Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Once Saved Always Saved

Those promoting the idea of “once saved, always saved” (OSAS) claim very strongly that the belief is firmly rooted in Scripture. Based on the passages used by one such group, here is an examination of their claims:

John 3:15-18. The phrase the OSAS fixate on is that merely believing in Jesus is sufficient. You only need to declare Jesus as Lord in your heart, they claim. The apostle Paul made a similar declaration at Acts 16:31 to a prison guard that was awestruck by the circumstances surrounding Paul’s miraculous release from prison. But what is involved in believing in Jesus? Commenting on this, the publisher’s foreword to the 1965 edition of the Amplified Bible wrote: 
“Webster defines it: ‘to place credence…apart from personal knowledge; to expect or hope…to be more or less firmly persuaded of the truth of anything, to think or suppose.’” The Foreword then continued: “In this sense, most people believe in Christ—that He lived; that He was a perfect Man Who sincerely believed Himself to be the Son of God, and that He died … to save sinners. But this is by no means the meaning of the Greek word which twenty-two New Testament versions out of twenty-four consulted render ‘believe.’ They do so because there is no one English word that adequately conveys the intended meaning. Actually, the Greek word used here for believe is ‘pisteuo.’ It means ‘to adhere to, cleave to; to trust, to have faith in; to rely on.’ Consequently, the words, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ…’ really mean to have an absolute personal reliance upon the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
Yes, believing, as taught in the Bible is much deeper than most realize. It goes beyond a mere mental acknowledgement of Christ, it reaches deeper than the emotional outbursts that some make. It is an informed decision of commitment and dedication. Really, examining the context of scripture it is easy to see that is so. For example, Acts 16:32 states that Paul went on to relate “the word of the Lord” or, as some translations render it (more accurately) “the word of Jehovah.” In other words, there was more that Paul related to that man than is detailed in Acts 16. (Paul was not known for brevity.) Really, reflect on the bulk of writing in the Greek scriptures (aka New Testament)—If merely believing was all that was necessary, why would there be so much written (four gospels, a detailed record of post–resurrection activity known as the Book of Acts, 21 letters on Christian belief and conduct and one far-reaching prophetic book known as Revelation)? Obviously, God wanted us to know much more than who Jesus was and what he did for us.

One website promoting OSAS claimed that Hebrews 6:4-6 supports the OSAS belief. I could not help but chuckle when I read the heading from the link they provided to that scripture because the heading plainly says “Warning Against Apostasy.” They actually went out of their way to completely convolute the plain teaching that salvation CAN be lost for those disowning their belief. Instead, they try to make the scripture sound as if it is saying it is impossible for someone to renounce their faith. Is that so? Is there any example in scripture that would demonstrate that one way or the other? 

Yes, there are at least three. The first is the case of Ananias and his wife Sopphria. Their devious action resulted in direct condemnation and their immediate death from the very hand of God. Next is the case of Dimas. At first, Paul gives this man a compliment, referring to him as a “fellow worker.” But later sadly observes that Dimas left off serving God because he preferred what the world alienated from God had to offer. The third example is found at 1 Timothy 1:18-20. There, Paul cites two former believers that disregarded their conscience and, as a result, suffered "shipwreck of their faith." (See also 2 Timothy 1:15; 2:15-18)

Really, those claiming that it is impossible to become "unsaved" are arguing against logic—why? Because God gave mankind free will. To say that once we become believers, we forfeit free will is simply not true. Think about Adam and Eve. Before they sinned, they were perfect yet they expressed their free will, lost their lives and will never live again. Are those purporting OSAS saying that we imperfect offspring of Adam are not allowed to have free will after we accept Jesus? The two accounts cited prove that is untrue.

One more thought about Acts 16:31. As noted in this link, the greater number of translations all use the phrase "will be" (not "are"). "Will be" denotes future tense, not present tense. Indeed, this is in full agreement with the first scripture listed below at Matthew 24:13. So considering one's self to be saved at the moment of belief or baptism is not in line with what scripture states.

What other scriptural evidence is there that OSAS is wrong? Consider this list:
Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus indicates that merely claiming to be his follower is not enough. Give this scripture serious thought. If the ones mentioned here were truly expending themselves in doing acts that Jesus himself did (prophesying in Jesus' name, expelling demons, and other powerful works) and yet Jesus rejected them, how can one who merely claims to be saved expect Jesus' approval?

Matthew 24:13 Jesus pointedly states “he that endures the end is one that will be saved.” Now ask yourself. If we are "saved" upon becoming believers, then why would Jesus say we wouldn't be saved until "the end"? (Supporting this, Romans 8:17,23 Paul indicates that suffering for the sake of the Christ and leaving behind our mortal bodies (death) must take place before we are truly adopted (saved) as sons.)

Romans 10:9,10; Hebrews 10:35-39; 1 John 2:4. These three passages, taken together, help us appreciate that “exercising” faith through active obedience and proclamation of our convictions, is what saves. Faith is much more than a mere belief. Just claiming to know that God is real does not get his approval.  (See also James 2:19)

Romans 11:20-22 Just as the nation of Israel was lopped off the main tree (losing their approved state with God and hence reaping not a reward to everlasting life) so those becoming individual believers could be cut off if they proved disloyal/unworthy.

Galatians 4:11 Why would Paul fear for those in Galatia if they were saved for all time? Obviously, they must not yet be saved eternally, otherwise Paul would not have been concerned.

Galatians 6:7-9 “Mocking” God by expecting that he will tolerate any conduct on our part is merely self deception. Paul concludes that whatever a man is sowing is what he will reap. Yes, action ("sowing") is what is looked for, not merely saying we believe and then doing whatever we want.

Philippians 3:12-14 If Paul believed in once-saved-always-saved, he would not have written these words.

Hebrews 10:26,27 Paul makes it very clear that willful disobedience means losing the benefit of Christ’s sacrifice.

Hebrews 12:7-11 Herein Paul explains that if we are without discipline we are illegitimate children of God. (Some OSAS proponents claim that after accepting Jesus, they can commit whatever sin they want and God will overlook it. Paul helps us understand that not even human parents would put up with such conduct, how much less would God who time and again has demonstrated he will not tolerate flagrant disobedience.)

2 Peter 2:20-22 Here, Peter makes it quite plain that those not remaining active and firm in the faith have a worse outcome than those who had never known.

Jude 3. Jude writes that he felt urged to write fellow Christians to put up a hard fight. Why would he write that if merely initially believing was all that was required? Evidently, constant and consistent effort is needed.

Revelation 2:2-5 Here, Jesus counseled a congregation that at first was very zealous but then got complacent that if they didn't repent of this complacency they would have their lampstand removed, in other words, they would be rejected. (See also Revelation 3:16)

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