Of all the religions in the world, Christian and otherwise, there are really only two plans of salvation. One plan is that you have to somehow work for your salvation. The other plan is that, because of what Jesus has done, we are saved by the grace of God without any works.
Those that are working for their salvation can never be certain that they are saved because no one knows exactly how many, or what kind of good works are needed to obtain salvation. Some have salvation on the installment plan, as long as they keep up the payments (good works) they can keep it, but when they miss some payments, God takes it back. Others feel that as long as they do not do anything really bad, they can keep their salvation. The problem again is, no one knows which sins will take away your salvation.
As I often quote, "Opinions are like belly buttons, everybody has one." If my opinion is not based on something concrete, then it is only an opinion and is seldom worth anything. If I can point you to a truth in the Bible, then it is no longer my opinion. That is why, as Baptists, we try to base everything we believe and practice on the Word of God. (I should be quick to add that sometime we almost give our traditions equal footing with the Word.)
The New Testament is clear that we are not saved by our good works. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us . . ." (Titus 3:5). "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9). If we are not saved by our good works, then how could our good works keep us saved?
First John 5:13 states, "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 . . ." First, this verse teaches us that we can know, or understand, or be conscious of the fact that we possess eternal life. If we are kept by our works, we can never be for certain we are going to heaven. Second, this verse teaches us that we have eternal life. That is present tense. We have it now, not will have it some time in the future. Third, if we have eternal life, it can never end. If it ends, it was not eternal life in the first place.
One of the first verses I memorized was John 5:24. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." Again, this verse states that believers have everlasting life and you cannot lose everlasting life! It also tells us that believers will not come into condemnation. The word condemnation means "to be judged and found guilty." So, once you have trusted Jesus Christ to be your Savior, you will never come into judgment for your salvation.
In John chapter three, Jesus said we "must be born again." When you are born you have parents that, good or bad, can never change. First John 3:2 says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." Now, not some time in the future, we are the children of God. That is a relationship that cannot be broken. However, there is a big difference between relationship and fellowship. You and your father could be at odds and not speak to each other. That does not keep you from being his child or him from being your father. Unconfessed sin in our life will break the fellowship between us and God but it does not break the relationship.
The main objection to eternal security, or security of the believer, or once saved, always saved, is, what happens when a believer sins? Can a believer just sin and get by with it? If your child did something really, really bad, would you take him to the back yard and kill him? Even the thought is repulsive. If you wouldn't think of doing something like that, then why would God?
A believer cannot sin and get by with it! First, as we have already mentioned, unconfessed sin breaks our fellowship with God. The intimacy is gone.
Second, just as you do, God chastens His children. "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (Hebrews 12:6). Because God loves you, unconfessed sin will bring a punishment in order to get you to do right and not do wrong. What kind of punishment? Who knows what it may be? God makes the punishment fit the person and the sin.
Third, every believer will stand before the "Judgment Seat of Christ" and give an account of what he has done with his life. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:10). Those that have used their life in God's service will receive a reward. Jumping in the middle of the narrative, 1 Corinthians 3:14-15 says, "If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." The word reward means "a wage or salary." Those who have served the Lord will get paid for their service but those who were saved but wasted their life will still be saved but will have nothing to show for it. That is why Jesus said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
by Raymond McAlister