when he gets in, he will be like a KGB mole( so much easier for him to work from the inside then out).
    The main point I am trying to say is, who are we truly following, the Devil (this world) or Jesus. If you are following the Devil and confess Jesus with our lip and not in your heart, then you are under the sway of the devil and have given him legal rights to your very soul but you are still forgiven by God. I forgive my son from all bad that he has done, even if he murders, commits adultery, steals etc…. but the law will put him in prison.

    • Tyler, I understand what you are saying. I was taught that while you are forgiven of all sins, you will still suffer the consequences of your actions. Anyone please correct me if I’m wrong.😀

      • Tyler,
        I don’t know how this works but I believe like the scripture many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord will deliver them out of them ALL. The world deals with the consequences and so do we but the Lord stays with us and He takes care of the situation either preventing things from happening or taking you through it just like David. David wasn’t even under the new covenant and so I believe we have an even better deal. There are other examples in scripture too with others. Then His grace leads to repentance.

    • Colleen G. says:

      We cannot “give him legal rights”. We do not own our souls. Jesus bought them with His blood if we are saved. I do agree that we will suffer the earthly consequences of any sins we commit. We can give the devil a way in to tempt and decieve us but he cannot own us. He is a thief and a liar.

  7. Marianne Badenhorst says:

    I’m looking forward!

  8. Why would Paul mention the Armour of God in Ephesians 6 if we don’t have to use it because we are already saved forever and not need to stand firm against the wails of the enemy. The good news is, he did and we can apply it before the enemy of this world starts to roam by like a hungry lion. I am sure we will see this passage in the upcoming post, I am looking forward to it. God Bless brother.

  9. I’m often struck with confusion when I see the first argument you list here – “Can you spot the difference?” Don’t you agree that there is still one “if you do” statement in the new covenant – “if you believe in Jesus Christ?” How is this different from the old covenant “if you do” statements? Please help clear this up for me, or lead me to another article. I am often immersed in a culture of Christians who press into non-Christians with the “if you believe in Jesus Christ” condition. Of course this is ineffective nearly always. Any “if you” statement implies conditional grace, but as we know, God’s love is unconditional…

    The difference that I come up with between the old covenant’s conditional love and the new covenant’s “if you believe” (also seemingly conditional) ends up not being a difference at all… rather just a newer revelation of what God was saying all along – that it is God who makes a man righteous, not the man himself. So, I guess what strikes me is that the “Can you spot the difference” diagram is a tactic that draws people towards God through love, not law. I call it a tactic because I really believe that there is an “if you do” statement that exists in the new covenant which is intentionally left out of the diagram. Maybe you believe that “if you do” statements have no positive effect on nonbelievers because it implies conditional love. But don’t you agree that whether a man believes in Jesus or not is brought on by God anyway – making it not conditional to man but to God?

    I hope there’s a question in all of that you think is answerable. LOVE the posts!!
    THANKS!!!

    • well, there is only one sin that is unforgivable… the only one Jesus’ work on the cross didn’t send away… and that is the sin of not believing in Jesus’ work on the cross! (john 16:9)
      when Jesus said “for judgement I came into this world” (john 9:39) He was essentially saying ‘for decision I came into this world…’ Jesus IS the decision! deciding (judging) to believe – or to not believe – in Him is the only work required by each man (john 6:29)

  10. I am so excited and looking forward to your posts Paul. ” If you are willing and obedient you will eat the fat of the land”. This keeps ringing in my ears.Yikes!Of course my pastor serves it with a spoonful of sugar so it goes down better.I think I have two lenses and I need to replace the one that causes me to not see as well changed..Just the prelude is amazing.Thank you again.

  11. THANK YOU PAUL,I was beginning to wear down,question my own position,my catholic friend was going hot and heavy,and beginning to start in on { you also can get kicked out of heaven]. Did you know that,anyway looking forward to the reinforcement,you dont want to be a lone ranger. You can get picked off.

    earl

  12. jeanmarata says:

    Excited to see your next post Paul.🙂

  13. Paul, in the first chapter of your book, you talk about the transformative power of grace and how we are changed not by trying harder but by realizing the true attributes of God. This topic of eternal security is so important because it says volumes about who we think God is and isn’t. I’m starting to believe that until you understand that you are eternally secure NO MATTER WHAT, you can’t fully allow God to transform you because the transformative power comes from believing the news about who He is.

    Also, SO TRUE about insecurity preachers who never question their own salvation. I could never understand how they could be so sure and me not.

  14. Bravo! Cannot wait to hear about my eternity.

  15. Paul you’re a man after my own heart and as I love humor and laughter too love your messages and pics. It’s all about love .
    Aren’t we blessed with His goodness! Let it flow through me and you
    Thank you both for your time and pursuing God to give to others.Bless you and your family
    Rosemary Andrews

  16. I know some people say ‘once saved, always saved’ and others say ‘perseverance of the saints.’ I heard on the radio the term ‘perseverance of the Savior’ based on John 6:37-40. It is God’s will that everyone who comes to Him will be saved on the last day. I like this expression because it takes the pressure off of us and puts the focus where it should be, on Christ.

  17. I have a question about insecurity preachers that I’ve been wondering about for a long time. Sorry that it’s a little off topic. And I’m not trying to engage in godless chatter; I’m just trying to understand how to reconcile my beliefs. I have heard of and known some insecurity preachers who claim to have spiritual gifts like prophecy and healing. Many of them have great faith and yet preach more about hell than heaven and more about human effort than Christ’s finished work. Does God use people who preach this way to heal and perform miracles?

    The reason I ask is because if they are healing and performing miracles through the power of God, it always makes me feel that they must therefore be ‘right’ about their claims about eternal security. It always becomes a right/wrong issue for me.

    • I don’t believe God uses anybody. Love doesn’t use people.

      But I understand what you’re saying. If someone heals a cripple or has a profound word of knowledge, everyone’s going to sit up and listen to whatever they say next. But moving in the supernatural is not a sign that a person knows Jesus. Consider Balaam or the magicians of Egypt. Matthew 7:21-23 also comes to mind. That said, there are many who sincerely love Jesus, perform signs and wonders, and yet preach law and condemnation to the saints. I don’t think they are lost – just terribly misguided.

      Jesus said we would recognize them by their fruit – not their works or their miracles but their fruit. In other words, do they look like Jesus? Are the revealing the character of a loving and gracious God? Or are they revealing Moses and Elijah? As I will explain in a later post, one sign that a Christian has gone astray is they become more and more ungodly (2 Tim 2:16). Better to be with one who knows how to love than one who has faith that can move mountains but no love.

  18. Christo van der Rijst says:

    Hi guys. I love this website. To me to have found this website and to read through the things I have been reading through was life changing and in a way it felt like winning the lotto. I’ve been set free from so many wrong views and beliefs that affected my walk with the Lord and my life in general. I’ve learned that God freely loves me, forgave all my sins, remembers them no more, don’t record them, He gives me the gift of permanent righteousness and no condemnation and is pleased with me all because of Christ Jesus. I have permanent peace with Him, I’m acceptable to Him and have permanent access to His throne all because of Jesus and not because of my works or law keeping. I have two questions that i need answers to and would appreciate your comments.

    1) If God sees me as pure and blameless, and remembers and sees my sins no more and is well pleased with me and is not angry with me based on what Jesus did for me then is it true that I no longer hurt or disappoint Him when I do something thats wrong be it deliberate, or because of wrong beliefs or weaknesses?

    2) Does God refuse me access to His throne or do I lose fellowship with Him if there is deliberate sin in my life or does He burden me with a heavy lack of peace in my heart when I come to fellowship with Him if there is deliberate sin in my life?

    I’m not looking for a license to sin I’m trying to see and understand better how to relate to God. I believe my motive for turning from sin should be to have the life that God offers and not to avoid punishment or lose salvation.

  19. Charles Indonesia says:

    Paul, the picture looks like Rob Rufus. You naughty boy, you..😀

  20. You are right, we can not be saved by our own effort. But nowhere in scripture does it say “once saved always saved” or that we have no part to play in our salvation. Here is the way I view it. There are no contradictions in scripture. For example if one verse says that we are saved through faith(Eph 2:8)and another says we are saved through baptism(1 Peter3:21 “baptism…now saves you”) then we must accept both as truth, therefore both faith and baptism are required for salvation. There are many Scriptures that warn Believers that they have a part to do in their OWN salvation. Phil 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING, and Rom 11 21 So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches,NEITHER WILL HE SPARE YOU. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, PROVIDED YOU CONTINUE IN HIS KINDNESS. OTHERWISE YOU TOO WILL BE CUT OFF. These warnings can be found in every book in the NT so if I accept “once saved always saved” I would have to reject, ignore, spin or find some way to neutralize these many many scriptures, which do not wish to do.

  21. Paul, I most ask, was part of my post left out? what I posted above was a cut and paste of my catholic friends response to me.

    • Comments that are lengthy, have bits cut and pasted from someone else, or are unrelated to the post being discussed are usually deleted. If I’m feeling generous, I’ll trim them. Here’s why.

  22. Randall Lawrence says:

    …lost my salvation about 10,000 times growing up…what a wonderful surprise when i found out that my salvation (Jesus) never lost me…..

  23. I love that you encourage people on the security of their salvation. For a long time I was afraid I would lose my salvation. Thankful God has delivered me from that fear. I do have a question, however, I have heard stories of people who where saved and then denied there faith to become atheists or join some other faith. Did these people lose their salvation or where they ever saved in the first place? Sometimes I want to tell people that I believe that you can never lose your salvation, but I honestly would not be able to answer that question.

    • Hi Amanda, I don’t think I could honestly answer that question either. More to the point, I don’t think we should even ask that question of others (“Are they/were they saved?”) for we are not to judge others. Preach the good news to all and let the Lord do the rest. I think we may be surprised by who we meet in eternity.

    • Honestly I think a person could be mistaken. I was supposedly saved when I was very small. I was young enough that I did not remember praying the prayer that my mother said I prayed for salvation. I do however remember being baptized not long afterward. Throughout childhood I was very interested in the things of God and appeared to be a good Christian kid. Long story short 4 years ago I ended up on the brink of throwing Christianity out the door. I was depressed, burned out and had a blackness in my core that no amount of bible study and “holy living” could get rid of.
      God got some information into my hands that not only had me questioning if I was really saved but also showed that the kind of Christianity I had was very rules based. It was a double release. I was not sure of my pervious salvation status until I realized that two things had happened. My core blackness was gone and then all those confusing, conflicting parts of scripture started making sense and fitting together. The one atheist I ran into was not really rejecting Jesus just the lousy version of Christianity he had been given. I am confidant the Spirit will bring him around once he has healed from the religious crud he went through.

    • hi Amanda since God looks on the heart, its his call,he’s the judge but once he saves you your saved,,I have seen some people over the years that made me wonder, I believe the very core of growth is to know how saved you are , NO ONE can take you out of his hands,even at a young age,i was a god chaser,I chased him till he caught me,When you know your eternally secure, youve got some roots into the rock,and the rock aint goin no where. he will not leave you nor forsake you,which im glad of, because I cant live up to that.

  24. I have been listening to ______________ on this very thing. He teaches you can throw your salvation away& if you do you can never come back, but you have to be a mature Christian walking in the fullness of God. You will be reprobate.

    • I am familiar with this teaching and disagree with it for all the reasons I’ve outlined in this series on eternal security. The point is this – we are kept by Jesus not ourselves. The idea that we can become reprobates is a church tradition, not a Biblical one. As far as I’m concerned, not one reprobate is unequivocally identified in the New Testament. The idea that a Christian could become reprobate by renouncing their faith and putting themselves beyond Christ’s reach was unthinkable to them.

      • So you are not in agreement of this teaching, I was afraid when I heard it because I m guilty I have said things I’m not proud of.

  25. Looking forward to it Yoda.

  26. If you know Romans 10.9 has EVER applied to you then you are FOREVER saved.
    End of.

  27. Getrude Newman says:

    This post is awesome…..how I wish the whole world will know this truth

  28. Nice series! Finished reading every post in it. Was wondering if you could comment on Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8. I thought even future sins were forgiven when you believe but seems to me this is an exception.

    • Why do you say that? Because Peter got really angry and said, “You’d better hope the Lord forgives you”? Which is a classic Peter-line in my view. It’s like saying, “Jesus died for our sins, but I’m sure he died for that one. That one’s a biggie!”

  29. Paul, when I first found out how great E2R is I pulled up every back blog post, copied them to a Word document, and sent them to my Kindle (took a long time!). So I have these as a wonderful devotional whenever I feel like dipping into them. Apart from the Holy Spirit – Joseph Prince and yourself have been the people that God has used most to teach me about real grace. I like your comment here about reading the Bible through the proper lens. It has been so true in my life. The Holy Spirit has never indicated to me that I need to back off this grace thing and find a little more balance. Just the opposite. The thing is that, when balance and mixture creep in, I find myself slipping into doubt and maybe even sin or sadness. More grace is prescribed. It doesn’t come naturally to us. So I put in another JP sermon on the cd player in my car, or read another E2R post. I really mean this when I say THANK YOU for what you do. My current walk with God would not be the same without it.

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