Does the Bible mention “once saved, always saved?” Does the Bible teach this? If so, what do the Scriptures say about this?
I do not like the term “once saved, always saved” because it may give a false sense of security for the person who is not saved. It also may make a person who is not soundly saved think that they are saved. I prefer the term eternal security or the perseverance of the saints. It is really the perseverance of God of the saints because the saints are never saved by their own works. The only thing that a person must do to be saved is to repent from their sins, confess them to God and then put their trust in Christ. For many people they simply have to turn to Romans 8 and read parts of this chapter to gain assurance of their salvation. The Gospel of John is also a great book for those who are full of doubts about their salvation. Listen to what Paul writes to the Christians in Rome who were suffering from severe persecution:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 8:35, 37-39).
The question that Paul presents to the believers in Rome is a rhetorical one…one where he presents a question that has an obvious “no one” as the answer: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” “If God is for us, who can be against us” (Rom 8:31)? Who can oppose God? Who can thwart His plans? Obviously no one can. But, “Shall tribulation?” No, they have already endured more tribulation than most Christians today will ever see. Will it be “distress?” No, they have endured amidst all sorts of distress. Will it be “persecution?” Not likely because the church at Rome suffered through some of the worst persecution that there was in the first century. How about, “famine or nakedness?” Nope. Many had lost their jobs and lost their homes due to their allegiance to Christ as Lord and not to Caesar. Then there was “danger or sword” but even the sword could not take them away from belonging to the Lord because Paul says that “neither life nor death” would “be able to separate” them “from the love of God” (8:38). That about covers any conceivable circumstance doesn’t it?
In the Hands of God
When Jesus was speaking to the Jews at the Feast of Dedication in the Temple He said to them “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish” (John 10:28a). If Jesus gives you eternal life and you end up losing it, was it really eternal? If a person claims to be saved but then walks away from the faith and believes that they lost their faith was it really eternal? No, they didn’t really have it in the first place for when Jesus says that He gives them eternal life, it means life without end. If a person says that they are saved for 10 years and then they lose their faith, it wasn’t eternal if it was for only 10 years. When Jesus says it’s eternal and the One speaking is the eternal God, then surely He means it is everlasting. Would he give someone eternal life and then take it away? No, God cannot lie and since Jesus is God and we know that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), then Jesus giving someone eternal life means it is for all eternity…not for only a time.
Next He says in the temple that “no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28b-29). Can you imagine someone snatching something from the hand of Jesus or from the hand of God the Father? Not only is a person that Jesus just said “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish” He next says that no one can…which means no human is able to…snatch them out of His hand and if that were not enough, neither are they “able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” How secure can a believer be!?
Can Someone Fall Away?
Hebrews 6:4-6 says that “it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” Many read this and think that if they have been enlightened and “tasted the heavenly gift” and “then fall away” it is impossible “to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm.” What does it mean that they have “tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come?” This “tasting” is surely not partaking off or taking in the word of God because if they have only tasted the goodness” they have not taken it. If I only taste something does it mean that I ate it? Of course not. Now if we read these verses as standing alone, I could see why someone might think that they could lose their salvation but the author of Hebrews goes on to say in verse 9 “yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.” The author is saying that in their case he feels “sure of better things – things that belong to salvation.” The author is sure of those who he is writing this too and is persuaded of “better things.” Better things of what? They are those “things that belong to salvation.”
Here are some solid Scriptures that should give us peace of mind that once a person has repented and trusted in Christ they can know that they are secure in their salvation. For one thing, salvation is fully a work of God. Since a person can’t earn their salvation, is it possible for them to do something to lose it since they did nothing to earn it? Here are a few reasons why I believe that they cannot lose what they did not earn or gain:
John 6:37, 39 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
John 17:2-3 “since you [the Father] have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.”
John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Second Corinthians 5:21 “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
If a person doubts their own salvation, they may have never repented and trusted in Christ or they are not reading their Bible often enough. Sin keeps a person out of the Bible but the Bible can keep a person out of sin and a person that is sinning can have doubts because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit that they are out of fellowship with the Father. They won’t lose their relationship but they will lose fellowship and they will also lose their peace. Sin has a way of robbing us of that assurance. If my son disobeys me and then comes to me and asks me a favor, it is unlikely that I will give him what he wants. Now is my relationship…the father and son relationship changed? No, but our fellowship has changed. He will always be my son and that is certain. I hope you can be certain and if you’re not, read the Gospel of John and Romans 10:9-13 and if you don’t believe you are saved, today can be the day of your salvation (1 Cor 6:2).
Another Reading on Patheos to Check Out: What Did Jesus Really Look Like: A Look at the Bible Facts
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon