Assurance: Once Saved Always Saved?

“None of the Father’s chosen ones will ever be lost.” writes Lawson, “None for whom the Son died will ever perish. None who are regenerated by the Spirit will ever fall from grace. All the recipients of the saving grace of God will be ushered into glory, forever protected and preserved”(Lawson 2006: 35)

You may have heard a popular slogan; “once saved, always saved”. I believe this saying is true, when its correctly understood. If we understand as Martyn Lloyd-Jones puts its, viz.,  “God does not merely initiate the[saving] work and then leave it, he continues with it; he leads us on, directing and manipulating our circumstances, restraining us at one time and urging us on at another. Paul’s whole conception of the Church is that it is a place where God is working in the hearts of men and women”(Lloyd-Jones 1989: 38), then we can correctly begin to unveil the truthfulness of this slogan, which assures a Christian that once she was saved, she will remain saved to the end.

Peterson and Williams expound, “Christians are assured that God will work all for their good because he has accomplished the greatest good for them—he planned and brought about their salvation from beginning to end.”(Peterson & Williams 2004: 54)

Manser defines the nature of assurance as “[t]he God-given security which believers have in the blessings of divine grace. Believers are assured of the unfailing love of God and of their relationship with him as Father, the salvation and eternal life which he offers and the sure hope of one day sharing his glory.”(Manser 1999: n.p)

God’s assurance of redemption, justification, adoption and eternal life is trace in Genesis 3:15 protevangelium. Schreiner expounded that; “the initial promise is […] fleshed out in Yahweh’s covenants with Abraham, Israel at Sinai, David, and the new covenant.”(Schreiner 2005: 71) He contended that Christians ought to “grasp the thread of the story line that informs Yahweh’s covenant with Israel” which demonstrate what God spoken, He truly brings it to pass. He always accomplishes His purpose will and good pleasure. (Isa. 60:10-11; Acts 3:19–26; Gal. 3:6–9).

Beeke wonderful captures the assurances of faith:

[It] is the believer’s conviction that, by God’s grace, he belongs to Christ, has received full pardon for all sins, and will inherit eternal life. Someone who has true assurance not only believes in Christ for salvation but also knows that he believes and is graciously loved by God. Such assurance includes freedom from guilt, joy in God, and a sense of belonging to the family of God.(Beeke 2008: 119)

Assurance is rooted in awe-inspiring sovereign love of God that draws those whom God the Father called according to his purpose and established them in His Son, Christ Jesus and place His seal on them through pouring of His Holy Spirit in their hearts as a guarantee (2 Co. 1:22) of their inheritance (Eph. 1:14).

Believers are assured that none whom the Father draws to His Son would be lost (John. 6:39). Their sovereign God will guard (1 Pet. 1:5), and keep (1 The. 4:23-24) them strong to the end (1 Cor. 1:8 Jude 24-25). For it is Him who establishes them in Christ and makes sure that believers will fight the good fight and preserver to take hold of eternal life that they were called (1 Tim. 6:12).

Christians can work out their salvation with fear and trembling(Phil 2:12) diligently making their calling and election sure( 2Pet 1:10)  “for it is God who works in [them], both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”(Phil 2:13 ESV). Barnes noted in his notes 2 Peter 1:10:

the fact that God has chosen those who shall be saved, does not make our own efforts unnecessary to make that salvation sure to us. It can be made sure to our own minds only by our own exertions; by obtaining evidence that we are in fact the children of God. There can be no evidence that salvation will be ours, unless there is a holy life; that is, unless there is true religion. Whatever may be the secret purpose of God in regard to us, the only evidence that we have that we shall be saved is to be found in the fact that we are sincere Christians, and are honestly endeavoring to do his will.

Assurance is true if and only if it is God who brings to completion the good work that He Himself began in the believers (Phi. 1:6). If it is God alone that saves sinners by His grace and for His glory from beginning to the end then when one is once saved, she is always saved indeed.

Question: Do you agree, that once a person is truly saved, she is always saved? Give reasons

Bibliography:
Lawson, S. J. (2006). Vol. 1: Foundations of Grace (1400 BC–AD 100). A Long Line of Godly Men . Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing.

Lloyd-Jones, D. Martyn(1986) The Life of Joy. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books

Manser, M. H. (1999). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.

Schreiner, Thomas R.: “Assurance” in Vanhoozer, K. J., Bartholomew, C. G., Treier, D. J., & Wright, N. T. (2005). Dictionary for theological interpretation of the Bible. London; Grand Rapids, MI.: SPCK; Baker Academic.

Beeke, J. R. (2008). Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism. Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing.

Peterson, Robert A. and Williams, Michael D. (2004) Why I Am Not An Arminian (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity)

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15 thoughts on “Assurance: Once Saved Always Saved?

  1. I don’t think people can lose true salvation but they can walk away from it on their own. Think of the believers who turn atheist. They walk away. Their salvation isn’t lost or taken. There are also those who were never truly saved in the first place. This is a tough one because only God can judge you based on the personal relationship you have with him. At the same time he gave us all commom sense to be able to judge a man by his fruits. If your brother from church heads the youth ministry but is known to date underage girls, common sense tells you this man does not have the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Being saved means you can’t continue your same old sins and be comfortable with it.

  2. Thanks for visiting my blog. I appreciate your theological study. I think Jesus’ parable of the seed is probably the strongest and most clearest teaching of the fact that people can lose their salvation. With those pair of glasses — you can see a number of verses in the Epistles that will back it up. In fact, the ‘once saved, always saved’ is a dangerous teaching to those who adhere to a work-based religion. At least, that is my experience in sharing the gospel with Asian Buddhists and Mormons. I think we always get into trouble when trying to make sense the doctrine of election.

  3. This is a great post and has made me think a lot. I love subjects that make me stop and be compel me to be as honest as possible with myself. The truth lies at the end of such journeys.

  4. Hello Prayson,thanks for your visit and yes indeed I believe once saved always saved because 1 John 5:11 And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life.and this life is in His Son. So whoever has God’s Son has life; whoever does not have His Son does not have life. I have eternal life now,Jesus Christ in me is eternal life “Hallelujah”! John 3:13~16 John 10:28 I hope you enjoy a wonderful evening.

  5. First, Ill get into my digressive comment on reformed theology. I have an M. Div. from a reformed Seminary. I was a pastor in a reformed denomination for several years. I was entrenched in “reformed”, until, what this particular denomination called “reformed”, kept sounding less and less like the Bible. For many folks in this particular denomination they remained on this path of neglecting Biblical principles for the sake of “Peace, Unity, and purity.” Unity being the most damaging.
    If one is free from man made labels, they will also be free from fallen doctrines which have led to fallen decisions (in this particular case an embrace of Limited Atonement as an [though most certainly a perversion of the origional docterine] excuse to avoid evangelism) , and open to God’s word. Look at the Pharisees and Saducees (especially them). They had a theology they thought was Scriptural, yet they were not open to Christ when he blew that theology out of the water. So that is where I come from, in regards to “reformed” theology.

    In regards to your question. I would have no other framework for defining the Five Points of Calvinism save for the Synod of Dort, as that is their source. Irresistable Grace is an easy one to define. It is the idea that God presents grace to those whom he has chosen, and that that grace is Iresistable. One cannot deny it, once God has chosen to reveal it.

    So let’s use the example of that reformed denomination I spoke of earlier. What if a whole denomination or even a whole Church abandones Biblical Princibles. Could it then be said that they never held true faith to begin it?

    Or Look at John 15:6 where Jesus has a warning to those who do not remain in him. So if “once saved, always saved”, why would this warning be necessary?

    Also what do you make of Joshua 24:15?

    • Thank you Tobeforgiven,

      I am so sorry to here that a particular denomination neglected the Biblical principles. If you take labels as painting a group with a single brush, then I would also love to be free from man made labels.

      We are all Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ. But our theology, our way of understanding Salvation can be group in a line of Reformed (which is much more than the five points reply to five point Arminian Remonstrance), Molinist or Arminian.

      I would encourage you to read the Synod of Dordt creed since I believe, from your definition and comment Tobeforgiven, you are against Hyper-Calvinism, and not Reformed-theology, to which I join you totally.

      My wife helped me, when I was an atheist, by asking me not to reject, accept or hold judgment about something, unless I have fully understood it at its best. God used her wisdom to lead me back to Christ Jesus.

      I thought I knew T.U.L.I.P, when I was Arminian, but I did not. Name like Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace and Perseverance of the saint prema facie gives a totally different meaning to that in the Synod of Dordt 5 points answers to 5 Arminian objections.

      So sad to hear that some of those who embraced Particular atonement (Limited Atonement) excuse themselves from evangelism. They should know that their history tells a different story, reformed church sent(and sending) missionary like no other because they believed Jesus died particularly for his sheep and when his sheep hear the voice, the effectual grace (not Irresistible because grace can and is resistible) awakes in them to follow their Shepherd.

      If you read my two previous articles on atonement you would see that I assumed that all orthodox Christians, avoiding universal salvation, hold to some form of limited atonement. The dispute is over whether it’s God or human that limits it. Reformed argued that atonement is limited in intention namely God limits it to his chosen, while Arminian limits atonement in its efficacy namely Christ’s atoning work is a potential atonement that man has to actualize.

      I would dearly love to answer your questions, but I believe we will be passing each other because we do not have a common understanding of the I and P in TULIP. It’s my prayer that you will read the Synod of Dordt creed, and then come back to discuss the passages you believe to be a challenge.

      May the love of God feel us anew as we seek to know Him more and making others also have joy and delight in Him.

      In Christ Jesus,
      Prayson

  6. Even if you once have been saved, I believe that you can still lose it! So it’s important to work on your salvation with fear and trembeling (phil 2:12). In the end God will be the one to judge everyone! I don’t think it’s possible decieve God, because He sees right through you! 🙂

    • Hej Anna-Lovise,

      It is a blessing and honor to read your input. I believe what you said, Anna-L, would be true if salvation was synergism(salvation as partly of God and partly of man.God supplying grace and man supplying faith,a co-saving). But I believe that the Bible present salvation as monergism(salvation as God alone supplying grace and faith. mono-saving).

      We can see this just a verse after Philippians 2:12 namely v.13. “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” God has already judge everyone as John 3:18. (Notice the past tense), but for everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself, those who are from every nations,and tongues who God elected before that foundation of earth, before ages to be holy and blameless in His sight, Christ Jesus bore their judgement on the Cross.(Read Ephesians 1:3-11)

      Now Roman 8 makes a wonderful case, Anna-L, that “those whom [God] predestined[elected/chose before the age] he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”(Romans 8:30). If this is true, then once saved, once one was chosen, she cannot lose her salvation because it is God who does the whole process. She will begin to bear fruits, she will begin to grow into holiness, she will preserver, because of God works in her to will (Philippians 2:13)

      If it God alone, monergism, the once saved, always saved, but if its synergism, the once save, not always saved because God will surely do his part, the problem is, but the same cannot be said to us.

      I hope I gave your something to think about, Anna-L, let me know what you think.

      In Christ,
      Prayson

  7. Oh, to answer the question. I believe is we deny Jesus we are not saved (Titus 1:16). If we accept Jesus was are saved (John 3:16 Perhaps it can be as simple as that). I have known many who once accepted, and then denied. If it were true that they had not truly accepted, then would that no counter “irresistible Grace”? If grace were irresistible then would they not have had a choice in true acceptance the first time around?

    • Hello Tobeforgiven,

      Thank you for a wonderful questions. But before I attempt to answer, I would like to know your understanding of “irresistible grace” and “perseverance of the saints”. Are you using them as originally being used at the Synod of Dordt(1618)?

      In Christ,
      Prayson

      BTW: When I used title as Reformed, I mean the line of man who taught the doctrine of grace starting from Moses, Job, David,Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Malachi, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, Paul, James, Jude, Clement of Rome, Ignatius of Antioch, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus of Lyons, Tertullian of Carthage, Cyprian of Carthage, Athanasius of Alexandria, Georgory of Nazianzus, Ambrose of Milan, Augustine of Hippo, Isidore of Seville, Gottschalk of Orbais, Anslem of Canterbury, Bernard of Clairvauz, Thomas Bradwardine, John Wycliffe, John Hus, Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, William Tyndale, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Calvin. I am Christian, a follower of Christ, but my theology is reformed.

  8. I would caution you against using titles such as “Reformed”, Were you Baptized in the name of Calvin or Luther? Are they not mere men? (1 Corinthians 3)

    And never, as a Christian and disciple of Jesus Christ, answer someone by saying “Reformed theologians speak of…”. Instead, as a Christian, and as a follower of Jesus as found in the scriptures, which are sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16) always say what scriptures say before what men say.

    What do you make of 1 Timothy 1:19-20. Explain this in terms of “Irresistable Grace” and “perseverance of the saints” (which is the part of reformed theology you are speaking of).

    Thanks for your post.

  9. The concept of “salvation” was just one of a number of Christian concepts which I could never grasp.

    What are you being “saved” from? Sin? But people who are “saved” still sin.

    Does it mean that you can sin with impunity, but you will never go to Hell because you believe in God and/or Jesus? That doesn’t seem fair or ethical.

    Or does it just mean that you have the *chance* of being forgiven (and will be, if you repent)? Of course, the conclusion of this thought is that people who don’t believe in Jesus must not be given that chance and are, therefore, doomed to Hell–even if they were, in actuality, less sinful than you. But what about people who lived before Jesus? What about people who live in the Amazon and have never heard of Jesus? Are they going to Hell because of an accident of birth?

    Does it mean that once you acknowledge God and/or Jesus’ existence and are “saved,” you “belong” to Him and will never be sent to Hell, even if you lose faith later in life and end up an atheist?

    I think we can all agree that you’re not being saved from any sort of earthly or physical trials and tribulations, because even good Christians can have horrible things happen to them.

    I think that regardless of how you define “salvation,” it seems pretty obvious that it can’t be a thing which, once given, is always given. Surely it must be taken away if the situation changes.

    • Hello K,

      Thank you for well thought of questions. I believe, K, that they are one of the best questions I received for a long time on theology. I will try to live up to your standard 🙂

      When Reformed theologians speak of salvation, they have in mind election/choosing, predestination, gospel call, inward call, regeneration, conversion (faith and repentance), justification, sanctification, and glorification.

      We are saved from the God’s wrath(Rom. 5.9, 1 Thes. 1:10, Ephe. 2:3, John 3:36) that will be poured in poured full strength into the cup of God’s anger(Rev. 14:10). As Romans 1 and Ephesians 2 explains how God will deal with our fall.

      Christians do sins, but their sins, is said to have been pay for, atoned for, at the Cross. God sees Christians in Christ as without sin. It is fair because all received judgement but those whom God has mercy, their judgement fail on Christ Jesus at the Cross. He drink the cup for them. For those whom God call and draw them to Christ Jesus, are forgiven.

      I believe that one has to understand that believing in Jesus is the work of the Holy Spirit that began to regenerate, changing our stone heart that by nature after the fall, fights against God, dethrone God. This is why Jesus told his follows that no one has an ability to come/believe in Him unless God the Father draws that person to Him. God draws those whom He chose to Christ. He said ““I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”. God owes no one mercy, only justice. That Christ took upon Himself the justice of those whom God shows mercy is simply amazing grace.

      I am writing a series of on atonement which I believe you will find more explanation that what I have done here. Extent Of Atonement: Worldviews In Collision, and Atonement: Establishing Borders are already published.

      I hope I began to attempt to answer some of your questions. I would be so glad to hear your thoughts.

      In Christ,
      Prayson

      • I must admit, I do like to discuss theology–especially with someone who doesn’t fall back on the “just have faith” response when they don’t know the answer (because they aren’t studied).

        So, question about atonement. Why did Jesus have to die for people’s sins? The prophet Ezekiel said, “The soul who sins is the one who will die. The son will not share the guilt of the father, nor will the father share the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him” (18:20).

        That would seem to indicate that another person cannot pay for my sins. It would also seem to indicate that any “credit” that someone else has built up with God for being a good person cannot be shared with me.

        And there are numerous passages in the OT that says that blood sacrifices aren’t necessary if you are repentant and seek forgiveness. Mind you, a blood sacrifice *will* atone for a sin, but it’s not an absolute requirement. So, if I can get right with God by praying and repenting and correcting my actions, why do I need to believe in Jesus? Why did he have to die when there are alternatives?

        King David said, “You take no delight in sacrifices or offerings. Now that you have made me listen, I finally understand–you don’t require burnt offerings or sin offerings.” (Psalms 40:6)

        Hosea 6:6: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.”

        King Solomon said: “If they sin against You, for there is no man who does not sin, and You will be angry with them, and deliver them to the enemy, and their captors will carry them away captive to the land of the enemy, far or near. And they shall bethink themselves in the land where they were carried captive, and repent, and make supplication to You in the land of their captors, saying,‘We have sinned, and have done perversely, we have committed wickedness.’ And they shall return to You with all their heart, and with all their soul, in the land of their enemies, who led them away captive, and pray to You toward their land, which You gave to their fathers, the city You have chosen, and the house which I have built for Your name. And You shall hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven, in Your dwelling place, and maintain their cause. And forgive Your people for what they have sinned against You, and all their transgressions that they have transgressed against You.” (I Kings 8:46-50)

        In other words, when the Jews are in Diaspora and have no Temple, they don’t need a sacrifice to turn away God’s wrath and get right with God. Rather, when they’re contrite and beg forgiveness through prayer, God will forgive them and return them to their land. (Which has happened not once, but twice.) So if God can forgive them without a blood sacrifice (or a belief in Jesus), why is Jesus’ sacrifice necessary?

        Hosea 14:2: “Take with you words, and return unto Jehovah: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and accept that which is good: so will we render as bullocks the offering of our lips.”

        This seems to indicate that no animal sacrifice is needed if we just pray and have right action (and if no animal sacrifice is needed, again, why is Jesus needed?).

        Isaiah 1:11, 16-18 “”The multitude of your sacrifices–what are they to me?” says the LORD. “I have more than enough of burnt offerings, of rams and the fat of fattened animals; I have no pleasure in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats. …[W]ash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow. “Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.””

        That sounds like God hates sacrifices devoid of right action and repentance (a hypocritical or superficial sacrifice, in other words). Rather than a sacrifice, He would much rather have you “stop doing wrong and learn[ing] to do right.” If you do that, it will cleanse your sins–not the sacrifice, but the repentance.

        Samuel said, “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)

        Psalm 51:16-17: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

        Micah 6:6-8 “With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

        Micah specifically asks if he should offer his child or his own body as a sacrifice, and then says no, God just wants justice, mercy, and humbleness (although, I would say that God most wants a relationship with you–that’s what it means to “walk with God”).

        Why does he not say, “God just wants you to believe in the son he’s going to send to you?”

        In fact, I can’t find any reference in the OT to the coming of a person who will die and be the ultimate sacrifice. (That seems pretty important; shouldn’t one of those prophets have mentioned it at least once?) In fact, human sacrifice is forbidden throughout the OT (see Abraham and Isaac on the altar).

        And maybe the answer is that the OT and the NT are not compatible or reconcilable; you either believe in the one or the other, but not both.

        • Thank you once again K for brilliant comment, critic, explanation and thoughtful reasoning. I do enjoy discussing Christian theology, history and philosophy.

          Your comment resonates with some of theologians I have come across e.g. John McLeed Campbell, Gustav Aulen, C. H. Dodd, Alan Mann and in popular level, Brian McLaren. I am sad to say that I believe they err in these areas and I would attempt to give reasons why I believe, K, that this reasoning is incorrect.

          If I could give you, K, a one answer that would answer “Why Jesus did have to die for(in place of) His people’s sin” then I will combine Hebrews 9: 22b: “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” and Hebrews 10:4 “[it was] impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.”(ESV)

          Before I answer the passages you brought up, K, I would like to show you that N.T. writers viewed Christ Jesus as fulfillment of O.T. atonement. As Paul explained,“[t]his[atoning work of Christ] was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”(Rom. 3:25-26 ESV)

          I do accept that at the Cross, as you will see in my series on atonement, there was more that penal substitution, namely Christ bearing the punishment, God’s wrath, due to our rebellion e.g. triumph over evil power (Col.2:1), unjust suffering example (1 Peter 2:21-23). But the theme that is heavily discussed in N.T. is penal substitution in connections with Christ’s death.

          Quick Survey of OT and NT

          Passover Lamb – Exodus 12. I believe you are familiar with the story. The Passover lamb functioning as a substitute of Israelites firstborn son’s, whom God passed over and spared(Exod. 12_24-17). God said “when I see the blood, I will pass over you”(Exod. 12:12, 13-11-16).

          Mark 14:22-24- Jesus makes a new covenant in his blood poured out for many. Passover focused on the body and the blood of a slain lamb (no broken bones John 19:35-36). 1 Peter 1:18-19, 1 Corin. 5:7 explicitly takes Exodus 12 to show Christ is our “the Passover Lamb”.

          Servant’s Song – Isaiah 52:13- 53:12

          For space reasons, I will let you read and see how the Servant is crushed for our iniquities, a guilt offering. After you read it, then see how Matt 8:16-17 uses 53, Luke 22:37 and 53:12, John 12:38 and 53:1, Acts 8:32-33 and 53:7-8, Rom. 15:20-21 and 52:15 and the best of all 1 Peter 2:22-25 that takes almost all Isaiah 53.

          I let out Leviticus 16 which dances with Hebrew 9-10 Two goats, one of sacrifice and another for Azazel(scapegoat) as atoning for the people of Israel.

          Answering your Passages.

          God desired a proper and acceptable sacrifice in OT as it symbolized the true Lamb that God himself would provide. As Paul explain, it was a way God pass over their sins, not because of the blood of bulls and sheep, but because of the finished work of Christ Jesus at the Cross.

          We are charged for our own wickedness but it is not true that another person cannot pay for our sins. It is not true that if we only repent and seek forgiveness because “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins”(Hebrews 9: 22b)

          God did not take delight in sacrifices or offerings when Israel abused the system. It was not a sweet aroma to God any more. But in Christ, we are the sweet aroma.

          Other questions would be answered in the series I am writing. But for now I hope I attempt just a little to answer your wonderful question, K.

          In Christ,
          Prayson

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