Best Of Both Worlds? Not!

Q. I have been following this “Once Saved Always Saved” discussion on the website the past few months. I think this issue causes most of the confusion in our lives, because we all know somebody that claims to be saved once, but does not live up to it…

I’ve seen that you quoted Eph. 1:13-14 to confirm the statement “once saved always saved”. Well, I think it is wonderful for scripture to state such a graceful thing, but what about the following:

1) My sister was born again when she was 10 years old, but now when she is 25 years old she believes in reincarnation, there is no hell, the Bible is not all true, and that homosexuality is perfectly normal, but still believes in a God and a Jesus. She believes what she finds acceptable to believe.

2) My bother who was born again when he was about 12 years old, just turned 21 and his way of living doesn’t confirm his beliefs… he is partying, drinking, smoking and swearing, but still goes to church every Sunday.

According to your point of view, my brother and sister will still go to heaven despite their lifestyles and beliefs… So they are having the BEST OF BOTH WORLDS…some people will say. Can you please add some clarity to this confusion please? I would like to hear your opinion on this.

A. People are saved because of what they believe, not because of how they behave. I’m assuming that both of your siblings sincerely accepted the Lord’s death as payment for all their sins. If so, we would eventually expect to see some change for the better as the Holy Spirit works His regenerative work in them. As a friend of mine likes to say, “If what you say you believe doesn’t result in action, it’s doubtful that you believe it.”

But we’re cautioned not to judge a person by what we see. (1 Cor. 4:5) Folks who are saved while very young are especially prone to periods of rebellion later, sometimes lasting for years, and only the Lord knows the hidden motives of their hearts. We don’t have to approve of their behavior or even tolerate it in our presence, but the Lord knows who are truly His, because He has seen the end of their lives from the beginning. And just as the prodigal never ceased to be the son of his father but was welcomed back with open arms, so it is with rebellious believers.

However, the behavior of a believer will determine the spiritual, physical and emotional quality of his life on Earth, and more importantly, the nature of his rewards in heaven.

Believers who live in rebellion without any apparent desire for repentance will spend their lives out of fellowship with God, deprived of blessings no one can count. All we can see is what they have, not what they could have had.

Eventually their health, their happiness, and their sense of security can all be adversely affected by the behavioral choices they’re making. And when they stand before the Bema Seat judgment (1 Cor 3:10-15) with their salvation intact but absent any rewards, this will become most obvious to them as they experience eternal consequences for a few years of rebellious behavior.

I’m not necessarily predicting all this for your sister and brother. Every day believers all over the world exhibit behavior most would consider to be much worse that what you’ve attributed to them. But even so, are they getting the best of both worlds? It doesn’t look that way to me.

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