Once-Saved Always Saved, Chapter 3

Table of Contents

True Salvation

  • But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. (Luke 8:15)

The Scriptural definition of real “saving faith” looks very different from the way churches present it today. True faith does not resemble anything like the idea that, once you receive your ticket, you are guaranteed to arrive in heaven. Even in the world, anyone taking a trip will not arrive at his destination the minute his ticket is punched. He still must pack, dress properly, travel to the airport, get on the plane, and fly the distance. In the same way, a man does not enjoy the fullness of salvation as soon as he “asks Jesus into his heart.” As we have already been told by Jesus himself, we must pass through the “time of testing.” This persevering faith causes us to mature and bear fruit for Jesus. He will accept only this kind of fruit as faith that leads to full salvation. Jesus prayed that His disciples would bear “much fruit” and those that refuse to, He cuts off.

People with this kind of faith have a “good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Such perseverance lies behind the true meaning of the “Romans Road” verses, inevitably quoted by the wide-gate gospel preachers.

  • That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. (Romans 10:9–10)

Confessing with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in our hearts that God raised him from the dead is a lifelong process, not a one-step recipe for instant salvation. Neither the Lord, nor Paul, ever meant for Romans 10:9 to become a quick and easy formula that entitles anyone who simply mocks a “sinner’s prayer” to go to heaven.

The True Meaning of Romans 10

How do we know this? By the rest of Scripture! If there was ever a Scripture taken out of context on a galactic scale it is Romans 10:9. You will never find an example in the Bible of anyone being born again by reciting Romans 10:9, or by saying a simple “sinner’s prayer.”

Paul understood that a man’s salvation requires perseverance. Therefore, in the same book of Romans, he wrote that we must remain in God’s love. In fact, both Jesus and Paul use the same words; “cut off.” Paul, in writing to the Romans, the very book used to justify a wide gate gospel call, reminds them that they reside in God’s “kindness” at the moment, but they must “continue in his kindness” or they will be “cut off.” Indeed, Paul told them to think about what they do not want to think about. To “consider” that they could be cut off.

  • Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. (Romans 11:22)

In other words, not cut off from some heavenly reward, but separated from God’s “kindness” itself. In fact, Paul boldly stated that, unless we share in the sufferings of Christ, we have no part in Him. Those who advocate once saved always saved must consider Paul a legalist, someone who preached salvation by works. For Paul stated clearly that unless we share in the sufferings of Christ, we will not share in His glory. He taught that we “are children” and “co-heirs with Christ,” and I quote, “if indeed we share in his sufferings.” We cannot expect to inherit eternal life if we remain unwilling to endure these sufferings.

  • Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (Romans 8:17, emphasis added)

During these times of suffering, as we continue to confess His name, our faith bears fruit unto full salvation. This is the true meaning of Romans chapter ten. If, however, we disown Jesus and His words, He will disown us.

Paul’s salvation experience sharply brings into focus the concept of calling on the name of the Lord throughout daily life. First comes the washing away of his sins, and then the “calling on his name.” While Paul’s baptism lasted only a moment, he would later call upon the name of the Lord during all of his tests, sufferings, and trials.

  • He stood beside me and said, “Brother Saul, receive your sight!” And at that very moment I was able to see him. Then he said: “The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.” (Acts 22:13–16)

You can see why those who believe once saved always saved must accuse Paul of preaching salvation by works. Because Paul preaches that we must “endure” in order to “reign with Him,” and if we do not do this He will “disown us.” To disown means to reject that which one formerly owned.

  • . . . if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; (2 Timothy 2:12)

Separated From God’s Love

We can interpret this no other way than God cutting off His grace from man. If Jesus disowns a man, mercy and grace disown him. Therefore, Colossians declares that, once we have been “reconciled” to Christ, we must continue in faith. Otherwise, our faith up to that point will be in vain. This is an important “if” Paul wrote—“if you continue in your faith” you will be presented to Jesus holy in his sight.

  • But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. (Colossians 1:22–23)

    The bad fruit of the once saved always saved doctrine begins with the fact that it encourages a shallow understanding of salvation. This simple-minded concept of salvation teaches people to believe that nothing else matters other than saying a prayer and accepting Jesus into their hearts.

Those who preach once saved always saved foolishly convince themselves that the elect cannot choose to separate themselves from the love of God. While it is certainly true that no outside influence has the strength to separate the elect from God’s love, we can bring this about ourselves by hardening our hearts or trampling on the grace and mercy of God. Therefore God tells us to make our “calling and election sure.” To make something sure is to move forward from uncertainty to certainty. The Lord spoke this way through Peter because, consistent with the rest of Scripture, it is quite possible for the elect to “fall.”

  • Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, (2 Peter 1:10)

Once again, clinging to once saved always saved forces you to consider Peter a legalist who preached salvation by works. This can only be avoided by twisting what Peter wrote so much that his message becomes emptied of any real meaning and power. For Peter declared that if we “do these things” we will “never fall.”

How do we know Peter was not simply talking about losing some heavenly rewards? Because, in the very next verse, Peter connects this belief with actually being welcomed into heaven, not receiving a reward from the throne of God. In short, Peter says a “rich welcome” not a “rich reward.” Or, as the NASB puts it, “for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”

  • . . . and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1:11)

Truly God can keep us from falling but the question arises—is a man willing to be kept? Are you willing to be prevented from falling by God’s grace? Do you desire to always call on the name of the Lord, to confess with your mouth and believe in your heart, no matter what demands God places in your life? Before you say “Yes” you would do well to count the cost as Jesus instructed. For God can indeed keep us from falling, but few hate their sin enough to want that “keeping” in their lives. Like Jesus who was enabled to go to the cross and suffer because He obeyed God, are you also willing to learn obedience from the sufferings of Christ in your life?

  • To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy — (Jude 1:24)

God certainly can prevent us from falling, but we cannot selfishly use this Scripture to void any of the others we previously read. Likewise, if we choose not to continue in faith, we give God reason to cut us off.

Twice Dead in Sin

Jude warns us to contend against “twice dead” men in the church. Have you ever noticed how, when an apple rots, it develops brown spots? Compare this to the huge blind spots which let those who hate the Lord take up positions in the church. Believing in eternal security allows many dead preachers to stand in our pulpits today. Bad fruit always attracts flies.

Let me pause for a moment to mention the seriousness of this situation. Since those who believe once saved always saved do not believe a Christian can truly fall away, they cannot see that the church contains “twice dead” men. For them, this passage in Jude is meaningless. They can never contend against such men, because they do not believe they exist. Try motivating an army to fight a battle when the army does not believe the enemy is real. You will get nowhere fast. That army loses the battle before it even begins. Churches that teach once saved always saved are overrun with men “twice dead” because, instead of contending against them, they call them brothers! No wonder the church has turned into one big field of ruined apples. Whole orchards or denominations lay in rot because those believing in eternal security have zealously invited “rotten” men into their churches. Bad fruit finds a safe haven in such places.

What would you think of if you saw a fruit stand displaying a banner saying, “We don’t believe there is such a thing as bad fruit?” Twice dead men simply don’t exist in the minds of believers of once saved always saved, so no wonder such rotten fruit fills the pulpits, elder offices, ministry departments, and worship teams. With open arms, they embrace wicked men and women as full brothers and sisters, corrupting the very heart of the church.

Let us look at this Scripture more closely. A man can only be “twice dead” by first being born again. All of mankind experiences the first birth, coming into this world, and we are all born dead in sin. We are conceived in sin and sinners even in the womb. Though physically alive and living, we are dead at birth. A man can only die twice in this world if he first receives a new life from God. In short, only those who have been born again have the possibility to be twice dead. If God grants a man new life and he falls away from that new life, he is dead again—twice dead. The book of Jude compares them to fruitless and uprooted trees, a clear similarity to Jesus’ description of the fruitless branches that will be cut off.

  • These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. (Jude 1:12)

Time of Testing

The Book of Jude tells us that a man has no excuse for falling away. It teaches that God can give us the faith, obedience, and power to live the Christian life—but some people harden their hearts against the grace that saves them. Jude reminds us that the Israelites were a “delivered people,” a saved people, but God “later destroyed” them. Think of it. They had enough faith to allow God to rescue them from Pharaoh and Egypt, a life of slavery and sin, but not enough to trust God in the desert. They professed faith but rejected God’s commands, ways, and counsel.

Like so many in the church today, the Israelites could testify that God delivered them and even did great miracles in their lives, but they refused to pick up their cross daily. The church should “already know all this” but it does not, because those who teach eternal security have blinded people to the true value of the blood of Jesus. We should understand that God saved the whole nation of Israel, yet many did not continue in this saving faith. They had enough faith to put blood around their doorposts (trusting in the blood of Jesus), they had enough faith to walk through the divided Red Sea (being baptized), but not enough faith to trust God in the desert (the crucified life). So God cut them off and “destroyed those who did not believe.” Again, anyone who holds to once saved always saved must view Jude as a legalist who preaches salvation by works. After all, he quoted from the Old Testament and reminded the people that the Jews had to do something in order to be saved. They couldn’t just ask God into their heart. They had to put blood on their houses, march through the Red Sea, and trust God in the desert.

  • Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 1:5)

The writer of Hebrews also knows that we must have a daily faith that confesses the name of the Lord in order to be saved. The writer of Hebrews put it this way.

  • So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert.” (Hebrews 3:7–8)

This is our time of “testing.” Will you prove to have a full saving faith? It all depends on whether you hear the voice of the Holy Spirit moment by moment, and do not harden your heart against what He says to you. Yet another part of the bad fruit produced by the once saved always saved teaching is that it separates faith from obedience, when Scripture gives no separation. A man who has faith, obeys. Such a man obeys by faith, in faith, with faith, through faith—but he obeys God. For example, water baptism is not merely a proof of saving faith, but saving faith in action. So much so that Peter tells us that unless one can do away with the resurrection of Jesus, one cannot do away with water baptism. Scripture tells us that, from first to last, everything about a Christian’s life should come from faith. The man who stops obeying God, stops having faith in God. It is that simple. We see this point in the next passage, where disobedience and unbelief are viewed as one and the same.

  • And to whom did Gods wear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief. (Hebrews 3:18–19, emphasis added)

Faith Leads to Obedience

In the last part of that verse we see the words “unbelief” and “disobeyed” used on equal terms. They are the same thing to God. The book of Titus describes God’s grace as the power to obey. Aman who will not obey God, by faith everyday, will eventually cut himself off from the faith that saved him. This, of course, is why James tells us that faith without works is “dead.” James focused on this point and flatly tells us that, if faith has no deeds, it cannot save a man from hell.

  • What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? (James 2:14)

Paul preached that we could not separate faith from obedience. But those who adhere to once saved always saved have made such an unholy division between obedience and faith that one cannot even mention obedience today without cutting through a barrage of points and arguments. Anyone who even suggests that certain Scriptures should and must be obeyed, will be accused of teaching “salvation by works.” But let us see exactly what Paul preached.

  • Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. (Romans 1:5)

Did you catch that? An “obedience that comes from faith.” What are we to preach? We must proclaim the same thing Paul did, an “obedience that comes from faith.” A true saving faith is an obedient faith, not one that recites one prayer and thinks that will take you straight to heaven.

True Legalism

For example, a man who claims Jesus as Lord and Savior but refuses to be baptized as a believer does not have a true faith. He attempts to get around this to establish a righteousness that God never set down. The most ironic thing about the once saved always saved movement is that it, in reality, puts salvation under the law. Followers of the teaching are the true legalists because they refuse to “submit to God’s righteousness” and, instead, establish their own.

Every time a man invents some other way of showing faith in Jesus, he places himself back under the law. Those who teach that we must say a prayer in order to be saved have made the good news of Jesus into a legalistic, human-effort gospel call. Simply put, those who truly believe in Jesus submit to what He said. Those who do not, make up something to suit their own liking.

  • Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. (Romans 10:3–4)

We can clearly see the bad fruit resulting from such legalism. But true faith in Christ puts an end of man’s law and the old Law which stood opposed to us. Man’s efforts and schemes have come to an end. At least, for those who do not rely on man’s way of getting saved and submit to what God established.

In the Scripture below we see the nature of God’s grace. God rains down grace onto our hearts. If we receive that power and surrender to it in humility, it will produce a good crop. However, if we use that power for our own selfish ends, refusing to die to self, we will produce thorns and thistles. Those who produce thorns and thistles become “worthless” and “in danger of being cursed.” The term “in danger” shows that for the moment God’s mercy covers them but they face a real threat that they and their fruit will be cursed.

Once again, they don’t just lose their reward, but salvation itself for they are cursed just as Satan is cursed. For this reason the writer of Hebrews stated, “we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation.”

  • Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case – things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (Hebrews 6:7–12)

As we have just read, we must show the “same diligence to the very end” in order to make one’s hope of being saved “sure.” After all, as Paul wrote, who “hopes for what he already has?” This reveals the silliness of once saved always saved. It requires people to act as if they have already safely arrived in heaven. It is like believing the curse in the Garden of Eden is gone, that we have been totally saved now. That our gardens will not produce weeds, women no longer have pain in childbirth and men do not have to work for a living. This is the foolishness of thought that eternal security has produced. It has made wide the door for prosperity teachers and other false teachers to flood the church.

Ironically, those who believe in a once saved always saved doctrine actually have no hope, because they think they have already received as much salvation as possible. Yet Paul wrote, “in this hope we were saved.” The hope that I will be saved works a certainty that I am saved. A man, however, already convinced that he is fully saved has no hope of salvation. He cannot hope for anything more than what he thinks he already possesses. Aman must be sure of what he does not have to make sure he does not lose what he has been given.

  • For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? (Romans 8:24)

Accepting God’s Grace

God works it this way so that the hope of salvation might drive us to purity. But God does not play games. A man can lose his hope of salvation if he does not accept the grace of God in a worthy manner. Even in the world, if I give a gift to someone and tell them to wait until the appointed day to fully open it, they must guard that gift. If instead, they begin to abuse, mistreat, or ignore the gift, it would be taken back, and rightly so.

Similarly, the gift of forgiveness was taken away from the unmerciful servant and all of his sins reinstated. Consider the parable well. The man had been forgiven of all, his debt of sin cancelled. But by his actions, lack of obedience, God reinstated his debt of sin.

  • When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. Then the master called the servant in. “You wicked servant,” he said, “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart. (Matthew 18:31–35)

Many may whine that this seems unfair. But God’s ways are not unfair, rather it is our lack of appreciation for His mercy. This eternal security whine goes back as far as the Old Testament, when the Israelites complained to God about the same thing. Ezekiel preached the same message of repentance that Jesus preached, and the consequences of ignoring or watering down that message remain the same. The vast difference is that because of Jesus a man is completely without excuse, because grace could have empowered him unto righteousness. The point Jesus made in the parable on the previous page is even more clearly made in the Scripture below.

  • But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die. Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is not just.” Hear, O house of Israel: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die. But if a wicked man turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he will save his life. Because he considers all the offenses he has committed and turns away from them, he will surely live; he will not die. Yet the house of Israel says, “The way of the Lord is not just.” Are my ways unjust, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust? Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall.” (Ezekiel 18:24–30)

Likewise Paul encouraged Timothy to guard the gift with the “help of the Holy Spirit.” But why guard something if there is no danger of losing it?

  • Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. (2 Timothy 1:14)

In order to be saved, a man must live as if he hopes for salvation. He must show zeal and diligence mixed with a good measure of fear and trembling. He must persevere in faith through trials and daily endure the offense of the cross. If a person “shrinks back” from this offense then God will be displeased and “destroy” that man or woman.

  • But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Hebrews 10:38–39)

Only those who continue in faith, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, will believe and be saved. All others who continue in their own self-assurance will be “destroyed,” for God will never tolerate such self-righteousness. This bad fruit of eternal security causes individuals to remain unguarded against the fungi and worms that attack the good fruit God wants to work. Indeed, they feel little need to bear fruit at all, because salvation is all that matters. It is always amazing to listen to someone who believes in eternal security. They cry the loudest that people should bear good fruit, but their own lives demonstrate clearly that they feel self-satisfied with their religious condition. The fungus of hypocrisy and the worm of self-righteous pride infest their lives, killing the good fruit.


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Disclaimer

The Consider Podcast attempts to express opinions through God’s holiness. Nothing concerning justice or injustice should be taken as legal advice or a call to action. There is no political agenda. There is no individual moral life advice. Indeed, each person is solely responsible before God and man for their actions or inactions. The Consider Podcast is narrowly focused on one thing, and only one thing – the need for all to surrender to a life of repentance according to the whole gospel.

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Examining today’s wisdom, folly and madness with the whole gospel.
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