Once saved always saved?
A common teaching in the religious world today is that once you become a Christian and are in a saved condition, you can never again be lost. This thinking has been termed "once saved, always saved". What does the Bible say about this subject?
In Revelation 2:10 we find the following words from Jesus:
"Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."
I want you to note, that this is a conditional statement. The condition being that you be faithful unto death. The obvious implication is that if you aren't faithful unto death, you will not receive the crown of life. This verse alone should be enough to prove to the reader that "once saved, always saved" is contrary to Biblical teaching. However, let's continue on for more examples.
2 Pet 2:20-22 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. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."
A question arises from these passages in 2 Peter 2:20-22. The verses say "the latter end is worse for them than the beginning." What is being referred to here? What could happen that would make them worse than they were in the first place? They were lost. I pose to you that God could do anything to them he wanted, but if they were never again lost they WOULD NOT be worse off than they were in the first place. What we see here is that once again these erring Christians are lost and now they have rejected God's son. Worse yet, they know the truth but refuse to obey it. Truly, they are worse off than if they had never heard the gospel. This verse again verifies that you can be in a saved condition and at sometime in the future again be lost if you do not continue faithfully with the Lord.
2 Pet 2:4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;
We see in the above verse that God cast the angels into the torments of the Hadean world or Tartarus. Angels!! What we might refer to as helpers of God, heavenly beings. Were these angels once in a saved condition? In a sense yes. The fact is they were never lost. However, once they no longer continued with God, He reserved them for Hell. Hell is the place that was created for the devil and his angels (Matt 25:41). If God will do this to an angel, do we need to doubt that he will do it to a human? As an aside, you might want to read the next few verses in 2 Pet 2. It goes on to show some of the punishments God inflicted. Among those verses is the following sobering thought:
2 Pet 2:9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,
We need to remember that some of Paul's writing was sent to reprimand lost Christians. Entire books were devoted to having them once again return to the faith. Below I have a few interesting passages. In them Paul is referring to erring Christians. He wants them "to be ashamed". Yet we are told in Christ we need not be ashamed. It's obvious that these are not with Christ at this point or Paul would certainly not be wanting them to feel shame. Also, note that in both verses Christians are told in a sense to "withdraw fellowship" from this erring Christian in hopes that he will return to the fold.
2 Th 3:6 But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us.
2 Th 3:14 And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. 2 Th 3:15 Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.
1 Cor 5:11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; not even to eat with such a person.
Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.
The above verse alone is all that we need to say on this topic. A special word is used in it. That word being restore. First note that you have to have been in a condition in the past to be restored to it. If it were not possible to become "unsaved" again, then we would never need to restore.
Heb 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
In the above verse we see that the person had "received the knowledge of the truth". We can deduct from the second part of the verse that at one point this person "had a sacrifice for sins". That being Christ's blood, that he accepted it, and became a Christian. However, we now see from the end of the verse that "there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin". This can be confusing. What it basically means is as long as this erring Christian is unwilling to turn from the sin he is involved in, he cannot be forgiven of his sin. We must repent of sins in order to be forgiven of them (Acts 2:38). Only when this erring Christian is willing to give up the sin that he has become entangled in and prays for God's forgiveness, will he be right in the sight of God. Until that time his name will be blotted out of the Lamb's book of life (Rev 3:5).
I hope that this article can help the reader better understand the false hope the "once saved, always saved" doctrine is giving erring Christians.