Eternal Security is one of the most debated & misunderstood doctrines among Christians. There are a number of mainstream schools of thought on the subject. One maintains that, "once you are saved you can never lose your salvation." Another that, "Salvation can be lost through sin." While another claims that a Christian can walk away and turn his back on God, thereby losing his salvation. These groups all claim that the Bible teaches & supports their belief. However, we know that the Bible can not teach contradictory doctrines. So, who is correct? Does the Bible teach "Once Saved Always Saved, OSAS;" or the belief that "One Sin Salvation is Lost, OSSL," or that you can willingly forfeit your salvation by turning away from God, "free will damnation"?
To determine if there is eternal security, if salvation can be lost through sin, or you can lose your salvation by choosing to walk away from God, let's set aside man's teaching on the subject of salvation and focus solely on the Bible's teaching. Jesus, the Author of Salvation, tells us:
- - "Truly, truly, I say to you, He who hears My Word and believes on Him who sent Me has everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death to life."
- - "All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will in no way cast out."
- - "And this is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day."
- - "No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day."
- - "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
And I give to them eternal life, and they shall never ever perish, and not anyone shall pluck them out of My hand.
My Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand."
The Bible's teaching is quite clear on the subject of eternal security. (See Salvation Lost?? for an in-depth explanation.) The diverging beliefs of OSAS, OSSL, and free will damnation, are all based on the Bible. However, the beliefs in OSSL & free will damnation are based upon a misunderstanding of the word "believer." The Bible, in its entirety, addresses the non-believer, the true believer, & those, who claim they are believers. Most, if not all, congregations are composed of a mix of these three. The majority of the Epistles, especially Paul's, address all three groups. The believer's in eternal security, OSAS, acknowledge this mix, while the OSSL & free will damnation groups overlook the distinction. The various biblical references cited, concerning eternal security, address the true believer.
The true believer follows Jesus and has eternal security. However, this does not mean that they will never sin again. The Apostle Paul shows us in Romans 7, that at times he still sinned, although he had been saved by the grace of God. Jesus teaches us that the true believer has been drawn to Him by the Father; and Paul, who received his teachings from Jesus, (Gal 1:12), further explains in Romans 8:30 & 2Co 1:22,
- - "-whom He called, those He also justified. And whom He justified, these He also glorified."
- - "And He has sealed us and having given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. "
Therefore, the Bible teaches us, that the true believer has been "called, justified, glorified, & sealed by God."
This does not mean that the true believer has a free ride, a license to sin. A true believer strives to follow Jesus; but being human they will sometimes stumble. Any true believer will tell you, that having been sealed with the Holy Spirit, they cannot remain in a prolonged sinful lifestyle; because, the Spirit will not allow them peace until they abandon that lifestyle. Additionally, God's outpouring of love to His children does not allow the true believer to be comfortable with prolonged sin. God's love and the action of the Holy Spirit will never allow a true believer to permanently walk away and turn his back on God.
The opponents of eternal security point to Bible verses Mat 12:31 & 1 John 5:16,
- - " Therefore I say to you, All kinds of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven to men, but the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit shall not be forgiven to men."
- - " - There is a sin to death -."
They claim that this proves salvation can be lost by the believer. We have seen that the Bible teaches that salvation can not be lost & then regained. We have also seen that Jesus gives eternal life to the true believer and that, He further tells us,
- - "My Father who gave them to me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand."
We know that the Bible cannot teach diverging doctrines. We also know that Scripture must be interpreted by Scripture. We find that the overwhelming majority of fundamental verses concerning salvation show that there is eternal security for the true believer. Therefore Mat 12:31 & 1 John 5:16 must be seen in this light. In Mat 12:31, the unpardonable sin “is attributing the works of the Holy Spirit to Satan”, and in 1 John 5:16 the unforgivable sin is,.“The continued, obstinate, refusal to believe the Gospel message”, by which you blaspheme the Holy Spirit, in effect you label the Spirit a liar. Neither of these two are possible for the true believer to commit.
The free will damnation group holds that it is possible to simply walk away and turn your back on God. To choose to stop following Jesus and that causes the loss of salvation. That the true believer can do this is an impossibility, and is in direct opposition to biblical teaching. (See John 10:27-29 & Romans 8:38-39)
Those who believe in eternal security, "Once Saved; Always Saved, OSAS" acknowledge that salvation is a gift given by God, which is in accordance with scriptural teaching. The opponents of eternal security, the "One Sin Salvation Lost, OSSL" & free will damnation groups, for the most part, say they believe that salvation is a gift. However, in practicality, they are actually denying that salvation is a gift, for a gift is not something, which you must earn or pay for to keep! These two groups, in effect, teach that ultimately salvation is dependent upon man, not upon God's Sovereign Will & Grace.
page updated 03/21/2011.