Once saved, always saved; is it true? Because of Jesus’s death on the cross, and because I believe in who He is, am I guaranteed eternal life? Does believing in Jesus seal the deal? Throughout my life I have been told, by many, that through our Lord’s death and resurrection we are given the everlasting gift of eternal salvation, period; all we have to do is confess that Jesus is our Lord and Saviour and we have a free pass through life – but is this the case? I shall examine the Scriptures and see what they say, and I shall present my findings here with my usual caveats – I am not a pastor, preacher, or teacher, I am just a disciple of Christ searching the way He has designed for me.
In Mark 16:15-16, Jesus is instructing His chosen Apostles on their missions, the Great Commissioning, this is after Jesus had died on the cross and been resurrected (all Scriptural quotes are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible):
Then He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.
In this verse, Jesus is telling His chosen Eleven Apostles that they are to go and preach the gospel, the good news, to everyone; and whosoever believes that the Lord died and rose again will be saved. This sounds pretty clear – if you believe, you will be saved; let us continue on in John 3:14-21:
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God. “This, then, is the judgment: The light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. For everyone who practices wicked things hates the light and avoids it, so that his deeds may not be exposed. But anyone who lives by the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be shown to be accomplished by God.”
So far this sounds good, all I have to do is believe in Jesus and I have eternal life. In John 3:36, John the Baptist goes on to say:
The one who believes in the Son has eternal life, but the one who refuses to believe in the Son will not see life; instead, the wrath of God remains on him.
Again we see where all we need to do is believe in the Son of God; sounds simple, all we have to do is believe. Let us continue to examine scripture fully:
In Matthew 7, we read Jesus’ teachings to His followers in what is known as the “Sermon on the Mount”; in this teaching, Jesus spells out some very clear directions to His followers:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it.”
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name? ’Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!’”
Now this is insinuating that some who acted for the Lord, acted in the name of the Lord, will not be saved. What is going on here, did they not believe in the Lord, yet they worked in His name? The Bible is not wrong, what am I missing? Let us continue now in 1 John where the Apostle John states:
1 John 1:5-10
Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
Here John is stating that if we are walking in darkness, in sin, we do not have fellowship with the Lord. Let us continue with more of John:
1 John 2:3-6
This is how we are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked.
Here John is saying that if you are not keeping the Lord’s commands, you are not walking with Him – you do not truly believe in Him. Now, in 1 John 3:7-14:
1 John 3:7-14
Little children, let no one deceive you! The one who does what is right is righteous, just as He is righteous. The one who commits sin is of the Devil, for the Devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God was revealed for this purpose: to destroy the Devil’s works. Everyone who has been born of God does not sin, because His seed remains in him; he is not able to sin, because he has been born of God. This is how God’s children—and the Devil’s children—are made evident. Whoever does not do what is right is not of God, especially the one who does not love his brother. For this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another, unlike Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil, and his brothers were righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. The one who does not love remains in death.
With this, John is saying that those who commit sin are of the devil; yet we know that through the blood of Christ our sins are covered; all we have to do is repent and believe in who Jesus is and what He did for us; we must repent and show love to our brothers.
So let us boil this all down:
Through the death and resurrection of our Saviour, Jesus Christ, we have been given the gift of eternal life, all we have to do is accept the gift by believing in whom He is and what He has done. If we do not believe in who He is and what He has done, we are not accepting the gift of eternal life that He is offering to all. The Lord does not take the gift away; nowhere in the Bible does it say that the Lord will take His gift away, nowhere. However, like any gift that has been given, we may choose to accept the gift, accept it and set it aside, or to discard it completely; it is all up to us.
How do we know if we have accepted His gift of eternal life? To know that we have the gift, all we have to do is review the scriptures we have already read; we must keep His commandments and repent of our sins, we must truly believe in Him. We cannot repent on a Sunday for a weeks’ worth of sinning, to do so is to show that we do not truly believe in Him, this is a sin in itself. We cannot say we believe in Him when are actions say otherwise; we must walk the talk.
To not believe in the Lord is to discard His gift of eternal life. He has given us the gift, He will not take it away; but we can set it on the shelf, we can toss it in the trash, it is all up to us. When we accept the gift of salvation by believing, we must truly believe. If we do not truly believe, we are placing the gift on the shelf; the more we question His will for us, His guidance in our lives, His sovereign being, His everlasting word, the farther back on the shelf the gift is pushed. Once we start acting independently of the Lord, once we stop asking for His help, once we stop truly believing in Him, we move the gift farther back and put more “important” things in front of His gift; when we care more about worldly things, we care less about the Lord and our belief fades. Through our own actions and inactions, through our lack of true belief, we put His gift out of our reach without us even knowing it; we put our salvation on the shelf with all the other things in life that do not mean anything to us. We believe His gift covers us no matter what we do, just because we say we believe; but His gift is only good when we accept it, when we truly believe in all that Jesus said and did.
However, do not despair as the gift is always there where it was left, all we must do is fully repent of all of our sins and come before the Lord and give ourselves to Him fully; we must truly believe in Him and bring the gift back off of the shelf and place it in our hearts where it belongs. We must guard ourselves against the prince of this world, the master thief, liar, and destroyer; he knows that with the Lord’s gift in your heart, you are not his for the taking. With the Lord’s gift in us, we have victory over the devil; with the Lord’s gift on the shelf, the devil wins. We must know that if we do not fully give ourselves to the Lord is a sin; to not believe in Him, to not believe in His full grace, mercy, and provisions, is a sin. To not believe in the Lord is to set His gift aside, to set it on the shelf, to think it is there to grab whenever we need it; beware though, the thief will come in the night when you least expect it and he will steal your life before you can repent to the Lord fully so that you can believe in Him and pick back up your gift. Remember, the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy; be prepared, be vigilant, believe in the Lord FULLY so that you can accept the gift He died to give you. Always remember this: The Lord has given you a gift, He will not take it away; but as a gift that you have been given, you can discard it, it is all up to you on how you will use His gift to you.
So, is once saved always saved? Yes, in the fact that God has given you the gift of salvation. Can you lose your salvation? Only if you put it on the shelf.
I pray that you make the right choice and do not set the gift on the shelf; and if you have, ask God to forgive you of your sins, ask God to show you the way, humble yourself before the Lord and BELIEVE in Him.