The doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved,” also known as “The Perseverance of the Saints,” promotes the idea that a child of God cannot so sin as to be eternally lost. This is an idea as hold as man himself. It was preached in the Garden of Eden by that old serpent, Satan (Gen. 3:4-5). This evil doctrine was first preached to Adam and Eve. God had said to them, “for in the day you eat of the forbidden fruit you would surely die” (Gen. 2:17). In contradiction, Satan said, “Ye shall not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). In our present day, he was saying, “You as a child of God shall not be condemned because it is impossible for you to fall and be lost.” However, the evidence that he lied is overwhelming. The Word of God, the suffering of the human race, and the marble stones found throughout cemeteries all over the world show him to be a liar.
In order to correctly represent this doctrine that was born in the heart and soul of Satan himself, we quote the following: “We believe that the Holy Scriptures teach that such only are real believers as endure unto the end: that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes these from superficial professors: that a special Providence watches over their welfare: and they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.” (What Baptists Believe and Why They Believe It, Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.)
The Southern Manual For Baptist Churches, edited by Edward T. Hiscox, says: “We believe the Scriptures teach that such as are truly regenerate, being born of the Spirit, will not utterly fall away and perish, but will endure unto the end.” (p. 67)
We ask, “What is the issue?” When one rightly divides God’s Word (2 Tim. 2:15), these scriptures emphasize God’s love, his power, and his desire to save mankind.
The truth is salvation from sin is conditional. Eternal salvation is conditional. No one goes to heaven accidentally. The future inhabitants of heaven will have planned to go there. They desired to go there, and they sacrificed to go there. The child of God who refuses or neglects to comply with God’s conditions of eternal salvation can no more be saved than the alien sinner who refuses or neglects to comply with God’s terms of pardon (Heb. 5:8-9; 2:1-4; Matt. 7:21).
This matter of obedience has always been a problem of mankind. Ask the average believer, “What is the meaning of obedience?” They will readily say, “Obeying God’s commands.” That is correct. However, in this day and time we must seek a deeper meaning as to what obedience entails. It means to do what God says, the way God says, and for the reason(s) God says.
Paul wrote, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning that we through patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). When we go to the Old Testament, we see how the Lord in his goodness has given us two examples which define the meaning of obedience:
Moses. In Numbers 20:1-12, the record says that the children of Israel complained and quarreled with Moses because they did not have the comforts of Egypt and no water to drink (vs. 3-4). Moses and Aaron took the matter to the Lord (v. 6). The Lord gave them instructions on what to do. Notice what God said: “Take thy rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water” (vs. 8-9). However, Moses did not comply with the meaning of obedience. He struck the rock twice instead of speaking to it as God had commanded him, and suffered the consequences of his disobedience when God decreed he would not bring the children of Israel into the Promised Land (v. 12). Moses, a child of God, saw the Promised Land but died outside of it due to his disobedience.
King Saul. Scripture records how the Lord’s servant, Samuel, came to King Saul and told him what the Lord wanted him to do (1 Sam. 15:2-9). Saul’s armies were to destroy everything of Amalek, all men, women, children, and their possessions. With this in mind, remember the meaning of obedience: doing what God says, the way God says, and for the reason(s) God says. If one does not comply with any of these facets, they disobey God. The record shows that Saul disobeyed the Lord by sparing King Agag, the best of the sheep and cattle, and all that was good (v. 9). As a result of his disobedience, he lied to Samuel (vs. 13, 20) and disobeyed the Lord by doing evil in his sight (v. 19). Note what the prophet said to Saul in verse 22: “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.” Because Saul did not listen and do exactly what God commanded, he lost his kingdom and perhaps his soul.
Today’s generation needs to listen to what Samuel said to Saul: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams” (v. 22; cf. Acts 3:22-23; Matt. 17:5). We should listen to Jesus, the Son of God, because he and only he has the words of eternal life (John 6:68).
God’s Desire That All Men Be Saved
God wants everyone to be saved (2 Pet. 3:9). He finds no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23). However, mankind must comply with the conditions God has given in his Word in order to insure our eternal salvation (Tit. 2:11-12; Mark 16:16). Old Balaam said, “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!” (Num. 23:10). However, one cannot die the death of the righteous if one does not live the life of the righteous.
This is why God repeatedly warns the righteous to continue holding fast to his Word in order to avoid a meaningless faith (1 Cor. 15:1-2). This is why Christians are exhorted to walk in the light and confess our sins in order to continually receive the cleansing power of forgiveness through the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7-9). This is why the saved are urged to grow in Christian graces, being specifically warned that “IF you practice these qualities you will never fall” (2 Pet. 1:5-10).
Let us think on these things as we travel the highway of life. Our salvation and our eternal destiny depends on it.