Think of the power of God’s words below. We were under a new covenant, one that The Lord will never break. We break our covenant with Christ every time we sin, but this is the Lord’s response:
“And I will reaffirm my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD. You will remember your sins and cover your mouth in silent shame when I forgive you of all that you have done. I, the Sovereign LORD, have spoken!” Ezekiel 16:62-63 (NLT)
Throughout the Old Testament God compares his relationship to Israel to the covenant of marriage: a covenant Israel continually broke by following other gods. The Lord called their unfaithfulness “adultery”.
Now note the nature of a covenant. It is not like a contract. In a contract, if the other party breaks the deal, you can walk away. A contract is created for each party to protect their own interests. A contract, therefore, is selfish at its core.
A covenant, however, cannot be abandoned just because the other party violates the agreement. A covenant is a deeply spiritual agreement because it is not designed in order that each party protect their own interests, but that each party protect THE OTHER PARTY’S interests. A covenant is selfLESS at its core.
So in a covenantal agreement, if the other side breaks the deal, you are still on the hook to continue honoring your side of the deal. Why? Because a covenant is about love. True love is demonstrated when you hold nothing against someone, but continue to serve them and their interests.
The Lord only granted one exception for someone to walk away from a broken covenant: adultery in marriage. In the case of adultery, the offended party may walk away from the marriage covenant. So when The Lord tells Israel they are an adulterous spouse, that sent a powerful message: “I have a reason to stop looking out for your interests. I have a right to finally walk away from this deal. I’m no longer bound to you. I can leave.”
Yet The Lord’s love is so great that although He CAN walk away, He DOESN’T!
This, for me, clears up the theological issue of apostasy. Apostasy, in simple terms, is losing one’s salvation. For centuries Christians have debated the issue. Some say, “You can lose your salvation.” Some say, “You can leave your salvation.” While others say, “Once saved always saved.”
Let’s consider the salvation covenant. It is the agreement where a person agrees to trust his/her entire life to Jesus in exchange for absolution from sin and eternal life. Our side of the agreement equals total surrender. God’s side equals total amnesty. Both sides promise to uphold the deal.
Now let’s consider the covenant of salvation and the nature of God as we ask the question, “Can a person lose his/her salvation?”
I believe the answer is, “Yes, but.”
YES, a Christian CAN lose their salvation. We break the covenant and God has the right to walk away. BUT a Christian WON’T lose their salvation because God chooses to never walk away.
God’s covenant with Israel in the Old Testament is a foreshadowing picture of the salvation covenant in the New Testament. So the same terms apply. In other words, God has the right to walk away when we are unfaithful, but He loves us so much that He WON’T.
We are secure NOT because of our own good deeds. We are secure NOT because of a contractual agreement. We are NOT even secure because of a covenantal agreement where the other party is obliged to never walk away. Our unfaithfulness (spiritual-adultery) means God CAN walk away.
Rather, we are secure ONLY because of the immensity of God’s love. Personally, I find this theological truth to be more humbling and comforting than anything else in the universe.