ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED?
What the Bible Teaches on the Christian's Assurance of Salvation
The doctrine of Eternal Security, also known as Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS), asserts that salvation can never be lost once a person accepts Jesus Christ as Savior. According to this view, salvation is an unconditional guarantee that doesn't depend on one's lifestyle or actions–even if that means denying Jesus. Support for this doctrine is based primarily on a selective interpretation of Romans 8:35-39 and John 10:28. In summary, these passages state that nothing can separate us from the love of God, and that Jesus’ "sheep" have eternal life and no one can pluck them out of His hand.
In this article, we will demonstrate how all of the Bible's promises which provide assurance of salvation to the Believer (including those in Romans 8 and John 10) must be understood to apply with the following two conditions attached. First, those who accept Christ's blood for the remission of sins must remain faithful in their commitment to model Christ's teachings (Mat. 24:13; Jn 8:31). In other words, the faith that saves is a living faith that manifests itself through our choices and actions (Jas. 2:17-26). Second, those who accept Jesus as Savior must be growing, changing, and overcoming sin, daily (Jn. 15:16). This means that salvation is not unconditional. It is contingent upon our adherence to the commands and teachings delineated in the Bible.
THE BIBLE'S DEFINITION OF SALVATION
According to the New Testament, we are saved by grace through faith apart from works (Eph. 2:8-10). Those who have accepted Christ as Saviour did not have to pay a "fee" in good works to do so. Moreover, we did not have to rectify our past sins before God's grace became efficacious. His forgiveness and mercy were imparted to us freely the moment we believed in Jesus and repented/turned away from our sins (Act. 3:19).
But freely, does NOT mean unconditionally, and herein lies the difference. Many free gifts are conditional in that they are offered freely with the understanding that special care and maintenance are required. For instance, if someone were to gift you a puppy with the pledge that you cared for it daily, then the gift is still free, contingent on your willingness to properly care for the puppy. Marriage is the same way. You don't have to pay for your Bride or Bridegroom (at least not in America). But while free, marriage is a covenantal agreement that requires love, devotion, commitment, and sacrifice. Absent all of those and you have broken your covenant pledge. Similarly, salvation is also free, but it's a covenant pledge. The Scriptures are very clear about that. That's why Paul likens the Church to a Bride betrothed to her Bridegroom Jesus Christ. As Christians, we are engaged to be married, but we are NOT yet married. Marriage comes when Christ returns (at the marriage feast).
Once we recognize that salvation is a free gift that entails a certain set of obligations, we can appreciate our responsibility in accepting it. This means that to receive Jesus as Saviour, without also receiving Him as Lord and Commander of our lives is insufficient. So while we don't earn our salvation through good works, we are required to maintain our salvation with good works; and if we don't, it becomes ineffectual (Js. 2:17-26).
By viewing salvation in the manner described we are not pitting one set of Scriptures against another, as if they are adversarial or represent two alternative options. Instead, we are harmonizing the biblical text and stepping far enough back to appreciate the full mosaic. Unless we obtain a bird's eye view of the Sacred text we will never fully understand the intricacies and nuances of Christian salvation.
WORKS-BASED RIGHTEOUSNESS: BIBLICAL OR HERESY?
Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil. ...If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him (1 Jn. 3:7; 2:29).
There are Christians who claim that "works-righteousness" or works-based righteousness is heresy. The reason for this is that they mistakenly conflate it with works-based salvation (AKA performance-based salvation). Despite this, it's important to realize that works-based righteousness is a biblical doctrine that appears over and over again throughout the New Testament. Indeed, it is just as orthodox as the doctrines of original sin and regeneration.
But works-righteousness is a loaded term that needs to be properly unboxed and better defined. You see, while salvation is truly FREE, once accepted, it becomes a RESPONSIBILITY that entails works-righteousness or works-based righteousness. The whole of the New Testament is resoundingly clear on this point, as we shall soon discover.
However, what kind of works-righteousness do we mean? It's important to differentiate between (1) works-righteousness based on self-efficacy and (2) works-righteousness based on God's enabling grace and the power of the Holy Spirit (Gal. 2:20; Rom. 7; Phip. 4:13). The first kind of works-righteousness is performance-based. It is ME making it happen in my own power and strength. This type of works-righteousness is dangerous because it leads to failure and disappointment. Also, it almost always produces self-righteousness, legalism, religiosity, and Pharisaism. The second type of works-righteousness is GOD performing the action THROUGH me, which leads to joy, spiritual success, and ultimate salvation.
Christians who promote works-based or performance-based salvation are teaching a version of salvation that is heretical. But those who uphold the biblical doctrine of works-righteousness based on God's enabling grace are being maximally faithful with the biblical text.
SALVATION IN THREE TENSES
Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver: in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us (2 Cor. 1:10).
According to the New Testament, salvation is a past, present, and future reality. We HAVE BEEN saved—the moment of conversion and regeneration. We ARE BEING saved—ongoing sanctification/purification. And here's the most important one: We SHALL BE saved on Judgement Day. Paul alluded to this truth when encouraging the Romans to awake out of their spiritual complacency in preparation for the end: And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed (Rom. 13:11).
23 VERSES THAT PROVE SALVATION IS CONDITIONAL
Condition #1 Count the Cost
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? (Luk 14:28)
Condition #2 Confess and Believe
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved (Rom 10:9).
Condition #3 Repent and be Baptized (Become Born-Again)
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Act 2:38).
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God (Jn 3:3).
Condition #4 Love God and Neighbor
And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live (Luk 10:25-28).
Condition #5 Do God’s Will
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Mat 7:21).
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever (1 Jn 2:17).
Condition #6 Endure to the End
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved (Mat 10:22).
Condition #7 Be Willing to Forsake your Life and Family
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple (Luk 14:26).
Condition #8 Bear your Cross and follow Christ
Whosoever doth not bear his own cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple (Luk 14:27).
Condition #9 Keep your Heart Pure
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Jn 5:8).
Condition #10 Be more righteous than the Pharisees (who merely had external righteousness)
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Jn 5:20).
Condition #11 Continue in Christ’s Words
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed (Jn 8:31).
Condition #12 Demonstrate your Love for Jesus by Keeping His Commandments
If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; ... He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him (Jn 14:15,16, 31).
Condition #13 Continue in God’s Goodness
Behold then the goodness and severity of God: toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, God's goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off (Rom 11:22).
Condition #14 Hold Fast the Gospel Message
through which also you are being saved, if you hold fast that word I brought as Good News to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain (1 Cor 15:2).
Condition #15 Conform to Christ’s Death (Die to Self)
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead (Php 3:10-11).
Condition #16 Pay Attention to yourself and What you Teach
Pay attention to yourself, and to your teaching. Continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you (1 Tim 4:16).
Condition #17 Fight the Good Fight of Faith and Lay Hold on Eternal Life
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses (1 Tim 6:12).
Condition #18 Hold the Beginning of your Confidence Steadfast unto the End
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end (Heb 3:14).
Condition #19 Follow Peace with Men and Holiness
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Heb 12:14)
Condition #20 Abide in the Doctrine of Christ
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son (2 Jn 1:9).
Condition #21 Combine Works with your Faith
What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? CAN FAITH SAVE HIM? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wroth with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified a, and not by faith only? (Jas 2:14-19).
Condition #22 Model the Life of Jesus
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked (1 Jn 2:6).
Condition #23 Keep the Apostolic Teaching
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain (1 Cor. 15:2).
22 SCRIPTURES THAT REFUTE ETERNAL SECURITY WITH COMMENTARY
(1) Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not (Mat 25:1-13).
Comments: The ten virgins in this parable symbolize the collective Church (all Christians everywhere). Half were wise and half foolish. The wise were ready to meet their Bridegroom but the foolish were not. According to the parable, the wise Christians made it into the marriage feast while the foolish ones were turned away at their Bridegroom's return. Clearly, the foolish Christians lost their salvation.
(2) For the kingdom of heaven is as a man (Jesus) travelling into a far country (Christ’s Ascension), who called his own servants (the Church or Believers), and delivered unto them his goods (a spiritual Kingdom—the Church). And unto one he gave five talents (Spiritual gifts/ministry responsibilities), to another two, and to another one... Then he that had received the five talents went and traded (used his gifts for God’s Kingdom) with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. After a long time the lord (Jesus Christ) of those servants (Christians) cometh (the Second Coming), and reckoneth (the Day of Judgement) with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant (Christian), thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury (putting your faith to work—Jas 2:14). Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mat 25:14-30).
(3) And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward (Christian), whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant (Christian) say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the *unbelievers* (Luk 12:42-46).
(4) I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch (Christian) in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch (Christian) that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned (Jn 15:1-6).
(5) And if some of the branches (Jews) be broken off (lost), and thou, being a wild olive tree (Gentile Believer), wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou (Gentile Believer) standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee (Rom 11:17-21).
Comments: Only Christians are grafted into the Olive Tree representing God’s Remnant. And since many Jews have forfeited their place within the Olive Tree on account of unbelief, the Gentiles have now been given a chance to fill the vacancy. Yet these Gentile Believers are warned NOT to take this opportunity for granted or become proud about it. Why? Because if God destroyed ancient Israel on account of their unbelief, He can just as easily destroy anyone else who would follow in Israel's footsteps.
(6) But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (rejected) (1Co 9:27).
Comments: Paul understood that he had to continually control his carnal desires. Why? Because he feared that while warning others of eternal damnation, he himself would become a reject. In other words, he would be disinherited by God and unfit to partake in eternal life.
(7) Therefore we (“WE” MEANS PAUL AND THE CHURCH) ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape (ESCAPE WHAT? DAMNATION!), if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by our Master, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him (Heb 2:1-3).
(8) Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, they do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, they shall not enter into my rest. Take heed (WARNING!), brethren (BELIEVERS), lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God (Heb 3:7- 12).
(9) Let us (“US” MEANS PAUL AND THE CHURCH) therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief (Heb 4:1-2; 11).
Comments: God rescued Israel out of Egypt so that they might inherit the Promised Land. In the New Testament, Egypt symbolizes the world and the Promised Land symbolizes Heaven. But while Israel was saved from Egypt they were unable to enter into the Promised Land because they fell into unbelief. Here, Paul is encouraging Christians to remember the example of ancient Israel in order to avoid doing the same thing (falling into unbelief), which would result in the same type of punishment that befell ancient Israel—they were barred from entering the Promised Land, a type and figure of Heaven.
(10) 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 (UNBELIEVERS CANNOT FALL AWAY FROM SOMETHING THEY NEVER HAD), to renew them *AGAIN* unto repentance (THEY HAD REPENTANCE BEFORE); seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame (Heb 6:4-8).
(11) For if we (“WE” MEANS PAUL AND THE CHURCH) sin wilfully AFTER that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth NO MORE *sacrifice for sins*, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (WHAT’S WORSE THAN DEATH? HELL!) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:26-31).
Comments: Paul warns the Church that those who sin "willfully" or intentionally after having received the “knowledge of the truth” (the Gospel) can anticipate a punishment that is worse than death. This clearly points to eternal damnation. He goes on to warn that for any who take their salvation for granted Christ's sacrifice for sins has expired—"there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins".
But what does it mean to sin “willfully”? The definition Paul provides for this type of sinning is as follows: who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:30). According to this verse, we stand in danger of being eternally cut off when we (a) intentionally or deliberately turn our backs on Jesus, (b) treat Him as though He were a piece of trash, and then (c) proceed to insult the Holy Spirit. Friend, if you are guilty of any of this after coming to know Christ as your Savior, be warned, this verse may well apply to you!
(12) *Brethren*, if any of you (Believers) do err from the truth (depart from the truth), and one convert him (turn him back); Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner (a sinning Brother in the Church) from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins (Jas 5:19-20).
(13) But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that **BOUGHT**them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their **DAMNATION** slumbereth not. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment (2 Pet 2:1-4).
Comments: Peter warns that false teachers would soon creep into the Church. But notice that he doesn't pretend as though these teachers were never “saved” to begin with. Instead, he affirms the fact that these men had disowned the “Lord who bought them”. Now we know that only Believers are redeemed and blood purchased by Jesus, though He died for all: For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's (1 Cor 6:20). The unregenerate are not Christ’s “purchased possession” (Eph 1:14). So if the false teachers about whom Peter warns were once bought by Christ, yet now disown Him, they were originally “saved”. However, in verse 4, we discover that they are now condemned as a result of their negative choices.
(14) For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire (2 Pet 2:20-22).
Comments: As in our previous point, these verses continue with the same subject—false teachers. Here again, the false teachers are said to have “escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”. But some time later they backslid from the Christian Faith and were AGAIN entangled by the world. As a result, Peter promises that their latter end will be worse than what it would have been had they never converted.
(15) These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots. Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever (Jude 1:12-13).
Comments: Before conversion, all of us were spiritually dead because of sin (Eph. 2:1). But after conversion, we received spiritual life through faith. But while our faith may have been firmly rooted initially (Mat. 13:3), it is possible to fall back into our old sin habits and suffer a second death (twice dead). Consequently, we stand in danger of eternal damnation (v. 13).
(16) Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward (2 Jn. 1:8).
Comments: The “full reward” mentioned in the above verse is a clear reference to salvation. Indeed, salvation is the greatest reward of all! The apostle John sternly warns Believers not to lose out on eternal life through carelessness.
(17) I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not (Jude 1:5).
Comments: Having escaped Egypt, the children of Israel perished in the wilderness because of unbelief. Jude reminds the Church of this event and uses it as a dire warning. His aim is to encourage Believers not to take their salvation for granted.
(18) 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 (Rev 3:5).
Comments: The Greek word exaleiphō or "blot out" litteraly means to erase. You cannot erase something that wasn’t there already. Jesus is promising that if we overcome, He will give us eternal life. But if not, our name will be erased from the book of life. Let us remember that this letter and these words were written to the CHURCH in Sardis.
(19) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace (Gal. 5:4).
Comments: By reverting back to the Law for salvation, the Galatian Christians had invalidated Christ's atonement on their behalf and fallen from grace. In Ephesians 2:8, we are told that our salvation is obtained "by grace through faith". By implication, those who fall from grace and for whom Christ is no longer effectual, have forfeited their right to salvation.
(20) And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30).
Comments: There is no reason for Paul to frame this warning if we can't lose our salvation. Yet his warning reminds us not to grieve the Holy Spirit whose responsibility is to seal our redemption.
(21) Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent (Rev. 2:5).
Comments: It is interesting that the same Ephesian Church that Paul warned not to grieve the Holy Spirit is warned again by Jesus in His seven letters to the Churches. The Ephesians are urged to repent or else their candlestick would be removed from its place, signaling a snuffing out of their salvation.
(22) We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain (2 Cor. 6:1).
Comments: This verse clearly indicates that it's possible to receive God's grace in vain—that very grace that saved us!
VERSES THAT WARN THE BELIEVER TO GUARD THEIR SALVATION
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God (Luk 9:62).
Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phip 2:12).
And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1 Pet 4:18)
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall. For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet 1:10-11).
By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain (1 Cor. 15:2).
CAN CHRISTIANS BE CARNAL AND SAVED?
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit (Mat 7:16-18).
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its affections and lusts (Gal 5:24).
Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity (2 Tim 2:19).
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Heb 12:14).
but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin (1 Jn 1:7).
If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him (1 Jn 2:19; 29).
Everyone doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin. Everyone staying in Him does not sin. Everyone sinning has neither seen Him nor known Him. Little children, let no one lead you astray, The one doing righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous. The one doing sin is of the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested: to destroy the works of the devil. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Everyone not doing righteousness is not of God, neither the one not loving his brother (1 Jn 3:2-10).
HOW DOES THE BIBLE DEFINE A CHRISTIAN?
The characteristics of a Christian, as described in the Bible, include:
Faith in Jesus Christ: Christians are individuals who have faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and the Savior of humanity. This faith involves trust in His sacrificial death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins.
Discipleship: A Christian is called to be a disciple, which means a learner or follower of Jesus. This involves studying and obeying His teachings, striving to emulate His character, and growing in a personal relationship with Him.
Repentance: The Bible emphasizes the importance of repentance, which involves a genuine turning away from sin and a commitment to live in accordance with God's will.
Love: Christians are called to love God and love others. Jesus highlighted the commandments to love God with all one's heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself (Mat 22:37-40).
Fruit of the Spirit: The Apostle Paul, in Galatians 5:22-23, speaks of the "fruit of the Spirit," which includes qualities such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These characteristics are seen as evidence of a Christian's transformed life.
Overall, the Bible defines a Christian as one who is committed to following Jesus Christ, lives in accordance with the teachings of the Bible, and bears good fruit as a result:
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed (Jn 8:31).
Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree rotten and its fruit rotten, for a tree is known by its fruit (Mat 12:33).
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you (John 15:14).
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 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. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God (Rom 8:5-14).
And they that are of Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with the passions and the lusts thereof (Galatians 5:24).
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate (Tit 1:16).
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the vain glory of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world (1 Jn 2:15-16).
We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not (1 Jn 5:18).
HOPE OF SALVATION OR ASSURANCE OF SALVATION?
Does the Bible promise assurance of salvation or something different? While the Bible does in fact provide assurance of salvation (Rom 8:35-39; Jn 10:28), the type of assurance provided is always conditional. It is contingent upon our lifestyle and conduct as Christians. This means that if we fail to employ God's grace in performing the good works required of us our salvation may be lost. Because of salvation's conditional nature and the fact that it's NOT guaranteed, the Bible refers to it as a hope that Believers can cling to so long as they are faithfully maintaining their walk with the Lord:
And now I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers (Acts 26:6).
But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation (1 Thes 5:8).
that, being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Tit 3:7).
that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us: (Heb 6:18).
OSAS PROOF TEXTS EXPLAINED
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (Jn 3:16).
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (Jn 11:26)
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God (1 Jn 5:10-13).
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life (Jn 5:24).
Comments: Scripture should never be studied in isolation of other scripture. While it's tempting to take the above verses to the exclusion of all the others examined so far, the consequences would be disastrous. Therefore, it's important to remember that salvation is a free gift that depends on our willingness to satisfy all of the conditions of Scripture. And faith in Christ is only one of them. There are many other requirements that must be considered, including the requirement to live what we believe.
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day (Jn 6:39).
Comments: Let me point your attention to the fact that God's will is not always accomplished or carried out. How do I mean? Let's look at the following scripture: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not *willing* that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9).
Even though it’s God’s will that none perish and all receive eternal life, that will not happen. Sadly, many people will burn in hell one day.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one (Jn 10:27-30).
Comments: This verse was already fulfilled. It directly referred to the Disciples of Christ. Notice: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost except the son of perdition... Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none (Jn 17:12; 18:9).
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God (Eph 2:8).
Comments: Here again is a verse that is often taken in isolation of the rest. But... the Bible never elevates faith above works. Both are equally important. So we aren't saved by works only or faith only. James 2 is an excellent example of this: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works (Jas 2:15).
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Rom 11:29).
Comments: The Greek word ametameletos (“without repentance”) simply means “not to be repented of”. As such, we may read this verse as follows: For the gifts and calling of God are not to be repented of. In other words, don’t turn away from those things that God has given you, including His call on your life.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or sword? (As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.) Nevertheless, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. Therefore I am certain that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ, Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:35-39).
Comments: The promise we find here and elsewhere in the Scriptures is that God will never leave us nor forsake us and that nothing can separate us from His unfailing love. However, this doesn't mean that we ourselves can't choose to leave God or walk out on Him. Afterall, we still have freewill in choosing to embrace or reject God even after we are saved. The Scriptures never hint otherwise.
“THEY WERE NEVER SAVED TO BEGIN WITH”
Eternal security proponents are often divided into two camps: (1) those who believe in the most extreme application of the certitude of salvation and (2) those who maintain a more conservative application of the same teaching by stipulating that assurance of salvation is only for those who demonstrate evidence of salvation. The first group claims that salvation is entirely unconditional, which is the view we have been attempting to repudiate thus far. The second group's interpretation of OSAS is far more reasonable, but still in error. It claims that if Christians don’t show evidence of salvation then they are false and "were never saved to begin with”. In order to better examine this argument, I’ve broken it down into the following scenarios:
A. showed evidence of conversion for 10 months, but later appeared to no longer be a Christian
B. showed evidence of conversion for 3 years, but later appeared to no longer be a Christian
C. showed evidence of conversion for 10 years, but later appeared to no longer be a Christian
D. showed evidence of conversion for 25 years, but later appeared to no longer be a Christian
Notice that the only difference in the above examples is the duration of time between them. While some “Christians” appeared “saved” longer than others, eventually, they too were proven lost based on their outcome. If you stop and think about it, how much security is offered in this interpretive model anyway? Your salvation is only secure so long as you show evidence of being saved, otherwise, “you were never saved to begin with”. Sounds to me like the outcome of this position and mine is pretty much the same. We both believe that salvation is certifiable by the evidence of good fruit in the Believer's life.
DO WE LOSE OUR SALVATION IMMEDIATELY AFTER WE SIN?
According to the Scriptures, God has no desire to cut us off from salvation the moment we fall into sin (Rom 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9). Our God is exceedingly merciful and gives us ample opportunity to repent and turn away from our evil ways. And He is always quick to forgive and pardon us once we have repented.
Throughout the New Testament, we discover that God honors sincere faith. He will never allow sincere Believers to perish in their sin if He knows there is a chance they will repent (2 Tim 1:12; Jud 1:24). At the same time, those who stubbornly cling to iniquity will be lead further and further down the path of no return until they are severed at last from all hope of salvation. This process doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it's a gradual and creeping progression that causes one to eventually lose touch with all of their former desire and inclination towards God. For this reason, we must be so very careful not to fall into this condition, but to daily maintain our love and fervor for Jesus.
While the debate over Once Saved Always Saved will no doubt continue, I hope that this study and the Scriptures presented highlight the importance of ongoing faith, perseverance, and living a life in accordance with God's commands as part of salvation. This is in contrast to the pervasive lie making the rounds in Christendom today, promising that salvation is a "get out of jail free" card or a license to sin (licentiousness).
It is my opinion that the doctrine of Eternal Security promotes the ancient error of antinomianism (lawlessness) and leaves people with the impression that God is a jolly old grandpa winking and chuckling at our sinful tendencies. This view of God is perilous to our salvation and may eventually land us in hell. The Scriptures remind us that God's goodness is always tempered by His severity towards sin, and this should strongly deter us from trivializing sin or taking God's goodness for granted: Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off (Rom 11:22).
Note: The following is a list of links that I found helpful in my study and refutation of eternal security: