By: Gary L. Hutchens
Once saved, always saved! A whole lot of people in the denominational world believe that. Their belief is connected to a flawed understanding of God’s grace. Without question, we are saved “…by grace…through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9). We cannot save ourselves, nor can we earn our salvation. We are totally dependent upon God’s grace.
At the same time, God requires some things on our part in response to His offer of grace. He requires that we believe in Him (Heb. 11:6) and in His Son as our Savior (Jn. 8:24). He requires that we repent of our sins (Lk. 13:3; Acts 3:19). He requires our obedience (Heb. 5:8-9; Jn. 14:15, 21, 23-24), including being “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:27) for “the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38; 22:16) in order to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16). He requires our ongoing faithfulness for the rest of our lives (Rev. 2:10).
The flawed denominational teaching states that God saves a person without that person doing anything. But those teachers backtrack some, agreeing that a person must believe and repent. They also agree, to some extent, that a person should live faithfully. I say to some extent, because they also teach that a person can never be lost once he is saved, no matter what. They believe that once a person is in God’s grace, he can never fall from God’s grace. To them salvation by grace means once saved, always saved. But is that what the Bible teaches?
God only has to say something once for it to be true. The apostle Paul warned the Christians in Galatia (already saved) against following false teachers who were telling them they needed to keep the Law Of Moses, particularly that they needed to be circumcised. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, stated, “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” (Gal. 5:4). If they followed the false doctrine they were being taught, they would be cut off from Christ, they would fall from grace. So, scripture clearly teaches that a person can fall from grace and be lost after having been saved.
Ananias and Sapphira, saved Christians, were struck dead by God for lying to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11). Would anyone suggest they went to Heaven? Simon, a sorcerer, became a saved Christian. But when he tried to buy the power to pass on the Holy Spirit to others, Peter rebuked him sharply and warned him to repent of his wickedness and pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:14-23). If Simon did not do that, would he be in Heaven?
A young man in the congregation in Corinth (saved) was guilty of sexual immorality with his father’s wife. Paul instructed the congregation to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Cor. 5:1-6). If the young man did not repent, would he be in Heaven? Paul warned that a saved Christian who partakes of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner “eats and drinks damnation to himself…” (1 Cor. 11:27-29 KJV). Can a person who stands condemned still be, at the same time, saved?
Salvation by grace? Absolutely! Once saved, always saved, regardless? Absolutely not!…
Gary L. Hutchens