Once Saved Always Saved?

“Once saved, always saved” is a theological concept, often associated with the doctrine of “eternal security” or “perseverance of the saints.” It suggests that once a person genuinely accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior and is born again, they cannot lose their salvation, regardless of their subsequent actions or sins.

Proponents of this theology argue that certain Bible verses support this idea, including:

  1. John 10:27-29 (ESV): “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will 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 the Father’s hand.”
  2. Romans 8:38-39 (ESV): “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
  3. Ephesians 1:13-14 (ESV): “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.”
  4. Philippians 1:6 (ESV): “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

These verses are often cited as evidence that God’s grace and the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life are sufficient to secure their salvation, and nothing can separate them from God’s love. However, it’s important to note that there are differing theological viewpoints, and not all Christians agree with the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. Some believe in the possibility of apostasy, where a person can willfully turn away from their faith.

The interpretation of these verses can vary, and the theological understanding of salvation is a complex and debated topic within Christianity. Different Christian denominations and traditions may hold varying views on this doctrine.

Certain denominations subscribe to the theology of eternal security, or the once-saved-always-saved theology.

The theology of eternal security, often referred to as “once saved, always saved,” is primarily associated with certain Protestant denominations and theological traditions. While it’s important to note that not all members of these denominations may hold this view, the doctrine of eternal security is more commonly found in the following Christian traditions:

  1. Reformed Theology: Many Reformed or Calvinist churches teach the perseverance of the saints, which is a key aspect of eternal security. This theological perspective, often summarized in the acronym TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, Perseverance of the Saints), emphasizes that those whom God has elected for salvation will remain saved.
  2. Baptist Churches: Many Baptist denominations and independent Baptist congregations embrace the doctrine of eternal security. This perspective is often associated with the idea that once a person has genuinely accepted Christ as their Savior, they cannot lose their salvation.
  3. Reformed Baptist Churches: These churches combine elements of Reformed theology with Baptist principles and are likely to teach eternal security as part of their doctrinal beliefs.
  4. Some Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches: While not as common, there are Pentecostal and Charismatic churches that hold to the idea of eternal security. This view may not be as prevalent in these traditions as in Reformed or Baptist ones, but it exists among certain groups.
  5. Some Evangelical Non-denominational Churches: Many non-denominational churches and independent evangelical congregations also embrace the doctrine of eternal security.

It’s important to recognize that there are variations in the belief and emphasis on eternal security even within denominations. Some Christians within these traditions may hold differing views on this topic, and it’s not universally accepted across all members of these denominations. Additionally, other Christian denominations, such as Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and some mainstream Protestant denominations, do not generally subscribe to the doctrine of eternal security and may instead emphasize the possibility of apostasy or the need for ongoing faith and good works to maintain salvation.

Opposition to the eternal security theology.

There are Bible verses that are often cited by those who oppose the theology of eternal security or “once saved, always saved.” These verses emphasize the need for continued faith and obedience and suggest that it is possible for a believer to fall away from their faith. Some of these verses include:

  1. Hebrews 6:4-6 (ESV): “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”
  2. Hebrews 10:26-27 (ESV): “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”
  3. 2 Peter 2:20-22 (ESV): “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.”
  4. Matthew 7:21-23 (ESV): “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”

These verses are often cited to argue that genuine faith and perseverance in righteousness are required to maintain one’s salvation. They suggest the possibility of falling away from the faith and experiencing judgment if one does not continue in obedience to God’s commandments. It’s important to note that the interpretation of these verses can vary, and different Christian denominations and theologians may have differing views on the doctrine of eternal security.

So, how do we know if we are saved or not?

The question of “how to know” if one is saved is a significant one in Christian theology and practice. Different Christian denominations and traditions may offer various perspectives on this matter. Here are some common ways that Christians often understand and assess their salvation:

  1. Faith in Jesus Christ: Many Christians believe that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. This involves believing in Jesus’ sacrificial death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and trusting in Him for salvation (John 3:16; Romans 10:9-10).
  2. Repentance and Forgiveness: Repentance, or turning away from sin, is often seen as a crucial aspect of salvation. Christians are called to confess their sins, seek forgiveness, and strive to live in accordance with God’s will (Acts 2:38; 1 John 1:9).
  3. Transformation of Life: Genuine salvation is believed to result in a transformation of life. This may involve displaying the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control) and growing in holiness and righteousness (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 4:22-24).
  4. Assurance through the Holy Spirit: Many Christians believe that the Holy Spirit, whom believers receive upon conversion, provides assurance of salvation. The Spirit testifies with our spirits that we are children of God (Romans 8:16) and helps believers in their walk with God (John 14:16-17).
  5. Lived Experience and Relationship with God: Salvation is often understood as a dynamic and ongoing relationship with God. Christians may assess their salvation through their ongoing relationship with God, their participation in the life of the Church, and their experiences of God’s grace and presence in their lives.
  6. Scripture: Christians may also look to the teachings of the Bible for guidance on salvation. The Bible provides principles and examples that help believers understand what it means to be saved and how to live as followers of Christ.

It’s important to note that assurance of salvation is a topic of significant theological debate within Christianity. Different denominations and theologians may emphasize different aspects of salvation and offer varying perspectives on how one can know if they are saved. Ultimately, Christians are encouraged to seek God, study His Word, participate in the life of the Church, and trust in His promises for assurance of salvation.

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