1 John 2.24-25
Whenever a Greek writer wanted to call attention to a certain point he would put it first in the sentence. We might translate these two verses something like, ”You people! You are to remain faithful to what you were taught in the beginning. If you do, you will always remain in fellowship with God and his son Jesus. After all, that’s what he promised – a life that will never end.
One way to understand the section is a “Do this, but if you don’t, this is what will happen format. In other words, “Stay true to the gospel you heard (the gospel that gave you eternal life) and if you do you’ll live forever; that’s what God promised. But if you don’t do it, doesn’t that mean you won’t have it?” The NIV’s “if it does” opens the door for an “if it doesn’t,” and that infers the possibility of losing one’s eternal life. This, of course brings up the ageless question of whether believers can lose their salvation. Granted, John is not specifically saying that, but his words could be taken in a way that would support the idea. As in all flawed arguments, the truth is pushed aside so that the ideologically driven can win the argument. You see this writ large in every political season.
I’d like to say a few words on the subject because I think every Christian wonders now and then whether they could lose their salvation. What looms large in my thinking is that there is absolutely nothing I could ever do to be worthy of a never-ending life of genuine joy. Even if we forgot all about my entire life up until this morning’s coffee and said all I had to do until evening was to live an absolutely perfect life, I’d be on the skids long before noon. God requires perfection and that perfection is in his Son alone. So I can’t earn salvation. No way! Someone has to give it to me, and that’s what Jesus did by becoming one of us, living a perfect life so he could be the ransom for the sins of the entire race. Now if a man like that tells me that if I believe in who he is and what he has done, then I will go to heaven, I’m going to take him at his word. So my salvation isn’t based on anything I have or can do. It’s all by grace, unmerited favor.
The question is, how could I ever loose something I never earned. I’ve got some High School ribbons for pole vaulting, I won them and I can lose them. But in the case of my salvation all I ever “did” was to believe the promise of a man who claimed to be the Son of God and proved it by rising from the dead. It was he who gave me eternal life – all I did was to accept it. And there is no way for him to take it back because that would be to admit he was wrong in giving it. God makes no mistakes. And I can’t give back something that all I did was to accept. Looks like the future is pretty secure.