The following is from the Baptist Gadfly blog and was written by me in September 2009 following a debate I had on perseverance. The article was titled
"Presently Saved If..." (see here)
"But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end." (Hebrews 3: 6 KJV)
"For we are (or 'have been') made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end." (vs. 14)
These verses are often cited by those who believe that saved people may become lost. Their argument is that salvation is here promised only to those Christians who persevere, and that the words imply that some Christians will not persevere, and thus not be finally saved. Thus, they lost their salvation when they failed to persevere. Yet, these words do not imply that genuine converts can fail to persevere and lose salvation. They only affirm that perseverence is a proof of genuine conversion.
Future perseverance is proof of genuine conversion
That is, we are presently saved if in the future we remain loyal to Christ. Or, conversion is real only if it is followed by perseverance. Perseverance is the proof of initial salvation. Falling away is proof of false conversion.
The wording of the above verses in Hebrews is not - "and you will be saved (future indicative) if you (future indicative) persevere." It is rather - "you have been, and now are, really saved, if in the future you hold fast to Christ."
1. One was saved in the past if he perseveres in the future.
2. John did not persevere in the future.
3. John was not saved in the past.
1) We are (now) mortal, if (in the future) we die.
2) We are (now) strong, if (in the future) we climb the mountain.
3) We are (now) saved, if (in the future) we persevere.
4) We are (now) children of John, if (in the future) the DNA tests match.
5) We have begun well, if we end well.
6) We are (now) good ground hearers, if (in the future) we bring forth fruit with patience.
Failure to persevere is proof of hypocrisy and a lack of genuine conversion.
"If ye continue in my word, then are ye truly my disciples, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32).
He set up a criterion by which true disciples might be distinguished.
"Jesus said unto them, if God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me." (42)
"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled...If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister..." (Colossians 1: 21-23 KJV)
"We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised." (Hebrews 6:11, 12 NIV)
These verses do not teach not that we are saved now because of a future act after salvation. Present salvation cannot be based upon acts that come after salvation. Events after salvation can only prove or demonstrate the reality of what was assumed.
We cannot, therefore say, "It is now raining, if tomorrow the sun is shining."
Those who persevere have been saved.
Those who do not persevere have not been saved.
If one does not persevere (hold fast), then he was not made a partaker of Christ. If he perseveres, he was (in fact) previously made a partaker of Christ.
Is it the case that only saved people "fall away" from salvation? Is it unscriptural to say of many false Christians that they "fell away"? Is it ever the case that the "good ground hearer" ever "fell away"? Which of the four hearers then "fell away"? Was it not the second and third hearers? The shallow ground hearers and the thorny ground hearers?
"By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain." (I Cor. 15: 2 KJV)
The Apostasy crowd promotes this proposition - "failure to persevere, after becoming a Christian, proves that one was truly saved," was a member of Christ's house, or a partaker of Christ. How contrary to the verses cited above!
Though a genuine child of God may lose many things, he cannot lose his standing with God in Christ. He may fall from some truth, or embrace certain errors, and may fall into temptation and sin, and lose joy, peace, and blessings, but he can never so fall as to be unrecoverable. In fact, the scriptures tell us that God takes the responsibility upon himself to see that they do not fall finally, completely, or totally. He will guarantee their return, their repentance, and their restoration.