When the topic of a Christian’s salvation from sin arises in religious conversations, I’ve noticed that there is at times some confusion about what salvation is, how one gets saved, and if it can be retained. Some religious leaders teach that salvation is an ongoing process while others say it is a one-time occurrence that never diminishes or goes away. Whatever side of the argument a person chooses many times depends on two things–what is taught by their congregation and what version of the Bible they read. Salvation, as taught in the Bible, is God’s rescue of an individual from their evil deeds, and the ultimate consequences of those evil deeds of being sent to hell, by receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior.
If one studies the world’s religions, one can find some common threads among those that are not based on God’s truth. One of those common threads is the idea that a religious path requires some form of religious initiation ritual. As New Ager Randall N. Baer said once, “Initiations are all the rage.” But initiations are not the things God prefers. God is concerned primarily with whether or not a person has faith in him and that a person’s faith is backed by obedience to him. Why? Because religious rituals can be done by people without any changes occurring in their sinful hearts. And such rituals don’t bring salvation. On the other hand, when one accepts God’s knowledge and carries out what pleases God from a desire to glorify him, then their faith is proven to God to be genuine. This is why God was pleased with Abraham and was centuries later disgusted with the Hebrews. Salvation was always an act that God planned from the beginning to bring glory to himself. If man could be saved by rituals, then he could walk around boasting about his great accomplishment of saving himself from his sins by his own righteousness.
But I’ll do a comparison of what we can find in the Bibles used by believers regarding salvation–
And someone said to Him, “Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?” [Luke 13:23, NASB]
Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? [Luke 13:23, KJV]
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. [1 Corinthians 1:18, NIV]
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. [1 Corinthians 1:18, KJV]
For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. [2 Corinthians 2:15, NIV]
For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: [2 Corinthians 2:15, KJV]
…you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge… [Colossians 3:9-10, NASB]
…ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge [Colossians 3:9-10, KJV]
As you can see, I used two of the most popular modern versions and compared them with what is printed in the Authorized Version, or King James Version (KJV). The newer versions time and again teach that individuals are in a process of “being saved” or “being renewed” that has the believer looking to a future when they will actually be saved. Their salvation, as taught by newer versions, is contingent upon whether or not they fulfill certain rituals like baptism. This is not the original message taught by Yahweh, Yahweh’s prophets, the Lord Jesus Christ, or the Lord’s disciples in the first century A.D. How do we know? The majority of the manuscripts that were discovered in Asia, Europe, and Africa from the 2nd century to the Middle Ages, which are manuscripts that were used to make the KJV, mention nothing about salvation being a process. These manuscripts are called the Majority Text for that reason.
Newer Bible versions are based on less than 1% of manuscripts, and these manuscripts were dug out of a trash heap discovered in Alexandria, Egypt. They were rejected by those who put the KJV together since they disagreed with the majority of manuscripts found and taught things which disagreed with known scriptures quoted in ancient Israel documents or in writings of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th century believers.
But enough about manuscripts. Back to the topic of salvation–would our just, loving, merciful God want us to be in a state of never being 100% sure of our salvation. If we are constantly in the process of “being saved,” we would never be convinced of where we stand with God since that type of salvation is based on our outward rituals or works. We would never be really sure we are really saved. If salvation is an ongoing process how could we ever know how many wrong things we think, say, or do that would make God say, “Enough! You’re not saved anymore!”? And how many good works would we have to do before he would say, “Very good! You’re saved now.”? God knew before he founded the Earth that mankind would be unreliable, unfaithful, and untrustworthy by our very nature, so why would he institute the salvation he knew we would need based on our unsteady nature?
In the scriptures, we find plenty of witnesses telling believers that we can be assured of our salvation and that it’s a onetime occurrence that never ends. For instance, salvation is also called “eternal life” or “everlasting life.” If our new life is eternal or everlasting, that means that it has no end. I’ve never known anything that’s eternal or everlasting to remain for only a specific amount of time. Additionally, here are other witnesses from the scripture that lets us know we can KNOW, without a doubt, that we are truly saved–
Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; [Hebrews 6:17-19]
All believers are the children of promise like our spiritual father Abraham. When God made an oath to Abraham, and makes oaths to us to confirm his promise of salvation, he based those oaths on two immutable (unchangeable) things. First, that God’s counsel does not change and second, that it is impossible for God to lie. So if our salvation is based on these unchangeable things, our salvation is 100% sure and our hope in front of us of living forever with God in fulfillment of his promise to us is stedfast and sure, like an anchor.
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. [1 John 5:13]
John tells us that he wrote 1 John so we can know that we know that eternal life, i.e. salvation, is what we possess at the moment we receive the Lord Jesus. It is a present tense salvation that continues into the future tense. But, of course, I’ll add that even if our salvation is sure, we are not to use God’s grace to do whatever we want. Everlasting life is also a life that requires us to examine ourselves and prove ourselves (2 Corinthians 13:5).