It’s an acronym and I made it up.  Although at first blush it may appear to be unfamiliar, it stands for a topic that most Christians have debated at one time or another.  It is “once saved, always saved.”  It basically stands for the proposition that one’s salvation, once secured, cannot be lost.  It is euphemistically referred to as “fire insurance.”  It is also a major point of contention amongst various denominations and will even cause consternation between those people who basically adhere to the same theological viewpoints in most instances.  This debate has raged throughout the ages and still seems to be unresolved.  Having been raised in a Christian denomination that took the position that one’s salvation could be lost, I ultimately left and became a member of another Christian denomination that seems to adhere to the view that salvation cannot be lost.  I must confess that I have never fully explored the topic but due to a number of e-mail inquiries, I felt it was a topic that is ripe for discussion.  As a preface to this material, I will tell you that I have no preconceived notions about this issue and do not know where my research is about to lead me.

It is a basic premise of the Christian faith that one must accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  In probably the most famous passage in the Bible (John 3:16), man is told exactly what it takes to take hold of the salvation experience.


John 3:16-18

** New International Version

King James Version

16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. 


16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.


Clearly, it is required that one must believe in the Son of God.  The result of that belief is everlasting or eternal life.  Jesus was sent to save the world; He did not come to condemn the world.  Condemnation of the world had already been achieved through the rendition of the law.  The import of verse 18 is that man stands condemned because he has not believed in the name God’s one and only Son.  That condemnation is essentially pardoned through salvation by the grace or unmerited favor of God through faith in Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

We cannot gain eternal life through our own actions or good works.  Our perceived good works have no effect when it comes to salvation.  The only action that we can take that has any effect at all is an exercise of faith and that faith would be ineffective except for the grace of God.  It is clear that we have been given the opportunity to accept this gift of God and that we can do nothing to earn it.

Ephesians 2:8-9

** New International Version

King James Version

8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.


8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.


That being the case, what is it that we are really debating?  Are we debating the condition of man or are we debating the effect of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary?  Can a person reject the gift of salvation once accepted?  Can a person engage in a volitional act which vitiates the gift of grace bestowed by God?  Was a person who attempts to reject God “truly saved” when they initially professed belief in Jesus Christ or were they just talking the talk?  What does it really mean to be “backslidden?”  Is a “backslidden” Christian still saved or has that person implicitly rejected God?  How did Jesus view those who came to salvation by expression of faith in Him?

John 10:24-30

** New International Version

King James Version

 24 The Jews gathered around him, saying, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered, "I did tell you, but you do not believe. The miracles I do in my Father's name speak for me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one."


24 Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. 25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. 26 But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. 30 I and my Father are one.


Jesus saw Himself as the shepherd of His flock with His believers characterized as His sheep.  As such He would know them, they would know Him and they would follow Him.  In this instance He stated that He gave eternal life to them and that they would never perish.  The truth then expressed is that no one or no man could snatch them out of His hand.  He then went on to state that God the Father, who is greater than all, gave them to Him and no one or no man could snatch them out of His Father’s hand.  I would surmise that since Jesus, the perfect Son of God, made this statement, He meant that it should be taken literally.  If so, then once a person is saved, Jesus said that no person, who would include that person himself or herself, could take that person away from Him or God the Father who were one and the same.  Therefore, once a person is truly saved, he or she would always be saved or set apart, cloaked in the blood of Jesus Christ.

The next issue to be investigated concerns what happens when a person is saved.  According to John 3:16, one gains eternal or everlasting life when he believes in the Son of God.  I have heard the salvation experience occurs when one believes in his heart that Jesus Christ died on the cross for the remission of his sin, repents of his sins, asks Jesus into his heart to be his Lord and Savior and confesses with his mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord.  Once that happens, a transformation takes place within the person.  That transformation may not be readily apparent but it happens nonetheless.

Titus 3:3-8

** New International Version

King James Version

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.


3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;

7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.



The key to that transformation is disclosed in verse 5 of this passage.  In short, we are transformed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Our spirit is regenerated or renewed when the Holy Spirit becomes a part of us.  The ultimate result is that we become heirs to the hope or promise of eternal life.

This reality of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is illustrated in other verses which emphasize the importance of this fact. 

1 Corinthians 6:19-20

** New International Version

King James Version

19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.


19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.


Our body actually becomes the temple or place of residence of the Holy Spirit which has been deposited there by God.  He literally becomes a part of us.  This Holy Spirit is God just as much as God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son.  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity and should be considered as such. 

2 Timothy 1:13-14

** New International Version

King James Version

13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. 14 Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you-guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.


13 Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. 14 That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.


No longer do we belong to ourselves; instead, we now belong to God.  Our souls have been purchased through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  Just as the praise song says, “I am not my own, I’ve been bought with a price.  I’ve been purchased with the precious blood of Jesus Christ.”  The responsibility that comes from this purchase is to honor or glorify God in not only our bodies but also our spirits.


Ephesians 4:30-32

** New International Version

King James Version

30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.


That being the case, what really happens when the Holy Spirit comes to reside in a person following the salvation experience?  Is there something “supernatural” that takes place?  Does the Holy Spirit somehow affect our eternal destiny?

Ephesians 1:11-14

** New International Version

King James Version

11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-to the praise of his glory.


11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.


While at first blush these verses appear to somewhat complicated, they communicate a very valuable truth.  According to this passage we are predestined in accordance with the will of God following our exposure to the truth contained in the Gospel.  The believer is marked or sealed with or by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is then a deposit or guarantee, if you will, of our inheritance until we are redeemed by God.  Verse 14 literally tells us that the Holy Spirit, or God Himself, acts as a deposit for the promise of our eternal salvation until that time when we are called home to be with Him.  In fact, this deposit by God (I like to think of it as a prepayment) acts to guarantee our inheritance of eternal life. 

Looking at these aforementioned passages in their totality, it is clear that the Holy Spirit becomes a part of us when we are saved or born again.  The Holy Spirit then acts to guarantee our promised inheritance of eternal life.  That being the case, what about those people who profess to be Christians but continue to sin?  Is the Holy Spirit really a part of their lives?


Romans 7:14-25

** New International Version

King James Version

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. 21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God's law; 23 but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.


14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. 19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.

20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.



Paul makes it clear that we will continue to sin even after we are saved.  While we seek to serve the law of God with our minds, our flesh serves the law of sin.  It is distressing and contrary to our desires but it will remain a part of us until we are rescued either through death or the rapture of the saints. 

However, it is also clear that one fundamental aspect of our being is changed when the Holy Spirit becomes a part of us. 

1 Corinthians 12:3

** New International Version

King James Version

3 Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus be cursed," and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit.


3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.


If the Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit resides in us, then, I believe, that it is impossible for us to curse Jesus Christ.  Imagine, if you will, being confronted with the demand that you deny Christ and curse His very name; could you do it?  This passage states that you could not.

On the other hand, no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.  Could you, would you publicly proclaim that Jesus is your Lord?  If so, this verse indicates that the only way you could do this would be by the Holy Spirit.

All of these verses taken together seem to indicate that one who has been truly saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ cannot lose their salvation.  They cannot be snatched out of God’s hand; they are renewed spiritually; they have become heirs to the Kingdom of God; the Holy Spirit has become an actual part of them; their bodies are temples to the Holy Spirit; they are sealed or marked by the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit acts as a deposit and guarantee of their inheritance; they will continue to sin despite their saved condition but it does not seem to affect their spiritual condition as it pertains to their eternal destination; and, they will be able to say that “Jesus is Lord.”  Well, okay, but what about Hebrews 6:4-6?  Don’t these verses indicate that one can fall away after being saved and lose their salvation?

Hebrews 6:4-6

** New International Version

King James Version

4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.


4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.


Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible (New Modern Edition) addresses this passage as the sin of apostasy as follows:

1.  He shows that this spiritual growth is the surest way to prevent that dreadful sin of apostasy from the faith. And here, he shows how far persons may go in religion, and, after all, fall away, and perish forever.


(1.) They may be enlightened. Some of the ancients understand this of their being baptized; but it is rather to be understood of notional knowledge and common illumination, of which persons may have a great deal, and yet come short of heaven. Balaam was the man whose eyes were opened (Num 24:3), and yet with his eyes opened he went down to utter darkness.


(2.) They may taste of the heavenly gift, feel something of the efficacy of the Holy Spirit in his operations upon their souls, causing them to taste something of religion, and yet be like persons in the market, who taste of what they will not come up to the price of, and so but take a taste, and leave it. Persons may taste religion, and seem to like it, if they could have it upon easier terms than denying themselves, and taking up their cross, and following Christ.


(3.) They may be made partakers of the Holy Ghost, that is, of his extraordinary and miraculous gifts; they may have cast out devils in the name of Christ, and done many other mighty works. Such gifts in the apostolic age were sometimes bestowed upon those who had no true saving grace.


(4.) They may taste of the good word of God; they may have some relish of gospel doctrines, may hear the word with pleasure, may remember much of it, and talk well of it, and yet never be cast into the form and mould of it, nor have it dwelling richly in them.


(5.) They may have tasted of the powers of the world to come; they may have been under strong impressions concerning heaven, and dread of going to hell. These lengths hypocrites may go, and, after all, turn apostates. Now hence observe,


[1.] These great things are spoken here of those who may fall away; yet it is not here said of them that they were truly converted, or that they were justified; there is more in true saving grace than in all that is here said of apostates.


[2.] This therefore is no proof of the final apostasy of true saints. These indeed may fall frequently and foully, but yet they will not totally nor finally from God; the purpose and the power of God, the purchase and the prayer of Christ, the promise of the gospel, the everlasting covenant that God has made with them, ordered in all things and sure, the indwelling of the Spirit, and the immortal seed of the word, these are their security. But the tree that has not these roots will not stand.  * * * *

I think of it in these simple terms.  Anyone can say anything but that doesn’t make it true.  For example, I can say that “I am a (fill in the blank – Rotarian, Lion’s Club member, Shriner, Mensan, etc.).  I can say it with sincerity and appear to be perfectly rational.  I can read and learn everything there is to know about the organization.  I can dress up in like someone who belongs to this organization and walk down the street carrying a sign proclaiming that I am a member of the organization.  I can refer to my children as “junior members of the organization.”  I can go to the organization website and sneak into organization seminars and retreats.  I can send the organization money out of the goodness of my heart.  However, at the end of the day, I am not a (fill in the blank again).  I never actually became a member.  I never did what it ultimately took to join.  I am not belittling any of the mentioned organizations nor the act of becoming a Christian; I am only trying to illustrate the steps one could take and still not be considered a member.

This passage then does not address the losing of one’s salvation but rather the act of falling away by one who had not yet become a believer.  They had not yet experienced the saving grace of Jesus Christ but instead, had come so close only to turn away.  Consequently, after having been enlightened or exposed to the light, having tasted the heavenly gifts, the Word of God and the powers of the world to come and having partaken of the Holy Spirit and still rejecting the call of Christ, they cannot now be redeemed.  What a terrible day it will be when those who have become apostate realize that God’s eternal presence, His everlasting glory and never-ending riches were within their grasp but they turned away willfully rejecting the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.  The lesson to be learned is that there are no fence sitters in God’s kingdom; you are either in or you are out – there is no halfway or hedging your bet with God.

Although there are those who will disagree, my conclusion is that if one is truly saved by the power and blood of Jesus Christ, then salvation is assured and their eternal destination is secured.  I also believe that the Holy Spirit testifies to this fact in the heart of each person; you either rest in this assurance or you do not.  The debate hinges upon the words of Jesus and the efficacy of His sacrifice on the cross at Calvary.  It was a sacrifice that was made for everyone who would accept the gift.  When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” He meant it.  He said it; I believe it.  It works for me.


** A modern language quote is provided for readability together with the accompanying KJV version which is believed by many to be a more accurate representation of the original scripture.

Comments or questions may be directed to the author at info@rapturenext.com.