It’s unfortunate that while the Church watched out for the more well-known errors propagated by the likes of Latter Day Saints and Jehovah Witnesses, no less insidious teachings have stealthily crept in into the mainstream Church, mainly directed at the youths, without most people catching a whiff of them. The doctrine of Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS) holds that it is solely God’s responsibility to save a believer and keep him saved. So far so good. However the doctrine quickly EMPHASISES an adjunct statement: nothing such a believer does or fails to do, including lifestyle choices, can ever affect his status as a candidate for heaven. As a matter of fact, a well-respected Nigerian Bishop insisted that a Christian bothering to confess his sins is only trying to add work to grace; and that no one needs bother to notice or confess sins, as they are continuously automatically cleansed the moment they are committed. They reason: Why bother to ask for forgiveness of sins when the Bible clearly says your sins are forgiven in 1 Jhn 2:12? But these deceived souls still believe they could, for instance, pray for healing, even though the Bible also talks about us already being healed by His stripes (1 Pet. 2:24)!
How exactly would this work out in practice when people’s consciences are deliberately deadened to sin? Ironically, it is the same Scripture that encourages us to confess our sins and receive guaranteed forgiveness (1 Jhn 1:8) that is turned upside down, with the strange teaching that the admonition applies only to “those who are only saved” but not “born again.” The supposed distinction being that it was only after the death and resurrection of Jesus that born again saints started to be made. By this audacious falsehood, all the Apostles, including Peter who affirmed their faith in Jesus and confessed Him as the Son of the Living God, were NOT born again. By this simple token also, EVERY teaching or commandment of the Lord Jesus is summarily dismissed as irrelevant to “Saints” or “New Creation realities”; as there were supposedly none of these in His days. Ditto, all the admonitions in the Epistles to be spirit-minded, to not give room for deception, etc are adjudged irrelevant to the one who is in Christ Jesus! With probably millions of mainly young people embracing these dangerous propositions, believing they have come into contact with some superior “present truth” revealed to some select end-time saints, it is clear we are living in perilous times indeed!
Apparently, the need for this destructive carnal doctrine is rooted in people struggling endlessly with besetting sins and addictions. Instead of counselling such people to restitute their ways (as suggested in Gal. 6:7), they are encouraged to live with it in good conscience. Here is a standard counsel offered in this respect: “If you have been taught that YOUR ADDICTION OR SINFULNESS has caused you to fall from grace, you have been taught wrong. That is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible teaches that you have fallen into grace. HOLD YOUR HEAD UP, hold your hand out, receive God’s grace. You have not fallen from grace because of YOUR ADDICTION OR SIN. You have fallen into grace.” It’s amazing how people could be goaded into believing such deception from the devil.
It is of course important that Christians be assured of the validity and robustness of their salvation (1 Jhn 5:13, 1 Pet. 1:18-20). But in the same breath, we must not lose sight of the responsibility that goes with this grace. In the words of the Apostle Paul, after being saved freely by God’s mercy and grace, we need to show that we appreciate our new status by walking “worthy” of it.(Eph. 4:1ff, 1 Pet 1:17). The Lord warned that Pearls are not for pigs! (Mat. 7:6)
The nature of spiritual warfare
Clearly, a devil who has no other weapon but deceit must do all he could to hide his identity and thus get people, if possible, to cast off restraints and become especially vulnerable to him. (2 Cor. 11:14, 1 Pet. 5:8, Jhn 10:10)
Man remains volitional, even after salvation. Free to choose between carnal-mindedness or spirit-mindedness; hence the copious encouragement to choose spirit-mindedness over carnality (Rom. 8:1,4,6; Gal. 5:16,25). Salvation is available to whosoever would believe in the Son of God, and call on Him for salvation (Jhn 1:12, Rom 10:9-10, 13). It is totally free for the asking, as the Lord Jesus had paid the full price from the foundation of the world (Heb. 4:3, Rev. 13:8). Salvation, as it were, restores to Eden; but even in Eden, before the Fall, Man was volitional (Gen. 2:16-17). There are consequences to whichever choice we make – even after salvation (Rom 8:6, Acts 1:25).
The appeal to the lusts of the flesh, of the eye, and the pride of life is the devil’s major arsenal. From the first Adam (Gen. 3:6) to the second Adam (Mat 4:1-10), and definitely till today (I Jhn 2:15-16). Satan seeks to push people off the limits of legitimate liberty and pleasure, across the thin line into the Lusts. The Bible encourages us not to make provision (or justification etc) for the flesh and its Lusts (Rom 13:14). Rather, the devil must be resisted, by faith, after we have fully submitted to God (Jas 4:7, I Pet 5:8-9). At the present time, a true believer is saved from the power of sin, but not yet from the presence of sin (Rom 6:12-14, 1 Pet. 1:17). That comes only when we see the Lord in glory (1 Jhn 3:2-3).
Of Response, Responsibility, and Works
Obedience, response to a free gift, is NOT works to be boasted of. Filling the water pot to the brim with water as instructed and drawing wine of it does not get a reasonable person boasting of having “earned” the wine (Jhn 2:7-9). Rolling away the stone for Lazarus to come out of the grave does not put us in the same league as the Resurrection and the Life, nor does our “efforts” detract from the value of the miracle (Jhn 11:41-44). Same goes for getting empty vessels from the neighbourhood to receive an endless supply of oil from El Shaddai (2 Kings 4:3). None of the efforts involved in these acts of simple obedience could constitute Works to be boasted of! Not obeying ALL that was instructed could truncate miracles though. Indeed, the instruction might be more of God’s way of ‘screening’ out those unworthy of the blessing – as in the case of the rich young ruler in Luke 18:18-24. The Lord Jesus instructed disciples to find out one who was worthy in any city they went to preach, and stay with such folks (Mat. 10:11-13).
Disobedience or non-responsiveness to a free gift does not detract from the value of the gift - it only shows the intended recipient as unworthy. Grace can be rendered vain or frustrated – either by legalism (Gal 2:21, 5:4) or licentiousness (Jude 1:4; 2 Cor 6:1-18, Titus 2:11-12, Heb 12:14-17). In 1 Cor. 15:10, Paul said he laboured extensively in appreciation of the grace he had received. Yet, even that labouring (both the willingness and the doing) was by grace (Phil. 2:13)!