Can you lose your salvation? Once Saved Always Saved?


“Can I lose my salvation,” is one of the most googled phrases regarding the topic of soteriology. Many people are concerned with this tragic potential. In order to answer this question some refer to the doctrine called the “Perseverance of the Saints,” and others the more common teachings such as, “Once Saved Always Saved,” or “Eternal Security of the Believer.” All of the discussions typically center around the foundational concern of an individual feeling insecure in his relationship with God.

Many of us have gone through similar insecurities in dating relationships.  We know how we feel about that significant other, but we are not quite sure how they feel about us. What has to happen?  The “DTR!” The “Defining of the Relationship.”

NOTE: I preached a Sermon by that Title HERE if you are interested.

We have to sit down with the one we care about and tell them how we feel  in hopes that they reciprocate those feelings.  In that process we can either bring that relationship to an end or find security in knowing how the other feels about us.

It is similar in our relationship with God. As long as we are unaware of how God really feels about us individually, we will continue to have these insecurities.  The good news is that God’s word does provide us a “DTR.”  The bible clearly “defines the relationship” between God and man, which is where we develop our systematic teachings on each particular subject.

This brings us to the “P” in the popular Calvinistic soteriological acronym called TULIP.  Chapter 17 of the Westminster Confession of faith defines it in this manner:

securePerseverance of the saints is the Calvinist doctrine that those who are truly saved will persevere to the end and cannot lose their salvation. It doesn’t mean that a person who is truly saved will never lose faith or backslide at any time. But that they will ultimately persevere in faith (inspite of failures) such as not to lose their salvation.  The doctrine of perseverance is rooted in God’s unconditional election and predestination. That is, since God is the One who chose and predestined the elect to salvation, therefore the elect will be saved. They might turn away from faith and give appearance of losing their salvation, but if they really are elect they will repent and ultimately return to faith, because God is the One ensuring their salvation.(1)

Those of us who hold to “The Corporate View of Election” (the most widely held view of Southern Baptist biblical scholars), likewise affirm the Calvinistic doctrine that “those who are truly saved will persevere to the end and cannot lose their salvation.” Some Calvinists feel it is inconsistent for those of us who deny any part of the TULIP doctrines to try and maintain the doctrine of perseverance. This accusation, however, is misapplied because it fails to recognize that we affirm the effectual work of regeneration, just like our Calvinistic brethren.  We disagree as to the “ordo salutis” (order of salvation) in that we do not affirm the concept of pre-faith regeneration (irresistible grace). Instead we believe as John clearly stated, “These are written so that you may believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing you may have life in His name.” -John 20:31

In today’s podcast I go over these points in great detail, outlining Ephesians chapter 1 and Paul’s teaching regarding Predestination, the TRUE “P” of the biblical doctrine regarding the perseverance of those who are “IH HIM.”

John Piper writes this about the doctrine:

“The true Christian is safe, but his safety is confirmed in his pressing on to make his final inheritance his own. Our safety is seen in the words “because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” In other words, our security is not based finally on our grip on Christ, but his grip on us. ” -John Piper

I could not agree more with this statement, though we might disagree as to means and methods that God uses to “make us” His own.  The real question of this debate is not, “Can you lose your salvation,” but instead, “If you lost it, did you ever have it to begin with?” 1 John 2:19 answers that question quite clearly:

1jn219I recently had a woman in a church tell me she “fell out of love with her husband and got a divorce.” With great care I had to explain to her that she cannot refer to that as “love,” because according to God’s definition “love does not fail.”  True genuine love is a never ending commitment.  So, she may have cared for her husband, liked him a lot, or been infatuated with him for a time, but she cannot rightly call what she had “love.”  We cannot change the definition of the word to match our behaviors.

The same is true of salvation.  If it lasts, then it’s real.  If it does not then it is proven itself to have been false.  So, from the human perspective, unlike God who can see the heart, it may appear one has lost something that he once attained.  This may be why some passages appear to suggest that we may lose our salvation.  However, from the divine perspective one choosing to walk away from the faith is merely revealing externally what has been true internally all along.  The ultimate external fruit of true salvation is perseverance to the very end.

Now, does that mean God’s warnings about falling away are benign?  Is God just bluffing as a means to ensure we do not fall away even though He knows full well we cannot?  I do not believe so.  We should never dull the edge of God’s warnings with our systematics.  The warning is a real one and it is given for those who may be self-deceived into thinking they have something they truly do not. OSASThis is why Paul exhorts his listeners to, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith.” (2 Cor. 13:5) Paul is not concerned for those who truly are in the faith, but for those who falsely believe they are in the faith.  The only way the self-deceived may come to realize their error is by examining themselves to see if Christ is truly in them.  I love what Francis Chan wrote in his book titled Crazy Love in reference to the parable of the sower:

“Do not assume you are good soil.”

In today podcast   I reflect on my own faith journey (and get a bit emotional, which I shouldn’t be embarrassed about, but as a prideful man I still am). I discuss how reaching one’s pig sty in life and experiencing God’s unconditional love will change you.  I honestly believe that anyone who experiences that level of love and forgiveness will never walk away from it.


35 thoughts on “Can you lose your salvation? Once Saved Always Saved?

  1. Amen Brother! All Christians believe in everlasting security of salvation at some point. The Calvinists believes it is granted at some presumed moment of individual election before the foundation of the world (at least logically, if not experientially), those in our group :-), believe it happens at the moment of regeneration, when everlasting life is given. And Arminians believe, though they do think about the inconsistency, that everlasting life, that can not be taken away, is granted at the moment the body receives its gift of redemption. They are inconsistent, because though they say everlasting life is a present possession of the believer, it literally is not everlasting until after that believer’s death or translation in the Rapture.

    I think it is also helpful to point out that those Paul commanded – “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith” (2Cor. 13:5), he also called “brethren” (1:8, 8:1, 8:23, 9:3, 9:5, 11:9, 11:26, 13:11), but not in any other way than any preacher would. He was addressing them only as professing believers in a local church. No pastor is ever 100 percent convinced that every covenant member of his congregation is truly saved, but he still addresses them as “brothers and sisters” based on their profession of the true gospel alone, unless of course, they have rejected church discipline (Matt 18). And he keeps preaching the gospel to them because he knows the likelihood of false professions (1John 1:6, 8, 10; 2:4, 6, 9).

    1. You got permanently saved at the MOMENT of believing that Jesus Christ is the Messiah and that He paid on the Cross for all our sins.

  2. Hello, I’m new here, I’ve read some but never commented.

    I have a different interpretation of 2 Cor. 13:5 I thought I would put out for consideration, hopefully there will be some feed back.

    I believe the context of this verse is not about testing or examining themselves or ourselves to see if one is saved (which could cause discouragement or doubt. Assurance comes first and foremost from the word of God) but connects back to verse 3: “since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me…”, the proof was verse 5: “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith”. If they were genuine then they were the proof of his apostleship. If they want to see his credentials they should look at themselves.

    Examining ones self is more like the P in TULIP to be sure one is “elect”. Paul is not saying to engage in self-examination as proof of their salvation but is asking them to find in their salvation proof of his apostleship.

    And this would also be why he calls them brethren as BRIANWAGNER pointed out.

  3. A couple of things: (1) It seems this blog, I respectfully state, was more on opinion and less – much less – on the support felt from the Bible for this doctrine of OSAS. Maybe the intent of the blog was to only lightly discuss the issue and, if so, that’s no problem. However, such a light look at the issue is, imo, not convincing at all. (2) The idea that one who, by outward evidence, falls away and does so because and/or is evidence that they were never saved is based purely on speculation and rather dismisses offhand the whole, perhaps, fruitful life and godly influence – that lifestyle that had every evidence of being “in Christ” – that may have existed before the apostasy.

    I’m not saying that all who apostatize were truly saved to being with, but it seems to me that the, at least, outward evidence shows (and my reading of the Bible supports it), that not all were never saved to begin with.

    As much as I respect Flowers, I must disagree here.

    Btw, you don’t need to deny being an Arminian to believe in OSAS; some Arminians do believe it.

  4. Oops, for clarity’s sake, the second paragraph of my previous comment should read, “I’m not saying that all who apostatize were truly saved to *begin* with…” etc.


  5. Please forgive my ignorance, I am new to this.
    What of the child raised in church that accepts Christ as their savior and truly repents of that sin that he understands, but goes on sinning and living a sinful lifestyle than he is only vaguely aware of “being wrong,” and isn’t even sure about that because several Christian authorities in his life differ in instruction? (This broadly describes my own upbringing and that of my brother who I believed love and trusted Jesus but died as a result of drunkenness at the age of 19).

    1. I’ll make an attempt to answer your question. We cannot say with certainty whether (or perhaps “ought not try to determine if”) your brother was ultimately saved. The Lord knows.

      “But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”” – 2 Timothy 2:19

      However, on the other hand, we can’t ignore Scripture that warns us of the signs and fruit of those who will be and not be saved in the end. Paul is clear on the matter:

      “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10

      Therefore, it’s not merely what we profess with our mouth that determines if we are saved but what sort of fruit we bear. Notice two things that Paul said: 1) “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.” He is speaking of an outward righteousness and not merely a positional righteousness before God. 2) “do not be deceived […] drunkards will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Paul is basically repeating himself but giving detail and examples of those who are unrighteous. This is not an exhaustive list, but points out perhaps the particularly common sins of the church in Corinth (notice the parallel with the sins listed in the previous chapter in verses 10-11).

      I hope this was helpful. I didn’t want to be discouraging but to just present the facts of Scripture. On the other hand, let the Scriptures I provided be an encouragement and warning to you for your perseverance in holiness and righteousness. God bless.

      1. How do you figure? Can you elaborate? So you think that “not inheriting the kingdom of God” refers to the loss of reward? Do you then suppose the same when Paul also said, “the wages of sin is death”?

  6. Once you believe in Christ you become born again, a Christian and you can not loose you salvation, EVER! – even if you commit the worst crime. You can only loose your spiritual maturity.

      1. Titus 3:5 due to 2 Cor 5:21 and Jn 3:16. So now your life is NEW in Eph 2:10 = Born Again.
        Permanent spiritual Life is obtained by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
        Spiritual life is executed by filling with God the Holy Spirit.
        Everyone sins! Christian sin. Non-Christian sin (Rom 3:23) – sin is not the issue. Salvation has nothing to do with sin or with being “good” or “bad”. The issue for salvation is What do you think about Christ? – Mtt 22:42.
        Salvation takes place in an instant, in a MOMENT of faith and in that instant we pass from spiritual death to eternal life Jn 5:24.
        I give to them ETERNAL life – Jn 10:28. Even if we fail as Christians (because of unconfessed sins) we do not loose salvation, we only loose spiritual maturity. The moment we confess (1Jn 1:9) we’re back in fellowship with God.
        Belief in Christ restores our relationship with God.
        Confessing our sins on a daily basis restores our fellowship with God.
        No matter how much we sin, once we get saved, God does not take back His gift – Eph 2:8-9.
        Ask Him if He will leave you – He will never leave you. He will never forsake you Heb 13:5. Even if we deny that we’re saved, He still remains to be our Father and our salvation is secure permanently and forever 2Tim2:13.

  7. Chris, re. ” Do you then suppose the same when Paul also said, “the wages of sin is death”? ” – that’s why Christ had to die. Paul states that Jesus died to pay for the sins of those who He would save . SALVATION is the cure for death.

  8. Please fix these two things: The link to the sermon appears to be broken. Also I was unable to find a podcast from the link provided for that as well.

    1. Hey Greg, the article is over three years old so links tend to change in that time period. I’m sure you could find the podcast by looking iTunes for around the time the article as posted.

      1. I don’t have iTunes, nor do I know how to use it, if I had it. I tried to go the iTunes webpage and search around. There doesn’t seem to be a search function there. I tried google, and that didn’t work either. He might as well just update the article, and get rid of the link.

  9. But if righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does,will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered.because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed,they will die. Ezekiel 18:24

  10. What about all the scriptures like John 3:16 which mentions that if we believe in Christ we will have eternal life. The only condition was belief. What about the criminal on the cross which only had a simple belief in Christ and went to heaven. How about the believer in 1 Co who sleeped with his father wife and Paul condemned him but said he would go to Heaven. You mention that Christ only died for the sins of Christians. Actually Christ died for the sins of the entire world past, present, and future. The only sin Christ did not die for was rejection of Himself as mentioned in the Gospel of John.

  11. Why do I feel after reading this argument and watching the statements online that his argument is worse than a Calvinist defending his faith. Love the videos and podcast but OSAS is very weak position. Surprised you have not applied the same principles on the other arguments to this. Either way .. great site and videos.

  12. @brdmod Thank you for the iTunes link. But I really wanted to hear Leighton Flowers’ sermon. If any of you can find me that! I will be forever thankful 🙂

    I kinda believe in “Conditional Security” kinda like what Steve Gregg teaches. Link to this debate: “Eternal Security Debate Tom Morris & Steve Gregg” I can’t stress enough listen to the debate more than what I got to say. Because these two men are way smarter then I.

    Here is my attempt at trying to explain why I think the way I think. But I want to say it again! Listen to the debate, and listen to Steve Gregg, to get a better grasp at this perspective. Because I am not any good at this, and He’s got things put together. Here is His website:

    The Bible says you must keep the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7, Revelation 14:12 Jesus says if you remain in Him then He will remain in you. John 6:56, John 15:4, John 15:5, John 15:6, John 15:7, John 15:9. You only love Him if you continue to obey Him. John 14:15. I’m completely aware that some Christians would consider this to be a work based salvation. But I don’t think obeying Christ qualifies for what I think you’d call “Human Works” Because your doing what your Master is requiring you to do. Firstly Keeping the Faith – Don’t allow yourself to stop believing in Him. Staying in the word, so that you keep feeding yourself off of Him. Keep praying, so that you build your relationship with Him. When you let any of these things go for a period of time, the world’s way of thinking starts to invade your mind. Romans 12:2 Then if you keep going in that direction, you start sinning more. Little by little you drift away. God tries to call you back, but if you refuse by saying, “I don’t trust you anymore, and this sin seems to be the right way”, He eventually gives up and cuts your branch off. Ephesians 4:30 I think the word “sealed” is kinda like giving a promise ring to your girl friend. Your sealed until the seal is broken by one of you. Because it says: 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. In other words, grieve the holy spirit and you will be removed.

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