Is “Once Saved, Always Saved” a Biblically Correct Doctrine?

There is much controversy and confusion over this modern-day teaching. It was developed centuries ago by one of the Protestant reformers John Calvin (though he got the original idea from Catholic bishop Augustine).

It’s time we analyze this teaching in light of what the Bible really says.

Wikipedia (under “Perseverance of the Saints” or “Eternal Security”) describes this teaching as follows: “Once persons are truly “born of God” or “regenerated” by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, nothing in heaven or earth “shall be able to separate (them) from the love of God…”

Many verses including Romans 8:35-39 are used to support this teaching.

Such doctrine is commonly viewed (and practiced) to mean that once a person becomes a child of God through baptism, confession, and acceptance of Jesus as Savior, there is no sin that they can commit which results in the loss of their salvation. It nicely absolves such believers of personal responsibility for their conduct and lifestyle since they believe God will do everything in His power to ensure their eternal salvation.

However, this is a very deceptive, dangerous, and unbiblical teaching.

Biblical Salvation is Not an Event, But a Process

The first major problem with this teaching is the defective understanding concerning salvation. It is usually viewed by most as a one-time, instant event (when after repeating a certain prayer the minister pronounces a person “saved” or when one claims he/she is “saved”). Rather, the Bible accurately teaches that salvation is a process consisting of four basic stages. They are:

  1. Call: The Father initiates the salvation process (John 6:44,65)
  2. Justification: All our past sins are forgiven in Christ (Romans 5:9)
  3. Sanctification: Set apart to live righteously (1 Thessalonians 4:3,4)
  4. Glorification: The final product of our salvation (Romans 8:17,30)

The Bible Contradicts “Once Saved, Always Saved”

The second major problem has to do with ignoring clear scriptures that contradict this false teaching. Here are just a few of them:

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 6:4-12

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. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
~Hebrews 10:26-29

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were [past tense] some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.
~1 Corinthians 6:9-11

And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. [NOTE: Even the apostle Paul feared being disqualified.]
~1 Corinthians 9:25-27

For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
~2 Peter 2:20-22

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; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
~Philippians 2:12-13

Conclusion

From these few clear verses alone, we have seen that this popular teaching of “once saved, always saved” has no biblical basis at all.

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7 Comments

  1. Macario Cadatal

    This is not an issue if one understand the ff:
    a. Doctrine of imputation,
    b. Doctrine of the ages (eons),
    c. The “Mystery” message (last Revelation of the Lord to Paul), 63AD.

    • Edmond Macaraeg

      Hello Mac Cadatal,
      There are several man-made “doctrines” to support a certain religious beliefs, among them are:
      Doctrine of Immaculate Concepcion
      Doctrine of Trans-substantiation
      And now, those three you mentioned.
      Since the theological discussions involved for each of those is quite lengthy, it is best to address them in separate articles in the future.

  2. Lorna Macaraeg

    Very eye opening article indeed…thanks for sharing the beautiful and wonderful TRUTHS which God intended to reach out to all humanity…

  3. Our salvation has already been done by THE LORD JESUS CHRIST on the cross of calvary and HIS resurection. Yes we need to endeavor to walk circumspectly in the will of GOD but when we stumble and fall, we have already been forgiven yesterday, today and tomorrow’s sin. We have nothing to do as far as our salvation is concern for it was done by THE LORD JESUS CHRIST. We cannot boast anything for our salvation except THE LORD JESUS CHRIST – Eph. 2:8-10

    • Edmond Macaraeg

      Thanks for your comments, Genieking,
      When we try to INTERPRET God’s teachings from verses in the Scriptures, we need to get the FULL context or the TOTALITY of the teachings on that particular subject, rather than just myopically zeroing on one phrase or one verse. Also, it is improper to extrapolate into a doctrinal teaching based on just LIMITED understanding of the totality of that Scriptural teaching.
      For example, let’s take Ephesians 2:8-10. People tend to stop at verse 9, because there are additional instructions in verse 10 which says: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good WORKS, which God prepared beforehand that we should WALK in them.” In other words, God has added expectations from us– things we need to DO: WORKS and WALK (not expect God to do all for us, while we lazily and irresponsibly do NOTHING).
      That is why the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians saying: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always OBEYED [this is WORK], not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, WORK OUT YOUR OWN SALVATION WITH FEAR AND TREMBLING; for it is God who WORKS in you both to will and to DO for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12)
      Toward the end of his life, the apostle John still wrote: “He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to WALK just as He WALKED.” (1 John 2:6). But earlier, this same John wrote: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not KEEP His COMMANDMENTS, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 2:3-4).
      These verses balance out the lop-sided interpretations of some that we do nothing more regarding our salvation.

    • VivG

      Genieking, 2 Peter 1:9 and Hebrews 9:15 spell out that when we accept the Lord we are cleansed of our FORMER sins. These Scriptures specifically clarify our past sins are what we were cleansed from. Those of today and tomorrow, Apostle John explained in 1 John 1 and 1 John 2 that although we Christians should not sin, if we do stumble we turn to our faithful mediator, the Lord, and if we confess these, he will be faithful to forgive.

      It makes clear we can’t just do nothing, we have to confess these sins anew and turn from them. If we do we can trust that Jesus Christ the righteous, our advocate, will cleanse us from those sins we have committed anew. In Matthew 7:22-23 the Lord Jesus said he is going to tell some people who called him Lord, who did prophesy in him name and other deeds, to depart to hell, and why? Because they practiced evil, they lived in sin.

  4. Edmond Macaraeg

    Ang imong pangutana, nagahisgot kung maluwas ba ang usa ka tawo sa paglitok niya sa usa ka pag-ampo?
    Tubag: Depende kung unsa nga pag-ampo ug unsa pud nga kaluwasan and gihisgotan?
    Kung and usa ka tawo naa sa takna nga duol na sa disgrasya, unya molitok siya ug ampo sa hinabang, lagmit maluoy ang Ginoo ug tabangan siya.
    Apan kung ang gihisgotan, bahin sa kaluwasan alang sa kinabuhing dayon, kulang and paglitok lamang sa nahisgotan nga pag-ampo. Kinahanglan nga ang maong tawo mopakita ug sinceridad sa iyang pagtoo, inubanan sa pagsubay sa mga mando o manga balaod ug kabubut-on sa Ginoo, (Mateo 19:17). Unya, kinahanglan pud nga molahutay siya hangtud sa katapusan, (Mateo 24:13).

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