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Monday, 9 December 2019


The belief in "eternal security" aka "once saved always saved" (OSAS) is the popular doctrine that if a person is truly saved then they cannot ultimately lose their salvation. A number of teachers aggressively promote this doctrine under the false notion that eternal security is inseparable from initial salvation. Instead of teaching the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), many teachers quote the scriptures out of context in order to validate OSAS. In contrast, the warnings are specific and overwhelming.


For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. (Jude 1:3-5).

Some teach that the Israelites destroyed in the wilderness lost their physical lives but that ultimately they were saved. However, they ignore the context of Jude as a whole. Jude continues with the example of the angels who rebelled and were punished with eternal destruction, i.e. the same punishment as those who sinned in Sodom and Gomorrah ~ eternal fire:

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgement of the great day— just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:6-7).

Paul also refers to the Israelites that were overthrown in the wilderness: Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. (1 Corinthians 10:1-12 cf. 2 Peter 3:17 ).

Paul warned the Galatians that to fall away from grace is to be severed from Christ: You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:4).

To be severed from Christ necessitates that one must have been attached to Christ previously. Similarly to fall away from grace also necessitates prior attachment.

Meyer: "But all the admonitions, from 1 Corinthians 10:6 onwards (see, too, 1 Corinthians 10:14), have a direct reference to falling into sins, the consequence of which is a falling from grace so as to come under the divine ὀργή {wrath}(comp Galatians 5:4)." {1}


The intention of Paul (the supposed writer of the book of Hebrews), was to warn believers against the danger of apostasy and to emphasise that their hope and their confidence in God must be maintained to the end.

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless (ἀδόκιμος) and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:4-8).

ἀδόκιμος - worthless / rejected / reprobate.

Calvin's Influence

The doctrine of OSAS was taught emphatically by John Calvin. The Geneva Study Bible incorrectly interprets "taste" in Hebrews 6:4 as a superficial experience: "We must note the force of this word, for it is one thing to believe as Lydia did, whose heart God opened in Ac 16:13 and another thing to have some taste." {3}

However, Paul explicitly identifies authentic converted Christians rather than false professors who are not true followers of Christ. (Matthew 7:21-23). Paul reiterates his meaning in three distinct ways i.e. those who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come. (Hebrews 6:4-6).

Jesus tasted death for everyone. (Hebrews. 2:9).

Cambridge Bible: "'o taste' does not mean merely 'summis labris delibare' (their lips touch).
It is a common Semitic and metaphoric paraphrase for death, derived from the notion of Death as an Angel who gives a cup to drink; as in the Arabic poem Antar 'Death fed him with a cup of absinth by my hand.' Comp. Matthew 16:28; John 8:52."

*See that you do not refuse him who is speaking. For if they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape if we reject him who warns from heaven. (Hebrews 12:25).

..but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope. (Hebrews 3:6).

Unlike Calvin's flawed theology, the scriptures teach that faith is conditional, not upon works, but upon continuing in the faith and standing firm to the end. (Matthew 10:22; Colossians 1:22-23). 

Calvin on Hebrews 3:6 - "The elect are also beyond the danger of finally falling away; for the Father who gave them to be preserved by Christ his Son is greater than all, and Christ promises to watch over them all so that none may perish. To all this I answer, That God indeed favours none but the elect alone with the Spirit of regeneration, and that by this they are distinguished from the reprobate; for they are renewed after his image and receive the earnest of the Spirit in hope of the future inheritance, and by the same Spirit the Gospel is sealed in their hearts. But I cannot admit that all this is any reason why he should not grant the reprobate also some taste of his grace, why he should not irradiate their minds with some sparks of his light, why he should not give them some perception of his goodness, and in some sort engrave his word on their hearts. Otherwise, where would be the temporal faith mentioned by Mark 4:17? There is therefore some knowledge even in the reprobate, which afterwards vanishes away, either because it did not strike roots sufficiently deep, or because it withers, being choked up. [98]" {5}

*For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgement, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31).

Barne's Notes: "..it is the natural and proper meaning of the word rendered here 'sanctified.' This word is commonly applied to Christians in the sense that they are made holy; see Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18; 1 Corinthians 1:2;" {6}

Further Scriptures:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes
(πιστεύων) in him may have eternal life “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes (πιστεύων) in him should not perish but have eternal life... (John 3:14-16). 

The present active participle
πιστεύων is a progressive present i.e. a continuous action. According to Greek theologian Daniel B Wallace, everlasting life is a continuing progressive experience, leaving the inescapable conclusion that continual belief is a necessary condition of salvation:

Wallace: “The present was the tense of choice most likely because the NT writers by and large saw continual belief as a necessary condition of salvation. Along these lines, it seems significant that the promise of salvation is almost always given to ὁ πιστεύων [the one who believes, present tense] … almost never to ὁ πιστεύσας [the one who believes/believed, aorist tense] (apart from Mark 16:16, John 7:39, and Heb 4:3 come the closest…)” {7}

*John 10:27-29 is commonly employed in support OSAS, but note that the verbs in verse 27 are present active indicative.

27-My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28-I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29-My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-29).

*Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:4-6).

*1 Corinthians 9:27 ~ lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (ἀδόκιμος) [castaway KJV].

castaway, Gr. ἀδόκιμος - worthless / rejected / reprobate. {2}

Some teach that 1 Corinthians 9:27 applies to various rewards given to Christians at the Bema seat of Christ (Matthew 25:14-23; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 22:12), due to Paul's reference to "the prize" in 1 Corinthians 9:24 ~ They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. The perishable wreath Paul refers to is the crown of athletes competing in the Grecian games. It should be noted that the incorruptible crown, also referred to as the crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8), and the crown of life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10), is promised to ALL true believers. *Note also the ruin of the wicked and slothful servant: And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 25:24-30 cf. Revelation 3:11).

Coffman: "..the crown of righteousness at the last day will endow all who are truly 'in Christ' with the sum total of our Lord's own righteousness. Analogous expressions are 'the crown of glory' (1 Peter 5:4) and 'the crown of life'" (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)." {8}

*For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.. (Romans 8:13-14).

Paul is addressing those who live according to the Spirit. He continues ~ nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.. (Romans 8:35). The assurance is for those ..who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:4).

Matthew Poole: "If ye live after the flesh, ye shall die; viz. eternally, and never partake of the glorious resurrection before spoken of. The godly themselves need this caution; they must not think, that because they are elected and justified, &c., that therefore they may do and live as they list." {9}

*..faith apart from works is dead. (James 2:26). This is not "works salvation". James explains that works are the evidence of faith. (James 2:14-26). Without the evidence of accompanying works, professing Christians cannot claim that they are truly saved. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:16-20; 12:33).

*So he told them this parable: “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:3-7). *Note: Although Matthew 18:12-14 omits repentance, it is conditional ..And if so be (ἐὰν γένηται) that he find it.. (KJV). Vincent Word Studies: "If it should so come to pass. God's grace is not irresistible." {10}

Luke amplifies the same theme in three separate parables, [1] the lost sheep [2] the lost coin [3] the prodigal son. All three parables in Luke stress the necessity of repentance as essential to returning. (Luke 15:7,10, 18-19).

*For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:19-22).

Peter refers to those who have escaped the defilements of the world.. an impossibility for anyone who is not genuinely converted. This verse refers to those who have been cleansed from their former sins. Everyone outside Jesus Christ is defiled by sin (including false believers).

* But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants and eats and drinks with drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know and will cut him in pieces and put him with the hypocrites. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:45-51).

Wesley: "But if that evil servant — Now evil, having put away faith and a good conscience." {11}

*..hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the Day of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 5:5).

Most scholars agree that Pau's goal is the final salvation of the man on the Day of the Lord. The intention of this sinful man's excommunication was chastening, by handing him over to the realm of Satan, so that he would repent and that he may be saved on the Day of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Barnes: "That the spirit may be saved - That his soul might be saved; that he might be corrected, humbled, and reformed by these sufferings, and recalled to the paths of piety and virtue. This expresses the true design of the discipline of the church, and it ought never to be inflicted but with a direct intention to benefit the offender, and to save the soul. Even when he is cut off and disowned, the design should not be vengeance, or punishment merely, but it should be to recover him and save him from ruin." {12} 

Calvinist John Gill: "..for the destruction of the flesh; that is, that his body might be shook, buffeted, afflicted, and tortured in a terrible manner; that by this means he might be brought to a sense of his sin, to repentance for it, and make an humble acknowledgment of it:
that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus; that he might be renewed in the spirit of his mind, be restored by repentance, and his soul be saved in the day of Christ;" {13}

Mark Dunagan: "'may'-the 'destruction of the flesh' and the 'spirit being saved', are hoped for results. This is a key word to understanding the whole verse. Withdrawal can take place and neither result happen. Since the 'spirit being saved' depends upon the attitude of the sinner, therefore, the 'destruction of the flesh', must be something that the sinner being withdrawn from must allow to happen in their life.." {14}

*Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared.. (1 Timothy 4:1-2 cf. 2 Timothy 4:10).

*As God's fellow workers, then, we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. (2 Corinthians 6:1).

*Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12).

*..to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:4-5).

Ellicott: "Through faith.—The Apostle is fearful lest the last words should give a false assurance. God can guard none of us, in spite of His 'power,' unless there be a corresponding exertion upon our part—which is here called 'faith'—combining the notions of staunch fidelity and of trustfulness in spite of appearances. It is through such trustful fidelity that we are guarded." (1 Peter 1:5). {15} 

*And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever. (1 Chronicles 28:9).

*Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the LORD our God to go and worship the gods of those nations. (Deuteronomy 29:18).

Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him. (1 Samuel 16:14).

*Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. (Psalm 51:11).

*He who dwells (yo·shev) in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalm 91:1,9,14). 

yashab (yaw-shab') to dwell, to remain; causatively, to settle, to marry. {16} 

*Because you have disheartened the righteous falsely, although I have not grieved him, and you have encouraged the wicked, that he should not turn from his evil way to save his life, (Ezekiel 13:22).

*So because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to vomit you out of My mouth! (Revelation 3:16).

*For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24). The previous warning about spiritual deception are to no purpose if it is impossible for "the elect" to be deceived ~ See that no one leads you astray. (Matthew 24:4). 

Eschatological Implications

The false doctrine of eternal security is linked to apostasy, both generally, as in the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:20-21), and the mass falling away during the great tribulation. (Matthew 24:10). 

OSAS is often taught in tandem with the pre-tribulation rapture position. These reckless false teachings render the severe warnings of the scriptures ineffectual. Those Christians who are confident that they cannot lose their salvation under any circumstances are in danger of doing just that. (1 Corinthians 10:12). Now is the time to prepare for the unprecedented persecution of the Antichrist. If professing believers become offended (Matthew 24:10 KJV), and fall away during the great tribulation, there is the very real prospect that they will not repent. There will be no possibility to repent at all for anyone who takes the mark of the beast. (Revelation 14:9-10). It is highly irresponsible to believe that God will deliver believers from persecution during this critical time: He shall speak words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and shall think to change the times and the law; and they shall be given into his hand for a time, times, and half a time. (Revelation 7:25 cf. Revelation 12:17; 13:7; Daniel 7:21,25).

Apostasy is the desertion from Christianity by someone who was formerly a genuine convert. The Greek word apostasia (ἀποστασία) is defection, departure, revolt or rebellion. It has been described as "a wilful falling away from, or rebellion against, Christianity." 

Apostasy = ἀποστασία, ἀποστασιας, ἡ (ἀφισταμαι), a falling away, defection, apostasy; in the Bible namely, from the true religion:defection from truth (properly, the state) ("apostasy") -- falling away, forsake. {17}

Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion (ἀποστασία) comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.. (2 Thessalonians 2:3).

As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away (σκανδαλίζεται). (Matthew 13:20-21).

And blessed is the one who is not offended (σκανδαλισθῇ) by me. (Matthew 11:6).

And then many will fall away (σκανδαλισθήσονται) and betray one another and hate one another. (Matthew 24:10).

σκανδαλίζω = skandalizó: to put a snare (in the way), hence to cause to stumble, to give offence. {18} 

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

"But he who endures to the end shall be saved." (Matthew 10:22; 13:13; 24:13).

1. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_corinthians/10-12.htm
2. https://biblehub.com/greek/96.htm
3. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/hebrews/6-4.htm
4. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/cambridge/hebrews/2.htm
5. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/calvin/hebrews/6.htm6. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/hebrews/10-29.htm
7. http://veritas.training/doesnt-the-present-tense-of-believe-in-john-316-mean-we-must-continue-to-believe-to-have-everlasting-life/
8. http://classic.studylight.org/com/bcc/view.cgi?book=2ti&chapter=4&verse=8#2Ti4_8
9. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/poole/romans/8.htm
10. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/vws/matthew/18.htm
11. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/matthew-24.html#48
12. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/barnes/1_corinthians/5.htm
13. https://www.studylight.org/commentary/1-corinthians/5-5.html
14. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/1-corinthians-5.html#5
15. https://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_peter/1-5.htm
16. https://biblehub.com/lexicon/psalms/91-1.htm
17. https://biblehub.com/greek/646.htm

Further Links:

Quotes from the early church fathers
The Great Deception ~ Joe Schimmel ~