One of the most pivotal tents of Christianity is the doctrine of once saved always saved, growing up in the church I routinely heard how once you repeat said prayer or are baptized, that you are forever sealed in the Kingdom. The concept is appealing, but is there any evidence found within scriptures that gives credence to this sentiment? The main set of verses I see being used to postulate this theology resides in John, thus examination of John 10:28-29 will be conducted followed by a rebuttal with scriptural support.
“And I give them everlasting life, and they shall by no means ever perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. And no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)
Those in favor of the once saved always saved doctrine (OSAS), offer this up as the integral sign that their theology is correct. In passing it does seem to align with their beliefs, however, these two verses are predicated on verse 27.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)
The condition for entering into everlasting life, which Yeshua the good Shepard leads us to, is entirely contingent on if the sheep follow. If A (you follow Messiah), then B (you enter into everlasting life), this is called modus ponens in logic and it is one of the methods used to determine if an argument is valid. Provided that B is conditional of A, it is only rational to conclude that if not A, then not B. Modus tollens could also be used to demonstrate that if you did not enter into enteral life it’s because you did not follow Yeshua (See my selection on Torah related, to know what I believe that looks like). The syllogism would be constructed as such, If A then B, Not B, therefore not A. The Torah states a matter is settled on the testimony of two to three witness, my first witness is Yeshua, and he makes a compelling argument against OSAS, when he likens himself to a vine.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. Every branch in Me that bears no fruit He takes away. And every branch that bears fruit He prunes, so that it bears more fruit. You are already clean because of the Word which I have spoken to you. Stay in Me, and I stay in you. As the branch is unable to bear fruit of itself, unless it stays in the vine, so neither you, unless you stay in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who stays in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit. Because without Me you are able to do naught! If anyone does not stay in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up. And they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you stay in Me, and My Words stay in you, you shall ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. In this My Father is esteemed, that you bear much fruit, and you shall be My taught ones. As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Stay in My love. If you guard My commands, you shall stay in My love even as I have guarded My Father’s commands and stay in His love. These words I have spoken to you, so that My joy might be in you, and that your joy might be complete.” (John 15:1-11)
Some may try to reason that the unbelievers are the branches that are removed, but this is not consistent with what Yeshua said. He states that he is the vine and that you, speaking of his disciples, are the branches. Therefore, the audience he is addressing, in regards to being branches, attached to Messiah, are those who follow him. Considering this perspective, we are left with the possibility that those who no longer stay in Messiah, by not keeping the commands, are rendered fruitless and hence are cut off and tossed into fire. In keeping with this mentality, we look to where Yeshua mentions that those who endure until the end shall be saved.
“And you shall be hated by all for My Name’s sake. But he who shall have endured to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)
“But he who shall have endured to the end shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13)
It could be argued, given the context of the aforementioned verses are in relation to the end times, this would not apply to Matthew 10:22 which is about Yeshua instructing his disciples (and by extension future ones) what will happen when they spread the message of the Messiah. Yeshua clearly asserts that those who remain in him, and do not deviate from the path but endure till the end shall be saved. Matthew 24:13 is in relation to end times but we know from Matthew 10, where he uses the same language, that the congruent element is persisting through difficult times without abandoning the faith. Furthermore, John would submit that we are already at the last hour.
“Little children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard that the anti-messiah is coming, even now many anti-messiahs have come. This is how we know that it is the last hour.” (1 John 2:18)
Finally, Yeshua uses verbiage in Revelations that is relational to his remarks made in Matthew.
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes I shall give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of Elohim.” (Revelations 2:7)
My next witness is Paul, who follows suite with his terms, evoking the same sense of having to sustain in belief to inherit the promise.
“If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also shall deny us.” (2 Timothy 2:12)
“For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the desire of Elohim, you receive the promise: “For yet a little while – He who is coming shall come and shall not delay.” “But the righteous shall live by belief, but if anyone draws back, my being has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to destruction, but of belief to the preservation of life.” (Hebrews 10:36-39)
The next series of scriptures from Paul, the last one from Luke, use “being” as, in the process of.
“For the word of the stake is indeed foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of Elohim.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
“But brothers, I make known to you the Good News, which I brought as Good News to you, which you also did receive, and in which you stand, through which also you are being saved, if you hold fast that word I brought as Good News to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)
“Because we are to Elohim the fragrance of Messiah among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” (2 Corinthians 2:15)
“praising Elohim and having favor with all the people. And the Master added to the assembly those who were being saved, day by day.” (Acts 2:47)
My last quote from Paul is his warning that though we are grafted in, if we fail to continue in belief (Having the testimony of Yeshua and being obedient to Torah, Revelations 12:17), then we will be cut off.
“You shall say then, “The branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Good! By unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by belief. Do not be arrogant, but fear. For if Elohim did not spare the natural branches, He might not spare you either. See then the kindness and sharpness of Elohim: on those who fell sharpness, but toward you kindness, if you continue in his kindness, otherwise you also shall be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, shall be grafted in, for Elohim is able to graft them in again.” (Romans 11:19-23)
The next witness is Jude, and his testimony is also one of caution, beseeching us not to be led astray by false teachings, but to remain in the belief or risk being destroyed just as our ancestors did when they left Egypt.
“Beloved ones, making all haste to write to you concerning our common deliverance, I felt the necessity to write to you urging you to earnestly contend for the belief which was once for all delivered to the set-apart ones. For certain men have slipped in, whose judgment was written about long ago, wicked ones perverting the favor of our Elohim for indecency, and denying the only Master יהוה and our Master יהושע Messiah. But I intend to remind you, though you once knew this, that יהוה, having saved a people out of the land of Mitsrayim (Egypt), afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 1:3-5)
My final witness is Peter, properly illustrating the disgustingness of leaving Messiah to return to a life of sin.
“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Master and Saviour יהושע Messiah, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the set-apart command delivered unto them. For them the proverb has proved true, “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “A washed sow returns to her rolling in the mud.” (2 Peter 2:20-22)
The purpose of this post was not to incite a sense of dread but a healthy dose of fear for those who had been swindled into believing a false doctrine, one that would have ended horribly. It is our duty to remain in Messiah, to bear fruit, this is not to say we will not stumble occasionally, but we must not make a practice of sinning. This is why it’s important to reprimand a fellow brother or sister in Messiah if they are caught in a sin, the Torah commands us to do such (Leviticus 19:17) and for good reason, sin leads to death and obedience leads to life (Deuteronomy 30:19, Matthew 19:17). Brothers and sisters, I encourage to test all things, including this, do not take my word for it but search out the matter for yourself. May the Ruach Hakodesh grant you peace and guide you into all truth. Shalom.
“Brothers, if anyone among you goes astray from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the straying of his way shall save a life from death and cover a great number of sins.” (James 5:19-20)