Once Saved, Always Saved?

Opening Thoughts: When I was reading tonight’s text my mind was racing through several scenes that I’ve seen in a few different war movies. These are scenes of victory. Some of the most victorious scenes for me come from Braveheart. I can just see the celebrations now as they come back from the battle field. Or what about in Lord of the Rings when after many grueling and relentless battle’s they win the war and return rejoicing to the shire. This is kind of what we see here in Luke 10. Jesus had just sent the 72 disciples out to minister, and now they are returning very excited and doing victory dances…

Scripture: Luke 10:17-20 ESV [17] The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” [18] And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. [19] Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.
[20] Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

The Victory: I just looked up what it means to be ‘subject’ to someone, it means that the person has sovereign power over you and you must obey. The disciples were so excited, up to this point no one had ever really had control over demons they ruled the wicked and they possessed many. Since Jesus stepped onto the earth the spiritual atmosphere has shifted, the demons are now coming into line and are being obedient to all His commands, even to the point of obeying anyone who has been authorized by Him as well. It’s very important to realize that the disciples had no power in themselves, they weren’t supernatural, they were authorized by Jesus, so they were simply vessels.

Scripture: (Isaiah 14:12 ESV)
[12] “How you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!

Satan’s Fall: If there’s one thing I love, it’s a rip snortin’ thunder and lighting storm. I remember when I was a kid in Saskatchewan, we would have the most amazing storms there. I would lay awake at night sometimes and just watch out the window as the thunder crashed, then I would quickly start counting my steamboats …. 1 Steamboat, 2 Steamboat, 3 Steamboat … Ah there it is, I would then know that the lightening was only 3 miles away. There would be the odd time that I couldn’t even get 1 Steamboat out and the lightening had already touched ground, then I knew it was right on top of me.

This is the analogy that Jesus uses when the disciples come back and tell Him of the demons submission to His Name. Jesus says, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” What that indicates to us is that the collapse of his kingdom was unexpected and sudden. His kingdom, which was once so powerful and had no obstacles, all of a sudden had been overthrown and Satan had been tossed like lightening. The imagery Jesus is using of His sovereignty over all things is amazing, that Satan himself is tossed like a rag-doll at just one mention of Jesus name!

Nothing Shall Hurt You:  Jesus confirms to the disciples that nothing will will hurt them .. [19] Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.” Did Jesus really mean nothing would ever hurt them? Of course not, each of the 11 disciples excluding John were executed, you can’t get any more HURT than dead. What He was talking about was the fact that the demons and the powers of darkness would never be able to destroy them, the ones who belonged to Him would be granted eternal life and would never perish. We see this in John when Jesus is talking about the elect (meaning the ones that God has given Him), He says,

Scripture: John 6:37 ESV [37] All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.

The Elect: This is a topic that has obviously been debated for centuries and I am not going to claim to know it all,however, when you look at a passage like Luke 10 you can’t avoid it. It’s like trying to dodge a small animal on the road only to get into a huge wreck in the process. This is a subject that stares you right in the face and you just can’t look the other way and be truthful. Let’s look at what Jesus says to them: “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” So could we assume that Jesus was talking about all 72 having their names in the book, because that’s what He says “Rejoice that your names are written in heaven”? So, is Jesus saying that all 72 disciples should be excited that their names are written in the Book of Life? Of course not, for Judas, who betrayed Jesus, was referred to by Jesus as “a Devil”. We also know that in John 6:66 many of Jesus disciples walked away from Him and never followed Him again.

Scripture: John 6:66-71 ESV [66] After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. [67] So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” [68] Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, [69] and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” [70] Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” [71] He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.

Gifts, Gifts and more Gifts?: Scripture clearly defines and shows us that not all 72 disciples were true converts, yet Jesus still gave them abilities to go in His Name and do many mighty works. Many people today look at men and women with apparent spiritual authority and gifts and use that as confirmation that they are soundly saved. But if that logic were true then all these disciples would have been saved as well, and John shows us different. The matter of fact is that gifts prove nothing. Gifts are wonderful and they are tools for advancing the kingdom but they are never evidence that someone is genuinely saved.The last thing you ever want to hear is “I never knew you”.

Were They Ever Saved?: I know that there are many people that would say, “Well they were following at one point and they fell away (backslid)”, but does the Bible give any merit at all to that argument? Actually it doesn’t. There are some really small words that are often missed in common passages, like ‘Never’ in the passage below.

Scripture: Matthew 7:21-23 ESV [21] “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. [22] On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ [23] And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The intention of this passage is to reveal some sobering facts, that it is possible to have an appearance of holiness, perform wonders, go to church, pray prayers and still have never been known by God. If Salvation depended on your ability to pray a prayer and try your hardest to Follow Jesus for the rest of your life, there would be no way to have assurance. Salvation is of the Lord the Bible says, it also says that no one comes to Jesus unless the Father draws them. We don’t know who those people are, so preach to everyone and the ones that He is calling will come, that’s His promise.

How Do We Know We’re Saved?: Matthew’s text also clears this issue up well. “I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” What is lawlessness? 1 John tells us that “sin is lawlessness”. In other words our questions to ourselves should be, “Does it look like God has given me a new heart? Do I love sin still, do I practice sin and condone it?” If you answered yes to any of those then it’s time to do what Paul says and “Examine Yourself to see if you’re in the faith”. A good book to do this with is the book of 1 John. If your eternity means anything to you I challenge you to read through 1 John with a tender conscience. If you find that you have failed the test, and you prove to be a spiritual knock-off then get on your knees and cry out to the only one that can save you. Stop depending on a single prayer that you have prayed and start looking for fruit as evidence.

Below are passages for your reference.

1. The first one reveals that anyone who has been given as a gift to Christ by the Father can ever be snatched away.

Scripture: John 10:26-30 ESV [26] but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. [27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. [28] I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. [29] My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. [30] I and the Father are one.”

2. This passage reveals that all names have been recorded in the Book of Life from before the earth was even formed. God does not take backsliders out, like a teacher sitting there with a pencil and eraser taking attendance.

Scripture: Revelation 13:8 ESV [8] and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.

Closing Thoughts: I pray that this post will either convince you more than ever that you are safely in the hands of an amazing God or that you are still desperately in need of a the Savior.

“God has called me to preach His word and if I knew that all the elect had a yellow stripe painted down their backs, then I would give up preaching the gospel and go lift up shirt tails!” ~ Charles Spurgeon

Preparing The Way
~Shane Martin