The unconditionality of God’s grace is what leads us to the belief that the same grace that chooses also secures. Here is a further motivation for communing with God: our relationship with him is secure and permanent.
To be in Christ is to be as secure in your relationship with God as Christ’s is with the Father. As certain as Christ’s position is before the Father, and as certain as Christ’s position in Heaven is, so is a Christian’s position, because he or she is in Christ.
Consider what this security means.
1) There is no possibility of our being condemned, if we are in Christ (Romans 8:1). Christ has already been condemned for us on the cross. Christ has already been made a curse for us on the cross. A sin will not be punished twice by a just God.
2) No accusation, persecution or tribulation can remove us from Christ. Christ has already taken care of the charge-sheet against us, and is now on our side (Col 2:13, Romans 8:31-39).
3) God himself pledges never to forsake the relationship, and to never allow anyone to pluck us out of his hand (Hebrews 13:5, John 10:27-29).
4) We have eternal life already (1 John 5:12-13). If it were possible for us to have Christ’s life and then lose it, such life would certainly not be eternal in quality. It would be temporary: a life that began and died within us. To be in Christ, to have the Son, is to presently possess life that will not end.
5) Our inheritance is reserved, and glorification in Christ is guaranteed (1 Peter 1:4-5,1 Peter 5:10 Romans 8:30). If our justification has occurred, then our glorification is inextricably linked to it.
6) God gives us a guarantee of this by the indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 4:30). God assures us that he will remain with us and work in us till the day of Christ by having the unchanging Holy Spirit take up permanent residence within us. A deposit of his own Spirit dramatically announces that God will not abandon us, anymore than he would abandon himself.
No condemnation by God, no separation from God, no desertion by God, no cessation of eternal life, no halt of God’s work in us, and a guarantee of glory given by the presence of the Holy Spirit: this is the security we have in Christ.
If marriage is the picture of our perichoresis with Christ, we might do well to ask: how permanent is marriage meant to be? Is not the permanence of the marriage covenant exactly what provides the stability and security for husband and wife to keep communing with each other and working at their relationship? If your actions on a given day could end a marriage, what chance would any marriage have? In any relationship, security produces a healthy desire to please, not appease. Once again, a sense of security strengthens our desire to remain in God’s presence.
Then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:17-22)
Passive or Active Assurance?
The objection to the truth of security in Christ is that it may promote lawlessness and passivity. Paul himself anticipated that kind of objection (Rom 6:1, 15, Gal 5:13). Certainly, some have misunderstood the nature of faith in God’s security, thinking that such promises can be assumed to apply because of a one-time act of faith.
This would be false. God promises to save and glorify those who trust his Son. The way we know that we have truly believed to salvation is by a present-tense faith which continues to trust and obey. We see this most clearly in Colossians 1:21-23:
And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight — if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
Notice that Paul regards God’s past work of reconciliation and his future work of glorification as a completed and guaranteed act, performed by God. Paul then places a condition on the reality of those works for believers in verse 23. God’s completed works are true of us “if we continue in the faith.” Verse 23 is not speaking about retaining your salvation; it is speaking about possessing your salvation. It is not a condition to keep yourself saved; it is the condition you must meet to prove yourself to be saved. If that faith is absent, there is no reason to think you have been reconciled or will be presented before God one day. We can know that we have been placed in Christ, if we continue to trust in Christ.
For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end (Hebrews 3:14)
The faith that saves us at the start is the faith that saves us to the end (Col 2:6-7). We must continue to trust Christ as our Lord and Saviour throughout our lives. When we speak of the Christian life as the life of faith, we do so intentionally. To abandon the life of faith is an act of spiritual asphyxiation.
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Hebrews 4:14)
Those who ‘fall away’ from the faith reveal that they did not fall away from an actual position, but from an apparent one. Believers with genuine faith do not deny Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. They do not turn from him as their righteousness and only hope. They do not go back to false religion, humanism, atheism, or legalism. This kind of apostasy is what the warning passages of Hebrews condemn (Hebrews 6:4-8, 10:26-31).