Once and always saved

I recently received a request to respond to a video in which a Pastor looking person calls "once saved always saved" a false doctrine. So here is my response. 

I want to make a few comments before I get to the video. 

I think it's worth looking at John 6:47 specifically. Jesus says, "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life."

Based on this verse, 

Q: Does the believer this verse talks about, currently have eternal life?
A: Yes. In fact, they received eternal life the moment they first believe. (Also see John 5:24, acts 10:44, John 11:25, John 10:28)

Q: How long does eternal life last?
A: Forever. If it lasts less than forever, it's not eternal life. 

Q: So, if that person who has eternal life goes to Hell for any reason such as sin, how long did their "eternal life" last?
A: Less than an eternity.

Q: So if "eternal life" didn't last an eternity, is it eternal life.
A: No.  

So the only conclusion is that eternal life is something that can never be taken away once it is given and it is given the moment someone believes in Jesus for it. 

Here are some other verses that support that idea. 

John 10:28, "and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand."

If anything can snatch them out of Jesus' hand, [including their own sin] then Jesus was lying. 

1 Peter 1:5, "who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." 

We are protected, [even from our selves]. 

John 6:39, "And this is the will of God, that I should not lose even one of all those he has given me, but that I should raise them up at the last day." 

So, God's will is that anyone who believes in Jesus (at a moment in time) will recieve eternal life at that moment. No matter what, Jesus will not lose those who are given to him. They will be raised up at the last day. If they are not raised up at the last day, then Jesus is a liar. 

John 11:25, "“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

This is pretty clear.  Any person who believes in Jesus will be resurrected. period. If they aren't then Jesus is a liar. 

and here's a great one. 

Ephesians 4:30, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" 

This one is good because Paul is admitting that a believer can sin, and even sin so big that it would make the Holy Spirit grieve and mourn. Even in spite of the fact that we can make the Holy Spirit grieve, it still says, "by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." Sealed, means that it's a done deal. A Roman seal was a binding legal condition. Once something was sealed, it could not be undone. This was the strongest language that Paul could have used. He's saying that, no matter what, if someone has believed, they are sealed. 

Now to the video. 
[Here's a link if anyone wants to watch it. Video]

I'm going to list the verses that this guy mentioned in his video and then make a few comments about them generally. After that, I will make specific comments about each verse. 

He quoted in order:
Galatians 5:4, Acts 8:20, 1 Corinthians 10:12, 2 Peter 1:10, Ezekiel 18:24, 2 Peter 2:20-22, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Hebrews 6:8, Revelation 3:5, and 1 John 3:9

[sorry if I missed any, it was a long video]

First of all, he didn't pick a single verse from any of the gospels. Especially not the Gospel of John. The Gospel of John is the only book in the the Bible with a purpose statement of, explaining how to have eternal life. (John 20:31) 

So the place that we want to look for understanding eternal security, and matters having to do with gaining eternal life is The Gospel Of John. However, he didn't mention a single verse from the Gospel of John. That was curious to me. 

There are scores of verses from John that should be considered and weighed on this discussion. Like John 5:24, 6:47, 11:25, 10:28, etc. etc. In fact, there are loads of references in the Gospel of John to eternal security. There are lots in other books as well. 

The other thing about the video you shared, is that he said that "once saved always saved" is the same as "perseverance of the saints." I divide the two. So, perseverance of the saints is an idea that, "if someone is truly saved then they will automatically continue in good works." There's a problem with that. It's a misunderstanding of the difference between [being a believer] and [being a disciple]. So once saved always saved is not the same as the perseverance of the saints, even though many people put those two ideas together. 

When a clear line is drawn between Believers and Disciples [Jesus made this distinction] then these verses make much more sense. 

One of the ways that we explain it on this site is:

BELIEVERS have believed. 
DISCIPLES have believed and behaved. 
BELIEVERS have their salvation. 
DISCIPLES have reward and are saved.

So most of the verses he mentioned are actually talking about Discipleship, not salvation. 
Some of the verses are talking about people who are trying to be saved, not by faith but by works. 

Here is the list of verses once more with my comments next to them. 

Galatians 5:4 = talking about believers who are trying to be justified by law [keeping rules]. This is a different matter all together, than those who are living a life of sin. None-the-less. When he uses the term "fallen from Grace." He is not talking about losing salvation, but instead "tripped" or "fallen down" [as the word can be translated]. He's slipped up in his understanding, but the point is that he can't be justified by his works... The irony, is that this verse teaches the exact opposite of what the video was trying to prove. The video was trying to prove that you NEED to have works in order to be saved. Instead Paul says here that, if you TRY to be justified by works you will fall down. It's the opposite. Kind of funny really.  

Acts 8:20 = is talking about someone who is in danger of Physical death because of his bad dealings with money. the word "perish" apōleia in Greek is only used to mean physical death [but not eternal damnation] in Luke-Acts. Think of Ananias and Saphira in chapter 4 and 5. Simon was probably aware of the story, and feared that the same kind of quick death, or possibly loss of health might occur to him. He had in mind, a physical issue. Looking at the rest of the New Testament, apōleia is used more often than not to mean ruin or temporal destruction, but not damnation. Secondly, Peter tells him that he is "bound by iniquity, and poised by bitterness." However, he does not tell him that he's unsaved. These things could easily be true of a believer. There are plenty of Christians who are bitter, and trapped in some sin [iniquity]. This doesn't mean he is unsaved. This verse is about restoring fellowship, or rededication to God, but not about a loss of salvation. 

1 Corinthians 10:12 = This one doesn't seem to have anything to do with the topic. He mentioned it though, so I'll make a quick comment. This verse doesn't say that every Christian will overcome temptation every time. It just says that it's possible to overcome temptation. If we were required to overcome every temptation to be saved... then no one would be saved. We are saved by faith alone in Christ, not by overcoming temptation. 

2 Peter 1:10 = This verse is talking about how to have an "abundant entrance" into the kingdom of heaven, not how to enter the kingdom of heaven it in general. So, when he says "make your calling and election sure," he's not talking about salvation. He's talking about being selected [election / eklogē in Greek] for reward, and rulership in the Kingdom. Notice that at the beginning of this section he recognizes his readers as believers [verse 1]. So these believers have the opportunity to not only be believers, but to be faithful to Christ. If they are faithful [as he describes in verse 5-9] they will be selected to reign with him when he comes in his Kingdom. If they are not faithful, they will not be part of that selection, but they will be saved. Also notice the verse that comes RIGHT BEFORE verse 10. It says that the person who doesn't act faithfully to Christ has "forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins." So, he's claiming in the verse right before 10, that these believers are technically forgiven of their sins, but they've forgotten. They are certainly saved, but they need to be faithful to Christ as well if they want to be selected to reign with Christ when the Kingdom comes. 

Ezekiel 18:24 = This verse takes place under the Mosaic law. Even at that, It doesn't apply to salvation. It's speaking of physical life and death, not eternal life or eternal damnation. 

2 Peter 2:20-22 = These verses are talking about the victims of false teachers. Basically, it's saying that, false teachers will tell you that they can make you free, but they will actually make you slaves of corruption just like they already are themselves. So if they bring you under their bondage, you will be worse off than before you started listening to them. The whole point of the passage is telling them to watch out for false teachers because the consequences will be bad. However, it doesn't say that these victims will be cast into Hell, or anything like that. It doesn't say that anyone who has eternal life will lose it. It says that things will get worse IN THIS LIFE for you if you listen to false teachers. 

1 Corinthians 9:27 = Once again, this is a clear verse about eternal rewards and reigning with Christ, not salvation. We can see this clearly by the previous verse. He explains that he's working hard for a "CROWN." This is a clear connection to being rewarding in the Kingdom of God, and reigning with Christ. It's not about salvation, but about discipleship. 

Hebrews 6:8 = If you continue to verse 9 you see that the writer is describing something that he is confident will not happen. He says, "we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation." So two things here. He reveals that he's not talking about salvation in the previous verse, but things that accompany salvation. Secondly, he reveals that his hearers are in fact saved, since it's not salvation which is in question, but that which accompanies it. 

Revelation 3:5 = This verse talks about the reward of those who are faithful to Christ. Not all believers will be overcomers, but those who overcome will be rewarded. It doesn't mention anything about losing salvation. I think it's important to note that it's the garments that are given in response to their faithfulness. However, their names are not left in the book of life because of their faithfulness. Some have seen this verse as a veiled threat that Jesus will blot out the names of anyone who isn't faithful. That's not a good reading. Instead, this should be seen as litotes [a feature of literature that aims to understate an action in order to emphasize it.] So once again this verse is not talking about losing salvation, in fact it doesn't even mention the possibility. 

1 John 3:9 = In this verse he's setting up a paradox. He claims that those who are born of God cannot sin. However, this should make us gasp because we know that Christians do sin. In fact, he strengthens the mystery of this paradox when he says only two chapters before that, "if we say that we have no sin, we decieve ourselves." So what gives, John? The answer comes in focus when we remember what Paul taught us in his letter to the Romans. He said, "So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin." Paul and John both recognize that there are warring natures within the believer. The inner self is impervious to sin, but the flesh continues to sin until the day we die. The sin of the outer flesh, once we've believed, cannot effect the eternal desitnation of the inner self, heaven. Therefore, this is not a verse that says "you're not saved if you sin." On the contrary, it's a verse that says, "as a Christian, your sin doesn't jepordize your eternal salvation." 

So, all of the verses that he mentioned in the video are either about discipleship or other issues but not about "gaining salvation." Discipleship is: when believers grow in Christ. You have to be a believer first, before you can begin growing as a disciple. So those verses are about discipleship, growth in godliness, and gaining eternal rewards, not about salvation. 

The other thing we need to see is that when the Bible uses the word saved, we need to ask, "Saved from what?" If you do a word search in the Bible, you'll see that "saved" doesn't always mean "saved from Hell." In fact, it is most often talking about being saved from other things. The word saved (Greek: sozo) is often translated delivered. So in many cases, a verse may be talking about "deliverance from the consequences of a sinful lifestyle." For the person who has believed in Jesus at some point in their life, they have eternal life. They may not be growing as a disciple, though. They may lose some privileges and rewards once they reach Heaven, but they are saved certainly if they believed in Jesus for eternal life at some point in their past. A great example of this is 1 Cor. 3 When Paul talks about someone who was a believer but then wasted their life. He says, "he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Cor. 3:15) So there is consequence, for not living a godly lifestyle, but the consequence is not Hell, if someone has believed in Jesus at some point. 

Remember, none of those verses say that a person "loses their eternal life." None of them say anything nearly close to that. None of them say that the believer who turns away from Christ will be "eternally damned." None of them say a person will go to Hell, if they believe but then live a life of sin. That interpretation is a put on, or a bad inference, based on modern theological interpretations. 

So here's the bottom line. Until I understood these six things, I struggled to make sense of the Bible. 

1. A person receives eternal life the moment they believe in Jesus for it. 
2. That eternal life can never be taken away.
3. Once a person believes they have the power to be faithful to Christ.
4. However, they also have the capacity to live a life of Sin. 
5. Those that have believed and are faithful to Christ will be saved, rewarded, and reign with Christ. 
6. Those who are believers, but not faithful will be saved but not rewarded. 

So that's my 2 cents. Hope it helps.