Sam Morris, a Baptist preacher and writer, wrote an article condemning drinking called “The Ravages of Rum.” In it he makes this interesting statement:
“The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing to do with the salvation of his soul…all the sins (the Christian) may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger.”
This concept that the saved individual could never do anything to put his salvation in jeopardy is commonly known as “Once Saved, Always Saved.” Its more scholarly description is “The Perseverance of the Saints,” one of the foundational tenets of Calvinism. The creed of the Presbyterian Church, The Westminister Confession of Faith, describes the doctrine in these ways:
“Those whom God hath justified and sanctified, He will also glorify; consequently, the regenerated soul will never totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved…They (who are) effectively called and sanctified by His spirit can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace.”
You know, back when I was in college the end of each semester would always be a hard time for me. That’s when all the papers and projects were due and all the final exams were being given. However, once I turned in that last paper and finished my last exam, I would always have this tremendous feeling of satisfaction wash over me. It was a feeling that said, “Now I don’t have to do anything else. I have no more responsibilities. I can relax and take it easy and do nothing.”
It’s attractive to have that same mindset when it comes to Christianity. If I was told after my conversion that salvation was not only mine, but it would always be mine NO MATTER WHAT, well, that would make it quite easy for me, wouldn’t it? If salvation will always be mine NO MATTER WHAT, why inconvenience myself by trying to do what is right and repent whenever I do wrong?
The reality of the situation is that God’s Word in no way teaches the doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved.” Consider what the following passage, all written to saved Christians, clearly say:
1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (ESV)
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,
2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you— unless you believed in vain.
“…by which you are being saved, IF you hold fast to the word I preached to you…” What would happen if these Christians at Corinth did NOT “hold fast to the word (Paul) preached to (them)”?
2 Peter 2:20-22 (ESV)
20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.
22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
The people Peter described had “escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” And yet he brings forth the possibility that they would be “again entangled in them and overcome.” How is that possible if the doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved” is true?
1 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV)
12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
That was written to Christians. If it is impossible for the Christian to fall, why is this warning in the New Testament?
There are many, many more passages like these in the New Testament which I could cite. Yet these will suffice to show the honest reader that the Bible does not in any way support the notion that once the Christian is saved, he will always be saved no matter what he does. Instead, God requires the Christian to faithfully and penitently obey him.
By doing so, this is what will happen:
1 John 1:7-9 (ESV)
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
If he does not, this is what will happen:
Hebrews 10:26-31 (ESV)
26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.
29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.”
31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.