Good morning! I wanted to quickly address the doctrine of “Once saved always saved”.
First of all, I want to be most clear on one topic: The privilege of granting salvation belongs to the Father. It is His to give as He chooses in His wisdom.
We are not in a position to dare attempt to determine who will and will not receive that gift. In His wisdom, by His grace, and under His mercy, we should all work out our salvation daily.
Now, is there a special prayer (that appears nowhere in the Bible) that we can say that renders us exempt from all judgement and accountability to YHWH for our actions? No, there is not. If you have found one in His word, please let me know chapter and verse.
Throughout Scripture we see that it is possible to lose our salvation, but it is not the Father who takes it from us, rather it is we who walk away from it. I have an illustration of this at the end of this post that is very important to read as I feel it helps us wrap our heads around this.
But can we have an assurance of salvation?
Yes! We absolutely can! And it doesn’t require us to be perfect so take a deep breath. But we have to realize that there is a way that seems right to man and more often than not, that is not YHWH’s way. Proverbs 14:12
Let’s dig deeper into this:
Man’s way: We’ve created a prayer that our tradition teaches, when said with an earnest heart, renders us exempt from judgment and accountability from YHWH and guarantees us a ticket into Heaven.
How do we handle the situations in which someone has said this magical prayer with an earnest heart and clearly falls away? “Well they weren’t REALLY saved like us” or “They weren’t REAL Christians.”
As if we have the ability to know or judge such things.
Now, let’s look at YHWH’s way.
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil.If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I command you today, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:15-19
Let us go deeper by reading just a few of the countless verses to consider, I can’t possibly list them all.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 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. John 10:27-29
No one is able to snatch them out of His hand. No one can take your salvation from you. But we can reject it. my illustration at the bottom of this post explains that further.
But he who endures to the end shall be saved” Matthew 24:13
By which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you; unless you believed in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:2
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12
A lot of folks who follow him in all things tend to consciously overlook his open condemnation of the once saved always saved doctrine. I’m not going to list all of the times Paul contradicts this manmade doctrine because we’d be here all day. But there are a few more in this post ?
Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward. 2 John 1:8
And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations. Revelation 2:26
Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown (Revelation 3:11).
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame Hebrews 6:4-6
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries Hebrews 10:26-27
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold. Matthew 24:10-12
Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 33:11
20 Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. Ezekiel 3:20
Turn back. Notice the verbs in these statements. They are active, indicating we have turned from our faith and He is entreating us to turn back.
For if you turn back and cling to the remnant of these nations remaining among you and make marriages with them, so that you associate with them and they with you, know for certain that the Lord your God will no longer drive out these nations before you, but they shall be a snare and a trap for you, a whip on your sides and thorns in your eyes, until you perish from off this good ground that the Lord your God has given you. Joshua 23:12-13
This is “turn back” being used as a forewarning not to return to our previous ways or we will perish as a result.
We can think of all the remnant brought out of Egypt who turned away from their salvation, the rebellion of Korah, and we see that their judgment was swift and quite permanent.
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20
And there are several passages like this instructing us on how to try to bring a brother or sister back after they have abandoned the Father.
Keep watch as we go through the Scripture again at the countless times this doctrine is refuted through history, actions, and the words of our Father. I started noting them in my bible last year but quickly found they were too many to keep up with.
Here is an excellent illustration from my dear friend, Tom. Tom is a man who became a Christian later in life and, feeling he had missed out on knowing all he needed to know in order to properly live out his faith, immediately began reading the Bible from the beginning. Each week, Tom would be in his pastor’s office with questions as to why the church wasn’t following YHWH’s instructions regarding this or that. Each week he’d bring more information and more questions, trying to figure out why doctrine was not lining up with Scripture. That pastor confessed (good naturedly) to not being upset to see Tom go when he had to move away!
Tom had a coworker who was raised in a denomination I spent most of my life in. Now, I want to be clear that I still love that denomination and as a former dyed in the wool member I am well acquainted with the once saved always saved doctrine that is widely preached. This doctrine was a huge part of my life for most of my life, providing decades of warm fuzzy assurance as I showed up on Sunday, didn’t study the Word, and went about my life with the phrase “Jesus knows my heart” close at hand whenever I knew I was doing something I shouldn’t be. I never tested it against Scripture so I never had reason to question it.
Understandably steeped in this, Tom’s coworker saw this doctrine as equal to the law of YHWH, just as the Pharisees viewed their doctrines.
One day they were in the shop working together and Tom took out his pocketknife and handed it to the man.
“What’s this?” The man asked.
“That’s a gift from me to you. I paid for you, I’m giving it to you, it’s yours forever. Now I want you to pick it up.”
A little confused, the man picked it up and thanked him.
“Now”, Tom continued. “I want you to do something for me. Put it down on the floor.”
The man looked at Tom in confusion and Tom urged him to trust him and so he set the knife down on the floor.
“Now, step two steps back and turn around.” He did.
Then, Tom said “Okay, now turn around and pick the knife back up.” The man did so.
“What is this supposed to mean, Tom?”
Tom then explained. “Johnny, that’s salvation. I paid for it. I gave it to you. It is your gift forever. I never took it back. But you set it down and walked away from it.”
“Notice though that when you turned back, you were able to pick it up again.”
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12
“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Deut 30:10-20
So is “once saved always saved” a doctrine that proves true according to the Scriptures? Test it.
Is my opinion true according to the Scriptures? Test it.
Neither doctrine nor opinion should sway you.
We are saved by Grace alone – and we are all sinner reliant on that grace.