Questions about “once saved, always saved”

Good day everyone,

In our recent Bible Study we had a discussion about Christians who have been walking with Jesus, serving in church and sometime later on in life became worldly and started to live a life that is not honoring God. One of our friends became a doctor and became agnostic after years in ministry on his 20’s. Another one of our friends is still a Christian but seems to backslide into sexual sin.

Question: When it comes to “once saved, always saved” - how does this apply in each of those situations and how can we as brothers and sisters respond in regards to those we love and see them struggle.

Thank you!

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Dear Uliana
This subject is always in fore-front for most Christians who have been taught the biblical view of Once Saved-Always Saved. I will state from the onset that I hold this view, however it is not the majority view of all the Christian Traditions. This position is primarily held within Evangelical Protestant Traditions and even there it is not universal as a doctrine.

The two simple answers that most give to your question about these backsliding Christians are either:

  1. They were not really saved and only made an apparent commitment to Christ in their mind but not in their heart.
  2. If these persons really did make a heart commitment then God will never let them go and they will return to the Faith.

However these answers because they are simple many times do not satisfy the quest for Truth about these situations. And when you throw in the Scripture Judge not, lest you be judged, a whole other dimension enters the discussion.

Paul in his letters speaks of those who apparently leave The Faith and follow their own desires (1Tim 6:21 and 2Tim 2:18). It should be noted Paul does not give examples of those that have left The Faith and then returned. However even within my own family and in my personal life I have seen how those that depart from The Faith return to it. And when they do return it is done with even a greater commitment to The Lord. So how then do we deal with these situations. Jesus gave us the HOW of Church discipline in Mat 18:15-17. Note here that Jesus never says to judge the person, but we are to judge their actions.

My view that I share with others and believe brings all the Scriptures together on this subject is this:

  1. Do not make a judgement about a person’s position with God for only God knows that person’s heart.
  2. Do judge a person’s actions and hold them accountable for those actions. Follow the command of Jesus in Matthew 18 in doing this always acting in love.
  3. Pray for the person as God puts them on your heart that they might come back to the Lord.

Hope this helps
Dan

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Very good question, @irepchrist242. I believe there is a fundamental difference between the two cases you have mentioned. One turned his back on the faith itself, while the other “is still a Christian but seems to backslide into sexual sin.”

When someone departs from the faith and blatantly denies Christ and His word, they reveal what Hebrews 3:12 calls an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God. Jesus said there would be tares among the wheat, goats among the sheep, and that many would call Him Lord in the judgment who were never truly His.

So people who claim to be former Christians are really just former counterfeits finally showing their true colors. I John 2:19 confirms this: they went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us, they would, no doubt, have continued with us, but they went out that it might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

I think it’s significant that people who fall away, or apostasize like this will often say things like, “I finally decided to quit living a lie”, “I couldn’t keep pretending”, “I never really believed all that stuff”, and similar statements revealing that their hearts were never genuinely transformed by the new birth of the Spirit from the start.

But someone who doesn’t deny the faith, who falls into sin through weakness of the flesh, is a different story – it’s the story of Peter whose faith may waver but doesn’t apostasize.

It’s the story of Lot. Remember him? The guy who moved his family into Sodom – who married his daughters to Sodomites – even called the Sodomites “brethren”, and offered his daughters to them to be gang raped – the guy who lost his wife, got drunk in a cave and… well, you can read the whole sordid mess in Genesis 19.

And if all you had to go on was what you read in Genesis, you’d probably be convinced that there was no way this guy was a follower of God.

But then you turn down to II Peter 2:7-9, and you read in verse 7 where God calls him a “just” man; verse 8 calls him “righteous” - twice - verse 9 even calls him godly! Lot? Godly?

Oh yes, because God saw that Lot’s heart was never really on board with all the sin around him. He was vexed from day to day by what he saw and heard. Because a genuinely saved child of God can never be okay with sin. His heart will grieve over it even as his weakness to the flesh gives into it.

This is why the Bible nowhere ever describes God’s people as wicked. God sees us as having been made righteous through the miracle of the new birth on the inside. The “old man” we used to be within is crucified with Christ (Romans 6:6) – dead and buried, never to return – and a new man has been born inside us.

But the death and resurrection of that “inner sinner” has not yet happened with our outer man – the flesh. Someday it will, and then we’ll be wholly holy. But in the meantime we struggle with the soul of a saint inside the body of a sinner – the nature of God on the inside and the nature of Adam on the outside.

And so, while our hearts want to be at peace, someone may make an insulting comment, and our flesh churns out adrenaline that makes us want to swing a fist – but then our spirit has to say, “No, flesh! Down, flesh! Bad, bad flesh!”

We want to be pure, but some bikini babe goes bouncing by, and our flesh churns out hormones that disturb our spirit into saying, “Bad flesh! Down, flesh! No, no flesh!”

Christians never sin because they are wicked, they sin because they are weak – as Jesus recognized in His sleeping disciples, The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

I hope this may help you put things into perspective.

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I know you posted this back in April, Pastor Lyons, but I felt very compelled to tell you how encouraging it is. :slight_smile: I’m one of those people who has a hard time understanding being born again and simultaneously struggling with fleshly reactions to things. For example, and similar to one you gave, in heavy traffic where people are swerving and weaving and someone comes very close to side swiping me, an initial reaction I might have may well be, “Whhhhyyyy youuuu! Why I oughtta…! Hulk meter at 7 and climbing!!” (skin starting to turn green and all that) and then I’m like, “Lord! No! I repent!” ha ha And then I excrutiate (new word there) for a while afterwards. You know, things like, “That was not a fruit of the Spirit! Why am I producing fruits of the flesh!”

Anyway, just wanted you to know your post is very helpful.

His blessings upon you!

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Hi, @irepchrist242 :wave:

Brother @jlyons’s response is excellent already. I will be directing you to other pointers on the OSAS argument or the doctrine eternal security, or the perseverance of the saints.

  1. It is the Triune God Who secures our salvation, not we ourselves (Matt.10:28,29)
  2. Nothing can separate us from His love (Rom.8:38,39)
  3. It is eternal life God is giving, not an ON-and-OFF state of living
  4. The Spirit may be quenched and grieved, but He will never leave
  5. On the subject of the soul’s eternal destiny, it is exclusively between the person and God
  6. God, in His omniscience already know from the beginning (i.e. predestined by foresight) that there will be some who will choose to follow Him even if He gives man freewill. Thus when God elected to create, He already have every single believer in mind before the foundation of the Earth. Hence, it is eternal life indeed which started from the mind of God, affirmed by man’s freewill, consummated in man’s glorification.
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A question on the once saved always saved topic. In one of Ravi’s q&a videos where he was speaking to a young atheist fellow about being predetermined, said that if we are predetermined than we cannot have freewill. We are only an automaton at that point because that’s what we are hardwired to do and we have no choice. But if we have freewill to choose than we can no longer be predetermined. It appears to me that the once saved, always saved belief is also predeterminism? Or am I confusing something here? Like, if I am saved, than I will always be saved and I no longer have any choice or say so in the matter? And if you say that statement is true, than why is there any need for Holy living? I guess I’m wondering how this apparent conflict is resolved.

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That is a lovely observation, Travis. The question of freewill and determinism is often a thorny issue that tends to arouse passions among Christian brethren, so I will tread carefully here. Here is what I understand.

  1. Freewill is a gift of God to us and is an indicator of us being made in the image of God.
  2. If freewill is truly true, then we are well and truly free to do what we will. There cannot be two ways about this.

God’s response to Abraham is a key verse for me in this respect.
Gen 22:12 - “Do not lay a hand on the boy.” He said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son. (NIV)
There are many more indications of the true freedom in scripture that God has given us but I will not go into this.

  1. If we are not truly free to choose, then God is unjust in condemning man to eternal punishment for his sin. If we are truly free to choose our will, then God is fully justified in condemning man for his sin; we truly deserve it.

So, to answer your question -

Yes, you are correct in your assessment and I agree with you. The consequences of this - ‘whether once saved, always saved’ - is something we can work out logically from this. There are plenty of scriptures that clarify this matter once we have an comprehensive understanding of scripture rather than focusing only on one verse.

I will not state my personal position on this because it seems to be a divisive issue among Christians, but would leave it to your logical deduction to come to a conclusion - it is not too difficult.

Appreciate the answers by @jlyons and @dan0647 on this issue.

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Thanks very much for your response @tonyabthomas!
I definitely wasn’t intending to start a controversy here with those questions. While I’ve heard of this belief, I’ve never heard any preaching or teaching on it and those were just some thoughts that came back to mind after reading this thread. I have a sister whose belief is that since Jesus died so we can be forgiven of sins, than he has forgiven all the sins in your past, he’s forgiven all the sins we’ll commit today, and he’s already forgiven every sin you’ll commit in the future, it doesn’t matter what you do or how much gross sin you commit. Salvation to her is an absolutely guaranteed thing, and although she has openly admitted that in light of her beliefs you can live however you please, sin all you want and still go to heaven, she qualifies it by saying that we really shouldn’t live that way (she doesn’t believe in being born again. All you need to do is to believe). It’s something that I’ve wrestled with and thought a lot about, I’m not saying I have all the correct answers to this, because I don’t and was only seeking clarification on those points. Thanks again!

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Without going into the issue of losing salvation or not, let us put some things straight from what we know from scripture.

  1. Salvation is by faith alone. No work that we do or do not do will bring about this salvation. It is a free gift of God because the price for our sins was paid by Christ on the cross.

  2. Faith or belief in Christ, putting our trust in Him is only the first step of our journey with Christ. There is a lifetime of walking with Him, communing with him, doing what He tells us to do. As we go along, we are broken, transformed little by little into the likeness of Christ. Some call this process ‘sanctification’.

  3. The salvation that came by faith is expressed in good works. This is the kind of faith that pleases God - living faith. We are created to do these good works. These works do not save us but flow out our faith and obedience.

  4. God has saved us through the precious blood of His Son Jesus. Now do you think Christ will let go of us or ‘lose’ us - No way!. He will not let go of us even when we go astray. He will wait patiently, very patiently for us to come back.

  5. Does that give us licence to do whatever we want, live as we like since we have our guaranteed ‘ticket to Heaven’? - that is heresy. No person who has truly believed and experienced the love of Christ and whose life has been changed by our Lord will say this. Paul walks us through this in Romans 6-8.

The only questions that remains is this - can a person deliberately walk away from Christ? To me that is a hypothetical question, because I am yet to meet a person who has deeply known Christ, who has then desired to walk away from Christ. Even if there is such a person, the state of his soul is a matter between his Creator and himself. We need not presume anything on this.

Salvation is a deep mysterious thing that brings us into the family of God; it is a relationship between man and God and we know only the basics as revealed in scripture. Let us not presume and assume and go into needless arguments and controversies about losing or gaining it. He is the author and finisher of our faith - let us leave it to Him, this side of Heaven.

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What a great conversation on one of the tougher topics that I am always interested in. Even though I joined late with RZIM Connect @TravisOver’ s questions helped me to read the responses. Excellent responses Pastor James @jlyons and @tonyabthomas - I couldn’t agree more. My two cents.

  • If everything is predetermined then Jesus doesn’t have to die on the cross, because Jesus already knows everything.

  • @tonyabthomas - I knew at least one person, who accepted and also took baptism and later departed from the faith. To your point, such persons might not have experienced the love of God and as you suggested, it is a matter between his creator and himself/herself.

Leaving all these arguments aside, logically it doesn’t make sense. For example, even in secularism, people work towards advancing or improving their cause (right or wrong) and if that is the case, how come it is possible for anyone to accept Christ and salvation in faith and not demonstrate the faith in action or in our works. If we are not demonstrating the faith in our actions then how can we show the fruits of the spirits to unbelievers?

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@tonyabthomas I really appreciate the way you brought this out.

I know that naturally, when one greatly admires someone as in a famous hero, they want to be like them, imitate them, and serve them. The more they get to know and admire the hero, the more they would love to spend their time in their presence (if their dream were to come true in even meeting that hero), and they would do anything to be able to say they personally had the honor of serving that hero in some way. I see this kind of heart is nearly unstoppable in a life that really gets to know Who the One true God really is. I could be wrong, and I know there are multitudes of wheat and chaff all throughout the fields; but understanding what it does to a heart who has been introduced to a greatly admired hero, I find it amazing that when one really and genuinely is introduced to Christ (not only in name, but in character), it seems quite propelling for that person to yet dive in deeper.

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Hello @irepchrist242,
I see that you posted this question a couple of weeks ago. I hope you’ll allow me to still engage on this topic, it is very dear to my heart.

When addressing the phrase “once saved, always saved, I think it is first important that we understand what salvation is, before we can know if it is actually something we possess. This is a topic that might take much more explaining than what I am able to provide in this short text, but I’ll offer just a few examples within the Bible to establish some foundation in order to move forward.

John 17:2-3 “as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

1John 2:3-6 “By this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also walk just as He walked.”

Romans 8:5-9 “if anyone does not have the Spirit if Christ, he is none of His.” (please read entire passage for more context)

While these passages are only a small example of what the Bible has to say about what salvation is, I hope that what is apparent in them is that eternal life is knowing God, and the proof of knowing God is in keeping His commandments. That last part can open an entirely different discussion on what it means to keep God’s commandments and law v Sprit/grace. However, I‘ll stay on task with the question at hand.

If I were to briefly describe salvation, I would say that, biblically, it is new life (John 3:3). I need new life because my human nature, inherently adverse to God and His character of love and humility, made me His enemy, doomed for eternal separation from Him.

If salvation is a new life, then it cannot be something one fully possesses in a single moment. It is a life, and therefore is something that continues life-long.

I think where the theology behind “Once saved, always saved” has gone wrong is that it assumes salvation is something other than having a new life which is literally lived daily in Christ, and it also subconsciously provides different ways of obtaining said salvation, such as “just say a prayer asking Jesus into your heart.” If salvation were a moment in time, the prayer might be logically understandable (though still biblically incorrect). But since salvation is a new life, something like that cannot be the ultimate means of obtainment. I have heard salvation described elsewhere as a lifelong, healing process, by which God conforms us back into His image.
While salvation is eternal, we do not enter into its fullness until eternity. Therefore, the proof of our inheritance which we await is in the Spirit of God who has come to live in our hearts, turning us toward God and away from the desires of the sin nature. Practically, this means that our lives should be growing more and more into the image of Christ. If this isn’t happening, something is wrong. Living things grow. I don’t believe it is erroneous to recognize the lack of growth in godliness, nor the outright enmity of a life against God. Paul does this all throughout his writings to the churches.

The ultimate danger of the “once saved, always saved” traditional theology is that it inoculates people from the truth which brings conviction of sin and repentance leading to eternal life.

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Hey Travis- great and interesting and tough question!

I’m definitely not a preacher but I responded to a similar question in another category if you’re inserted in continuing to dive in. My Question: Once Saved, Always Saved; Even after Renunciation?

Also, I wanted to offer one more consideration to your thought process.

The Bible makes it clear that we have the free will to choose but this does not mean we are autonomous beings. Often times “human free will” is framed as an autonomous neutral choice. However, the Bible seems to categories all humanity in two distinct groups: 1) those who are slaves to sin, and 2) those who are slaves to righteousness.

We are all born with a sinful nature, which weighs heavily on our decision-making process. We accept this principle as perfectly natural in other areas of our humanity. The choices of parents weigh heavily on the decisions their children, the choices of government weigh heavily on the decisions their citizens, and the choices of a Creator weigh heavily on the decisions of His creation.

God has created us with the free will to choose but we are not free to choose anything we want. For example, none of us can choose to be God, nor could any of us choose to live a perfectly righteous life. The free will to choose only requires two choices, it doesn’t require all the choices. My son could have the free will to choose between chocolate ice cream and vanilla ice cream, even if I withhold the choice of strawberry ice cream. So the discussion should be centered around what choices do humans have, rather than whether or not humans have free will.

Here is one perspective on this dilemma for your consideration.

  • When someone is not saved, they are a slave to sin but have the free will to choose many different options within their slavery.
  • When someone is saved, they are alive in Christ and there are many different options they can choose with that new life.

If someone were to say that God has predestined those who are alive in Christ to have salvation, then they would have to say that God has also predestined those who are dead in sin to not have salvation. I would choose to use the word arranged rather than predestined but both speak to the same situation.

I really hope this isn’t coming across as semantics? I only offer this perspective because it has been an important distinction in my own exploration of this topic.

Amen! I’m searching through all this right there with you and simply offering my own thought process at the moment. Anything I say or think bears no weight against the Bible and I am eager to align with Scripture.

Thanks for your time!
Stay Sharp
(Prov. 27:17)

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Hey Tony! I really respect your approach and willingness to lean into this discussion. I’ve been learning a lot from both your posture and responses.

Could you post or send me some of those scriptures you are referring to? I completely agree that a correct understanding of the Bible requires each individual verse to be looked at and understood through the entire biblical narrative. Taking individual verses out of context is an insufficient and inappropriate way to decern God’s word.

I look forward to your response and digging into scripture with you!

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Hey @holly_nichole32- I really appreciate your perspective and think you raise a significant point!

Having eternal life is the process of living and therefore cannot be achieved within a single moment or through a single prayer. Have you heard of the doctrine/process of justification, sanctification, and glorification?

Our salvation is a process, as you clarified, but it begins with an act of justification, in which we are justified through Christ. Our sin is washed by His blood and His righteousness is credited to us. This happens through our submission to Christ as Lord and Savior, after which we begin the life long process of sanctification and glorification.

The “once saved always saved” question is referring specifically to the process of justification, not sanctification and glorification. Justification does happen through a specific encounter with the Holy Spirit, although I completely agree that there is no magic prayer that can guarantee such an event.

When we are justified, we go from being dead in sin to alive in Christ. We don’t go through the process of being dead, then mostly dead, then partially dead, until we’re not dead at all. In this same way, Christ’s righteousness is not partially credited to us until we earn or receive the rest. Finally, Christ’s blood does not make us a little cleaner then we were, it washes us completely clean.

“Once saved always saved” is asking if someone can lose 1) the new life, 2) accredited rightiouness, and 3) washing of the blood after it has been gifted to them by Christ. This is what is understood as the act of justification, which is followed by a life long process of sanctification and glorification.

Also, consider that were are adopted children of God. When would you say the adoption takes place? My biblical understand is that adoption takes place during justification, not after we’ve been sanctified or glorified. If this is true, and someone can lose their salvation, they would also lose their status as an adopted child of God. Does this mean someone could be adopted, then unadopted, then adopted, then unadopted, etc?

I completely agree that the theology of “once saved, always saved” can be abused, misused, and cause many people to stray. However, I don’t think theology should be assessed through its abuse but rather its correspondence and coherence to scripture.

Thank you again for adding this new dynamic to the conversation and I welcome any feedback you have!

Stay Sharp
(Prov. 27:17)

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Hi, @TravisOver :wave:

I hope I could help you through with the confusion on this freewill and election matter.

God did not determine whom to save. In His omniscience, God just plainly know who will accept, and who will reject Him. I say, this is election by knowledge. He elected/chose to proceed with the Creation with the knowledge that some would accept, and some would reject His lordship. Man’s freewill is God’s glory. Anyone who voluntarily submits himself to God is exercising his freedom to choose. This I say, is the glory of freewill.

I often say that this seemingly contradictory Biblical truth is reconciled by perspective. Both are Biblical principles. Both are Biblical truths. Both pertains to salvation. And both applies to Jews and Christians alike. But two things cannot be true at the same time and in the same sense. So what is the distinguishing criteria? IMHO, it is that of perspective.

Any new believer has made a conscious decision to follow Christ of his own freewill. That same believer, if he has grown in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ will learn humility and recognize that it was purely of the Lord’s grace that he came to be accepted in the beloved, chosen by God’s unmerited favor.
Did the believer’s spiritual maturity invalidated his freewill or did his maturity bring him to humility?
Recognizing the truth of both doctrines is consistent to God’s attributes of Justice and Holiness.

Hope it helps :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hello Nathanael. Thank you for your input! I love to have someone able to discuss this particular subject with. You raised some really good points which bring some clarification to the subject. Admittedly, I was addressing the issue from the perspective of an abused theology. Because of space and time limitations, and because I believe that slogan is generally taught from an unbiblical framework, I focused mostly on that aspect. Also, I have never heard the true gospel of eternal security preached within the same context as the slogan, “once saved, always saved.” However, I tried to touch on the fact that I do believe in the eternal security of a born again follower of Christ when I mentioned that the new creature in Christ is awaiting an eternal inheritance. In Uliana’s question, she gave two specific examples that she used to clarify her question. One of a man losing his faith in Christ, and one of a friend caught in sexual sin. These examples were also a part of the premise for the way I explained biblical salvation the way I did. Matthew 24:13, Hebrews 10:39 Salvation is a future inheritance, which the saints are waiting for Hebrews 9:28, 1Peter 1:9. No person can expect to claim entrance into God’s kingdom based off of an experience of any kind that suggests faith, salvation, or justification when that experience is not accompanied with perseverance in faith and being conformed into the image of Christ’s likeness (both in His death and life, Phillipians 3:10-11). Matthew 7:23. To clarify, my concern is the proof scripture offers so that we may know whether or not we are actually in Christ, confidently and securely awaiting salvation.

I agree with the way you described the doctrines of justification, sanctification, and glorification. I don’t think those are in contradiction with anything that I stated above, but it does give further light onto the greater scope of the subject.

On another note, I love that you sign Proverbs 27:17 at the end of your responses! I think it speaks so much to what we’re all employing ourselves to here. Really, really encouraging! :slight_smile:

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Hey @noverby!
Thanks for your thoughts and insights! I’m still thinking about the whole freewill/autonomous thing so I will refrain from commenting on that for right now.

The argument for once saved always saved, as I am currently understanding, it is basically saying that once a person has become a servant of righteousness than it is impossible for that person to ever become a slave to sin again. If i am wrong on that please correct me. That is what my original question about being predetermined was getting at. If we say that it is impossible to ever become the servant of sin after being born again, than technically, once we are saved, we are than predetermined and the rest of our life is of no consequence.
Also I offer for consideration the following. In John 15:1-8 where Jesus talks of the vine and abiding in him, my understanding is that he is talking of a relationship, specifically a relationship with himself. We see the vine in 2 ways. 1) every branch that doesn’t produce fruit is taken off. If our relationship with Christ isn’t producing fruit we are taken off the vine. 2) every branch that bears fruit, he purges so that it produces even more fruit. If our relationship with Christ is bearing fruit than we are pruned to produce more fruit. If we do not take care to maintain the relationship with Christ than we are cast off, become dried up and eventually cast into the fire. Either way, its very clear that the branch was at one point attached to the vine(or saved, if we defined being saved as being in Christ) I don’t really see how this is compatible to once saved always saved.
The way I see it, please tell me if I’m off here, the blood of Christ cleanses from sin(justification), but just being cleansed from sin isn’t necessarily salvation. See Luke 11:24-26. The new birth is rooted in terms of being, we go from being dead in sin to being alive in Christ, the blood of Christ is only the first step to making this all possible, so after we have been cleansed and made alive, we must be filled. More specifically, filled with the Holy Spirit. I believe that the work of Christ is complete, sufficient and available, but that it also works hand in hand with our will. We must choose to take those steps. Also if we don’t feed our body and drink water, it isn’t long til life disappears. If, after being made alive in Christ, we neglect to feed that life and nourish it with the Spirit, it will likewise die. So what remains? Will there be dead branches in heaven?

When we say God is our Father, then we can be expected to be treated as his children. He doesn’t immediately disown us every time we mess up, nor do i believe we automatically lose our salvation if wefall into a sin. The danger is not confessing those sins and making it right right away. Sin creates distance in our relationship with God, and sin will never enter into his presence, so our choice is whether we confess it or not. If we persist in our sin long enough and ignore his reproofs, than we leave God no choice but to unadopt us.
I see salvation as being two distinct parts. We are initially “saved” at the time of new birth, we are “safe” as long as we abide on the vine and bear fruit. I would believe that the only time we can say that we are irrevocably saved beyond any possibility of falling away is when we are actually in heaven and God has said to us “well done”.
Thank you @tonyabthomas, @samshankar and @holly_nichole32 for your thoughts and insight as well! This has all been good for me to consider.

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Hi Nathanael,
Since you asked about a study on this subject -

The issue of 1) the assurance (and the confidence we have) of salvation and 2) whether it is a ‘guaranteed one-way life insurance’ or not is something that is all over New testament. The clearest teaching on this from Christ himself especially in his parables. I will just mention some passages that made it very clear to me personally without going into too much detail. I would like to also add a disclaimer that this is based on personal study of the Word and is not based on any formal theological education.

One important concept here is that salvation in the New testament is never spoken of as a one-time event only. It is always a process that begins with a one-time event. I find this popular quote (attributed to several people) quite helpful - “Am I saved? I have been saved from the penalty of sin, I am being saved from the power of sin and I will be saved from the presence of sin.”

Some passages that I found useful in clarifying this ‘once-saved’ and ‘assurance of salvation’ issue:

  1. Parable of the talents and manager - Mathew 25:14-30 and Luke 12: 42-46. (Note here that the parable is about the Master’s servants and steward and not about unknown persons.)

  2. Parable of the sower - Mathew 13:1-23 (Note especially verse 20,21)

  3. Vine and branches - John 15:1-8 (Note the importance of remaining / abiding in Christ and the danger of not doing so)

  4. John 10: 27-29 - No one will pluck my sheep out of my hand.

  5. Rom 8: 38-39 and Rom 11:17-21- Nothing can separate me from God’s love. Grafted branches can be cut off.

  6. Hebrews 6:4-6 - The key words here are “brought back to repentance”. This assures me that as long as a person repents and wants to come back, Christ is willing to embrace him.

  7. Revelations chapters 2,3 - Letters to the 7 churches. Note the emphasis on overcoming at the end of almost every letter. These are not to unbelievers but to Jewish believers.

There are many more such passages which talk about the assurance and confidence that we have in the salvation that God has provided us in Christ while also warning us against a lazy, irreverent attitude that says in effect - I can now do anything I want since I have received my one-way ticket to heaven.

To get a good overview of this issue, I would recommend the following sermon by David Pawson which I found very helpful. He touches on the issue of ‘once saved’ with a fairly well-balanced reading of scripture and in the end of the video briefly touches on predestination and determinism also.

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Hi Everyone
I answered back on April 21 about once saved, always saved on a fairly simple level. I see now that the subject has matured into one on predeterminism, free will and other issues.

First I want to complement @holly_nichole32 on her explanation that salvation is a new life and not an event in a moment in time. This is something that the Church in the USA does not emphasize enough. We are not signing up to get a salvation card to show everyone, we are signing on to a New Life in Christ for all eternity.

As to the issue of free will and predeterminism impacting this subject, I would like to pass on my understanding of what is happening when we come to Christ. I believe that there comes a time when all persons are brought to the reality that they need to have God intervene in their lives to be made whole. This is the work of The Holy Spirit Who uses our intellect, emotions, experiences and relationships to cause an understanding in our person that we are flawed and are not in the correct relationship with our Creator. The Holy Spirit then brings about in a unique way the circumstances to allow us to make a free will decision for or against God. I believe that God does this uniquely throughout a person’s life until they make a final decision for or against God. If they chose against God, they are lost forever. If they chose for God, they are God’s forever and a bond slave to the Lord Jesus Christ. Ultimately the decision is whether you decide (as Satan did) to hold onto your freewill and not submit to God, or to submit your freewill to God. If you have chosen to submit to God, you in fact have given God permission to act on your free will such that you will never chose to leave God. You have become God’s Bond Slave and His Will by your choice is your will. Thus you have not lost your free will but you will be God’s forever by a freewill choice that God hold as an absolute choice on your part. Sadly the rejection of God is also an absolute choice as well. This picture of what is happening you will notice is very personal and individual. I believe it is an internal act of every human being that is in the state of having reason regardless of their culture, life experience, or heritage. Evangelism is a prompter of this experience but is not necessary for it to occur. It is solely an event between God and an individual.

Just something to think about, that is more a picture than a something theological. It is something I came to consider in my study of Romans.
Dan

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