“Once Saved, Always Saved?”
Let me start by saying that if you are a genuine follower of Jesus Christ, strive every day to carry your cross, deny yourself, repent of your sins and allow the Holy Spirit to sanctify you and make you holy—“Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:19)—be encouraged! You are indeed walking through “The Narrow Gate,” and it is “your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
This post is not meant to make you doubt God’s mercy and love, nor is it to make you think that your eternal destiny is always questionable.
God indeed has shown us the way to salvation, through His Only Begotten Son Jesus Christ.
Unfortunately, salvation has somehow become man’s declaration. Instead of being seen as the journey to eternal life with God, salvation is often viewed as something that happens in a defined frame of time. It is something that a preacher or a pastor declares based on some act of faith from the believer. To make things more complicated, there are many different definitions of “once saved.” When does one become saved?
Some say it’s once you declare in front of people that Jesus is your Saviour.
Some say it’s once you are baptized.
Some say it’s only when you start bearing fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Some say it’s only when you start speaking in tongues.
The whole problem here is that we view salvation as something that is fully attained in one moment in this life. Hence, we somehow have made it our role, and not God’s, to conclude whether we are saved or not. We even go as far as declaring someone is saved or not, based on our differing definitions! You can imagine how damaging this has been for the Body of Christ.
Believe it or not, some people even believe that if someone confesses that Jesus is Lord they are saved and will inherit eternal life—no matter what they believe or do afterwards! No matter what? I hope it is clear how erroneous this teaching is: “Even the demons believe and tremble” (James 2:19).
Now we can look at the second part of this popular *Christianese* phrase -- the “always saved” part. Again, because many believe salvation can be completely attained in one moment (in this life), they see that this rule of “always saved” can be applied with no problems whatsoever.
However, let us not forget that no one knows the future but God. No one knows what will happen in anyone’s life; not even their own life. Are we always going to have faith and be true followers of Jesus Christ?
Most Christians view faith as one of these two things:
- Faith is granted by God alone. In other words, God is the only player when it comes to who gets to have faith in Him. He gives faith to whomever He chooses.
- Faith is something that we can develop, grow, and work at. Anyone can choose to have faith in Jesus.
I know that Protestants and I might disagree on this issue. Regardless of which of the two applies to your doctrine, the Parable of the Sower makes it clear that faith is not always what it seems. Only God knows what your faith will look like at the end of your life. You know what else? Only God knows to whom He is going to be merciful. So let us stop attacking people with the “you’re not saved, you’re going to hell” accusations and instead, let us humbly and kindly point each other to the goodness of God and the joy of repentance.
The Bible teaches, “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Read also this passage from Romans:
“You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.” - Romans 11:19-22. [Emphasis added]
If you continue in His goodness. We must continue, we must endure hardships and we must persevere. Thankfully, we have God’s grace to help us through it all. We can pray, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).
But to walk around arrogantly saying nothing I can do will make me not saved is .... DANGEROUS!
Let us not speak too soon, or even on behalf of God! Let us not boast in Salvation and almost force ourselves on God, as if we can corner Him and say “I’m saved, I’m saved” as we see in Matthew 7:22. Instead, let us follow the example of the tax collector who humbly recognized his sins and prayed “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). Let that be our anthem for the rest of our lives.
More passages to ponder:
“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.
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 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.” - 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” - 1 Timothy 4:1.
“But if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die.” - Ezekiel 18:24.
“Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” - 1 Peter 2:10-11.