The topic of salvation is a massive subject, with varying opinions. One of the most controversial issues regarding salvation is, whether the idea of “once saved, always saved” is true or false. Some say that you are eternally secure and that you cannot lose the salvation which has been freely provided, in anyway. Others say that there is a chance of falling away, and losing your salvation if you do not continue in the faith. Which of these contrasting opinions is true? Can we or can we not lose the “life” given to us by God?
This study consists of the following sections
1) 4 categories of terrain that reflect 4 different kinds of people and outcomes
2) Once saved always saved? Is it Scriptural?
3) Salvation is conditional
4) But what is the right path? The path of Righteousness?
5) Who is really saved?
6) Testing the Scriptural proof provided for the doctrine of “Eternal Security”
Answering the questions posted above and figuring out whether the doctrine of “Eternal Security” (Once saved, Always saved) is Biblically accurate, will be the objective of this study. And for this purpose, we will use the help of, one of the most famous parables communicated to us by Messiah Yeshua(Jesus’ true name) ; The Parable of the Sower.
Luk 8:5-8 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold.
Luk 8:11-15 Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
1) 4 Categories of Terrain that reflect 4 different kinds of People and outcomes
This famous parable which is even taught to the youngest of Christians, is of special importance to us. We see Christ explain that the “Seed” is the “Word of God”, and then move on to the different terrains which this seed falls on, explaining the meanings as given below:
1. Way side: They hear, but do not believe and are not saved
2. Rocky: They hear, believe, but fall away when confronted with temptation
3. Thorny: They hear, believe, but bear no fruit because of cares and pleasures of this life
4. Good Soil: They Hear, keep the Word and bears fruit
God’s Salvation through Messiah, is available for all of the 4 categories of people mentioned above. But it is clear that, some reject this salvation through unbelief. Some believe, but wither away as they do not continue in faith. Some believe, but bear no fruit as they are choked with the worries and pleasures of this life. Only some keep the word they heard through faith and bear fruit. It is clear that the word which went into the ears of the people mentioned as “rocks”, heard, believed, but still fell away. So can there be people who hear, believe and still are not saved? according to Yeshua – the answer is a yes!
When we say “we are saved”, what we actually mean is that we believe in receiving “eternal life” and being saved from “eternal death”. Even though we call ourselves “saved” right now, when will we be really saved from eternal death which is the lake of fire(Rev 20:15)? Is it not at the end of time, when we receive the promised everlasting life(Rom 6:22)? Don’t get me wrong; we have been given the guarantee of salvation, but we will receive it only when we stand in front of the judgement seat of God. When we come to believe God through Messiah in repentance and obedience, our names are written in the book of life. But if we are like the rocky terrain or the thorny terrain, we must remember that God has the power to blot out our names, as we read “Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (also read Psa 69:28).
Only the ones who hear God’s Word and obey it, bear much fruit as the ones called “good soil”. To bear fruit, we must abide in Messiah(Joh 15:4-6) or be burned as fruitless branches(Luk 13:9) at the day of judgement (Mat 13:41,42). Hearing is worthless if you do not keep/obey His Word(Mat 7:24, Luk 11:28, Joh 14:23, Heb 5:9, Jam 2:24).
2) Once saved always saved? – Is it Scriptural?
Just because a person believes in God, does not guarantee him/her salvation. If that was the case, then the seed which fell on rocky terrain should not wither away, nor should the seed that fell among thorns be choked. We must remember that, in the kingdom of heaven there are no fruitless branches/trees(Joh 15:2). The Word of God that is deposited in your being must bring forth fruits that shows the seed which has sprouted in your heart(Mat 7:16,17). Let’s look at a few other examples of Scripture, that cements the fact that all who believe are not assured of Salvation. (If you are a believer in the doctrine of “eternal security”, please test it against the following Scriptures, and may the Holy Spirit show you the truth)
Mat 7:21-23 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity(transgress the Law).
Mat 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Luk 12:45,46 But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
Rom 2:6-9 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
Rom 11:22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
1Co 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
2Co 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates(rejected)?
Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Col 1:22,23 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
Php 3:11,12 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.
Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
Heb 5:8,9 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
Heb 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Heb 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
Jas 5:19,20 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.
2Pe 2:21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
Rev 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
Rev 21:7,8 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
Rev 22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.
Eze 18:24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
3) Salvation is Conditional
Some would disagree with me on this point. But a simple review of the basic principles taught by Messiah, is enough to understand this fact. The free gift of salvation depends on a change in lifestyle. Turning towards God from the sinful path we were in – which is known as “repentance”(Luk 13:5, Mar 1:15). Repentance is not only a thought, but an act – it is not merely being sorry and asking forgiveness for the sins we have done, but correcting our ways not to repeat the same again. True repentance brings about a wrestling in one’s inner being(Rom 7:19-24). Without true repentance, no person can have true salvation(Act 2:38, 3:19, Rev 2:5). It is not only repentance, but continuing on the right path till the end, that assures Salvation(Heb 3:14).
4) But what is the right path? The path of Righteousness?
A person who is truly “saved” or has received “salvation” is a person who has left the old sinful self behind(Rom 6:13-16). This person knows the difference between sin and righteousness, and is on a corrective path(2Tim 2:21). He/she does not engage in willful sin(Rom 6:1,2). Which brings us to the question, what is sin?
1Jn 3:4-6 Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.
Sin is breaking God’s Law as seen above. Without God’s Law, we cannot know what “sin” is(Rom 7:7). The knowledge of “sin” is through God’s Law(Rom 3:20). Many of us misunderstand what the Law is, saying “if you follow God’s Law, you have fallen from Grace”. This is not what Paul wrote in his letters. His words were “whoever is JUSTIFIED by the Law, is fallen from Grace“(Gal 5:4). In other words, no one can attain righteousness for themselves by following the Law. Grace is a free gift given by God because of our faith in Him(Rom 5:2). He is the one who let’s us enter into life from death. He is the one who saves us because of His grace. But after we are “saved”, how do we know what is right from wrong? That is what the Law is there for. As a guide, to help us become obedient to Him. If a person claims to be saved, but still disobeys God’s Law(which is not the curse) – he/she is committing sin whether it is deliberate or unintentional.
5) Who is really saved?
To recap, a person who is saved(attained salvation from death) cannot be a sinner(one who dwells in sin/breaking God’s Law). If a person claims to be saved, and continues in willful sin, his/her “salvation” is questionable at best. He/she has not repented truthfully, and may not be saved even though they believe so. This does not mean to say, that a true believer who is saved can never fall short of God’s standards and commit sin. A person who falls short, will admit his failure and correct himself in repentance. A good example for such a person is David – who is known as “a man after God’s own heart” (Act 13:22, 1Kin 15:5). In our personal walk with God, there might even come a time when each of us find out(through reading His Word/Commandments/Laws), that we have been doing something that God resents. At such an occasion, we will ask for His forgiveness for continuing in that sin, and change our ways from that day onward. Such an example can be seen with King Hezekiah in 2Chr chapter 29.
6) Testing the Scriptural proof provided for the doctrine of “Eternal Security”
Many proof texts are put forth as evidence for the doctrine of “once saved always saved”, which do not agree with the entirety of Scripture. It is therefore necessary for us to test these scriptures and see whether the interpretation derived from them are true or false. While there are quite a number of verses quoted as proof, we will test some of the most famous scriptures given as evidence of this doctrine. (Please read and test the examinations provided for each of the text, given in red color subsequent to the said passage)
Rom 8:38,39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 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. (Paul is right to say that no external force on heaven or earth can separate each of us from the love of God. But this does not mean that we can be assured of His love, His Grace or His Salvation, if we choose to go back to our old ways of living in sin. External forces cannot effect our salvation, however we are able to affect it by how we live our lives)
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (Each person who believes in Messiah is given the free gift of everlasting life. But we also need to understand that a true believer needs to put his/her faith into action. Having faith without keeping His word is an empty endeavour – Jas 2:19,20)
Joh 10:28,29 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (Christ is clear when He says that no one who He gives eternal life to, can be plucked from His hand. The only thing we need clarification on is, who He is speaking about. He is speaking of His sheep who hear His voice and follows Him. This comes back to the argument that we made previously about the good soil – whoever keeps His word/follows Him till the end, will for sure be saved from eternal death)
Jud 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy (Christ is able to present us faultless through His blood and also help us keep from falling through the example he has left us. As verse 23 states, the believer needs to hate the things of the flesh which is sin. A person who is on the right path, is who He will present faultless before the Father [Rev 3:5])
Rom 8:29,30 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 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.
Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Eph 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: (Is it true that God has predetermined or that He knows of all the true believers who will come to Him? Definitely! But this does not mean every person who professes to believe or believes and falls away afterwards, would have been in God’s list in the first place. Time does not affect Him, and because of this reason He already knows whether each of us will make it to the Kingdom or not. In His eyes we have made those decisions already.)
There are many more verses that are utilized to prove the doctrine of “once saved, always saved” which, when examined in light of the whole Word of God, does not stand as sound pieces of evidence.
While we remember that salvation is a free gift of God which is provided to every living soul, we must also keep in mind that, we alone have the power to (1) reject it as the “way side” terrain, (2) believe but fall away as the “rocky” terrain, (3) believe but get caught up with this life as the “thorny” terrain, or (4) believe and put the word to practice thereby bearing fruit like the “good soil” terrain. The simple fact is, that a person who believes today, and falls away tomorrow to never come back in repentance, would most assuredly lose the salvation promised by God, as it is their own choice to abandon it. Only the ones who continue in the righteous path would get to the gates of the Kingdom of God to receive the promised Salvation(Mat 7:13,14).
Not all who say “Lord, Lord”, not all who prophesy in His name, not all who cast devils in His name, not even all who do many other wondrous works in His name, will enter into His Kingdom (Mat 7:22,23). What makes us so sure to promise unwitting believers that the moment they believe in Christ, they are assured of receiving Salvation? We must first ask them to transform their lives and start following God’s Word(Rom 12:2). We must ask them to reach for perfection which starts from Scripture itself (2Tim 3:16,17). We must preach and teach them, warning them, so that they are presented perfect to Christ (Col 1:28). And to hold onto the faith till the end(Heb 3:14). We need them to prepare their lives as “Good soil” which is ready to receive the seeds of “God’s Word” which grow and bare much fruit, so that when the owner of the field returns, He will be happy with the harvest yielded, and would gather them into His Barn(Mat 13:30).
Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.