There is a slur against the doctrine of eternal security known as ‘once saved, always saved.’ Most people think of the view that if somebody says the Sinner’s Prayer once in their life, that they are saved and that they can go out living a sinful life without reprieve. That is not the doctrine of eternal security. Instead, this is the view that for those who are truly born again, they will definitely continue on the narrow way. This is the view that he who began a good work in you will finish it. So, there are at least 5 reasons that it is impossible to lose salvation.
I went into some of these points more thoroughly in my article Is It Possible To Lose Salvation?
1 – The nature of being born again.
Jesus said that before we can enter into the kingdom of Heaven, we must be born again (John 3:3-8). This does not mean that we have to go back into our mothers’ womb and be born a second time. But it means that we have to have a spiritual rebirth. We have to be made new creatures by the work of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor 5:17). This is what it means to be a born again Christian. That is why Paul said, “it is no longer I who lives, but Christ who lives through me.” (Gal 2:20).
So when we are born again, what happens? What do we do? The Bible teaches that we bring forth good fruit (Matt 7:15-20, Gal 5:22-23) and we thirst after righteousness. As new creatures, we strive for the righteousness that we once hated and strive against the sin that we once loved. We are literally new creatures. As new creatures, we would just never have the desire to abandon our faith, because, it is Christ who lives, and not us. The old man is dead.
2 – An eternal promise.
Christ promised that those who are born again will have eternal life (John 3:16). Those who take on him will never perish, but have everlasting life. It seems to me then, that if these people can lose their salvation, that means that God went back on a done deal. He made a promise of eternal life, and then went back on it.
Now in response to this, people usually say that it is not God who goes back on the promise, but us. We essentially give back the gift that God gave us. The problem with this idea is that Christ did promise eternal life. He said that all who believe in him will have eternal life. Whether God goes back on it because we no longer wanted it or not is irrelevant. The point is that he made a promise to all who believed in him, and then went back on it.
3 – Salvation by grace.
When we say that salvation comes by grace through faith, we mean that there is absolutely nothing that man can do to bribe God. All of our good works are like filthy rags before a Holy God (Isaiah 64:6). But if it is possible for us to lose our salvation, that means that we are doing something to maintain our salvation. Salvation, on this view, is dependent upon our continued faithfulness.
But this is in head on collision with the biblical view that men can do absolutely nothing to sustain their salvation. If it is possible for us to return salvation, as one returns a gift, that means that we are holding onto it (working for it). But that is not grace. That is works. There are no works in grace; if there were, it would cease to be grace (Romans 11:6).
4 – Those who are called are glorified.
Paul teaches in Romans 8 that those who are conformed to the image of the Son (or, saved) are inevitably glorified. He writes (v. 29-30) “For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory.”
Those who are saved, argues Paul, are inevitably glorified with God. He strengthens this argument by saying, “If God is for our, who can stand against us?” (v. 31). It seems to me that if we are to say that we can mark our salvation ‘return to sender,’ that means that men can overthrow the plans of almighty God. But that is not what Paul taught. Paul taught that those who God conformed to the image of the Son are inevitably glorified, because, if God is for them, nothing can stand against them.
5 – Guidance of the Holy Spirit.
One of the evidences that we are a true Christian is that the Holy Spirit will zealously guard our lives. God will not allow us to stray far off the narrow way, but will discipline us and keep us on the path that leads to life. Hebrews 12:8 says, If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. So, God does not allow his true children to stray off the narrow way.
But this raises the issue of when somebody begins to stray into condemnation; away from God, away from salvation. What will happen? Hebrews 12:8 tells us. God will prevent us from falling away. So, when somebody does fall away, we can conclude either that they were never really saved, or that they will return soon as the Holy Spirit guards their lives.
What relevant verses can you think of? Leave a comment!
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