I grew up in the Baptist church, like my Mother and my Grandmother, my Granddad and great Granddad, and several generations before them. As I’ve talked to people over the years about salvation, I’ve come to realize that Baptists are not the only people who believe that once you are saved you CAN’T lose your salvation, no matter what you do.
The doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved” has been around a long time. Longer than the Baptist Church, in fact. The Bible does teaches the security of the believer. That is, we can KNOW we are saved, and that we have eternal life. But, can we really receive salvation and then continue to live a life of sin, and still go to heaven? Can we really do ANYTHING we want and remain saved? As always, let’s see what the Bible says.
I think the most popular scripture for the “Once Saved Always Saved” doctrine is John 10:27-28
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give them eternal life; and they will never perish, neither will anyone pluck them out of my hand.
We’ll discuss that one in a few minutes but first, let’s look at what I think is the second most popular verse.
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
That’s a quote from the old testament book of Deuteronomy, chapter 31 verse 6.
6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for it is the LORD your God, that goes with you; he will not fail you, nor forsake you.
Since the writer of Hebrews obviously believed the old testament was still relevant long after Jesus had died, let’s look at another verse from there.
2 Chronicles 15:2 says,
2 The LORD is with you, while you are with him; and if you seek him, he will be found of you; but IF you forsake him, he will forsake you.
Like most promises in God’s word, the promise to never forsake us is CONDITIONAL. By that I mean, when God says he will do something, most of the time, he says “IF you do this I will do that.” “IF they do that, I will do this.”
Salvation is a promise with conditions as well. Yes, it’s a free gift and there’s nothing we can do to earn it, but we do have to accept it. God loves us all, and he prepared the plan of salvation so everyone has a chance to be saved, but he will not save anyone who does not want to be saved. The Bible is clear not everyone will be saved. (Matthew 7:20-22) Only those who OBEY God. That is OUR part of the covenant.
32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who OBEY him.
Romans 8:9 says, “Anyone who does not have the Holy Spirit does not belong to Christ.”
So, obeying God is VERY IMPORTANT. It’s the ONLY way to receive the Holy Spirit. When King David sinned, he begged God not to take the Holy Spirit from him. (Psalm 51:11)
If we can keep sinning and remain saved, why would God take the Holy Spirit away? What would be the big deal? Why would it matter to David, or us, if he did? I’ll tell you why. The Holy Spirit lives in those who OBEY, to guide us in the path of righteousness. WE ARE LOST WITHOUT HIM. LOST.
The children of Israel and everything that happened to them were examples of the plan of salvation. Look carefully at these verses.
3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, This is what you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;
4 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.
5 Now therefore, IF you will obey my voice indeed, AND keep my covenant, then you shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:
6 And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.
See the condition? They had to OBEY. Same thing in the next verse.
22 But IF you will indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and an adversary to your adversaries.
IF. The condition was IF they OBEYED him, he would protect them.
When God created Adam and Eve, they were perfect, and would have lived forever in their garden paradise. But, when they disobeyed God and chose to sin they lost eternal life. You may disagree. You may say “That’s different”, but no, it’s not. God told Adam that he would die the day he ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and he did. He died spiritually. He lost eternal life. Then he passed that lost condition down to the rest of the human race. The plan of redemption is to get us back to the condition they were in before they sinned.
In Deuteronomy 28, Moses gives the Children of Israel a list of BLESSINGS and a list of CURSES. He says IF they continue to OBEY God they will receive the blessings, but IF they turn away from God and DISOBEY, all the curses will come upon them.
The word of God is consistent throughout, from Genesis to Revelation. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the God of the Old Testament is a different God from the New Testament. Times are different and human applications are different, but God still requires obedience.
Hebrews 10:26-27 says,
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 certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
That’s hell fire. For the BELIEVER who sins willfully. NOT for some one who “WASN’T REALLY SAVED IN THE FIRST PLACE,” but a SAVED person who chooses to turn away from God.
Here’s more proof.
21 But IF the wicked will turn from all his sins that he has committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
22 All his transgressions that he has committed, they shall not be mentioned to him: in his righteousness that he hath done, he shall live.
That’s salvation. Now look at this next verse closely.
24 But when the RIGHTEOUS turns away from his righteousness, and commits sin, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked do, shall he live? ALL his righteousness that he has done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he has trespassed, and in his sin that he has sinned, in them he shall die.
In our first scripture, John 10:27-28, Jesus said, No one is able to pluck his sheep out of his hand. But, 2 Chronicles 15:2 says, If we forsake him, he will forsake us. We can chose to leave God. He won’t make us stay should we decide we no longer want to be in his hand. Again, God requires obedience, and contrary to popular opinion, just believing is not enough. Look at this.
James 2:19-20 says,
19 You believe that there is one God; you do well: the devils also believe, and tremble.
20 But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
The works James is is talking about are not works to earn salvation, but work because we are saved. Sin doesn’t stop being sin, just because we are saved. Whatever was sin for us when we were unsaved is still sin to us after we are saved. God doesn’t excuse sin just because we are saved. (Romans 6 – whole chapter)
What many don’t understand is the Bible was written TO God’s people, FOR God’s people, and ABOUT God’s People. The instructions in God’s word are FOR his people. All the rebukes Paul passed out in his letters to the churches were to people who had accepted Jesus as their savior. People who were SAVED. If we can do whatever we want and still remain saved, there would be no need for instructions on how to act. Why would we need the Bible?
In 1 Corinthians 5:9-11 Paul tells God’s people to shun fellow Christians who are fornicators, covetous, idolaters, or curses, or are drunkards, or extortioners, and to put them out from among them.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 says those who commit the sins on that list will NOT make it into the kingdom of God.
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor those who practice homosexuality,
10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Lets examine one more passage of scripture.
46 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?
43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord shall find doing so when he comes.
44 Truly I say to you, that he will make him ruler over all that he has.
45 But, and IF that servant shall say in his heart, My lord delays his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
46 The lord of that servant will come in a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will separate, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
So, contrary to popular belief, we CAN NOT live any way we want and stay saved. To remain saved, we must obey God. So, heed his warnings. This is serious. Jesus is our only hope. Cling to him for dear life, and OBEY his rules.
If we truly love him we’ll want to obey. Even then it’s hard sometimes, but he is able to keep us from falling if we just trust him. (Jude 1:24) His law is holy, and perfect and good.
He is coming back soon to separate the Sheep from the Goats, the Wheat from the Weeds, the Righteous from the Wicked, the Saved from the Lost. Which group we are in when he come is up to us.
“Therefore, you be ready also: for the Son of man will come in such an hour as you do not expect him.” (Mat 24:44)
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