Cause and effect
But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2
For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
There is a lot of disagreement and discussion among Christians about whether it is possible for a believer to lose his salvation. The verses above and others like them have been cited to show that keeping our salvation is dependent on our remaining faithful and continuing to believe in him. But is that really what they are saying?
“The one who endures to the end will be saved.” This clearly shows that there is a connection between being saved and enduring to the end. But what exactly is the relationship between them and which one is the cause and which one is the effect? Is a believer saved because he endures or does he endure because he is saved? Another way to express this is to ask if enduring to the end the the way a believer keeps his salvation or is it the evidence that he has been saved?
The answer to this question depends on how we are saved in the first place. If salvation is something that we attain because of what we do then obviously we must keep on doing it or we will lose our salvation.
But the Bible clearly teaches that salvation is a gift.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
According to Romans 11:29
The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
Salvation is also the result of God’s work and not ours. We can start to do something and then quit before it is finished but God never does this.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
We know that there are many people who make a profession of believing in Christ and serve him for awhile but later turn away from the faith. Did they lose their salvation because they didn’t continue in the faith? Here is what John says about these people in 1 John 2:19.
They went out from us but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continues with us. But they went out that it might become plain that they all are not of us.
This shows that people like this haven’t lost their salvation but they never really had it in the first place.
It seems clear that enduring to the end is a result of salvation and the evidence that we really possess it rather that being the means by which we remain saved.