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Question and Answer

Is it true that we don’t actually accept salvation until our point of earthly death, until we’ve sacrificed our life up to the last breath for the will of God? Is it true, as I believe, that we can accept forgiveness on earth, and be under God’s grace, yet decide to come out of it, completely turning down God and the gifts God has prepared for you in heaven? Is it true, as I also believe, that not until we enter the gates of heaven and hear God say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant,” will we be secure from the possibility of falling away? I base my views on Romans 8:38–39; Hebrews 6:3–6, and 2 Timothy 2:12b.

I think I count three questions, each with an answer attached. If my understanding of Scripture is correct, your answers are misguided, and your interpretation of the verses you cite confused. Salvation is granted immediately upon acceptance of (that is, belief in) Christ as Savior. See John 3:16, 36, and other texts that stress that salvation is a present possession. We believers have (not may get) salvation. True, it will be fully realized when we get to heaven, but until we get there—by death or by the Second Coming—we are saved and, therefore, eternally safe. The gift of salvation is not given on the basis of sacrificial living for God, and it is not withdrawn for failure to live sacrificially. It is guaranteed by an unchanging, irrevocable promise of God (see John 10:27–30).

Those who “decide to come out of (God’s grace)” were never “under it.” They are apostates, not backsliders or lukewarm believers. Ponder the texts cited here, and rejoice in “the kindness and love of God our Savior . . . [who] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:4–8).

BY C. Donald Cole

C. DONALD COLE hosted Moody Radio’s Open Line for 26 years before retiring in 2008. Before joining the team at the Moody Bible Institute in 1971, Pastor Cole and his wife, Naomi, served the Lord as missionaries in Angola from 1948 until 1966. Pastor Cole then served as a faculty member of Emmaus Bible College of Dubuque and as editor of Interest magazine.

Pastor Cole authored several books, and was married to his wife Naomi for 65 years before he went home to the Lord in 2012.

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