We were discussing salvation last evening at church. Our church is General Baptist. That entails a belief in "conditional security" in opposition to regular Baptist belief in "eternal security". When one is "born again" with the latter belief one is said to be "saved" because they can never become apostate. (Note: my word processor won't even accept "saved" there because the context is meaningless!)
Apostasy is when a person renounces their faith. For a Christians this means that a person once believed, but now no longer does. It's not that people lose divine grace, but relinquish it of their own accord because God never forces himself on people!
I won't go into the mechanism of losing faith, but the allowance that we can is called "free will" and that is from God such that we voluntarily accept his authority without coercion from him. We use free will when we are born again and it's not realistic or scriptural to imply that we lose free will when we're born again. (For eternal security to have validity all points of Calvinism must be accepted or it fails to have meaning.)
Christians by rote declaration declare proudly, "I AM saved!" That's a great thing to say because it shows confidence in God. However, that is NOT an accurate statement! This notion was a contentious issue last night in bible study. Virginia took the stance "I am saved and always will be!" I adore that. She has been faithful for years and I am certain that she always will and she is certain as well. God gave her that assurance and that's what he expects of Christians. Virginia is a woman of great faith!
I took the position that I'm NOT saved, although I have been "born again". See my commentary of that subject at link BORN AGAIN). Briefly, being "born again" is when one is enlightened that he can never save himself and only Jesus can save and because of that light they turn to Jesus for eternal life.
Just as Virginia, I have confidence that I will be saved. However, hers is present tense and mine is future. Let's consider an airplane about to crash. When it crashes some may live. As such during the crash some live to tell about it. They were just saved. It's past tense. However, if God gave me a feeling that the plane will crash and I don't fly, then I am in safety and "made safe". After the plane crashes I too have been saved! Tense matters because words matter and have meaning!
Paul declared to the Romans this:
Romans 10:13 "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.""Whosoever" means anyone! That's a great promise. Salvation is meant for all mankind because God so loves us! Let is focus on grace. God will save anyone who will call upon the name of the Lord, and that name must be Jesus. With that said let's look at "shall be saved". That's the transliteration from koine Greek or the language of the common person in Hellenistic Judea.
"Shall" is future tense no matter in what context it's used. In archaic times it meant "will" and used with "be" those who call upon Jesus "will be" saved. The time frame for "will be" or "shall be" is someplace between the next instant or thereafter. It's not in any time before the person calls upon Jesus. Most people believe that it is the instant that one calls upon Jesus and that is certainly a possibility as is any time thereafter!
Koine Greek for "shall" means "entitlement". By calling on Jesus "entitles" the person to salvation. Without calling on Jesus we have no entitlement to eternal life and thus no hope. Hope is an easy one. It's confidence that Jesus will deliver on eternal life and that those who call on Jesus has that entitlement because of grace (a free gift from God) and that to "earn" (sic) salvation one must only trust Jesus.
"Be" means simply that something exists. For salvation it means that it has the possibility of taking place. So sometimes in the future after calling on Jesus the one who calls is entitled by grace to be "saved".
What is "saved". In common vernacular it has become "delivered from sin" and as such when Virginia said "I am saved!" that is acceptable in the modern lexicon because it is common usage.
However, strictly speaking "saved" is past tense such that "shall be saved" is meaningless. It would imply that you have already been delivered from something which has yet to happen. Of course when Jesus died on the cross those who call on his name thereafter have salvation available, and although a person is saved from their PAST (Romans 3:25) sins, they have yet to be "saved" from eternal damnation.
That's because of our belief in "conditional security". We are delivered from sin, but there is one sin to which we're still vulnerable. That's blaspheming against the Holy Ghost. That is denial of Jesus in irreligious and irreverent terms. That results when a Christian abandons Jesus. His faith has proceeded from "little faith" to "no faith". Our denomination believes one can lose faith in Jesus. It's not because of discrete sins, but when the Christians quits calling upon the name of Jesus in daily life. He has stopped his "walk with Jesus" and Jesus has no consequence in his life.
In the Greek the word transliterated "saved" is sozo a contraction for saos which means literally "safe".
With that understanding "shall be saved" means better "will be safe". I make reference to the entire Book of Job as to what "safety" means. It's a hedge put around the righteous person to protect the righteous person from Satan. Satan can still persuade, but he cannot destroy! That's the safety net Job had and we have upon calling upon the name of the Lord!
"Will be safe" makes sense from a grammatical context because the future tense of "shall" agrees with the present tense of "safe" because one can be made safe this next instant.
Paul often referred to "the hope of salvation". That is in the future. If we have the "hope of salvation" we are living "safely" because we have faith, which is hope that salvation will occur and that Jesus will do the saving! If we put on the whole armor of God we have a safety hedge around us and will be preserved until the time when God takes us to heaven... when we become ultimately saved. That is when the plane crashes, so to speak, and those who were on that flight are doomed forever.
Since some Christians don't wear the whole armor of God, Satan can go to fro and shoot barbs where there are chinks in the armor. There is a degree of safety for even weak Christians and full protection for those of great faith. Virginia has on the whole armor and is convinced that she will never endure damnation. She has great faith and in her mind, she is SAVED although salvation has yet to happen. She has confidence that she WILL be saved. Again, that confidence is a good thing if one is wearing the whole armor, but some are not. It is said that they can deny Jesus and be "unsaved". "Unsaved" can be used to describe those who have never been saved, but it's meaningless for a "saved" person to be "unsaved" for if that was true they could never have been saved!
You can BE unsaved, but can never GET unsaved. It contradicts "saved". However, we believe that one can abandon the faith. Faith is not one instant in time. It's hope and hope, implying confidence in Jesus and his promise, must be for a lifetime. It's stupid to believe that a person can get saved, get unsaved and get saved again. It contradicts salvation!
Paul likens the "hope of salvation" to a race with hurdles. We can trip on the hurdles and maybe fall. However, if we make it to the end we receive the prize.
Matthew 24:13 "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved."
We must endure. Endure what? Satan's barbs to take us from our adoptive parent and return to his fold! His desire is that we continue to trip over enough hurdles on the course until we fall and abandon Jesus, just as he tried with Job. What must we do until we are safely in God's arms? Have faith! Have hope! That describes "the hope of salvation"! That's what we have. Sure we're "born again" since we're given the opportunity for a second life and we accept the opportunity, but we're not saved until the plane crashes, so to speak. We are, however, made safe and with that safety we have great hope that we shall endure to get our entitlement!
In order for "conditional security" to make sense scripture must be taken in the context that we are "made safe" when we're born again. If we're "saved" when born again we could never fall. That isn't in agreement with scripture. We must be consistent in our belief system or suffer ridicule which we do! People laugh at we can get "unsaved" because that's what it seems to them we're saying!
1 Corinthians 9:24 "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain."What is the prize? That reward is eternal life, being saved from eternal damnation. The prize is at the end of the race. To be eligible for the prize is running the entire race. When the obstacles are endured and the goal reached all those who finish the race get the same reward. They get saved from eternal damnation. Not until they endure the race (steadfast belief) do are they entitled to the prize!
Therefore, my argument is that when one is "born again" they have "the hope of salvation" just as Paul often said. Salvation comes at the instant of death when God takes our spirit to heaven.
However, using "shall be saved" in the context that one is "delivered from sin" is true because Jesus has already delivered on that promise. However, it excludes one sin: denying him - or blasphemy. In effect all our sins are covered and past sins forgiven, but the future sin of blasphemy steals our salvation if we abandon our hope. Either way, salvation is at the end of the race, not at the beginning!
Jesus could rightly say "You have been saved" because he knows the future. You, however, trust that you will be steadfast, but Satan struggles to destroy that trust. He even tried with Job who had great faith and was righteous. Satan knew that he was vulnerable and shot barbs at Job continually However, job had on the whole armor of God!
Please continue to say "I'm saved!" because that shows confidence in your faith. That's a good thing! However, don't take that as authorization to sin, because Satan compounds sin to the extent that one can lose faith. It's not possible to get unsaved, but people can lose their hope for salvation because of sin they just won't leave behind. Just ask Lot's wife about that whenever you get to where you're going!