Once Saved, Always Saved
In my personal witnessing over the last 20 years, I have asked scores of people the question: “Are you a born-again child of God?”
Perhaps the most frequent answer that I have received is: “I WAS ONCE, but I backslid…”
Which raises a most important question concerning the Bible’s teaching about salvation – Can a person once saved ever be lost? Or, put another way – Is the life we receive at the moment of conversion eternal or temporal? Is it a gift or a loan?
Dear reader, could I ask you at this point to read this tract all the way through before you make a judgment for or against the writer’s point of view? Please examine the evidence presented from God’s holy inspired Word.
Does the Bible teach that everyone who is ever truly born again will never finally perish in Hell?
Does this mean that a person who once professes salvation can go out and “live like the Devil,” and have nothing to worry about, since he or she is already “booked straight through” to Heaven?
Many people are sincere in their prejudice against this truth. They have seen someone make a big profession of Christianity and remain wicked or worldly or selfish. Or, they have known someone who outwardly conformed to the rules of Christian conduct for a time, but who eventually went back to a confirmed lifestyle of wrongdoing. They are therefore tempted to conclude: Surely such a person could not be allowed to enter God’s Heaven now even if he were once saved.
But is this the only way to account for such behavior? Or does the Bible describe a way of salvation that offers assurance to the saved while presenting God’s honor and holiness from being trampled in the dust by those who profess salvation and then turn back to the world?
I. God’s Choices are Irreversible
The Bible clearly teaches that all those who respond to the call to salvation were chosen in Christ from eternity past.1 The word used frequently in the King James Version to describe these chosen ones is “elect“. All those who are thus “elected” by God will come to Christ for salvation.2 God does not change His mind about those He calls.3 Everyone who comes to Christ will assuredly be resurrected at this day.4 None will finally perish.5
Can a person be on of God’s elect today, and by sin or failure be one of the non-elect tomorrow? How absurd! If this were possible, the doctrine of election, so clearly taught in the Bible, would be meaningless.
II. God’s Nature is Imparted at the New Birth
When a person is born again, a divine miracle takes place. The very nature of God himself is planted within the old nature of the believing sinner. A real change takes place! This spiritual transformation is called a “resurrection” and a “new creation” in the Bible.6
Yet this divine “seed” is only in embryo form initially. This is why the Apostle Paul travailed for the Galatian Christians “till Christ be formed in [them].”7 Deficiencies of temperament, personality, and background often continue, but the nature is changed. The heart if fixed on God as its center of reference.
Those who deny the permanence of this change wrought in the new birth and allow for the possible loss of salvation have a very low view of the new nature imparted at salvation. Can the very life of God be terminated?
III. God’s Children Cannot Remain in Known Sin
The new nature cannot be permanently overpowered by sin.8 Temporary backsliding may occur, but the Holy Spirit makes a disobedient child of God miserable.9 The prodigal son, once returned and repentant, could no longer enjoy the “husks” of the far country. God chastens every one of His sons. This is proof that they are not illegitimate.10
The Bible is full of examples of restored backsliders: David, who committed adultery and murder; Peter, who denied His Lord; the man in the Corinthian church who committed incest.11
There is a great difference between chastening and eternal punishment. Nowhere in the Bible does God threaten the true saint with the possibility of Hell. On the other hand, hypocrites who are deceived in thinking that they are saved are repeatedly warned to test their profession.12
Yes, the life God gives to us at the moment of salvation is both eternal and divine. Since it is eternal, it can never be lost. Since it is divine, it overpowers sin and self.13
God is not an “Indian giver!” Neither is He a permissive Father to His children!
Dear reader, are you one of His children? If not, you are under His wrath and condemnation.14
You cannot save yourself by hoping to merit God’s favor through morality, good works, or religious observances. The only evidence of a God sponsored work of regeneration in your heart is that you repent of your sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone as your personal savior. If you do this, God gives you the right to be His child.15 Once born into His family, you need not live in fear that you will be “un-born.” The Bible says that God will “in nowise cast [you] out.”16
Will you honestly search the Scriptures about this important matter? It is my prayer that any prejudice or misunderstanding you may have had concerning this teaching will be dissolved, so that the truth can make you free indeed.17
All Scriptures cited:
- Ephesians 1:4
- John 6:37
- Romans 11:29
- John 6:39
- John 10:28
- Ephesians 2:1,6; 2 Corinthians 5:17
- Galatians 4:19
- 1 John 3:9
- Luke 22:62; 2 Peter 2:7
- Hebrews 12:6-8
- 1 Corinthians 5:1,2; 2 Corinthians 2:6-8
- Matthew 7:21-23; Revelation 3:17, 18
- 1 John 4:4
- John 3:36
- John 1:12
- John 6:37b
- John 8:32
Written by Rev. Bob Vradenburgh, Senior Pastor