Are Christians once saved always saved?

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I’ve found myself somewhat curious about this throughout my journey of discovering scriptural truth. I know some people say yes and some people say no, but fortunately since we have scripture, it’s my conclusion it can give us all the answers we need to know on major theological concerns without too much speculation. As I say often, it’s important for a Christian to always go by all of the scripture on everything as much as possible, and align themselves in agreement with it, because the scripture should always have the final say on one’s understanding of things (2 Tim 3:16). With that said, let’s start from the beginning of how one first of all gain’s salvation to even potentially lose it in the first place.

As I’ve written previously on how one obtains salvation, it starts with hearing the word of God (Rom 10:17), and once having heard the Word of God a person must choose to believe that Jesus is the son of God (John 8:24), repent of their sins (Luke 13:3), make a confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior (Rom 10:9), and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38) in order to have their soul added as a part of the body of Christ (Act 2:41). To my knowledge of the scripture there’s no sinner’s prayer instruction. I’m aware that some may disagree with this, and we can have discussion that furthers understanding, but only if there’s other verses that appear to instruct differently from these apparent instructions of receiving salvation. But otherwise, an opinion-based discussion wouldn’t seem beneficial.

So having established how one receives salvation according to scripture, obviously the next question would be if it’s possible to lose that scripture based salvation? Well it would seem to be an inaccurate way to frame the question. Consider this following scripture. (2 Pet 3:9) “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” So we know that God is waiting for everyone to come to repentence, and doesn’t wish for anyone to perish. With that fact established from scripture, it would seem counter to scripture if God really wanted people not to perish, but at the same time was prepared to push people out to perish. Now does that say a person is “once saved always saved”? Well let’s examine more scripture.

(Heb 10:26) “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,”. Now we have to carefully understand this verse. If one “deliberately” keeps on sinning after receiving knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice of sins is left”. So that would seem to suggest an individual would have to make a deliberate choice to turn away from God and live in whatever lifestyle of sin they want to, and if they chose to do that, no sacrifice of sins would be left. So it would appear that the question is not can one lose their salvation, it’s can one give up their salvation, which according to this scripture, the answer would seem to be yes. Though it also has to be remembered in the previous verse we read, God is always waiting for all to come to repentance. So it would suggest if someone turned away from God and chose to live their own sinful lifestyle, as long as that person is still alive, they have a chance to come back.

If I’ve taught anything in these writings, it’s that you can’t just go by one or two verses, you have to go with as much of the scripture on a particular topic as you can, to get a full picture of what God instructs of Christians in his Word. Numerous verses seem to suggest that to be a saved Christian is an active choice of lifestyle. This is not to be confused with what we know a person can’t do, which is justify themselves to God by works of the law (Rom 3:20). Be careful to make sure you understand that that verse is referring to works of the law found in the Old Testament. Not just any perceived righteous act, but things that the Jews formerly had to in order to be found right with God. We are found right with God by the instructions we’re given of salvation that we went over a few paragraphs back. Once an individual has received salvation, scripture appears to show it’s an active lifestyle choice to be a saved Christian.

(Hbr 5:9) “And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” Notice that it says, “He became to all those who OBEY Him the source of eternal salvation”. To obey something is an active choice. This also seems to reaffirm once again the necessity of obeying what Jesus says in (Mark 16:16) regarding salvation. Let’s continue to look over more scripture to get as complete a picture on this topic as possible. (1 Cor 15:1-2) “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.” Notice that it says “if” here. If an individual holds fast the word preached, you are saved, or you believed in vain, which means you didn’t really believe, and suggesting one can actively chose not to be a saved Christian, and thus potentially give away their salvation if they don’t repent.

(Col 1:21-23) “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” We see the word “if” again, but now we also see the word “continue”. Scripture appears to suggest that one must continue in the faith and not move away from the hope of the gospel, in order to be holy, blameless, beyond reproach, and essentially good with God in the end. So this again suggests one has to actively choose to be a saved Christian, not just receive salvation and then just turn away from God and actively choose to live a sinful lifestyle.

(Phil 2:12) “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;” Now I point out the word work here, but again, scripture doesn’t appear to be suggesting a work based salvation, but this word demonstrates again an active choice in being a saved Christian. (1 Pet 1:9) “obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.” This verse on it’s own seems pretty self-explanatory, but let’s let another verse bring clarity to that phrase “outcome of your faith”, by observing what James 2 describes faith as. (James 2:17-20) “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?”

(James 2:17-20) would seem to show that faith is not just a belief, but it requires obedient action in order for it to be faith. So if we use that phrase in (1 Pet 1:9), it would seem to fit by the scripture stating “obtaining as the outcome of your obedient action the salvation of your souls”. The obedience in choosing to get saved, and the obedience in actively choosing to be a saved Christian by doing one’s best to live according to God’s Word. One last verse I’d like to present for us to observe is 1 Tim 4:16 which states “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” It’s interesting here that Timothy is told by Paul to ensure his salvation, and to help those who hear him to do so as well. If you’ve been reading this so far, you already know what conclusion that would seem to suggest.

So according to the scripture to the best of trying to understand all of it together, the answer to whether one is once saved always saved appears to be no. The answer to whether one can lose their salvation according to scripture also appears to be no. However, the answer to whether one can give away their salvation, according to scripture, the answer would appear to be yes. I would suggest considering one last thing in scripture regarding this topic, and that would be the different paths that Judas and Peter ended up taking in their lives, which would arguably illustrate all the verses we’ve been looking at regarding one’s having salvation. As always, any questions, comments, or thoughts that can increase understanding through scripture is welcomed. Peace to those who are in Christ

 

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18 thoughts on “Are Christians once saved always saved?

  1. Fact Based,
    I have to disagree.
    “If any man is in Christ he is a new creation. Old things are passed away, behold all things are new.”
    Galatians was written to address this issue. Works are the result of genuine salvation, not a condition for salvation.
    It’s either works save or Christ saves, not both and if you had no part in that work beyond acceptance of the gift, you can have no part in rejecting it IF you ever genuinely did in the first place.
    I can support this position from the Bible.

    • Hi Christ Centered Teaching. Thank you for your comment. If you read through Galatians again, it seems to be referring to works of the law (Galatians 2:16). I agree with you that doesn’t save anyone. What I’m more specifically referring to is living obediently according to God’s Word. As I pointed out in Hebrews 5:9, it states that Jesus became the source of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him. Does obedience to Christ, and consequently obedience to the Word since God and Christ are the Word as John 1 seems to suggest, stop once you’ve obtained salvation? The answer would seem to be no, because as I also pointed out in my post, there are verses which say you are saved “if you hold fast to the Word”, “if you continue in the faith”, etc. Now you bring up an interesting point about “if one ever genuinely did in the first place”. I’ve heard this conclusion made before that it’s not that someone loses their salvation, but that they weren’t genuinely saved to begin with. But genuineness is an abstract concept. One can say they genuinely have faith in Christ, but just because one says it, no matter how heartfelt and thoughtfully expressed, doesn’t necessarily make it true. Without the action, it would seem you can’t really confirm it one way or the other. The act of choosing salvation according to obedience to the instructions in the Word of how a Christian is saved, and the act of continually striving to live in obedience to God as the verses I pointed out throughout this post seemed to suggest. If you can further clarify the meaning behind the verses which I quoted in my post that suggested a necessary need to continue obeying God as a part of one’s salvation, I’d gladly be open to hearing your explanation which could potentially enhance my own understanding. I think regardless, even if it’s not true that God requires Christians to continue obeying Him according to His Word in order to maintain their salvation, it’s still something that God wants Christians to do anyway. To obey Him. So even if you’re accurate in your disagreement in my position, at the very least if one follows in my position, one is living the way God wants them to. It would seem to be a more significant spiritual gamble for one to just assume they’re saved no matter whether they continue to strive to live in obedience to God after being saved or not.

      • Factbased,
        I see your position as a 3/4 to the goal view. The view I refer to takes all scripture into account. The all inclusive view would make sense anyhow, right? We can’t just ignore some scriptures and not ignore others.
        In Matthew 7:22-24 we read Christ’s own declaration,
        22“Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’

        23“And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
        I believe Jesus is addressing what He alone would know is a situation that will be repeated over and over again. Faith in works for salvation.
        Note that Jesus does not sa,”I knew you once, but you decided to leave Me”.
        He says,”I never knew you.”
        In the verse that follows, Jesus emphasizes works. These are important because they are evidence of a true conversion.
        But love for Christ must be at it’s maximum. For that to happen and the resulting works naturally take place, a heart of limitless gratitude must occur in the believer. He or she knows Jesus paid it all.
        Jesus says,”If you love me keep my commandments”, and John says,” we love Him because He first loved us. Even being partially dependant on our own works will short circuit the gratitude we need to fuel our obedience.

  2. Brothers.

    ‘Our Works by grace’ (no longer law) is a testament to our true belief (faith) & outpouring of gratitude to the one who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 pe 2:9

    BUT SHALL WE CONTINUE IN SIN THAT GRACE MAY ABOUND?? GOD FORBID!!

    CCT …what you don’t take into account is ‘Free Will’ & choice which GOD never deprives us of. After we become born again, GOD still gives us choice of rejecting HIM. You can choose to return to your vomit. You can choose to later believe there is no God. JESUS himself classified it himself in Matt 24:13

    “But the one who PERSEVERES TO THE END will be saved”. 

    Another quick anecdote is the 10 Virgins:
    – All 10 of them were Virgins (meaning the had been set apart)..they all accepted the offer of salvation of the bridegroom. & Waited. But only 5 who waited till the end obtained the prize!!!

    Fact Based Truth has it spot on…

    Grace to us all.

      • Thanks for your response CCT. I agree that it’s important to look through all verses. I try my best to make sure I don’t just cherry pick verses favorable to my conclusions and try to include verses that seem to support the other side of a debate. It’s a great thing when people can pass along other verses for consideration that I might have not considered previously. When I interpret Scripture, I try to interpret based on what the verses themselves state as much as possible. I do think occasionally a verse gives us implicit conclusions, for example Luke 1:37 “For no word from God will ever fail” the implicit conclusion is that every word from God succeeds, but I think those conclusions have to be made very carefully. But as a general rule of thumb, I think the closer the understanding is to what the verses actually state, the more accurate the interpretation. With regards to the verses you quoted, it ironically would seem to further support the position I currently hold. Matthew 7 Verse 21 states, “He who does the will of my father who is in heaven will enter.”

        What is the will of the Father? Well I think we can make that conclusion based on what Jesus states are the two greatest commandments of all. Love God with your all heart, mind, and soul, and love others as you love yourself. I would agree with you in what it means to love God is what Jesus stated, if you love me you will keep my commandments. It would again suggest to me, based on this verse we’re looking at, that Christianity is a continuous journey of following God’s will which would seem to be loving Him and others, and the Word gives numerous instructions for Christians to obey that all seemed to be based on those two foundations. And thus if one after becoming a saved Christian does that, they will enter heaven. I don’t find in my conclusion that I’m suggesting a Christian is being reliant on their own works, but rather, a Christian is being reliant on God in following His Word. I think if a person was being reliant on their own works, they would just do acts which they considered to be righteous, or just do works of the law which is often what’s being referred to when works are mentioned and denounced as a part of salvation in Scripture. I really do think it’s important to acknowledge that that’s what “works” appears to mean in Scripture, works of the Law.

        Overall from reading your response, it seemed as if we largely agree. You seemed to state that acts are what shows one’s truthful change of having become a Christian, which I definitely agree with. You just seem to disagree that it follows one must continue in exhibiting that truthful change through actions in following God’s Word if I’m understanding you correctly, (which you can correct me if I’m misunderstanding your point). But I would just say I find if we follow that conclusion to its logical end, that conclusion would seem to suggest that God is okay with the fact that someone chooses to become a Christian, maybe lives according to the Word in example of that for a few days, weeks or months, and then they just decide to stop living according to the Word for the rest of their life, but still go to heaven. That to me would seem to render God’s desire for us to obey Him in our lives pointless if one is just saved indefinitely regardless of whether they chose to remain consistent with the faith or not. I still find that your position has to contend with why the verses I quoted seem to strongly suggest salvation is not just a single act of faith, with the verses I quoted stating one has been saved “if you hold fast to the word”, or “if you continue in the faith”, or “ensure your faith”. You’re welcome to respond again however you may desire, but I’m curious if you can possibly address those verses that I put in my post just as I directly addressed some of the verses you quoted in response to me, and I look forward to your next response if you desire to continue this conversation. 🙂

      • “13In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,

        14whofn is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

        (Ephesians 1:13,14,NKHV,The Bible )

  3. CCT,

    I think it’s difficult to interpret it any other way except that it’s a cause of salvation if we’re just strictly going by the words we’re reading. “He who does the will of my father in heaven will enter” The entrance into heaven is predicated by the act of doing the father’s will. It does not seem to say or suggest based on the words we’re reading here to paraphrase you, “one’s doing the will of the father is the effect of a genuine salvation”. Do you think that would have been phrased more specifically if that were the case? I think at the very least, it’s not as specifically worded of that particular interpretation as it could be.

    As far as the verses you quoted mentioning the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, I have an alternative view on that topic to where those verses don’t dispute what I’ve concluded to be a scripturally accurate position. I may write on that in a future blog post, but for now I’ll just leave it at that since that would take us off topic. But even with my alternative Holy Spirit indwelling view notwithstanding, I think you might be doing the same thing that you implored of me to make sure I’m not doing in your first response to my response to you. You’re focusing on certain verses that appear to support your position, and in doing that I think you’re focusing on only one part of the story, and not acknowledging all of the story, since we both know that all verses in scripture are right (2 Tim 3:16). This was why I said in my last response to you that your position still has to explain why other verses say one is saved, if you hold fast to the word, if you continue in the faith, and also a verse that says ensure your faith. I think it’s an important thing that people of the once saved always saved position need to acknowledge. Now I don’t bring up those verses to dispute the verses you’ve quoted to me. Those verses are true as well. But you have to acknowledge the other verses which I quoted to you which hold the same scripturally correct value as any verse in Scripture, and put it all together. I think in doing so it follows, Christians have a guarantee and promise of inheritance/salvation, IF, you hold fast to the word, continue in the faith, ensure your faith, work out your salvation, Jesus being salvation to all those who obey Him, with no sacrifice of sins left if one deliberately keeps on sinning after receiving the knowledge of truth. That would seem to be a logical way of putting all the verses together, but if you have an alternative way of understanding this based in the words specifically stated in the verses, I’m still happy to listen.

    • Hi beehopper. Thank you for your comment. It’s an interesting concept indeed, and an important one to study given the potential ramifications if the understanding I’ve presented on the issue is accurate.

      Peace to you in Christ. 🙂

  4. You conclude that we can give our Salvation away. Another way to look at this is, I think, is that those who later abandon their faith were never truly “born again” to begin with. Jesus spoke of the faith of some not taking deep root (Matt. 13: 5). Only God, of course, knows the heart. He has rescued many a lost lamb (myself included). Just my take…

    • Hi Anna. Thanks for your comment. The reason I don’t agree with the “never truly born again” argument is because it seems there’s a clear formula of one exercising the necessary steps to become saved and then being immediately acknowledged as saved. Acts 2:41 confirms the people who did what they did to get saved were added. Acts 16:34 there’s confirmation the jailer had believed. And I imagine if I were to look at all the other instances of salvation in Acts, there would be some statement afterwards of confirmation of having fulfilled the necessary steps to become saved or a statement that at the moment they were saved. Just something different to think about. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

      Peace in Christ.

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