(By: Norm Rasmussen; Founder, Precious Testimonies)

These are very important questions. I trust that by the time you are done reading this, you'll be more confident in what to believe about these matters. Confusion abounds over these questions and the main reason for it is that many people don't have a crystal clear understanding of what SALVATION as spoken of in the Holy Bible really IS. Many have a wrong understanding of how salvation is obtained, and how a Christian can remain secure in it the rest of their lives.

What is salvation, then? The simple answer: Saved from our sins. Elaborating: Salvation (or becoming saved; it means the same as salvation) is God's forgiveness (free pardon) of our sins (spiritual rebellion) against Him and others so that our sins will not be held against us on the judgment day - otherwise they would cause us to be separated from God for all eternity.  

Why is it important to be forgiven - freely pardoned - for our sins (spiritual rebellion against God)? Because the Bible clearly tells us that otherwise our sins (bad deeds) will be judged by God, and the punishment for them will be eternal separation from Him accompanied with great, everlasting torment because of them.

To help understand the former paragraph, there are two important judgments we need to be aware of:  First: For the sins committed by people who appropriate God's free gift of eternal salvation (forgiveness of sins) prior to dying. God the Father has already pronounced judgment for their sins upon Jesus Christ, and the evidence of it was His cruel death on the cross. Second: For those who do not appropriate God's free gift of eternal salvation prior to dying, judgment will be executed at a future time by God for their sins and God's punishment for their sins will be eternal separation from Him and eternal torment for them. 

Thus the sins (past, present and future sins) of born again Christians have already been judged and paid in full at Christ's death on the cross, burial, and resurrection over 2,000 years ago. These are those whose names are written in the Lambs Book Of Life. Those who are not spiritually born again and whose names are not written in the Lambs Book Of Life will have their sins judged at the great white throne judgment in the future, and everyone in that judgment will have to pay the penalty for all their sins for eternity.     

Salvation is attained and secured by what a person believes, not what a person does ... as though the death of Jesus Christ as payment for ours sin on the cross holds little or no importance - no relevance - to them. The devil works so hard to keep Christians from understanding the crucially important difference of the two and that is where so much confusion comes in.  

It needs to be repeated due to signify its crucial importance: Salvation is attained and forever secured by what a Christian believes - and continues to keep trusting for. What a Christian does after they become saved (initially obtains or receives the free gift of salvation, in other words) involves the loss or gain of eternal rewards. Eternal rewards is what a Christian lays up in heaven for themselves once they have received the free gift of salvation (forgiveness - pardon for their sins), but is not to be confused with how one becomes saved nor stays saved.   

Saying it another way: A Christian is saved from eternal separation from God for their sins by believing -- but rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ by their doing after they were saved. (Scripture doesn't make it crystal clear if God will reward Christians for any good deeds they did prior to becoming saved - spiritually born again, but it won't surprise me personally that He very well may). 

It bears repeating: It is so important to understand the difference! The Christian's works of obedience to God that follow their salvation are what the Bible calls 'good works', not working for one's salvation to try to earn it or being deserving of it.

The following Bible scripture passage clearly points this out:   

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)

Let's closely examine a few key words in the above scripture passage, so we fully understand what God is communicating to us in it.  

'For by grace you have been saved.' This is telling us that God's unconditional love, God's mercy, God's compassion - God's unmerited favor - is what motivated/motivates God to want to forgive us for our sins and let us go to heaven and be with Him for eternity experiencing eternal life - eternal joy ... not holding our sins against us whereby we would otherwise be separated from Him for all eternity.

'For by grace you have been saved through faith.' This is telling us that we are saved from our sins by our believing something -- freely forgiven from eternal separation from God as judgment for our sins against Him and others by believing something. Believing WHAT? Don't miss this! This is where the devil confuses people. Christians are saved - freely pardoned from being punished for their sins so they won't be eternally separated from God by believing - trusting - having confidence in God ... that they need forgiveness from God for their sins, so they can have God's wrath removed off them both now and especially on the Judgment Day when it matters the most.  

At the heart of Christianity is this core statement of truth: God died for sinners. God says in scripture that all people are born with a sin nature, inherited from Adam and Eve, so in truth, God died for all mankind, because all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. God Himself died on the cross and took the punishment for the sins of all people so they could be forgiven for them so they could enjoy eternal spiritual life with God instead of eternal spiritual death separated from God. Do you believe that? Do you believe that the wisest thing you could ever do; the wisest decision you could ever make ... is to quickly reach out and ask Him for salvation and by faith receive God's FREE gift of salvation (pardon for sins) for you and mean it? If you do that, you have instantly obtained 'salvation', which qualifies you to be forever with God should you die a minute from now, or however many days, weeks, months or years God gives you before you pass into eternity. Your believing, your faith in that declaration of truth is what saves you from the penalty of eternal spiritual death for your sins, and keeps you saved from eternal spiritual death for them once you die.

And yes, for you diligent bible scholars, I realize there is more to being a true Christian than just receiving the FREE gift of eternal salvation. That's just our starting point, though who but the truly saved can doubt the most important decision we can make in this life initially is to sincerely ask Jesus Christ to become our personal Lord and Savior, and ask His forgiveness for our sins! Obedience to the commands of God in the New Testament Bible are vitally important for walking out our salvation after that initial decision, but let's not turn this into a book on santification, but rather, address that issue in another writing.


Let's elaborate a little more on Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV) to try to help people better understand what God is wanting us to know about this particular very important spiritual truth:  

'For by grace (God's unmerited, undeserved, loving, merciful favor) you have been saved through faith (trusting - believing that Jesus Christ took full punishment for all your sins -- past, present and future sins -- so you would not be judged for them on the judgment day with the sentence of eternal separation from God for all eternity and then have to suffer for them), and that (and being qualified for this free gift of forgiveness for your sins) not of yourselves (this free gift of forgiveness for our sins so they do not separate us eternally from God is nothing we have done or can do to somehow earn it or deserve it on any merit(s) of our own); it is the (free) gift of God, not by works ("works" meaning trying to do any religious activities on our own initiative we think would motivate God to forgive us for our sins), lest anyone should boast (brag - arrogantly boast that something a mere human can do is at least equivalent or better than what the Son of God (God the Son) did by suffering in our place by taking full punishment for our sins when He didn't have to so we would be fully pardoned for them whereby we would be spared eternal separation from God on the judgment day).'  

God wants us understanding that doing spiritual things does not and will not save us (bring about His forgiveness) from our sins. Becoming identified - connected with the "right church and/or denomination" will in no way grant us forgiveness for our sins. The only 'work/s' that ever saved anyone from their sins is the act of compassion God demonstrated on the cross over 2,000 years ago, and those were HIS works; HIS doing; not ours. God suffered and died in our place. God executed His wrath against our sins, literally on HIMSELF. God HIMSELF (in human form) took full punishment for our past, present and future sins by taking our punishment for them (though I give great room to the possibility that there are still consequences for certain sins that involves being engaged primarily in teaching spiritual deception God tells us little about in the Bible that may or may not be, in my opinion only, completely forgiven by God; that may or may not mean eternal separation from Him ... but at the very least a painful loss of eternal rewards if allowed to remain with God ... and I say this because of this particular scripture passage:

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.  - James 3:1 (NKJV).) 

[Let me assure you based on James 3:1 ... I tremble inside at the thought that what I am writing here, and/or have written and published in other spiritual writings and/or videos -- things I've communicated that may not have always lined up clearly with spiritual Truth as determined by God, or in the future may not line up with spiritual Truth clearly to the degree that it may somehow deceive people spiritually -- knowing that I will be judged more strictly for it than others who have not written or spoken about spiritual matters and let them get placed on the Internet or in other mass readership or viewership venues. This sobering matter I'm fully persuaded of ... God has a lot of mercy and grace for those who are spiritually deceived about various Christian doctrines in their ignorance ... but for those who are spiritually deceived and seem driven (intensely impassioned?) to try to get others to believe their spiritual deception - especially when it comes to mainline Christian doctrinal foundational truths; the authority and trustworthiness and importance of obedience of and to God's Word in accepted Bible translations; and most specifically, a deceiving "works" salvation rather than salvation being totally a FREE gift from God simply by our asking for it and continual believing for it ... that puts forgiveness of sins in a different category that needs serious self-examination on our knees in prayer to God frequently if we are wise!  (I believe Matthew 7:21-23 also incorporates this matter of teaching spiritual deception as does James 3:1)].        

God HIMSELF (in human form) shed His innocent blood on our behalf on the Cross. We can't add to this ultimate, supreme sacrifice of love on His part, not can we take away from it. The best we can do is be thankful for it and demonstrate to God we are thankful for it by what we do once we believe it. What God wants us doing once we believe it is commonly known as then becoming an obedient disciple of Jesus Christ, seriously obeying His commands and heeding it's warnings and wisdom as given in the New Testament Bible as best as we are able, for they are the very commands of God, being the Father, Jesus the Son (the Word; important to know), and the Holy Spirit. (Please know I am not excluding the importance of the Old Testament, but the way of Salvation was never provided for until Jesus Christ our Messiah came on the scene, which essentially ended the Old Testament and started the New Testament. I'm trying to make this writing as simple as I know how to new Christians, or people who are thinking about becoming Christians.)

'... Lest anyone should boast.' God ends out the declaring of truth in Ephesians 2:9 by saying that no one -- absolutely no one will be able to stand before God on their Judgment Day and succeed in convincing God His sacrifice on the Cross for their sins was not sufficient enough of a sacrifice from Him to have the penalty of their sins removed off their lives while they lived on Earth and change God's mind. 

No one will be able to convince the Judge of the universe that they were 'good enough of a person' either to have the penalty for their sins be forgiven by Him, as though their 'being good enough' carries more weight, has more value - than God dying in their place which He did for them, when He didn't have to. 

No one will persuade the Judge that His dying on the cross and taking full punishment for all that past, present and future sins needs a little 'extra' help on their part. God, surely all the things I did (or didn't do) for you to help other people while I lived on earth was good enough to have you remove your sentence of wrath for my sins, wasn't it? Yes, I believe you died for my sins on the cross, but didn't that just forgive my past sins up to the time I turned my life over to You and decided to become a Christian? Didn't you expect me to do 'good works' after that the rest of my life to earn forgiveness for any sins I would commit after that?'  The Judge will then ask: 'Are you saying that My sacrifice for your sins needed a little help from you? Are you saying that you're so special and so super-spiritual that you were a more acceptable sacrifice than I WAS, that I AM?' Cringe and grimace time for such an individual. It's not going to fly with the Judge.

Salvation (pardon for our sins that otherwise would separate us from God for eternity) is the FREE gift of God. If there is anything beyond believing, trusting for it on our part, then it couldn't possibly be 'free'.

If we could 'earn' salvation (forgiveness for our sins), what was the point of God dying for us on the cross then? There would be no point. The heart and soul, the very foundation of Christianity - would be a complete lie.

Now here is where many Christians get confused by the devil. Officially, does a Christian become saved from the penalty for their sins when they pray 'the sinner's prayer'? It depends. That may have been the starting point of their becoming spiritually born again as addressed in John chapter 3, but technically that wasn't what saved them. What saved them is their believing that God paid full penalty for their sins by taking their full punishment for them on the Cross, and their asking His forgiveness for those sins by what they prayed in praying the sinner's prayer. The prayer itself didn't save them, though God honors it, because that's their serious (assuming they were serious) starting point with God. Their asking forgiveness for them and believing, trusting - they were/are forgiven for them in their prayer is what removed God's wrath off them immediately so that they will not be judged for them on the Judgment Day and subsequently punished for them for all eternity.

What keeps a Christian saved from the penalty for any future sins they commit after that? The very same as when they first started their relationship with Jesus Christ. What works initially continues to follow the exact same pattern. God doesn't change paths - directions - along the way.Their continuing to believe God paid full penalty on the cross for them, AND confessing those sins to God and once again asking His forgiveness and receiving it for them, as 1 John 1:9 says a Christian is to do is what keeps them spiritually cleansed from all unrighteousness and in good standing with God. As they grow in their personal relationship with the Lord, assuming they mean serious business with God, the Holy Spirit will make them aware of the importance of 1 John 5:3 and 1 John 5:18.

Satan tries to use the scripture 'work out your salvation by fear and trembling' to keep Christians confused about 'our works' and 'God's grace'. Christians 'working out their salvation' is their determination to walk in daily obedience to God's commands as given to us in the New Testament by empowerment of the Holy Spirit and their will. No Christian walks in total obedience to God after they become initially saved from their sins. It's a process once a person becomes spiritually born again -- after they have been saved. A life-long process at that in this life, and I personally don't believe ANY Christian walks in complete obedience to God on this planet all the time, nor will it happen until we receive our glorified bodies, and that isn't going to happen until the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.


In Christian circles, we hear of 'backsliders,' or 'being in a backslidden spiritual state with Jesus Christ,' or 'having fallen away from Christianity.' Satan diligently strives to keep us confused about what is really going on in these matters of being 'backslidden'. To a person who initially believes that God paid full penalty for all their past, present and future sins, and then purposely chooses NOT to believe that any more can be assumed to be lost what they once had with God. God gives each of us that right to believe it, or disbelieve it. God won't force us to initially believe it, nor will He force us to KEEP believing it. He gives us freewill to believe what we want to choose to believe. (I realize there are others who would strongly disagree with me on this, and that is their prerogative, as there will be many who will disagree with many other things I've said in this writing, and I respect and am thankful for their right to do so).

If a Christian once believed that God paid full penalty for all their past, present and future sins, and then simply decides to live a life of selfish sinfulness with little or no regard for what God thinks about their doing so, that doesn't technically cause them to lose their salvation, I believe. That issue would involve the discipline of God for unrepentant sinners saved by God's grace. (Repentance doesn't mean we're simply sorry for our sins and leave it at that. True repentance to God means we are not only sorry, but we are to diligently work with God for His help and our turning AWAY from sins we keep committing).  

Saying it another way, God specializes in restoring backsliders. His love and pain for lost souls simply would not allow Him to do otherwise. He wants no one to perish, but wants all to come to repentance. [For you Bible scholars that want to bring up the Hebrews 10:26 passage, here is my position on that issue:  Who Is A True Christian? ].

But if a Christian renounces believing that God paid full penalty for dying for them for their past, present and future sins, or simply refuses to CARE anymore and continue sinning by either refusing to believe they are sinning (does homosexuality come to mind in the Christian community, as a for instance?), or that they'll take their chances that God won't hold it against them on the Judgment Day, then of course they would be extremely wise in my firm belief that they can assume they have canceled out God's forgiveness for their sins. Why a person would do such a thing is beyond comprehension, but it happens.  

As a sidebar: We must remember that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is THE unforgivable sin. What truly is that sin, and why is it unforgivable? I believe the following writing does great justice to answering that question: What is Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? 

I realize I'm being overly repetitious in this writing, but: Can a person start out believing correctly about what God says saves them of their sins, then fall away from believing correctly what God says saves them from their sins, then be given another chance to believe correctly AGAIN what saves them from their sins? God alone is the judge of the matter. Satan is so cunningly deceitful in this arena. Cults, para-cults and wolves in sheep's clothing, false prophets - are Satan's disciples to try to deceive innocent sheep of God into believing lies regarding matters of salvation. I am of the personal opinion that if God cared enough for you to die for you so you could be freed from eternal separation from Him on the judgment day, He'll do everything in His power to give you another chance to be restored back in good standing with Him prior to you dying.  

So continuing on being repetitious in hopes of conveying to some how important this subject is: God does not want us confused about what saves us from the penalty for our sins, nor does He want us to believe He will stop forgiving us for our sins if we continue to engage ourselves doing 1 John 1:9 and Romans 8:13 (1 John 1:9 immediately cancels our debt. Romans 8:13 addresses the matter of sanctification, the matter of repentance ' dealing with strongholds of sin in our life AFTER we become disciples of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, to the glory of God the Father), but Satan sure wants to keep us confused!   

Let's repetitiously summarize by once again making certain we always keep this straight in our minds:  

We are saved from the penalty of our sins by our initial belief and our on-going believing, on-going trusting - in the complete and finished work of God on the cross for our behalf. What we do after that is what earns us both favor from God in this life and future rewards in the next life, or causes us to have a loss of God's favor in this life and a possible loss of future rewards on our Judgment Day.   

Salvation ' forgiveness for our sins by God ' can neither be earned, nor is it granted to the 'deserving.' No one deserves salvation. Truth is, we all deserve God's wrath because of our sin against Him and His subsequent judgment of death in hell for eternity for them because punishment for wrong doing is only right. Justice demands punishment for wrongdoing. Yet God eagerly desires to grant humanity salvation (forgiveness) to those who will simply believe and keep believing that His dying in their place is the biggest deal in all creation, forever and ever.   

Can a person lose their salvation?  Why in the world would a person WANT to lose it, once they understand why and how it's granted ... and the position they have in Christ? Yet how can a person lose something they never really had to begin with, if they never came to understand what true salvation is in the first place?  

The human spirit wells up with joy beyond what words can begin to describe once a person receives understanding from the Holy Spirit of what God the Son did for them by dying for them when He didn't have to. The immeasurable cost required by Him by His unimaginable suffering and shedding of His innocent blood for us when He didn't have to. The sacrifice He gave us of HIMSELF on the cross so we could be free from penalty for all our sins -- once you begin to fully grasp what He did for us by dying in our place, granting us FREE pardon, that's not something you reject, or give up indefinitely, not if you are wise anyway. Only a self-deluded hardhearted fool would turn down a gift of such pricelessness. Why would God want someone like that spending eternity with Him? Yet heaven will be full of sinners saved by His grace (God's unmerited favor) who will be there with Him. People like myself. It's beyond comprehension! Yet it's crucial in believing it.

And hell will be full of people who refused to reach out and show appreciation for God's free gift of eternal salvation (forgiveness through Christ Jesus). People who refused to believe it, and/or couldn't be bothered in caring about it so they did nothing about it while they lived on earth. For them, God's wrath won't be executed against them for all eternity just for their sins, though that's reason enough. It will be also be because of their lack of appreciation for what Jesus Christ accomplished for them, when He didn't have to. If Jesus Christ had been solely just a mere man, then His sacrifice wouldn't mean much. But because Jesus Christ was both a mere man AND God Himself, that means EVERYTHING! It does to Him anyway,and when He's the Judge of where we'll spend eternity, what matters to Him is truly all that really matters, doesn't it?

Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake. 

To get to know God, to be at peace with God, to have your sins forgiven, to make certain heaven will be your home for eternity, to make certain that you are in right-standing with God right now ... please click here to help you understand the importance of being reconciled to God. What you do about being reconciled to God will determine where you will spend eternity, precious one. Your decision to be reconciled to God is the most important decision you'll ever make in this life, because in Christ, it is impossible to put a value on the worth of your soul in light of eternity.


JESUS DID IT! and...


Remember:  All that we do in this life comes back to our God-given purpose which is to serve and glorify God. The money and assets we accumulate, the fame and power we've attained or seek to attain - all of the things of this nature will one day pass away, but those lives of others we impact for Jesus Christ will last for eternity, and we will be rewarded for the part we helped play by impacting those lives ... for eternity. (Matthew 6:19-20 is our assurance)