There are three schools of thought when it comes to losing one’s salvation. The three schools of thought are once saved always saved, salvation can be lost due to sin and predestination or the idea that everyone’s fate is predetermined regardless of how you live your life. All three of these cases can be backed by scripture.Today we will settle this case forever in the hearts and minds of those that read this blog. I do not carry a doctorate in divinity nor can I fit all relevant scriptures for this topic into one post, however, what I can do is pray that the information I am able to present is done well. Let us begin by dissecting each of the three cases.
The first claim is once saved, always saved. Once saved, always saved states that once you have come to the knowledge and saving faith of Jesus Christ then you are saved forever.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3
This is one of the most powerful claims that back the once saved theory and the reason is that these words are Jesus’ directly. It would appear that Jesus is saying, if you believe in me you WILL NOT perish. Perish is understood to be a spiritual death or going to hell. By way of reasoning you can argue that if the person isn’t in hell than they must be in heaven. This line of reasoning is in line with the predetermination-ist, but does not fall in line with those who believe that salvation can be lost due to sin. To answer that group of believers we have the following scripture:
So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven. – Matthew 5:19
Once saved, always saved believers may feel that Matthew 5:19 answers the question of salvation being lost due to sin. Matthew 5:19 can be read to some as saying that you can ignore the commandments of God and teach others to ignore the commandments of God and still go to heaven. It would appear to state this very clearly. It states that you will be called the least valuable person in heaven, but many would not care about titles as long as they make it in.
The salvation can be lost group would combat this with a barrage of scriptures that they believe speak to the contrary. For instance:
15“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. 16You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act… 19So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. 20Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions. -Matthew 7
The salvation can be lost group, or SCBL for the purpose of this blog, would go on to argue that the false prophets are those who teach once saved, always saved and that verse 19 clearly indicates that if someone isn’t producing good fruit or living according to the ways of God that they will be chopped down (cut from the body of Christ) and thrown into the fire (hell). Matthew goes on to say:
21“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. 22On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ 23But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’
Verse 21-23 can be taken as a Christian crying out to God and God denying them access into heaven because of their ungodly behavior. The snag in this grouping of scriptures however, is verse 23 and the line “I never knew you.”
‘Predestination-ist’ as I am dubbing them for the sake of the flow of this article is a group that believes that God knows all things and with that knows who will live righteously their entire lives. With the foreknowledge of every human being’s behavior , God chooses only to save those whom He knows will live holy their entire life. The line in verse 23, therefore, would mean that God knew that these people would not live righteously for the entirety of their lives and thus never really saved them which is why Jesus said “I never knew you.” Scriptures to back this thought ideology come from Paul’s writings in Romans.
29For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstbornn among many brothers and sisters. 30And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory. – Romans 8
Predestination’s entire argument hinges on the balance of these verses and how they are understood. With this let’s go verse by verse and line by line placing this into plain english. Verse 29, God knew who would live right their entire life so He chose them to have eternal life and verse 30, God called them to believe in Jesus Christ and declared them righteous because of that faith and also glorified them. This scripture is the only defining scripture I’ve come across that is being used as a staple for the predestination-ist belief.
In the end, there are many additional factors that come into play in the understanding of these scriptures, the major of which being Jesus’ statements in John 14.
12“I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done,…
This implies that those who love Jesus will work the same way Jesus works. This is extremely significant in that it ties into the scriptures about producing fruit. If you love Jesus and believe in Jesus your life should be one that produces belief meaning people should get saved as a result of knowing you. The counter to this would be to argue that many pastors and ministers have preached the gospel and people have gotten saved, yet they were liars, adulterers and the like. They have fruit, but also consistently sin… do they get into heaven? To clear this up we find Jesus merely three verses later state:
These are two proclamations, the first is of love causing fruit to be produced and the other saying that love causes one to obey Jesus. Jesus follows this up by saying:
23Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them.
This also implies that loving Jesus causes God and Jesus to make their home with you. This would be seen as a physical home like heaven and not like the Holy Spirit’s home within us.
In the end, all three points of view have a basis in scripture and should be reviewed , cross referenced by scriptures and prayed upon. With that, it is clear that God strongly desires us to believe and live according to that belief. This is not to say that we will never make a mistake, but it is to say that we should not live willfully in a way that breaks the commandments of God. To live as if we can not be sent to hell because we believe in Jesus may be a bit foolish or presumptuous. Jesus Himself had a fear of God and did not want to tempt God, Luke 4:12, Deuteronomy 6:16. Whether or not God has predetermined the eternal resting place of each human soul becomes less consequential when considering that God sits outside of time. God is in the future holding our hands as we fade off into the night, though we always live in the present. God knows how it ends, but we do not and this unknowing should be all the motivation we need to live everyday like it’s our last and fight the good fight of faith 1 Timothy 6:12.
Final Thoughts: Let us never live a life as close to sin as we possibly can, hoping that we make it past the finish line, but instead let us seek to live as close to righteousness as we possibly can reaching upwards towards a crown of glory. Jesus says enter through the narrow gate so let’s not get so fat of the pleasures of life that we get to the narrow gate and no longer fit.
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