Once Saved Always Saved

(Taught by Jimmie Burroughs at First Baptist, Cedar Key, Florida, March 5, 2013)


“Security of the believer” has been called a Baptist doctrine, primarily because the Baptist by far is the largest group who believes and teaches it. Nevertheless, there are many Baptist who don’t believe in once saved always saved. Perhaps, it’s because they have not been thoroughly informed concerning the doctrine. Actually, there should be no doctrines exclusively assigned to a particular denomination; they should be based on the word of God, therefore should be called Bible doctrines. The eternal security of the believer is a Bible doctrine, not a Baptist doctrine, which is the purpose of this paper to prove.

What about the Bible verses which seem to indicate that a person can lose their salvation?

There are a few obscure, ominous verses in the Bible that seem to indicate that a person can lose their salvation; these verses, by the way, can be explained. Nevertheless, there are an enormous amount of Bible verses which plainly teach that a believer can’t lose their salvation. Furthermore, there is not one verse in the entire Bible where God disowns even one of His children.

Basing one’s belief on a few obscure verses of scripture and ignoring the vast majority which are clear on the subject is kind of like a fellow I knew who said that the reason he didn’t believe in using seat belts was because he heard of someone who was killed because he was wearing one. That begs the question: What about the thousands whose lives have been saved because they were wearing seat belts? It is far better basing your belief on the numerous Scriptures that teach you cannot lose your salvation than on a few obscure ones which seem to teach that you might.

I will mention just one of those references which seem to call into question the security of the believer and explain its meaning. This reference is found in Hebrews chapter six and is, perhaps, the most difficult of all to interpret. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6).

Rather than teaching that one can fall from grace, this passage is teaching that it would be impossible to renew them “if” they were to fall. First, of whom is the author speaking? Is he talking about a lost person who has been called and convicted by the Holy Spirit, and who has rejected the call? If that were so, it would mean that a person only has one chance to be saved. We know that isn’t the case because there are those who do not respond to the gospel the first time they hear it, but are saved at a later time. Sowing the gospel is compared in Scripture to sowing seeds which later germinates, and then still later produces a harvest. The best interpretation is that it is a believer that is under consideration in this passage. When a passage of Scripture is ominous as this one, it is best to interpret it in the light of other verses on the same subject which are clearly understandable. Since there are numerous verses which attest to the doctrine of once saved always saved, we can conclude that the author is not indicating that a saved person can lose their salvation; so, what is he saying? I don’t normally like using a paraphrase, but in this instance it seems appropriate. The key to understanding this passage is the little word “if.” Here’s my paraphrase: If it were possible for a person to lose their salvation, it would be impossible for them to be saved again since it would require Christ coming to earth and dying again which would put Him to an open shame.

What is clear about this passage is that salvation is a onetime event: “For it is impossible . . . if they fall away to renew them again.” Let it be known that while the critics of “once saved always saved” consider this passage as evidence of falling from grace, they reject the clear teaching that “if” one was to fall from grace they can’t be renewed again. Contrarily, they believe and teach that a person can be saved again, and some say that they have been saved multiple times.

What does it mean to be saved?

First, let us determine what true salvation is before we endeavor to explain why a believer can be assured that once saved they’re always saved. There is a common misconception that the way to heaven is determined by whether one has been good enough and hasn’t sinned too much. If that is true, any amount of sin, from the smallest to the greatest, would condemn a person since God is perfect and can tolerate no sin. Jesus was the first to teach this, and His disciples were amazed, so much in fact that they responded, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answered, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26). It is very clear from what Jesus taught that salvation is in the hands of God only, and not a combination of the efforts of God and man; one of the reason being that anything man does falls short of God’s perfect standards.

The Bible is abundantly clear that salvation is a work of God entirely, separate from any work that man can do: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8). Of course we understand that a gift isn’t something that we work for; it is freely given. Therefore, salvation is a gift from God, freely given, and freely received plus nothing else.

Another misconception concerning salvation is that anyone who believes in God goes to heaven. Salvation requires more than just an acknowledgement or mental ascent of the existence of God, or Jesus. The vast majority of the world believes there is a God, even Demons believe in God. The difference in believing in God’s existence and actual salvation is lordship. Believers claim the lordship of Jesus. One of the greatest proofs of salvation is following Jesus. Jesus taught that if you believe on Him, to take up your cross and follow Him: And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23).

To follow Jesus is to strive to live within His will which includes a lifestyle of righteousness rather than a lifestyle of sin. Some have said that if you believe in the security of the believer, you can sin all you want and still go to heaven. In the first place, the person who desires to live in sin has missed the mark of salvation since salvation brings with it a transformed life where there is no longer desire to live in sin. A true believer doesn’t want to sin; quite to the contrary, there is a desire to please the Master. A person who doesn’t follow Jesus and who lives consistently in sin is not a believer according to Biblical requirements.

What is a true believer? “It begins with the receiving . . . with the opening of one’s heart . . . with the turning away from darkness and to light . . . with the giving of oneself . . . the committing of one’s life—a vow of love . . . a prayer . . .a decision . . . a total and committed yes.”[1] It is the result of one who has accepted the good news of Jesus, the gospel, that he died, was buried and arose on the third day in order to redeem lost humanity from the death penalty of sin, and has been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit, and who is faithfully seeking God’s will for their life. It has been estimated, by what means I know not, that 66% of church attendees have not experienced true salvation, and most of the 66% are church members. Perhaps this explains why the church today has a less than favorable image in the eyes of the world at large.

The Scriptures plainly teach that the believer can know they are saved

“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (I John 5:13)

While this indeed is one of the greatest proof verses in the Bible for knowing we are saved, it is undergirded by many other verses as we shall see as we go forward.

Believers are foreknown, predestined, called, justified, and Glorified

According to the following verse, when a person accepts Christ as savior, that person enters an unbroken process that takes them all the way to the time when they are glorified in heaven. It’s like entering a secured pipeline at the beginning and only exiting when the desired results have been accomplished: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29, 30)

This passage indicates that before the creation of the world God foreknew and predestined for salvation those that were His. Don’t let the thought of God’s foreknowledge and predestination trouble you. They are not your concerns, they are God’s. If you must, consider it this way: Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.” God has forever known his sheep and has known they would follow Him even before they were, and secured them through His power of predestination. His action of predestination is based solely on His omniscience, and has nothing to do with any future action of mankind. Your concern and mine isn’t God’s foreknowledge or predestination, but rather it is a matter of choice. God offers redemption, and we can either choose to receive it or choose to reject it. It is called freedom of choice. We are saved by God’s grace, if we are saved, because we choose His offer of redemption through faith and by nothing more.

It is further to be noted that there is no break in the process whereas God decides to disclaim one of His children, nor is there evidence in all of Scripture of that ever happening. Contrary to that, the Scripture is clear concerning God’s intentions: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6). That reference alone should be enough to convince anyone that once a person is saved that God begins a work in them that is unaltered until Jesus returns to claim His saints.

Defining Eternal life

The Scriptures describe God’s gift of life in the following terms: eternal life; everlasting life and forever life. The definition of each of those terms is “Something that never ends.” Dr. Adrian Rogers always used to say, “The faith that fizzles before the finish had a flaw from the first.” Life that is eternal never falters and never fizzles by definition and by God’s promises: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosever beliveth in Him should never perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). Neither shall the believer ever face condemnation: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24). What if a believer did fall into condemnation? It would make it clear that Jesus was mistaken in the declaration above, that He wasn’t omniscient, but instead just an ordinary man. That of course isn’t the case. Jesus is omniscient and knew precisely what He was saying.

When does eternal life begin?

Most believers agree on the endurance of eternal life, but disagree on when it begins. The once saved always saved critics believe that once they get to heaven and slam the door behind them they are safe. Before they get to heaven, however, it depends on what they do. Why should believers wait until they are in heaven before they can depend on God’s power to keep them? Why not depend on Him from the very beginning of salvation? If you start out depending on your own power to keep you safe, it seems logical that you must forever depend on yourself for safety. After all God kicked the devil and his angels out of heaven. Obviously, we aren’t safe in heaven lest God keeps us safe. It is false logic to believe that one is unsafe on earth from the power of the devil, but once in heaven safe at last. God guarantees His protection both on earth and in heaven. Blessed be the God of heaven who through His own power keeps us safe from the devil now and forever.

Jesus promised to never cast out a believer

Is the promise of Jesus good enough? All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37).

Jesus promises to one day raise all those who come to Him

No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, [His death on the cross] which I will give for the life of the world.

Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; [In other words whoever believes on the Lord Jesus has eternal life.] and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44; 47; 54; 58)

Jesus promises His children shall never perish nor can they be stolen away

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” (John10:27-30)

If just one of the redeemed should perish, based on the promise of Jesus above, then Jesus apparently didn’t know what He was talking about. Jesus is God, and would never mislead or falter concerning His promises.

The great intercessory prayer of Jesus for the safety of his disciples and future believers

(John chapter 17, New International Version)

After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Jesus Prays for His Disciples

6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction [Judas who was an unbeliever from the start] so that Scripture would be fulfilled.

13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Jesus Prays for All Believers

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”


“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am . . . That is the prayer that Jesus prayed for all believers. There is none I’d rather pray for my safety than Jesus, and I am thoroughly convinced that His prayer is answered and that I along with all true believers shall be with Him in heaven one day . . . Not a one will be lost, no not one because Jesus Himself prayed for every believer’s safety.

Believers are sealed unto the day of redemption

“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)

The seal spoken of here is not of the kind commonly used on all supermarket food products. That kind of seal is easily broken. Rather it refers to a seal used by ancient kings to seal a document. It was a seal that could only be broken by a stronger power than that king. If the believer is sealed by the Holy Spirit who is God, it would take a stronger power than God to break that seal which there is none. Notice that the believer is sealed until the day of redemption which comes when a person goes to heaven or when Christ returns for his saints, whichever comes first.


Religious denominations are sometimes established on one man’s theology of the Scripture, therefore, erroneous beliefs are often passed down from generation to generation. People continue to believe false doctrine because they have been taught either by parents or clergy. Furthermore, cults are established on one man’s philosophy to the downfall of untold millions. The Scripture commands us to “Study to show thyself approved before God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth.” (II Timothy 2:15). We are not to take for granted the teachings of man without verifying it by thus saith the Word. That is why I have included the many Scriptural references in this study. It is now up to you to discern wisely what you believe, not based on what I’ve told you, or anyone else, but on what thus saith the Word of God.

[1] Jonathan Cann, author of Harbinger

Share and Enjoy:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Add to favorites
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • email
  • MySpace
  • StumbleUpon

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

HostGator WordPress Hosting