Unfortunately, as our most recent family devotion through Claiming Christ discussed, that is not how the Bible teaches that salvation occurs. Salvation does not develop in either a semi or a full auto manner. It is a process that begins and ends with the grace of God and that requires willing human participation along the way.
It is not a new idea, but the teachings of some have attempted to convey the attractive idea that so long as a person is a member of the right group, they are guaranteed salvation. When Jesus walked this earth, the Jews claimed that they were assured salvation because God had given an eternal promise to Abraham and his descendants, for which they had legal birthrecords to prove their inheritance. In a sense, they not only had an unconditional guarantee, God needed them in order to fulfill his promise.
In more recent times, many believers have been taught that as long as they remain a member of the Catholic or other church, they are guaranteed an eternity in white. Even a catchy phrase has been invented to confirm the belief of “once saved, always saved”.
But the snake that deceived Eve back in that lush garden so many years ago, still slithers through God’s gardens Today.
Of all the valid human testimonies listed in Scripture, only to one did Jesus ever specifically give the divine stamp of “truth” and this is what he had to say to the eternally-assured pious among us:
“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire”.
God’s promises never need us in order to be fulfilled. God can give eternity to rocks and make them alive as children of Abraham if that were ever necessary. Our perceived connection to Abraham (both racially and spiritually), to the “right church”, or to some out-of-context passage of Scripture that we think guarantees our personal salvation, has a holy axe aimed at its root.
The testimony of faith that Jesus commends as both true and light is this:
“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance”.
It almost sounds like an echo of our Lord’s own words in Jn 15 about the Vine and the branches, even down to the detail of fire for those lacking in the evidence God requires.
And so the snake hisses… “Did God really say that you need to produce fruit? Haven’t you heard that you are guaranteed eternity, just as you are? Don’t worry about it. Good fruit is just a works thing that can’t impact salvation.” hssss….
Who will you listen to?