Once saved always saved? Yes and no!
It depends on the point in time that you choose to apply it. Once saved always saved in this life is a false doctrine promoted by numerous Christians, by which they mean that once they believe in Jesus and become a Christian, then they cannot be lost. This comes from a misunderstanding of the basis of salvation. First of all salvation is by grace through faith (Acts 15:11, Ephesians 2:5, 2:8), and grace is entered into through faith (Romans 5:2, Ephesians 2:8). So no faith equals no grace, which in turn equals no salvation. Secondly, faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 2:20, 2:26), so a genuine faith must produce works of faith in our lives, and one of these works will be to overcome sin. Anything we have by faith is obviously not manifested yet because faith is “the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Thirdly, salvation in a manifested sense is still future:
(Mark 16:16) “He who believed and was baptized will be saved;”
(Acts 15:11) “But we believe that through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they shall.”
(Romans 13:11) “For now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed.”
(Philippians 2:12) “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
(1 Peter 1:5) “Who are being kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
(1 Peter 1:9) “Receiving at the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
When we become believers, God gives us “a measure of faith” (Romans 12:3) for our salvation, but we need to maintain that faith, because if we lose it, we will get nothing. Providing then, that we hold on to our faith to the end, we will receive our salvation in a real sense when we are resurrected from the dead at the second coming of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:50-57; Hebrews 9:28).
(Matthew 24:13) “But he who shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved.”
This being so we are not saved in a manifested sense when we first become Christians; we only have salvation by a faith which can be lost if we do not continue to follow Jesus and endure to the end. Now if we say, “once saved always saved”, and understand that this applies to those who receive their salvation in a manifested sense when Jesus returns, then this would be a true doctrine, because after that we cannot be lost.
(1 Corinthians 5:5) “That his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 4:17) “Thus we shall always be with the Lord.”
(Hebrews 9:28) “Christ … who will appear a second time, without sin, for salvation.”
(Revelation 19:7) “The marriage of the lamb has come and his wife has made herself ready.”
(Revelation 20:6) “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power.”
Jesus taught that after a marriage is consummated there should be no separation (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9). As the church is his bride, when Jesus returns the marriage will be consummated, “when he is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). There will be no separation of the saved from him after that. If we try to apply “once saved always saved” to people when they first become believers, then it is false. All of the following scriptures will back this up.
GOD TOLD EZEKIEL THAT THE RIGHTEOUS WOULD BE LOST IF HE SINNED
20 Again, When a righteous man turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die: because you have not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand.
EZEKIEL 18:24, 26
24 But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass which he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them he shall die.
26 When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, and dies in them; for his iniquity that he has done he shall die.
12 Therefore you son of man, say to the children of your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it in the day that he turns from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sins.
13 When I say to the righteous that he shall surely live; if he trusts to his own righteousness, and commits iniquity, all his righteousness shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he has committed, he shall die for it.
18 When the righteous turns from his righteousness, and commits iniquity, he shall even die by it.
Note: These scriptures are really very clear, “When a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits iniquity, … he shall die in his sin” (Ezekiel 3:20), “in his trespass which he has trespassed, and in his sin which he has sinned, in them he shall die” (Ezekiel 18:24), “for his iniquity that he has done he shall die” (Ezekiel 18:26), “for his iniquity that he has committed, he shall die for it” (Ezekiel 33:13), “he shall even die by it” (Ezekiel 33:18). No honest Christian should need to go any further than these verses, to know that a righteous man’s salvation can be lost if he sins. He cannot remain in sin if he wishes to be saved. Although some may try to pass over these scriptures because they are ‘Old Testament’, be warned, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16), and “whatever things were written before were written for our learning” (Romans 15:4). Paul said that he believed, “all things which are written in the law and the prophets:” (Acts 24:14), and if he believed them, then we ought to believe them also. Jesus made it clear that nobody could pluck us out of his hand (John 10:28-29), but that refers to us being tested under persecution not to us making a decision to go the wrong way.
PAUL TAUGHT THAT WE COULD BELIEVE, SUFFER AND LABOR IN VAIN
1 CORINTHIANS 15:1-2 (Paul)
1 Furthermore, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you have received, and in which you stand;
2 By which you are saved, if you keep in memory what I preached to you, unless you have believed in vain.
GALATIANS 3:4 (Paul)
4 Have you suffered so many things in vain; if it is yet in vain?
GALATIANS 4:11 (Paul)
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.
Note: If we can believe and suffer in vain then we can suffer for what we believe, then later lose our belief and be lost. If Paul could labor in vain on the Galatians then they would have to be lost after he had ministered to them and they first believed.
- PAUL TAUGHT THAT WE COULD FALL FROM GRACE
1 CORINTHIANS 10:12 (Paul)
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls.
GALATIANS 1:6 (Paul)
6 I marvel that you are so soon removed from him who called you into the grace of Christ to another gospel.
Galatians 5:4 (Paul)
4 Christ has become of no effect to you, whoever you are who are justified by the law; you are fallen from grace.
Note: If “you are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4) then you must be fallen from the way of salvation, because “through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved” (Acts 15:11), “by grace you are saved” (Ephesians 2:5), and “by grace are you saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).
JESUS TAUGHT THAT THE BRANCHES OF THE VINE COULD BE TAKEN AWAY AND CAST OUT
JOHN 15:1-6 (Jesus)
1 I am the true vine, and my Father the vinedresser.
2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abides in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me.
5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without me you can do nothing.
6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
Note: Jesus told his disciples, “you are the branches” (v5), and the condition to avoid being cast forth as a branch and burned in the fire, is to abide in him (v6). “Whoever abides in him does not sin” (1 John 3:6), makes it clear that the condition to remain as a branch, that is, on the way to salvation, is that we remove all sin from our lives.
# PAUL TAUGHT THAT THE BRANCHES COULD BE BROKEN OFF THE OLIVE TREE
ROMANS 11:16-22 (Paul)
16 For if the first-fruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.
17 And if some of the branches are broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and the fatness of the olive tree;
18 Do not boast against the branches. But if you boast, you do not bear the root, but the root you.
19 You will say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be high-minded, but fear:
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, take heed lest he also does not spare you.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness: otherwise you also shall be cut off.
Note: If we lose our faith after becoming believers through continuing in sin, then we can be figuratively cut off from the olive tree by God. That would mean that we are lost.
# PAUL TAUGHT THAT WIDOWS WOULD BE CONDEMNED WHO CAST OFF THEIR FIRST FAITH
1 TIMOTHY 5:11-12 (Paul)
11 But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to grow wanton against Christ, they will marry;
12 Having condemnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
Note: Paul taught that younger widows who dedicated their lives to Jesus, and then went back and got married again could be condemned for casting off their faith. Therefore he commanded widows under 60 to be refused to do it. Once saved always saved? Not in this scripture.
# PAUL TAUGHT THAT HE COULD BE LOST
1 CORINTHIANS 9:27 (Paul)
27 But I keep my body under control, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a reject1.
Note: The exploits of the apostle Paul are well documented in scripture (2 Corinthians 1:8; 4:8-11; 7:5; 11:23-25) and just as we could suffer in vain, he obviously believed that he could also. The Greek word translated ‘reject’ in this scripture is ἀδόκιμος (Gtr. adokimos) which literally means ‘unapproved‘, and if he could be rejected after what he went through then we can also.
ONE PURPOSE OF CHASTENING IS TO AVOID OUR DESTRUCTION
PROVERBS 23:13-14 (Solomon)
13 Do not withhold correction from the child: for if you beat him with the rod, he shall not die.
14 You shall beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from Sheol.
PSALMS 73:12-19 (Asaph)
12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
13 Truly I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocence.
14 For all the day long I have been plagued, and chastened every morning.
15 If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of your children.
16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;
17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.
18 Surely you set them in slippery places: you cast them down into destruction.
19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors.
1 CORINTHIANS 5:5 (Paul)
5 Deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
1 CORINTHIANS 11:32 (Paul)
32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to children, My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when you are rebuked of him:
6 For whom the Lord loves he chastens, and scourges every son whom he receives.
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father does not chasten?
8 But if you are without chastisement, of which all are partakers, then are you illegitimate, and not sons.
9 Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of spirits, and live?
10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.
11 Now no chastening for the present seems to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterwards it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are exercised by it.
Note: The purpose of chastening is always corrective, to turn us away from sins that could cause us to lose salvation, such as the fornicator at Corinth, or any of the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21). Jesus chastens us because he loves us (Hebrews 12:6) so that our end result will be “holiness” (v10) and “righteousness” (v11), thus ensuring our salvation.
# NAMES CAN BE BLOTTED OUT OF THE BOOK OF LIFE
31 And Moses returned to Yahweh, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold.
32 Yet now, if you will forgive their sin-; and if not, blot me, I pray you, out of your book which you have written.
33 And Yahweh said to Moses, Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
PSALMS 69:28 (David)
28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not written with the righteous.
PSALMS 109:13 (David)
13 Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.
PROVERBS 21:16 (Solomon)
16 The man who wanders out of the way of understanding shall remain in the congregation of the dead.
REVELATION 3:5 (Jesus)
5 He who overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white clothing; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
Note: These scriptures show that if we sin against God, or take away from the prophecy of Revelation, we will have our name blotted out of the book of life. The consequences of this are very serious.
(Revelation 20:15) “And anyone not found written in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire.”
The lake of fire refers to Gehenna in other places and is commonly called Hell. Anyone who ends up there is not saved.
# ISRAEL, OUR EXAMPLE, FAILED TO INHERIT THE PROMISED LAND
1 CORINTHIANS 10:5-12 (Paul)
5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.
6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.
7 Nor be idolaters, as some of them were: as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.
8 Nor let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day twenty three thousand.
9 Nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents.
10 Nor murmur, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
11 Now all these things happened to them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are coming.
12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he falls.
Note: God first promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants (Genesis 13:14-17), then through Isaac down to Jacob (Genesis 28:13), and then changed Jacob’s name to Israel (Genesis 32:28). The first ones to enter into this promise should have been the ones who came out of Egypt with Moses, but after spying out the land (Numbers 13) they refused to fight and take it (Numbers 14:2-4). They were sentenced to die in the wilderness (Numbers 14:29), which they did (Joshua 5:6), and the promise was passed on to their children (Joshua 1:2-4). Our promise today is not a worldly kingdom, but it is entrance into the kingdom of God. However, if we fail to fight the spiritual warfare necessary to overcome sin and follow Jesus Christ, then we also could lose our inheritance just as they did (Galatians 5:19-21). This example disproves “once saved always saved” in this life.
DAVID TEMPORARILY LOST HIS SALVATION WHEN HE SINNED
PSALMS 51:9-12 (David)
9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence; and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation; and uphold me with your free spirit.
Note: David was described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), but when he was king he committed adultery with Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11:3-4), and later had him killed to cover up his sin (2 Samuel 11:15). He lost his salvation and the joy that came with it (Psalm 51:12) and only after repentance did he get it back (Psalm 51). He obviously did not believe in “once saved always saved”.
# JESUS TOLD THE CHURCHES IN REVELATION TO REPENT
REVELATION 2:4-5 (Jesus to Ephesus)
4 Nevertheless I have something against you, because you have left your first love.
5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your lamp-stand out of his place, except you repent.
REVELATION 2:16 (Jesus)
16 Repent; or else I will come to you quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
REVELATION 3:3 (Jesus)
3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore you shall not watch, I will come on you as a thief, and you shall not know what hour I shall come upon you.
REVELATION 3:15-16 (Jesus)
15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot.
16 So then because you art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth.
Note: Jesus found fault with five of the seven churches in Revelation chapter 2 and chapter 3 and told them to repent. If they didn’t do it the penalties were different for each church, but one thing was in common for all: a willful refusal to repent would lead to loss of salvation. Does “I will spew you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16) sound like once saved always saved?
# PETER TAUGHT THAT BACKSLIDERS WOULD BE LOST
2 PETER 2:20-22
20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in it, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.
22 But it is happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
Note: This scripture teaches that someone who has gone on with Jesus to escape the pollutions of the world should not turn back, or their “latter end is worse with them than the beginning.” This is very much in agreement with what Ezekiel taught (Ezekiel 3:20; 18:24-26; 33:12-13; 33:18). It shows it would be better for someone not to become a Christian than to turn back after knowing the truth, and going back to worldly way of life. Paul turned two men over to Satan who did this (1 Timothy 1:19-20). Were they saved?
WILLFUL SINNERS WHO HAVE FULLY KNOWN THE TRUTH WILL BE LOST
HEBREWS 10:26-29 (Paul)
26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins,
27 But a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
28 He who despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace?
1 JOHN 5:16-17
16 If any man sees his brother sin a sin which is not to death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for those who sin not to death. There is a sin to death; I do not say that he shall pray for it.
17 All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not to death.
Note: Does “a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation” sound like salvation to you? If not the once saved always saved is false according to this scripture. This applies to those who sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, so to people who were on the right path at one time, but willfully chose to forsake Christ and go back into the world. This is likely what John referred to as “a sin to death” (1 John 5:16).
THE WORKS OF THE FLESH WILL CONDEMN THOSE WHO DO THEM
GALATIANS 5:19-21 (Paul)
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, uncontrolled conduct,
20 Idolatry, use of drugs, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,
21 Envying, murders, drunkenness, revelry, and such like: of which I telling you before, as I have also told you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Note: This scripture makes it quite clear that if someone continues committing the works of the flesh after becoming a believer in Jesus, then they will not enter the kingdom of God. That means not saved.