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|Gary from Pennsylvania asks. . .|
|After a person is born again, filled with the Holy Ghost, if he sins and backslides, while he is living a worldly life, if he dies accidentally or without repenting, where would he go?|
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A person who is born again, regardless of how they are serving God at the time of death, will go to heaven. This is a very common question and many different Bible teachers have differing opinions. Debate over this exact question has raged on in the church for hundreds of years. Each side has a handful of scriptures they use to support their viewpoint. Instead of trying to cover every scripture in the Bible on the subject (which would make this a book instead of an answer), I want to look at an underlying controversy. Some believe if a person is truly born again, but living a worldly backslidden life, this person will lose their salvation and end up in hell.
In the new birth God actually makes a person a new creation after His own image, in righteousness and true godliness. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 4:24) This occurs within the new re-created human spirit but is not a guarantee that a believer will use the resources God has given him to live above the world, the flesh, and the devil. We must renew our minds with the Word of God so we will discover who we have become in Christ, what God has provided for us to live a godly life, and how to apply these principles in our everyday life. This takes time and growth in the things of God.
Secondly, if salvation is a gift from God, meaning the person receiving it did not earn it or deserve it, how it is possible to maintain that salvation by works after a person is saved? (See Galatians 3:3) If the new birth is based upon grace or God’s gift, but must be maintained and kept by one’s performance, salvation would ultimately rest in man’s works and ability to keep God’s rules to make it to heaven. The underlying problem with this stance is if reaching heaven is based upon your works or maintaining a certain level of good works, where is the dividing line? What will determine what God will accept and what He will reject? How good is good enough to make it to heaven?
Many who hold to the “you must maintain a godly life to make it to heaven” line of reasoning have a list of “rules” that make you fit for heaven and a list of “no-no’s” that eliminate you from receiving what God freely gave by His grace and the lists vary! The major problem with this line of thinking is, to be worthy of heaven by what you do or keep from doing requires perfection! Guess what? You already failed because when you came to Jesus Christ you declared yourself a sinner who needed a Savior! (See Galatians 2:18) To reach heaven based on your performance, you must be perfect in word, deed, and motive. Jesus was the only perfect human that ever lived. He was the only perfect sacrifice for all of our sins—past, present, and future.
True forgiveness is based on the fact that Jesus Christ already died for sin and any sin we may commit has already been forgiven. When Jesus went to the cross, all our sins were placed upon Him and He died for them. (See Ephesians 1:7, Col. 2:13, Hebrews 1:3) When our sins were placed upon Jesus, they were future sins. Legally, when you were born again, all your sins were forgiven for all of eternity and you were actually born into the family of God. You are His very own child! Your genetic make-up is acquired by birth. The Bible says we were regenerated (literally, re-gened) by the Holy Spirit at the new birth. (Titus 3:5)
Naturally speaking, once a child is born, nothing can altar his or her genes. Even if a child rejects their natural mother and father, nothing will change the fact that they were born to that particular set of parents. A mother or father may abandon their child, but the genes do not change! Similarly, once we are born into the family of God we will always remain a child of God. Sin may block our fellowship with God, but when we confess our sin, according to 1 John 1:9, we are forgiven and fellowship or communication is restored.
Please do not mistake what I am saying. I am no way implying that the way you live is unimportant to God. God wants us to live for Him because He knows there is blessing in living for Him. Faith and dependence on Him is what pleases God. He knows that when we live for Him, we are accumulating rewards in heaven and blessings in this lifetime. However, if we choose to walk in sin and not live for the Lord, we will go to heaven when we die, but it is possible that we will not have accumulated rewards.
Copyright 2009 by Bob Yandian Ministries.
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