One thing that has come up form time to time in “theological” discussions that I’ve had is the debate over the “possession” of salvation. The whole thing becomes a battle between the names “once saved always saved” and “you can lose your salvation.” The people who believe “once saved always saved” I have come to see go into a ditch of, “I accepted Jesus! I can do what I want! I will never go to hell because I’m always saved!” Eh… no. Then there’s the other side of the spectrum (again the extreme), “I’m saved and Christ has forgiven me of all past, present, and future sin BUT I still have to follow all his commands and live right or else I might be in sin and possibly lose my salvation and GO TO HELL!!!” I understand that not everyone is extreme with these doctrines, but from what I’ve seen there is a fear of both doctrines from the “opposing” parties.
I’m talking about accusations of “greasy grace” or “heretical grace” versus the persecution of people who try to live right and honestly want to be good people but seem to be in bondage of something called “legalism.” I’m not just talking about extreme legalism as much as I’m talking about subtle legalistic overtones of thinking preaching grace is a “grace that is too free” or “grace as a license to sin.” Seriously guys. We gotta be a bit more open minded…
Here is what grace is. Grace comes from the identity in Christ that was granted to us so that we are seen and actually become the Righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Here’s the other aspect. Jesus was holy and righteous (still is) so that we could be since we could never do it on our own (what the Law of Moses proved). The righteousness that we have received THROUGH FAITH is not something we earn nor have had anything to do with accomplishing as spiritual law in our life. We simply receive through faith. After that there is nothing we can do to become more or less holy because IT IS FINISHED. Here’s where it gets fun. Grace can be seen as leeway but it kind of isn’t at the same time. Grace is the freedom that has been granted to us after the law was fulfilled through Christ. The freedom from the law which demands a perfection that is impossible without grace. However, under grace we are Sons of God, righteous, blameless, sinless (remission of sins), and free from the curse of sin (the nature) YET we still may commit the “act” of sinning. Does this therefore nullify our Salvation and remove the grace that is upon our life? NO! Why? Jesus paid for it. The true nature of Grace is to empower you to understand that YOU ARE FREE FROM SIN! It helps you to see the finished work of Christ already factual in your life even though you may still seem to “not get it” through some of your actions. If someone were to be able to truly understand grace for what it really means, they would not “commit” sin. Why? They understand they’re free from it and it become natural for them now to do it. So it comes down to understanding what you are truly free from. Not what you can and cannot do. It’s when LAW is introduced that the nature to rebel/sin comes from being told to do some things and not to do others. Grace is to help you see who you really are in Christ.
An example that the Lord showed me was through parents. Before I give this analogy, I’d like to state I understand there are people out there who may not have had great parents who had brought them up and I’m sorry for that. I hope this can still relate to you guys. The example I saw was when I was growing up my parents go to know me and taught me things to do that helped me in life. They taught me that certain things were not good to do and some things that were smart to do. Things like don’t drink, smoke, have sex before marriage and stuff like that (typical “Christian” stuff). They taught me “old fashioned” values that really helped me. As I grew older though, I became a Christian at a younger age and had had a relationship with Christ for at least 7 years now (almost 8) and some ideas and beliefs I made for myself. I never really had any intention growing up into a teenager to drink, do drugs, smoke, sleep around or any of that. The thing though is that I didn’t want to do those things because I didn’t want to, not because I couldn’t. It was a part of my identity. Not because “my parents said so.” So because of that, my parents don’t worry if I go out late that I may be drinking, doing drugs, getting in trouble, partying like crazy or anything like that. I just didn’t want to.
The same thing is with Grace. It’s understanding the fact that you are free from sin but in that process, you might make some mistakes and “sin”. You’re still free from sin, you (your mind) just might not get it yet and it’s OK. Your identity in Christ does not come from that, it comes from CHRIST. I will say this also, it doesn’t mean you can go practice sin and go crazy “in the world”. When you get saved, you change. When I’ve told people about how much God loves them and doesn’t judge them for what they do but based on what Christ did for them, they become free! They don’t go running around sinning like a bunch of crazies and go nuts. Grace that shows people that their actions do not dictate their identity is empowering, not restricting. The people in the world that have gone crazy in sin and go nuts are the ones who have been under LAW and do’s and don’ts.
Back to the two doctrines. I have some one question for those who claim those.
“Once saved always saved”
Are you saying that you can do whatever you’d want and go and sin like crazy and still go to heaven (grace as a license to sin?)
“You can lose your Salvation”
Are you claiming that you need to do something to keep it although Jesus paid for it and you had nothing to do with it then and still have nothing to do with it (basically you believe in works?)
Think about these before you claim either one, find the balance and live free!
Written by Guest Writer Amos Webskowski. More of Amos’ work can be seen on his blog: kingdombringer.com