OceanSide church of Christ
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GIVE AN ANSWER
Once-saved; Always-saved – Romans 8:1
Victor M. Eskew
The doctrine called “the perseverance of the saints” is one of the five tenets of Calvinism. It fits perfectly with Calvin’s belief in predestination. If God has predestined an individual to heaven, it only follows that he cannot lose his soul in hell. If one is going to be in heaven due to an eternal decree of God, nothing is going to prevent that from taking place.
Some, however, have embraced the concept of “once-saved, always-saved” without realizing that it arose out of predestination. These individuals adhere to this doctrine because they believe the Scriptures affirm it. One of the passages to which they turn to prove this doctrine is Romans 8:1. Here is the way that it is stated by those who hold to the position of the eternal security of the believer: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” This reading of Romans 8:1 appears to affirm their belief. If one is in Christ, then there is no condemnation. No condemnation means that there is no loss of one’s soul to a devil’s hell.
The manner in which Romans 8:1 is presented as proof of “once-saved, always-saved” is deceitful. It is wrong to read only the first half of the passage. The complete verse reads: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” The second half of the verse puts some restrictions upon what is said in the first half of the verse. As long as the child of God walks after the Spirit, there is no condemnation. If he chooses to walk after the flesh, his soul will be eternally lost. After one’s initial salvation, there are still conditions that must be met in order to remain in a saved condition.
Can a child of God commit adultery? Yes. Can a Christian involve himself in idolatry or witchcraft? Yes. Can a disciple of Jesus Christ commit murder or become a drunkard? Yes. Each of these things is included in Paul’s list of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21. Paul concluded that list with this warning: “…of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in times past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21). We have already admitted that a Christian can participate in the works of the flesh. If he does and fails to repent and confess those sins, he cannot inherit the kingdom of God. These are Paul’s words, not the words of this writer.
Those who teach the doctrine of “once-saved, always-saved” charge those who deny the doctrine of being unsure of their salvation. They like to joke that our position involves one’s going in and out of a saved state. What they have failed to realize is that a similar charge could be made against them. They may think that a person is a Christian for 25 years. After that, he becomes a serial killer. Their argument is that he was never saved. However, for 25 years, they thought he was a saved. In essence, they do not really know who is and who is not saved.
The key is to accept the teachings of God’s Word. In the New Testament, there are numerous warnings given to Christians indicating that they can fall from grace. One of them is impossible to misunderstand. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).