I was recently asked to complete a survey on this topic and to offer my thoughts on a Christian discussion forum and as I thought about this, I felt that Holy Spirit wanted me to share this in a blog.
The phrase “once saved always saved” is often a subject of heated debate and used by many Christians and denominations as a focal point of ridicule. This ridicule and its related ways of thinking however in fact challenge the power of the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ and often leads to a works based Christianity and living a life of fear having no security in the faith of one’s salvation.
There are Christians who subscribe to the ideology that you can become “saved” and then become “unsaved” The real question is not once saved always saved in those arguing the sentiment. The real argument they are wanting to determine is: “was the person ever really saved?”
The phrase “once saved, always saved is in truth a tautology. A tautology is an expression that is logically always true, making it redundant. It may do so by saying the same thing twice in different words. Much like saying “a cat is a cat”.
So much of the western church has systematically categorized and formulated Christianity that if you don’t fit their particular brand or flavor of Christianity, there is no possible way that you could be “right with God.” They have limited God and God’s people to their cookie cutter mold and delusions of infallibility in their doctrine. People who believe that their interpretation of the written word of God encapsulated all that God is and all the He does, but I digress.
So let’s look at how we can prove that “once saved always saved” is in actuality a scriptural truth.
If a person has accepted Christ and has become a new creation then there is more that happens in them than just a mental ascent to being born again. There is in fact a supernatural change that takes place in their existence and their very nature. We know that when we are “born again” the identity that we once had or the “spiritual person” we once were no longer exists. That we are crucified with Christ and rose with Christ new –
2 Corinthians 5:17 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
17 Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!
We also know that the gifts of God are irrevocable and that God does not give something and take it back.
Romans 11:29 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
29 For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call.]
None of this is accomplished through doctrine, theology or works. It is achieved through faith. Faith that God Himself has in fact given us. Our part is to accept and agree with God and call upon Him for our salvation.
Romans 10:13 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
13 For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord [invoking Him as Lord] will be saved.
Ephesians 2:8-9 Amplified Bible (AMP)
8 For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; 9 not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation].
Romans 12:3 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
3 For by the grace (unmerited favor of God) given to me I warn everyone among you not to estimate and think of himself more highly than he ought [not to have an exaggerated opinion of his own importance], but to rate his ability with sober judgment, each according to the degree of faith apportioned by God to him.
Lastly, we know that when we become a new creation and was born again, we were also sealed with Christ. The argument is that a Christian can choose to deny Christ, but that goes against the very nature and identity of one who is a born again Christian and it denies the power of Jesus Christ at work in us. We no longer are living as our own selves nor do we only have our own minds, wills and emptions at work in us. It is not up to us to gain salvation nor to keep it. It is in Christ alone that we are redeemed, sanctified and ultimately glorified, not in our ability, will power or strength. We believe, that is our part and to be obedient to the leadership of the Holy Spirit so that our faith is made alive.
Galatians 2:19-21 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
19 For I through the Law [under the operation of the curse of the Law] have [in Christ’s death for me] myself died to the Law and all the Law’s demands upon me, so that I may [henceforth] live to and for God.
20 I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
21 [Therefore, I do not treat God’s gracious gift as something of minor importance and defeat its very purpose]; I do not set aside and invalidate and frustrate and nullify the grace (unmerited favor) of God. For if justification (righteousness, acquittal from guilt) comes through [observing the ritual of] the Law, then Christ (the Messiah) died groundlessly and to no purpose and in vain. [His death was then wholly superfluous.]
1 Corinthians 2:16 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
16 For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.
2 Corinthians 1:22 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
22 [He has also appropriated and acknowledged us as His by] putting His seal upon us and giving us His [Holy] Spirit in our hearts as the security deposit and guarantee [of the fulfillment of His promise].
Philippians 1:6 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
6 And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.
Hebrews 12:2 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)
2 Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
In conclusion, the short question without answer is yes; once you are saved you are always saved. Falling from grace and losing salvation are not the same thing.
Any time we try to work in self-righteousness we are not operating in the power and the mercy of grace. This has nothing to do with our eternal standing or our position of righteousness before God.
Ultimately, grace at work in the life of a believer produces the fruits of the spirit and outwardly we can make some degree of determination regarding whether a person is a born again Christian because their nature and behavior will exemplify it. To quote Bill Johnson, “grace that does not lead to holiness is not grace at all”. We cannot however judge a persons eternal destination based on a season in their life, a trial they may be facing, a moment of weakness in a besetting sin or falling short of the glory.
We must understand the vast difference between “practicing” sin and unrighteousness in gross insubordination towards God and struggling with sin but still having a willing and inviting heart (even in weakness) towards God
As Christians there are many times we walk in self-righteousness, thinking it is humility. Lines of thinking such as “God helps those that help themselves” falls right into this category. A false sense of humility and righteousness that is really based in pride, but that is a whole other conversation.
Don’t let religious rhetoric discount or minimize the power of the blood of Jesus or what Jesus accomplished on the cross for you personally!