I am concerned about this issue for two reasons. First, I am worried about many evangelical Christians who are spiritually misguided. They presume to be saved and to be eternally secure but as a matter of fact they are still lost and in danger of the fire of hell. I am also very much concerned about the false impression that Catholics and other have of the evangelical message. The popular ‘gospel’ proclaimed in many evangelical circles is a caricature of the real one. I do not fault Catholics who oppose and reject it.
A young man, let’s call him Ben, attends an evangelistic meeting. He hears the message and responds to the altar call. He makes a decision for Christ and prays the sinner’s prayer. His heart is full of joy. Ben is told that since has placed his faith in Christ, he is now saved and that he has eternal life. He can be sure that, come what may, he will spend eternity in heaven. ‘Once saved, always saved,’ they tell him.
Or is it possible that Ben has been deceived?
Was the message that he heard the true gospel or some perversion of it (2 Cor 11:4)? Is the altar call and walking the aisle a biblical practice or merely a human tradition? Is salvation based on a human decision; does not the Bible explicitly teach that a person is not born again by the human will (John 1:13)? Can someone recite a prayer with his mouth while his heart is still unrepentant (Isa 29:13)? Is joy the certain proof of a genuine spiritual experience; are not human emotions excited by many other things (Luke 8:13)? Can his profession of faith be false (Matt 7:21)? What if he does not continue in the faith (Col 1:23)? What if his faith remains fruitless and devoid of good works (James 2:14)? What if he continues to love the world (1 John 2:15)? What if he continues to walk in darkness of sin, immorality and greed (I John 1:6)? What if he has no love for the brethren (I John 3:14)? And what if he refuses to walk in obedience to the commandments of the Lord (1 John 2:4)?
Ben’s assurance is a lie. He has no scriptural reason to consider himself saved; indeed he has many scriptural reasons to believe that he is not.
Dear friend, if you can identify yourself with Ben, please reconsider your spiritual condition before the Lord God. You are not ‘always saved’ – actually you were never saved. Once you were lost and in great danger; now you are worse off because you are deceived, thinking that all is well, when in fact you are still in your sins. Please do not dismiss this solemn warning. It would be a hopeless tragedy to hear Christ’s condemnation, “I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
(Gospel e-Letter - September 2016)
See also: Can salvation be lost?