For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. Titus 2:11-15
I was recently reminded of a conversation I had with a young lady I met while out sharing the Gospel one night. While speaking about her self-admitted lifestyle of sin and worldliness she looked at me and said “but I was raised to believe in once saved always saved so it doesn’t really matter”. I could have offered her a treatise on what the word of God says to willful sinners who profess Christ, but the Lord gave me something else instead. Arguing doctrine with someone in such a poor spiritual condition is usually fruitless since it is the greatest defense of the professing believer. They will not easily hand over their shield that has protected and defended them so well. It usually has the support of those they view as religious leaders, those who they’ve attended Sunday service with, and their own flesh. Attacking the doctrine often will only cause the barriers to be fortified; sometimes it is best to go straight for the heart of the matter.
I just looked at her and softly said something to the effect of “imagine a young woman married to the most wonderful man in the world who says ‘it’s ok if I cheat on my husband whenever I want, he’s vowed not to divorce me.’ Christ died to purchase you back from the devil, to demonstrate Gods love, to make you his spotless bride, and this is your response, boasting in your unfaithfulness to him?” She looked down ashamed, and her boyfriend who had less of a Christian background even looked ashamed. I hope they both left the conversation under Godly sorrow that night.
I actually do believe in the perseverance of the saints, that Gods word gives assurance and comfort to His true saints that they will be kept, sanctified, made holy, overcome, endure until the end, not love their lives unto death, be found spotless and blameless, clothed in Christ, using their wills but ultimately saved and kept by an act of sovereign mercy of God working and willing in them. To paraphrase one brother “God’s grace will embolden the true saint to pursue a deeper love and obedience to Christ, and it will embolden the false convert to continue in sin and worldliness”.
With that being said, I do NOT believe in OSAS , the perseverance of the false converts, that gives false assurance to those living in habitual sin and worldliness because they have claimed some interest in Jesus Christ though church attendance, a sinners prayer, alter call, baptism, mental profession of faith, born in the bible belt, etc. The grace of God that saves teaches us to deny ungodliness. I am not talking about sinless perfection either (a superficial doctrine that has only the appearance of holiness). After we’ve done all of our duties, we have to realize it is not of him who wills or runs but of God who shows mercy. Christ covers the sins of His people and they are saved by His merits. If that truth emboldens you to sin, or gives you comfort to keep sinning, then it is a good sign that Christ does not cover your sins and you are not saved by His merits.