The LOOPS newsletter Reflections goes to 36 states and 6 foreign countries. We have over 300 students (mostly inmates) enrolled in our Bible correspondence courses. Needless to say, our little office handles a lot of correspondence. Much of our time is used in answering questions. These questions range from deeper theological questions to inquiries about the contemporary church movement. Many people seem to think all inmates are backward and stupid, but believe me, that is not the case. Television, good libraries and websites have brought the average prison inmate equal or even ahead of many of his peers in the free world. Most of the articles in “Keep Looking Up!” are reflections of our correspondence and conversations with those we serve. This article is a response to a much-asked question, “Do you believe in once saved, always saved?”
Let me approach this answer from a point of contrast. I certainly believe in “Twice lost, always lost.”
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:4-6
I think it is safe to say that “those…enlightened…tasted the heavenly gift…made partakers of the Holy Ghost…tasted the good word of God…powers of the world to come” have been saved. One would be hard pressed to perceive this person as an unregenerate sinner. So what we have here is a person who has been saved. Now the Author of the Book says “if” this person falls away. He does not say that this person falls away, but “if” it should ever happen, there is only one result…THEY CAN NEVER GET SAVED AGAIN!
How does a person get saved in the first place? Note the contents of Paul’s gospel:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you… for I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
The gospel pertains to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. It is our believing and receiving His payment for our sin that brings us salvation. When one trusts Christ as his/her personal Saviour, Christ does a work in their heart:
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” John 1:12
No one earns this power. Nothing can be done physically (rituals, lifestyle) to obtain or keep this power. The Bible never speaks on anyone having temporary or conditional life. Since salvation is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9), it cannot be forfeited, earned or repaid. It can be refused. Obviously, the person in our text had not refused it. The text does not say that this person fell away. Note what it does say. If…If…If anyone should fall away, it is “impossible” to return. Let me say it this way. If anyone gets saved and then, for any reason, gets lost again, he then is forever lost!
There is no such thing as getting saved…getting lost…getting saved…getting lost, etc. The Bible teaches only ONE salvation, only ONE new birth and only ONE “new creature.” It is also very obvious why a person once saved who falls away can never be saved the second time. Look what it does to Jesus Christ. They are putting Him to “open shame.” They are crucifying Him again! In the very next chapter following our text, we read:
“Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this He did ONCE, when He offered up Himself.” Hebrews 7:27 (caps mine)
Note the appearance of the word “once” in Hebrews 9:12, 9:26, 27, 28; 10:2, 10 and 1 Peter 3:18. There is no exhortation by any writer of scripture to get people saved again. There are no verses suggesting that anyone can be saved, lost and saved again. The Bible is very explicit that anyone who would become lost after being saved is forever lost! NO SECOND CHANCES!
This truth might help you get a little better grasp on the problem that some of you have with “Once saved, always saved.”
Keep Looking Up!