You see we cannot take our sin lightly. We must not take our Lord’s grace for granted and believe that we can repent whenever we are ready. No, it does not work that way. God grants repentance and His desire is that we live holy and righteously being conformed unto the image of the Son. However, we must also not walk in fear of losing our salvation. Instead, we must come to understand that our purpose in this life is to obey God, walk in repentance, glorify God, and enjoy Him forever. If we are walking according to the flesh then we are not doing any of that. Instead, all we are doing is walking in idolatry and self-focus, which always causes spiritual blindness.
17 One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing. 18 And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him. 19 But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” 21 The scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this man who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Luke 5:17-21 (NASB)
I have known many through my many years who professed to be Christians, but who held to doctrines that placed the burden and veracity of their salvation on themselves. For the first 20 or so years of my walk with the Lord, I was a Southern Baptist. The SBC is not a denomination of churches that are consistent across the board on doctrine. There are Reformed and Arminian Churches in the convention along with everything in between. In fact, until God woke me up and drew me into the light in 2004 I really had no idea what the difference was. I had never heard of Arminianism. I had only heard of Calvinism in World History classes. However, as I studied doctrine I found to my great surprise that my own personal doctrine of salvation was a mishmash of Calvinism and Arminianism. Most non-Reformed Southern Baptists believe in a ‘doctrine’ of ‘Once Saved, Always Saved.’ It is not the same thing as the Reformed doctrine of ‘The Perseverance of the Saints.’ The former appears to be a holdover from the old days of the Baptist churches that were predominately Reformed in the doctrine.
When encountering people I have known whose Arminian conformity was more precise; they seemed to always zero in on the lack of substance of the ‘Once Saved, Always Saved’ stance of the SBC. They would point out their belief that Christians can lose their salvation if they are unrepentant of their sins. They believed that OSAS was a teaching of license to sin. Now that I have learned much about Reformed Theology, I see their point and I too condemn OSAS as a doctrine of demons. Those who counsel people to not worry about their sins because, “Hey dude, you can always repent later, ” are actually leading people to take their sin lightly and God’s grace for granted.
The Reformed doctrine of The Perseverance of the Saints does not teach license to sin. It teaches that God’s grace works in the lives of believers through their sanctification to mortify their sins and keep them from falling away. In fact, it teaches that perseverance is the indicator of Christian genuineness. Those who persevere to the end are the ones who are truly saved. Those who do not were never saved to begin with. There is no being saved, then unsaved, then saved, then unsaved… No, the Word of God teaches us that our sins are forgiven and those sins are cast as far as the East is from the West.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:10-12 (NASB)
Another difference between Reformed Theology and Arminianism is in the doctrine of Regeneration. We believe that our race fell into Total Depravity at the fall (Genesis 3) and that means we are totally unable to relate to God in any way. We do not love Him. We do not desire what He wants for us. We may indeed love our own creation of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, but when we are confronted with the Biblical Jesus and His Father, we flee and become resentful. This is the reaction of all unregenerate people when confronted with the Gospel and God’s Law. So, how can any one be saved? The Arminians teach that we choose it by our Free Will. God rewards this choice with regeneration and salvation. However, that is not what the Bible teaches.