Once Saved, Always Saved?
Gen. James Green
J ESUS, through His sacrifice upon the Cross, opened up eternal salvation for every soul; but for (lost) souls to be saved (from eternal damnation), they must personally REPENT of their sins (confessing them to God) and ask Christ Jesus the Lord to save them by inviting Him into their hearts (He “quickens us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved” [Eph. 2:5]). As the Father (who SENT Jesus the Christ) and the Son (who WENT) ministered together to redeem the lost sinner, the Holy spirit ministered life and power to those who call upon the name of the Lord (see Acts 4:12).
When a soul repents and invites Christ into their hearts, Gal. 4:6 tells us what happens, “…God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts..,” and the redeemed soul enters into a new covenant, “a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (Heb. 8:6). For the lost Jews, the “old covenant” was replaced with the “new covenant” (and for all lost sinners!), rebirthing our hearts that were DEAD towards God (see Eph. 2:1-6).
ETERNAL LIFE (Jn. 17:3) is more than ENDLESS existence. It is a divine quality of life that we as believers receive when we REPENT and invite THEM into our hearts (see Jn. 14:23 where it tells us that: “IF a man love Me, he will keep My Words: and My Father will love him and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him”). So, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (or Spirit)—all three!—come into the repentant soul (v. 18 tells us that: “I [Jesus] will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” speaking of the “Comforter” [see also Jn. 14:26; 16:7] that the Father will send, “…that He may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of Truth; whom the world cannot receive…for He dwelleth with you, and shall be IN you” [Jn. 14:16, 17]). But, BE WARNED! The Holy Spirit can be quenched (1 Thes. 5:19). To repress or reject the Spirit’s workings in one’s life can, eventually, cause one to leave the faith. Not only this, but one can—for whatever reason—grieve the Holy Spirit (see Eph. 4:30). The Holy Spirit, who dwells in the believer (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19) CAN BE GRIEVED, just as the man Jesus was grieved (see Mt. 23:17; Mk. 3:5; Lk. 19:41; Jn. 11:35 etc.). The sad fact is that too many believers quench/grieve the Holy spirit by ignoring His presence, voice, and/or leading (see Rom. 8:5-17; Gal. 5:16-25; 6:7-9).
But, for the record, there is another sin: grieving the Holy Spirit leads to RESISTING Him (see Acts 7:51), which in turn leads to DESPISING the Spirit (of grace, as in Heb. 10:29). This last activity may be identified with BLASPHEMY against the Holy Spirit, for which there is NO forgiveness (see Mt. 12:31).
ALL OF US who love God won’t do what I’ve just written about. NO. All who participate in the new covenant thru Jesus Christ the Lord receive its blessings and salvation only as they PERSEVERE in faith and obedience (see Heb. 3:6). Note how the Bible words 3:6: (KJV): “But Christ as a Son over His own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.” Note the words “if” (conditional). In language, conditional syllogisms begin with an “if-then” statement. The “if” clause is called the “antecedent,” and the “then” clause is called the “consequent.” Heb. 3:6: “if we hold fast”… “firm unto the end” must not be passed over. Note how Hebrews uses the “if” clause in 2:3: “How shall we escape IF we NEGLECT so great salvation;” 3:14, “For we are made partakers of Christ, IF we hold the beginning of our confidence STEADFAST unto the end;” 10:26, “For IF we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the Truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” There is no way that we can dismiss this statement, which goes back to 6:4-8. Verse 6 uses that “IF” clause— “If they shall fall away.” This phrase (Gk. parapesontas, from parapipto) is an aorist participle and should be rendered in the past tense—literally, “having fallen away.” The word “if” does not appear in any Greek text!
Notice how Peter uses the “if” word: “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (2 Pet. 2:20). Peter obviously meant that some of the false teachers were once SAVED/REDEEMED from the power of SIN, and then forfeited salvation (2 Pet. 2:1, 15).
Back to Hebrews 3:6
“…IF WE HOLD FAST…firm unto the end.” What about “if” one does not “hold fast” till the end? Do you really believe they will make Heaven?
The TCNT version (20th Cent. New Testament) reads, “if we retain;” the Moffatt reads, “if we only hold on;” the Knox reads: “if only we will keep;” the Peshitta Bible reads, “if to the end we hold fast.” One’s eternal salvation hinges on IF! The writer of Hebrews uses “if”—the word of contingency—we are God’s if we do not become the traitor and DESERT!! The writer makes NO effort to reconcile this WARNING with God’s elective purpose; he is exhorting/warning these wavering believers.
ETERNAL SALVATION IS CONDITIONAL. “How so?,” you may ask. The believer’s security in Christ Jesus is maintained ONLY as he or she cooperates with God’s saving grace by persevering in faith (keeping on going on!) and holiness unto the END. This truth, my dear “Once Saved, Always Saved” adherents, was emphasized by Christ Himself in John 8:31 when He said, “If ye continue in My Word, then are ye My disciples indeed,” so we see the “if-then” syllogism (See also Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 25, 26; 3:5, 11, 12, 21). This is a repeated admonition in the epistle to the Hebrews. The reassurance of salvation for Ekklesia members who willfully sin, so prevalent in our day, finds no place in the New Testament (see Rev. 17:14; Lk. 12:42-48; Jn. 15:6). Note Jn. 15:6: “IF a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch…and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” The parable of the vine (Christ) and the branches (believers) makes it unmistakably clear that Jesus DID NOT BELIEVE “once saved, always saved.”
What Jesus taught, and the Word teaches, is:
(1) The responsibility of ABIDING in Him is placed upon the disciples/believers (v. 4). This is our response to the Father’s prior gift of divine life and power given at conversion;
(2) Abiding in Christ results in:
(a) Jesus’ continued indwelling (v. 4),
(b) faithfulness of the disciples/believers (v. 5),
(c) success in prayer (v. 7),
(d) fulness of joy (v. 11);
(3) The consequences of FAILURE to ABIDE in Christ are:
(a) fruitlessness (vv. 4, 5),
(b) removal from Christ
(c) destruction (vv. 2, 6)!
You see, the fruitless and faithless are EXCLUDED from eternal salvation (I have much written on this).
Should Not Enter!
HEB. 3:18, 19 follow up on v. 14: “For we are made partakers of Christ, IF we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.” What caused those of vv. 18, 19 not to enter the promise land? Well, in v. 15 we find: “harden not your hearts.” Verse 13 says, “…lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” Ah, the ENEMY!!, that is, literally, “trick, fraud” as is always the case with sin (see Rom. 7:11; 2 Thes. 2:10). Apostasy dear ones, apostasy (Heb. 12:4) is their peril and it is a trick of sin. But the warning is, we have become partners with Christ and hence should not be tricked into “falling away” (v. 12-14).
So, the possibility of the born-again believer missing God’s promised rest is illustrated by the Old Testament Israelites who failed to enter the promised land (Canaan/Heaven) after Moses had led them OUT of Egypt (type of “the world”).
The writer of Hebrews points out two important things:
1) The Israelites had experienced the redemptive power of God (v. 16), seen God’s mighty works (v. 9), yet became disobedient because they would not believe His promises or heed His warnings (vv. 18, 19). Do you think today’s (new) Israelites are any different? NO! Back then they were destroyed in the wilderness (v. 17, our type of earthly living) and failed to enter the promised land—Canaan, i.e. our spiritual inheritance;
2) The Israelites’ initial experiences with God did not GUARANTEE their safe arrival in Canaan. By FAILING to persevere, they cast aside their ONLY SOURCE of SECURITY: the grace, mercy, and presence of “the Living God” (v. 12).
We offer a trilogy on “Once Saved, Always Saved?” free. Better find out the truth about the “if” clause.