Once-Saved Always Saved, Chapter 6

Table of Contents

Thorn Bushes and Briers

  • No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. (Luke 6:43–44)

Bad doctrine produces a bad life and a bad life chooses bad doctrine. For this reason, Scripture calls us to watch our lives and doctrines closely. If we only check our doctrine, we will deceive ourselves about our lives. And watching only our lives is to ignore doctrine in favor of what we want to do. We have already looked at the doctrine of once saved always saved and some of the bad fruit it produces. Now we will take a closer look at the practical implications.

The fruit of this doctrine resembles a thorn bush or brier—a bush that intertwines itself among the good grapes of God and slowly chokes out the branches. The good fruit slowly dies and, as Jesus predicted, the love of most grows cold. It is no surprise that Jesus wondered if He would find faith on the earth when He returns. Eternal security was part of what Jesus saw coming that would stop true faith and cool the love of most in the church.

Like any thorn bush or brier, this doctrine has quickly swept over the world, choking out true discipleship in Jesus. Indeed, those few who do find a measure of true faith in Christ have to reach in very carefully to find only a small cluster of grapes or figs. By God’s grace, He enables them to come to Him despite the thorns and briers. In short, God works in spite of those who preach once saved always saved, but not through them.

Pride and Arrogance

The thorns of this doctrine affect the heart, actions, and soul of the church. The current sad condition of the church results from those who have made it sinfully easy to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. As Jesus stated, “wisdom is proved right by all her children” and the children of once saved always saved have proven to be a rebellious bunch. So what is the bad fruit of eternal security? Some of this we have already touched upon, but let’s lay it all out clearly.

It has made the church stiff-necked and arrogant.

  • But they did not listen to me or pay attention. They were stiff-necked and did more evil than their forefathers. (Jeremiah 7:26)

Often, when confronted with the sins that this doctrine allows into the church, those who defend once saved always saved will point to saints of old considered as “pillars” of the church. But whether they are really pillars—or, indeed, really saints—or not, no man can truly say. Many that appear to us as great men of faith may prove the least of all. After all, Jesus said many who are first will be last and Paul told us to “judge nothing before the appointed time.” The truth of the situation is this. Many of the men, such as Calvin, credited with establishing the doctrine of eternal security formulated their ideas in reaction to the other errors and heresies of their time. However, without the cross to crucify their own opinions, they simply rejected one extreme and grasped hold of another.

  • It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes. (Ecclesiastes 7:18)

These saints were simply wrong about once saved always saved. While their own lives may or may not have reflected the bad fruit we see today, God will still hold them accountable for planting the seed. Remember that the bad fruit of a thorn or brier starts with a bad seed. Their small seed of bad doctrine results in a church today weighed down by arrogance.

Think about it. Which commands of God does the church actually obey today? Everything has become relative to each person and each church, with everyone choosing exactly what they want to believe and how they want to do things. You do not find the cross moving people in a direction they do not want to go, or bringing them to accept the truth in spite of what they want to believe. The truth is, those who believe in eternal security explain away far more Scripture than they actually obey.

The church has regressed to little more than elementary altar calls and pointing out the faults of others in a desperate attempt to get individuals saved. Once saved always saved stiffens the necks of those who hear the Word. They cannot turn their heads in any other direction in order to see anything else in Scripture. Indeed, they run out and keep away all who try to suggest we have more to obey in Jesus. They explain away any uncomfortable command as “cultural.” The ways of God turn into mere suggestions and, if a man dares push for more, he is immediately labeled as preaching salvation by works. Like children who hum with their fingers in their ears, they refuse to hear Jesus calling for more.

Individuals or churches can do things any way they want, because nothing is a “salvation issue” anymore. Suggest otherwise and you will be branded a legalist. The lives of those who call for revival, yet believe in once saved always saved overflow with hypocrisy.

They call for revival in the music industry but listen to worldly music. They call for revival in doctrine but refuse to give up once saved always saved. They call for revival in the book publishing arena, but promote themselves in their own books. They call for revival in the church, but do not understand the results of real revival. They call for revival in others, but refuse to repent of things presented to them. What started out as a small evil now overruns the church, and the best church you can think of remains nothing more than a thorn bush or brier compared to what Jesus desires. So much “confusion” now fills our churches because we will not stand up for truth and obedience, except for what each church considers their pet doctrines and issues. We refuse to make anything a “salvation issue” and thus nothing is a salvation issue.

  • The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen has come, the day God visits you. Now is the time of their confusion. (Micah 7:4)

Everyone finds the flavor of church they like. They settle in and shut out any challenge to their self-righteousness because, after all, it’s not as if they could lose their salvation over it!

Eternal security justifies the wide gate that leads to destruction.

  • Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. (Matthew 7:13)

The way most people become “Christians” today was totally unheard of in the New Testament. The first church never thought, taught, or prompted anyone to “just ask Jesus into your heart.” The idea of saying a canned prayer and signing the back page of a Bible would have caused an outpouring of condemnation. But the once saved always saved doctrine has found its niche. It sets up a concession stand right beside the wide gate that leads to destruction, offering fun, soft salvation, and easy altar calls.

When the crowds asked Peter what they had to do to be saved, he replied, “Repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.” But those who preach once saved always saved obviously don’t think such an answer is good enough. In fact, they get indignant and angry at even the suggestion of “doing something” to be saved, since that implies that salvation depends on something that we do. Of course, they don’t even see the obvious hypocrisy that even saying the “sinner’s prayer” is doing something. Stubbornness so fills their hearts that they cannot even stand in unity with Peter.

During a radio interview about the insanity in the church, the announcer realized that I preach the same salvation message as Peter. He went ballistic. Indeed, he would not shut up, but kept running over my words. Finally, in exasperation, I said, “Just say the words that Peter declared. Can you do it? Without adding any comments before or after, can you say with Peter, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’?”

He could not repeat Peter’s words. It was impossible for him, as it is with most of the church today. All because eternal security robs the gospel of any of the demands that Jesus Himself set down. Bushels full of rotten fruit fill the Lord’s orchard and their inability to be in unity with Peter and all of the Apostles shows the depth of rebellion. After all, it shouldn’t be that hard to just say the words. But they cannot even mock them, for to do so would be to undermine and destroy their wide road understanding of salvation.

According to those who preach once saved always saved, all a person needs to do to be saved is sign a form, claim Jesus as their Savior, or bow their head and say a canned prayer—as long as they are “sincere,” of course. The worm that bores its way into the apple creates such a rotten environment for the Spirit of Jesus that now some even maintain that one does not even have to ask Jesus into their heart. More and more churches teach that man literally does not have to “do” anything to be saved. After all, if a person is one of the elect, then their salvation is already assured. In reality, once saved always saved rejected God’s “do” in favor of doing something easy and comfortable, and now that fruit has turned so rotten that the “do” disappears altogether.

No longer does a person have to sit down and count the cost of salvation. Instead, they “come on down” to claim their prize as in a game show. As foretold in the Scriptures, a large host of insincere individuals now fill the church because of the fruit of eternal security.

To demand and order people to obey the commands of God is thought of as bringing back the curse of the Law. No longer do we find pastors with authority from the Holy Spirit to crack a whip or command doctrines not to be preached. A person preaching once saved always saved could never “order” followers to be water baptized—let alone someone who already had the Holy Spirit.

  • So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days. (Acts 10:48)

Gone is any authority in the Holy Spirit to powerfully speak and command the things of God. And we are only looking at one of the first and most basic of commands that Jesus gave. If stubbornness reigns supreme over this most elementary commandment, one can only shudder at the appalling sin of stubbornness eternal security has created.

Instead, we hang onto our opinions and have a zeal only for compromise. Indeed, the enthusiasm of most “Christians” for God seems no stronger than what they feel at a big sporting event. If you don’t think this is true, read the book entitled Insanity in the Church and you will discover a whole host of Scriptures that the church does not obey, and has no desire to follow.

Asleep in Their Pews

Once saved always saved has put the soul and spirit to sleep in the church.

  • . . . for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:14)

Who wants to get out of bed when they feel all warm and comfortable? This is precisely what once saved always saved does. It gives the church a nice cozy, warm bed to lie in.

If this were not so serious, it would be laughable to hear someone who believes in once saved always saved call for revival and purity. After all, why should anyone repent? What does it matter if the person repents or not, if their salvation remains intact? How foolish it is to call for revival when the very act of obeying is considered falling under law. Their call for revival acts like an alarm clock that wakes everyone up, just so they can go back to sleep. Do you want to know what kind of revival preacher people really enjoy? The kind with a snooze button. People love to listen to a strong, emotional sermon, and then hit the snooze button so they can go right back to sleep. As a result, after all the recent years of prayers and efforts for revival, the church remains deader than ever. Everyone enjoys going back to sleep too much to wake up and honestly carry their cross for Jesus. The flesh loves nothing more than stealing a few more minutes of sleep. Therefore these preachers stay popular within their circles.

Such people may wake up for a few moments, but then they just sink back into a deeper sleep of self-assurance. After all, what is more comfortable than eternal security? Why should they wake up, let alone even think of getting out of bed? They convince themselves that they know the righteousness and holiness from God, after all, didn’t they just hear a powerful sermon on righteousness? Such preachers tell themselves that they proclaim a tough gospel, but they do not realize that they leave a person’s self alive. Preach a tough sermon and you will be loved by most, but strike at the heart of a person’s “self” and you will be accused of going too far.

Woe unto those preachers who demand righteousness while embracing once saved always saved, for they furnish people with a pillow of self-righteousness on which to sleep. They are like the worms that actively bore into the apple and deposit their eggs which hatch into thousands of worms that infest entire orchards. Whole denominations, ministries, and works of God have been ruined and weakened because these worms actively preach eternal security. There is nothing worse for the church than a tough talking preacher who believes in eternal security.

Make no mistake about it. You may consider yourself a zealous Christian who believes in once saved always saved but the bad fruit of that doctrine will ruin you, and others, in time. You will produce the bad fruit of laziness, self-righteousness, and haughtiness.

Slowly Drifting Away

A person can fall away by simply drifting little by little away from the Lord. Inch by inch and small degree by small degree, he moves away from the narrow road and the crucified life. Therefore God calls us to “pay more careful attention” to what we have heard. Once saved always saved is the raft that men build to assure themselves they stay afloat in the Lord, but they drift further and further away from shore.

  • We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. (Hebrews 2:1)

Now that we are generations into the once saved always saved doctrine, the demands of Jesus have been all but forgotten by the church. In other words, the vast majority of those who claim to be Christians have not even heard what they should pay “more careful attention” to. When told these things, they retort, “But I am saved. I asked Jesus into my heart and you are just trying to place me under legalism.”

When I was a small boy, the Air Force stationed my father on the island of Guam. People used to go down to the beach, float out on the water in rubber rafts, and soak up the sun. As they fell asleep, the soft current moved them out into the deep sea. They would wake up miles away from the beach and see no land in site. In the same way, if we don’t stay awake and pay attention, we can easily just “drift away” from saving grace. Therefore, it is very important to avoid churches and ministries that believe in eternal security. For we know that doctrine affects our lives and, in churches that believe you cannot lose your salvation, drifting becomes a way of life. In fact, drifting is exalted as a life of faith, because to strive to stay close to shore would be branded as “works.” Who should row for shore if rowing is a sin? Who should be on guard against the drift of a current if to pick up an oar would be to earn one’s salvation?

The writer of Hebrews said that we should “encourage one another daily, as long it is called Today.” But encourage in what? Do you know what to encourage and what to warn against? Can you do it in the power of the Holy Spirit?

  • See to it, brothers, that no one of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first. (Hebrews 3:12–14)

How can a devotee of once saved always saved “see to it” when they do not believe someone can “turn[s] away from the living God” in the first place? One can only shudder in sad amazement at how many of the Lord’s children are destroyed and dragged off into misery and sin because no one even sees this as a danger. It is comparable to a doctor who works in a hospital but doesn’t believe any of his patients can die.

Here, the writer of Hebrews directs his warning to “brothers.” In other words, he warns true believers to watch themselves so that they don’t become “unbelieving” and turn away from the “living God.” But, again, eternal security dismisses it as merely concerning our rewards in heaven. No wonder that encouragement has all but died out in churches, replaced with socializing instead. For how can a man or woman be encouraged against turning away from that which they do not believe is possible? A church that holds to once saved always saved obviously reads this passage as, “See to it, false brothers who were never really saved, that your unbelieving heart doesn’t leave the church.” Needless to say, it makes absolutely no sense.

The deceitfulness of sin has invaded and flourished in the church today. According to this doctrine, no one stands in any danger of losing their salvation if they tolerate sin in their lives. Remove the threat and the urgency fades. It is like looking at skin cancer and saying, “Never mind, it’s only on the surface.” Woe unto such churches for, when that fear disappears, the deceitful nature of sin begins to infect everything. The proof of this lies all around us.

When it is no longer called Today, we will be in eternity, and then we will have no need to encourage one another daily not to drift away from the Lord. But, instead, those who cling to once saved always saved find it easier to simply say, “Oh, they were never really saved anyway.” What an unloving comment to make, and what an uncaring doctrine to uphold. What kind of callous heart would damn another to justify their own doctrine? Indeed, it breeds such coldness towards others that, when someone leaves the church, it no longer matters because they were “never really saved in the first place.” These churches that believe in once saved always saved have become clanging cymbals without love. And what a clanging cymbal eternal security is, it grates the ears and rattles the bones of those who must endure its bad effects.

As Hebrews just told us, sin is deceitful. We often do not see the things that enslave us. Therefore, it takes a strong church that understands the seriousness of sin and the value of God’s salvation to keep individuals from drifting away. Without the Light of Christ, members fight against sin in the dark. The Light reveals sin for what it is—not something that just leads to the loss of personal rewards, but to the loss of heaven itself. Again, the writer of Hebrews warned us, “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”


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