Once Saved, Always Saved?

April 5, 2008

by Shawn Brasseaux

Certain groups teach that a Christian can lose his or her salvation because of unconfessed sin. Can a Christian lose the salvation in Christ Jesus? Or, can a Christian know that he or she has absolute, undeniable assurance of salvation? Let us see what the Bible says.

The Bible tells us in Romans 6:23, “The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Would it make sense to say that you can have eternal life, and in the same breath, say that something eternal can also be lost altogether? How is it eternal life if you can lose it? It must have never been eternal life!

When someone says you can lose your salvation, he or she usually means that you have to perform to keep your salvation. You have to confess your sins enough, you have to repent of your sins enough, and you have to do enough good deeds for God to be happy with you. If you fail to do these, you are told that you will lose your salvation. Arminianism, for instance, is a heresy that teaches un-confessed sin (“unrepented-of” sin) can result in the loss of salvation.

Salvation is independent of our performance. We are not under the Law of Moses, we are under grace (Romans 6:14,15); we are not bound by Israel’s legalistic system of performance-based acceptance. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us (past tense), by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5). If this is true, and it is, then we cannot keep our salvation by performing. Doing good works does not save us, so how can we keep our salvation by doing good works? It makes no sense!

When we grasp a firm understanding of God’s grace to us in Christ Jesus, we learn that God’s performance is the issue. Our good works are not as important as what Jesus Christ already did on the cross of Calvary 2,000 years ago! If we are saved by the finished cross work of Christ, it would only make sense that we keep that salvation by the finished cross work of Christ.

Let us look at some Bible verses that prove that Christians are eternally secure in Christ. Christians are never, ever in danger of loss of salvation. Why? Firstly, God has sealed Christians with His Holy Spirit. Let us consider 2 Corinthians 1:21,22 KJV:

“20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;
22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.”

Read Ephesians 1:13,14 KJV:

“13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

We also read in Ephesians 4:30 KJV: “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” The Bible is clear that we Christians have been sealed by and sealed with the Holy Spirit—this is everlasting preservation! Romans 8:16 KJV says: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” This sounds like Christians have the assurance of everlasting salvation.

The Corinthian believers, who were the most carnal (fleshly, worldly) of Paul’s converts, were once steeped in paganism and idolatry before becoming to Jesus Christ. Even after they were saved, the believers at Corinth had many problems and arguments among themselves (1 Corinthians 1:10-12). For instance, Paul rebuked them for embracing human wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:18-31; 1 Corinthians 3:18-20), for turning the Lord’s Supper into a drunken party (1 Corinthians 11:20-22) and for indulging in and condoning incest and fornication (1 Corinthians 5:1,2). Despite everything wicked and immoral in the Corinthian church, Paul reassured them in 1 Corinthians 1:7-9 KJV:

“7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Did Paul warn the Corinthians, “you had better repent and confess those sins, or you will fall from grace and lose your salvation?” What did Paul say? NO MATTER WHAT, the Corinthians believers were secure in Christ Jesus. If Jesus Christ came, the Corinthians would have been “blameless.” How was that possible? Because Jesus Christ was punished for our sins, and God the Father will not impute our sins to us. We have been given God’s righteousness in Christ (Romans 3:21-25; 2 Corinthians 5:21). We have been forgiven “all trespasses” (Colossians 2:13)—we do not have to confess our sins to get forgiveness!

Notice what the Bible says in 2 Timothy 1:12 KJV: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” Consider 2 Timothy 2:11-13 KJV:

11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

The security of the believer in Christ is firmly supported by Romans 8:30-39 KJV:

“30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written [Psalm 44:22], For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

The above passage further reiterates that nothing can ever separate Christians from God’s love—and this includes sin! As believers in Christ, we are justified, predestinated, glorified, and called. Will God undo all of that? Will we lose all of those spiritual blessings in Christ? Absolutely not!

Secondly, there is no sin that God’s grace cannot surpass (Romans 5:20,21). “Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Even if a Christian were to commit some gross sin (even suicide)—which the Bible does not encourage—he or she would still be eternally secure. [Note: God’s grace always abounds more when compared to sin, but we are not to use God’s grace as license for sin (Romans 6:1,2)].

As 1 Corinthians 1:9 says, “God is faithful,” and no matter what a Christian does, God has promised every Christian eternal life and eternal salvation. This is not because the Christian is sinless, but because Jesus Christ is sinless. God is obligated to keep His Word because Christ’s shed blood and finished work at Calvary atones for our sins.