If Indeed We Hold Fast

By Mike Ratliff

Now Moses was faithful in all God’s house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. [3] (Hebrews 3:5-6 ESV)

From the time God saved me in 1986 until just a few years ago I was convinced that I was a Christian because of my own actions on that cold January Sunday evening. I was also convinced by what was taught in the churches I belonged to that my salvation was sealed by what took place that day and I was a Christian regardless of how faithful I was through the years. Of course what I was being taught was a doctrine called Once Saved Always Saved. This doctrine states that people are saved by saying a sinner’s prayer and acknowledging that they believe certain doctrinal things and it does not matter how they live after that, their salvation is certain. Is this biblical?

14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:14 ESV) 

Perseverance is the proof given to us in Sacred Scripture as the one and only proof of the veracity of one’s salvation. God saves His people. He regenerates them, changes them, and grows them in His grace. Their eternal destiny is in His hands and according to His will. Those whom He saves have the responsibility to believe, repent, and walk in that repentance until God takes them home to be with the Son forever. The evidence that this is the destiny for any Christian having partaken of Christ’s salvation involves endurance to the end. It is also true that all who have this destiny awaiting them in eternity cannot lose it.

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, [1] is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29 ESV) 

This is only one passage that shows us that our salvation is in God’s hands completely along with our sanctification through which we grow in holiness and become more and more Christlike. Other passages you may want to look up on your own which teaches this is Ephesians 1:3-14; John 6:39-40; Romans 8:35, 38-39; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:3-5). Also, in reference back to Hebrews 3:14 above, we must always study scripture in context; therefore, v14 should be understood in the context of vv12-13.

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:12-13 ESV)

Do you see the concern of the writer of Hebrews that Christians continue in the faith by fighting the good fight to not fall into unrepentant sin? The hardening done to the heart through the deceitfulness of sin is evidence of a person not being truly saved. All sin and most Christians do find themselves at times with hearts that are not as tender towards God as they should be because of sin. However, the real Christian will respond to the exhortation from other believers to walk in repentance and draw near unto God for cleansing and renewal in the Spirit. On the other hand, many professing Christians do walk away because they love their sin more than the promises from God. This is evidence of their disingenuousness (1 John 2:19). 

11 And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:11-12 ESV) 

I also exhort all reading this to not be sluggish in their walk. Some reading this are struggling with doubt and this is bringing them to despair. They are fighting off the accusations from the enemy that they are not real Christians because they committed sin XYZ. Well, if the truth of that sin has broken your heart and you have a deep desire to repent and walk the walk by faith then please do not despair, but draw close to God in prayer by coming boldly to the throne of grace. Confess your sins to Him and ask Him to grant you repentance. Then with your eyes of our heart firmly fixed on the Son move into obedience by imitating those believers around you who exhibit their faith through their godly patience and trust in the promises of God. Turn from what your flesh wants. Learn to deny your flesh and gain the victory over the sin your flesh desires by mortifying it. Ask God to help you kill it. 

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. [6] (Psalm 119:33 ESV) 

112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end. [9] (Psalm 119:112 ESV) 

Yes, pray to God that He teach you His ways and what you are to do in the Kingdom as you learn to walk in obedience by faith to the end. 

26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, 27 and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. 28 And I will give him the morning star. 29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 2:26 ESV)

All genuine believers will endure to the end. Those who fall away were “not of us” (1 John 2:19). The promises to those whom God takes to the end are beyond our comprehension. I heard a sermon today as I drove to work in which the preacher said that the genuine Christian has an inheritance awaiting him or her that we cannot understand in our current state. All in Christ will be “like Him” some day and the mark of a person being one in that number is that they endure to the end. Perseverance is the marker of genuineness, not works, or religiosity. No, this perseverance is a continuing in walking in repentance by the power of the Holy Spirit until the end.

Soli Deo Gloria!

13 thoughts on “If Indeed We Hold Fast

  1. Pingback: If Indeed We Hold Fast - Reformata

  2. Amen and Amen,

    I too was one of the say a prayer and be saved, once saved, always saved crowd.

    Then God graciously opened my eyes to see the need for perserverence in the faith.

    I saw too many in the once saved always saved community living like the devil and yet proclaiming their place in heaven because they said a “magical” prayer one day that gave them the right of passage.

    Glory and Honor to the Lord Alone.

    Ptr. Bryan
    Heavenly Manna Ministries Int’l

  3. Amen Mike. We are reading (again) besides Gods holy Word……A.W.Pink, The Sovereignty of God. He says just what you said. We do have a responsibility to do what He wants and that takes time, prayer, His Spirit, and our wanting to no matter what. And all the way till the end.

  4. Now see, this isone of those places where I get confused. I think it’s because we have so many encompassing phrases that one person loads with a certain meaning and another doesn’t.

    I firmly believe “once saved always saved”, but I’ve never been taught the meaning you described here. I was taught that a saved person is completely different from what they were, and that’s evidence of change. (I’m greatly summarizing for time and space.)

    A person who is truly saved doesn’t relish a life that doesn’t bring them closer to Christ. People who do love that sinful life most likely were never saved at all.

    If you’re elect, you’re elect. If you aren’t you aren’t.

  5. Mark,

    The “version” of OSAS that I used in this post is the one used by those who teach “Free Grace.” They nullify the need for a Christian to be submitted to the Lordship of Christ. That is what I was contrasting with what the Bible really teaches.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  6. Mike,
    do you find that to be by and large what people tend to think of when they hear the phrase “once saved, always saved”? I’ve had a few experiences when just upon hearing the phrase people would get all jumpin’ ugly about it and I’d have no idea why because our conversation hadn’t gotten past that point!

    Same thing with “altar call”.

  7. Mark,

    I am a Calvinist so I believe in a doctrine called the Perseverance of the Saints. It is completely Biblical and teaches that it is through the preserving work of God that Christians remain faithful and persevere to the end. Those who believe that they are saved because of the exercise of their Free Will will either be OSAS or they believe that one can lose their salvation. Those who believe the latter do so because they are convinced that they were saved because of their own work and are held in grace by their own efforts. Those who hold to OSAS seemed to be in two groups. One group believes as you do while the other is all about Free Grace. The former believe in Lordship Salvation while the latter do not.

    So, you see, there are many issues here and I didn’t cover them all. What I teach is that our salvation is accomplished by God who elects and calls those who are His. This call is effectual and permanent. Within it is regeneration which changes a person eternally. Also, God works in the saved person’s like to keep them in grace.

    I have encountered many who do not believe like this, but not one of them can prove their point in scripture without ignoring other passages that say the opposite.

    God is not a gambler. He does what it takes to save His people.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  8. Mike,
    Thank you for the great article. I printed it up as I just had this discussion with a young woman. I also want to thank you for your dedication to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Your a blessing to the body of Christ and I learned so much from you. I just listened to a short clip from Paul Washer about our upcoming persecution and I felt moved to tell you all how much I love and appreciate you. Your in my prayers and stay in the race! In His wonderful name, Deb

  9. You are very welcome Deb! It is so good to hear from you again my sister. Thank you for the encouragement. God is so good to put me on your mind. I do covet your prayers. I do need wisdom and discernment at this time. I find it interesting that God placed me on your mind as you heard a message about the coming persecution. The truth in our time is seen as fluid. Therefore, those who stand firm in God’s truth will be seen as the enemy. I am already experiencing many attacks from those who have their own corner on the “truth” or resent anyone saying they know what the truth is. Therefore, I have dedicated myself to write about the truth with emphasis on the exclusivity of God’s truth until He tells me to stop. Should be interesting. :-)

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

  10. Thanks for the elucidation Mike, I agree with you that God accomplishes the perseverance of the saints and that it’s permanent.

    I’ve thought of it this way: if you’re drowning and someone saves you, you are saved. No one in their right mind would jump back in the water, and if they did then in the big picture they were never saved to begin with, they just had a respite before their demise.

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