I have been contending for years about a certain doctrine that I believe to be the cause, more than any other doctrine, of the damnation of many so-called “Christians”. It is that doctrine that teaches that once a person genuinely prays “the sinner’s prayer” that he or she is henceforth saved, and will, no matter what (even after living a life of blatant sin), inherit eternal life. It is known as “Once Saved, Always Saved”, or OSAS, as it is often termed in written form.
Many adherents to this doctrine like to quote Rom. 4:7,8 about God forgiving and covering sins. The context is contrasting works and Old Testament Law with faith. It’s true that we definitely read that we are now no longer under the law at all or any of its commands or “works”. “We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.” (Rom. 7:6) (So if we have the Spirit, we will serve in that new way.) Okay. Hopefully, that can be agreed upon. Now, Rom. 4:7,8 is a quote from Ps. 32:1,2. But if one goes to that context it says that those who are forgiven are those “in whose spirit is no deceit” (v. 2) and who “acknowledge their sin, do not cover up their iniquity, and who confess their transgressions to the LORD.” (See v. 5) Someone living in sin is not doing that. Therefore their sins are not forgiven –as Heb. 10:26, just one passage out of many, makes clear –as we compare Scripture with Scripture and study the contexts.
There is another verse that many in the OSAS group mention. It is Romans 5:1 –“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” and verse 2 continues, “through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” That says, “through faith”, “through our Lord Jesus Christ”, and “through whom”… In other words, Christ is the way, the road, the gate –into grace– and our faith in Him is that which applies this extended grace to our own selves. Then it says, “in which we now stand.” So if we are not now standing in Christ, “abiding in Him” –“remaining in Him” as Jesus commands us to continuously do in John 15:1-8 in order to “bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples”, then “every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Luke 3:9) “For faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17) And v. 20 –“Faith without deeds is useless.” And v. 24: “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” Deeds, action, behavior, is absolutely part of the equation. Actions always are a part of belief, and that goes for inaction too of course. (Example: If I don’t really believe that my boss will fire me for doing nothing on the job, then if I’m the lazy type, I certainly will do nothing.)
Now, since the issue in question may be “faith” itself, let’s discuss the word “faith”. Someone wrote this to me once: “Paul establishes that it is faith in Christ that justifies a believer before a Holy God. He then goes on to write about the destiny of all those who are justified by faith in Romans 8:30. He writes, Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” I would ask this person: Is there a guarantee in there of eternal life for anyone who defects, turns back, turns away, deserts, disowns, or is faithless or disloyal in following Christ? Anyone who would say “yes” is reading something into it that is not there. Other Scriptures inform us that those that are justified are those “living in” Christ. And I’m sure if one has studied some Greek, you know that these type of verses are in the present continuous tense. It is not about a one time commitment. It is about an ongoing loyalty.
The word “faith” does not mean merely “to believe something is true.” We know this also from verses such as James 2:19 –“…even the demons believe –and shudder.” They shudder because, though they know full well that Jesus “died for all” (2 Cor. 5:15), they have not placed their trust in Jesus. So faith –not having exactly the same meaning as “belief”– is actually closer in meaning to the word “trust”. The dictionary definitions say that “faith” means: “Allegiance to duty or a person; loyalty; fidelity to one’s promises; complete confidence in something for which there is no proof; trust.” And “trust” in the dictionary says, “To place confidence in; depend on; entrust the custody of without misgiving; faithful to the conditions of some relationship.” And “faithful” in turn means “steadfast in the observance of duty; loyal; constant; having unswerving adherence to a person or thing.”
I believe that much of the evangelical world does not own up to what the word “faith” means. It does not just mean belief. It means “believing enough to trust, follow, and obey –with loyalty.” And “loyalty” means “until the end.” Jesus told us in Matt. 4:19, “Come, follow Me.” How can we do that if we are instead adhering to the lordship of ourselves, the world, or some idol in our life? It’s impossible. We are either “controlled and led by the sinful nature which brings death” (see Rom. 8:6,13) OR “by the Spirit which leads to life”. (See 8:11,13,14) This “death” means spiritual death. The context of the word “death” (or “die”, “dead”, etc.) in Scripture, when it is in the context of the word “sin”, will reveal this.
Here’s several verses to support what I mean:
*Gen. 2:17 –“… for when you eat of it [if you disobey Me] you will surely die.”
*Ezek. 33:18 –“If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it.”
*Luke 15:24 –“For this [wayward] son of mine was dead and is alive again.”
*Gal. 6:8 –“The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” What is being compared in the context? “Eternal life with destruction.” Therefore, the “destruction” is an eternal destruction (eternal death.) So: “Spirit-controlled behavior reaps eternal life. Sinful-nature behavior reaps eternal death.” And the next verse (v. 9) admonishes us: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest IF we do not give up.” We must continue “doing good.”
*Rom. 6:16 also speaks of the word “death”. –“Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey –whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” That context is about “being freed from sin” because “our old self has been crucified with Christ.” (v. 6,7) Let’s compare that to Gal. 5:24 –“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” This then stands to reason that those who have not crucified the sinful nature are not in Christ Jesus. Right? So why are all these preachers and theologians telling us that we carry around two natures? 2 Cor. 5:17 says “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” That’s what baptism signifies: The old self having been killed; the new creation having “been raised with Christ.” (Col. 3:1) (See also Rom. 6:11) “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col. 3:3)
Now let’s look at some verses (though there’s scores and scores more of them) that speak of our continuous free choice to either walk closely in the truth, following Jesus, or to turn away from (to desert) Him by being disloyal to His commands:
**Luke 22:32 –“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” It’d be strange for Jesus to say this, or take the time to pray this, if it were not possible that Simon’s faith did indeed have the potential or ability to fail.
**John 6:66 –“From this time [context: after hearing a “hard teaching” –v. 60] many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him.”
**Luke 8:13 –“They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.”
**Matt. 18:27,34,35 –“The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. …[Later]… In anger his master turned him over to the jailers until he should pay back all he owed. This is how My heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from the heart.” This man lost his once justified standing with the king! Why? The reason was not based on his belief in the king, or the forgiveness he sought and got, but was based on his later actions!!!
**1 Tim. 1:19 –“Some have rejected these [context: “fighting the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience” –v. 18] and so have shipwrecked their faith.” A wrecked ship doesn’t repetitively “wreck into sin, then please Christ with their faith; wreck into sin, then please Christ…” And one can’t shipwreck a ship that never was.
**1 Tim. 6:10,21 –“Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith… and in so doing have wandered from the faith.” “Wander FROM” does not mean “abide in.”
**1 Tim. 5:8 –“If anyone does [“does” is an action word] … he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Here again, it is action, not belief, that will damn.
**Heb. 6:4-6 –“It is impossible for those who have… shared in the Holy Spirit… if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance…” One can’t share in the Holy Spirit, if one doesn’t have Him. This speaks of those who have Him, then fall away.
**2 Peter 3:17 –“Be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.” It’s secure only as one remains in Christ –obedient to the truth, shunning error and lawlessness (sin).
**1 Tim. 4:16 –“Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because IF you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” If you don’t, you will not save yourself and your hearers.
Now let’s look at some verses concerning sin in the life of a believer: (I do not necessarily equate the word “believer” with a person who “overcomes and thus inherits eternal life”; because remember, “even the demons believe…”)
*2 Tim. 2:19 –“Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” Is not all sin wickedness? And the context speaks of those whose ungodly teachings are causing them to “wander away from the truth.” (v. 18)
*Titus 1:16 –“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him.” Here it is actions, not the claiming of belief, that matters.
*Rev. 3:16 –“Because you are lukewarm –neither hot nor cold– [this whole context implies there is already belief] I am about to spit you out of My mouth.” “Spit out” does not equal eternal life.
*1 Peter 3:12 –“The Lord is against those who do evil.” Actions again.
*John 14:15 –“If you love Me, you will obey what I command.” What Jesus says here does not support the attitude, “I have faith (loyalty to Christ) but gotta keep disobeying Him daily cuz I can’t help it.”
*1 John 2:4 –“The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth [Jesus] is not in him.”
*1 John 3:6 –“No one who lives in Him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen Him or known Him.” How blatant is that? And if one does not KNOW Him, the next verse says…
*2 Thes. 1:8,9 –“Those who do not know God and do not obey… will be punished with everlasting destruction…” To escape Hell, obedience is necessary.
*Rev. 3:4,5 –“A few people… have not soiled their clothes… He who overcomes… I will never erase his name from the book of life…” Those who don’t remain pure and do not overcome get their names erased.
*Matt. 5:8 –“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Those who are impure in heart will not see God.
*Eph. 5:5,6 –“For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person… has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ… Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient.” Again, it’s about actions, not about belief.
*1 John 1:6 –“If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness [sin], we lie…”
*Luke 8:21 –“He [Jesus] replied, ‘My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.'” Again –obedience is required to be in His family.
*Luke 8:28 –“He [Jesus] replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
*James 1:27 –“Religion that God our Father accepts… to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” Here we see our wills, our free choice, is still involved.
*James 4:4 –“Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” To sin makes one a friend of the world; and enemies of God don’t inherit eternal life.
*1 Thes. 1:9,10 –“…you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven… –Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.” Serve idols = wrath. Serve God = being rescued by Jesus.
*Acts 26:20 –“I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” Deeds will show a repentant (or non-repentant) heart. “Repentant” –present tense– in continuous “repentance mode.”
*Heb. 10:26-31 –“If we deliberately keep on sinning after having a knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left… [because that person has] treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and… has insulted the Spirit of grace…” Notice that past tense form of the word “sanctified”. And notice what happens to this once sanctified person who insults the Spirit of grace –who is “the Spirit of Jesus” (Acts 16:7) –“the Spirit of God… [and] the Spirit of Christ.” (Rom. 8:9)
*1 John 3:5 –“He appeared so that He might take away our sins.” “Take away” means just that. Not “I’ll save you from the penalty of sin, imputing to you my righteousness so that it doesn’t matter if you keep on sinning.” No, sin is of the devil and v. 8 says, “He who does what is sinful is of the devil.” We know that anyone “of the devil” is not a child of God for v. 10 says, “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother.” It’s not rocket science. Those who say we cannot know what kingdom someone is in because we can’t see the heart… well, to that Jesus says, “The things that come out of the mouth come from the heart” (Matt. 15:18), and so by listening to them and watching their lives Jesus says in Matt. 7:20, “Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” –if they be false bad trees OR good, righteous trees. (See context.)
*1 John 3:7 –“Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray [with their huge, cunning false doctrines]. He who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous.” We ourselves are righteous as we rest IN Him because we DO righteously. For as v. 9 says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s nature abides in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God.”
*John 5:29 –“…those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.” Jesus speaks of actions here.
*Matt. 13:41,42 –“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will weed out of His kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Notice that even those who CAUSE the sinning will be damned. And false teachers do cause sinning. OSAS teachers are giving a false sense of security to hoards of church-goers, allowing for the tolerance of daily sin, and these teachers have been repeatedly and thoroughly warned by Scripture (that they say they read) –but whose eyes, hearts, and minds are dull and blind to the truth. Of them Gal. 1:9 speaks: “If we or an angel from heaven is preaching to you a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”
I don’t want anyone condemned. So I continue to warn. And I warn especially the teachers. That’s who Jesus often targeted too: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” (Matt. 23:15)
I could go on and on quoting verses to support what I’m saying. In fact, I think I could quote almost the entire Bible! Because the whole thing, see, comes against these false doctrines. It’s just that people don’t read it; or if they do, they read it haphazardly, while distracted, only in a group, or at church (no one-on-one time which is needed for any close relationship –including the one with The Counselor)… or they study it with the aid of some commentary of a false teacher –those very same ones who “want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.” (1 Tim. 1:7) It’s all crazy.
And worse than crazy. It’s sending people to the place that was intended for Satan and his demons. But he wants very badly to bring humans there with him, and “that brood of vipers –those teachers of the law” (See Matt. 23:33,29) are helping him do just that!