Once Saved Always Saved? Can Christians Lose Salvation?

Question from a Site Viewer
Is the “once saved always saved” belief true or false?

Tim’s Answer
The answer to your question is not a simple “yes” or “no.” Many people mean different things in using the phrase “once saved always saved.” For instance, some would say that once one is saved, one can live anyway they want and they will go to heaven. We know this is not true. The entire book of 1 John states over and over that how we live demonstrates whether we are saved.

Others would say that the phrase “once saved always saved” is true but no one in this life will truly know if they are saved. We will only find out when we appear before God. This also is not true, as John states that he writes so that we may know that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13) and Paul tells the Corinthians that they have been washed, sanctified and justified. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Still others would say that the phrase is not true because of passages such as 2 Peter 2:20-22 and Colossians 1:21-23.

The Scripture never uses “once saved always saved” and perhaps it may be best if we avoid the phrase. What we know is that if we come to Jesus He will never cast us out. (John 6:37) We also know that His sheep never perish. (John 10:27-30) Those who follow Christ and follow His righteousness are saved and will not stand in condemnation. We also know that once we become His followers, if we sin we are chastened by God as children but we are still His children. (Hebrews 12:5-11) Sin, by itself, does not unsave us; or else the Corinthians, who Paul accuses of being carnal and not spiritual (1 Corinthians 3:1-3), would not be saved. Yet, they are the ones Paul says have been justified in the Scripture cited above.

There are whole books written on this topic (eternal security). I think some of them err in that they focus too much on doctrine and not enough on life. Both those who believe that Christians cannot lose their salvation and those who believe that Christians can lose their salvation affirm that Christians need to live holy lives. It is God’s command and grace to us that we might be infused with His holiness. If we walk in holiness, we are saved. If we do not walk in holiness, the issue is not whether we are still saved, but rather the issue is that we need to return to a life of holiness. Both the saved and the unsaved turn to a life of holiness when they turn to following Jesus. Taking His yoke is where peace, security, and the hope of eternal life resides.

Personally, I believe that a born again Christian cannot become unborn. This would probably put me in the camp of “once saved always saved.” There are numerous Scriptural reasons why I believe this. (See 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 5:17; Ephesians 1:5, 13-14 for a couple of passages) However, I shun staking claim to that phrase because for me I cannot divorce salvation from walking with Jesus. If one is not walking with Jesus, there is a major problem and such a person should not cling to some potentially vain hope of salvation while living a life in sin. As Paul says in 2 Timothy 2:19:

“Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and, ‘Let everone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”

The two sides of the seal are God’s knowledge and our departing from iniquity. If one is walking with Jesus, they are where God wants them to be and the issue of “once saved always saved” drops away.

Finally, in the Christian community there have been outstanding men and women of God who have held different beliefs on this issue. There are people on both sides who have walked with God longer than I have. God has used them both and they will continue to be brothers and sisters in the eternal kingdom of Christ.

If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1:7


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