Who is responsible for keeping a person saved, who has been saved by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Some say: "You are responsible to keep your salvation".
Others say: "God is responsible to keep you saved. He has promised to do so, and will do it."
I believe the Bible teaches that both God AND you together must take action to keep you saved. It is NOT an either/or proposition.
Can we keep ourselves saved from sin without the help of the Holy Spirit? No, not even for one hour. We can only stand in any sense with God's help.
"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior" (Jude 24, 25)
The Bible says that God is able to keep us from falling. We need God in order to not fall. We need to look to Him for that.
Peter the disciple of Jesus trusted at one time in his own ability to stay faithful to Jesus Christ. Just before Jesus was arrested, Peter said:
"Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" but we know that he DID deny Jesus. His own human zeal and determination to be a faithful follower until death was NOT enough, even though he was perhaps the most bold of all the disciples Jesus chose. Here is the passage.
Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:‘ I will strike the Shepherd,And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’[d]32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”33 Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”34 Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”35 Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”And so said all the disciples.
One of the reasons this was recorded was so that we would not trust in OURSELVES that we could stay true to the Lord through our own human will and determination.
What was going on here? There is more insight into God's ways that can be gained from this incident, when we take a closer look.
In Luke 21:31-34 more details are revealed concerning this incident.
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
33 But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.”34 Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.
With the whole issue of standing or falling in our faith, there is more at stake than sheer willpower on the part of the believer. This passage makes it clear that sheer willpower and self-confidence is NOT enough. Peter had that, but he still fell. But JESUS revealed even beforehand what was going on.
Satan was demanded from God a right to try and test Peter. Satan will come at times before the Lord to demand that he be allowed to test us. Satan's purpose is to destroy, but we also have the intercession of the Lord – and others, and we have God the Father, which is all working to bring us back to repentance and to a firm place with God.
The Lord had already instructed the disciples to pray "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" but I suspect Peter hadn't been praying those things recently at the time. Peter wasn't praying for himself – he was too full of his own self-confidence, but THE LORD Himself had prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail.
Your bold witness for Christ may fail, your stand for Christ might be compromised, but it doesn't mean that your faith will finally fail. Jesus' intercession I believe empowered Peter to return to Christ even after his shameful denial. It is comforting to know that Jesus is also praying for us, according to the Book of Hebrews.
God is definitely at work to keep us from falling. He takes no pleasure in the death of any sinner. He doesn't want any one of his children to be lost. He draws back the backslider. We see a picture of this in Hosea 14.
O Israel, return to the LORD your God,For you have stumbled because of your iniquity;2 Take words with you,And return to the LORD.Say to Him,“ Take away all iniquity;Receive us graciously,For we will offer the sacrifices[a] of our lips.3 Assyria shall not save us,We will not ride on horses,Nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’For in You the fatherless finds mercy.”4 “ I will heal their backsliding,I will love them freely,For My anger has turned away from him.5 I will be like the dew to Israel;He shall grow like the lily,And lengthen his roots like Lebanon.
God is involved many times in a restoring process for His wayward children. We need to realise that this goes on, and appreciate the wonderful loving character of the Father in doing this to rescue us from our folly.
But it is far better never to fall.
Peter the apostle was one to teach us what we must do if we never wish to fall.
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.10 Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for IF you do these things you will never stumble; 11 for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.