In the first part of this three-part series, we discussed five Scriptures which have been used to “prove” the “once saved, always saved”-concept, and showed that these passages do not support this wrong assumption. The proponent who quoted those five passages went on to cite additional Scriptures which allegedly support his view point, stating the following:
“For further reading see also Hebrews 5:9, 10:14, 1 Peter 1:3-5, 1 John 5:11-13. The scriptural motivation for Christian service should not be fear of losing one’s salvation but rather love to Christ. How tragic that some attend church and read their Bibles driven by the fear that if they do not fulfil these duties they will be cast out. May the Lord graciously reveal the truth of eternal security and the believer’s new position in Christ, that bond-service to Him may become the most blessed freedom of all.”
Let us also address the Scriptures quoted above.
- Hebrews 5:9:
“And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him…”
It is somewhat surprising that this verse is used to try and prove the “once saved, always saved” belief. It clearly states that obedience is necessary, not someone who makes a pronouncement that he has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and then goes off the straight and narrow and sins as a matter of lifestyle. The proponents of this understanding believe that sins not yet committed will be automatically forgiven without repentance and asking God for forgiveness. Those who are committed to the Way of Life that God has called us to are obedient as an ongoing commitment and will repent of sins that they engage in and ask God for forgiveness which He will give to the truly repentant.
In 1 John 3:24 we read: “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom [which] He has given us.” There is further proof in 1 John 2:3-4: “Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” These verses alone should be sufficient to answer the erroneous teaching under discussion.
- Hebrews 10:14:
“For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
As is the case with all Scripture, we have to put all the relevant verses together and not just rely on one verse to prove a point. This passage talks about those who are being sanctified. We are not the finished article and that is why we have to endure to the end through testing and tribulation. In this regard, let us review Revelation 2:10-11:
“Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”
We need to be faithful to God even to the point of death, and nothing less will do – and overcoming is again stressed.
There are other Scriptures that are relevant here.
Hebrews 3:12-14 says: “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end…”
Here Paul was talking to Church members, addressing them as brethren, saying that they could depart from God. If the “once saved, always saved” belief is applied in these cases, then those who were once saved but have departed from the faith will still have their future sins forgiven without any remorse or repentance whilst they are living a life not approved of by God. That is a ridiculous conclusion and one that is not endorsed by the Word of God.
2 Corinthians 13:9-11 says: “For we are glad when we are weak and you are strong. And this also we pray, that you may be made complete. Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction. Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
Here, Paul prayed for those who had been saved from their past sins, to aim for perfection, not to veer off the Way that they had been called to. There must have been the possibility that this could happen; otherwise, he wouldn’t have made this urgent plea, but those who may not have heeded such a plea and fell away from the Truth would, according to the “once saved, always saved” proponents, still have their sins forgiven in the future without them repenting or coming back to the faith.
Galatians 6:7-10 says: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
There are two types of sowing here: one to please man’s own sinful nature (the flesh), and one that produces everlasting life through sowing to the Spirit. Those who fall away even though they were saved from past sins at the time of conversion, cannot possibly have future sins forgiven because they will not repent of them and their wrong way of life.
Eternal life is something that will be reaped if true Christians don’t grow weary and give up. If they do give up, as many have over the last 6,000 years, and don’t repent and return to the Way of Life to which they were called, then their future sins will not automatically be forgiven.
- 1 Peter 1:3-5:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
True Christians have been begotten, not yet born again as that will occur at the first resurrection and the same principle of enduring to the end applies once again.
- 1 John 5:11-13:
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
The fact that God has given us eternal life doesn’t mean that this translates into a permanent situation irrespective of what happens after conversion. We must endure, and come through, all of the tests and trials that are set before us; otherwise, it would give us the opportunity to do what we liked and still make it into the Kingdom of God. The Bible nowhere teaches such a scenario; in fact, a few verses later in 1 John 5 we read: “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death” (verses 16-17). This is talking about sin not repented of. However, it doesn’t make any sense to think that sin not repented of would mean the end of physical life but such a person would still be fine with God spiritually speaking if you apply the “once saved, always saved” concept. This passage does not talk about physical death, but it talks about the eternal or second death which we earn when we commit the unpardonable sin. There is plain contradiction in such thinking!
One website opined as follows:
“Salvation is not a matter of believers trying to confess and repent from every sin they commit before they die. Salvation is not based on whether a Christian has confessed and repented of every sin. Yes, we should confess our sins to God as soon as we are aware that we have sinned. However, we do not always need to be asking God for forgiveness. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, all of our sins are forgiven. That includes past, present, and future, big or small. Believers do not have to keep asking for forgiveness or repenting in order to have their sins forgiven. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and when they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43)” (our emphasis by underlining).
What a contradiction we find here. It states: “Yes, we should confess our sins to God as soon as we are aware that we have sinned. However, we do not always need to be asking God for forgiveness.” In short, we need to confess our sins but we don’t always need to be asking for forgiveness!
It is amazing what some people will believe in order to convince themselves that obedience to God and His Commandments is unnecessary!
Keeping in mind the comments above that “we do not always need to be asking God for forgiveness” and “believers do not have to keep asking for forgiveness or repenting in order to have their sins forgiven,” let us consider what the online biblestudytools.com website has to say:
“Confession of sins is both commanded and frequently illustrated. When one is guilty of various sins, ‘he must confess in what way he has sinned’ in order to receive atonement and forgiveness. Thus, confession belongs to repentance, and is needed for divine forgiveness. A great prophecy/promise is given in the Book of Isaiah: ‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins.’
“In the New Testament, the key term for repentance is metanoia – It has two usual senses: a ‘change of mind’ and ‘regret/remorse.’ In both books of Mark and Matthew Jesus began his public proclamation with the call ‘Repent.’ In addition, Paul is said to have preached to both Jews and Gentiles/Greeks to ‘turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus.’
“True repentance leads a person to say, ‘I have sinned’ and prove it with a 180-degree change of their direction. Repentance requires true brokenness.”
Romans 3:21-25 states: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed…”
Being justified means to be lined up and made right with God by grace which is a gift of God. But that is just the start, the beginning of the Christian life which is a life of growing and overcoming—and enduring to the end.
In the Benson Commentary we read: “For the remission of sins that are past — All the sins antecedent to their believing,” and the Geneva Study Bible states: “Of those sins which we committed when we were his enemies.”
There is no mention here in Romans 3:21-25 of future sins being automatically forgiven and, as we have seen, we have to truly repent of all of our sins and then they will be forgiven. In Romans 2:4 we read: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” God leads us to repentance and it is a very necessary part of the Christian life and we should not just expect our sins to be forgiven without repenting of them.
To clarify, we may die without having recognized all of our sins; and therefore, we would not have repented of them. But this does not mean that God would hold those unknown or unrealized sins against us. God looks at our heart and judges us based on what we know and what He has revealed to us. But once we recognize sin in our life, we must repent of it—God will not forgive those sins when we refuse to repent of them and leave them behind.
(To Be Continued)
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)