Thursday, January 21, 2010

Question #8: How Does One Become Saved?

The eighth and final question is this:

How does one become saved?

This is really a tough question… for one thing, when discussing this with the cults, the concept of "saved" has to be redefined. The Watchtower and the LDS Church have different concepts of what will happen to someone who's "saved." So, again, in order to compare apples with apples, I rephrased the questions slightly for the JWs and the Mormons.

One would expect that the cults' answer to this question would be very different from Christianity's answer to the same question. Christianity, after all, is said to be based on salvation by Grace and not works. And the cults are widely known to teach salvation by works and I believe that the previous 7 questions have demonstrated that this is indeed the case.

But what happens when you compare the cults' answers to this question with the answer offered by very popular Lordship Salvation teachers? Is there a big difference? Shouldn't there be?

Latter Day Saints (Mormon):
The following quote was taken directly from the LDS web site. It is their expression of how one attains the celestial kingdom, their view of ultimate salvation:

To become worthy to live in Heavenly Father’s presence after this life and to receive this peace and strength, you must learn and follow the principles and ordinances of the gospel. The first principles of the gospel are faith in Jesus Christ and repentance. The first ordinances of the gospel are baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. After you learn and follow the first principles and ordinances of the gospel, you must seek to follow Christ’s example throughout the remainder of your life. This continued faithfulness is called “enduring to the end.”

Notice the implications here… you have to "become worthy" to live in God's presence. Hmm. And you do this by learning and following these principles. Notice that it's not enough to have faith in Jesus Christ (again, they reject Christ's deity) but you must "seek to follow Christ's example" for the rest of your life!! This takes us back, again, to the assurance issue. You can clearly see that assurance would be impossible with this view because no one ever can know whether they will follow Christ's example for literally the rest of their life. In fact, you can be sure there will be failure. I suppose that's why they provide themselves a back door when they say "seek to follow". I guess you don't really have to follow, you just have to seek to follow. The seeking is good enough. Ah, the doublespeak.

The Watchtower: (Jehovah's Witnesses)
My interview with a local Jehovah's Witness revealed that you can live forever (their view of salvation) if you meet the requirements for salvation. If we have rejected religious falsehood, repented of our sins, submitted to water baptism, are doing our best to serve God the way he outlines in the Bible we have every reason to trust that we are in good standing with God. If we continue serving him whole souled and meet his righteous requirements.

That's really not all that different from the LDS answer, is it? If we do these things, then we can live forever, go to Heaven, or whatever. If we continue serving him "whole-souled'. The first key word there is "IF." And that's a big word. As my best friend used to say, "if frogs had wings, they wouldn't bump their butts on lily pads." See, they don't know "if" they will continue to serve. How could they? Thus, they have no assurance. And what on Earth does "whole-souled" mean? What about "half-souled"? Or "three quarter-souled"? Those aren't good enough? How do you measure? And notice, once again, the escape clause: "If we… are doing our best to serve…" See, this is very much like the Mormon language of "seeking." Anyway, you get the idea. I'm sure we'll get a breath of fresh air when we ask the popular Lordship teachers, though, right?

Lordship Salvation:
Well, you would think so, wouldn't you? But no, sorry… Lordship teachers, it turns out, have a very similar idea about how one becomes saved. They express this in many different ways, but it boils down to commiting your life to Christ, by continual faith and complete surrender and absolute obedience. Here are some quotes:
Jesus is Lord of all and the faith He demands involves unconditional surrender. He does not bestow eternal life on those whose hearts remain set against Him. -John MacArthur

[Salvation] comes from a life lived in obedience and service to Christ as revealed in the scripture. It (salvation) is the fruit of actions, not intentions. -John MacArthur

The life we live, not the words we speak, determines our eternal destiny. -John MacArthur

How are these answers any different, essentially, than LDS and Watchtower? They're not, are they? I wonder if the "Free Grace" view has anything different to offer:

Free Grace:
The Free Grace answer is incredibly simple. Put your faith alone in Christ alone and you have eternal life. End of story. You can go to Heaven merely by deciding to trust in Christ, realizing that He paid the price, He has made all the provision, you can add nothing to it, and so complete, so profound is God's grace in this matter that there isn't anything you can do to lose that salvation. You can know right now that you have eternal life (and eternal life lasts forever) by simply putting your trust in Christ today. And even if you fail next week, even if you become persuaded at some point in the future that you must add your works (which equates with not trusting Christ) then you still have eternal life. (eternal life, by definition, lasts forever, remember?)

Now this is not to be understood as a recommendation against performing good works once you're saved… we certainly should do good works. But even without those works, Romans 4:5 says, we are justified because we have put our trust in Christ, the one who justifies the unGodly. Therefore works aren't the issue at all in salvation in the Free Grace view. They aren't a requirement, they aren't a "necessary result" (which is the same thing as a requirement) they aren't relevant at all when it comes to whether or not you're bound for Heaven. All that's relevant for salvation is whether you have placed your trust in Christ.

This answer is 180 degrees opposed to all three other views. It is totally unique and distinct, and I think that demonstrates, especially when combined with the answers to the other 7 questions and how they compare, that Free Grace is the only view which properly separates works from grace. That is, the Lordship view is essentially based on works every bit as much as the cults' doctrines. If that's not the case, then how else do you explain the similarities in the answers to these questions?

We are so clever in the way that we constantly seek to make our behavior, our works, our morality, our obedience the issue. Somehow we'll find a way to do it, even as we deny that salvation is by works. Even as we insist that salvation is a free gift. We must check ourselves, we must examine critically what we're taught and think carefully about what a "free gift" really is, about what that really means. And we must realize that when we smuggle our works back into the equation, we are no longer trusting in Christ. That might not mean, thanks to eternal security, that we lose our salvation… salvation is not something that can be lost once it's been received. But the condition for salvation is, quite clearly, trust in Christ. Nothing is more important than this, the core gospel message.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Question #7: Reward or Gift?

The 7th question goes like this:
Is salvation a reward or a gift?

This is an important question as the answer ought to really govern other conclusions we reach about salvation. It has huge implications as to assurance of salvation, for example, it seems self evident to me that if we view salvation as a gift, then absolute assurance is ours to keep as well. But if we view salvation as a reward, you can see that assurance becomes much more elusive since rewards are based on performance and, well, maybe you're not cutting the mustard. The question is, how to the cults answer this question and how does that line up with what Lordship teachers teach?

Latter-Day Saints (Mormon):
I put this question to the three LDS missionaries who answered my invitation, and after some discussion the answer finally came back: "Both". They understand it to be both a gift and a reward. Now for them this is more complicated because really "salvation" for them is not what it is to us… "salvation" is just the "First Heaven" and, well, everyone ends up there. So perhaps you could call that a gift. But their ultimate version of "salvation" is entry into the Third Heaven, or the "Celestial Kingdom". And this is certainly a reward and they readily admit that you have to work, you have to perform, to get there.

The Watchtower (Jehovah's Witnesses):
Unfortunately, the Watchtower is apparently rather confused about whether salvation is a gift or a reward, as a quick tour through the Watchtower's web site will reveal to contradictory ideas in this regard:
“[Jehovah’s Witnesses] are working hard now for the reward of eternal life… making themselves eligible to receive the reward of eternal life.” -Watchtower publication

“Salvation is a free gift from God. It cannot be earned. Yet it does require effort on our part.” -Watchtower publication

Lordship Salvation:
Lordship teachers are not consistent even with themselves when it comes to this question. They seem to view salvation as a gift on one day, and a reward on the next, very similar to the Watchtower.
“Eternal life is indeed a free gift.” -John MacArthur

“This is a perfect picture of saving faith… the true believer signs up and gives everything for Christ. [Moses] gave up spectacular worldly wealth in order to suffer for Christ’s sake…he was really trading Egypt for a heavenly reward.” -John MacArthur

In the last quote, MacArthur is illustrating his view of salvation using Moses and his faithful choice to confront and oppose Pharoah even though Moses knew it would mean he was giving up wealth and power. By the context of the quotation, we know that MacArthur was speaking of entry into Heaven… eternal salvation, and in this illustration, MacArthur clearly views salvation as a reward (for having sacrificed all that wealth and power).

Again, it's important to understand that these ideas have consequences… That you may think salvation is a reward or a gift is not just a trivial matter. A reward is, by definition, earned and a gift, by definition, is not. Any view of salvation as a reward could betray a reliance on works for that salvation.

Free Grace:
For the 7th time, Free Grace provides an answer that is not only unique, but consistent as well. It seems that teachers of Free Grace theology take seriously the Bible's insistence that salvation is a free gift. A gift is something for which you did not work… either before or after the fact. The fact that salvation is a free gift enables us to say, with certainty, that we are saved no matter what. It links up with our 100% assurance quite nicely and doesn't create any conflicts or contradictions. Rewards are given in Heaven for our performance in this life, according to the level of sanctification we attain individually, but going to Heaven is not a reward. You won't ever find Free Grace teachers describing salvation from Hell as a "reward".

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Question #6: What is Faith?

Question #6 is:
What is faith?

Or, more specifically, what concepts does faith necessarily include or imply? Does faith simply mean to place your trust in someone or something with no other component added, or does it necessarily include and imply obedience? It's an interesting question and the results of asking it are just as interesting.

Latter-Day Saints: (Mormon)
In LDS doctrine, faith equals knowledge plus obedience. The two go together. If you don't obey, you don't have faith. But also notice that, again, there appears to be some allowance for sin, which can only mean a failure to obey. Consider this quote from the LDS web site:
Although you may still sin, you show your love for Him by striving to keep His commandments and avoiding sin.

Notice that the goalposts have moved… Faith is knowledge plus obedience. But in this quote we see that merely striving to obey is apparently good enough. But how can this be if faith equals knowledge plus obedience? Perhaps they really mean that faith equals knowledge plus striving for obedience. Consider one other quote from the LDS web site:
However, Jesus did not eliminate your personal responsibility. You must show that you accept Christ and that you have faith in Him by keeping His commandments and obeying the first principles and ordinances of the gospel.

According to this quote, I must demonstrate my faith in Christ by keeping His commandments. But if I occasionally sin, and they say that I might, then I am not keeping His commandments.

That's an interesting quandary, I think.

The Watchtower: (Jehovah's Witnesses)
The Watchtower teaches that faith must include obedience. Consider this quote from my interview from a local witness:
Obedience is necessary because it demonstrates that our faith is genuine. -Local Jehovah's Witness

Well, this is very similar to the LDS description… you must show that you have faith by obeying and keeping His commandments. But in my interview with a local Jehovah's Witness, I was told that it's possible to get off-track spiritually. Well, how is it possible to get off-track spiritually if you always obey? In other words, the Watchtower acknowledges that everyone slips a bit here and there, fails to obey. And once again we're back into the same quandary as with LDS. Their definition of faith shouldn't allow for any disobedience at all. They say faith necessarily includes obedience, that our obedience is necessary in order to demonstrate that our faith is real, or to validate our faith. This means that if you disobey at all, you're revealing that your faith is not genuine.

Lordship Salvation:
It's interesting that we find exactly the same idea in Lordship teaching. Lordship teachers believe that obedience is a necessary component of faith.
Faith is synonymous with obedience. -Marc Mueller

Faith includes obedience -John Stott

Scripture often equates faith with obedience. -John MacArthur

And here's one more interesting quote from MacArthur:
Genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith. -John MacArthur

Under this understanding, we have all the same problems that we have in the cults' teaching! How strange is that?

Free Grace:
Under Free Grace, faith is nothing more than the act of trusting someone or something. Faith has no power in itself, it is entirely dependent on the object and whether or not the object of your faith is actually capable of delivering that which you expect or trust. Obedience is not a necessary component of faith.

I cannot think of any good reason to conflate obedience with faith… in fact, doing so creates serious logical difficulties. Faith, or "trust" simply means reliance on some object. Any object. Could be a person, could be a thing. If I'm a skydiver, I trust my parachute. If trust implies obedience, then in what way do I "obey" my parachute? Has the parachute given me commands? Okay, you might say, but that's pertaining to an inanimate object… what about a person?

Well, that's easy, seems to me. Just think of a young child who relies on his parents for food and shelter. Does that mean the child always obeys his parents? After having disobeyed, does the child immediately start trying to provide his own meals and his own shelter? No… he still appears at the dinner table, relying on his parents (whom he has disobeyed) for his nourishment. Obedience, therefore, is totally independent of trust or faith.

In addition to that, as we've seen, there is a serious logical problem with including obedience as a necessary component of faith: Any lack of obedience, however small, must be interpreted as a lack of faith. Therefore, if you disobey at all, you do not have faith in Christ and therefore you're not saved. If obedience is part and parcel of faith, then nobody will go to Heaven because all of us disobey and this reveal our lack of faith.

For the sixth time, we've seen that Free Grace offers an answer that is not only totally unique from the the other three answers (all of which are essentially the same) but it also is logically consistent and fits what we know about reality… that is, that everybody fails to obey… quite regularly, in fact. And if faith includes obedience then nobody can be saved.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Question #5: Continual, Perpetual Faith?

Question #5:

Does faith in Christ have to be continual, or is belief at a point in time sufficient?

Again, I should emphasize that although Christ's deity is an extremely important issue, it's not an issue that's "on the table" for this exercise. I understand that Christ is a different person to Jehovah's Witnesses and to Mormons when compared with orthodox Christianity, and that this incorrect identity is a major issue. But the focus here, regardless of who or what Christ is, is does faith in Christ have to be an ongoing, perpetual, never-ending faith in order for salvation to take place. Now we'll take a look at how the different groups answered the question.

Latter Day Saints (Mormon):
LDS doctrine teaches that belief must be ongoing, but interestingly, the LDS missionaries I spoke with agreed that everyone slips up from time to time so there is some allowance for that. Allowance for how much is not defined.

The Watchtower (Jehovah's Witnesses):
Clearly the Watchtower teaches that faith must be ongoing and continual, along with the obedience that comes with it. But it is possible to get off-track spiritually but later get restored to good-standing with the Creator. Here we have a similar idea to that expressed my the Mormons: Everyone slips up sometimes, there seems to be some allowance for that. But again, that allowance is not defined or quantified in any way. For how long can your belief be suspended? How serious can your failure be before there is finally no turning back?

Lordship Salvation:
Once again, we see a curious similarity between the Lordship view and both LDS and Watchtower doctrine on this question. The answer from the Lordship camp seems to be that belief must be ongoing and perpetual… and if faith ceases at some point, then it was never really real to begin with and person is not saved.
Endurance in faith is a condition for future salvation; only those who endure in faith will be saved for eternity -R.C. Sproul

Genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith. -John MacArthur

Also notice in John MacArthur's quote that he expresses the idea that believers may "stumble and fall" but goes on to say that they will persevere in faith. Well that's odd because that's very similar, again, to what the LDS and Watchtower teaches. MacArthur is setting forth some sort of allowance for failure, but as in the case with the cults, that allowance is not defined. At what point does stumbling and falling reveal a less-than genuine faith?

Free Grace:
For a fifth time, we see that Free Grace has the unique perspective on this question: If faith in Christ had to be continual, then 100% assurance would be impossible and our salvation would depend on us and not on Christ. The answer is no, it does not have to be continual and the Greek grammar in every salvation passage supports this.

Many salvation passages, such as John 3:15, 3:16, 3:36, 5:24, 6:40, 6:47, 11:25-26, 20:31 are commonly misunderstood to mean that belief must be continuing. The misunderstanding arises from the phrase "The one who believes", which recurs in each of these verses. "Believes" there is typically taken as present-tense verb and from this people conclude that ongoing, continual faith is required.

Think of the implications for assurance that this carries: Since you cannot know whether your belief will continue until death, you cannot know whether you're saved until you actually die. Yet, in 1 John 5:13 John writes:
I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

How could John have written this if belief had to be continual? How would John know that his entire audience would continue in their belief such that he could tell them that they have eternal life right now? The only way he could have told them this is if he knew that they need only believe once.

It's not that difficult to see that it is incorrect to understand the verbs in these passages to indicate continual belief. In every one of those verses, the word "believes" is not a verb at all; it's a participle. Participles don't carry a reference to tense the way verbs do.

It is rather easy to demonstrate that the use of a participle tells you nothing about when something happened or whether it continues to happen. Consider the following sentence:

The person who paints his house red will have a red house.

If "paints" is a present-tense verb which necessarily denotes continuing action, then this person must never stop painting if they are to have a red house. Notice that we would never reach such a conclusion from this sentence… we know that would be absurd. The word "paints" here is not a verb, but a participle. It's used to describe the person, like an adjective would and tells us nothing about when the action took place or how long it endured.

This can also be demonstrated with John 5:24 which reads:

whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.

Both the word "hears" and the word "believes" are participles, not verbs. But suppose for a moment that we are to understand "believes" as a present-tense verb indicating continual action… if that's the case, then the same must be true of "hears". So, one must never stop hearing Christ's word either. I dunno about you, but when I'm asleep, I've stopped hearing. In fact, there are many times throughout the day that I am not hearing Christ's word. According to the way these folks understand this verse (due to their distortion of the grammar) I am not saved because I do not continually hear Christ's word.

If we understand these words as participles with no reference to tense, then this problem evaporates. You only need to hear Christ's word once by this understanding, and if that's true of the word "hears" then it's also true of the word "believes." They are the same part of speech. God is logically consistent.

For a fifth time, we see that the Free Grace perspective stands apart from the other three views, totally unique and totally consistent with the absolute assurance promised in the Bible and Christ's absolute faithfulness.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Question #4: Faith Without Works is Dead?

Question #4 is as follows:
What does James say about the relationship between faith and works?

This question has to do with James Chapter 2, which I addressed elsewhere on this blog a few months ago. And it is one of the questions that really was the genesis of this project because I hear Christians saying the same things, and reaching the same conclusions, about James Chapter 2 that Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons do. This just cannot be a good thing.

Latter Day Saints: (Mormon)
In LDS doctrine, ultimate salvation is known as "exaltation"… this is entrance into the 3rd Heaven. With that in mind, the LDS interpretation of James Chapter 2 is that there is no exaltation if works are not added to faith.

The Watchtower: (Jehovah's Witnesses)
According to Watchtower teaching, works are a necessary component of faith. If you don’t have works, you must not have faith and you will not be saved.
…anyone who has genuine faith will have works to go with it - works of obedience to the commands of God and Christ, works that demonstrate his faith and love. Without such works, his faith is dead. -Local Jehovah's Witness

James makes it clear that a person with genuine faith will automatically produce action that gives evidence of his faith. -Local Jehovah's Witness

Notice that the JW answer characterizes works as a sort of "evidence" of true faith, and so if they don't have works, they must not have faith. The absence of works indicates the absence of faith, in other words. This is why they look to their own works for assurance.

The Mormon position is slightly different, based on my personal conversation with the LDS missionaries, as they didn't say anything that connected works with "evidence" of faith. They just said that if you don't have works added to your faith, you won't be exalted.

Well, in either case works have to be added to faith, and that's the main point we're looking for here so that we can compare that with the Lordship answers.

Lordship Salvation:
Lordship teachers account for the apparent tension between faith and works in James Chapter 2 in a couple of different ways. One way is to understand that James advocates works of a different kind than Paul when Paul said salvation is “not of works”. Perhaps the more common explanation, however, is that if you don’t have works, then this is evidence that your faith is not genuine and you were never really saved in the first place. Does that sound familiar?

The key is to understand the difference between works as Paul defined them and works as James defined them. For the purposes of my argument I will refer to Paul's term as "works" and James' term as "work." We are not to do works, but we are to work. -Don Johnson, "The Road To Heaven" page 135

And therefore if you say "But I'm justified because I believed the doctrine of justification by faith… and then it doesn't change your life and you go on to live like the devil; a selfish, self-centered person the rest of your life, James would say 'You're not justified" But he wouldn't say that because you didn't add a second thing, simply, to your faith but because your faith is dead. It wasn't faith. -John Piper

Notice John Piper's quote and compare it especially to the quote from the Jehovah's Witness. There's absolutely no difference. Why is that? Why is this prominent and incredibly popular Christian teacher teaching the same thing that the Watchtower teaches about this? What does that tell us about Lordship Salvation if we already understand and accept that the Watchtower teaches salvation by works?

If we are to maintain that we understand salvation to be by grace and not of works, then our answer needs to be different than the cults, not the same. And I think it's rather clear that the Bible provides a very different answer.

Free Grace:
The Free Grace perspective on James Chapter 2 is to point out first of all that James knows he's addressing an audience that is saved. We know this from his repeated use of the word "brethren" elsewhere in the epistle. And also that "faith" in this passage is not the word for trusting in Christ. It is the word "pistis" which is a noun which refers to "that which is believed." When we say salvation is by "faith in Christ" usually we mean an act, a verb. Actually the verb "pisteuo" as in so many passages in John and also Acts 16:31. But that's not the word James uses in Chapter 2. He uses the word "pistis" instead and this means "a body of knowledge or belief". Notice that this is a very, very broad term. But James says "faith (pistis) without works is dead." So what does he mean by "dead"? Some English translations use the word "useless" instead of "dead", for the Greek word there is "nekros" which can mean "dead" but also means "useless" and the latter fits better in this context. But what does "faith without works is useless" mean?

Here's an illustration: You believe (I assume) that fastening your seat belt when you drive somewhere is a good idea. You could describe this belief of yours as "pistis", or "that which you believe." Now, if you drive somewhere without actually fastening your seat belt, of what use to you is that belief? Absolutely none. If you get in an accident, the unfastened seat belt that's flopping around at your side will not help you one bit.

To apply this in a more Biblical illustration, consider Jesus' teaching "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." That is "pistis"; or part of the body of knowledge which you have as a Christian. But if you do not live by that teaching, then obviously the fact that you believe it is of no use to anyone. In other words, James is basically saying "apply Bible doctrine" in your life. If you don't, that Bible doctrine is useless.

That is an answer which is totally different from the cults' teaching and is entirely consistent with the Bible and eliminates any apparent contradiction between James and Paul.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Question #3: Ongoing Obedience and Perseverance?

The third question is this:

Does salvation require ongoing commitment and perseverance in obedience?

Latter-Day Saints (Mormon):
This is another question that had to be rephrased a bit so that we get a good comparison. The Mormon's ultimate salvation is really called "exaltation," where they enter what they call the "Celestial Kingdom" or the "Third Heaven." So I asked the three LDS missionaries whether exaltation required ongoing commitment and perseverance in obedience.

The answer I received was not surprising at all… in fact it's quite logically consistent with their answers to the first two questions. Their answer was that exaltation certainly does require ongoing commitment and “enduring to the end.”

The Watchtower (Jehovah's Witnesses):
The Jehovah's Witness that I consulted on these questions answered quite buntly "Yes" and then cited Matthew 24:13 to support this. “He who endures to the end will be saved.” Again, this answer is logically consistent with their answers to the first two.

What I mean by that is, for either group, they lack absolute assurance of ultimate salvation, or they locate whatever meager assurance they have in their own performance, because they believe they cannot be saved unless they meet a particular standard (yet undefined) of personal performance. In other words, their salvation ultimately depends upon them and not on God. Though they may claim that salvation is a "grace gift", clearly they don't really believe this. If they did believe it, their answer to question 3 would have to be "No."

In other words, a "Yes" answer to question 3 flows naturally from belief in a works-based plan of salvation. But what is the answer from the Lordship perspective? These are mainstream Christian teachers who profess to teach a by-grace salvation. But do they really embrace it, or is it just lip-service?

Lordship Salvation:
According to several popular teachers, we see that Lordship Salvation requires ongoing commitment and perseverance, absolute surrender and obedience.

…if there is a reserve in your obedience, you are on your way to Hell. -A.W. Pink

Genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith. -John MacArthur

…the faith [Jesus] demands involves unconditional surrender. -John MacArthur

The New Testament speaks of enduring to the end promising that he who endures to the end will be saved. -R.C Sproul

That last quote is particularly interesting, because R.C. Sproul is talking about Matthew 24:13 there… the same verse cited by the Jehovah's Witness!!

Now what is Matthew 24:13 about, then? Well it doesn't take much effort to see that in Matthew 24, Jesus is talking about the Tribulation. In Chapter 24 verse 3, the disciples ask Jesus what will be signs of His coming and of the end of the "age". Jesus goes on to describe cataclysmic events of various kinds and then in verse 13 He says "But he who endures to the end will be saved."

Saved? Does this mean eternal salvation? The word for "saved" here is not a technical term which always refers to eternal salvation. In fact, it frequently does not. The Greek word "sozo" means to "deliver" from some danger… but what danger is always determined by context. Jesus is talking about the Tribulation, and clearly there will be people who survive the Tribulation, and those who do will be delivered into the Millenial Kingdom which follows. It's as simple as that. This passage has nothing to do with eternal salvation. But what is the Free Grace perspective on this question?

Free Grace:
The answer is "No." If the answer was "Yes," then that would mean salvation is by works and not by grace and 100% assurance would be impossible. Now it's true that discipleship and practical sanctification require ongoing commitment and perseverance, but eternal salvation does not. It is a free gift, it is not something you have to strive for. And once again, we see that, of the four groups, the Free Grace perspective is the only one with a distinct answer and Lordship Salvation looks more and more like it's based on works every bit as much as the cults.