How to refute "eternal security" or "OSAS"

Hey everyone. I am debating with a Protestant Christian on Facebook who believes in “once saved always saved”. As a Protestant, she believes in sola scriptura as well so I am trying to use only the Bible to refute this false doctrine. So anyway, I was wondering if I could get some advice on how to convince her that this doctrine is false?

The idea of “Once saved, always saved” is, to me a rather useless truism if you define saved as meaning someone who is actually going to be in heaven. The problem is that no one can know whether they were saved in the first place unless they actually persevere to the end. Saying that if someone abandons faith they never really had true faith is a cop out because they may believe again and then persevere to the end.

If the elect is defined as those who will be in heaven then by definition they must persevere or else they would not be the elect.

So then the definition must be different else why the fuss!

I believe that a Catholic would define “saved” as sharing the life of God. We believe this is imparted in Baptism. The question then is whether this life can be stopped within us by some action of ours or by some act of will.


Usually the Protestant argument is … and I speak this way being raised Protestant, is that they believe once saved, always saved becuase they believe that once Christ is accepted as Saviour they can do whatever. Or that God said He would never leave them. True God will never leave you but you can leave God.

Freewill. Choose God and Live or Leave God and perish. Yes we can know if we are truly saved before the end…because we believe the Promise of God.

John 14:21
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 15:10
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.

Not only must you keep His commandments but also live a Christian life as directed in the New Testament. Yes accepting Christ is all that is needed to be saved. But then we need to stay saved.

I am not sure how to biblically refute this trope, but like any (Catholic) heresy, it contains a grain of truth while ignoring larger truths. I can give a colloquial explanation.

Once God has offered you the gift of salvation, it is indeed true that He never retracts His offer. In this particular sense, once saved always saved is indeed true. However, one still may, through the exercise of their own free will, reject that gift. Via sin. God will not stop us from doing so, if we choose.

So once saved always saved is more a descriptor of God’s Mercy, rather than a syllogism setting up a forwarding address in Heaven.

I recall there is plenty of Biblical support for the permanence of the gift of salvation… But there too is plenty of evidence of the possibility of damnation. What the best syntheses of both to reflect the full Catholic understanding of the issue I am not aware of, off the top of my head. But I hope these ideas are helpful.

Here are a few things you could read that might help:

“Are you saved?” If Only! (Article)
Grace, What It Is and What It Does (Tract)
Are Catholics Born Again? (Tract)
Assurance of Salvation? (Tract)


Here’s a great tract on the subject… I hope I post the link correctly. I have yet to share a link here.

It’s very difficult getting through to those who believe this. I had a hard time with it myself years ago. I will pray for your efforts to help this person realize the truth.


I know I used to believe in the false doctrine of “once saved always saved” but then when I learned that the Catholic Church is true, I rejected all that the Catholic Church rejects and that includes “once saved always saved”. To me, this heresy has probably lead a great many people to Hell because they believed that they were saved and going to Heaven for sure and so they could sin all they want and not worry about having to repent and so they did sin all they wanted without repenting and ended up going to Hell.

scripturecatholic dot com is as good a resource as any


*" It is hard for us Christians to explain this theory, even though many adopt it…"

After all “Once in Paradise, Always in Paradise” wasn’t true for Adam and Eve - though it COULD have been.

And “Once in heaven always in heaven” wasn’t true for Satan and his angels after the battle when there was found no place for them anymore.

And in Jesus’ parable of the Wicked Servant, the servant is condemned - then granted mercy by the King - but then is condemned again when it is reported that he has required strict justice and refused mercy on someone who’d owed HIM money. He lost his salvation.

That parable DOES go on to qualify that Jesus said the servant was sent to the torturers
(some bibles use a different word for this) until the last penny (farthing, scheckel) is paid … so one MIGHT argue that the “wicked but forgiven servant” did NOT lose his salvation
but yet suffered in Purgatory until the debt was satisfied. Saved, yet as through fire 1 Corinthians 3:15. But if there is only still eternal punishment even AFTER that last penny of justice is paid … then the wicked servant indeed HAD salvation and LOST it.

Either way it is good for us not to sin by presumption and to “work out our salvation in fear and trembling” Phillipians 2:12 as St. Paul said - never losing confidence in GOD’s part of things or His desire that “none shall be lost but that all should come to salvation”

(I wrote these down quickly … check them against Google for the chapter and verse).

hope these help. Besides scripture (which can be like agreeing to play in the Protestant’s ballpark - even though the New Testament was written just by Catholics :slight_smile: ) consider
adjusting your presentation with a Persuasive Model. See below.

The wicked servant parable (if you could read it quickly then remark - how are we to
reconcile this passage from holy scripture with our propsition?) is thought provoking as surely seems to speak of heaven and judgement … and even if one insists that it was just an obscure parable meant ONLY to instruct 1st century Jews … Jesus’ words “my Father will treat you in the same way if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”
puts it firmly in the genre of Jesus’ “The Kingdom of heaven is like …” parables.

Matthew 18:21 Then Peter approaching asked him, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.

23 That is why the kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.

24 When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.

25 Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.

26 At that, the servant fell down, did him homage, and said, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back in full.’

27 Moved with compassion the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the loan.

28 When that servant had left, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a much smaller amount. He seized him and started to choke him, demanding, ‘Pay back what you owe.’

29 Falling to his knees, his fellow servant begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’

30 But he refused. Instead, he had him put in prison until he paid back the debt.

31 Now when his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were deeply disturbed, and went to their master and reported the whole affair.

32 His master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.

33 Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?’

34 Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt.

35 So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart."

In verse 27 the servant gains forgiveness and “salvation”; in verse 34 he loses the forgiveness and “salvation” AT LEAST until he should pay back the full debt.

If he should then get his forgiveness and salvation “back” - he has still nonetheless lost his salvation for a TIME. And that TIME of being “saved, yet as through fire” would have been a purifying place that satisfied justice before re-issuing the benefits of salvation.

Of course if there is no Purgatory for some of the saved - then the wicked servant was sent to hell and had indeed lost his salvation - disproving the theory of “once saved always saved” at least in THAT case. And Jesus ended the parable by telling us it applied to US too.

1 Corinthians 3:11 for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.

12 If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13*** the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it.*** It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one’s work.

14 If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. 15 But*** if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, 8 but only as through fire.

Philippians 2:12 So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. 12

WITH CHARITY - as if you are learning this for the first time yourself. Journey with those you are trying to persuade. And of COURSE persuade ONLY to the truth! :wink:

A great principle of persuasion was the method in which William Shakespeare structured his famous Mark Anthony speech in his play Julius Caesar. Anthony begins with a hostile audience … and ends with an audience hostile to HIS enemies (the assassins of Caesar).

How did he do it? The structure was this.

A nice greeting and invitation - “Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears …”

**A restatement of the opponents’ case summary, fairly - (**He recounted Caesars assassination, but in detail the assassins’ reasons for doing it - never calling them assassins … but “honorable men”

He qualifies his assent: “If such charges were true … it was a grievous thing (a crime) …”

Noting the importance of the subject and getting it right: “and grievously hath Caesar paid for it!”

THEN BEGINS TO QUESTION ASPECTS of the opponents’ case. - Caesar’s so-called ambition … he reminded people that Caesar had been offered a crown and refused it.

Then recounts some other decidedly NOT ambitious events in Caesar’s life “ambition should be made of sterner stuff …”

and calls the “assassins” honorable men again, this time with an air of confusion.

Finally Anthony pins his "decsion’ (as if he’d been considering the case as a neutral) on a piece of evidence. Caesar’s will. THAT would tell us if he was ambitious or not.

When the will is read, revealing the Caesar (of the play at least) was leaving his wealth to Rome instead of his kin … the crowd turns on the assasins and becomes Anthony’s.

This model can be followed a bit for preparing a persuasive speech. A “We” feeling and “are examining the truth of the matter” neutralizes hostility and lowers people’s filters.

In your case “we Christians” or “we believers” must examine the truth of such important
matters in all its details.

Above were a couple “objections” to the “stated truth of the doctrine once saved always saved”. That is … **heaven **was permanent, but people (and Angels) have gotten kicked out according to the Bible.

John Martignoni has a great Bible study on his site that should help.

Well, now the person is saying that if a person is “truly” saved, they will not willingly sin. Any ideas on how to refute that idea?

Ask them when Jesus speaks of the vine and the branches–Him being the vine and we being the branches–how those ALIVE and IN CHRIST SAVED branches can be thrown into the fire?

Ask them if they believe Jesus who says they can be thrown into the fire?

And if they say that those branches never were alive and saved ask them how that could be if they received life from the vine which is Jesus?

As long as the vine and the branches is in the bible Once Saved Always Saved is impossible!

Here is an article titled Examples of Individuals Losing their Salvation Scripture. In other words, Scripture gives actual examples of losing salvation, not just warnings that it can happen!

Tell them that OSAS becomes a meaningless truism in this case. Even if the “truly” saved will not sin, only God can know who the “truly” saved are.

  1. Ask them, “Well have you ever sinned - ever?” and walk away without waiting for the answer.

Recommended reading:
Examples of Individuals Losing Salvation in Scripture

First and foremost, the Bible concentrates upon future salvation: the expression is most often used in the NT in future and conditional tenses (“shall be”, “will be”, “might be”). Occasionally, it uses other forms, including present and past. Either the Bible is confused about when salvation happens, or there are two distinct phases: first, you are saved from the previously-godless life (Eph 2:5); second, you are saved from judgement (Rom 5:9).

Between the two, a lot can happen.

1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1Jn 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Thus, it is evident that we do continue to sin.

Heb 6:4 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,
Heb 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
Heb 6:6 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.
Note that Satan is actually an example of this.

Thus, it is evidently possible for those who once really knew God to fall away.

Further, OSAS is immoral, for the simple reason that someone who really knows God could then fall away and go on to perpetrate the grossest crimes upon others without any penalty. What kind of God would permit that?

However, discussing this with someone who wants OSAS to be true, because it makes them feel secure, is unlikely to get you anywhere: mere rationality is of little use against emotionality.

No Christian wants to admit or commit to a willful sin. How about getting angry. Saying an unkind word or worse in that anger. Running a red light, speeding, etc.

What about not doing what we should have done. Helped that friend, dedicated ore time to the Church or charity in some way. Given more at work. Spent more time with wife, kids, etc. Put someone else first.

Unfortunately there is no way we can live a perfect life in this body on this Earth. Therefore we will all mess up at one point or another.

If I pray nothing more, I pray forgive me for what I have done and for what I have failed to do.

P.S. I hope they were truly (whole) saved. Never heard of someone partially saved.

1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1Jn 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Amen to all the above referenced verses.

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