Eternal Security of the Believer
One of the most commonly asked questions within Christianity revolves around the doctrine of Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS), otherwise known as The Eternal Security of the Believer. This doctrine, which is derived from Scripture, teaches that once a person has received Christ as their savior, they can never become lost and therefore go to hell. There are many misconceptions about this doctrine, most of which stem from a misunderstanding of Biblical salvation. It is our contention that many people think they can lose their salvation because they do not know what Biblical salvation is. In this study we will be turning to the Word of God for answers to settle many of the questions people have. It is our prayer that this study will set them free by allowing them to rest in the eternal security that Jesus has given to them.Salvation
Before looking directly at the promises God has given assuring us of salvation, it is important to first examine the doctrine of salvation and determine what it entails. The place to start is at the beginning - the fall of man and his need for salvation. When we examine the events that unfolded in regard to the first sin of Adam, we learn early that the wages of sin is death. When God created Adam, God put him in the Garden of Eden where he was given the world, so to speak. This first man had almost free reign of the garden. He could eat of any tree that he so desired, but he could not eat of the tree in the midst of the garden. If he did that, God said that he would surely die.
Genesis 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."
What exactly did God mean by this death? The Bible teaches that God made Adam (man) in His own image:
Genesis 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
The Scripture teaches that God is triune in being, that is, there are three persons within the Godhead – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God made man triune in nature as well, giving him a body, soul and spirit (1 Thes. 5:23). Man’s spirit is designed to worship God. Adam’s original spirit was made alive and Adam worshiped God in truth and spirit. Adam was also created with a choice, one that all of us have, to choose to obey or disobey God. Adam chose to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
When Adam and Eve ate the fruit they disobeyed God’s command and God then passed out the sentence that He had declared for that disobedience - death. At that very moment, Adam began to die physically. It was, however, a slow death for Adam did not physically die until he was 930 years old. But Adam also died in another way, and this death was instantaneous. He died spiritually. This is revealed when Adam saw his nakedness:
Genesis 3:7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
It is also essential to note that Adam thought that he could cover his sin by working. He sewed fig leaves together, but this did not earn him salvation. Because of his sin of disobedience, Adam then tries to hide from the call of God:
Genesis 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
We find later that God had to take the life of an animal to provide a covering for Adam and Eve, which symbolizes that God is the one who provides salvation. But the point here is that Adam’s sin caused him to become separated from God. That was his spiritual death – separation from God. So Adam did die a slow physical death, but he also died spiritually as well. The New Testament teaches us that we have all inherited the sinful nature of Adam. In the first letter to the Corinthians Paul taught that in Adam we all die, and Adam is the representative of all mankind (1 Corinthians 15).
In Romans it clearly tells us the punishment, or wages for sin, is death. ”For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). It was the same in the beginning; the punishment for sin was death. Now, we all are born with a sin nature, and the wages for sin is still death. We are born separated from God; we are born spiritually dead. Not one of us can declare that we have never sinned (Rom 3:10). Man is born in need of salvation.
The New Testament attests to our need for salvation. All throughout the New Testament we read how we were dead spiritually before Christ made our spirit alive. Without Christ, we are in a spiritually dead state. We are separated from the real God of the Bible. We attempt to fill the void in our lives by trying to worship without a living spirit. This is impossible, however, for we are told we must worship God in Spirit and Truth.
Our sin not only causes us to be separated from God, it causes yet another a serious dilemma for mankind. If sin has separated us from God, how can we get to heaven? In order for us to enter heaven, God’s holiness demands sinless perfection. It takes absolute perfect righteousness to have a relationship with God and receive eternal life. Jesus declared: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48).
This is the reason that Jesus, who is God, came into this world. Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 15, that as in Adam we all die, so in Christ we shall all live. Adam brought sin and death upon us all. Jesus being the last Adam brings life. Jesus is the sinless Adam, who lived a perfectly sinless life (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus died upon the cross, and in doing so paid the wages for our sin. Jesus died in our place! Jesus not only died physically, He also died spiritually in that awful moment on the cross when God could not look upon Him as the sin of the world was placed on Him. Dying, however, is not all that Jesus did for us. Jesus also arose from the dead, revealing his power over death. Because of Jesus’ resurrection, He gives life to our dead spirits. Because we have sinned, we need to be justified. When we place our faith in Jesus He takes our sin upon him-self and in turn gives us His righteousness. When we receive Jesus as our Savior, he is just that, our savior! He becomes our savior because he saves us from the wages of sin! In essence, Jesus takes our place, and gives us His life. We no longer need to be separated from God because of our sin, because Christ, the sinless sacrifice, paid the penalty on our behalf.
Note some of the many passages that declare this teaching:
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
2 Corinthians 5:21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
1 Peter 3:18 For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit,
Romans 8:10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
1 Corinthians 15:21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
Salvation is a gift. This gift can only be received through our faith in Jesus. It cannot be earned or merited by doing good works or refraining from certain sins. Paul made this very clear:
Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
This is the dominant theme of the Bible’s salvation message. We simply cannot earn our salvation. Because we cannot earn our salvation, any attempt to maintain our salvation would contradict the very meaning of the word. We do not work or continue to work for our salvation. If we did, salvation would not be a gift. For example: What if someone gave you a brand new car absolutely free and clear of any obligations. However, a few months later they insisted that you must join a do-gooders organization, give to charity, and do your best to never sin. If you do not meet those requirements they will come and re-posses the car. If you had to do all of those things to keep the car, was it really a gift? No. Our salvation is the same way. It is all the work of God; He paid the debt for our sin and gave us His righteousness. The only condition for our salvation is faith in Christ.
Salvation encompasses a great deal more than people may realize. Remember what we learned about the fall of man. Man was separated from God. The penalty for his sin was death. There was nothing man could do to change his position before God. God provided the way for man to be saved from his sinful condition and sentence of eternal death. Those who accept that gift are given a new spiritual life! But there is more to it than that. Consider just some of the other faucets of salvation. We have been:
- Redeemed – Hebrews 9:12
- Reconciled – Colossians 1:20-22
- Forgiven – Ephesians 1:7
- Provided satisfaction for our sin (through Christ) – 1 John 2:2
- Regenerated – John 3:5-6
- Justified - Romans 3:24
- Made righteous – 2 Corinthians 5:21
- Made perfect – Hebrews 10:14
- Sanctified (once and continually) – 1 Corinthians. 1:30
- Made holy - Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 1:6
- Accepted in Christ - Romans 15:7
- Partakers – Colossians 1:12
- Brought near to God - Ephesians 2:13
- Given citizenship to heaven - Philippians 3:20
- Adopted by God - John 8:41-47; Romans 8:14-16; Galatians 4:4-7
- Declared members of the family of God - Ephesians 2:19
- Made new - we are a new creation - 2 Corinthians 5:16-17
- Delivered and Translated – Colossians 1:13
- Made to Possesses every spiritual blessing – Ephesians 1:3
- Indwelt - John 14:16-20; Romans 8:9-11; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20; 1 John 4:4
- Sealed – Ephesians 1:13; 4:30; 1 Corinthians 1:21-22;
- Secured - John 10:27-30; John 6:37
- Given full access to the throne of God – Ephesians 2:18; 3:12; Hebrews 4:16; 10:19-24
- Baptized by the Holy Spirit (one time at salvation) – 1 Corinthians 12:13; Romans. 6; Colossians. 2
- Placed in Christ - John 14:20; Romans 8:1
- Made like Jesus – 1 John 4:17-18
- Name written in lambs book of life – Revelation 3:5-6; 13:8; 20:12-15
- Given new titles. We are no longer called sinners but now saints – Romans 8:27; 1 Corinthians 6:1-2
So what would it take to lose our salvation? The moment we are saved, all these things have taken place in our lives. This is part of the gift of salvation that Jesus freely gives to us. If we could lose our salvation, then we would lose all the benefits of salvation. God would take our name out of the book of life, we would lose our citizenship in heaven, lose access to His throne, lose the righteousness of Christ that He bestowed upon us, get baptized back out of Christ, the seal of the Spirit would be taken away, the Spirit of God would leave, and the list goes on. We cannot lose salvation. We are made alive spiritually, and that life is given for eternity. It is eternal life. Hebrews chapter 6, teaches us that if it were possible to lose our salvation, we would never get it back again because Jesus would have to once again die on the cross to redeem us again! The Bible is clear on this point; Jesus died once for all and is now sitting down at the right hand of God the Father. This reveals the completeness of the work of Christ; He is finished, just as His last words upon the cross declared.
Hebrews 9:24 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as man is destined to die once , and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Once a person has settled in their mind what salvation is and all that it entails they realize what an awesome gift salvation is and that it simply cannot be lost. It is something we have forever, regardless of our good works or lack thereof.The Great Promises of God
I John 2:25 And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.
Upon studying the security of the believer, it becomes apparent that there are many passages that deal with this subject directly. These are not obscure passages that are hard to understand, they are precise and clear in their message. Casually reading through the New Testament will reveal to us the eternal security we have, for there are many references to it. These truths are woven together with so many other teachings found in Scripture that if the doctrine of eternal security were missing, the whole of Scripture would be out of place. Lets look at just a few passages.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
This is perhaps the most popular and well-known verse in the Bible, as it should be. If you believe (put your faith and trust in Jesus) then you will not perish. It is that simple. If another Scripture said otherwise it would make the Bible full of contradictions. But all Scripture agrees; we will not perish. Jesus gave us this promise. Notice that Jesus did not condition this promise upon any action or non-action on our part.
Believe = not perishing.
This means we will not die spiritually again. We will not be eternally separated from Jesus in hell. Jesus gives us another promise in this passage. He goes on to say that we will have eternal life. The word eternal is important. It means eternal. You could never twist these words to mean something else; Jesus said we would have eternal life. How wonderful is that? Notice what Jesus goes on to say:
John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
Please consider these passages. Jesus was clear regarding our salvation:
John 3:16 -everlasting
Notice what else Jesus said:
John 6:35 Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."
Those who have been given to Christ were drawn by the Father, taught through the Word of God, and chose to believe in Jesus as their savior. Those who partake in the true bread of Christ will never go hungry and will never thirst. Their soul will receive satisfaction. All that the Father gives to Jesus, Jesus will never drive away. Note the word never. Never is a strong word that I have learned to be extremely careful about using. I have personally been forced to eat my own words after speaking the word never presumptuously. Jesus uses this word to declare that there will never be anything that could drive us away. “Never Jesus?” Never! Jesus has covered everything, no matter what sin we commit or whether or not we do what is right. Jesus promised us that we would never be driven away. Jesus also said that He would not lose anyone who has been given to Him! Just observe His awesome power within creation. When you look at how magnificent the world is you can start to see just how big God is. Jesus is not going to lose us; He is God. He also promised He would raise us up in the last day and that we have eternal life. We will not be driven away, lost, or forgotten. Jesus will save us completely.
John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one."
Jesus declares that believers have eternal life, and will never perish; no one can snatch them out of His hand. He is powerful enough to keep us in His grip. Some say that the believer can somehow choose to stop being a Christian and pluck them-self out of the hand of God. Jesus said, “no one” and that must include our-self. We are weak, yet He is strong. Even in a moment of weakness, we sit in the hands of Jesus. He will not cast us out of His family. Again, the Father is greater than all, He holds us, and He will not let you or I or any other creature snatch us out of God’s hands.
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Reading this entire chapter should offer enough evidence to prove that a Christian cannot possibly lose their salvation. However, we will look only at the last part of the chapter. I once asked a person who believes that we could lose our salvation to provide me with a list from Scripture of what things I could or could not do in order to lose my salvation. I believe if God were going to strip our salvation away, He would have listed what those offenses were and warned us of their consequences. Of course there is no such list, but here is a list of every conceivable thing we could imagine, and Paul is saying none of them will cause us to lose our love in Christ. Not:
14. Any powers
17. Anything else in all creation
None of these will be able to separate us from the love of Christ! Not one thing. Sin would fall under a few of these categories; even the sin of denying Christ. Paul was convinced and so should we be.
Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
It is God that has begun a work in us; He promises us that He will carry it on to completion, until the day of Christ Jesus. Nothing will stop this progress. He will continue to work in us throughout our lives.
Jude 24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy...
2 Timothy 1:12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
Here are two passages to remind us that it is God who is holding onto us, we are not holding onto Him. He is our rock. He will sustain us; it is not the other way around. God is able to keep us from falling and will present us before His glorious presence without fault – because of Jesus. Again, Paul was confidant that God is able to guard what Paul had entrusted to Him. Paul trusted God with his salvation. Once we become a believer, we will not need to worry about maintaining our salvation, but resting in it. Hebrews chapter four teaches that. The Sabbath was a shadow of Christ, it pictured the finished work of Him, and we are called to rest securely in that.
There are so many more proof positive passages that teach us the security of the believer. Many times we find it within the general teaching of several passages in context. We encourage all believers to read through the books of the New Testament specifically Romans, Corinthians, Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians and especially the book of Hebrews. I believe the book of Hebrews is one of the best to help us understand the eternal position of the believer. We, like Paul, are thoroughly convinced that the Bible teaches us that we are given salvation by God as a free gift through our faith or belief in Him; nothing less - nothing more. As a result of this and the other promises of God, we are also convinced that there is no possible way we can lose our salvation.Assurance of our Eternal Salvation
It is one thing to read of our security in Christ, it is another to have that assurance. Often I hear people say that they “hope” they are going to heaven. What do they mean by that? Are they relying upon their own works to make it to heaven? Unfortunately, many people who think we can lose our salvation are relying on themselves. Do they not understand what salvation is? Sometimes people simply do not understand that as a Christian, we can know we are going to heaven when we die. We do not have to hope we are going to heaven, we know we are going to heaven because the Word of God tells us we are. God wants us to know, He desires for us to have the assurance of our salvation. Sometimes we may feel like we are not Christians, but our salvation is not based on our feelings, but on the foundation of the Scripture. Sometimes Satan may want us to think we are not Christians based on some sin we have committed or wrong we have done. But our salvation is not up to Satan, and he cannot pluck us out of God’s hand. Some people believe they have to “prove” their salvation by using some spiritual gift, but again, our salvation is not based upon those things. We can know for certain we are going to heave because Jesus said that if we believe on Him then we would never perish, but have everlasting life. We must trust what the Bible says on the matter, not in our own ability to maintain it.
1 John 5:9 We accept man's testimony, but God's testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. 10 Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us — whatever we ask — we know that we have what we asked of him.
We can believe the testimony of God, and we can know that we have eternal life. This is the confidence that God wants us to have in our heart. The Spirit of God teaches us through God’s Word that we have eternal life.Conclusion
Much more could have been written on this subject, and many more passages could have been sited. It is our prayer that as you read this study and allow yourself to be guided by truth through the Word of God that you will become assured that there is nothing we can do to lose our salvation. We at Guided By Truth Ministries understand that there are vast amounts of false teachings out there concerning salvation. Know this; the classic Christianity as taught and found in Scripture is plain; we cannot earn salvation on our own. It is all through the work of Christ. His promises are clear; it is finished.
Ephesians 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession — to the praise of his glory.