“Once saved, always saved.” These few words express profound truth for a sinner saved by grace, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. That the God of eternity would, long before time began, choose us to be saved is beyond our understanding. That this same God would freely give us eternal life, through the death of His Son, is just as amazing.
Yet, sadly, many sincere Christians think they can sin away this salvation. Although Scripture teaches we can do nothing to earn or merit this free gift, these folks teach that a person once saved by grace can be eternally lost. They misapply and misunderstand Scriptures, miss the contextual significance of these Scriptures, and as well misunderstand the very nature and character of God.
When the God of salvation sent His Son to be the “Savior of the World,” He revealed His very character. Jesus said “He that has seen Me has seen the Father.” In His Word, and in the Lord Jesus, the Incarnate Word, God has revealed Himself as a God Who loves to save. His will is that “none should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). In this context, it is most important to grasp what God has not revealed. The Scriptures give no instances of a human being who was saved by grace, then eternally lost. If such a profound concept were true, a faithful God would certainly reveal and graphically explain it. He has not.
What are some of the “examples” and Scriptures to which these folks point, in making their case? Judas Iscariot is their prime example. He, they say, was a chosen disciple of the Lord Jesus and fully followed the Master, yet chose, in the end, to betray Him, thus losing his salvation. But the Gospel records show that while Judas fooled the other eleven, he did not fool Christ (John 6:70). Jesus called him “the son of perdition,” or “destined to eternal punishment, excluded from salvation” (17:12). He also said of Judas (Matt 26:24) that it would have been better had he never been born. This could never be said of a true child of God; for even if he were saved only for this life, it would be a far better life than an unbeliever’s. In John 13:10, as He was washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus told them they were “clean,” but “not all.” Judas, the exception, was never saved.
Other “examples” cited are Saul (1Sa 16) and Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8). In Saul’s case, as in all of the O.T., God’s Spirit only came upon men and women for a specific purpose and often for a distinct time. He never indwelt them. Under the Law, they had only an external relationship with the Spirit. Convicted of his sin, David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), prayed, “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me” (Ps 51:11). In spite of his sin, he never lost his salvation – only the joy of it (v 12). In the case of Simon, he “believed,” was baptized, and followed with the disciples, yet proved he had never been saved. Philip discerned that he was “perishing” (Acts 8:20), had a heart “not right before God” (v 22), needed to repent from wickedness (v 22), and was still “in the bond of iniquity,” needing to be forgiven (v 23).