A few Pentecostal teachers today, such as Dr Michael Brown, are attacking so called ‘hyper-grace teaching’, by writing articles in Charisma magazine claiming that those who believe that future sins are forgiven are introducing heresy into the Body of Christ.
Consequently therefore, those who believe that only past sins have been forgiven, believe that you need to ask and receive forgiveness for every sin that you commit from the point of salvation. In extreme cases, some believe that if you die without confessing your latest sin, you may go to hell!
So, can a believer lose their salvation? Did God really design salvation to be that uncertain and precarious? If what Dr Michael Brown is saying is correct, then none of us can sleep safe at night, as at any moment we may be in danger of being plunged into hell for a brief lapse of faith or oversight in confession. I mean, what are the chances of anybody getting saved? This is a doctrine of life-time insecurity! Its hardly peace with God!
Of course, it gets even more complicated when you get down to the detail of individual sins we might commit, because there are not only sins of commission but there are sins of omission. In addition, there also sins we are not even conscious of at all!
James 4:12 “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin.”
To cap it all, Paul declares in Romans 14:23 : “what is not of faith is sin”. This makes it virtually impossible to ever list, confess and repent of all your sins! Maybe then, it would be better to confess all known sin and then commit suicide quick so you go straight to heaven – unfortunately suicide is a sin so, that won’t work either!
Fortunately, this idea, that a believer can lose their salvation through unconfessed sin, is not true. If it were true, then the work of the cross is not sufficient to save the believer completely but is only completed by the endurance of the saint.
It means also, that unconfessed sin can cause the believer to become unrighteous, unjustified, unborn again, unredeemed or even lose eternal life – which doesn’t make sense if its eternal!
What preachers such as Dr Michael Brown are afraid of I believe, is that if future sins are forgiven, then there is no motivation for holiness and the believer will simply abuse grace. In other words grace is a license to sin! I wonder though, how much of this angst comes from a genuine concern for their congregations or rather, that if God’s grace is this good, then they no longer have a big stick to scare their sheep into behavioural change!
In fact, if there is no possibility of abusing grace, then what is being preached is not grace at all! If real grace is being preached, then this question should always come up, as it did in Paul’s exposition of the Gospel when he wrote Romans 6:1:
“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”
If therefore a believer can be lost because of un-confessed sin, then tell me: how he can continue in sin so that grace might abound? How is losing salvation God abounding in grace towards the sinner?
Salvation therefore, is not some kind of probation: in other words you get a free ticket to heaven but make one false move and your out the door without a parachute! Neither, are you paying for passage on this salvation voyage by working for God as one of the ship’s crew. No, he has paid for everything up front and there is nothing to pay back ever. Your in a first class!
This then, is the ‘to good to be true news’ of the Gospel. Can a believer abuse this grace? Yes, but would a genuine believer want to? So, I believe the answer to the question: “Can a believer lose their salvation?” , is a resounding NO!
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