We have been looking at the issue of once-saved-always-saved. We have looked at the issue from several different directions. They all lead to the same conclusion: salvation is by grace through faith. It is not a reward for good behavior.
In one article (099) we looked at one of the questions this conclusion raises: just what is grace? We saw from Romans 4:4 and 11:6 that grace is favor extended without any merit on the part of the person to whom it is extended. This means that salvation by grace is completely divorced from our behavior. Behavior produces merit/demerit. Since salvation is by grace, which rejects both merit and demerit (God doesn't save us because we are good, nor does He refuse to save us because we are bad--Jesus came to save sinners), the issue of how we behave is not a question of whether we are saved by grace or not. Thus, since a person is saved by grace, he cannot be rejected from salvation because of sin.
However, there is more to it than grace. The Bible says that salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). The reason all people are not saved is that not everyone exercises faith in God's promise of eternal life through the merit of Jesus Christ. But, what is faith?
The easy answer is this: everyone knows whether they believe that Jesus died for their sins, or not. A person believes that Jesus died for him, or he doesn't believe it.
But, people often deceive themselves and others about this. Many people subscribe to the statement: Jesus died for our sins. But, not all those who subscribe to it, believe it. As we said last time, God's purpose in salvation is not a fire-escape, but a restored relationship between Himself and the saved. Thus, if a person's subscription to the thesis: Jesus died for our sins, doesn't move him into a real relationship with God as his father, he is not saved--and the reason is that he has not believed with his heart.
How do we tell if we are just subscribing to something we have heard all of our lives, or if we are really believing it for ourselves? Part of the answer is in the answer to yet another question: what do you believe about once-saved-always-saved? If you don't believe this, there is a significant possibility that you have not believed that Jesus died for you. The reason is: if Jesus died for my sins and offers me eternal life by faith in that promise, the only thing that can keep me from eternal life is if I don't believe Him. And believing that He will reject me for my sins means that I don't believe that He died for them.
I can imagine the reaction that this claim is generating! But the facts are very clear: Jesus either died for my sins, or He didn't. If He did, He died for all of them because He died long ago before any of my sins were history. If He died for all of them, then none of them can keep me from the experience of His salvation--except the one that He excepted when He made the promise: my unbelief. If I believe that He died for my sins, I have fulfilled the only requirement He made. I am saved forever by faith.