In this series, we’ve already talked about the end-time wealth transfer. We’ve talked about the promise of persecution and troubles (which was probably everyone’s favorite).
We’ve talked about supernatural protection. And last week I explained how to access all the promises of God. They’ve all been given to you, but you have to put in the effort to access them.
Today, we are going to focus on the most important promise. God’s promises of wealth and protection and healing are all great promises. But there is one promise that surpasses them all:
God’s Promise of Eternal Life
If you’ve been in church for long, you might be tempted to tune me out on this message. I mean, how many times have you heard about salvation, right?
But I encourage you to engage in this message as if it’s the first time you’ve heard about salvation in Jesus Christ. Here’s why:
Matthew 7:22-23 NLT – On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
This is Jesus talking, and what He said should make all of us tremble.
We’re accustomed to being very lighthearted towards our salvation. A lot of people think, “I got my salvation. Let me put it on a shelf over here while I live my life, and God will let me pick it back up when I die.”
This attitude reveals that you are probably not truly saved. Instead, you believe in a counterfeit version of salvation that might feel good at the moment but ends in destruction.
I have a responsibility today to take you back to the basics of salvation. By the end of this message, you will know how to truly be saved. And some of you will enter true salvation for the first time.
Savior vs Lord
Several days ago, the Lord spoke a profound yet basic truth to my spirit. Here’s what He said:
“You’re not saved because you confess Me as Savior. You’re saved because you confess Me as LORD.”
After He spoke this to me, I had a vision of a crowd of happy people saying, “My sins have been forgiven! My sins have been forgiven!” And then I saw those same people burning in hell.
Yes, your sins have been forgiven through the blood of Christ. Jesus truly is our Savior. But declaring Him as Savior is not what saves you. Declaring Him as Lord is what saves you.
Romans 10:9 NKJV – If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
Once again, we approach this verse with an irreverent, lighthearted attitude. We tell people, “Just repeat after me and say out loud, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and you will be saved.”
We’ve turned salvation into a prayer you repeat one Sunday morning, and then you’re good. But is that what this is saying? Just say, “Jesus is Lord”, and that’s all it takes? No, not at all.
The meaning of ‘Confess’
The New Testament was translated from the Greek language, which is much more expressive than our language. It takes several English words to explain the full meaning of one Greek word.
So, when you study the Bible, it is good to use the Strong’s concordance to look up the original Greek words and study the full meaning.
When you look up the Greek word translated to “confess”, you find out that the meaning is much deeper than simply saying something out loud. Here’s the full meaning of the word:
To say the same thing as another. To concede. Not to deny. To promise. To admit one’s self guilty. To declare openly one’s self the worshiper of one.
So, in order to confess the Lord Jesus, you must concede. In other words, you must admit defeat. I am the one who is guilty here, and I can’t fix this without Jesus.
So now, I commit my life to Jesus. I make a promise this day to openly declare that Jesus is my Lord. And He is the only one that I worship.
The next verse in Romans gives us an even deeper understanding of Salvation:
Romans 10:10 NKJV – For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Believing comes first. You must believe that Jesus came in a human body, died on a cross, and was raised from the dead.
Confession is then birthed from your belief in Christ. It is the response to your faith. Because you believe, you concede your own way and commit your life to Christ. And bam, you’re saved.
This reveals that those who say they’re saved but go on living a life of sin are not truly saved. They are confessing Jesus as Savior. They believe in the forgiveness of sin. But they have yet to confess Him as Lord by conceding their own way to follow Christ.
God’s people don’t practice sin
John brings us clarity on this issue:
1 John 3:9-10 NLT – Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God. So now we can tell who are children of God and who are children of the devil. Anyone who does not live righteously and does not love other believers does not belong to God.
This is kind of tough to take, isn’t it? We all have friends and family who say they are saved, but yet their life doesn’t reflect their salvation.
That’s why the once saved, always saved doctrine is so popular. It helps us cope with our loved ones who aren’t quite following Jesus even though they say they believe.
Or, maybe it even helps you cope with your own decisions. You want to be saved, but you don’t want to concede your own way to follow Christ.
Once saved, always saved?
So, is the once saved, always saved doctrine truth? Or is it a coping mechanism we’ve developed that ends in destruction?
Let’s start by taking a look at one of the main scriptures people use to back up the doctrine of once saved, always saved.
John 10:28 NLT – I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me…
This is Jesus talking. He’s letting us know that eternal life is a gift. You can’t earn it. You can only receive it from Jesus.
He’s also letting us know that no one can take salvation away from you. It can’t be stolen. Once you receive it, it can’t be taken away.
This is great news! But does it mean that once you are saved, you are always saved?
Let’s take a look at what Jesus said a few chapters later:
John 15:5-6 NLT – Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.
So, we know that no one can take salvation away from us. But now we also know that if we don’t choose to remain in Jesus, things aren’t going to turn out very well in the end.
The apostle Peter did a good job explaining this to us. We talked about this last week. In second Peter chapter one, he goes through seven things we need to do as followers of Jesus:
Pursue moral excellence.
Study the Word of God.
Remain patient through trials and sufferings.
Develop a reverence towards God.
Love the body of Christ.
After Peter lists these seven things, here’s what he says about those who do not pursue these things:
2 Peter 1:8-10 NLT – But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.
What is Peter saying here? He’s saying that if you don’t put in the effort to maintain your salvation, you are most likely going to fall away from your faith.
There is no once saved, always saved. At any point in your life, you can choose to walk away from Christ.
No one can take away your salvation. But you can willingly give it up as a result of your disobedience to God.
You are not saved because you repeated a prayer one Sunday at church. You are saved because you believe in Jesus, and you wake up every day and say, “Jesus is Lord of my life. I’m following Him.”
I’m concerned that this well-known doctrine of once saved, always saved is going to land a lot of well-meaning people in hell for eternity.
There are a lot of people who confess Jesus as Savior and thank Him for the forgiveness of sin. But they have yet to confess Him as Lord.
Declaring Jesus as Savior is not what saves you. Declaring Him Lord is what saves you.
Don’t live like the woke fools who proclaim forgiveness of sin and then go on living in sin. If you follow that path, you will most likely fall away from your faith and end up in hell.
Confess Jesus as Lord of your life. That means He is in charge, and you follow Him by following the Word of God.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve fallen into this idea that salvation is some lighthearted expression that doesn’t require anything of us. It shows that no one is really studying the Word for themselves.
If you read the entire New Testament, you are going to find over and over the responsibility that comes with salvation. Yes, it’s a gift. But it’s a gift that changes you.
The Apostle Paul is one of our primary examples of what it looks like to be saved. And take a look:
Romans 1:1 NLT – This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.
Paul considered himself a slave to Jesus Christ. That was his identity. He was no longer his own. He was fully submitted to Christ.
Jude 1:1 NLT – This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.
What do followers of Jesus have in common? They are fully submitted to Christ. They are not trying to hold on to their old life. They fully submit to their new life in Christ.
When you truly receive the gift of salvation, you become a new creation. Old things pass away; all things become new. You are no longer the person you used to be. You now belong to God.
You give up your identity in the world and walk in your new identity in Christ. That’s what happens when you are truly saved. You are transformed into a new person.
Transformation comes when you truly make Christ your Lord
If a transformation didn’t take place when you repeated that salvation prayer months or years ago, I’m glad you are here today. Because now’s the time for you to step into true salvation.
To confess the Lord Jesus, you must first concede. You must admit defeat. You are the one who is guilty here, and you can’t fix this without Jesus.
You can’t earn your salvation. You can’t do enough right things to outweigh the bad things. You need a Savior. You need Jesus.
If that’s you, if you are ready to admit that you need Jesus, stand to your feet right now.
Now, commit your life to Jesus. Make a promise this day to openly declare that Jesus is your Lord. And He is the only one that you worship.
Now come to the front so I can pray a prayer of blessing over your new life in Christ.
Does this mean you’ll never sin again?
Now, let me address the elephant in the room. When you hear a message like this, you start to think, “Well, I must not be saved because I still struggle with sin.”
At no point today did I say that you will never sin again. I showed you the scripture that says that those who keep on sinning belong to the devil. But there is a difference between “keep on sinning” and repentance.
When you keep on sinning, it sounds like this, “I know that my lifestyle is sin, but I have God’s grace and forgiveness, so I’m going to keep living in sin anyways.”
Living a life of repentance sounds like this, “I can’t believe I did that again. Lord, I sinned, and that’s not who I am anymore. I turn away from my sin and look to you to help me live in righteousness.”
I love how John explains this:
1 John 1:9 NLT – But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
Don’t hide it. Confess it and Jesus will not only forgive you but cleanse you.
John clarifies this a few verses later:
1 John 2:1 NLT – My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.
Aren’t you thankful that God is not looking for perfection?
We don’t have to get saved again and again every time we sin. We have an advocate, Jesus, who pleads our case before the Father.
Salvation doesn’t require perfection. It requires the pursuit of Jesus.
If you are living a sloppy life, if you are making excuses for your sin, if you are submitting to a lifestyle of sin, it’s only a matter of time before you fall away from your salvation.
But, if you are pursuing the things of God, confessing your sins, and living a life of repentance, your salvation is secure. No one can take it away from you, and you aren’t going to fall away either.
I’m not provoking you to perfection today. But I am planting a reverence of God inside of you that provokes you to put in the effort to maintain your salvation.
Don’t buy into this lighthearted approach to God. God is righteous. He is pure. He is holy. And He expects you to honor His gift of salvation by putting in the effort to be an example of His righteousness.
I hope you have more reverence for God than you did before you walked in the door today. Even so, I want to take it to the next level by sharing a prophetic word I received from the Lord a few days ago during my morning quiet time.
As soon as I sat down that morning to seek the Lord, He put Psalm 109 on my heart. So I immediately opened my Bible and began to read it out loud.
Usually, when the Lord leads me to a certain scripture, it is to encourage me to keep going in my pursuit of Him even when I am facing crazy opposition. But this time was different.
I had a hard time reading it out loud. Psalm 109 is a very graphic chapter when David is calling for the destruction of his enemies. I’ll read you a few verses so you can get the idea:
Psalms 109:7-11 NKJV – When he is judged, let him be found guilty, And let his prayer become sin. Let his days be few, And let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, And his wife a widow. Let his children continually be vagabonds, and beg; Let them seek their bread also from their desolate places. Let the creditor seize all that he has, And let strangers plunder his labor.
I always read scripture out loud, but it was tough to get through this one. I was thinking, “Boy, David was having a bad day. Surely this was not inspired by God.”
Immediately after I got done reading it, here’s what the Spirit of God prophesied to me:
“I have been patient. They have had their chance to repent. Now it is time for my wrath. My wrath is right at hand. Indeed, it has already begun. It will start with the execution of kings. Those who lead the wicked will be cut off first, giving their followers another chance to repent. If they don’t repent quickly, My wrath will consume them too. Don’t fear this disturbing sight! Don’t make excuses for what I do or make light of My wrath. Give glory to Me as I destroy the wicked and bless the righteous.”
I share this prophetic word with you for two reasons. First, to increase your reverence for God. Secondly, so you won’t get caught up in fear when this comes to pass.
And like the Lord said, do not make excuses for what He is about to do. Don’t try to cover for Him as if He’s made some type of mistake. No, we are to give glory to God for destroying the wicked and blessing the righteous.
After I wrote down this prophetic word, the Lord led me to read Psalm 109 out loud again. I didn’t want to do it the first time. I definitely didn’t want to do it again. But I obeyed.
As I read it, I was weeping. I was overcome with the love of the Father. It does not please Him for anyone to perish. He’s been patiently waiting for their repentance. But they refuse to repent, and time has run out.
It reminds me of when I have to discipline my children. I would much rather them repent. But when they don’t, they have to face the consequences of their actions.
Thankfully I am not God and have to judge where someone spends eternity. I can only imagine the pain that He feels when someone rejects the gift of salvation.
So I want to give you another chance today.
God’s patience is about to run out. You don’t have much longer. It’s decision time. Are you going to make Jesus your Lord, or are you going to spend eternity in hell? The choice is yours.