Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS)?

A friend of mine wrote a rather long post on Facebook all about OSAS doctrine. A particular paragraph in his post really grabbed my attention. This post contains the text of his post and my response, for what it’s worth. Although the Bible contains much (to say the least) that teaches the eternal security of the true believer, my response revolves around a small portion of my friend’s post and the text of John 10:28 – 29, which I believe is more than adequate to refute my friends position on the matter. I also included a couple of good commentaries. I was not trying to win an argument, but I did want to encourage searching scripture, which he also recommended.

Without any further banter on my part, here is the text of my friend’s FB post and my response. Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

My friend’s FB post:

The passages below all deal with the doctrine of once saved always saved. Every teacher needs to be questioned and checked. If we just accept what we are told by someone then we are doing that person and our brothers and sisters a huge disservice. Please pray over and go through the word with anything that is fed to you. If it is from God then the Spirit will make that clear and will bring you to an even deeper understanding of the teaching. If it is not from God then the Spirit will make that clear as well and you will learn still more about God. Checking what a teacher feeds us can only bring us closer to Jesus. That said………

It is a deliberate choice for us to repent and follow Jesus. Salvation is not something that we stumble into one day by doing good, being good enough, or somehow balancing the scales between good and evil toward good.

Neither does one lose or reject the salvation given to us by Jesus by stumbling out of our walk with Him. It is a deliberate choice. It is not the result of simply sinning, committing a certain amount of sin, or somehow balancing the scales between good and evil toward evil.

Jesus died once for our sin. He did not die twice or more. Those who choose to repent and follow Jesus die with Him. Those who choose to deny Him will be denied by Him. There is no separation shown between Christians and Non-Christians in this. At no point is the ability to choose or the will of a Christian removed. Having the desire taken from us is not the same as having the choice taken from us. Being a new creation does not mean that the creation cannot be warped or contaminated. Adam was a new creation that walked physically with God and he turned from God.

Romans chapter six dwells specifically on choice. Telling us that our master is the one we choose (current action) to serve. It does not say that our master is the one that we chose (past action) to serve.

Over and over throughout Scripture we are told to endure (current action) and when Jesus told us that anyone who takes their hand off of the plow is not worthy, He did not limit or specify a point in the work at which that applied.

In the parable of the seeds/soils we are given a powerful message. In all four cases it was the same seed that was sown. In three of the four examples the seeds grew and had life. Apple seeds do not grow into pecan trees. The same type of seed grows the same plant. Only the soil is different.

In the case of scripture saying that we cannot be taken, separated, or snatched from the hand of God it is often stated that this would apply to us as well. In the passages where such terminology is used it refers to something outside of the person that would be taking them from God and not the person themselves. Nowhere does it say that we cannot walk away.

At the end of the Revelation there is a penalty listed for taking away from the prophecy. Suffice it to say that one cannot lose something they do not have. We are told in Hebrews that those who were partakers of the Holy Spirit and turn away from Christ cannot repent again. It is in effect crucifying (a cursed death) Jesus a second time and it is cursing the Holy Spirit (which Jesus said is unforgivable).

Scripture tells us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. He loved us so much that Jesus suffered a cursed and painful death to shed His blood for our sin. That sacrifice was for the entire world. That love is so great that Jesus gave Himself up even for those that He knew would deny Him. His love is not limited to Christians.

Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23

Matthew 18: 21-35

John 5:24-25, 10:28-29

Romans 6

Hebrews 6:4-6, 9:20-28

2 Timothy 2:11-13

Revelation 22:19

My response:

You said:

“In the case of scripture saying that we cannot be taken, separated, or snatched from the hand of God it is often stated that this would apply to us as well. In the passages where such terminology is used it refers to something outside of the person that would be taking them from God and not the person themselves. Nowhere does it say that we cannot walk away.”

There was a time when I agree with you concerning being able to snatch oneself out of the double fisted hand of God, however I had to change my opinion after careful study. Here are the relevant passages.

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

Joh 10:29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

The key words are “no one-(NASB), or “no man” (KJV)

“no on/no man” in the Greek (Strong’s):

From G3761 and G1520; not even one (man, woman or thing), that is, none, nobody, nothing: – any (man), aught, man, neither any (thing), never (man), no (man), none (+ of these things), not (any, at all, -thing), nought.

Total KJV occurrences: 233

“No man” means exactly what it says – no man, woman, or thing (NOTHING)

One has to read into the passages (eisegesis) the notion that “no one” refers to that which is outside of the believer.

COMMENTARIES

ALBERT BARNES

None is able – None has power to do it. In these two verses we are taught the following important truths:

1. That Christians are given by God the Father to Christ.

2. That Jesus gives to them eternal life, or procures by his death and intercession, and imparts to them by his Spirit, that religion which shall result in eternal life.

3. That both the Father and the Son are pledged to keep them so that they shall never fall away and perish. It would be impossible for any language to teach more explicitly that the saints will persevere.

4. That there is no power in man or devils to defeat the purpose of the Redeemer to save his people. We also see our safety, if we truly, humbly, cordially, and daily commit ourselves to God the Saviour. In no other way can we have evidence that we are his people than by such a persevering resignation of ourselves to him, to obey his law, and to follow him through evil report or good report. If we do that we are safe. If we do not that we have no evidence of piety, and are not, cannot be safe.

BIBLE KNOWLEDGE COMMENTARY

My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. That is, no one is strong enough to snatch any of Jesus’ flock from the Father’s hand (or from Jesus’ hand, Joh_10:28). As the NIV margin states, Joh_10:29 in many early Greek manuscripts reads, “What My Father has given Me is greater than all.” The thought of the verse in either case is that the Father who is omnipotent secures the flock by His power and protection. God’s plan of salvation for Jesus’ flock cannot be aborted.

Also, I must ask, what does “never perish” mean in verse 28? If it means wake up in hell (and it does), I then have to ask another question. “If you walk away from / ‘take yourself away from God’ (your expression), would you eventually wake up in Hell?

There is much more to say from scripture concerning the eternal security of the believer that makes it abundantly clear that He who began a good work will bring it to completion. I sometimes use the phrase “Those whom God saves, God keeps.”

I’ll leave it right there.

8 responses to “Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS)?

  1. Hi Dan, interesting discussion. I’ve spent a fair amount of time looking at both sides of this question and I would have a tendency to lean towards that it is possible for a person who is truly saved to walk away from or lose their salvation. I’ve looked at a good number of cases made for both sides but this following link provides what I consider, the best extensive case for why I do believe it is possible. Take a look at it and let me know what you think: https://rootedandgroundedinchrist.com/the-bible-once-saved-always-saved-theology/ It is a tad on the long side but it is thorough. If you disagree, I can live with that but I could not teach OSAS in good conscience. You might want to get a really BIG coffee cup! Blessings!

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    • Hi Bruce,

      Yes, it is indeed a very long article with some good points, beginning with:
      “My only option was to seek God and find out the truth for myself because it doesn’t matter what I or anyone else thinks. I had to find the truth so I could believe it, regardless if my current beliefs were right or wrong.”

      In light of the general tone of the article, it seems that the OSAS theology he was taught for so long might have the variety that leans toward antinomianism, which is in itself false doctrine. If that’s true, the author spends a really long time proving that an unbiblical definition of OSAS is indeed false, as if there is only one definition – the wrong one. If OSAS is always wrong, then it MUST be possible to walk away of your own volition, even if you couldn’t ‘lose’ it like losing your watch by dropping it on the sidewalk.

      On the other hand, could OSAS be true if the one who began the work has promised to finish it?

      “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:3–6, NKJV).

      What God says he will do, he will do. God saved me by his power and he will keep me saved by his power. If it’s possible that I could just walk away of my own volition and wake up in Hell, has God completed his work?

      The author makes much of a lot of hypothetical “if” statements concerning continuing in the faith, as if someone who is truly saved could someday NOT want to continue in the faith, meaning God would fail to bring His work to completion.

      I think there is also a hermeneutical principle at stake here that tells us we should use that which is clear to interpret that which is less clear. That takes me right back to John 10:28-29:

      “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
      In the original post I already discussed that passage, but here are two questions it poses:

      1. When does eternal life begin? Is it the moment we repent and believe?
      2. What does ‘never perish’ mean?
      3. What does ‘no one’ / ‘no man’ mean?

      Answer those accurately, from the text and context, and we have our answer to the big question. Believe me, over the years I struggled with it. I went from the position where I was absolutely convinced that I was saved solely because of my “free will” decision. Sure, Jesus had to die for my sins, but the determining factor in my salvation was my own decision. Therefore, because of “free will” I could eventually walk away from it all. If I would remain saved no matter what, God must have taken my “free will”.

      I could go on and on why I believe in the eternal security of the believer, with nothing but passages of scripture. Simply put, now I just believe that “God keeps those whom He saves.” The Bible tells me that. I also believe we sometimes believe what we ‘want’ to believe and we can be good at using to the Bible to ‘prove’ what we want to believe.

      Perhaps a deeper issue here might be the nature of the fallen human will. What does the Bible say about that? And that’s another story.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Blessings to you, my brother! Please know that I am not in the business of trying to convince other that what I believe is what they should also believe. All I know is what I believe at this moment and why I believe it. 🙂

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          • I hear you Dan and I am in the same boat. I just found your initial comments really interesting because I had a recent discussion with someone just last week on OSAS. Note that I said I “leaned” in that direction. For myself it is the “free will” factor along with the “enduring” aspect that causes me the hesitancy. I agree that as long as one is enduring then nothing external can remove us from our salvation in Christ. And even where one’s free will is involved, the only one who would know if and when that aspect has been exercised would be the individual and God. So maybe leaning but not totally convinced would be a better statement on my part. I do sincerely thank you for taking the time to go through that long response link I sent you. I respect what you believe and you are not alone. Personally I just don’t see it as black and white yet. God’s grace, peace and blessings to you also brother. – Bruce

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