“Can a Christian lose his salvation? Can a person once saved, having received God’s free gift of eternal life and having been born into the family of God, again return exactly and completely to the position of being a lost and guilty sinner in the eyes of God? Of course not!”So says the bulk of modern Christianity, anyway. That is an actual quote from a prominent preacher, who echoes the sentiments of the majority. He recites this moving, powerful statement… but he is compelled to do so without using the Bible. For the Bible is quite clear that once saved is NOT always saved!
2 Peter 2:20-21 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is WORSE with them than the beginning. FOR IT HAD BEEN BETTER FOR THEM NOT TO HAVE KNOWN the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
This is a very plain, very simple Bible verse. Clearly, when we are in “the world” – that is, in an uncalled, unsaved state of sin – we are lost indeed; destined for hell, as the protestant world believes – which is not the case at all, but let’s say it is, for the sake of argument. Then after we are called, and have received the KNOWLEDGE of the lord, and are “saved” by our “Saviour”, and KNOW the lord….
If we THEN, after being saved, become entangled in the sins, and lusts, and pollutions of the world, and fall away from the truth… we are worse off than we were before we knew Him in the first place! It would have been better for our eternal future that we had NEVER KNOWN God, than to have known Him and rejected him!
Now if we were destined for Hell in our unsaved state before, and it would be worse for us after we fall away from the truth than if we had never known, then we would be in for a dire judgment indeed!
Does that sound like “once saved, always saved” to you? It certainly doesn’t to me! But there are several verses that have to be honestly and fairly looked at and explained before we can come to a conclusion.
Jesus said “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” John 10:28 (NKJV)
What exactly does that say? It says that God gave us, as a free gift, eternal life – and those of us to whom He gave this gift shall never perish, and no one will be able to snatch us out of His hands. He goes on to say “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” (vs 29)
Clearly stating that NO ONE is able to snatch us out of His or His Father’s hands. But that is all that that says. It doesn’t say that we cannot LEAVE His or His Father’s hand! It does not say that we cannot reject God and His way! It only says that no one can FORCE us out of His hand – that we ALWAYS will have the choice!
1 Corinthians 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.
Here it does not say that “let he that thinks he stands take heed lest someone steal him from Christ” – for that, as promised in the aforementioned verse, is quite impossible. As He goes on to say…
Verse 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
So if a man tempts us, or an illness overtakes us, or a trial comes upon us, that trial is NOT able, in any way, to force us from Christ and snatch us out of his hand! But again it does NOT say that we cannot fall short! When in fact, other verses say quite the opposite!
Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
You are to TAKE HEED lest your heart leads you into DEPARTING from God! Or as Phillips translates it “be most careful” lest your heart “desert the cause of God”:
Hebrews 3:12 (Phillips) You should therefore be MOST CAREFUL, my brothers, that there should not be in any of you that wickedness of heart which refuses to trust, and DESERTS the cause of the living God.
Now let me ask you. If I say “Be careful! Don’t spill milk on your shirt!” – doesn’t that mean that you are probably holding a glass of milk? Or if I say “Look out! Don’t fall off the cliff!” doesn’t that mean you are probably close to the edge of a cliff? Doesn’t it mean that there is some danger, that it is POSSIBLE to fall off that cliff? Of course it does! And so if God tells you to BE CAREFUL, and TAKE HEED, lest you “fall”, and DEPART FROM HIM, it MUST MEAN that it is possible to depart from him!
Hebrews 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, IF we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
And he goes on to say that we are made partakers of Christ – IF we HOLD our faith TO THE END! But we must HOLD! It’s up to US! No one can take it away from us by force, but if we CHOOSE to let go, because of temptation, pressure from our spouse, worry about money, or just plain laziness WE will NOT be made partakers with Christ!
Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
We – US – you and I – have been given a PROMISE – a promise of entering into “that rest”, in the Kingdom of God. But if we FAIL, if we don’t HOLD FAST to the END, we will FALL SHORT of that promise, and not receive it!
Hebrews 3:11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.
THE FATHER’S WILL
So some people object “but it’s the Father’s will…”
John 6:39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
And so based on that scripture many believe that once God “saves” someone, Christ will never lose him. “After all”, they say, “Who can resist the will of God??”.
The Bible clearly says that it is God’s will that Christ not lose the people God gives to Him to save. It is indeed God’s will that of all the people that He draws to Christ, that none “fall short” of the promises. But… isn’t it also God’s will that all will be saved?
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
1 Timothy 2:4 (YLT) who doth WILL all men to be saved, and to come to the full knowledge of the truth;
…And yet the Bible is fairly clear that there will be unsaved dead being cast into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:13-15). So yes, God no doubt WANTS that – but even God doesn’t always get what He wants… shocking though it may seem. For if you’ve ever thought about the “Lord’s Prayer”…
Matthew 6:10 Thy kingdom come. Thy WILL be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
This is telling us to pray for God’s kingdom to come. Why? Because it isn’t here! Praying to CHANGE a bad situation for a better one! The next line prays for “God’s will” to be done ON EARTH! Why? Because it isn’t BEING done on Earth, like it IS being done in heaven! God does not WANT pain, suffering, misery and heartache on this Earth – but He ALLOWS us to choose it! He is ALLOWING man to choose his own destiny, so that man can see FOR HIMSELF “the exceeding sinfulness of sin”!
Jeremiah 2:17 (NKJV) Have you not brought this on yourself, In that you have forsaken the LORD your God When He led you in the way?
He doesn’t want man to suffer and die and hurt himself and his fellow man! BUT HE ALLOWS IT! He ALLOWS man to CHOOSE IT! And God is not WILLING that any should perish. He doesn’t WANT it to happen! Nor does He want anyone whom He brings to Christ to fall away – but He will ALLOW it IF they choose it!
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
If God has called you, and begun a good work in you, He WILL do His part. You can be sure that God will not “leave you or forsake you”, no matter what happens. But again, that does NOT mean that YOU cannot forsake HIM! All of these scriptures I’ve read testify only of GOD’S willingness to see it through to the end – but not of YOUR willingness!
God wants YOU to choose HIM! And if you do, He will work with you as much as you let Him to create perfect, holy character in you. And God will NEVER let you down! He will ALWAYS do his part – and see to it that Satan or other men or pressure or hunger cannot FORCE you to leave him! But He never promises to FORCE YOU to stay with Him! He will always ALLOW you to choose to serve Him – or yourself.
Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
And if you choose to “draw back” and shirk the commands of God, and don’t hold up YOUR end of the bargain – well, God doesn’t want it to be that way, but if you insist – then God will have no pleasure in you. And surely He doesn’t want someone whom He “has no pleasure in” placed in authority his Kingdom, does He?
2 Peter 2:22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
So you can indeed go back to wallowing in sin, after being washed and cleaned, IF YOU CHOOSE IT. Now of course you won’t CONSCIOUSLY choose to reject God – but your actions choose for you. If you don’t obey God, then you have chosen to reject Him – regardless of how loudly you may praise and worship Him (Mark 7:7, Matthew 7:21, etc).
WOOD, HAY, STUBBLE
1 Corinthians 3:13-15(Philippians) … know that each man’s work will one day be shown for what it is. The day will show it plainly enough, for the day will arise in a blaze of fire, and that fire will prove the value of each man’s work. If the work which a man has built upon the foundation stands this test, he will be rewarded. But if his work is burnt down, he loses it all. He personally will be safe, though rather like a man rescued from a fire.
This is the most famous objection scripture. The reasoning is obvious – this scripture seems to say that the more “good works” you might do, once you’re saved, the better your reward will be. But even if everything you do is wrong, you’ll STILL be just barely saved.
But as is so often the problem, NO ONE READ THE CONTEXT! The CONTEXT tells you what a verse is TALKING about, and this verse is NOT talking about salvation! Back up a few verses and read what Paul is talking about when he says “work” and “foundation!
1 Corinthians 3:5-8 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. … and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
This is talking about the MINISTRY, who “planted and watered” God’s people! And Paul is saying that according to how each person in the ministry labored, they would have a different reward according to the QUALITY of the church they helped build!
Verses 9-10 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
Paul says that he laid the foundation IN THESE PEOPLE, and someone else – like Apollos – was building on that foundation that he, the wise masterbuilder, had laid! And that every builder must be careful HOW he builds on that foundation, and MUST start with Christ as the cornerstone!
Verses 11-12 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build [a church] upon this foundation [Jesus] gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
The gold, silver, precious stones, wood hay and stubble are the PEOPLE that Paul had taught the truth! And the QUALITY of the teaching and maintaining of the church would determine the QUALITY of the people in it! And NOW we can see what Paul REALLY MEANT!
1 Corinthians 3:12-15 (Phillips) …know that each man’s work [in teaching the Church] will one day be shown for what it is. The day will show it plainly enough, for the day will arise in a blaze of fire, and that fire will prove the value of each man’s work.
The fire of tribulation and testing, which ultimately befell all the churches in Asia that Paul had built, will unarguably prove EXACTLY how well someone took care of and taught and prepared the church!
Verses 14-15 (Phillips) If the work [in this Church] which a man has built upon the foundation [Christ] stands this test, he will be rewarded. But if his work is burnt down, he loses it all. He personally will be safe, though rather like a man rescued from a fire.
Doesn’t that make more sense? Doesn’t it fit all the scriptures nicely? This has NOTHING to do with “once saved, always saved”, but only with the responsibility of the teachers to the people!
PAST SINS ONLY
And another thing; when the Bible promises you’ll be cleansed from your sins, it ONLY refers to PAST sins – never future ones!
Romans 3:25 … to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins THAT ARE PAST, through the forbearance of God;
When you are cleansed from your sins, it is from sins THAT ARE PAST! You are saved from THOSE sins, that you did before – but not necessarily FUTURE sins! It’s as if you got a speeding ticket, went before the judge, and He decided to forgive you for that “sin that was past”. Does that mean you are free to speed all you want to now? Does it mean that He will NEVER make you pay a speeding ticket, no matter how many you get? Of course not! And God never promises to allow you to keep sinning, and NEVER PROMISES TO SAVE YOU “NO MATTER WHAT”!
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
If it is not possible to “fall away” and be “unsaved” once you’re “saved”, then it is also impossible to be “entangled again” in a yoke of bondage! And there is NO NEED to “stand fast” if your “election is sure” already!
2 Peter 1:10 Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election SURE: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
If your election is sure, if you’re already locked into being saved and NO ONE, NOT EVEN YOU, can change that, then you don’t need to “give diligence” or, as the Douay Version puts it, “Labor the more”! And Peter says that IF you do these things – IF you do them, you will never fall! If you DON’T do them, then logically, YOU WILL FALL!
1 Corinthians 9:27 (NKJV) But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
If PAUL was worried about being disqualified, and falling from grace after preaching to others, then SHOULDN’T YOU BE? How DARE you believe that you are “Always saved” just because you somehow “gave your heart to Jesus” once! Because EVEN PAUL said that HE WAS NOT “ALWAYS SAVED”!
Philippians 3:12-13 (NKJV) NOT that I have ALREADY attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I MAY lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do NOT count myself to have apprehended; …
PAUL didn’t even consider himself to have succeeded! PAUL didn’t even say that He “had attained” and “was saved, no matter what”! Do you really think that YOU have?? Now let’s look at this rationally. You were once saved from sin, I assume. You were once washed and cleaned from your wickedness. Now think about this. Put this in REAL terms, terms that we can relate to and work with. God is our father, and we are His children. In many ways, we were drowning in our sins, wouldn’t you say?
Now, if your little child is drowning in the river and you pull him out, he is saved! But if you turn your back, he can jump right back into that river! Pulling him out once, and saving him from his sin, DOES NOT prevent him from committing that same sin again!
And so even though God may have snatched you from the edge of the grave once, it does NOT mean that you can’t stubbornly drag yourself back into it again! It doesn’t mean that you can’t disobey God and force him to allow you to experience the fruits of your own choices!
Hebrews 6:4-5 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
These people were, what you would call, SAVED – they had been partakers of the holy spirit, seen the good work of God, and been adopted into the family of God, and been ENLIGHTENED!
Verse 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
And God says that if such people “fall away” from the truth, it is IMPOSSIBLE to bring them BACK to repentance! IMPOSSIBLE! If they are once saved, and then fall back into their wallowing in the mire, it is IMPOSSIBLE to bring them BACK into salvation!
Once saved is ONLY saved for AS LONG as you continue to obey God! God will NEVER leave you… unless YOU stop obeying Him, and stubbornly insist on having things YOUR way, and rejecting God’s way! If you do that, He will drop you like a hot potato and allow you to return to Satan “for the destruction of the flesh” (1 Corinthians 5:5), so that SOMEDAY, in the “day of our Lord Jesus”, after He returns, your spirit MIGHT be saved!
But for now, for you, He offers you a choice; yes, a choice. Not one that has already been made for you, but one that YOU must make. He commands you to CHOOSE to enter in at the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13). He cannot make that choice for you, if He did He would have to suck away all of your free moral agency and live your life Himself – which would defeat the whole PURPOSE of it being YOUR life!
Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore CHOOSE life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Once saved IS NOT always saved! So you had BETTER choose life, and KEEP ON choosing it at every fork in the road between here and the Kingdom of God!