Who Keeps you Saved? God, or you yourself, or …

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.
Some Christians talk a lot about election, as if it means there is nothing for us to do except wait for God to make it all happen for us, but this passage makes it very clear that WE have a part to play in making our call and election sure. If this is true, "election" cannot be this static God-determined matter over which we have no say, as some teach. 
 
Peter is using the word "IF". This implies it may or may not happen – it depends on you. So now we see that the matter is not so simple. There are passages which imply that we ourselves have a vital role to play in staying on the path of life.
 
Jude also hints at this:
 
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. (Jude 20,21)
 
According to Jude then, it is for the believer to keep themselves in the love of God. It is also for the believer to build themselves up in their most holy faith. One way we can do this (not the only way, but one way) is by praying in the Holy Spirit.
 
This is perfectly consistent with the way Jesus put it in John 15:4
 
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.
 
Jesus gives the commandment here to abide in Him. It is something for us to do – God does not do it for us. Of course He helps us, He is there for us, but He doesn't FORCE us to do his will.
 
The commandment to "abide in Him" is also given in the first letter of John.
 
Nothing Can Separate Us from the Love of God
 
There are a couple of passages which should give us comfort, but they are not there to give us the wrong idea.
 
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38, 39)
 
and also in John 10:27, 28
 
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. "
 
These passages are both saying that there is no power or created thing that can snatch us out of God's hand. Nothing can forcefully separate us from the love of God. Nothing is able to. However, this does not mean that a believer cannot choose to reject firstly ways of God, then the will of God,  and then finally the  love of God of his own free will. I'm sorry, but this possibility clearly exists or the other passages of the Bible quoted above simply DO NOT MAKE SENSE.
 
Obviously, these Scriptures are very relevant for believers who face times of severe trial and persecution. Here God is promising that no external power can take a believer away from God against the believer's will. This is a very important thing. If it were not for GOD and His loving, keeping hand of protection, some of these things certainly WOULD be able to separate us from God's love. But because of God's sovereign power in the world, none of them can. This is cause for rejoicing. But it is not cause for complacency. The battle for the mind of the Christians is still real, and the casualties of war are real. We are to fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life. This is what the Bible teaches, and this is what we must do.
 
In view of these Scriptures, we see then that human willpower alone is not what keeps us saved. It is God. And YET, if we do not adopt a posture of humility and dependence upon the Lord, if we neglect to add other godly attributes to our faith, or to keep ourselves in the love of God, or to abide in Christ, the Scriptures do not assure us that all will necessarily be well with our soul.
 
So go after God, but remember that God is a good merciful Father and Jesus is up there praying for you. I hope you are also praying for yourself, and that you are part of a community – online or offline, where people are praying for you and your family also. We certainly benefit greatly by the sincere prayers of the people of God.
 
God bless you.

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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

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