One of the theological traps leading to the idea that spiritual growth is optional, or that spiritual growth requires no work, is the doctrine of perseverance of the saints, also known as OSAS (Once Saved Always Saved).
Let me start by saying I believe OSAS. Let me rephrase it so there is no confusion: I believe that once a person is saved they will remain saved. If you’re in the Son’s hands, who is in the Father’s hands, no one can pluck you out. The Holy Spirit is the seal until the day of redemption. Just two verses to lay the foundation.
However, OSAS has come to mean, “If you said the prayer you are saved and always saved.” Or along the Calvinist line, “If you are the elect you are saved apart from anything you did, are doing, or will do.”
If you think perseverance of the saints or OSAS means either of these things, you are out to lunch at 3am.
I have heard people console those with doubts about their salvation by saying, “Do you remember when you asked Jesus into your heart? Then stop worrying! You’re saved!”
This is tragic logic that has led many an assured person straight to hell. It is vital to know that assurance and security are two different things. There are many with eternal security who feel no assurance, and there are many who feel assured who have no eternal security.
Don’t assume that doubt=no salvation, and don’t assume no doubt=salvation.
Paul says “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
We are to examine and see if Christ is in us. There is no reason to examine unless there is doubt. Paul seems to be saying, “Doubt yourself, check.” Remember, the heart is deceitful, one of Satan’s plans is to make you feel safe so you don’t worry about danger.
“But you just freak everyone out then! Do you really want people to doubt their salvation?”
Yes, yes I do. The state of the Gospel is horrendous. People’s understanding of the Bible is awful. Just because you asked Jesus into your heart as a six-year-old means absolutely, positively nothing.
A judgment is coming on your salvation. Paul encourages us to test ourselves before the real deal to make sure we pass. What’s the test we give ourselves? Is Christ in you? How do I know that?
—you are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge
—you don’t walk after the flesh but after the Spirit
—you die daily for Christ, not living like hedonistic drunks
—you evidence the power of God in your way of life
—you know the love of Christ, the fulness of God and have His power at work in you
—you have the humble, servant mindset of Christ
—you are moving toward perfection
—you desire heaven and heavenly things, not earthly stuff
—you do God’s will
This is a brief list of stuff the Bible says happens to a person who is in Christ. If little of that rings true for you, have absolutely no security at all whatsoever that you are going to heaven and are saved.
I’d rather you hear it from me while there is still time than to hear it from your Creator when it is too late.