Preservation of the True Saints
This doctrine will have an impact when we come across a person (whether inside or outside of the church) who says that they received Christ as Savior at an earlier time, but that they have “backslidden” or lost their salvation and need to be saved again (or similarly, “rededicate my life to Christ”). But as we are assured in Rom 8:28-39 and other passages (Jn 6:37; 10:27-29; 17:12; 18:9; 1Cor 1:8-9; Phil 1:6; 1Thess 5:23-24; 2Thess 3:3; 2Tim 1:12; 4:18; Heb 7:25), our assurance of salvation is based upon the bedrock of the gospel. This is primary.
But a close corollary that cannot be missed is the need to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:4), bearing fruit in keeping with repentance (Matt 3:8), renewing our minds to conform to Christ (Rom 12:1-2; Col 3:10), putting off the old self, putting indwelling sin to death and putting on the new man(Rom 6:6; Eph 4:2; Col 2:11; 3:9), walking in the Spirit and not in the flesh (Rom 8:4; Gal 5:25).
All of these together, and more, mean that a person redeemed by Christ is a new creation and should not walk in their former manner of life. If that has not happened, then that person may need salvation for the first time and has not come to grips with the fulness of the truth of the gospel. Another possibility is that they are a true believer, but they have been disobedient to the Lord for an extended period of time, are immature, and in need of loving correction and to be discipled.
The bottom line is this: many of those in America who profess to be Christians know little to nothing about the true gospel and are in need of salvation. Some have been “Christianized” through exposure to the church, but their lives demonstrate a rebellion to our King. They too must be evangelized.
Those who are sincere and broken will need further conversation and observation to conclude their spiritual state, along with many gospel conversations that will either bring them to Christ or bring them to stability and point them toward maturity.