Question:

Jesus died for our sins on the cross. Jesus, being God and part of the Trinity, doesn't look at time as us humans. Jesus is infinite and we are finite. So if Jesus died for our sins, he died for all our sins from the time we were born until the time that we die when we became a Christian and accepted him as our Savior. Does that mean we cannot fall away or does that mean we repent of our future sins even though they were forgiven at the cross? I don't understand how Calvin can state "once saved, always saved" when there are many Bible verses refute this position. However, if Jesus died for our sins 2000 years ago, he died for all of our sins; thus when we become a Christian all of our sins are forgiven. I am confused. How can we fall away if the sins were forgiven? We are humans, so we will continue to sin. Does grace cover our future sins with our repentance? I appreciate any help on these questions.


Answer:

I had some difficulties following that. The flaw is that you assume that Jesus' death was the perfect sacrifice because he is eternal. One doesn't follow from the other. Nor is it so stated in the Bible.

There was one sacrifice for sin because Jesus' life was the perfect sacrifice: "Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (I Peter 1:18-19). It was because Jesus was without sin that he could be the sin sacrifice on our behalf. "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (II Corinthians 5:21).

Because of the perfection of Christ's sacrifice, it only needed to be done once. "By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Hebrews 10:10). "Once for all" applies to Jesus' sacrifice; it is not a comment on the duration of our sanctification. What the writer is stating is that Jesus did not have to be offered up yearly or once for each sinner. His single sacrifice was so great and so perfect that this one sacrifice redeemed all men from sin -- those at the time of his death, those who live after his death, and those who lived before his death (Hebrews 9:14-15). That is why it is referred to as "eternal redemption" (Hebrews 9:12). "But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God" (Hebrews 10:12). It is a permanent solution to the problem of sin.

But if that was all that it took, then sin would be gone from the world. Yet, you realize that sin still exists. To have access to the redemption, we have to accept the offer of salvation, and that is done through baptism. "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin" (Romans 6:3-7).

Ideally, Christians should not sin anymore once they have been freed from sin. But sin is still present and a danger. Some, in their confusion thought that being "freed from sin" meant they didn't have to worry about sin because it couldn't affect them because Jesus' sacrifice would cover them anyway -- similar to what you stated. "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?" (Romans 6:1-2). We battle against sin. It is no longer our master, unless one returns to Satan, but it doesn't mean that we don't get trapped by sin at times. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 1:8-2:1).

When we sin, Jesus does not have to die for us yet again. His payment was sufficient that if we come back to the Father and confess our sins, that same one glorious sacrifice will atone for our sins.

So, no it isn't once saved, always saved. Jesus' single sacrifice can cover a world of sin if the sinner obeys the Lord in faith by being baptized. And for the same reason, Jesus' one sacrifice can cover our later sins if we repent and confess our faults to God. It isn't an automatic coverage, but a freely available one.

Thank you so much for answering my questions and answering so quickly. I have read your answer a couple of times and think I understand now. My confusion began during a Bible study with people of other denominations. Many of the people that I study the Bible with during lunch once a week have this "once saved, always saved" mind set. My question came from a discussion of apostasy and falling away. They argued that a Christian, who is truly saved, cannot do anything to lose his salvation. However, what I have read in the Bible and on your web site confirms that the Scriptures contradict that position. Both Paul and Peter warned Christians to hold faithfully to the truth and not be pulled back into the world or be deceived by false teachers. My greatest fear is that I will fail to follow what God wants us to do; for example, what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-27. I don't want to be one of those people Jesus said that he never knew.

Thanks again for your guidance and help in my journey to be the best faithful Christian that I can be. God bless.