(I send this forth in all sincerity and with the kindness of Christ. If you disagree, please respond graciously also. Let’s see if Godly people can have a serious and Christ-honoring discussion about this hotly debated subject. Thank you.)
Let me set the table with something the Lord Jesus said. When the disciples returned from preaching with glowing reports of amazing victories over the devil, our Lord called them back to earth, so to speak, with this:
“Do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you. But rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
See what He did there? The Lord changed the basis of their joy and thanksgiving from something that fluctuates–like the visible results of missions, which can be good or bad, up and down–to something permanent, our salvation.
Jesus thought our salvation was secure. Otherwise, wouldn’t He have chosen some other basis for our joy?
No other conclusion is possible. Jesus clearly thought salvation was a one-time-and-done proposition. Something permanent, solid, irreversible.
As far as I am able to tell, you will not find one place in the utterances of the Lord Jesus that say otherwise.
For those who find they cannot accept the teaching of “once saved always saved” (aka, the security of the believer), we have a few questions….
1) Why would you not accept the clear teachings of the Lord Jesus?
That question alone ought to cinch the matter. For every objection some can throw up to the doctrine of “the security of the believer” we have perhaps 50 statements from the Lord Jesus that our salvation is eternal and everlasting and untouchable.
2) How is it you think we can undo what God has done?
In Christ, when you were saved, Scripture teaches God erased your sin and gave you eternal life. He wrote your name down in Heaven’s book and made you His child. You are called both “born again” and “adopted” into the family. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit. In fact, Romans 8:30 says you are called, justified, and glorified even. And Romans 8:1 says there is “therefore now NO condemnation.” That’s fairly strong, it seems to me.
And yet, some believe by an act of their (ahem) free will, they can walk away from all that? They just decided to leave and so everything God did was suddenly null and void? My, what powers they have.
3) How is it we are able to do what “no one” can, and that is to “snatch” ourselves out of Christ’s hand and the Father’s hand?
John 10:28-29. Nothing can be clearer.
Some say, “Well, no one else can, but the devil can.” Oh, then wouldn’t that make the devil stronger than the Lord? And to those who says “we can snatch ourselves,” same question. Jesus literally said “no one and nothing can take you out of my hand.”
4) How are we able to unseal ourselves, something the Holy Spirit did when we were saved? (Ephesians 1:13) Wouldn’t that be an impossibility?
5) Have you read Galatians and seen what Paul said to people who thought they were perfected by their works?
They said they knew they were saved by faith, but after that, it was all works to them. Good works and they’re in; bad works and they’re cast away. And Paul says they were bad wrong….
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfeced by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:1-3)
If you believe bad works cancels your salvation, then aren’t you saying your works “keep” you saved? Certainly, works are important. Ephesians 2:10 says we were created in Christ Jesus in order to bring forth good works, “that God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
6) Does it make you angry for someone to teach once saved, always saved? If so, please analyze why. (It seems to me you would be more charitable toward your brothers and sisters who are taking Jesus’ statements at face value.)
When Charisma magazine posted our article “7 questions on once saved, always saved” on their website, the comments that rushed in were almost universally hostile. They weren’t just disagreeing, they were angry. Now, I had worked overtime to make sure the tone of my article was gracious toward those who disagree. But I find it hard to comprehend that they grew hostile and mean-spirited over this. I wonder what this signifies.
7) Do you wish you did have this kind of confidence that salvation, once given, is forever?
A preacher who believes in losing his salvation once told my pastor that “I wish my God were as big as yours.”
My wife once asked a new friend of ours whom we quickly decided was a fine godly man, how he reconciled his denomination’s position on this doctrine (they were Arminian) with Scripture. Heno Head of Leland, Mississippi, said, “I have never for one minute doubted that my salvation is eternally secure in Jesus Christ from the moment I was saved.”
8) Do you agree that no matter which side you come down on–for this doctrine or against it–there are some difficult scriptures to explain? And if that’s the case, why then would you choose the position that undermines the very things Jesus said and taught?
“I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all. And no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).
I will readily admit that the passage in Hebrews 6 seems to say that losing one’s salvation is a possibility. However, it goes on to say that if that did happen, “it would be impossible to renew them to repentance.” And yet, I have never met a person who believed in losing one’s salvation who did not also believe he could get it back and be saved again. And again. My response is simply: Show me that in the Bible. Not one person in Holy Scripture was ever saved twice. Not one.
9) Are you closed to the subject? or are you still open to considering evidence for the contrary view?
I hope that nothing in these articles of mine has made anyone think Joe believes he has all the answers and that I am closed to something new. No one possesses all truth, let alone this country boy.
Most especially, I hope no one thinks this is–as some have charged–a man-made doctrine, intended either to say what man wants to hear or to license him to roam as he pleases without fear of jeopardizing his salvation.
10) Why does “eternal life” not mean “eternal life?” Or, put another way, when the children of the Lord “lose” their salvation, do they quit being HIs children?
Consider this a plea for clear-thinking on the subject, for believing the whole thrust of Scripture’s teaching, for standing on the promises of God’s unchanging Word.
Thank you. God help us to get this right. For Jesus’ sake.