Once Saved, Always Saved?

Those who say that since we chose to become saved we can choose to walk away. They are applying human thinking to the equation, thinking it makes sense that it should work that way. But there is no Biblical support for that opinion. In fact, as we’ve seen, it’s not the case at all. As bond servants of the Lord we gave up our right to self determination when we surrendered our life to Him. (Jack Kelley, “Bond Servant”).

In both the “What We Believe” section on Jack Kelley’s[1] Grace Thru Faith website, and in one of his articles entitled “Union and Fellowship Expanded,” Kelley’s stance for predestination becomes clear. He believes in a union and a fellowship with God. He states that we can never lose salvation (union), but we can lose our fellowship with God. In short, our actions do not affect salvation, but rather, they affect our day-to-day relationship with God. In part, I agree. We as humans have a sinful nature, and we sin every day. This doesn’t automatically mean that we lose our salvation. We must confess on a regular basis to maintain right-standing with God, which Kelley seems to agree with (although he says it’s so that we can have blessings from God). But there’s still a problem. What if someone decides to never confess once he’s received salvation and chooses to sin continually after coming to the knowledge of Christ? From a free will perspective, and with much prayer and consideration, I have endeavored to answer this question.

Free Will

Jack Kelley’s article “Bond Servant” focuses on the idea of what a bond servant represents (Ex. 21:1-6); basically that once he has made the decision to stay with his master, he is with his master for life. Kelley transfers this idea to Christians and how each of us is a bond servant as long as we accept Christ. We can never leave this path once we’ve chosen it. Kelley writes:

“In effect, a bond servant enters into the relationship voluntarily with the understanding that it’s a lifetime commitment, with no provision for release.”

It was the servant’s choice to enter into a bond servant relationship with his master, but once the agreement was made he could not choose to undo it later. It was a lifelong commitment.”

“We also had a debt we couldn’t pay and chose to enter into a life long relationship with the Lord in exchange for having the debt forgiven. It was our choice to do so but once we made the choice, we gave up the right to undo the arrangement later on. In effect, we put aside our own interests and agreed to dedicate our life to the pursuit of His interests.”[2]

Kelley repeats these ideas in order to establish that a person cannot undo being a Christian once he/she has made the choice. In addition, his quote written at the beginning of this post declares that there is no biblical support for the argument that Christians can choose to walk away. Throughout his article, he reiterates the same slogan: “Like the bond servant of Old Testament times, we belong to our Master and are not free to walk away.” While these statements may sound good, they deny a God-given right to humanity: free will. Kelley is saying that we no longer have a choice. In one sense, we are aware of the truth and are accountable to that truth. People with such knowledge and experience shouldn’t want to walk away from all that is good and holy. But how many of us know people who were close to God at one time, and now they are no different than the world? Maybe something happened that they blame God and have chosen to walk a different path. Some may turn back to God; some may not. Free will is a wonderful gift, but we are held accountable for our choices. While I agree that making the decision to follow Christ is a voluntary endeavor, it does not take away my free will. Simply stated, if I make the free will choice to follow Christ, I can make the free will choice to walk away. Do I want to do this? No, indeed! But does that mean everyone has had the same experience or desire? Is it really possible that no bond slave in ancient Israel ever rebelled/ran away from his master? We cannot dismiss the importance and uniqueness of free will.

As Genesis testifies, humans were created differently than the rest of the world. We were made in the image of God. Part of being made in His image means that we were created with the ability to choose which continued after humanity fell into sin. As Genesis 3 demonstrates, humans do not always choose the path that God desires. Yet, God chose to send a Savior (Himself) to save us from the consequences of our decision. Unfortunately, humans (believers and non-believers alike) still make mistakes. Looking at the world around us, life would probably be better if we didn’t have the ability to make those mistakes again. But then who would we be? Does God want robot-like humans to love Him? What is love without the freedom to choose to love or to run away from it? Think about Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. He spent years teaching both followers and mockers about the kingdom of God. Many of them, including His disciples, still didn’t get it. One of them was even about to betray Him. Yet, what He prays in Matthew 26:39-44 reflects the choice He makes on our behalf, “39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” In between this conversation with the Father, Jesus finds His disciples, the very people He is preparing to die for, sleeping. “42 He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Again, Jesus finds His disciples sleeping instead of being alert as Jesus asked. “44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more.” This passage demonstrates His choice to follow the Father’s will: “Not as I will, but as You will.” This is also a reflection of the Lord’s Prayer: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” (Matt. 6:10). To further illustrate His love, Hebrews 2:9-18 is a powerful passage about Jesus and the sacrifices He chose to go through on our behalf: “14 Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. 16 For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. 17 Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Hebrews 3:5-6 continues talking about the faithfulness of Christ but then adds believers to the conversation: “Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

“7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,

‘Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me,
And saw My works for forty years.
10 Therefore I was angry with this generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they did not know My ways’;
11 As I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’”

Jesus chose to be faithful to the Father and sacrifice His life for ours. We, as believers, still have the responsibility—the choice—to “hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” To say that our ability to choose ceases to exist once we accept Christ is not evident in Scripture; rather, it denies our very nature as beings created in the image of God—created with the gift of free will.

Christian Behavior

Along with the idea that we can no longer walk away, Kelley asserts that once we are saved, our actions have no affect on our salvation:

“But they [Paul and other New Testament writers] never said our salvation depends on us obeying their instructions, or that our failure to perform would result in our arrangement with the Lord being canceled.”

“We are saved by grace through faith and not by works (Ephes. 2:8-9). While the New Testament contains numerous admonitions to live our lives in a manner that’s pleasing to God, none of them have been imposed upon us as our part of the bargain. They are presented as things we can do to express our gratitude for what the Lord has unconditionally done for us. Our willingness to do these things is what Paul called “living up to what we have already attained” (Phil. 3:16). In other words, we don’t do them in the hope of qualifying for eternal life, but as our way of saying thanks because we already have it.”

“So the base line of our relationship with the Lord, below which we cannot go, is forgiveness for our sins and eternal life with Him. Anything we do out of gratitude for that brings extra blessings.[4]

I agree with Scripture and Kelley that it’s not our works that save us; however, I have to argue with the idea that none of the things instructed of us are things that we really have to do. What sets us apart as Christians? Not just our words but our actions. What is the purpose of Scripture? To strengthen the body of Christ, to teach how to live a life worthy of a Christ, to call out false teachings and teach truth, to establish fellowship among believers from different locations and ethnic backgrounds. I’m sure you can insert more points. Second Timothy 3:16-17 declares, “16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”[5] If all we have to do is say “I believe” and we’re “in,” what is the importance of such instruction? While our works do not save us, they are evidence of our faith and righteousness. James 2:19-26 declares,

19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness,” and he was called the friend of God. 24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.”

In the context of Philippians 2, Paul explains the humbling experience that Christ chose to go through in order to become our perfect sacrifice. With this in mind, Paul exhorts the Philippians to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (vv. 12-13). Because God is at work in us, we ought to strive to live in a way pleasing to Him. Why wouldn’t we want to do this for the One who literally gave up everything for our sake? Our actions declare who we truly are and whom we truly serve.

They Were Never Really Saved?

One of the most professed arguments for why Christians “turn away” is that they were never really believers in the first place. While people have quoted verse after verse in attempts to support this belief, the book of Hebrews leaves no room for doubt: There have been Christians who have been fully converted and have chosen to fall away. Before I expound on this statement, it is important to understand the audience of this book. The audience is Jewish Christians which is evident by their knowledge of the Law, who Jesus is and His role as High Priest and Savior, and the sufferings they have faced after choosing to believe and follow God. Here are some Scriptures to support these claims:

Hebrews 2:1– “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.”

The author[6] inserts himself along with his audience when he advises not to drift away from what they have heard. By this we know that the author is a believer, and that all of them have heard the same things. Therefore, we can conclude the audience is also a group of believers.

Hebrews 3:12– “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.”

The term “brethren” (or “brothers”) connotes that the writer is talking to believers since this term is used throughout the NT to refer to “believers.” “Falls away” comes from the Greek ἀφίσταμαι, which according to Louw and Nida, means “to abandon a former relationship or association, or to dissociate (a type of reversal of beginning to associate)—‘to fall away, to forsake, to turn away.’”[7] In order to abandon a former relationship, you have to have been in the relationship to begin with; thus, these people are currently in a relationship with God.

Hebrews 5:12– “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.”

The audience ought to be teachers, which is more proof that these are believers; however, they are not maturing as they ought to be. This is what leads to the writer’s warning in Hebrews 6.

Hebrews 10:32-35– “But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.”

The audience has undoubtedly faced suffering because of their commitment to Christ, which is why the writer seems adamant about encouraging them to press on.

Now that we have established the audience, let’s look at Hebrews 6:1-6, a passage not to be dismissed nor taken lightly:

“1        Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,

2        of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.

3        And this we will do, if God permits.

4        For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,

5        and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,

6        and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”

Verses 1-3 restate the truth that this audience needs to mature in the things of God rather than focus on the foundational teachings. In short, being a Christian is more than understanding and believing the basics. In vv. 4-6, the writer warns about what has happened to believers who have not heeded the examples set by the ancient Israelites and have fallen away. I’m sure some of you are thinking, How can you be sure that the writer is referring to true believers? Not to get too technical, but word choice and verb tenses are major indicators. In vv. 4-5, the verbs are past tense (aorist), passive[8], participles. For example, “have once been enlightened” could be translated “having once been enlightened.” In The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, With Notes and Introduction, F. W. Farrar writes that in the Septuagint (the translation of the OT into Greek), φωτισθέντας, “to illuminate” (or “enlighten”), “means ‘to teach’ (2 Kings 12:2).[9]” This seems to also make sense in the Hebrews 6 context because of the Jewish audience. The idea of “light” throughout the NT tends to portray the idea of truth versus remaining in darkness. In summation, verses 4-5 seem to be written as a progression of Christian conversion. First, people have been “enlightened” or taught the things of God. Second, they have tasted (or experienced)[10] the heavenly gift. Although people debate on what gift this is referring to, it seems to fit within this context and with other NT passages that the heavenly gift is salvation. Third, following Peter’s instructions in Acts 2:38, once people have repented and been baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (become partakers of the Holy Spirit). No one can receive the Holy Spirit without truly accepting Christ. Lastly, to taste the good word and the powers of the age to come seem to indicate the gifts of the Holy Spirit which are both personally experienced and witnessed in others.

In The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews, Robert James Utley offers his understanding of these verbs in vv. 4-6: “All of these PARTICIPLES are AORISTS, while v. 6b begins a series of PRESENT TENSE VERBS. These are such strong statements. The meaning seems to be clear: they knew God, but they left God.”[11] He further provides a list of people throughout Scripture who were once of God but something changed. In response, he writes,

“We rarely think about these texts because our systematic theology (Calvinism, Arminianism, etc.) dictates the mandated response. Please do not pre-judge me because I bring up this subject. My concern is proper hermeneutical procedure. We must let the Bible speak to us and not try to mold it into a preset theology. This is often painful and shocking because much of our theology is denominational, cultural or relational (parent, friend, pastor), not biblical. Some who are in the People of God turn out to not be in the People of God (e.g. Rom. 9:6).”[12]

David G. Peterson also makes a powerful statement regarding these verses:

 “The stern warning of these verses (echoed in 10:26–31; 12:15–17) is for those who fall away or commit apostasy (cf. 3:12), because they cut themselves off from the only sacrifice for sins under the new covenant and the only hope of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Such people are crucifying the Son of God all over again, rejecting him as deliberately as his executioners did, and subjecting him to public disgrace, openly putting themselves in the position of his enemies. Nothing is impossible for God, but he offers us no hope of reclaiming those who take a continuous and hard-hearted stand against Christ. As noted in connection with 3:12–13, those who harden their hearts against God may reach a point where they are ‘hardened’ beyond recall. The writer does not accuse his readers of being in this position, but the fate of apostates is something they and we should not forget. In its context, this passage stands as a warning about where sluggishness could lead.”[13]

Farrar wrestles with the meaning of the individual expressions in vv. 4-5; however, he confidently states that “nothing can be clearer than the fact that, but for dogmatic prepossessions, no one would have dreamed of explaining them to mean anything less than full conversion.”[14] Jack Kelley argues that once we are saved, we cannot undo our decision. Setting our own personal and denominational views aside, can we honestly say that these verses are not talking about people who truly converted to Christianity and fell away? In Hebrews 3:14-19 the author shows a clear comparison between the ancient Israelites and the church. After God saved the Israelites from Egypt (salvation), they were heading towards the promised land (like our journey to eternal life); however, they rebelled/disobeyed and did not enter God’s rest (eternity). First Corinthians 10 also refers to ancient Israel’s same mistakes: “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (v. 6).

There is yet another warning passage that gives me chills every time I read it: Hebrews 10:19-39. The message is powerful and clear. Ironically, Kelley mentions Hebrews 10:5-7, which talks about Christ’s once for all sacrifice for sin, but he neglects the rest of the passage concerning what happens to a believer who willingly sins after coming to the knowledge of the truth:

Hebrews 10:19-39 (NASB)[15]

“19        Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus,

20        by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh,

21        and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

22        let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

23        Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;

24        and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,

25        not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

26        For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

27        but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.

28        Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

29        How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

30        For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’

31        It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32        But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings,

33        partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated.

34        For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.

35        Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.

   36        For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.

37                For yet in a very little while,

He who is coming will come, and will not delay.

38                But My righteous one shall live by faith;

And if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.

   39        But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

Throughout Hebrews, the writer has defined who Jesus is and what He has done for us. This was especially significant to Jewish Christians who understood the concept and necessity of sacrifice. The idea that Jesus, God Himself, became the one sacrifice that took away every sin forever is astounding and humbling. It is a true representation of God’s love and grace. Receiving and embracing this truth is taken seriously and requires a change in lifestyle. As verse 26 states, anyone who has knowledge of the truth and continues to sin willfully will be judged in a severe way. The writer shares the same warning in Hebrews 6, but he ends with an encouraging thought in 10:39: “But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.”

Before ending his letter, the author of Hebrews has a final warning for his audience in Hebrews 12:25-29[16]:

“  25        See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.

26        And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, ‘Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven.’

27        This expression, ‘Yet once more,’ denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

28        Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;

29        for our God is a consuming fire.”

Prior to these verses, the author describes the awesome scene of God descending on Mount Sinai in Exodus 19 and 20.  In Exodus 20:19 the people say to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” Moses responds in v. 20, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” Does this not testify to the greatness of God? Are these writers of the Old and New Testaments not also mouthpieces of God? The author of Hebrews is telling this audience that God has spoken and continues to speak to them. There is judgment for those who refuse to listen. If turning away from God once we are saved is impossible, then such warnings would be pointless, along with moral instruction.

Even Jesus Himself teaches those who believed in Him about the importance of being ready for His return in Matthew 24:42-51. Notice the focus on the slaves’ actions and the justified results:

42 Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. 43 But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.44 For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will. 45 Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time?46 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 51 and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

It is not the slaves’[17] words that indicate their faithfulness (or lack thereof) to their master. It is their actions that testify. It’s important to understand Jesus isn’t speaking to unbelievers but rather to His disciples (believers). He warns them to be like the slave who is found faithful doing what the master has asked and expects them to do even when he is not physically there. The evil slave puts off his duties and acts wickedly, believing that there’s still time to do what he’s supposed to do. He acts this way while fully understanding what he’s doing and what is expected of him. These disciples who hear this message, who become the founders of the church, reiterate these warnings in the NT letters to the body of believers.

There are numerous Scriptures written to Christian audiences that provide warnings against “falling away” or “going astray”- in essence, walking away from God.[18] To deny this teaching is to deny Scripture, and I daresay, God Himself. How can a person justify being a Christian and not be compelled to change his/her lifestyle to reflect that of Christ? How can we say that following the instructions from the early church leaders, many of whom walked with Jesus or knew people who walked with Jesus, are just to be adhered to in order to receive extra blessings as Kelley suggests? Where is the reverence and awe for the Almighty God and the sacrifice He has made so that we can be free from the chains of sin that held us bound to Satan and his world? Where is the accountability for one’s sinful behavior?

I can imagine that some people reading this are wondering, Lauren, do you want us to go to hell? Of course not! In fact, I write this because I don’t want that. As Christians we are to motivate one another to demonstrate Christ in the way we speak and act. Being a Christian isn’t about barely skirting around hell. Our lives are to be offered as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1) devoted to God because of what He has done for us. Like Paul writes in Philippians 2:12-13, we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (v. 12). Why? Because God is at work in us (v. 13). God Himself, His Spirit! This truth alone should be enough to spur us on to behave in a manner worthy of being called a Christ-follower (Eph. 4). Why did the writer of Hebrews warn his audience? To condemn them? No! Rather, it was his apparent love for them that he encouraged them to endure hardships and remain faithful to the end: “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:9-12). Notice what he says: “God is not unjust as to forget your work…and the love which you have shown…in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.” All of these bold words demonstrate action. While the ancient Israelites never reached the promised land due to their disobedience, the author of Hebrews desires to see his fellow believers remain faithful and reach the goal of eternity with God. When we walk in a Christ-like manner, our faith being made evident through our works, we can have assurance of salvation.

The Simple Truth

The notion that we cannot undo our relationship with God is a blatant lie. This belief denies the free will given to us at creation and is in direct opposition to Scripture as demonstrated above. Too often the warnings and instructions we are given are viewed as a curse or a weight on our shoulders. Are we really expected to act this way? In truth, they are a blessing from God! How many times have we said, “I wish God would speak to me”; or “I wish I knew what God wanted me to do”? But He has spoken to us and told us exactly how we ought to conduct our lives. We don’t have to play a guessing game. We have been given absolute truth, which is why it’s so important that we remain faithful to it, not only in words but in our actions. And when we fall short—which we will—we are blessed that we can repent and be forgiven. No longer do we have to provide imperfect sacrifices.

The Grace Thru Faith website seeks to make Scripture simple and clear, but it already is. What we really need to do is be honest with ourselves. Does our life reflect Christ or the world? If it reflects the world, are we willing to change it? If we desire to change, we have a guide book to show us exactly how to do that. God doesn’t make the Christian walk a mystery, and He doesn’t treat our relationship with Him casually. Think about this for a moment. How many of us can say that we have a friend that we claim to put all of our hope and trust in but rarely, if ever, talk to? In fact, we might do or say some bad things against this friend. Not only that, we expect that when we actually do good things for this friend we’re going to get all kinds of blessings from him. If we have a friend like that, how do we expect him to respond? I don’t know about you, but if I was that “friend,” I’d be long gone. So why do we treat God like that? Living a life devoted to the Lord isn’t easy, which all of the warnings in Scripture attest. There are going to be tribulations and suffering. Some Christians may experience them more than others. But living this life is a privilege and a joy because we know the cost paid for us, and we believe in and press on to the reward of eternity with our Lord. The fact that we have the choice to stay on the narrow road and endure these hardships makes all the difference.

©Lauren Heiligenthal



[1] Jack Kelley passed away in 2015 from cancer, and his wife maintains his website. As their website states, all of the teachings have been written by Jack Kelley at some time in his life. In this post, I speak of Kelley and his article in the present tense to provide clarity to the message. The idea of “once saved, always saved” isn’t new, and Kelley was not the only person to write about or preach it. I chose his article because of its blatant statements that Scripture does not support that a Christian can choose to walk away from God. I believe that Scripture provides numerous warnings against apostasy, clearly indicating that losing salvation is possible.

[2] Bold print added for emphasis

[3] Bold print is added for emphasis. Also, italicized words in Scripture verses are written that way in the NASB because they are not part of the original language; they have been added for ease and/or clarification of reading.

[4] Bold print added for emphasis

[5] Since the New Testament (NT) wasn’t in existence as a collection of writings yet, Paul is referring to what we call the Old Testament (OT). Since we have been blessed to receive the NT writings, I believe we can now view 2 Timothy 3:16 in light of both OT and NT.

[6] Although I personally believe that the writer of Hebrews is Paul for a number of reasons, I will refer to the writer of Hebrews as “the writer” or “the author,” so as not to divert from the task at hand.

[7] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 448.

[8] Only the verbs “enlightened” (φωτισθέντας) and “to be made” (γενηθέντας) are passive. The other two verbs are not passive since it wouldn’t make sense to say “having been tasted” in this context. However, the aorist tense indicates that all of these things have actually occurred in the past.

[9] F. W. Farrar, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, With Notes and Introduction, Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1893), 82.

[10] 90.78 γεύομαιc: (a figurative extension of meaning of γεύομαιa ‘to taste,’ 24.72) to experience, probably focusing on personal involvement—‘to experience.- Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 807.

[11] Robert James Utley, The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews, vol. Volume 10, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1999), 62.

[12] Robert James Utley, The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews, vol. Volume 10, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International, 1999), 63.

[13] David G. Peterson, “Hebrews,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1334–1335.

[14] F. W. Farrar, The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, With Notes and Introduction, Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1893), 83.

[15] Bold print added for emphasis

[16] Bold print added for emphasis

[17] The Greek word for slave in this passage is δοῦλος, the same word that Kelley translates as a bond servant in his article. Note that it is used to describe both the faithful slave and the evil slave.

[18] To name a few: 1 Tim. 4:1-5; 2 Cor. 11:2-3; 2 Tim. 2:15-18; Heb. 4:1, 9-11; 1 John 2:3-6, 28-29; 1 John 3:7-10


4 thoughts on “Once Saved, Always Saved?

  1. Thanks for sharing this! I write with a blog called DailyPS – We have a post on this same topic that we’re collecting links from other blogs along with comments and votes on the google poll that we have going.

    Would you be willing to share this link there and vote? We’re closing it up in a couple of days, but we’d love more content on it first!

    Here’s the link: https://dailyps.com/once-saved-always-saved/


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