Losing My Religion: Is "Once Saved Always Saved" Biblical?
Strive for peace with all men and holiness, without which no one will see God. Heb 12 :14
Without Holiness, no of us will see God! Some folks have the impression that once they are “saved”, they are "home free" and their moral lives sometimes reflect that belief.
There is a danger in this view that can lead to living a life outside of holiness. Sometimes we think we are free from "the Law" and are set free from the moral law as well! The assumption is that our actions in this life have no bearing whatsoever on our ultimate salvation. Does the Bible really support the idea that our salvation can’t be lost once we have “accepted Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior?” (This formula for salvation incidentally, is not in the Bible) Do our works have no effect on our ultimate salvation? If you believe that salvation has no relation to works then you would adhere to the belief that your works can’t cause you to lose your salvation either.
Paul spent an awful lot of time in his letters to the churches about the dangers of sin and risks to their salvation if they continued to live lives egregious to the Holy Spirit. In his letter to the believers living in Rome and "called to be saints" he writes: "Do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and severity of God: severity towards those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness: otherwise you too will be cut off." Rom. 11:20
(strangely, enough, I don't recall this being VBS memory verse of the week)
So it seems to me that Paul was telling the believers that they need to continue in God's kindness. He tells the church elsewhere to “work out their salvation with fear and trembling.” To the believers in Galatia who wrongly insisted that they also needed to be circumcised to “be saved” he says: "you are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law, you have fallen away from grace." So they once had grace but lost it! You can’t fall from grace unless you once had grace so Paul is telling us you can lose your salvation unless you are careful!
Also Hebrews Chapter 10 always gave me much trouble as a young Christian since I was told you can’t lose your salvation. Let’s let the Scriptures speak to us here in the KJV :
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. (Could that mean baptism? Hmmmm)
Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised;
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:
Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Not a VBS memory verse either)
Paul also says in 1 Tim 4:1 “Now the spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons”
So, based on my “plain” reading of these Scriptures, I would have to conclude that Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, is telling me that I can lose my salvation if I go on willfully sinning or if I decide to depart from my faith by listening to deceitful spirits. Remember, he was talking to the church here, the “saved folks” if you will.
Now some folks would say I am taking an unbalanced view of Scripture to prove my point. What do the Gospels say? Jesus made it clear that if we didn’t forgive others, we would not be forgiven. How about that troubling verse every young Christian male adolescent struggled with: “ If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out, better to lose one of your members than your whole body going into hell.” Sounds like Jesus was emphasizing the sin of lusting in our hearts could put us in danger of hellfire. If we can’t lose our salvation, why would Christ have said this? So clearly there is a consequence of sin even after we are “saved”. The parable of the dishonest steward alone is enough to make me realize that even folks who are forgiven initially can still be “cast out into utter darkness.” Not to mention the parable of the Sheep and the Goats where “not everyone who calls me Lord” will get to Heaven. You and I both know Christians who live very immoral lives but believe they are going to heaven because “No one can snatch them out of Christ’s hand.” Yes, so true, but they can step out of his hand willfully through presumptuous sin.!
I don’t live in fear of losing my salvation, I trust in God’s grace to grant me the power and desire to follow Him. The operative word here is Grace. I can do no good on my own anyway without His magnificent grace freely poured out in my life.
Now as Paul said; I, after running the race, hope to reach the prize, not that I or he (Paul) had already attained it. Hope is a good thing. Why would we hope if we were already assured of our ultimate salvation? What’s good for Paul is good for me. I want Paul’s prayer to be mine: “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, THAT IF POSSIBLE I MAY ATTAIN THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD. NOT THAT I HAVE ALREADY OBTAINED THIS OR AM PERFECT; but I press on to make it my own….” Phil 3:8-14.