You Are Not "Once Saved, Always Saved" No Matter What

You Are Not "Once Saved, Always Saved" No Matter What

The Common Experience

Chapter 1

     In the summer of 1991, I was asked to lead the singles ministry in a fairly large Assembly of God church in the southern part of the United States. I was not on staff, but I was doing the job of a “single's pastor.” After teaching a three-month series on spiritual warfare and prayer, the Lord directed me to lead our singles group and a college ministry from another church to the streets of our city to preach the gospel.

     In the days that followed, we prayed about where to go and how to approach this new outreach. Naturally, the Lord was faithful and gave us a strategy to reach the lost. Part one of His plan was that we were to have all-night prayer meetings on every other Friday night which would be followed by actually going witnessing together on Saturday night. In the beginning, we went to the malls and then later to the inner city. This combination of prayer and evangelism proved to be very effective as we began to see dozens of people accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

     One of those weekends, we went out witnessing with the other singles/campus ministry in their city. They were from Auburn, Alabama which is the home of Auburn University. By this time, it was fall and school was back in full swing. That particular day we did not arrive until late Saturday evening, so we decided to go out to the fraternity parties and tell people about Jesus.

     As always, I broke up the large group and sent them out in pairs. I always tried to put an experienced person with a less experienced person, so that there would be at least one bold leader who would initiate conversations with people. After I assigned them a partner, we all just went in different directions to find some lost college students.

     Later that night, I walked up to one of our teams just as they were finishing a conversation with a young man and his girlfriend. As I approached, I watched that couple walk into a wild fraternity party with a cooler full of beer and their arms wrapped lustfully around each other. After which, our witnessing team told me what had been said in their exchange with that couple

     They explained to me that as they began to tell this couple about Jesus and how that they had to turn from their sin, the young man spoke up and said, “Look guys, my dad is a Baptist preacher and I was saved when I was a little boy. So, I know that I am going to heaven because I’m once saved, always saved.” Now, the fact that he was going to get drunk and party with a bunch of lust-filled college students did not seem to bother him at all. From what he said, it is obvious that the teaching of “once saved, always saved” had influenced his decision to live in sin and he was the son of a minister.

     Truly, this situation is awful, but the horror of it all is that I have had this situation happen too many times over the years. Unfortunately, it has become a very common experience. I have personally discovered that multitudes are deceived by the error of “once saved, always saved” because almost every time I go out witnessing on the street or door-to-door or on a college campus, I run into people who believe that they will go to heaven while they live in sin.

     These people enthusiastically assure me that they accepted the Lord Jesus sometime in the past and that they “know” they are going to heaven. But, these same people are still fornicating, drinking, cursing, lusting, hating, committing adultery, killing babies through abortion, and even selling drugs. And, to the thrill of the devil, they have believed a lie which has insulated them from the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the true message of repentance.

     Now, I am not saying that a baby Christian will do everything perfectly when they are saved, nor will they when they become a mature Christian. But, there will not be a careless, stubborn, pursuit of sin which the Bible calls “walking after the flesh.” On the contrary, there should be a persistent pursuit of Jesus in the life of a believer, especially after a person has been a Christian for a number of years.

     The doctrine of “unconditional eternal security” or “once saved, always saved” has destroyed millions of souls because it subtly subverts a person’s heart away from Jesus by giving the individual a sense that God’s love and grace is so great that He understands their lifestyle. The “once saved, always saved” teaching gives the believer a false sense of security by turning the grace of God into a license to sin. When this is done in a “religious” setting it is very successful in searing the conscience of the believer who has fallen away. This is the primary reason why the “once saved, always saved” doctrine is one main road blocks to genuine revival. This is also why the Holy Spirit moved so powerfully upon Jude and inspired him to exhort us “… to earnestly contend for the faith.’” Let’s look at what he said and the context in which it is found.

     “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:3-4).

     The Greek word used in this verse for ‘lasciviousness’ is the word ‘aselgia’ which is defined as licentiousness or incontinence. (Strong’s Greek Dictionary, #766) The Webster’s Compact Dictionary defines licentiousness as a ‘disregarding of sexual restraints.’ The root word of licentiousness is the word ‘license’ which means; to give legal permission to engage in some activity; or the irresponsible use of freedom.

     Now, the Creator’s commandments and common sense are perfect examples of sexual restraints. Therefore, to disregard sexual restraints is to disregard God’s commandments and that is precisely what the doctrine of “unconditional eternal security” does in the lives of many people who accept it as being the “gospel.” To put it plainly, the “once saved, always saved” doctrine produces an attitude that will excuse sin and abuse the grace of God, as we saw in the case of that young college couple.

     It is in this context that we have been exhorted to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints. We have been commanded to fight for the faith when we see the grace of God being turned into lasciviousness. Again, this is the context of Jude’s command to fight for the faith. Grace was never intended to be used as an excuse for Christians to continue in sin, but rather grace should be the means by which we overcome habitual sin.

     God’s grace is His “unmerited favor” but it is so much more. In Hebrews 10:29, the Holy Spirit is referred to as the Spirit of Grace and it is He that the Father has sent to assist us and to lead us into all truth. Thus, we see that grace is not some passive mystical force that God just bestows indiscriminately upon any wicked person. On the contrary, God’s grace is a Person who has come alongside us to help us accomplish the will of God. And, without doubt, we know that it is not God’s will for His people to continue in sin. Therefore, when we see the Spirit of Grace abused in this manner, we are supposed to fight for the faith once delivered to the saints. This truth is also repeated in the book of James.

     “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; [20] Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).

     Now, for the purpose of clarity and understanding, we are going to examine this passage more closely so that we will not miss what the Spirit of God is saying to the churches. First of all, James started out by saying “brethren” which lets us know without a doubt that he was addressing born-again Christians. Secondly, he said, “…if any of you (born-again Christians) do err or stray from the truth…” which reveals that a Christian can stray from the truth. And, just common sense tells us that a person cannot stray away from the truth, unless they had known, understood, and experienced the truth.

     Furthermore, this passage calls the backslidden brother a “sinner” who needs to be converted. Now, this word ‘convert’ does not mean that the individual has to be born-again a second time, but rather, he or she must be turned around or brought back. The Greek word here for ‘convert’ is epistrepho, from Greek 1909 (epi) and Greek 4762 (strepho); which means to revert (literal, figurative or moral) :- come (go) again, convert, (re-) turn (about, again). (Strong’s Greek Dictionary #1994).

     But, the most devastating revelation we receive from these verses is the fact that a godly Christian can bring back or convert his fallen brother or sister, and in the process he or she has saved a soul from death. This reference to death is not a reference to physical death because the soul does not die when the body dies. Therefore, the only death the soul (Greek word psuche) can experience is the second death in the lake of fire (see Revelation 21:8, 20:14, & 2:11).

     It is for this reason that we should fight the devil and any doctrine that causes our brothers or sisters to err from the truth—the Word of God has commanded us to! Thus, if a Christian does not believe that another Christian can fall away and be lost, then they will never enter the fight for that person’s soul and they will be in disobedience to this clear command from the book of James. Listen again to the truths of these Scriptures: Christians can and do turn the grace of God into a license to sin and some of them will be lost forever, if they never return to Jesus with all of their heart. Jesus Himself said, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” (Luke 13:24)

My Testimony

     Another reason that I can write so forcefully on this subject is because I was at one time a sinning brother on my way to hell. It was not until another brother in the Lord gave me the gospel in a straight-forward manner that I was brought back to the Lord. You see, when I was twelve years old, I was born-again in a small Southern Baptist church in east Alabama. Notice that I did not say that I had joined the church or that I was baptized, but rather, I had a powerful born-again experience by the Spirit of God.

     It was not long after my family and I began attending that little church, that I met Jesus in a very real way. But prior to my salvation experience, I sat on the back row and passed notes with my friends during the services. Needless to say, I did not pay very much attention to the pastor’s sermons.

     After a few months of the usual boring services, an evangelist came to our church to have a week long “revival.” At that time, my dad was very involved in the church, so we went every night. Until that time, I had been able to drown out the gospel with daydreaming or passing notes. I did not do that intentionally, but Satan had been successful in blinding my mind to the Word of God.

     Then, one night during that “revival” week, as I sat near the back of the church, the message began to penetrate my heart. At the end of his message, the evangelist gave an altar call and all of a sudden I knew by a strong inward witness that I was lost and on my way to hell. The revelation that Jesus Christ was my only hope to go to heaven filled my heart and my mind. It was almost like a man waking up from a dream and realizing that he is very late for the most important meeting of his life though he was dreaming that everything was fine.

     Then, in rapid succession, the realization came over me that I had to get up and walk down the aisle of that church, if I wanted to accept Jesus. At that point, fear gripped me and then a battery of thoughts flooded my mind to stop me from going forward. I wondered what my friends would think. I also heard a voice that tried to relieve my distress by telling me that I could do it later.

     But as I contemplated what Jesus had done for me, I pressed through my fears and decided that I wanted to go to heaven. I stood up and when I took that first step into the aisle of that little church, I was enveloped in a white cloud. I could not see anything around me. I do not even remember walking down to the front because the presence of God was so heavy upon me. All I remember is standing in front of the minister with tears streaming down my face and feeling the most intense love and peace I had ever known. I prayed with the minister and I was baptized in water a few weeks later. Jesus had truly come into my heart!

     We continued going to that church for a few more months before all hell broke loose in my family. Things had not been good between my mom and dad for quite a while. You would think that things would get better after three out of five people in your house decide to follow Jesus, but it did not work that way for us. Being baby Christians, we did not have the knowledge to withstand the satanic onslaught that came against us.

     Sadly, within a year of our conversions, my parents were divorced, my dad lost his business, my grandmother died, my dad moved away to another state in the mid-west, and my mother remarried later that year. All of those things were hard to take as it would be for any thirteen year-old boy who needed both his parents. Not to mention, I had a little brother that was ten and a little sister that was six. The result of all that turmoil was that we stopped going to church.

     By this time, I had entered junior high school. As the months went by, my drift away from God began to pick up speed. Unfortunately, I had not learned how to pray on a daily basis and because I did not have some clear boundaries, the drift away from God turned into a dangerous set of rapids.

     Television, rock & rap music, movies, peer pressure, and finding some pornography edged me closer and closer to the falls. I began drinking alcohol and experimenting with drugs. Those sins then led me into sexual sin, which led to more frequent sexual encounters. I began to party, hit the clubs, and get into dangerous fights. One night I had to snatch a knife out of guys hand and break his nose to keep him from killing me. I have had guns stuck in my face and almost got beaten to death from fighting six or seven guys by myself. That lifestyle continued and became worse over the next five years. The weekend drinking turned into a four and sometimes seven day-a-week “party.”

     At this juncture, it is important for me to point out that I was a habitual drunkard, fornicator, and drug user. God had dealt with me one time in a church service during those years. It was when I was sixteen, but I willfully resisted Him. I went to the altar in that service mainly because almost the whole youth group went up there, but I did not want to give up partying with my friends. I knew that I was rebelling and I did not care because I loved my sin more than God.

     Now at this point, I must pause and let you know that according to the Word of God, I would have gone to hell if I had died in that unrepentant state. But, according to what many radio and television preachers teach concerning “once saved, always saved”, they would contend that I would have gone to heaven if I had died without repenting of my sin. So, let’s see what the Bible says about habitual drunkards, fornicators, and revelers in Galatians 5:19-21.

      “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, [20] Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, [21] Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

     II Peter 2:20-22 says,

      “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. [21] For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. [22] But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”

     And Hebrews 10:26-27 says,

     “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, [27] But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.”

     Though I will deal with these Scriptures in more detail later in this book, I wanted you to see that the Word of God sounds distinctly different than a lot of popular ministers we hear on radio and television today. According to the Bible, I was in serious trouble, but they would have told me that I was still going to heaven even though I had not repented. Thank God that I ran into a brother who knew that I needed to be “converted” again.

Repentance: The Way Back Home

     My “James 5:19-20” experience happened during my first year of college. I was in the initial stages of a modeling career with a very successful agency in the southeast. I had just completed screen tests for three different soap operas on television. But, the drinking and the wild life that I was living had gotten so bad that I needed to get away for awhile. That is when I decided to spend the summer with my dad in Oklahoma.

     After I arrived, I spent three weeks searching for a summer job with no success. Then, my step-brother came home from school and we decided to go over to a small tourist town in the Ozark Mountains to look for jobs. On the first day, we both landed work, so we rented a place and moved there for the summer.

     It did not take long before the whole reason for leaving Alabama was foiled by habit. Instead of cutting back on the partying, we began hanging out with the wrong people and then we started partying more than I had been at college. As it is put now, we were getting “crunk” almost every day. This reveals another powerful truth: You cannot run from your sin because it is within you and as the Scripture says, “…be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).


     Then, during those first few weeks in Arkansas, I decided to get a second job which was exactly what the Lord had planned for me. Unknown to me, I was hired by a young man who was a born-again, Spirit-filled Christian. He discerned immediately that I was on my way to hell. He began to witness to me by giving me Chick tracts and cassette tapes that exposed the satanic element of rock music. He would also talk to me gently, confronting my sin. He gave the Lord something to work with and God began to work on my conscience. The Holy Spirit was slowly beginning to open my eyes to my own terrible, spiritual condition and for the first time in years, I began to realize that I would not go to heaven if I died in my backslidden state.

     The conviction of the Holy Spirit continued, until one day when I was at home all alone. The Spirit of God painted a picture in my mind. I could see a road with a fork in it just ahead. In one direction, I could see Jesus hanging on the cross for my sin. In the other direction, I could see money, fame, women, and darkness. I knew that one path led to hell and the other led to heaven. Then suddenly, I heard God say to me very clearly, “Son, you can have everything that the world has to offer and go to hell or you can surrender your life to me and live forever.” 

     Surprisingly, I was not startled by His voice. It seemed very natural to hear His voice and I must say that I never doubted it was God speaking to me. I thought for a moment and then I answered, “Lord, either I am going to go all the way with you or I am not going at all.” And with that statement, I got up on my day off and went to work so that I could get my Christian boss to pray with me. We prayed together behind that restaurant in the middle of the day and I have never regretted the decision I made to repent.

     In the weeks that followed, Jesus became real to me again and I got to know Him through prayer and His Word. Oh, the miracles that I could share that have happened since that day! I thank God that He led that Christian brother to “convert” me for he truly saved my soul from an eternity in hell.

Where Will You Be?

     Some of you reading this right now know that I have just described your life in some way. Many of you have even had the Lord Jesus tugging at your heart for days and even weeks before you read this. So, I have to ask you: Where will you be on that final day and what will you be doing between now and then? Will you be found snatching souls out of the fire? Or will you be playing with sin while you cling to a doctrine that excuses your behavior? Will you strive to keep your pet sins or will you be found striving against them in the power of the Holy Spirit? Remember, Jesus knows all and He sees all. You can fool others and you can even fool yourself, but then God will put someone in your path with the raw, cutting, unadulterated truth and for a moment the blinders of your self-deception will fall off. Your heart sinks, you may even tremble, and then in desperation you reach back into your memory for a familiar Bible verse to quell the awful sense of your real spiritual condition. Your heart pounds and your mind races… “This can’t be true I was taught differently… these Scriptures cannot mean what they say!” The war for your soul is raging. The battle is real and more than physical death is at stake.

     So, if you have the courage to continue reading this book, you will discover that many treasured Scriptures have been twisted to give sinning Christians a false sense of security. The fact of the matter is that if a brother or a sister strays, then they must be brought back in order to save their soul from death. Do you need someone to bring you back or do you need to get busy giving your brethren the truth? I urge you to give your life to Jesus right now while He is dealing with your heart because the day could come, if you keep on resisting His love, that you will no longer sense His Spirit drawing you. As God said in Genesis, “My Spirit will not always strive with man…” (Genesis 6:3).

     If you want to get right with God, all you have to do is simply ask Jesus to forgive you for all the sins you have committed. Ask Him to cleanse you and deliver you from the dominion of sin, then turn away from your old lifestyle and start following Jesus everyday. Make the changes in your life which are necessary to put Jesus first. As you seek Him in prayer, in the Bible, and in a good church, He will reveal Himself to you. Then, Christianity will not be just another religion—you will really know your Creator and Savoir the Lord Jesus Christ.

Not a Leg to Stand On

Chapter 2

     At this point, you may be raising some theological questions, especially if you are a believer in this Calvinistic teaching called “once saved always saved.” You may be calling to mind one of the few Scriptures that you have clung to for years. Of course, you might think we should just leave such a controversial subject alone for the sake of “unity” in the church. Indeed, some Christians say that we should overlook this point of disagreement in order to keep the “peace” among the brethren. But, this particular teaching is not one of those abstract doctrines that we can just dismiss as not affecting a person’s eternal salvation. This is not a disagreement on the timing of the rapture or whether miracles are for today; this is about heaven or hell.

     Dreadfully, this erroneous teaching has and will influence the eternal destiny of millions of souls who have been duped by it. Now some of you my think this is harsh but frankly, both sides of this issue cannot be right. Therefore, if the “once saved, always saved” crowd is wrong (and there is no doubt they are), then millions are going to go to hell because they trusted in a message of false security while they lived in sin. The consequences are eternal.

     In Matthew 10:34-39, Jesus said, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. [35] For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. [36] And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. [37] He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. [38] And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. [39] He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

     Just prior to this statement, Jesus had warned His disciples that if they were ashamed of Him and His words, then He would be ashamed them. I believe that this is in the Bible because Jesus knew that there would be a demonic push for false unity within the body of Christ. This movement is in the church today. Pentecostal and Charismatic churches have been seduced to be quiet on certain things in order to keep unity with other church groups, but really it is just being ashamed of what Jesus said.

     You see, false unity always puts pressure on those who have the truth to sweep their convictions under the rug. This is so they won’t offend those who are in error. We see this problem with a great number of Christian leaders who starting to overlook the idolatry of Mary worship, saint worship, and sacramental salvation in the Roman Catholic Church. John chapter seventeen is usually quoted, but very few people catch the truth of what Jesus said when He prayed, “That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 17:21).

     Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one. So, do you think that Jesus and the Father have any doctrinal differences, especially about an issue that can affect the eternal destiny of millions? Does not the Scripture ask the question, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (See Amos 3:3). Did not Paul tell the Corinthians “Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Corinthians 1:10)?

Notice that he told this church with divisions to “…all speak the same things.” He did not tell them to neglect or throw away essential truths in order to keep unity among them.

     Jesus’ words are more important than peace in the household. We cannot love anyone in this spiritual house more than Jesus and we cannot separate Jesus from His words! The issue that I am addressing in this book may be a sword of separation among some believers, but nowhere in the New Testament are we instructed to let people go to hell for the sake of unity.

     False unity is more concerned with making a name for itself and putting together a big meeting for God, rather than speaking the truth in love. It is burdened more for its reputation than lost and dying souls. It is more focused on making its own glamorous way to God than doing things God’s way; just remember the Tower of Babel because this is the same spirit the will help form the one world religion that will submit to the Antichrist.

Eliminating Apparent Contradictions

     As the title of this chapter suggests, I am going to show you that the “once saved, always saved” camp really does not have a leg to stand on. And, as we will see, the few Scriptures that they do lean upon are used out of context or without understanding of the Greek verb tenses. For example, the book of 1 John can be easily misunderstood without at least some explanation of the Greek verb tenses.

     Let’s start with 1 John 1:8 which says, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” But then 1 John 3:8-9 says,  “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. [9] Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Is this a contradiction or is there something else we need to understand? Those of you who love the Word of God know that God does not contradict Himself, so the answer to the above question is that there is something else that we need to understand. We have to be able to reconcile these Scriptures so that they flow together. The only way that we can do that is to go back to the original Greek and see what the Holy Spirit was saying when He inspired the apostle John to write this letter.

     As many of you already know, the New Testament was first written in Koine Greek and the Greek language of that day had three basic verb tenses that were clearly understood; 1)present tense, 2)perfect tense, and 3)aorist tense. The ‘present tense” in Koine Greek is a verb form that usually denotes linear action. To put it another way, it denotes continuous or ongoing action that is generally taking place in the present. The ‘perfect tense’ indicates an action that generally happened in the past with results continuing in the present. The ‘aorist tense’ usually denotes punctillar action. It is usually an action that occurs at one point in time. The ‘aorist tense’ denotes the fact of an action. It also refers to the completion of an action without any reference to the length of that action. (This information was taken from ‘A Parsing Guide to the Greek New Testament’ by Nathan E. Hand, Herald Press.)

     With this understanding in mind, we can read 1 John 3:8-9 and after using our ‘Strong’s Greek Dictionary’ and our ‘Parsing Guide…’ we discover that the word committeth in verse 8 and the word commit in verse 9 are ‘present tense’ Greek verbs. So, what the Lord is saying in verse 8 is that… “He that committeth sin (continuously, ongoing and presently) is of the devil…” This is how these definitions help us to better understand how the Word of God flows together.

     As you can see this discovery of the Greek verb tenses does not change the Word of God, but rather, it gives us a better understanding and helps to clear up the apparent contradiction. Through all of these verses, we see that the Lord is telling His people that sin should be the exception rather than the rule in the life of the believer. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14).

     Taking this same principle, we will look at some of the Scriptures used by those who believe the “once saved, always saved” doctrine in order to see how they grossly misuse these portions of the Bible in an attempt to “prove” their point. One of the main passages they misunderstand is found in the Gospel of John 6:37-39, where Jesus says,

     “All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. [38] For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. [39] And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.’  The word ‘cometh’ in verse 37 is a ‘Present tense’ Greek verb which causes the verse to read, ‘All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me(continuously, ongoing, and presently) I will in no wise cast out.”  

     Now, with this insight, you can reconcile John 6:37 with other passages that seem to contradict it. Such as John 8:31-32 which states, ‘Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; [32] And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’  Also, Col. 1:21-23, ‘And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled [22] In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: [23] If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.”  

     The word ‘if ‘is a conditional term that means you can choose whether or not to continue in His Word. Therefore, it is possible for a true believer to be moved away from the hope of the gospel (which is eternal life) and be lost forever. Yet, there are many preachers who teach that once a person is born-again, then they have entered into an unconditional, unchangeable state with God and that is simply not true.

     To further illustrate this point, the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30 confirms that you can be a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ and then lose everything at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Let’s look at it in detail.

     “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. [15] And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. [16] Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. [17] And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. [18] But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money. [19] After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. [20] And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. [21] His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. [22] He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. [23] His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord. [24] Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: [25] And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. [26] His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: [27] Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. [28] Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. [29] For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. [30] And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

     In this parable, all three of the individuals mentioned were servants of the Lord and all of them called Jesus their Lord. Jesus also delivered unto them His goods and went back to heaven. What did Jesus give them? Well, the Bible says in 2 Peter 1:3 that, “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:”  So obviously, Jesus gave them everything that they would need to live godly fruitful lives for Him.

     Now, it is evident that the first two things any person must receive from Jesus Christ are grace and faith so that they can be saved. Ephesians. 2:8-9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast.” So, it is evident that Jesus dealt to each of them the important things that they would need to accomplish His will. Just the fact that two of them made it into heaven proves that they were all given grace and faith. It is also clear in this parable that none of them earned what was given to them i.e. grace, but they were expected to continue in the faith and bring forth fruit.

     As we read, two of them were faithful and entered the kingdom of heaven after the Judgment Seat of Christ, but one of them was cast out of heaven. The Bible tells that the one who was cast out was afraid and hid what God had given him in the earth even though he knew what his Lord expected. Maybe he was afraid of what people might say if he obeyed God, or maybe he was just ashamed of the gospel. Possibly, he was afraid to lose his job or his position in the church if he truly put his faith into practice. Whatever the reasons were, when Jesus came to take account of His servants, He rebuked the one who did not do what he was supposed to do. After which, Jesus had the angels take from him what he had and cast him into outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

     Now, no matter what some eloquent theologian or television preacher might say, this unprofitable servant in Matthew 25 did not go to heaven. The Bible teaches us without reservation that there is no darkness in heaven or in God, nor shall there be any weeping in heaven! The truth of this parable is simply that the unprofitable servant lost everything he had received from Jesus and that included his salvation.

     Just this parable alone should cause Christians to wake up out of their spiritual slumber and tremble at the Word of God. At times, we all need to lift our heads out of the desert sands of denial and hear the whole counsel of God’s Word. We cannot just continue to sit and listen to the devilish doctrines of men. Tragically though, many Christians have convinced themselves that they are okay. They think they are hot for Jesus even though they are living lukewarm, backslidden lifestyles. Jesus even said that the lukewarm church of Laodicea thought that they “had need of nothing” when in reality they did not realize that they were “…wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”

     This is why it takes a two-by-four of God’s truth to bring us back to our senses. God is not playing around with the church. He really will vomit the lukewarm believer out of His mouth and He really will cast the unprofitable servant into hell. The time has come for the church to open her ears and hear what the Spirit is saying. And, I guarantee that the Holy Spirit of God is not telling anyone that it is okay for them to continue in an adulterous affair, or premarital sex, or pornography, or drunkenness, or witchcraft, or drug abuse, or even dead, lifeless religion. The message of the Holy Spirit is, "Get ready for the Bridegroom because He is coming to take those who are ready. Do not be left behind or find yourself shut out of the wedding. The door will be shut very soon. Look for Him, love Him, and you will be with Him.”

     God does not say things He does not mean and He does not contradict Himself. The sobering truth is that the lukewarm Christians and the backslidden prodigals will not go to heaven if they do not repent and return to the Heavenly Father with all of their heart. Repentance is the key and it simply means to admit the sin and quit the sin or to say it another way, “Confess it and forsake it!” Any believer who wants to be declared alive by the Father has to leave the foreign soil of a sinful lifestyle and return to his Father’s house. This covenant is a conditional covenant for each person. Therefore, do not let anyone deceive you with vain, empty words!

Another Conditional Phrase

     Having said all of that, I realize that some of you may still be questioning the rest of the passage we read back in John 6 particularly verse 39. This is where Jesus said, “And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”  You may say… “See Jesus said… all which He hath given I will lose nothing…” but the problem with that kind of thinking is this; Jesus used the word should not the word will.  Had Jesus used the word will, then there would not be any room for discussion. But, when He used the word should, He used a term that reveals He could lose some. So, the phrase…I should lose nothing…is not a sufficient argument to prove “unconditional eternal security.” In addition to that, we have to remember that the Scriptures have to agree and flow together. They do not ever contradict one another.

     Let us look at another example of this word ‘should.’ Jesus used this same word in one of the most beloved verses in the Bible—John 3:16. Yet, it is amazing to discover how many people think that they have memorized this verse correctly and then when you ask them to quote it they insert the word shall instead of the word should. Look at it for yourself. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

     Now, if I were a physician and you came to me with a deadly disease and I told you without a doubt that you shall not perish whether you take the medicine or not, then you would not be too serious about the remedy I prescribed. On the other hand, if I were to tell you that you should not perish, then I am clearly saying that there is a possibility that you could perish and of a surety you would take my words of instruction more seriously. Hence, you can see the two different mentalities of the church.

     The word ‘should’ is a conditional term, whereas the words ‘shall or will’ are very unconditional in which case they are misused in John 3:16 by some well meaning people.        So, we see that even this well-known verse cannot be used to teach “unconditional eternal security.” Just the phrase “should not perish” reveals to us that there is more to walking with Jesus than just believing. This is not at all to slight the truth that salvation comes by grace through faith, but rather that, Christianity is an ongoing relationship with the Creator that can be destroyed forever by our choices. Truly, if we do believe in Jesus, then we should not perish, but there are many who for one reason or another drift away from God and go back to their former lovers. Now, even if a believer does fall away from God, they can come back to the Lord, but there has to be godly sorrow and true repentance. If there is not genuine repentance, then the Word of God tells us that the unrepentant sinner will perish (see Luke 13:1-5).

     Take for example, a woman who is having an adulterous affair and then her husband finds out. Her choices have seriously damaged the relationship and even the Word of God allows her spouse to separate himself from her forever. He can choose to forgive her and allow the relationship to be restored. However, if she keeps on sinning against him, the relationship will be over for good even though he may still love her. In the same way, God will forgive and show great mercy to the humble, repentant one while the one who obstinately continues in a habitual lifestyle of sin will be rejected and cast out of heaven at the final judgment. Again, this is nothing more than a reference to the truth we have already studied in the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30.

Who Will Never Be Plucked Out of His Hand?

     Another passage that is frequently quoted in an attempt to validate the belief in “once saved, always saved” is found in John 10:27-29. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: [28] And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. [29] My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” Most of the time it is only verses 28 and 29 that are used in an attempt to prove ‘once saved, always saved,’ but to do that is to take them out of context because the most important verse in this passage is verse 27. This is where Jesus told us who would never perish or be plucked out of His hand. Again He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  In this Scripture, the word  hear and the word follow are both Present tense Greek verbs. Which means that this verse should be read like this; My sheep hear my voice (continuously, ongoing, and presently) and I know them, and they follow me (continuously, ongoing and right now in the present). Those who get eternal life are those who hear His voice and follow Him continuously and presently! As Jesus said, “… he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). Therefore, salvation is reserved for those who endure to the end! It is for those who abide or remain in the Vine! Truly, if we want to follow Jesus no man can by force pluck us out of His hand, but as a free moral agent, we can walk away from God anytime we want.

     However, there are those who say that not even the individual can remove himself or herself from the hand of God. If that were true, then there would not be any need for the many warnings throughout the Bible about falling away or departing from God. Hebrews 3:12-14 is a perfect example. The Scripture warns, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. [13] But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. [14] For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.” Again, let me remind you to pay close attention to every word of this passage. Words like ‘brethren’ and ‘departing’ make it very difficult to dismiss this as a message to the unsaved or as some try to conclude that it is for the Jews only. Then, of course, the use of the words ‘we’ and ‘if we’ really chisel this truth in stone. I often wonder how anyone could possibly miss the obvious point in these verses.

     I Timothy 4:1 is another one of those warnings that could not be made any clearer. It forewarns, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”

     So, if it is impossible for a born-again believer to depart from God and be lost (as many claim and teach), then why would there be such strong exhortations to the believer to not let that happen? Simple common sense tells us that a person cannot depart from a faith that they never possessed. And just to be sure, I looked up the Greek word for ‘faith’ in this passage and it is the ‘saving faith’ by which a person is born-again (Strong’s Greek Dictionary #4102). Therefore, it is painfully clear in both of these passages that any Christian can choose to depart from the living God and go back into sin, thereby taking themselves out of the hand of God.

     As I stated before, the word of God does not contradict itself. We must consider the mountain of Scriptures that are against “unconditional eternal security” verses the very few which are twisted and taken out of their context in an attempt to justify ongoing sin in the life of a Christian.

(c)2016 Dean Odle Ministries