Once saved; always saved

As a start to the 'Platypus Challenge' series, the 'one saved; always saved'  question impacts on the subject of Christian assurance. There are verses which - at first glance - give opposite views. So what is the true biblical view?
Platypus VersesPreamble: The Platypus Challenge series is designed to take a look at some of these 'awkward' verses in the Bible which rub up against one theological system or another.

An example of this is the perennial debate (mainly amongst theologians) regarding the dynamic underlying our salvation. Are we children of God because He has foreordained us to be so? Or are we in relation with him because we have responded to His offer of salvation in Christ?

These questions – often referred to in shorthand form as (components of)  Calvinism and Arminianism respectively – produce polarised responses with bible verses produced to support both (conflicting) views.
Both positions can be accused of creating a lack of assurance. The Calvinist wonders whether (s)he is indeed one of 'the chosen'; in the Arminian position the believer may be afraid that (s)he will not be able to finish the race.

The debate – mainly amongst theologians at an academic level – is usually confined to God's plan relating to coming to faith (soteriology) and the dynamic of the new birth.
However the questions also relate to the end of this life (whether it arrives through death, or when Jesus returns).

So now to the question in point. Can we say:
'"Once saved; always saved", or not?

Under 'Platypus' rules, each of the two participants (of opposite views) supplies six verses (or short extracts) directly from the Bible without any additional comments or remarks.

Each participant then furnishes a response in the form of a rebuttal to the other's view.

The verses and the responses are listed below.

Proposition: 'Once saved; always saved'

(i.e. verses offered in support of the view that one's salvation cannot be lost)


counter-arguments to these verses

(i.e. verses offered which suggest that ultimate salvation is conditional)


Counter-arguments to these verses

Verses below FOR Proposition + rebuttals
(mouse-over verses for pop-ups)
Verses below AGAINST proposition + rebuttals
(mouse-over verses for pop-ups)

Romans 8:30

Rebuttal (concerning above text):
It is with gratitude to God we read this verse and rejoice in His future plans for us. Nevertheless we must be so careful not to pick one verse out and quote it out of context. On this occasion we do not have to go far to find the context and even more than that, the grounds of "predestination."  Paul tells us or more accurately God tells us through the pen of Paul. The grounds are "foreknowledge." God in His divine sovereignty decided to give humanity free will. We are looking at the consequences today. We see Jesus in all his preaching endorsing this fact. Example "how often I would have ....... but you would not"Mat. 23:37. He does not appoint people who will follow him he calls them and strangely his ministry is continually restricted to their response. So in the previous verse to the quoted one God says the grounds of predestination is foreknowledge that is foreknowledge in relation to the 'free will' choice that a person makes.


John 3:36

Again we see the fact and the consequences of free will, either believing or rejecting. Sadly our land is populated with many who chose to walk well with the Lord and showed the fruits of it but for some reason or another decided not to live a life of obedience to the voice of God. I say obedience because as the text says "he who does not obey the Son shall not see life." Willful disobedience sounds the death knell.


John 10:27 - 29

Once again I join with the person who quoted these verses and praise God for them. The words 'hear' and 'follow' in verse 27 are "action in progress" words. Many translations of the word 'hear' translate it as 'listen' which is a progressive word. The word 'follow' is also a progressive word so Jesus is talking about sheep who are continually listening and following. That helps us to understand the type of sheep Jesus is talking about. I am greatly helped by Jh. 8:12 and 8:51 where Jesus talks about following the light and keeping his word.


Philippians 1:6

I feel rather embarrassed that I seem to be talking about the same difficulty all the time. That is the difficulty of taking a text out of its context. Hear Paul is thanking God for a company of people who are continuing in partnership or the preaching (v.5) of the Gospel and such involvement has made him feel good about them (v.7). On those grounds he feels confident that the good work that God has begun in them will continue to progress. You see God is as eager to have us with Him as the faithful are to be with their God. Rev.21:3


Hebrews  12:2

It is difficult to comment on this verse of Scripture as it starts with half a sentence. In half a sentence you get half a truth. So let's look at the whole sentence. Verse 1 is talking about the "race" (the iourney) of the Christian life with witnesses in the stadium. Paul (permit me to say Paul) there speaks about "laying aside every encumbrance and the sin that so easily besets us." Now we are getting some light on the picture. In fact it is the same picture, in reverse that Paul talks to young Timothy about in 1Tim. 4:1-3. Here are men who did not "endure" and here he explains the consequences of and the reasons they fell away from the faith. We cannot as some would, say that these persons were not saved. Apart from that being the sin that Jesus strongly condemns in Mat. 7:1 it is incorrect according to the first verse of 1 Tim. 4. They had been in the faith.
So to go back to Hebrews we have learned our task as believers is to a) lay aside encumbrances, b) lay aside sin, c) endure! Now we go to verse 2 and Paul talks about "fixing" (to set fast, steadfast, fix firmly) our eyes on Jesus. In the Authorised version it is the word "Looking" the meaning of this word is 'to look away from one thing so as to see another.' Isn't that interesting. Now we can understand how Jesus will "perfect our faith."

God never imposes anything on us he leaves us, he allows us to make our own decisions. That is why it has taken so long for us to be more like Jesus. We keep on saying no to the Holy Spirit and that is why people are still free to walk away from Christ if they choose.


1 Peter 1:23

In this verse we have a lovely and perfect description of the seed which is God's word Luke 8:11. The seed is perfect it's the ground that is the problem. Jesus makes that clear in the parable of the sower. Peter also makes it clear that it is the seed that is imperishable. Jesus in fact says the person whose heart was 'stony ground' became a believer but fell away. Let me just add that falling away is clear from scripture to be an act of separation from God. It is made so clear in the parable of the prodigal son Luke 15. We hear people say "Once a son always a son." Sounds so good and it's true in relation to behaviour in the natural world. If my sons commit terrible crimes they are still my sons. But Jesus says otherwise in relation to our sonship. He says in the parable  "This brother of yours was dead and is alive again...... ." Lk. 15:32. Willful sin separatesus from our God. The young mand chose to go from the father's dwelling.
Romans 11:19 - 22

Rebuttal (concerning above text):
"if... otherwise":
Paul warns his readers to beware lest they are not regenerate, lest they have the wrong attitude of spirit which demonstrates that they are unconverted. Paul considers the subject collectively, and the branches which were broken off were unregenerate Jews who did not believe in Christ - not regenerate Christians who had believed in Christ. Paul address a hypothetical Gentile Christian who boasts that he believes in Christ v20, while boasting against unbelieving Jews vv18,20. He is to beware lest his boasting against the Jews demonstrates that he is not regenerate at all, and that he is not a true disciple. Jesus taught the very same doctrine to those who claimed to believe on Him Jn 8:30-32 but who were unregenerate Jn 8:34-38. In the context of this passage, Paul asserts that God does not call and then change His mind Rom 11:29.


Colossians 1:21 - 23

"if ye continue in the faith":
Paul qualifies the comforting doctrine in v22 with the warning that such comfort applies only to those who persevere. He does not say that there is doubt about regenerate believers persevering; rather Paul tells us that he is warning every hearer v28 to ensure that they are regenerate believers, which manifests itself by perseverance in holiness v22. He is warning against antinomianism.


Hebrews 3: 14

"if we hold":
This is conditional language as in the previous texts. The context is a collective warning lest anyone among them should prove to be unbelievers v12. It does not teach that regenerate believers are in danger of not persevering. Rather, it teaches the opposite: those who do not hold steadfast to the end are not partakers of Christ at all. It does not teach that they were once partakers of Christ but lose it.


Hebrews 6:4 - 6

"if they shall fall away..."
The context of this falling away is not simply perseverance but developing Christian usefulness vv1,10-12. By way of warning, the apostle considers the case of nominal Christians who have evidently fallen away not simply from usefulness but from Christianity itself. The phraseology in vv4-5 does not say that the person was regenerate, but describes the spiritual privileges they had. These phrases can apply to people like Judas Iscariot and many others who were stony ground hearers. Having known so much about Christianity, nothing more can make them change their mind, especially as they think that they have tasted and experienced it all vv 4-5. This describes the condition of many nominal Christians who have abandoned Christianity. Nothing in the passage suggests that these people were regenerate believers. The word repentance simply means changing their mind; it is not a technical term for a change of mind effected by the Holy Spirit. If anyone should interpret it as Spirit-wrought repentance, in order to try to prove that the person was regenerate, are they bold enough to say that it is impossible for the Holy Spirit to change their mind again? The apostle says it is impossible v4. The impossibility is not in the Holy Spirit's power to change their mind, but in the apostate person's changing their mind of their own volition. There is no proof that the person described here was a regenerate believer. They had received showers of blessing from God v7, but not regeneration. Their lives still brought forth thorns and briers v8 instead of spiritual fruit v7. They received much, but nowhere does it say that they produced the fruits of repentance Mat 3:8; Lk 3:8.


Hebrews 10:26 - 29

"if we sin wilfully..."
The apostle is considering a similar situation to Heb 6:4-6. The person spoken about is wilfully v26 despising v28 what he knows of the truth v26, considering the blood of Christ's covenant an unholy thing v29 and despising the Spirit of grace v29. There is a difficulty for those who interpret the phrase "wherewith he was sanctified" as meaning that the person was regenerated and saved. However this interpretation cannot be sustained, so that the difficulty disappears. Sanctified means "set apart for a sacred or holy use"; it is not a technical term suggesting a person regenerated by the Holy Spirit. The Old Testament priests were set apart for their holy duties, but they were not all regenerated believers 1Sam 2:12. The people mentioned here were not heathen, but like Heb 6:4-6 they had received privileges, such as "the knowledge of the truth" v26 and had been set apart by the blood of Christ's covenant. This shows that they were nominal Christians but it does not prove that they were regenerate believers. There is no evidence that they were regenerate. Rather, they despised the Holy Spirit, Who is described as "the Spirit of grace" v29 because in despising Him they were despising His grace.


2 Timothy 2:12

"if we deny Him...".
This statement is very succinct and needs careful exegesis, because Peter denied Christ and was forgiven and restored by Christ. On the day of Pentecost Peter accused the crowd of denying Christ Act 3:13-14, but he went on to offer these same people the Gospel Act 3:19 and thousands of them believed Act 4:4. So one cannot prove that this text teaches that the regenerate may lose their salvation. It teaches that there are serious consequences of denying Christ, but it does not teach that the regenerate may lose their salvation. Those who persist or persevere in denial of Christ will discover that He will deny them at the Day of Judgment Mat 10:33; Lk 12:9. The text is about perseverance in denial of Christ, rather than the regenerate failing to persevere in holiness and confession of Christ. Further, we need to distinguish denial under torture and denial in a calm and reasoned situation. It is not possible to prove from this text that Paul thinks that he or other regenerate people will deny Christ as Saviour. I have seen nothing in these verses which suggests that a regenerate person can lose grace and fail to persevere to the end.

It is now possible for site members/visitors to respond to this debate. However the rules of engagement require that only Bible verses alone can be used to support an argument (case being put). However comments and observations (counter-arguments) can be made relating to the verses placed by others.

To avoid 'ad hominem' comments, those responding to this article (including site members) are free to use psuedonyms. (Argue with the point in question; not with or against the person making it please.)

EO logo1The nature of the topic and discussion is in line with the 'equal opportunities' policy of the Christians Together website.

The Editor, 02/05/2013

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Editor 15/05/2013 15:58
It is now possible for site members/visitors to respond to this debate. However the rules of engagement require that only Bible verses alone can be used to support an argument (case being put). However comments and observations (counter-arguments) can be made relating to the verses placed by others.

To avoid 'ad hominem' comments, those responding to this article (including site members) are free to use psuedonyms. (Argue with the point in question; not with or against the person making it please.)
No point (Guest) 17/05/2013 20:43
"It is now possible for site members/visitors to respond to this debate"

No thanks, no point!
John Miller 17/05/2013 21:35
"No thanks, no point!"

Why are you here?
Guest (Guest) 19/05/2013 22:41
This is just unbelievably ridiculous.
How can ultimate salvation possibly be conditional on anything sinful man can do.
Editor 19/05/2013 23:23
Guest, in your first response you quote selectively. The guidelines state:
"... that only Bible verses alone can be used to support an argument".

Please comply.
Editor 05/07/2013 20:36
I have deleted two recent posts which did not comply with the rules. So to re-state the rules:-

Only Bible verses can be used in support of one position or another.However anyone is free to critique verses supplied by others.

So, posters please:

Say in a sentence which side you are arguing for; and then supply the verses - and nothing else - which you are offering to support that view. You are however free to post rebuttals to the verses offered by others.
Editor 21/08/2013 14:34
I have just deleted another post which broke the rules which are -
Supply VERSES ONLY (with NO COMMENT) to support your stated case (for/against the proposition; and (optionally) rebuttals to verses supporting the opposite case to your own, quoting the verses you are arguing against.
John Miller 17/01/2014 13:20
I believe that scripture is clear in stating that when a person is truly saved by repentance and faith in Christ, that salvation is eternal and cannot be lost.

John 10:28-29
Penny Lee 17/01/2014 14:20
Scripture is indeed clear in telling us that when we are saved, it is for eternity. However, I believe that's referring to God's promise to never let us go. It is quite a different matter though if we decide we don't want to believe anymore. Since we have free will, God will not force us to stay if we decide to reject Him. The following verses say it all really:

2 Peter 2: 20-22

“If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: 'A dog returns to its vomit' and 'A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud' ”
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