Once Saved, Always Saved? The Bible Teaches Otherwise

imageThe gospel message of salvation is a beautiful message indeed!  It’s a story of redemption so unlikely, so magnificent that the world’s greatest philosophers and writers would never be able to dream of it. Our Creator, our perfect, righteous, and all-powerful God gave up his own Son to die on the cross of Calvary for all of mankind (John 3:16).  All we need to do is believe and live in obedience to that great and precious gift of grace and we’re saved!  We get to spend the rest of eternity in close fellowship with God, worshipping and glorifying him with the believers from all of time.

That’s all there is to it right?  Make a one time statement of confession that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9), genuinely repent of the sin that separates us from him (Acts 3:19), and honor him through obedience in baptism for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).  And what about the believer who dishonors God with continued disobedience?  What about the one whose faith is in word only and is not evidenced by action or deed (James 3:14, 17)?  Will they be eternally lost?

“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit,  and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,  and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

(Hebrews 6:4-6)

When we have learned of God’s goodness, when we have shared in the gift of the Spirit, when we have knowingly accepted God as the giver of all blessings and then turn our backs on him, we cannot be restored to repentance.  A heart that grieves over sin, one that is broken over their poor choices and maintains a measure of penitence, that is a heart that will be received by God.  We can see that in the parable of the prodigal son when the wayward was restored to honor when he offered a surrendered heart (Luke 15:11-32).  The dead can be made alive.  The lost can be found, but only with a heart that repents.

Our God is light.  “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  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 cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7).  In order to have our sins continually cleansed by the blood of Jesus, we must walk in a worthily manner.  If we leave the light, then we must be willing to return.  Failure to do so would result in making God out to be a liar and we can expect no redemption to follow (1 John 1:10).  “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

I don’t know about you, but the thought of my continued sin keeping me from God is a very sobering thought.  It should be for all of us.  Once saved, always saved?  The Bible clearly teaches otherwise and it would be wise to heed its warning.  God has been completely straightforward.  He desires believers who will give him their all, not just people who think they are owed their salvation.  There’s no doubt that it’s a free gift, one given graciously because he loves us.  But part of our acceptance of that gift is that we show him honor and gratitude.  Have you honored him for that wonderful plan of salvation?  Have you given him your whole life?



7 thoughts on “Once Saved, Always Saved? The Bible Teaches Otherwise

  1. Amen Joe. Have talked to people who think – “Once saved, always saved.” A falsehood. God tells us to continue in the faith and continually ask for forgiveness of our sins. You cannot be baptized and saved, then go back into the world and continue the life you had before you were saved. Very good post.

    1. Joe Butler

      Thank you. I think the Bible makes it very clear that we must carry our cross in order to follow Jesus. To me, that means we sacrifice what we want and do what God would have us do. I named my blog Faith and Footsteps for that very reason. We can have faith but we must also follow in his footsteps every day of our lives. Like worshipping in spirit and in truth, we cannot do one without the other. I’ve never understood how anyone could think that a one time profession of faith is all they need to be saved. That’s like telling God, “I’ll say this but I’m just covering myself. I want to continue doing what a want.” A real relationship with Christ, one where we are impacted by his love, will definitely show in the way we live our life.

  2. I fear that your view is now the minority view. In today’s church, the message of grace has drowned out the need to repent and follow Jesus. We no longer need to take up our crosses as Jesus did it all for us. Paul warned the brethren in Rome: “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13).

    1. Joe Butler

      Being that it is the minority view is exactly why I wanted to write this post. To be completely honest, I would love it if God’s mercy would extend far beyond what most believe is appropriate, and it may do just that, but the Bible seems very clear that our discipleship should look much more like daily acts of sacrifice than doing what we want and still being saved. I know it’s easier to convince people that being saved is a one time decision because then it takes the responsibility out of our hands and makes it God’s responsibility to follow through. The truth is, he’s already done the work to save us from our sins; there’s nothing we could do to earn it. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing I have to do in return to show gratitude for that sweet gift of grace and forgiveness.

      Thank you so much for reading today’s post and I hope you were encouraged by it. God bless.

      1. Thanks for posting it Joe. For myself I learned the hard way (still learning) that what I was taught was not correct. My seminary professors though sincere in their Reformed theology taught that regenerated believers cannot lose their salvation and if they could supposedly lose their salvation, they were never really believers in the first place. So I believed what I was taught; deceived myself and allowed sin to go on in my life thinking I was saved but remaining disobedient. I began to question what I was taught as the scriptures didn’t line up and reconcile with each other. It literally took me years to unlearn what I was taught as it would have been much easier to learn the truth the first time around.

        I suppose that is why our churches have so many converts and so few disciples as overcoming and persevering in the faith is required – not just a one-time salvation decision as you have pointed out. In my opinion better to have a small church with many disciples rather than a large church with few disciples. In doing so we can keep on encouraging and edifying each other to fight the good fight and finish the race set before us. The sad tragedy is that most pastors assume that those in the congregations have already finished the race. Keep preaching the gospel truth.

      2. Joe Butler

        You make a good point as to why we always need to be in God’s word, continually searching to understand his will. We have to make sure we don’t bring any agenda or preconceived ideas of what we want the Bible to say, but rather to read with an open heart, asking the Holy Spirit to bring us into all knowledge of the truth. As you mentioned ,discipleship is sorely missing in much of today’s church, and it may be to the fact that we don’t pay much attention to it. All the ministries that congregations offer are great, but it would be good to see more focus on training people to be disciples just like Jesus did with the apostles. We would have a more fruitful harvest as well.

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