What if I fall away from Christ when temptation comes?
According to Martin Luther (Bondage of the Will, VII, xviii), it is a great comfort to know salvation does not depend on free will but only on Christ’s promise that no one will take his sheep from his hand (John 10:28-29). That promise ensures that the elect who are straying into mortal sin will return prior to death (III, ii).
How can I believe that promise when the Parable of the Sower mentions the withering of those who believe only for a time? What if I am one of them?
The case of a permanent loss of saving faith is there to warn those who would, in Calvinistic fashion, rely on an earlier profession of faith rather than on Christ’s promise. The law warns them, “If you do not persevere in hearing and believing the word of God, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, any past faith will not save you.” As an example of Calvinism’s deadliness, Pieper pointed to Cromwell’s false security in his memory of having once been in a state of grace.
By contrast, saving faith looks to Christ “outside us,” never to itself. Faith clings to the ever-present promise of forgiveness and preservation, not the reasoning that one may have believed at some time in the past. Christ promises that no one will take his sheep from his hand (John 10:27-29).
1 February 2014. Modified 2 January 2016.