Once Saved, Always Saved?
I was taught all my life in my denominational church that once you’re a believer, your eternity is secured, and you never have to be concerned about it again. The idea of eternal security and then the other extreme of falling from grace and being eternally lost has been a bone of theological contention in religious circles for hundreds of years. It really got its start in the 16th century with two men. Jacobus Arminius and John Calvin graduated from the same institution of learning but each held opposing views. Jacobus Arminius believed that if you commit the smallest sin you are lost, and need to be saved all over again. John Calvin – father of “Old School Calvinism” believed that you were predestined to be saved – “what is to be will be.” They believed that you could only be saved if God gave you a repenting heart. Today, we have “new school Calvinism,” which basically believes the doctrine of eternal security, or what we call “once saved, always saved.”
So, who is right? The answer lies somewhere in the middle. The philosophers say that truth is the mean between two extremes. And that is a wise way to progress on this subject. We must balance the sovereignty of God with the free will of man. There are as many scriptures for eternal security as there are against it in the New Testament. On the other hand, we certainly don’t want to walk in eternal insecurity, where we’re constantly afraid of losing our salvation. Here’s the bottom line. As long as I want to be saved from sin, I am! As long as I have a repentant heart that is full of faith in the redemptive work of Christ, I’m secure. But there is no scripture that promises that if I am born again, and then choose to live a rebellious, sinful lifestyle void of repentance and confession of sin, that I will inherit heaven as my eternal destiny.
Every believer will at some point commit an act of sin. That’s different than choosing a lifestyle of unrepentant sin. If I as a believer commit a sin, thank God that I have the blood of Jesus that cleanses me when I confess my sins (1 John 1:9). Thank God that we have a lawyer that has never lost a case (1 John 2:1)! Thank God, that when the Father forgives sin, He forgets that we every committed it, and chooses to never remember it again (Isaiah 43:25; Hebrews 10:17)! The Father removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12)! Jesus is our eternal lawyer with the Father when we miss the mark!
But there is no scripture in the New Testament that promises that God will keep a person in His care eternally that chooses sin as a lifestyle. Not one promise offers this. Not one. In this hour of looseness and liberty, let us be careful to walk closely with the Lord, and not allow sin to harden our hearts to the point that one day we could say, I just don’t care anymore. Believer in Christ, never play with sin. It will harden your heart, and in the end, its wage is death.
I’ll leave you with these quotes: He that is merciful to sin is cruel to his own soul (Ralph Venning). He that loves a tree hates the worm that consumes it; he that loves a garment hates the moth that eats it; he that loves life, abhors death; and he that loves the Lord hates everything that offends Him (William Cowper). I would rather have a moderately small meeting of earnest Christians than to have it packed with thousands of careless people (D.L. Moody). Jesus Christ came to make the great laws of God incarnate in human life; that is the miracle of God’s grace. We are to be written epistles known and read of all men. There is no allowance whatever in the New Testament for the man who says he is saved by grace but who does not produce the graceful goods. Jesus Christ, by His redemption, can make our actual life in keeping with our religious profession (Oswald Chambers). If God were not my friend, Satan would not be so much my enemy (Thomas Brooks). Give me one hundred men who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I will shake the world (John Wesley).