Hey Brother (Ralph?),
I was doing a little research and came across your page. You have done a TON of work on this - nice job!
I don't like arguing with a brother over doctrine, but I do disagree on your stand regarding "Once Saved Always Saved" (OSAS). I was led to the Lord by a lay Pentecostal preacher and I praise God for him. However, I was, by his teaching of "living saved," brought into complete fear that I could lose my salvation. My life was miserable, even though I had wonderful experiences with the Holy Spirit, etc. I now praise God for how I was thrown into the scripture to see what it said on the subject. And you are very correct, it does impact on what one believes about salvation.
Plainly said, I learned that salvation belongs to God, not me. It is His salvation, given freely to us on faith alone. And, like all of God's attributes and gifts, God's salvation is perfect! As it is written, "the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable." And just because He gives salvation (eternal life) to us, it still belongs to Him. If we can "lose" God's salvation, then it can't be perfect. I know of nothing God has ever done that isn't absolutely, eternally perfect. Either Jesus did it right or He didn't.
I found in my studies of scripture and learned scholars like Augustine, Pelagius, Luther, Arminius, Calvin and, of course, Paul, that those holding to the possibility of losing salvation, even though very solid in their scripture, in the end, place way too much focus on man and what he is and is not capable of doing or undoing. If man does this, or man does that, or man begins this or that, then someday he will lose his relationship with God. Man can do wonderful things but he cannot bring to naught anything God is, does or gives. I also find that those holding to OSAS have their minds focused solely on the Lord. In very short order one's studies of everything God did to obtain salvation cost Him all He cared about. His only Son. I dare anyone to tell God that His salvation, that He obtained at the cost of His Son, isn't good enough to hold eternally tight to the most spiritual or the most carnal Christian.
It's not our salvation, it's God's. And it's as perfect, as infinite and as sure as He is. That's not a belief that encourages license, rather, it drives one directly to their knees in holy reverence with the sure knowledge that the Most High God, the Ancient of Days, my Father and yours, is the same yesterday, today and forever. And we can come bravely, to the Throne of Grace, in full assurance of faith that He can sustain us so we can do the good works He has prepared for us since before the creation of the world, without fear of anything, especially our (His) salvation. In securing salvation, His work-His Salvation for us, all of His attributes were brought to bear; His Love, His Grace, His Justice, His Mercy, His Omnipotence, His Omniscience, His Omnipresence, His only Son. All as pure and infinite and holy as He. Scripture says that creation was the work of His fingers as he placed the stars and named them one by one, but salvation was the work of His right arm (translation: all he had). I would not dare to even suggest that any man could undo any of God's works, especially His most Holy work. When He turned His face from the cries of His Son on the cross it was the most Holy, most Heartbreaking "moment" in all eternity. Such overwhelming love for us drove our Father to abandon His only Son. Our Father knew we couldn't keep the law, but He gave it to the Jews to drive them to faith in His Son. Away from certain human failure to faith in His solution, His Son and His salvation. If we truly believe we can participate in securing His salvation by anything other than faith, then we go beyond scripture. If we believe we have the obligation or ability to keep what we could not achieve in the first place, then where is our focus? I believe our focus then turns to ourselves. I have found that by leaving God's salvation in its Creator's hands, it's in the best place possible, and right where God wants it. Our Father is the author and finisher of our faith, so I leave my eternity to Him. I also believe position of "Trampling underfoot the Son of God" and "insulting the Spirit of Grace."
Please don't see this as criticism or a "preach." This subject gets me real excited and my heart starts typing.
My reply is below:
Thanks for writing me, I don't feel like you are preaching at me. I do feel however, that you don't understand my position which I find is very normal for OSAS people who write me. You seem to think that I believe as you used to that if I sin I will go to hell. That is not true, sin is just a symptom of the disease which if not taken care of could cause me to go to hell.
I will get back to that in a moment, but I want to address something you said. You said that OSAS is not a license to sin it would cause a person to fall on their knees before God, yet you mentioned a carnal believer. I have a major problem with that. What about the believer as you call them, (I would disagree, but I will explain my point later) who murders, or commits sins willfully? How do you justify their continued salvation in light of passages such as this:
(Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV)  If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,  but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
And that is only one of many that say much the same thing. I will tell you straight up and I hope you will take it in the spirit it is said, that most OSAS people I have discussions with will twist scripture and tell me that it does not say what it plainly says. I will also tell you that when they do that it ends the discussion. I can't debate with someone who claims words don't mean what they say, it is impossible at that point for me to make a point because the words can mean anything the person wants them to mean. Let me give you an example. Tony Evans and Charles Stanley both claim that the place of outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth is in heaven. Why would they say that? Because it is obvious that some people who will be there were at least at one time believers. Yet they ignore passages which say that God is light and in Him there is no darkness, so how is it that there is outer darkness in heaven. Sorry I know that is a sideline which you don't need to answer, but my point is that I want to discuss this with you, but if you take plain English and tell me it does not say or mean what it says, then I am done and see no reason to try to continue.
So having said that, I go back to the passage about if we deliberately keep on sinning. OSAS teaches that these are not true believers... That is bogus, since OSAS teaches that if I am a true believer I can go sin all I want and still go to heaven, including deliberately sinning. So which is it? Can I go to heaven after truly placing my faith in Jesus Christ for one instant and then going and continually deliberately sinning or not? That is the bottom line. To avoid it is to avoid the whole discussion.
Now let me explain my position. As I said I don't believe sin will cause me to go to hell, nor do I believe I can lose my salvation. And no it is not just word game, this is what I truly believe. However, what I also truly believe is that a person must continue in that faith that saved them. If we fail to continue in the faith then we apostatize. This is exactly what Jesus was talking about here:
(John 15:6 NIV) If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
What fire do you think He was referring to? The fire that tests us and burns up our rewards? I hope that is not what you think, because it goes against logic and the plain language of what He said.
(Colossians 1:21-23 NIV)  Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.  But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Why does verse 23 say 'if you continue in your faith' if it does not matter?
(Romans 11:17-24 NIV)  If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,  do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.  You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in."  Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.  And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.  After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
What is the consideration? It is belief and unbelief. Sure people will try to tell you that this only concerns Israel and the church and not individuals, but again the plain reading of the words will show that is not true.
Again we see that we must 'continue in His kindness' or we will be cut off. Cut off from what?
(1 Corinthians 6:9-10 NIV)  Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders  nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
Here is my question, why does Paul name all the sins? Why not just say 'don't you know that unbelievers will not inherit the kingdom of God?' The reason is plain, people who continue to commit these sins are not following Christ and have no faith, if they did they would follow His commands:
(1 John 2:3-6 NIV)  We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands.  The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
'Must walk as Jesus did' does not mean to continue to live a sinful life. When we are in the faith we will live lives that honor God, we may stumble and fall and that is exactly what 1 John 1:9 is all about. If we refuse to confess our sins then they will separate us from God, not instantly but like a disease they will slowly get worse and then our faith will cease and we will die spiritually.
I am sorry you were led to believe that you would lose your salvation over every sin you happened to commit. That is off in the weeds on one side of the road but OSAS is just as far off in the weeds on the other side of the road. Our salvation is a relationship between us and God and it was bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. The only thing we have to do is have faith in Jesus Christ, but we must continue to have that faith. When a person becomes a carnal Christian (a sinner, living like the world) they no longer are placing their faith in Jesus Christ. If they were they would listen to the Holy Spirit as He calls them back to repentance and holiness.
Another tragic teaching of OSAS is that God will take those who sin to heaven early as punishment. You should read my suicide pages sometime and then see if you still believe that. Over 50% of the people who write me claim to know and follow Jesus Christ and yet they want to take their own lives because they hate this life and the pain they are in. Yet according to your doctrine God makes them suffer here on earth while rewarding Christians who continue to sin by killing them and taking them to heaven sooner. That flies in the face of justice and mercy.
I am not trying to pick a fight, but you have to admit that seems backwards. How is it punishment to be taken to heaven sooner? Most saints I know would go this instant if it were their choice. The second thing that flies in the face of logic about that argument is this. OSAS claims that we don't need to worry about sins we commit after coming to Christ because they are already forgiven. Is that a fair statement of the doctrine of OSAS? Well if the sins are already forgiven then why is the person who continually sins 'punished' by God taking their physical life? I thought Jesus paid "ALL" the price for our forgiveness, so for God to 'punish' them goes against everything His word says.
In fact there are plenty of passages in the Bible which claim that once we are forgiven He will never remember our sins again. If that is true, then how do you reconcile that with lose of rewards as punishment for sin, and even physical death as a punishment for sins?
Again let me restate my view. Our salvation is a relationship with God, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, we obtain that relationship through faith in what Jesus did. We maintain that relationship by continuing to place our faith in Him and following Him. When we sin the Holy Spirit speaks to our hearts and draws us back to Him and to repentance, if we refuse to repent we are in danger of drifting further and further away and eventually not being able to hear His voice anymore and thereby not having that relationship any longer. The reason we refuse to repent does not matter, it could be because we don't want to repent or quit doing what we are doing or it might even be that we believe we have already been forgiven and therefore there is no reason to repent, but whatever the reason it is dangerous ground.
I have no fear of losing my salvation or even of drifting away. You are right God is able to hold me tight, but He will only do so as long as I want to be held, He will not force anyone to remain in the faith or continue to follow Him. If I choose to follow the world He will try to woo me back but it is up to me.
(James 4:4 NIV) You adulterous people, don´t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.
Only a believe can "become" an enemy of God, because sinners already are. Think about it.
I feel like continuing this conversation will not be edifying or instructive, for either of us. I won't debate with a Brother, or anyone else for that matter. My earlier note was simply a reaction to what I read on your OSAS page. One thought though - I do not believe our (God's) salvation is a relationship with Him. I believe when the Father brings a new creation into His home it's positional, not relational. My son can never stop being my son, no matter what he does or believes. He can strain our relationship, even leave me, but he'll still be 100% my son.
You bring loads of scripture to the conversation, but I see much more text focusing on what man may do or not do, believe or not believe. Take a close look at many, if not all of your supporting verses - I don't think you'll find the word salvation anywhere. That can only mean He's not talking about His salvation, but something else. Yes, there is "plain" text that cannot be ignored. But He knows better than we do how important salvation is to us and Himself. When He's talking about His salvation the words are as plain as they come and He leaves us with no doubt that the subject is salvation.
I feel I just did what I set out not to do - debate. You're my brother in the Lord and I am convinced the Lord knows us both as His sheep and He'll never lose either of us, no matter how far we stray.
I will agree not to debate this issue, but since you brought up this subject I do want to address it.
Do you realize that the angels are often called the Sons of God, yet 1/3 of them will spend eternity in hell. Now look at the genealogy of Christ as listed in Luke:
(Luke 3:38 NIV) the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.
Notice that Adam is listed as the son of God? Yet is it because of Adam that billions of people will spend eternity in hell and it is because of Adam that death come to all of creation and because of Adam that Christ had to die, so it sure doesn't seem to make a difference that he was already a son of God.
Now look at this:
(Luke 15:11-32 NIV)  Jesus continued: "There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of the estate.' So he divided his property between them.
 "Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.  He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
 "When he came to his senses, he said, 'How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.'  So he got up and went to his father.
"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
 "The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
 "But the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate.
 "Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.  So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  'Your brother has come,' he replied, 'and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.'
 "The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!'
 "'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'"
Notice that this man started out as a son too, yet look at what his father said about the time when he was gone: But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.
I would not base my doctrine on the fact that we are adopted into God's family as sons.
Okay, I will quit but I wanted to point that out.
God bless you and please understand as long as both of us continue to follow Christ it won't matter which of us is right, it will only matter if one of us does not continue to follow Him.
E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)