My book came out with a chapter on this epigram so often heard in evangelical churches, Once saved, Always saved. I said it was over sold and I thought people should stop saying this because I had met so very many people who had no evidence of salvation.
Now I didn’t mean that they stop drinking or smoking or getting mad and mouthing off. We are not saved by our behavior; we are not dammed by our behavior. God said it was the heart that needed help not the outside of our bodies. “The heart of man is evil above all things and desperately wicked.” God was pretty pointed in saying that!
Too many people accept Christ as their savior with only mental assent. They say in public, “I believe Jesus saved me. And now I get to go to heaven.” And they walk out and nothing at all in their lives in changed especially their attitude. It is just as futile as you being told you have a full scholarship to Harvard and never go to Boston to start your studies. It won’t cost you a dime but you have made no move forward with a changed life. If your life is not changed you can hardly be much of a believer.
Jesus is not life insurance or fire insurance as evangelists like to call it. It is an “exchanged life.” That is, your old bad person starts to melt away and the better angels of Jesus Himself enter your person. Your personality does not change – if you are funny or a talented singer, or a quick study or a generous person with many friends- none of that changes. But if you harbor in your heart unforgiveness, or malice or revenge, or hidden depression or blame – then that is not Jesus because that is not the real Him.
Many times we hear people talk abut how salvation changes them; and others see it. It does not need to be dramatic, just that others can recognize that what you once were is sloughing off like a threadbare winter coat worn on the inside.
The second problem is that allowing unchanged people to claim the evidence they do not have really does them no favor. They slip and slide through life, making bad decisions and wondering why God doesn’t help them out. The pastors make no advance to help them. Then they become more lost.
If we are going to expect people to have changed lives we need to guide them through where we have walked, not in a condemnatory way but realizing that even in the Kingdom of God you can benefit by a Buddy System.