Thursday, February 16, 2017

Can I be saved more than once?

Is it possible to be saved more than one time?  Can we be baptized or born again - again?  What if I received Jesus as my Savior years ago, but fell away? 

Many sacrifices, many times
Prior to the time of Jesus, sins were forgiven based on numerous and continual animal sacrifices.  The book of Leviticus provides very detailed instructions for God’s people to offer sacrifices for sin.  When anyone failed to perfectly follow the Lord’s commandments, it was necessary for blood to be shed for one’s atonement.  However, even that did not completely remove sins, as the Bible states:
“Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins” (Hebrews 10:11). 
However, when Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice, this act was completely sufficient to remove all sins.  As John informs, Jesus “appeared in order to take away sins” (1 John 3:5).    

One sacrifice, one time
The Bible informs us that Jesus Christ did not:
“enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of Himself.  Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrew 9:25-28). 
The Bible is clear that we do not return to offer sacrifices again and again to receive forgiveness for our sins, but Jesus Christ died once for all time.

We can know we are saved
When many people are asked if they will be admitted to heaven after death, they answer, “I hope so” or “I think so”.  Fortunately, we can know for certain in this life that we have eternal life.  The Bible states:
“He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:11). 
We don’t have to hope we have eternal life, we can know.

What if I don’t feel like I’m saved anymore?
The Bible informs that, as believers, “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).  We live not by how we feel, but by faith (assurance, belief) in God’s word.  Does this mean I can live however I want and God will still forgive and accept me?  The Apostle Paul answers this by saying, “Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace?  May it never be!” (Romans 6:15)  Anyone who believes this demonstrates that they do not understand salvation.  Sin is so destructive and evil that God’s Son willingly suffered a horrible death to conquer sin.  Sin is the cause of evil in the world.  Why would anyone who accepts Him as Savior desire to return to sin?  But, sometimes we do, because of addictions or just plain stupidity.

It is important to confess our sins to God, but we do not lose that position as a child of God because we sin, as John points out:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin and if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 1:9, 2:1).
Notice that John uses the term “children”, not unbelievers.  It is evident that he expects children to sin on occasion, but remain in the family.  

What if I fell away from God?
Once you are saved (Acts 16:31) and becomes a child of God (John 1:12), your name is written in heaven (Luke 10:20).  It is possible to move away from the Lord by our own volition, as Jesus illustrated in Luke 15.  Intentionally leaving his father, the “son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country” (Luke 15:13).  After the son had partied hard and tried what the world had to offer (sounds like many of us), he realized he had made a big mistake by leaving his father.  Then, Jesus gave us a template to use in this situation, in which the son said, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (v. 21).  As we know from the story, the father’s response was to immediately accept the son back into the family.  He said, “this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found” (v. 24).  The son did not need to reapply for sonship, he simply needed to return to his father, admit his wrongs, and resume his former position. 

What does it mean to be a child of God?
The Bible states, “to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).  Galatians 3:26 states, “you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”  This is not intended to exclude women, but in the first century, sons were entitled to more inheritance rights from their father because daughters were normally married into other families.  The Bible states “there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).  Once we become a child of God, we may be disciplined (Hebrews 12:7), but remain in the family.  Jesus said:
“I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand” (John 10:27-29).
Once we have come into the family of God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, we are children of God.  Now, it is up to us to believe it and live like children of God.

[Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.]

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