For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift — not from works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Indeed, no matter how boast-worthy we deem our good works, they can never surpass what Christ did for us: living a morally perfect life and then offering up His perfect life as a perfect sacrifice for our sins upon the cross. But, what we do can most certainly keep us out of heaven—even if we profess Christ as Savior and Lord.
This is a very popular verse in the church today, however, it is only the first half of this verse that is popular, while the second half is usually never even mentioned:
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:1 NKJV)
There is an obvious clause in this verse: the necessity for not walking according to our flesh but according to the Holy Spirit.
The bible is clear:
Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV)
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (Romans 8:5-9 NKJV)
“Once saved, always saved,” is a pervasive false doctrine that has infected the church and defiled her. This notion proposes that no matter what, when you give your life to Jesus, you are going to heaven. But we must abide in Christ, we must continue fighting the good fight if we are to be with our Lord. Even Jesus affirmed this truth when He said in both Matthew 10:22 and 24:13, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
We must endure. Jesus says in the previous verse in chapter 24 that the love of many will grow cold. You can start strong on the narrow path of life, but end up on the wide road of destruction. Jesus also affirmed this in His parable of the seeds; some seed (the gospel) fell on rocky ground and these are those who accept Christ immediately, but do not have their roots grown deep in the faith so when trials come they fall away, and for others, the seed falls among thorns and after a while, the cares of this life and the deceitfulness of riches draws them away.
Jesus was ardent about His disciples abiding in Him, remaining in His teaching, strengthening their faith and producing good fruit. But how many hear the gospel and “accept it,” only to continue doing the same sins they did before, but believe they’re still going to heaven because, “once saved, always saved?”
Salvation is not empty, it is not ineffective. Salvation brings about transformation in the life of the surrendered, and the fruits of his salvation become evident to all.
May we take heed this warning from our brother, Paul, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified (II Corinthians 13:5), and: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;” (Philippians 2:12)