By: Dr. Hank Lindstrom
The apostle Peter tells us that there are some passages in the writings of the apostle Paul that are difficult to understand and that some persons would wrestle with these passages unto their own destruction. “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction (II Peter 3:16).” Peter continues to say, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness (II Peter 3:17).”
Now we know that a believer in Jesus Christ can’t be lost. Jesus said, “He that believeth on me hath (has) everlasting life (John 6:47).” And again, “…him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out (John 6:37).” “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day (John 6:39).” But a believer can fall from his steadfastness as to his service for Jesus Christ.
One of the verses that causes a great deal of confusion is the following:
“For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” Hebrews 10:26.
Since the writer of Hebrews includes himself in the group he is addressing in the “we” of the verse, we know that the verse is addressed to Christians. What the verse is saying is that even if we sin willfully as Christians, we are still saved. There is “no more sacrifice” or no additional sacrifice available or necessary than the one-time sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary.
Notice Hebrews 10:10-19. Verse 10 says, “By the which will we are sanctified (made pure and holy) through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Verse 12 says, “But this man (Jesus Christ), after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God.” Verse 14 says, “For by one offering he (Jesus Christ) hath (has) perfected forever them that are sanctified (made pure and holy).” By the way, if you were “perfected forever,” could you be certain of eternal life? The answer would obviously be, “YES”! Verses 17 and 18 say, “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering (no additional offering or sacrifice) for sin.” If you will connect the “no more offering” of verse 18 with the “no more sacrifice” of verse 26, you have the answer. That is, God forgives all of our sin (past, present, future) on the basis of Christ’s death on the cross of Calvary. We need do nothing else to be saved.
As the hymn writer said, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” Even if we sin willfully, we are still saved. Even if we sin willfully, “What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus,” is the one and only answer.
If any one saved person were ever lost, then Jesus Christ would be a liar, because He said in John 6:39 that He would not lose one. If just one person in all of history were lost, then Jesus Christ would be a liar.
Praise the Lord that Jesus Christ is a Savior who will deliver on what He has promised. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath (possesses now) everlasting life (John 6:47).” Jesus Christ promises eternal life as a present possession to all those who believe (trust) in Him.
The heart of all the misunderstanding concerning this subject is the fact that human works or merit have zero to do with salvation. Many scriptures make it clear that we are saved by faith and not by works. For example: John 3:18; Romans 3:24-28; Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-9 and so on.
In addition to this, there are many clear scriptures which teach that anyone who is trusting in works (church membership, baptism, confirmation, living the Christian life, etc.) in addition to faith in Christ will not be saved. (For example: Romans 11:6; Galatians 5:2-4). Thus we are to trust in Christ only to be saved.
The work of salvation was finished on the cross by Jesus Christ himself (Hebrews 1:3). If we want to be saved, then we must believe that Jesus Christ finished the work of salvation on the cross, and receive it as God’s free gift (Romans 6:23).
“I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him (Ecclesiastes 3:14).”
(See also Romans 8:38-39).
This does not mean that the Christian has a license to sin. Hebrews Chapters 10, 11 and 12 describe reward and blessing to that Christian who serves the Lord, and chastisement, scourging, plus loss of reward in heaven to the disobedient Christian. To the disobedient, willfully sinning Christian, Hebrews says, ” … The Lord shall judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:30-31).”
We know that Christians can backslide, but that a Christian can never backslide into hell. “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul (Hebrews 10:39).”
A person who believes that you can lose your salvation is really trusting in works for salvation and is not saved. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8, 9).” Usually the person who says that they can lose their salvation says that you must live a consistent Christian life to keep it. To backslide and die would mean that you would go to hell. To say that what you do or what you don’t do in your future Christian life can effect your salvation is to depend upon conduct, behavior, or works for salvation. And we know that a person who is trusting in works for salvation is not saved.
“…But if be of works, then is it no more grace.” Romans 11:6.
A person standing before God with no grace will go to hell. It is no wonder that the Apostle Peter warned against the error of the wicked (unsaved) and how they would wrestle with a difficult passage to their own destruction (II Peter 3:16, 17).
Even though there are dozens and dozens of clear verses that teach we are saved by grace through faith and eternally saved (Example: John 3:16-18), these persons will not accept plain truth but hang all their doctrine on a “passage that is hard to be understood (II Peter 3:16-17).”
“He that believeth on Him is not condemned, but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18).”
If you are a believer you ought to be serving the Lord, but even if you sin willfully, you are still saved. God loves you that much. His great love and faithfulness ought to constrain us to live daily for Him (II Corinthians 5:14).