Because our time on this earth is so short, I want to broach a subject that has historically been a huge source of contention in the body of Christ. However, it’s much too important to leave on the shelf. The pros and cons are compelling to say the least and to be quite honest, my little pea brain just isn’t smart enough to call it one way or the other. So, I’ll present the pros and cons of the ‘Once saved, always saved’ doctrine, and give you my summation. Let’s start with the pro view.
Let’s assume that once a person accepts Jesus as their savior, they cannot be ‘unsaved,’ so to speak, no matter how far off the diving board they jump in their behavior and lifestyle. The ONLY source we need to turn to is the ultimate standard, the word of God, the Bible.
There are those who are convinced that once you’re saved, you’re forevermore in God’s hand and are bound for heaven. A real, bona fide believer is defined as being a person who has faith in Jesus Christ as their savior, and is subsequently transformed into a new creature through the power and sealing of the Holy Spirit. They are willing to ‘take up their cross and follow Jesus,’ meaning they make the choice to die to their fleshly desires, so they can live a righteous a life before God with the Spirit’s help.
The Bible tells us that the blood of Jesus cleanses us from ALL sin; past, present and future. Once a person has been redeemed and made into a new creature, they will still sin on occasion, but will not PRACTICE sin. Those who do are hypocrites and were never saved in the first place. This premise of the person never being truly converted is the basis of the ‘once saved, always saved’ argument.
According to the Bible, believers are:
Children of God. John 1:12, “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.”
Predestined for salvation. Ephesians 1:5, “Having predestinated us unto the adoption as children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will…”
Heirs of God. Romans 8:17, “Now, if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.”
Called by God. Romans 8: 29-30, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the first born among many brothers. And those He predestined, he also called—those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.”
Sealed by God. 2 Corinthians 1: 21-22, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership upon us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
The fact that we are ‘sealed’ by the Holy Spirit is a major proof to the OSAS folks. There are several verses that speak of us being sealed after our salvation. Ephesians 1: 13-14, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.”
According to my dear friend, Wayne Broadstone, this sealing “is the irrevocable supernatural and sovereign act by the Holy Spirit HIMSELF. He makes NO MISTAKES. Therefore, this “seal” is permanent because HE never has to go back and unseal a believer. The “seal” is the quintessential stamp of the highest power in authority. You well know the power of a king’s earthly seal in the historical past that was placed on a document. It literally was held in the same regard as though the king was there in person.”
I looked up the word “seal” in the Strong’s Exhaustive Bible Concordance Online. The Greek word is “sfragivzw,”(no kidding!) which means, “to mark a person to confirm or attest a thing, to authenticate, place beyond doubt, to prove one’s testimony to a person that he is what he professes to be.”
Romans 8: 9, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” In other words, once a person has been sealed by the Holy Spirit, they will not want to practice sin. IF a person that professes to be saved, yet lives a sinful lifestyle, they were never really saved and sealed in the first place. Their experience of salvation was merely intellectual rather than a true spiritual regeneration.
The folks in this camp argue that we cannot keep ourselves saved by works. Instead, we can confidently trust that, by grace and the Holy Spirit, we will retain our salvation, no matter what sins or crimes we might commit. The attempt to bolster Christ’s grace with human meritorious service is a grave insult to the cross. If we could or were required to perform good works, how could we ever know we’ve done enough to past muster? There would be no assurance of salvation, and thus no peace.
Not only that, Jesus states in John 10:29 says, “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” Perhaps no one can pluck us out of God’s hand, BUT…are we able to jump out of His hand? After we’re saved, do we lose our free will regarding following Christ and living as righteously as we can? What if being ‘good’ gets to be a drag and we don’t want to live life like that anymore? Do we lose our salvation?
1 John 1:9 declares, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Is that a conditional promise? It says IF we confess our sins. What happens if we live like a heathen and don’t confess our sins? 1 John 1: 6-7 says, “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” IF we walk in the light, his blood will cleanse us from all sin?
Again, what if we don’t walk in the light? We all still sin here and there after salvation, because we still have a sinful nature and must struggle against it until we’re freed by death or the rapture. What happens if a long time, dedicated Christian encounters a devastating tragedy that causes them to be angry with, and blame God? What if they turn their back on God from then on, walk away from Christianity and start living a very sinful lifestyle, even to the point of discouraging other people in their quest to find God?
Yes, I know, that’s an extreme example, but it does happen. Not everyone is as faithful as Job was. Would that person lose their salvation?
OK, now let’s look at the flip side of this coin, and consider the possibility that one can indeed, lose their salvation.
In Romans 8:1, Paul is addressing a group of true believers when he said, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Notice that pesky word “but.” That logically suggests there IS condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who DO walk in the flesh. If it were impossible to be in Christ and walk according to the flesh, Paul would have simply stated, ‘there is no condemnation to those who are in Jesus, and walk according to the Spirit.’
Walk in the flesh = condemnation. Walk in the Spirit = no condemnation. Paul is stating that living in Christ requires we walk in the Spirit, not just talk about being in the Spirit. After all, talk is cheap. The OSAS view states that if we are actually able to lose our genuine salvation, then no one can ever have assurance that they ARE saved. They think the possibility of losing your salvation is the same premise of grace plus works.
All truly regenerated Christians believe the simple truth of Ephesians 2: 8-9, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” You cannot get much clearer than that! So, after we are saved, what is our responsibility towards Jesus? Is it possible we can actually choose to thumb our noses at the grace of Jesus, and return to a sinful lifestyle, yet retain the gift of salvation?
Romans 6: 12-16, “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid. Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
Paul was instructing Christians not to “let” sin reign; not to “yield” our members as instruments of unrighteousness. He teaches that, the one we yield ourselves to and obey as a servant, will be our master, even sin unto death…That implies we have a choice to yield to sin after we’re saved, and if we choose to yield to sin as servants, it will lead to death, and death is the opposite of salvation. Isn’t it??
Let’s look a passage in Hebrews 6: 4-6, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
Seems pretty straightforward, but we’d better check the Greek on this to make sure we really understand what the author meant. Looking again to Strong’s Concordance, we’ll dissect these verses. ‘For it is impossible—(transliterated: Adunatos, which means, impotent, unable to be done, powerless.) for those who were once enlightened—(photizo: to imbue with saving knowledge, to give understanding to.) and have tasted—(geuomai: experience, to take nourishment, to partake of and enjoy) of the heavenly gift and were made partakers—(metochos: a partner, sharing in) of the Holy Ghost and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away–(parapipto: to deviate from the right path, turn aside from the true faith.) to renew–(anakainosis: renovate, change completely for the better,) them again to repentance seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame—(paradeigmatizo: to expose to public disgrace.)’
So, according to these verses, once someone has been genuinely made a new creature in Christ, fully understanding, experiencing the Holy Spirit in their being and being made a partner with Christ, if they turn aside from the true faith, it is ‘impossible’ to renovate or bring them back to a state of grace because there is no other sacrifice for their sins.
Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, and if they turn away from His blood, the only remedy would be to crucify Christ again, causing Him disgrace, as if His blood were not enough to hold them in the first place.
If someone has partaken of the Holy Spirit, their experience and intellectual understanding of the Word of God (logos) becomes a personal, real revelation of the truth (rema.) You cannot partake of the Spirit unless the Spirit resides inside you, therefore, it follows that Christians can experience the rema Word, and still retain the free choice to turn their back and walk away. Since it is ‘impossible’ to renew them if they want to come back, does that mean they lose their salvation??
Let’s look at one last example in the Bible which hints that it may be possible to do just that. In Revelation 3: 1-5, Jesus is talking to the church in Sardis. He tells John, “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments: and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.”
Jesus said they were ‘dead’, or (nekros: spiritually dead, given up to sin, inoperative.) He instructed them to ‘strengthen’ the things which remain, or (sterize: stabilize, set fast.) He had not found their works ‘perfect’ before God, (pleroo: fulfill, accomplish, bring to realization.) They were to hold tight to the little good they did have to their credit that they were about to lose, and ‘repent’ (metanoeo: change one’s mind with abhorrence of one’s past sins.)
There were just a few people in that church that had not ‘defiled’ (moluno: polluted with sin) themselves, and would walk with Jesus because they were ‘worthy’ (axios: having merit and value.) Those in that church that ‘overcometh’ (nikao: hold fast their faith in the face of temptations and persecutions) would not have their names ‘blot(ted)’ (machah: wipe out, obliterate, to strike) out of the book of life.
Revelation 20:15, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” Oh dear. Looking at these passages, we see that Jesus HIMSELF stated that He knew some of His followers were spiritually dead and given up to sin. They did not accomplish or fulfill their works, therefore He commanded them to repent, and abhor their sins.
He saw other followers who had not polluted themselves with sin, and he considered them to have merit and value. Those followers who held fast to their faith, regardless of temptation or persecution, would not have their names wiped out of the book of life and would therefore, not be cast into the lake of fire. Does that summary jive with what we saw in the verses above, in light of their Greek meanings?
Are Christians capable of being genuine converts, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and still choose to practice a sinful lifestyle, resulting in their names being wiped out of the book of life, causing them to end up in the lake of fire? How can someone’s name be blotted out of the book of life if it was never written down in the first place?
But what about being ‘sealed’ by the Holy Spirit when we’re born again? If you think about it, a seal is not unbreakable. The wax seals Kings would put on their letters would be broken once the document was opened.
The seal King Darius used to close the lion’s den when Daniel was thrown in, was broken the next morning when the King checked to see if he survived the night. Likewise, the seal on Jesus’ tomb was broken when He was resurrected. And in Revelation 5, Jesus breaks the seals on the scroll of judgment that begins the tribulation.
To seal something is to authenticate its legitimacy. It isn’t meant to bind something permanently. Therefore, once someone is sealed by the Holy Spirit when they are born again, they are verified as authentically belonging to Christ. No one can break that seal except the person themselves, by their own free will. Or can they…?
If it’s possible to lose our salvation, would it result from our choice of lifestyle or works, OR from an attitude of flagrant disobedience and ingratitude for the free gift of redemption? There is no sin that God will not forgive, other than blaspheming the Holy Spirit; the Bible is clear about that. But how can those who are saved turn around and give no thought to having serial affairs, or cheating every company they work for? What if they refuse to marry instead of merely living with their lover? What if they pretty much disregard the Ten Commandments and live however their flesh leads them?
‘Yeah, I know and accept Jesus’ payment for my sins and I can’t do anything to earn my way to heaven. And I’m grateful for that. But while I’m on this earth, I’m gonna have some fun and do what I want. Hey, I’m saved, right? I’ll just ignore that pull in my heart. Besides, I don’t need peace. I need fun!’
There ARE Christians out there with this attitude. Will God give them over to a reprobate mind because they refuse to honor Christ’s sacrifice for them? Will they lose their salvation?
I honestly don’t know!
I’m simply presenting both arguments so YOU can decide for yourself, so don’t be writing to me, yapping you think I’m wrong. The lack of an opinion cannot be wrong.
The point of this article is this: We are in the last of the ‘last days.’ This is NOT the time to assume anything! This is NOT the time to play Russian roulette with your eternal destiny. This is the time to examine your heart before Almighty God.
Psalm 139: 23-24, “Search me O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Can people lose their salvation? I don’t know. But if I were you, I’d err on the side of caution because we’re going home very, very soon!