By Bob Wilkin
If you stop loving Jesus, do you lose your salvation? A reader asks some heartfelt questions:
I am so confused about the logical outcomes of the theology being taught here [www.faithalone.org] and other grace doctrinal theologies. No doubt I agree with a lot of it, but I don’t know what to think about my son who now hates Christ but at one time seemingly did not. Could someone still be a Christian while denying it all? Then too there are rapists and murderers who professed Christ. If they all believed at one moment like Martha, then I’m confused. I also know the lordship camp has holes in their theological boat too. ~R.M.
The problem here is not Scripture. The Scriptures are clear that whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ has everlasting life that can never be lost no matter what happens in the future (John 3:16; 5:24; 6:35, 47; 11:25).
The problem is twofold.
First, it does not seem fair that bad people should be able to get into Jesus’ kingdom. We tend to think that ungodly people must become godly people in order to have everlasting life. If bad people could have everlasting life, then it seems that people could misuse the grace of God to indulge their fleshly desires.
Second, most pastors and theologians teach that the only people who will make it into Christ’s kingdom are those who persevere in faith and good works. So, the people R.M. mentions either will repent and get back on track, thus showing that they really are born again, or they will not, and the result would be that they end up being eternally condemned.
Let’s deal with those objections in reverse order.
It does not matter what most pastors and theologians teach. God tells us in His Word the condition of everlasting life. If most preachers and theologians say something contrary to God’s Word, then they are wrong. We must believe what God says, not what our favorite preacher or teacher says.
The issue about bad people is very practical. R.M. views certain people, like murderers and rapists and people who hate Jesus, as bad people. So, who are the good people? Are good people those who avoid the big sins? If only “good people” have everlasting life, then salvation requires good works on our part. How many? There is the rub. One million good works and one sin would send a person to hell (Rom 3:21-31; Gal 3:10; Jas 2:10). Only God is good in the absolute sense. Jesus said, “No one is good but One, that is, God” (Matt 19:17; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19). When we believe in Jesus, then our faith is accounted to us as righteousness (Gen 15:6; Rom 4:1-5).
What Did He Believe?
What about R.M.’s son? Is he born again, even though he now hates Jesus? He is if he ever believed in Jesus for the free gift of everlasting life. R.M. does not say that. He says that at one time his son did not hate Jesus. But did he ever believe in Him for his eternal salvation? If yes, then he is born again, even though now he hates Jesus.
If we must persevere in faith and good works to be saved, then no one can be sure of his eternal destiny until after he dies. We all would be doomed to go through life fearing an eternity in the lake of fire because we cannot be sure that we will persevere (1 Cor 9:27). But that is not what the Lord Jesus said. He said that if we believe in Him, then we know that we have everlasting life that can never be lost (John 11:26a). Our eternal destiny is not contingent upon our persevering in faith and good works.
Bob Wilkin is Executive Director of Grace Evangelical Society. He lives in Highland Village, TX, with his wife of 45 years, Sharon. He is an avid bridge player and marathon runner.