Once Saved Always Saved?

When John Calvin organized the many beliefs that are now referred to the TULIP doctrine, he included as the last point, “Perseverance of the saints.” This says that once man is saved, he cannot be lost. It is commonly referred to as “once saved, always saved.”  They say that it is impossible to fall from God’s grace regardless of what you do.  This may sound good and comforting, but what does the Bible say?  In 1 Corinthians 9:27 the apostle Paul says, “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”  Paul understood it was possible for him to become disqualified.  Webster’s dictionary defines disqualified as, “to stop or prevent (someone) from doing, having, or being a part of something.” If Paul became disqualified he would be lost.
In 1 Corinthians 10:12 Paul gives a warning to the Christians at Corinth by saying, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”  Why would this warning be necessary if it is impossible to fall?  So, the very people, who think they cannot fall, are given a warning to take heed lest they fall.
In Galatians 5:4 we read, “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”  Doesn’t it seem strange, that people who say they believe the Bible also say that we cannot fall from grace, when the Bible so plainly says that we can fall from grace.  Who are we to believe, God or man?  Even though many religious bodies say that you cannot fall from grace, the Bible clearly says that people can fall from grace.  And without God’s grace we cannot be saved.
The doctrine of “once saved always saved” and that you cannot fall from God’s grace and be lost is a doctrine that did not come from God but rather originated with Satan.  Satan wants people to believe that they cannot fall from grace and be lost to entice them into doing wrong.  In Genesis 2:17 God told Adam and Eve, “…from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  But in Genesis 3:4 Satan told Eve, “You surely will not die.”  Satan only added the word “not” to what God had said.  Just as Satan told a lie to Eve, Satan is still deceiving people today by telling them they cannot fall from grace and once they are saved, they are always saved.  He is trying to lull people into complacency.  This is one of the many ways that Satan deceives people so they will be eternally lost.  But 2 Peter 1:10 says, “be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you.”
God’s promises are conditional upon our doing His will.  Jesus says in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.”  Also, Hebrews 5:9 says concerning Jesus that “He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.”
Note: All scriptures are quoted from the New American Standard Version Updated 1995

Reconciling Works And Faith

We hear a lot today about faith and works. Most common is the idea that man is saved simply on the basis of faith. I heard one Baptist preacher in McAlester, Oklahoma, make the statement, in his radio program, that we should not listen to what James said, because James was legalistic in his justification for salvation by faith alone.
Yet when we look at all the evidence, there is no conflict between faith and works. One does not rule out the other, when both are properly understood. Look first at Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (NAS95). This passage does not say that we are saved by faith only, nor does any other passage teach that. Neither does this passage rule out our salvation resulting from our doing the works of God – works that He commands. It simply says that we cannot save ourselves, that our works cannot save us. In other words, we cannot earn salvation by how good we are or by how much we do.
The teaching of Romans 4:4-5 also shows that we cannot work our way to heaven, “Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,” (NAS95). This “work” deals with that of merit, or work that earns something. We cannot earn salvation (Luke 17:10); it is “the gift of God” (Romans 6:23). Another kind of work is that found in Romans 3:28, “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law” (NAS95). One reason the works of the law of Moses cannot save us is that the law of Moses was, “taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14). But aside from works of merit and works of the law, there is another kind of work.
There is quite a list of hero’s of faith in Hebrews 11. “By faith Abel offered to God…By faith Enoch was taken away…By faith Noah…prepared an ark…By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called….” (Hebrews 11:4-8). Through the end of the chapter the pattern repeats itself; people heard the will of god, they believed God and they did what He told them. Did they work? Yes! Did God reward them for their work? Certainly! But they were doing God’s work, by faith. And without exception, God rewarded their “work of faith.” James writes of this principle when he says, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself” (James 2:14-17 NAS95). Only faith which works can obtain the favor and blessings of God.
A great example is found in the life of Abraham. “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac…ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS…Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God” (NAS95). Were “works” involved in Abraham’s being right with God? The Bible plainly says so! But it was the work of God and His work was the means by which his (Abraham) faith was made perfect. That same principle must be true with us. We cannot be saved by our works, for we cannot earn salvation. We cannot be saved by works of the law, for that law is nailed to the cross. But we can be justified by works of faith, just as Abraham was.
The basis of the judgment, distasteful as it is to some, is going to be “works.” “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS” (Matthew 16:27 NAS95). Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10 NAS95). That is the reason God makes it abundantly clear, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24 NAS95).

“What Does God Expect…?”

I do not want to sound like an alarmist, but this a is serious matter, and caution should be taken. If we put ourselves in a position that we are living in sin, we are put-ting our souls in danger. When we consider the possibility that we are entering or are in a sinful relationship. we are admitting our ignorance of some of Satan’s devices (1 Cor 5:11). Surely we must recognize that Satan walks among those who are seeking to be married, even those of us who are (1 Pet 5:8).
If we enter into a relationship that is called sin by God (fornication), we will stand condemned in the end, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor adulterers. ..shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9-10). Marriage has been given by God for a man and woman to enjoy one another for a lifetime (Gen 2:21-24).
Marriage is of divine origin (Gen 1:26-28; 2:18-25) (Mat 19:3-6). The home was instituted by God to cradle, shape, and maintain civilization. Civilization and society came out of marriage and the home, not the other way around. Those who know and fear God will honor marriage and Him who gave it to us. “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb 13:4). God and His will are honored in marriage, “Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth,. ..yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant” (Mal 2:14).
There is unity in a godly marriage, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Those who are willing to accept their respective rolls in marriage are blessed of God. Those who choose to live together without the institute of marriage are in danger of losing their souls to a devil’s hell.
The divine institute of marriage begins with a man and woman being joined together as husband and wife. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen 2:24). Without the divine institute of marriage, “one flesh” cannot be achieved.
(Rom 6:23), “For the wages of sin is death: but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

The Grace Of God

The usual definition for grace, “unmerited favor,” is not broad enough in its scope to fully defirne all that is meant by the term (see Luke 2:40; Col. 4:6). W. E. Vine defines it as, “That which bestows or occasions pleasure, delight, or causes favorable regard;…on the part of the bestower, the friendly disposition from which the kindly act proceeds, graciousness, lovingkindness, goodwill generally…especially with reference to the Divine favour or grace, e.g., Acts 14:26…” (Expository Dict. Of New Testament Words, pp. 509–510).

As seen in the Bible, grace, in respect to salvation, is a summary of all God has done to effect the salvation of man. It includes all of His acts which show favor to undeserving mankind. But God’s grace is more than mere passive pity. It expresses itself in real, concrete acts of love (Rom. 5:8).
Considering several New Testament passages makes it easy to see how His grace runs through all God has done for man’s salvation. By grace He sacrificed His Son (Heb. 5:8–9). By grace He revealed His plan of salvation (1 Cor. 2:9–12; Gal. 1:11–12; Eph. 3:1–5). It is by grace that God raises sinners to a new life in Christ (Eph. 2:4–7; cf. Rom. 6:4–5). By His grace, God commissioned His Son to build the church (Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28).

While grace includes all God has done to bring about the salvation of man, it excludes salvation by meritorious works (Rom. 4:4; 11:6). Salvation by works of this nature would demand a life of perfect obedience to divine law — it would be of debt. Salvation by grace, on the other hand, bridges the gap between our imperfection and God’s perfect law by means of pardon and forgiveness (1 John 2:1).

The presence and reality of sin is what makes the grace of God necessary. Since all have sinned (Rom. 3:10, 23), all, therefore, are under the sentence of death, the penalty for or the wages of sin (Ezek. 18:20; Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8).

God, in His matchless love, provided His Son to die in man’s place (1 Pet. 1:18–19). While the grace of God is demonstrated in many ways, none is greater than its manifestation in His Son (Rom. 3:23–24). Since man has sinned, he deserves the punishment of the second death in hell and no works he could do would earn or merit his salvation from it. Therefore, salvation is that which is given by the grace of God, a favor man has not merited. Hence, salvation is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8–9).

Some have erroneously concluded from Romans 6:14–15 that we are “not under law but under grace” and that law and grace are mutually exclusive. However, the fact we are under grace does not mean we are not subject to law and that it is not essential for us to keep divine law.

We are subject to law from God. The teaching of Christ is called “law” (1 Cor. 9:21; 1 John 3:4; Isa. 2:1–3). We are required to obey that law (1 John 3:4; 2 Tim. 3:16–17; John 4:24; 1 Pet. 4:11). Whenever God has spoken to man or given a law, He has expected strict obedience and the utmost respect for His word (Deut. 4:2; Lev. 10:1–2; Rev. 22:18–19).

Grace does not mean we are not subject to law, rather, it means that we have a means of forgiveness when we violate that law, if we meet the divine conditions. The teaching of the apostle Paul in Romans 6:14–15 is that we are not under a system of mere law without grace as a means of justification. Depending on mere law would require perfect law-keeping for justification. Such would make one a legalist. Our justification is by grace through faith.

Though salvation is by grace (Eph. 2:8), it is not by grace alone. Some teach otherwise: “We believe the scriptures teach that the salvation of sinners is wholly by grace” (Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, ch. 8, art. 4). Actually, one is saved by nothing alone. The many factors of salvation include: faith (Rom. 5:1); repentance (Acts 11:18); blood (Rom. 5:9–10); works (Jas. 2:24); baptism (1 Pet. 3:21); the gospel (Rom. 1:16); confession (1 John 4:2); and grace (Eph. 2:8–9).

Salvation by grace is through the teaching of the gospel, God’s “power unto salvation” (Rom.1:16). It is called “the word of His grace” (Acts 14:3) and “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). It is by the gospel that the kindness of God redeems man and provides him all spiritual blessings. The word is the medium of His grace (Titus 2:11–12). The word of His grace is able to build up and strengthen the Christian so that he might grow in Christ, grow unto salvation (Acts 20:32; 1 Pet. 2:1–2).

But God’s grace is conditional. It is conditioned upon obedient faith made perfect by works (Eph. 2:8–9; Rom. 5:1–2; Jas. 2:17–26; Matt. 7:21). The obedient works upon which salvation is conditioned do not nullify grace for they do not earn salvation. The examples of Naaman (2 Kings 5) and the blind man (John 9:6–7) show that these gifts were given by grace but conditions had to be met to receive them.