Wednesday 16 March 2016


Say the sinner’s prayer and we’re all set for heavenly bliss?

Those of us who dabble in shares are familiar with the concept of a done deal. When the broker tells us “done”, we know we have successfully disposed of a particular stock that we have instructed him to sell. The die is cast. We cannot undo our decision; the proceeds will definitely be credited to our account in a matter of days.

Similarly, when we make a decision to accept God into our lives, is it a “done deal”? Having confessed our sins and received Christ as Lord and Saviour, does it mean that we will surely arrive at the pearly gates of heaven, without fail, no matter what happens? 

The book of Jude sheds some light on the above issue. 

As believers, our role is to keep ourselves in the love of God. God’s part is to keep us strong and faithful till we lay hold of our eternal rewards.

Maintain our Life with God (Jude 20-23)
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.

God keeps us safe from stumbling (Jude 24:25)
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.

It is clear from the above passages that God’s ability to keep us faithful till the day we attain eternal rewards has to be balanced with personal responsibility in our spiritual journey on earth. It is never ‘either one or the other’ but always ‘both’: God’s part and our part.

The preceding verse from the same book reminds us "that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe" (Jude 5).

The Israelites who left Egypt, having experienced God’s miraculous deliverance through the Red Sea crossing, failed to enter the Promised Land because they committed sexual immorality and worshipped idols, not holding on to the faith till the end. Because they failed to “keep their end of the bargain”, they were punished.

The apostle Paul teaches that the moral failure of this exodus generation is meant to be an object lesson to us. We need to keep ourselves in the love of God, and not take Him for granted, if we want to reach our intended destination—claim heaven’s reward.

“Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:8-12).

Elsewhere, Paul reiterates that being chosen is not enough. The Gentiles experienced God’s grace when the Israelites rejected God. However, Paul says that God is impartial: If the Gentiles fail to continue in God’s kindness towards them, they too will be cut off.

To paraphrase, Paul is telling the Gentiles not to be proud that they have been favoured over the Israelites: “Don’t rejoice over their misfortune. You are accepted because they rejected God’s goodness. But if you fail to keep yourself in God’s love, you too will be cut off.”

“Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off” (Romans 11:22).

The writer of Hebrews further reinforces this need to maintain our life of devotion to God if we want to receive God’s promise.

For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:
“For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.
(Hebrews 10:36-39)

If we make a decision to accept Christ and then deny God or continue to willfully live in sin, we will definitely not make it to heaven.

We need to hold on to our faith till the end if we do not want to miss out on the eternal rewards promised to all who love Him.

“When righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things, they will die for it. Yes, they will die because of their sinful deeds” (Ezekiel 18:26).

If we have one foot in the kingdom and the other foot in the world, we will not inherit God’s promise:

“Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

So is there such a thing as a “done deal” when we make a decision to accept Christ?

The answer is an emphatic, ‘No’. It is never a “done deal” when we make a decision to accept God into our lives.

Only believers who keep themselves in the love of God, who hold on to the faith till the end, will enjoy the blessings of eternal rewards.

As we ponder well the following passages, may the Spirit grant us wisdom and understanding:

“He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Revelation 3:5).

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.  And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:9-13).


This article does not imply that those who say the sinner’s prayer are not genuinely saved. If by uttering the sinner’s prayer, we really mean what we say—that we believe in Christ’s saving work at the cross and truly submit to Him—we will be on the path to salvation. However, those who misuse this prayer as an “insurance policy"—they want to get to heaven but continually desire to live in sin—are misguided and fooling themselves. 


Some believers may lose their eternal rewards BUT eventually they are saved. In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, did the foolish virgins merely lose their rewards or much more?

The believers’ spiritual status is not static. Though we have been enlightened by the truth and transformed by the Holy Spirit, there is no iron-clad guarantee we won’t change. That’s because we are sinful by nature. And, because we have a will, we can choose to remain in God’s favour or reject Him.

God’s love towards believers is immeasurable but can we take it for granted?

As believers, what’s the point of having great miraculous power, riches, wisdom and unbridled pleasure at our disposal if we miss out on heaven?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. If a believer’s fate in eternity is sealed (safe and secure in heaven) and decided 'once and for all' the moment he confessed his sin and believed in Christ:
    Why did Jesus warn believers to endure to the end in order that we might be saved (Matthew 24:13)?
    Why did Paul stress that we will be presented holy and blameless before God IF we continue to be steadfast in the faith (Colossians 1:22-23)?
    Why did Paul compare the Christian life to a race where we have to exercise discipline and self-control so that we won’t be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27)?
    Why did Peter remind us to make every effort to confirm our election so that we will not stumble (2 Peter 1:10)?
    Why did the writer of Hebrews exhort us to endure and not shrink back in our faith so that we will receive the promise (Hebrews 10: 36-39)?
    Why did John tell us to overcome sin so that our names will not be blotted out from the book of life (Revelation 3:3-5)?
    Why did Paul urge us to watch our life and doctrine so that we might save ourselves (1 Tim. 4:16)?

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  4. Never be complacent and think that we, as believers, will definitely enjoy eternal security based on the following—that we attend church, hold important posts in church, serve God in various prominent positions, have spiritual gifts and dramatic experiences and miracles, have Christian friends, have said the sinner's prayer once upon a time. All these things cannot replace a life of continual obedience, spiritual intimacy and abiding in Christ.