Assurance of salvation question


How does one respond specifically to the Biblical verse below to a person who uses this verse to validate their position relative to believing in an assurance of salvation?

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13).’"


Because there are contradictory passages in the Bible:

Romans 11:

21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.

22 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.

or Hebrews 10:
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

The person will most likely reply…but they were not saved in the first place? :shrug:

Well…how would he know? That other person believed he was saved…so how can you now say he was not saved in the beginning?


Note the bold I have highlighted in the scripture quote. “These things I have written to you.” What are “these things”? Read the rest of the letter up to that point. It contains statements like the following:

If we say, “We are without sin,” we deceive ourselves,* and the truth is not in us.
If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. 1 John 1:8-9

The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. 1 John 2:3

Whoever says he is in the light, yet hates his brother, is still in the darkness. 1 John 2:9

Yet the world and its enticement are passing away. But whoever does the will of God remains forever. 1 John 2:17

And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming. 1 John 2:28

No one who remains in him sins; no one who sins has seen him or known him. 1 John 3:6

Whoever sins belongs to the devil, because the devil has sinned from the beginning. 1 John 3:8a

Beloved, if [our] hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 1 John 3:21-22

All above citations taken from the NAB on the USCCB site.

I could multiply examples, but I hope you get the drift. This list of “things” that John writes so that we can “know” we have eternal life, are clearly a list of conditions, having to do with keeping God’s commandments. (Those pesky works again.) If we make an effort, with the help of God’s grace, to fulfill these conditions, we can have a moral (but not absolute!) assurance that we are on the right road.


OSAS/Eternal Security RE: 1st John 5:13

georgemiller. You asked:

How does one respond specifically to the Biblical verse below to a person who uses this verse to validate their position relative to believing in an assurance of salvation?

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:13).’"

I would point out just what Tim Staples points out.

That St. John ALSO uses the word “IF” 20 times here in 1st John (I think Tim said 26 times but my translation I just used and my counting = 20 times–mileage may vary depending on translation . . . but it was MANY times St. John ALSO uses the word “IF” in the context of his letter).

Why would he do this if he is asserting OSAS (OSAS = “once saved always saved”)?

ALSO WHY (for the person raising this objection to you) would they not mention this important contextual fact when raising their OSAS assertion? (Either they do not know [now you will inform them] or they know and are ignoring it, or they know and are trying to fool you)

Let me know if this is not helpful (and I will try to get more specific).

God bless.



“Having eternal life” doesn’t necessarily imply enjoyment of the Beatific Vision. We can have eternal life here and now, i.e. sanctifying grace; and this grace can be forfeited through mortal sin.

It is rightly called “eternal” not because it is never interrupted at the human end, but because God has life in himself; and he allows us to partake of that life.

Our Lord himself said, “He that believeth in the Son, hath life everlasting” (Jn. 3:36). Note he did not say will have life everlasting, but *has *it.


Perhaps you’d benefit from the following articles from CA.
Assurance of Salvation?
Born Again - The Bible Way
“Are You Saved?” If Only!


I think we should focus on the confidence and assurance we can have at the present time. We should have assurance of our salvation when we examine ourselves and do what what He tells us to do. That is quite different from thinking we are invincible from falling away from the faith down the road.

This passage itself (where I highlighted) shows that we could dis-continue to believe.


I might also suggest Ezekiel 33:12-16

Truth & Life Dramatized Audio Bible™ The Gospel of Mark

Ezekiel 33:12-16

12 And you, son of man, say to your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him when he transgresses; and as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall by it when he turns from his wickedness; and the righteous shall not be able to live by his righteousnesswhen he sins.
13 Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered; but in the iniquity that he has committed he shall die.
14 Again, though I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ yet if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right,
15 if the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has taken by robbery, and walks in the statutes of life, committing no iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die.
16 None of the sins that he has committed shall be remembered against him; he has done what is lawful and right, he shall surely live.

That pretty well sums it up Jesus came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it.


There is your response. If anyone can ‘refute’ that, they must be mistaken :smiley:

Here is an excerpt (from St. Alphonsus):

"If Faith alone, however, justifies us, how is it, that the very same Scriptures declare, that it is of no use without works? ‘What shall it profit my brethren, if a man say he hath faith but hath not works? Shall faith be able to save him?’ (James ii, 14); and immediately after he says (ver. 17): ‘So Faith also, if it have not works is dead in itself.’ Luther, to be sure, says, that this Epistle is not canonical, but we believe rather the authority of the Church, which includes it in her Canon. But there are numberless other passages to prove that Faith alone is not sufficient to save us, but that it is necessary also, that we fulfil the commandments. St. Paul says: ‘If I should have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing’ (I. Cor. xiii. 2). Jesus Christ commanded his disciples: ‘Go teach all nations to observe all things whatever I commanded you’ (Mark, xxviii, 19, 20). And he said to the young man: ‘If thou wilt enter into eternal life, observe the commandments’ (Matt, xix, 17), and there are many other texts of a like nature. The texts, therefore, adduced by our adversaries, must be understood to refer to that Faith, which, as St. Paul teaches, operates by charity: **‘For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith, that worketh by charity’ **(Gal. v, 6); and hence St. Augustine says, that Faith may exist without charity, but it availeth nothing. Hence, when we find it said in the Scriptures, that Faith saves us, we are to understand that living Faith, that is, the Faith which saves us by good works, which are the vital operations of Faith, for if these are wanting it is a sign that the Faith is dead, and that which is dead cannot give life."


I’d say this is how Protestants well versed in their Bible understand it…


Ok, so how is that different than the Catholic position?


The fact that there IS actual assurance and that our salvation and perseverance depends not on us, but on God alone. He causes one to be born again, and when He does so, He causes that one to persevere to the end. So that at the end of time God ALONE gets the glory, and no one can boast. It is saying that those who do not persevere till the end we’re never saved in the first place.


As it is, sheep may get lost, but they never turn into goats. The good shepherd always finds them and brings them home.


Well, for one thing, “have” is present tense. Since St. John is speaking to the living, all of whom are on earth rather than heaven and will in fact die, it doesn’t make the most sense to interpret “eternal life” here as meaning life in heaven, which we in fact can no we do not have in the present. So St. Paul says (2 Cor. 5:6), “knowing that, while we are in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” We do not have that yet.

So to consider possibilities, he is perhaps in a manner of speaking saying that we have a claim to eternal life that we will receive in the future, like saying that you may know you have an inheritance from your parents, but one that you will only receive upon their death. In that case, that does not mean that we will infallibly enjoy that inheritance regardless of future circumstances. You might find disfavor with your parents and be removed from their will, or you may separate yourself and make it impossible for you to be found and receive the inheritance when you die.

More likely, the meaning isn’t just that we have a claim to something that we don’t actually have yet, but that we really do have something in the present. Presumably what he is talking about is the life of grace, our participation in the divine life, which we can enjoy here on earth. This corresponds to Christ’s words to the Samaritan woman (John 4:14), “But the water that I will give him, shall become in him a fountain of water, springing up into life everlasting.” Yet, this again does not mean that we cannot lose it. Just like you may know you have a dog, but if you don’t take care of it, you won’t have a dog for very long.


That is what John Piper and Pastor Tom say here.

  1. In Scripture we are told of people who appear to be Christians and yet fall away (Luke 8:13,14; Hebrews 6:4-5; 10:26-29). John says that their falling away proves they were never Christians in the first place (1 John 2:19; cf. also Hebrews 6:9; John 8:31; Colossians 1:22,23; Hebrews 3:6,14).

But it flatly contradicts the his prooftexts. Hebrews 10 speaks of those falling away who have been “sanctified by the blood of the covenant.” By this, St. Paul is speaking of the blood of Christ, as he says elsewhere, “you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit of our God.” According to Scripture, even the sanctified can fall away. According to, if someone falls away, they were never really sanctified to begin with. Why should I believe John Piper over St. Paul?

You rightly acknowledge that Catholics can have a good degree of assurance of their salvation–not to say that they cannot be deceived. This does not make it a good act for someone to murder someone outside of the confessional, because murder is always a heinous crime. We do murder newly baptized infants even though there is a pretty rock solid case to make for their salvation. Aside from the evil of murder, it is not necessarily better for the one killed than if they had not been killed. St. Paul says, “for me… to die is gain,” but it might be better for many to die at a later time. Even Reformed writers acknowledge that the elect are rewarded in some proportion to their works on earth, so perhaps the soul cur down outside of the confessional would have had merit if it died later. Catholics also distinguish the temporal punishment due to sin. We are purged of sin either on earth or after death, but there’s not going to be anyone in heaven who is still attached to sin. So by killing someone, especially outside of the confessional who have probably just recently repented of some sin, you may very well be giving them a more extended stay in purgatory.

That’s probably more than needs to be said, but the point is, no, murdering people is wrong, even if it would be better for them to die then rather than later, and it is not necessarily better for them either.


John Piper addresses that text, and while he is not infallable, I believe his interpretation is faithful to the whole of scripture.

He explains, "In What Sense Were They “Sanctified”?

Now this third description is very controversial. And I do not claim infallibility for my own interpretation. But I commend it to you as consistent with the rest of the book and the rest of Scripture, I believe. Some take it to mean that you can be truly born again and justified by faith, and on your way to heaven through a life of spiritual sanctification - and yet be finally lost and destroyed by forsaking the truth. Because it says here that these apostates had been “sanctified.”

Others say that the possibility raised here of sanctified people committing apostasy will, in fact, never happen, because those who are truly elect and born again will be kept from apostasy by the work of the Holy Spirit. So no sanctified people ever do, in fact, apostacize. And this prospect in Hebrews 10:26-31 never happens. The elect take heed to the warning and persevere in faith and holiness.

The first of these I think to be untenable in view of what this writer says elsewhere and what the rest of the New Testament teaches about the security of the believer in Christ. In Hebrews 3:14 he says, “For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end” - meaning that if we do not hold fast to the end, then we “had not become a partaker of Christ.” Failure to persevere in faith is not a sign of losing salvation but of never having been a partaker of Christ. And in this same chapter (10:14), he says, “By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” In other words, there is a kind of true, spiritual sanctification that is sure evidence of being eternally perfected in God’s sight - perfected for all time. God’s justifying, perfecting work is not temporary. And the evidence that it is done, is that we are being truly made holy - sanctified.

So I conclude that the sanctification of verse 29 is not the same as the sanctification of verse 14. The one proves eternal perfection (verse 14) and the other proves great guilt after apostasy (verse 29). What is this fruitless sanctification? It seems to be the religious separation and outward purification that often happens when a person becomes part of the visible church. They come under the influence of truth in preaching and teaching. They come under the influence of love among the saints. They come under the influence of the ordinances and even eat and drink the sacred emblems of Christ’s body and blood. They feel the blowing of God’s Spirit of grace and taste his wooing and winning influences. And in all of this, they are visibly set apart from the world - sanctified the way the people of Israel was sanctified among the nations, even though many of them were faithless. And all of this gracious influence was purchased by the blood of Christ, so that verse 29 says, it was indeed “by the blood of the covenant” that these hypocrites were sanctified."

The whole sermon can be found at



Hey VesselofMercy,

Welcome to the forum btw. I have alot of respect for non Catholics coming here to fellowship and discuss faith. I do hope you stick around and hear out the Catholic faith, and remember its not always the true faith given from posters who are Catholic. But for the vast part, there are well informed and understanding Cats here who provide Scripture, Church Teaching, and Church history (espesially in the Fathers) to support the position.

I try to find the common ground in our faith instead of picking out differences and positioning ourselves as opposing each other. We are believers and hopefully both followers of Him.

I think QNDNNDQDCE has responded very well to much of what you said. Id like to just say something about this statement, since it seems to have some contempt behind it.

First of all, there are many Catholics in the world and many who dont live the faith. There are many who treat the Sacraments and Mass as superstitious. We dont base our faith on people or members of the Church. So if some have given you the impression that they are afraid of their uncertain salvation and God’s judgment, then perhaps they need to take their Catholic membership seriously and work out their salvation in fear and trembling. But dont base your understanding of the Catholic Church on little faithed members, but on the measure Whom the Church holds up. We are given pleanty of sound and certain hope that if we believe in the lord and keep His Word we are saved and heaven bound. We are all accepted Christians by Baptism and belief. This is the work of the Holy Spirit through Christ.

Knowing whether we have a clear conscience before God is something we should not need to ask anyone else but ourselves and God’s Spirit. If we dont, then we take it to Him in confession. If we are truly examining ourselves with God’s Spirit and He Gives us joy, then we are sure that we are in a state of grace with Him.


Regarding the meaning of Hebrews 3:14, my question is when do we know that we have persevered to the end? We will not know until the end. And this goes back to the Catholic position.

From a real life point of view, my wife (a fundamentalist having questions) has a friend who said the same things - confirmed her assurance of salvation to my wife and I. That was 20+ years ago. In the last year my wife met her after a long break in their relationship. And to my wife’s horror she explained that she had lost her faith (this rocked my wife’s world). I still pray she returns, but if not, then it seems her assurance was, sadly, a false assurance.

Others have observed the same thing. I know the standard answer is they were “never saved to begin with.” But it isn’t very convincing when you remember how emotionally moved and active they were at one time.


You ((Edited)) are not even being consistent about it. In one post you are complaining about how Catholics have too much assurance of salvation (because they know that sacraments work ex opere operato, and are not efficacious only for the secret elect), and now Catholics have a problem because they don’t have sufficient assurance of salvation. Make up your mind!

When you bring the idea of fear of death (presumably in regard to purgatory), I understand the desire to never have to experience it, but I think your objection is misplaced. Suffering is part and parcel of the Christian life: “yet so, if we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified with him.” In Hebrews, St. Paul says that whom the Lord loves, he chastises, and he scourges every son he receives. God could immediately take away all suffering for a Christian here on earth, but he doesn’t because through affliction we grow in virtue. At a man’s initial conversion, he does not immediately lose all attachment to sin. It is only with time that a man grows out of his disordered attachment to created things to God in whom alone he can find true happiness. The average Protestant acknowledges this process under the label of sanctification. Of course, as I’m sure you know, there are many people whom Protestants are sure are in heaven, but how many of them are so perfect (perfect as the Father is perfect) that they would never commit any sin. You are undoubtedly certain that if you died now (presumably because you were murdered after coming out of the confessional…), you would immediately be admitted into heaven, but I’m certain you would not hesitate to acknowledge that you sin daily and never completely live up to what God asks of you. When do you think between now and heaven you will have been purged of your sin?


His argument would be more convincing to someone who is already committed to Calvinism than to me. He is begging the question because I disagree with Piper about “what this writer says elsewhere and what the rest of the New Testament teaches about the security of the believer in Christ.” However, answering that question would be too ambitious for the scope of a message board thread like this. It is hard enough to deal with a single passage as above. Suffice to say, his argument carries little force for me since he is asking me to accept a less plausible explanation over the plain reading of the text on the basis of an assumption that I see no reason to make.

Of course sanctification by the blood of Christ does not mean that people merely attended Church services or that they heard the Bible read. If people are never inwardly sanctified then they were not sanctified by Christ’s blood, pure and simple. And it is especially nonsensical for John Piper to say so since, as a Calvinist, he believes that Christ only shed his blood for the elect.



In Hebrews 3:14, John Piper’s reading is not without problem. The Calvinist idea of perseverance does not mean that everyone who is saved will hold fast “the beginning of our assurance” till the end, since it admits that those who are regenerate can fall away for a time. The Westminster Confession of Faith XVII.3 says,

“Nevertheless, they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; and, for a time, continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve His Holy Spirit, come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts, have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded;hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.”

Nor is his conclusion a rigorous logical deduction from the verse as he makes it out to be, since St. Paul’s statement is not an if-and-only-if statement, but a simple if. He says that we have become partakers of Christ if we hold fast to the end. If we are just applying the rules of logic, which is what it appears Piper is attempting to do, it would be a logical fallacy to say that only those who persevere to the end have been made partakers of Christ. So if Piper is basing his argument as one built on the simple application of cold, hard deductive logic, he is mistaken.

I think the more likely meaning behind Paul’s statement is that we are partakers of Christ inasmuch as we hold fast to the end. We partake of Christ perfectly in heaven, after we have held fast to the end, imperfectly on earth as it remains for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Consider also v. 6: “But Christ as the Son in his own house: which house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and glory of hope unto the end.” And this line of interpretation is in conformity with the logic of Paul’s argument, which likens the people of Christ to the people of Moses. Does John Piper say that those who were unfaithful and perished in the desert were never true Israelites? They only appeared to be Israelites? Surely, they were not chosen by God to inherit the promised land, but nonetheless they really were of Israel and members of God’s covenant.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit