Once Saved Always Saved

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Does it mean anything that much of the New Testament was written to Christians who were undergoing persecutions and trials and were being encouraged to stand firm, endure, and be strong in their faith? Why encourage someone to not fall away if it is impossible? The old once saved always saved argument says if someone falls away they were never saved to begin with. If you apply that argument to the New Testament you have to say Peter, Paul and others are writing to people who appear saved but who are actually lost, encouraging them to not do what they are destined to do anyway. It would also have to say they are encouraging saved people not to do what they cannot do anyway – fall away. That sounds like gibberish and just doesn’t work out.

What do you do with passages like 2 Timothy 2:11-13 which says, “Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless; he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” Why the need to endure if there is no possibility to fall away? Why mention disowning God if it cannot be done? Why through out a consequence – being disowned if it isn’t really a possibility.

I have heard people say there is more in the New Testament for eternal security than against it. The problem is God can see the whole picture. He doesn’t work in the realm of time. We operate in the realm of time. This discrepancy is the reason people try to argue if someone falls away they must have never been saved to begin with.

What do you do with passages like Hebrews 6:4-6? Sounds like saved person to me? Is it really impossible? Because we see people fall away and come back. Is he overstating the probability to make his case for the need to remain a Christian?

0 Responses

  1. I believe the doctrine of ‘once saved, always saved’ is the problem of having a doctrinal construct and then trying to make scripture adhere to that construct. Of course every Christian movement, including our own fellowship, has various doctrinal constructs from which we have attempted to force scripture to endorse.

    I grew up being taught the extreme opposite of once saved, always saved, which was once saved but the security of that salvation is forever at a fragile point. Thus I, and others, were constantly trying to do more to keep God in our favor and constantly wondering if we had done something to jeopordize our salvation.

    I now believe both extremes our unbiblical. As you pointed out, there are certainly scriptures which speak about loosing savltion for becoming unfaithful. There are also passages which remind us that our salvation is not in a constant state of fragility (e.g., Rom 8). There are also passages that implicate that our deeds/works will effect our judgment (e.g., 2 Cor 5.10, Rev 20.12). What do we make of all of this? We cannot earn our salvation, for it is the work of God by his grace through the gospel of Jesus Christ. So we are given this gift of salvation that Romans says God will see this redemptive goal through if we will keep our faith in him (Rom 8.28). But if we want to throw our faith away by the rebellious conduct of our life or the blasphemous denial of God whom we have believed in, then we are judged accordingly.

    This is why I teach my children that as long as they want a place of fellowship with God, God will have a place for them at his side.

    Great post,


  2. Rex,

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. I think what you wrote compliments the post very well and when taken as a whole fits together nicely. Thanks.

  3. Rex points out the nice contrast of “If saved, maybe saved.” It seems like I once got some kind of stupid e-mail joke forwarded about a Calvinist Razor for women’s legs so that you can be, “Once Shaved, Always Shaved.”

    Seriously though, I think we see the harm that comes from taking either perspective too far. JM Hicks had a good article about mediating the debate between Calvinists and Arminians, because we effectively end up worrying about the same thing. Arminians are always wondering if they may have fallen away because they sinned too many times more, and Calvinists always wonder if they truly got saved in the first place.

    I think some of the damage of this view can be seen in the kinds of “Christians” it produces. People who are convinced they have their “Get into heaven free” passes punched without the possibility of losing it tend to be very lax in their dedication to God, in my experience. On the other end, people can be big time legalists.

    Both ends are unhealthy, so I strive to be somewhere in the middle. I think the position Rex has espoused here is a very healthy one.

  4. This is a very relevant post Matt. I used to believe “once saved always saved”, but as Mark pointed out, it causes the Christian to be lazy. If all we have to do is say a little prayer and then go on living our life, then why not just have everyone say the prayer as soon as they can speak, and then we’d all be in Heaven!

    Our works are judged, but to my knowledge it doesn’t say that our works will determine our salvation. The bad ones are burned up, and everything that is left (the good) will be rewarded. I can’t remember what scripture that’s in (possibly Revelations?). Those who aren’t saved will be judged by their works.

    So who is saved? Romans 10:9 puts it very simply….

    “Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

    It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to figure out who is saved, who is doing it right, and who is doing it wrong. Only God knows the heart, and there might be many who are fooling the world by confessing with their lips that Jesus is Lord, but if their hearts aren’t believing it, they won’t be fooling God.

    Whenever I start feeling a little judgemental towards Christians, I just think of the guy next to Jesus who got saved at the very last minute. He simply believed, and it was as easy as that.

  5. Matt,
    There may be a deeper issue lurking beneath all of this (for both sides). We often fail to really think about the true nature of salvation. We’re saved FROM WHAT? We’re saved FOR WHAT?

    More than any of that, we must reckon with the question: We’re saved BY WHAT?

    If it’s just about getting into heaven…well…that’s one thing. But I don’t see that in the Bible. Jesus never gives us the minimal entry requirements for heaven.

    He seems to be answering a different question altogether.

  6. I think people fear grace or don’t want to except that they don’t have to work for it. It is a gift of God. It is an invatation into having a personal relationship with God, the creator of heaven and earth. Again, I don’t think we can fathom it in our human minds just how big the grace of God is brother. I pray for those who have not taken hold of the gift of grace, that they one day will. I pray for those who abuse the grace of God (Rom6:1-6). As believers we should cherish it more than anything. Not cherishing it, is not cherishing and enjoying the relationsship we have with the Creator.
    God bless you brother for this wonderful topic.
    I am so thankful for God’s amazing grace that saved me (Eph2:1-10).
    I just want the world to know of it.
    The good news. The best news!
    I pray you have a wonderful day brother.

  7. Hey,
    I like to use 2 Peter 1:3-9 (or 15) to illustrate the fact that we MUST make the effort to bear fruit. To prove that we have the seed of greatness in us, which we get when we are trully saved, we must bear fruit. The fruit is the change in our character and being to come inline with the character and being of Jesus Christ. Hence we decrease and He increases in us.

    3For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [[d]full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue).

    4By means of these He has bestowed on us His precious and exceedingly great promises, so that through them you may escape [by flight] from the moral decay (rottenness and corruption) that is in the world because of covetousness (lust and greed), and become sharers (partakers) of the divine nature.

    5For this very reason, [e]adding your diligence [to the divine promises], employ every effort in [f]exercising your faith to develop virtue (excellence, resolution, Christian energy), and in [exercising] virtue [develop] knowledge (intelligence),

    6And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),

    7And in [exercising] godliness [develop] brotherly affection, and in [exercising] brotherly affection [develop] Christian love.

    8For as these qualities are yours and increasingly abound in you, they will keep [you] from being idle or unfruitful unto the [[g]full personal] knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).

    9For whoever lacks these qualities is blind, [[h]spiritually] shortsighted, [i]seeing only what is near to him, and has become oblivious [to the fact] that he was cleansed from his old sins.

    10Because of this, brethren, be all the more solicitous and eager to make sure (to ratify, to strengthen, to make steadfast) your calling and election; for if you do this, you will never stumble or fall.

    11Thus there will be richly and abundantly provided for you entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    12So I intend always to remind you about these things, although indeed you know them and are firm in the truth that [you] now [hold].

    13I think it right, as long as I am in this tabernacle (tent, body), to stir you up by way of remembrance,

    14Since I know that the laying aside of this body of mine will come speedily, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.

    15Moreover, I will diligently endeavor [to see to it] that [even] after my departure (decease) you may be able at all times to call these things to mind.

    Look especially at verse 9.

    God Bless You, Gef

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