May 31, 2009

Federally Backed Security

Nations are currently experiencing the most volatile economic period in a generation. Many investors have made moves to reduce their risk and put their treasure into securities backed by the U.S. federal government. The government gives us its word that it will guarantee deposits up to a certain amount. If that institution falters, will our financial peace of mind endure?

The stakes are even higher when we consider the treasure of our souls. What guarantee do you have that you are headed toward an eternity of joy rather than an eternity of judgment?

Many Christians would answer that they have eternal security and quickly cite the verse: “Once saved, always saved.” Can’t find that in your Bible? Neither can I. This phrase can be harmless. Yet there is the potential for an anemic Christianity to accompany this mind set. 

What we do find in the Bible is a bit more sobering and a lot more comforting than “once saved, always saved.” We find real warnings of apostasy for presumptuous church members — Christians in name only (Luke 6:46–49; Heb. 6:4–8). We find that a Christian’s assurance of salvation is guaranteed not by a profession of faith or some momentary zeal for Jesus. The Bible tells us to continually cling to Jesus, and therein lies our hope (see John 6:39; 10:27–29).

So our hope is not in who we are or what we did. Jesus is the guarantee of our salvation (Phil. 1:6). John Bunyan illustrates this in the pages of Pilgrim’s Progress. In the Interpreter’s house, Pilgrim is taken into a room and shown a fireplace full of flames. On one side of the fireplace, there is a man dousing the flames with buckets of water. Pilgrim is then shown the other side of the wall where another is fueling the fire with oil and the flames grow brighter. The observer is taught that while the Devil tries to extinguish the work of grace in the believer’s heart, Christ “continually, with the oil of His grace, maintains the work already begun in the heart.”

We persevere because God preserves us in Christ, our federal head. Those united to Christ experience secure, eternal benefits, for Jesus never defaults on His promises.