Jesus warned that in the last days, false prophets and teachers will arise to deceive the elect, if possible. Indeed, many are being deceived into believing that once they have done that one act of accepting Jesus Christ in their hearts, they are forever saved. This is a big lie that is being peddled by the devil. These people are perishing because of ignorance of the Word (Hosea 4:6) and thus, like fools, they believe everything that people tell them (Prov. 14:15). Besides, they need to be filled and guided by the Holy Spirit because “the man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God…because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:14).
The fact of the matter is that salvation is a process and it starts with a personal decision. One is saved NOT by association with people who are saved, whether they are his parents, siblings, friends, or by just being part of a church. Rather, it is a decision made out of a need for a saviour. This can best be illustrated by the reaction of the jailer in the Book of Acts. When the jailer realized the need for him to be saved, he asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” In reply, the apostle Paul and Silas said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (Acts 16:30-31). In saying this, the apostle Paul pointed out that the jailer needed to have Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour, and each member of his family needed to do so as well.
While the apostle Paul said that salvation is not the result of good work but by the grace of God and is in fact a gift of God, he nevertheless said further that we “continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). This apparent contradiction of grace and work has puzzled many so that they disproportionately relied on grace for their salvation. As a consequence, they do not put special consideration for good work and believe that even without it they are saved. This is contradictory to the Apostle Paul’s idea of salvation by grace. After having said that we are saved by grace and not by works, he quickly added, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph. 2:10).
As far as the apostle Paul is concerned, our salvation is a process. After Jesus had paid that one time price for our redemption, we now take our new life and do good works. Therefore, our ultimate salvation is dependent on how we lived our lives after having been redeemed. Can we still lose our salvation after accepting Jesus as Lord and Saviour? The apostle Paul likens our salvation process to that of a race. While we can be good at the starting line if we do not finish the race or run according to the rules, we can be disqualified in the end. Hence, he said, “I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Cor. 9:26-27). This is in line with what Jesus had said, “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13).
Towards the end of his life, the apostle Paul declared, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). We need to persevere in our walk with the Lord and finish our race. While we will deny ourselves of the full enjoyment of what this world can offer now, it is all worth it in the end. The poor man, Lazarus, found this out when he died in faith and was carried to Abraham’s side to be comforted. On the other hand, the rich man, who did not bother about his salvation, when he died, was thrown into hell. In hell, the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water to cool his tongue but Abraham said, “No” saying further, “Besides, a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us” (Luke 16:26). It is when we get to the finish line that we get our reward and after that, there is no more crossing over. It is only then that “once you are saved, you are forever saved”. The assurance of our salvation then is our daily walk with Jesus. Hallelujah!