It is a great comfort to know that our salvation depends upon what Christ did, not what we do, and that even our faith is a gift of God's grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). Walking in that knowledge, we have the assurance that God will keep us from losing our faith or falling from grace. In short, we are "kept by the power of God" (1Peter 1:5). However, at the same time, it is important to understand that without God's help we could lose our salvation (Jude 1:24).

    When God warns us of the danger of falling, He is not trying to scare us or get us to trust in works. Instead, He wants us to look to Him for help, depend on Him, and believe His Word when it says that He will keep us from falling. Nevertheless, because the grace that keeps us from falling is a gift, it must be received by faith (Romans 5:2). And, faith consists of believing God's promises (Galatians 3:6). Therefore, just as God brought us to faith through His Word, He also works through that Word to strengthen our faith and keep us in faith (Romans 10:17, 1Corinthians 3:6).

    Once we understand that our faith is a gift of God, we can see that those who think that the preservation of their faith depends upon them are in serious danger of falling, for they are trusting in themselves rather than in God. In fact, we see one example of how little we can rely on the flesh when Peter boasted, "Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee" (Matthew 26:35). Peter clearly thought that he was in control, yet only a few hours later he did what he thought that he would never do. For that reason, we should never trust in ourselves (Jeremiah 17:5). Just it was only by the grace of God that we came to faith in the first place, it is only by the grace of God that we continue to believe (1Peter 1:5).

    To put it another way, our eternal security does not lie in the fact that we cannot lose salvation, but in the fact that God will keep us from losing it. It is important to give God the credit, because we need to rely on Him and on His promise to keep us in faith. [Philippians 1:6, Romans 7:9, John 10:28-30, 1Thessalonians 5:23-24, 2Thessalonians 3:3, 1Peter 5:10, Ephesians 2:8-9, John 8:51, John 6:37, Psalm 10:17, Romans 8:38-39, 1Peter 1:5.]

    This brings us to a question that always comes up in a discussion of our security in Christ. What about the believer who falls into open and manifest sin? Can he live in sin and still be saved? However, this question actually distorts the issue because it looks only at behavior without recognizing the fact that repentance is the key factor in our salvation. David fell into sin, but when Nathan confronted him with his sin, he repented (1Samuel 12:5-13). However, by sinning willfully David did lose the blessing that had previously been upon his life and house, even though God put away his sin when he repented (verse 13). Moreover, if David had refused to repent, as had Saul, the Bible makes it clear that he would have received the same condemnation that Saul did (1Corinthians 9:27). For faith cannot exist where there is no repentance, and repentance cannot exist where there is no sorrow for sin. Nevertheless, repentance is a gift of God, not a work. And, when we trust in Christ, God keeps us from losing our salvation by keeping us repentant, not by allowing us to sin (2 Timothy 2:25).

    While we can harden our heart, and refuse to hear God's Word when it exposes our sin, those who are led by the Holy Ghost will have a tender conscience before God, and will be willing to confess their sin, looking to Christ for forgiveness (1Corinthians 11:31, Galatians 5:4). Therefore, repentance is not a one-time thing. We do not humbly acknowledge our own unworthiness one day but deny it the next. Instead, repentance is an attitude of heart, whereby one who has come to faith in Christ continues in faith.

     True repentance is simply that acknowledgement of wrongdoing that must take place before one can trust in Christ. Or to put it another way, we must admit that we are sinners who deserve God's punishment and need His forgiveness, before we can believe that His promise of forgiveness in Christ is meant for us. For that reason, repentance and faith go hand in hand (Matthew 21:32, Mark 1:15, Acts 19:4). Walking by faith, we daily acknowledge our shortcomings and look to Christ for forgiveness. Those who are truly sorry for their sins are not likely to engage in willful sin, and even if they did, would soon regret it and seek God's forgiveness. In contrast, Paul instructed the congregation at Corinth to discipline a man who had hardened his heart in unrepentance, in the hope that being rebuked by all, he might be convicted of his sin (1Corinthians 5:1-5, 2Corinthians 2:6-8). For it is unrepentance that damns, not sin. And, those who think that they can pull something over on God, by willfully sinning and then asking forgiveness, are likely to find that once they have sinned they no longer even care about forgiveness (Galatians 6:7).

    No sin is too big to be forgiven, for the Bible tells us that, "Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Romans 5:20). However, that forgiveness did not come cheap. God is not about to simply overlook sin. Christ had to die to obtain that forgiveness for us (Joshua 24:19, Romans 3:25, Hebrews 9:22). And, when we walk by faith, relying on what Christ did, rather than what we do, to get us into heaven, as long as we do not sin willfully God will not impute any sin to our account (Romans 4:8, Hebrews 10:26).


    I have covered a lot of material very briefly but what it all boils down to is this. We must entrust our salvation entirely to God. Both repentance and faith are gifts that God works through His Word to produce in our heart. That being the case, we need to entrust the preservation of our faith to His care, believing that what He has begun in us He will continue until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).