Thursday, March 13, 2008

Questioning Salvation

A co-worker came to me this morning with an interesting question: If a homosexual becomes a Christian, engages in homosexual activity after becoming a Christian, and dies before seeking God's forgiveness, will he be saved?

This was my answer:

Our salvation is not based on our perfection. Christians are saved by God's grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

When we experience God's grace, it changes us. Paul wrote, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" (Titus 2:11-12, NIV). When we come to appreciate what God went through to save us, we want to avoid sin and temptation.

When we come to true faith in Jesus Christ, we are changed. It affects our actions. James wrote, "I will show you my faith by what I do" (James 2:18, NIV). Unlike the demons whose faith does not change them, a Christian's faith changes him.

Is it possible for a Christian to return to homosexuality (or any other sin) after conversion and still be saved? Sometimes it takes a while to learn how to say "No" to our ungodly urges. Sometimes Christians will return to familiar sins in moments of weakness, in moments of anxiety, or in moments of depression. "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin" (1 John 1:7, NIV). We need to follow the Spirit's call to reject sin, and trust in Jesus even when we fail to live up to his standards.

Sometimes I attend funerals of people who have been affected in obvious ways by the grace of God. They tell people about their faith. They live with obvious love for God and people. I do not doubt their salvation, because I have seen how the grace of God has impacted their lives.

Sometimes I attend funerals of people I do not recognize by the words the preacher uses to describe them. They reject God's grace. They live selfishly and arrogantly. They oppose God's standards, and do not even try to live up to them. I don't really have any reason to hope to see them in heaven. I have a very hard time at their funerals.

Sometimes I attend funerals of people who have professed to love God, but who have struggled a great deal with overcoming their sins. They seem to fail more often than they succeed. I look at their lives, and I have some hope that they will be in heaven, but I have a few nagging doubts because I would have liked to have seen better results from their lives. I would need to put the hypothetical Christian (mentioned by my co-worker) who died while engaged in homosexuality in this category.

No comments: