Once Saved Always Saved? – by Dave Palcsak

I understand why many Christians believe in the doctrine of “once saved always saved.” After all, God knows everything and He sees from the beginning to the end. Many Scriptures talk about predestination and events being ordained before we are even born. If everything we do is predetermined, our entire life is mapped out before we leave the womb. Every single choice we make is not even a choice. It is simply what it has been preordained to be. What then is the point of striving to live a Godly life? Our efforts are meaningless because we lack any ability to alter our actions, so why bother trying? God basically has us in a play which He wrote, produced and directed. We are characters who have no input and no ability to improvise; puppets on His string, nothing more. Does this seem to be consistent with His character? I don’t think so.

God created linear time. To exist prior to the creation of linear time, means by definition, to exist outside of linear time. It’s logical to assume that the Creator of time as we know it, can operate both outside of, and in linear time. He’s God, we are quite clueless as to the extent of His power. His ways are far above our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). The fact that God knows what we decide to do before we do it, doesn’t mean we don’t have free will. I’m not even certain He bothers to know every single detail of every single life that happens before it happens. I’m speaking in a micro sense. But I know He has control over His creation in a macro sense. My mind is boggled by His amazing omnipotence. We can by no means suppose that we have any ability to remotely comprehend the very time that we occupy, created by Him, for us. His power and Sovereignty are so far above us, it’s incredible that we matter to Him. It is astounding that we are made in His image (Genesis 1:27). Does it make sense that people, made in His image, would be nothing more than puppets on a string?

God is love. Can true love be coerced? If we sincerely love God, choosing not to love Him has got to be an option. Otherwise, we’re nothing more than really complex robots mindlessly adhering to our programming which we are unable to act contrary to. We are born to salvation or perdition and we can not alter our predetermined fate (belief in this doctrine is also known as Calvinism). I have known many Calvinists. I’ve yet to meet one who thinks they are in the “born to perdition” category. The idea that you are saved and can’t lose your salvation is comforting. But is it true? “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6). Read these verses carefully. The author hammers his point by stressing and leaving no doubt that he speaks of folks who had the Holy Spirit. He is unambiguously clear; if you have the Holy Spirit and fall away, it is impossible to be renewed again to repentance. It makes sense why we are commanded to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12).

Many folks think the story of Lazarus and the rich man is a parable (see Luke 16:19-31). Parables never use names. This appears to be a true story. Regardless, it certainly serves as caution to us and how we must value our time on this earth. Lazarus was a sickly beggar who went to “Abraham’s bosom” after he died. The rich man, who apparently, wasn’t very charitable with his wealth, went to a very unpleasant realm after his earthly demise. The rich man desperately desired that Lazarus would dip his finger in water and touch his scorching tongue. But it was not possible. The chasm between Lazarus’s side which was very pleasant and the rich man’s which was exceedingly unpleasant could not be bridged. I’m not getting into the complexities here of where we end up after we die. Suffice to say, there is much more to the afterlife than “the black and white heaven and hell doctrine” which is not Biblical, yet accepted in most pews. This subject matter is for another article, another time. Now, I simply ask, why is this story in the Bible? The reason is obvious. Live as God demands or else. Our behavior while we are in these earthly tents matters. We choose to obey God or disobey Him and there are consequences for disobedience. The Old Testament and New Testament tell us time and time again about how absolutely vital it is for us to not only repent but to also endure to the end. If we disregard our instruction manual (the Bible), punishment is coming and punishment after we leave this realm, by every Biblical indicator, is brutal.  The false doctrine of “once saved always saved” can lead to complacency and spiritual arrogance. “Jesus did it all, therefore I don’t have to do anything…” Does this doctrine strike you as Godly?

“Faith without works is dead” (see James 2:14-26). Also look at the parable of “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:30-37). The priest and Levite could have and should have helped the injured man; but it was the Samaritan, a people despised by Jews, who was a neighbor by taking care of him. The religious men knew the law. They knew it commanded them to love their neighbor as they love themselves (see Luke 10: 26-27). But they chose to walk away, acting contrary to God’s Word. The good work was right in front of them, calling to them, but they made a decision to ignore it. The good works we are created to do (see Ephesians 2:10), we don’t always do. Examine yourself. If you believe you have always done His will, every time, you’re deceiving yourself. We all sin (Romans 3:23). It takes perseverance and active commitment to recognize and work to correct our shortcomings.

It is true that there is no salvation without the blood of Jesus. But it’s a tool of Satan to fool believers into thinking Christ’s blood is reason to believe you have no responsibility as to your own spiritual determination. The enemy loves to put God’s people on the sidelines, content in their security and feeling assured that everything’s been taken care of. No need to do anything. In fact, I can’t do anything because what can I do that Jesus didn’t already do? This is not the Word of God. The Bible is a call to action. You can’t be a spiritual warrior if you’re not in the game.

“And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin” (Jeremiah 32:35; Leviticus 18:21). Did God create parents who were predestined to pass their children through fire, sacrificing them to a pagan (demonic) god? This Scripture is one of many that prove we have the ability to act outside of God’s will. God did not command this behavior. It didn’t even come into His mind.

The modern equivalent to this is abortion. Legalized murder of innocent babies is an abomination that grieves our Heavenly Father. Satan is the ruler of this world (2nd Corinthians 4:4) but He who is in us, if He is indeed in us, is greater than he who is in the world (1st John 4:4). We must understand that the world hated Jesus, and if He’s in us – which should be our goal (the indwelling of the Holy Spirit) – the world will hate us as it first hated Him (John 15:18). Ephesians 6:11-17 exhorts us to put on the armor of God. Luke 9:23 commands us to pick up our cross daily. Make no mistake, we are at war (spiritually speaking). The societal problems we face are in large part because Christians have done nothing but watch as evil overtakes this country and the entire world. Babies are aborted by the thousands; men can legally go to the same bathroom as little girls; homosexuality is celebrated; the list goes on and on. Every doctrine that leads to comfortable complacency contributes to what is far too often spineless Christianity! Brothers and sisters, we have an obligation to stand for His Word. The more poisoned this world becomes, the more difficult our task gets. But this is what we signed up for. Take heart. I can tell you from experience that the most difficult times with Him are far more rewarding than the best times without Him.

Do you feel as if your efforts for God’s Kingdom have been subpar? That’s ok. None of us are perfect servants and we all must continuingly strive to improve. Do you think you aren’t even with His program? Perhaps you fear that you’ve been aiding the enemy. Take heart, it’s not too late to change. “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will become a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work” (2nd Timothy 2:20-21).

As you read your Bible (and if you aren’t, start), note how consistently these themes play out. God is in control, and His will is going to be done. We have our part to play, and if we ignore His commands, there WILL be consequences. God is in control of His creation and we are part of His creation. God also makes it very clear that He holds us to a standard. We can obey God or disobey God. It is a losing proposition to oppose God, this is certain. But don’t you think Satan, and the third of the angels he took down with him, knew that too? You can’t beat God’s army but you can enlist for the other side or choose to stay out altogether. Belief in “once saved always saved,” takes our responsibility out of the equation. We are required to consider the whole counsel of God’s Word (see Isaiah 28:10; Acts 20:27). The road is narrow and most folks don’t follow it. We can follow His narrow path or make the decision not to. The Bible is clear that most folks make the wrong choice (see Matthew 7:13-14). Even so, God’s will is that none should perish (2nd Peter 3:9), and I believe there is redemption possible after we die. Why else would Jesus preach to the departed souls (see 1st Peter 3:18-20)? I think most will ultimately be saved, but not without correction; either in this world or the next. The question is: do you want to risk seeing the rich man, or would you rather see Lazarus? The choice is yours.


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