An area of contention among Christians is, if Salvation, once granted, can be lost. One group supports the “Once saved; always saved (OSAS)” school of thought; while, the other says that Salvation can be lost through sin (OSOL). Both sides have a large following; however, large followings do not necessarily mean sound Scriptural doctrine. The underlying doctrinal difference between these groups is that one believes in Salvation through the Grace of God; while the other believes in Salvation through works. Another difference is that those, believing that salvation is secure accept the Bible as it is written; while those claiming that you can lose salvation interject human reasoning into Scripture. Which is correct? Is there a middle ground between the two? Let’s delve in to Holy Scripture to see what it says on the subject.
"All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day."
"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."
The Apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, amplifies this last statement.
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
In John 6 & 10, Jesus says He will not cast out anyone who believes in Him: and, that no one is able to remove a believer from Him. He also states that those believing in Him will never perish. You’ll notice that there are no qualifiers in Jesus’ statements. So, if you believe Jesus’ word then, "Once saved; always saved", is what He is saying here.
Those who claim that one can lose their salvation, point to verses such as,
"Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come."
"If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death. “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death."
(1 John 5: 16-17)
These verses would seem to contradict what Jesus said in John 6 & 10. Do we have a Lord and Saviour who makes contradictory statements, or remembers to add qualifiers in a later statement? I know that we don’t! So, why the difference? Consider what Eaton’s Bible dictionary has to say about the use of the word ‘blasphemy’ in this verse, 'Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost is regarded by some as a continued and obstinate rejection of the gospel, and hence is an unpardonable sin, simply because as long as a sinner remains in unbelief he excludes himself from pardon.' The majority view however, is that 'Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit' means attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to the deceiver or his agents. For a Christian, who has the in-dwelling Holy Spirit, to do such a thing is, I believe, impossible. Therefore verses such as the above two, provide no basis to believe that salvation can be lost.
Believing that one can lose their salvation infers that:
- - Jesus has failed in the commission He accepted from the Father; ("I should lose nothing")
- - That He makes mis-statements (“I will not cast out” & "will never perish.")
- - We have a Creator, who knowing in advance that we are, and will be, sinners, gives us a gift that is dependent upon not sinning.
Additionally, if salvation can be lost, then it is not gift of “Grace (Mercy)” freely given by God; but, something we must earn or work to keep, which is totally contrary to God’s Word.
It is for these reasons that, I believe, the Bible teaches, true Salvation, once received can not be lost. You will note that I said ‘true Salvation’. We have those who proclaim, 'I believe in God, so I’m going to Heaven'.
James 2:19 has this to say,
"You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble!"
We have those who pay lip service, saying, 'Yes, I believe in Jesus as My Lord and Savior, so I’m going to Heaven'. Yet, they are unproductive. They sit, and vegetate.
James 2:20 & 26 has this to say,
"But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
There are also those who feel that because they say they believe in Jesus Christ that nothing else is required. They continue on in the same old lifestyle believing that they now have a free ticket to Heaven. Jesus has this to say,
Repentance embodies a change and a striving to do better.
No change - No striving = No repentance = No salvation..
(For a more in-depth commentary, & study, see Eternal Security.)
page updated 03/30/2011.