This post is part of a series.

For those tormented by their failed efforts at resisting sin, or feeling not good enough to deserve salvation, or feeling unable to keep their salvation, let me tell you the good news that the misinformed religionists have not told you. It doesn’t depend on you being good, it depends on you believing that God can keep you.

I know that what follows appears to be mere proof texting rather than exegesis, and to some extent, it is. I am asking you to consider the claims I am making, and use the passages below as a starting place for your research.

1. We didn’t save ourselves, and we can’t keep ourselves saved

First, we can’t seek for God unless God first seeks us – that is, unless God first awakens us to our lostness, we will remain helplessly lost. If we have no interest in God, we are in grave danger despite our disinterest. However, we do have recourse – if we ask God, as earnestly as we can muster, to give us an interest (if He exists), He may (he is under no obligation to). But He has promised He would:

If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. ~ Jeremiah 19:13

Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. ~ Matthew 7:7

But we are at His mercy in acquiring the heart to hear:

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. ~ Jesus, John 6:44

No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father. ~ Jesus, John 6:65

But when God calls, He gives the ability to respond:

Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the Work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, He doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the Gospel. ~ Westminster Shorter Catechism

Now catch this – if God gave you the ability to repent and believe while you were far from Him, how much more will He not also enable you to finish what He started?

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1:6

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. ~ Romans 5:8-10

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~ Romans 8:31-19

2. If you believe Jesus died for you and rose from the dead, and have asked him into your heart and life, you are saved. Period.

As I wrote in Part 1 of this series:

…you don’t need to do one bit of good to be saved from your guilt, nor do you have to attain perfection in any sense

Perfection is not required for salvation. Nor is ongoing good behavior, as I will show below. Just faith.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ~ Romans 10:9

But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. ~ John 1:12

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. ~ Ephesians 2:8-9

3. It is nearly, if not practically, impossible for you to lose your salvation.

Here, we are entering into a paradox, where two seemingly mutually exclusive things may exist at the same time, like free will and predestination. In our case, The scriptures seem to indicate that we both can and can’t lose our salvation. In such situations, we must then ask, “Which do we emphasize, and in what proportion?” Should we emphasize our ability and responsibility to keep ourselves, or God’s?

When I was a more Arminian believer, I was part of a charismatic holiness church. There was heavy emphasis on keeping yourself close to God, and being careful not to let sin’s deceitfulness steal you away. But after a while, this became such a huge burden that, as the old song says, I realized that I could NOT be good enough to keep myself:

I have decided
Being good is just a fable
I just can’t, cause I’m not able
I’m gonna leave it to the Lord

~ Amy Grant, “I Have Decided”

That is, if God did not keep me, I was lost. I could not NOT sin, even if my holiness preachers told me that the Holy Spirit had enabled me to not sin. Then, I read Hebrews 3 and 4, and realized that the reason I had no rest was because I did not believe His promises – I had subtly shifted to having faith in myself and my ability, instead of His:

And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they [The Israelites] could not enter in because of unbelief.

Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest, as He has said:

“So I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest,’”

although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. ~ Hebrews 3:18-4:3

The work in me is as good as finished! I could rest that God would keep me! Hebrews nails it later with this:

Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf. ~ Hebrews 7:25

4. Yes, you could walk away, right?

There is no denying that the scriptures indicate that we can choose to abandon God, though more Calvinists theologians have some good responses To such claims.

I do not deny that that is a possibility. But with both ideas being true (God’s ability, our responsibility), we need to focus on one or the other. Which is more important, powerful, and effective?

When I was working through these issues, I came across a powerful idea which summarizes how we can view this paradox:

In what proportion should we emphasize God’s responsibility and power in our salvation and sanctification, compared to our own? We should emphasize them in the same proportion as we would in comparing God’s power to our own.

And that is the truth. Our power is measly compared to God’s. And we should rely on it to enter His rest.

In Part 4, I will discuss some final steps in freeing yourself from legalistic misunderstandings of faith.