Once Saved Always Saved?

First let me start off by answering a question. Do I believe that a true Christian can lose salvation? No they cannot. Now, if you agree with me, please continue reading. If you disagree with me, I urge you to continue reading, but I wanted to tell you up front what I thought.

I think that I have to define “true Christian” as the Bible defines it, because based on the results of a Gallup poll in 2007, 82 percent of Americans say they are Christian. A true Christian by Biblical standards is a person who has realized that they were born into sin (Romans 5:12) and have repented and have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their savior and their Lord, and have come to hate the sin that they once loved and find their joy and pleasure in Jesus Christ.

It is by this definition that I can call myself a Christian, and for that I worship and praise God, because his saving grace is a gift that has been given to me. I did nothing to earn it, and can do nothing to merit it.

Back to the topic, it is this Christian that I believe cannot lose salvation. My basis for this writing is Hebrews 6:4-6 which states (NASB):

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

I believe that this text in Hebrews is saying that an unbeliever can lose the possibility of salvation. This is the type of unbeliever who has fallen away in both inward disposition and in outward profession. This is the definition of apostasy: abandonment of one’s religious faith. These are those who have tasted, who have been drawn, who have appreciated the gospel and the death of Christ, saw the beauty of it, the wonder of it, and can conceive the wonders of heaven, but have never truly committed to Christ.

They never sensed that true inward transformation where they begin to abhor their sin and see their lostness, and see their wickedness, and see the holiness of God, and turn from their sin, and embrace Christ to be their savior and Lord of their life.

I believe that there is a line that you can cross and once you cross it, you can never return and be saved. The people who have crossed this line are so severely hardened that they are hopelessly lost. They have turned aside in a blatant manner; they don’t just abandon the outward faith, they abandon their conscience (their conscience says they know that is wrong, and yet they still go against their conscience).

There is a type of falling away that a believer can commit and yet not lose salvation. I believe this is shown in Matthew 26:69-75. Peter outwardly denied Christ, but did not abandon his conscience. I know that I have been like Peter in the past (and for that I am ashamed), but I never did abandon my conscience, and it is only by the grace of God that I am still saved. There is probably a little Peter in all of us, don’t you think?

Am I saying that a person who is saved has a license to sin? No. I know that I still sin. However, I do not live in a lifestyle of sin. That is the difference between an unbeliever and a believer. A believer will sin, but will not live a lifestyle of sin such as an unbeliever.

To sum up, the people in Hebrews 6 are the people that have come so close to salvation, climbed the ladder almost to the top, saw the glory of God, appreciated his Word, and yet did not commit to Christ, and have since fallen away both outwardly and inwardly, and because of that they have no hope of salvation.

In the true biblical understanding, true converts, true believers, true Christians can never ever be lost again, only unbelievers can lose salvation.

There is no salvation where there is no repentance. Repentance comes before faith – you have to turn from something to turn to someone. We must seek God while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6). Jesus is mighty to save! There is always hope if you will come to Christ.

Finally, my personal motto based on the words of Martin Luther: Here I stand, God help me.

– Adam Smith

Link for those interesting in knowing more from Dr. John Piper

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9 thoughts on “Once Saved Always Saved?

  1. Michelle says:

    Great explanation. I grew up thinking I could lose my salvation and only as an adult did I learn otherwise. It was life changing. The Hebrew passage is one of the hardest to understand. You clearly laid it out – thanks!

  2. Andrew Kenny says:

    Once saved always saved is a very popular teaching among Plymouth Brethren and Reformed Christians in Northern Ireland. I think it is good in that it can give a lot of sincere but nervous Christians assurance when facing difficulties during times of doubt and testing. There are numerous scriptures to give confidence and comfort to these Christians: Who can separate you from the love of Christ; no one can snatch you out of my hand etc.

    However it can also be a ‘cop out’ for those who have mouthed the words ‘Jesus is Lord’, or ‘Lord save me’, but don’t walk the walk.

    I would contend that those who turn their back on Christ and ‘trample the blood and body of Christ underfoot’ need to once again repent of their sin and turn back to God. To these I would say and have said: ‘Do not put any confidence in these assurances while you are living in open rebellion and sin.’ St Paul said he brings his body under subjection lest after he has preached to others he himself should become disqualified.

    In Revelation we are told that he endures to the end will be saved. As you noted we must take the Scripture as a whole and not use isolated verses to build up a teaching that may be spurious.

  3. Chris says:

    I think even those who have tasted the Holy Spirit and have been on the road, are still saved. They might be the least in the kingdom, but they are still saved. Once you believe in Christ, and the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you are sealed until the day of judgment.

    I believe the only unforgiveable sin is blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and the only ones that can do this are unbelievers. Those who continually reject the call of the drawing the Holy Spirit and harden their hearts. The only reason this is not forgiveable, is because it cannot be forgiven due to God’s own precepts.

    Those that fall away that you talk about. They get punished. Look at their lives. More often than not, their lives are a wreck. That is God still working in their lives to “reprove”, and “correct”. To bring them back from their rebellion. Christ doesn’t lose any that have been given to Him.

    In Christ,
    Chris

  4. Adam Smith says:

    Chris –

    I agree with what you said. I refer to the text of Hebrews 6 starting in verse four; What I take that to say is that some people have tasted the Holy Spirit but do not have a relationship with God are not saved. For it is not enough to just have had an experience, people must have a relationship with God.

    The text says much more than this in greater detail, I just don’t have time to address more right now. :)

  5. Chris says:

    I don’t believe you can have the Holy Spirit experience until you are saved. You don’t receive the Holy Spirit until salvation – (from my study which could be mistaken)

    The Holy Spirit does call you, but its a tug, a pull, a dragging to Jesus that you can resist.
    (i.e. John 6:44 – the greek word for draw means to pull, or drag, almost against one’s will)

    The Holy Spirit is still external at this point. Now after being redeemed we have the Spirit (1 Cor 6:19, Romans 8:9, Acts 2:38-39 – Holy Spirit is given)

    So based on what I’ve seen, Hebrews 6 would be talking about believers.

    I’m also not sure the writer wasn’t trying to scare his audience here. Perhaps they had started to get complacent. Verse 9 seems a little sardonic, like “But we’re sure you guys wouldn’t let that happen, would you?”

    Doubt thats the way the author meant it, but it could be.

    Chris

  6. Bryan Wayne says:

    Adam:

    I can understanding the reasoning behind your conclusions and certainly respect your right to your views. (I was raised with the “once saved always saved” doctrine.)

    But quite honestly, I cannot reconcile my understanding of scripture with a teaching which, in my opinion, both redefines the meaning of – and negates the consequences of – “apostasy.”

    “Those who are secure in their ongoing RELATIONSHIP with Christ have no need of such a doctrine.” (Google “Once Saved, Always Saved? Sign Me Up!”)

    With love and respect,

    Bryan

  7. Adam Smith says:

    Bryan,

    I am not so sure what you are trying to “refute” in my blog, if in fact that is what you are trying to do. I read through your post that I saw through that google search; I think we are the same page, far as I can tell;

    Part of what you said was: “Implicit in the “Once Saved, Always Saved” doctrine is the insidious presumption that once grace has been invoked by receiving the gift of God’s salvation by faith through repentance, obedience to that newly installed “Lord”, Jesus Christ, is somehow “optional.” ”

    That is not at all what I believe; A person has to have obedience to God, and it is NOT optional.

    When you compare the “really saved” with “really pregnant” I am not so sure that these references are comparable…it looks like a straw man to me, but I am going to re-read it later when I have more time to actually think about it; I love to use logic.

    There is no way that dead faith will get a person into heaven, in my opinion; no, works do not save us, but our works will be shown through our faith;

    Again, it looks to like you and I are on the same page; I want to re-read your post later, but I am out of time right now, I just wanted to write a quick response.

  8. Chris says:

    Bryan,

    I like the term “eternal security” of the believer better.

    The true believer will never be an apostate anyway because they have the experience of the Holy Spirit and knowing God the Father, Jesus Christ.

    Anyone that can fall into true apostasy never experienced salvation to begin with I would think.

    I’m not sure how eternal security of the believer would redefine apostasy.

    -Chris

  9. Adam Smith says:

    I have posted a link that I found for anyone interesting in learning more about this topic (including myself)… from someone much smarter than me.

    The link is at the end of this original blog… Look up (in more ways than one) :)

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