Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; (Hebrews 3:12 NKJV)
I’m not sure how so many can believe in once-saved-always-saved in the face of so much contrary scripture. Just a simple reading of the Bible produces many verses that are contrary to such a notion, including this one above.
Just off the top of my head, I can think of these:
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith…(1 Timothy 4:1 NKJV)
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. (2 Peter 2:20, 21 NKJV)
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 6:4-6 NKJV)
That’s four passages (including the title passage) by at least two different authors. Then you also have the old testament example of the many of the children of Israel that were saved out of Egypt (a type of salvation), passed through the red sea (a type of baptism), and yet they perished when they turned their hearts from the Lord. In fact, the book of Hebrews speaks much if the peril of falling back into a previous way of living and uses the children of Israel as examples of what not to do. This is also spoken about in 1 Corinthians 10:
Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:1-12 NKJV)
The reason many people believe in once-saved-always-saved is that it is the logical conclusion of faulty theology. However, a logical deduction based on pet theology is not the way to study and interpret the scripture. If the Scripture does not support your theology, then you need to adjust your theology – not try to explain away scriptures that disagree with it. When I come to a verse that disagrees with a theological view that I hold I ask myself a few questions:
1. Is this verse an isolated verse, or are there others that say the same thing?
2. Is there a possibility that this verse is translated incorrectly?
3. Is it possible that the meaning of the verse is different than what I read at face value?
4. Do I need to change what I believe based off of the light of this scripture?
The Bible says that every word must be established by two or three witnesses (Matthew 18:15, John 8:17, 2 Corinthians 13:1). That means that if you come across an isolated Bible verse that seems to be contrary to a doctrine that you hold, and you can’t seem to find any other verses, anywhere in the Bible, that have the same idea, then you need not change your theological view just because of that one verse. “BUT,” someone would argue, “that one verse is the word of God!” Yes, it is, but because of the limitations of our mind and learning, we could easily be understanding that verse in a different way then it was intended to be understood. Remember that Peter said that Paul’s writings were hard to understand (2 Peter 3:16). It is very dangerous to establish any doctrine off of one verse. If God wants you to believe something, He put it in there enough times so we can be sure of it.
It’s very difficult to explain away all the verses that I have presented. And I have yet to find one verse that emphatically states that once you are saved you are always saved. But don’t take my word for it. Take all of the scriptures together. View all of them together and ask the Holy Spirit how they fit together, for they surely do. Look into it for yourself.
I personally do not subscribe to any particular theological view. I simply believe the Bible. If I come across a verse that challenges what I have been taught or what I have held as true, I allow the idea that I could be wrong. It doesn’t matter how emotionally riveting a preachers preaching has been on a particular subject. If the Bible says something different, go with the Bible.
Anyway, I said all that to say that I honestly can’t find once-saved-always-saved in the Bible. I would have no problem believing once-saved-always-saved. I have no prejudice against the idea. If it were true I would have no trouble accepting it. I just can’t read the scripture and find it. You’d have to be looking real hard for it while ignoring lots of other scripture in order to find it.
The truth is that you can be gloriously saved and then later cast into hell if you do not continue in the goodness of God:
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 11:22 NKJV)
This is simple to understand. Someone may ask, “So can you lose your salvation?” Well, it depends on what you mean by that question. If you mean that if a saved person trips on a shoe lace and blurts out a profanity as he tumbles to the ground; then hits his head on a rock and dies – does that person go to hell? Certainly not. However, if you allow your heart to be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin you are setting yourself up to ‘depart from the living God.’ While it is true that no one can snatch you from His hand, it is also true that he doesn’t prevent those who willingly walk away.
So be watchful, be sober. Your adversary walks about as a lion, seeking whom he made devour. Stand fast in the faith and remember the words of our Lord Jesus: “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Mark 13:13 NKJV)
——— more scriptures related to the subject——–
“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Timothy 6:10
“Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.” 1 Timothy 5:15
“Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in doing so have departed from the faith.” 1 Timothy 6:20-21
“You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;” 2 Peter 3:17
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, ou also will be cut off.
If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life fro 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
You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. Gal 5:4
Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins. – James 5:19-20
“Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” Acts 20:31 (why did Paul warn the church with tears to watch if they had risk of being led away?)