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Question
How do I respond to a friend (in his 30's now) who says he can live any way he wants and doesn't have to read the Bible (etc) because he was saved when he was a teenager so he can't lose his salvation? Thank you!

Answer
Dear Rachel,
Thank you for your question.  I sense you have a genuine concern for your friend.  
While the Bible teaches that we are saved by Christ Alone and that His gift of salvation is Eternal Life. But, this does not mean that we have no responsibility and no accountability.  Your friend is blinded by his love for sin and the world rather than a love for God and God's will.  This is not uncommon for people whose fellowship with the Lord has grown cold. It is also a characteristic of someone who has never been saved.  It is often hard to tell the backslider from the unsaved when they are in this condition.

Many examples of backsliding by believers are in the Bible.  None of them are pretty.  The backslider often does a lot of damage to other people while they are captured by their sin.  Your friend needs to understand this.
His influence upon other people while he is away from God should bother him.  His actions could result in people going to hell because he is living an ungodly life.  
It DOES make a difference in how you live! Jesus died to save us, to cleanse us from sin with his own blood.  That love and sacrifice to keep us out of hell and to give us eternal life ought to mean something to us.  The backslider is holding Christ Himself in contempt!

A backslidden life never ends well.  The backslider may not lose his salvation, but he certainly can and will lose many other things that are precious in this life.

In the Bible backsliders lost their families and loved ones ( The tragic example of Backslidden Lot in Genesis chapter 19)
They lost their wealth (Prodigal son in Luke 15)
They lost their friends (Prodigal son)
They lost their testimony (Peter in Matthew 26:73-4)
They caused others to die (David in I Kings 2, 2 Samuel 11,12)
They caused other families to break up (David 2 Samuel 11:1-4)
They have shame upon their name (Proverbs 22:1)
They will give account of their lack of love for Christ (Romans 14:12)
They will be chastened by God for their self-will and hard heartedness (Hebrews 12:6-8)
IF THERE IS NO CHASTENING IN THEIR LIFE IT IS EVIDENCE THAT THEY HAVE NEVER BEEN SAVED! (Hebrews 12:8)
They will suffer the loss of all they did in this life, and will one day see that the sin and worldliness they loved here will all amount to
Nothing in eternity! (I Corinthians 3:11-16)
They will suffer the loss of all they may have done good here on earth and they did not. (I Corinthians 3:1-16)
They will go into Heaven empty handed (I Corinthians 3:15)
They will do much damage to the Name of Christ here on earth (I Cor. 3:15, Galatians 4:9, Hebrews 10:26-29, 2 Peter 2:20)
And Last, if the backslider insists upon their sin and rebellion against the God who saved them, He may take them out of this world prematurely! ( I Corinthians 3:17 and I John 5:16,17)
We will pray your friend returns to the Lord before he does more damage to his testimony or to others, or before it is too late for him.
It could also be that he has never truly been saved. He may be deceived about his past experience or is in denial about his true need for Christ.  You see the Scripture in Hebrews 12 that tells us that if he is a child of God, then His Heavenly Father will chasten him if he lives in sin. If there is no chastening, then there is no relationship with the Heavenly Father. That means he is NOT a Child of God.  
In either case, he is on very dangerous ground.
How sad that he does not realize the amazing grace and love that the Lord has toward him. How tragic that he is spending his life loving and doing things that will perish.  What loss he will suffer when he realizes that his life outside of God's will has been wasted.
I suggest you pray for him, witness to him and urge him to come to a Bible preaching church with you. However, if he does not hear you, then you should move on in your life. Do not attempt to fellowship with him nor have a relationship with him. He is out of the will of God and he can only pull you away from your own fellowship with the Lord.  Please read Ephesians 5:7-11.
Sincerely, David Ralston

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David Ralston

Expertise

I can answer any question concerning the Bible, Christian life, doctrine and church history. I will give counsel concerning social and personal decisions based only on giving Biblical views. I will not attempt an on-going counseling session with someone who is dealing with life issues. I suggest those needing intensive counsel to seek professional Christian counselors or psychologists.

Experience

I have preached the gospel of Christ for 37 years. My wife and I have been married 40 years, raised 3 children and have 6 grandchildren. I have 21 years experience as pastor of local churches in the United States, and have served 14 years as a missionary, begun 12 churches, taught in University of Vilnius, Lithuanian Police College, and have addressed the parliement of Lithuania (1992). I am founder of an international mission board, the founder of the Bless The Children Program sponsorship ministry, and currently serve as director of Christ To The Nations Missions. My area of interest include Missions, Biblical Doctrine, Church history and Biblical counsel. Organizations: Local Baptist Church, CTTN Missions, Tennessee Temple University Alumni Association, Southwide Baptist Fellowship. Publications: Books: ONLY GOD and THE BODY OF CHRIST. Booklets and tracts: THE REAL KING JAMES, THE CHRISTIAN LIFE AND HOW TO LIVE IT, AMERICA, CHRIST OR CRISIS, Several Gospel Tracts and Articles in Christian and Public Newspapers. Education: Tennessee Temple University, Bachelors of Theology, International Baptist Seminary, Masters of Theology and Doctorate of Theology.

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