Once Saved Always Saved?
by John Hunt
I. The Bible teaches Conditional Security or what could be termed "Believerís Security"
2 Peter 1:5-8: Faithful believers are commanded to add qualities to our faith in "increasing measure" (NIV) which will make us effective and productive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:9: "But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins." (NIV)
2 Peter 1:10-11: "Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (NIV)
Commentary: Notice that in verse 9 no mention is made of future sins, only past sins for this is all we are cleansed of when we turn to Christ and obey the gospel. Nowhere will you find in Scripture that those in Christ are cleansed of all future sins while in the flesh. If we were cleansed of all future sins, why wouldnít Scripture say so? Why would it qualify that it was PAST sins and never future sins? See also Matthew 6:14-15 and Romans 8:12-13.
2 Peter 3:17: ". . . be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position." (NIV)
1 John 1:7: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. (NIV)
1 John 1:9: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." (NIV)
Commentary: Notice that in verse 9 it makes the condition that Jesus will forgive us our sins IF we confess them. What does this imply about how Jesus views our sins if we never confess them?
Question for thought: Are brothers in Christ saved eternally?
James 5:19-20: "My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins." (NIV)
Commentary: James tells his brothers in Christ that if someone wanders from the truth and is brought back, the SINNER (brother in Christ) is saved from death and his sins are covered.
1 Corinthians 8:10-13: Eating in an idol's temple may cause a weak brother "to fall into sin" (verse 13) and therefore you "sin against Christ" (verse 12) by doing so. (NIV)
Colossians 1:21-23: "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. (22) But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusationó(23) if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant." (NIV)
Commentary: Again we see the conditional "IF" in verse 23 saying that "IF you continue in your faith" you will be presented holy in Godís sight, without blemish and free from accusation. Therefore, it must hold that if we do not continue in our faith we will not be presented holy in Godís sight or without blemish or free from accusation and not fit for heaven because Godís "eyes are too pure to look on evil" and He "cannot tolerate wrong".
(Hab. 1:13-NIV) "If" is used many times, but never "if we donít" to the effect of saying we will be presented holy, without blemish, free from accusation, purified by Jesus' blood or forgiven by God.
Hebrews 3:12: We are warned that brothers in Christ can get "a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God." (NIV) See also verses 14 and 15.
Ezekiel 18:24-26: "But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die. (25) "Yet you say, `The way of the Lord is not just.' Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? (26) If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die." (NIV)
Matthew 25:14-30: In this parable Christís own servants who hid their talent were cast into outer darkness.
Acts 20:17-30: Paul addresses the elders of the church at Ephesus (verse 17) as overseers and shepherds (verse 28) and tells them that after he leaves, "savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock." (verse 29) and that from their "own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them." (NIV)
2 John 1:8-9: "Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. (9) Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son." (NIV)
1 Timothy 4:1: "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith . . ." (NIV) See Col. 1:21-23 above.
1 Corinthians 15:2: "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain." (NIV) What of those who donít hold firmly?
Let's take a look at a modern day syllogism:
1) Tom passes the automobile driver's test in his state of
residence and becomes a licensed driver.
2) The law in Tom's state says, "You can legally drive for another year, if
you renew your license when it comes due."
3) Tom chooses to not ever again renew his license in his state of residence
when it comes due.
4) Tom can no longer legally drive in his state of
Those who believe in once saved always saved, if consistent
with their understanding of 1 Corinthians 15:2, would say that Tom CAN legally
still drive in his state of residence. Of course, this is not the
case. Now let's compare this to 1 Corinthians 15:2.
1) Tom is baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27)
and becomes a Christian ( 1 Peter 4:16-17).
2) God's law says, "By this gospel you are saved, if
you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.
3) Tom chooses to turn from God and reject the word of
Christ for the rest of his life on earth.
4) Tom is no longer saved by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 3:5: "He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life" (NIV)
Commentary: We are promised that if we are like those "few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes" (Rev. 3:4) we will never have our name blotted out from the book of life. Many names are never written in the book of life (Rev. 13:8, 17:8, 20:15) and if they are not in there, they will be thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:15) See Exodus 32:31-33.
Adam was the son of God (Luke 3:38) made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26) uncorrupted by sin, yet he fell. See 2 Corinthians 11:3 where Paul expresses his fear "that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning," their minds might somehow be led astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Christ."
Also, we see that even angels sinned and were cast from heaven (Jude 6, 2 Peter 2:4).
II. Scriptures Used to try to Prove Unconditional Security:
John 3:5-7: The question, "can you be born again, again?"
Answer: Romans 11:21-23 says that those cut off can be grafted back in; the prodigal son is also a good illustration of this in especially in Luke 15:24, 32.
John 5:24: ". . .whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life" Also John 3:16.
Answer: "Belief" in these instances is expressed in the original Greek as an ongoing tense expressed even in English as, "believes" not as "believed once."
Hebrews 13:5: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
Answer: It should be noted that this is a
quotation from Deuteronomy 31:6, 8. The context of this passage is a
promise for the nation of Israel which is about to cross the Jordan River into
the land of Canaan (31:1-5). But this promise was also followed by a
warning which later came to pass (31:16-17). Notice what God says in verse
16, "...these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering.
They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them."
Then in verse 17 He says, "On that day I will become angry with them and forsake
them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed."
A truer statement was never made by God that He will never leave you nor forsake
you, if you are in Christ and remain faithful to God. But in the same way as
with those who turned from God and forsook Him in the land of Canaan, those who
are in Christ today will in the end be destroyed if they turn and forsake God
totally until they die physically.
Ephesians 4:30: "And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Also Ephesians
Answer: The Holy Spirit is certainly effective as a seal, as long as we have the Holy Spirit. However, notice that Saul was indwelt with the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 10:6-9) but the Spirit of the LORD left him after
he repeatedly displayed pride, arrogance and disobedience. (1 Sam. 16:14)
1 John 3:9: "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God"
Answer: The grammar tense in the original Greek refers to a continual sinning, not a one time event. The seed appears to be the word of God (Luke
8:11); "For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable,
through the living and enduring word of God" (1 Peter 1:23). Is it possible for a man with God's word abiding in him to occasionally sin? 1 John 1:8 answers that question saying it is. What it says here is that it is not possible for a man who keeps on allowing God's seed to abide in him to
keep on living in sin. Why? Because God's word continually dwelling in a man never produced anything but a life of holiness and righteousness.
"I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you." (Psalm 119:11-NIV)
Argument: God wouldnít save a person, then send him to hell
Answer: Ezekiel 18:25 (quoted above); 1 Sam. 16:14 (Saul); Judas Iscariot (Matt. 10:1-4; Mark 3:14), one of the twelve he appointed "designating them apostles--that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach" and whom he trusted with their money (John 13:29). Yet he was sent to "where he belongs." (Acts 1:25)