I heard a minister tell a story about being asked if he believed in “once-saved-always-saved.” He replied, “I do… If you want to be.”
With my understanding of scripture, I agreed with him. I wasn’t raised under the teaching of once-saved-always-saved, so it was a new thought to me when I first heard it. But in my love of scripture, I had studied many passages that warned of falling away from your first love, leaving the principles of faith, and returning to former ways and thus making the sacrifice of Jesus something of little importance. So I was of the understanding that salvation should be guarded and not taken lightly.
This morning, as I opened my Bible to re-read some passages I had studied yesterday, I sat in awe of the truth right in front of me that I had missed the day before. It seems the Apostle Paul agreed with the minister I mentioned earlier. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, he said, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which you also are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.”
Another translation says, “It is this Good News that saves you, if you continue to believe it…” (vs. 2, NLT).
IF is a big word for being only two letters. It’s means “on condition that” or describes “uncertain possibility,” or under the terms of “no ifs, ands, or buts” it removes reservation or excuse.
IF is the key.
We are all ONCE saved and ALWAYS saved IF we want to be.
Over a year ago, I had a lady from church call me one Sunday afternoon and ask if I would talk to her friend about this because he had some questions for me. I said yes, so she put him on the phone. He said, “But what about John 10:28 where Jesus said no one can snatch people out of God’s hand? Doesn’t that imply once-saved-always-saved?” I answered, “Absolutely. But think about what Jesus said — ‘Neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand’ — In other words, once you belong to Jesus, the enemy can’t TAKE or STEAL you back. But Jesus didn’t say you couldn’t choose to leave or walk away.”
I then read to him John 6:66 which says, “From that time on, many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.” These disciples did not yet have the benefit of the death and resurrection of Christ which would bring them salvation. But they are still an example to us that those who were ONCE a follower, could have ALWAYS been a follower, IF they had CONTINUED in the faith… but they didn’t. They chose to walk away.
But let me say this: I don’t believe it’s easy to fall away from your faith. This is why we have the Holy Spirit. He helps us on hard days and in moments when we make poor choices and choose our flesh over our faith in Christ. And for some of us, those choices take us down a longer path than we intended, but that’s why we can re-affirm (or rededicate) our faith in Jesus when we’ve come to our senses. Like the prodigal son, the Father runs to embrace every heart that returns to Him.
The key is to continue in our faith.
No one has to worry about being saved “IF [we] hold fast and keep firmly” our faith in Christ. This isn’t perfection and it isn’t works –it’s simply taking care of the precious free gift God has so graciously given us all.
So yes, I definitely believe in once-saved-always-saved! If you want to be.