Salvation is Certain?

To my Protestant friends, I’m trying to get an understanding of your concept “once saved always saved”. I’ve asked Protestants in the past what happens when a person is “saved” but they revert back to sin a year later? They usually respond that person did not have a genuine faith to begin with. I don’t understand? Do Protestants believe they have never sinned since the day they embraced Jesus? Have they never had impure thoughts? No sin what so ever even years after they have been saved?

Augustine, good question. The statement “they were never saved to begin with” is something that should be avoided. The only time it should be said is if someone dies in a state of unbelief and apostasy. Otherwise, someone who falls away must be called to faith and repentance. We do not know their fate. We aren’t commanded to read their heart, but proclaim the gospel

Yes, I do believe the saints will persevere until the end.

If I understood you correctly, you do not believe in “once saved always saved”?

Isn’t this concept a pillar of Protestant theology that all Protestants embrace?

God bless,

I think the terminology of “once saved always saved” is associated with those who believe you say a sinners prayer and you’re assured salvation. No, I don’t believe that at all. I do believe that those who are truly regenerate, repent and place their faith in Christ, followed by a life of obedience to the commands of Christ will persevere unto the end. No one who is predestined, called and justified will fully and finally fall away.

As a Catholic I believe I was saved at Baptism. It is up to me not to loose that salvation, which I very well can loose by committing serious (mortal) sin. That is why I thank God for the sacrament of Reconciliation. But to say to anyone “they were never saved to begin with” is nothing but presumptuous. I would go further and say that it should never be said even about those who we believe to be in a state of unbelief or apostasy. We don’t know the state of anyone’s heart; their secret, interior life. God desires that all be saved and all were redeemed by Christ’s sacrifice. God will save who He will save and we should have hope that He will find a way even with the worst among us.

The Catholic Church has made many proclamations of people we know to be in heaven; they are called saints. It has never made a proclamation of even one person being condemned to hell because it does not know, but rather commends all people to the mercy of God.

While I don’t agree with the OSAS philosophy, here’s a website that gives their point of view:

Agreed. However should we back slide and fall into the way of sins again we may not be saved.

Reuben, yes I would more or less agree. Those who are born of God will live lives with a pattern of righteousness. I do not agree with the teaching of the Latin church that a justified sinner can become unjustified. Having said that, we cannot be presumptuous and must make “our calling and election sure.”

There is always the possibility of a fall. OSAS actually says that one cannot fall which is basically what you are saying.

Once Saved Always Saved is no pillar of Protestantism. There are many, many Protestants who do not embrace once saved always saved theology. Even more specifically, there are many, many Protestants who do not believe in unconditional eternal security. There are many Protestants who believe in the possibility of falling away/backsliding/apostasy.

OSAS, as it is popularly understood, says you say a sinners prayer and you’re good to go. I would disagree with that.

There are different views:
Traditional Protestants (Calvinists/Lutherans, ie people who actually know about the bible) believe that there is no chance the elect will not be saved. Calvinists believe that the reprobate cannot be saved, therefore they believe all believers will be saved. This does not make perseverance of all saints a license to sin as some people say it is, and anyone who uses it as a licence to sin was never saved in the first place. While falling to our perfections by God’s grace we are preserved and will not use it as a license to sin, for even as we fall short by God’s grace we repent. I cannot speak for the Lutherans because I am not one.

Modern liberal protestants (Arminians/Liberals/modern Fundamentalists) believe that anyone who prays the “sinners prayer” will go to heaven no matter what, even if they totally ignore the gospel for the rest of their lives after praying it.

There is no chance that the elect will fall away. False converts can very well fall away from their perverted version of the gospel because they don’t have the real gospel, and very often do, but that is irrelevant to the debate about whether or not the truly saved have eternal security

I find your “people who actually know about the bible” remark offensive and theologically arrogant.

I also find you lumping all Arminians, liberals, and “modern Fundamentalists” (whatever that means) together very simplistic. As an Arminian and someone who knows a lot of Arminians and someone who is no liberal (either theologically or politically) I dispute that we all believe in the “sinner’s prayer” that will get you into heaven no matter what. In fact, my understanding of Arminianism is that the possibility of falling from grace is indeed a very real one.

I agree. Most Arminians are conservative theologically. Theological liberals usually don’t care enough about those subjects to even regard themselves as Arminian.

A good friend of mine is a Nazarene (so basically the Wesleyan school of Arminianism) going to a very, very, very liberal (like borderline Emergent Church) Nazarene seminary, and him and I often talk about the kind of craziness he encounters there. Him and a lot of others I know at the seminary are theological conservatives, and don’t care for the sinner’s prayer and other easy believist traditions very much.

That’s surprising, Byz, that they have a liberal seminary. All the Nazarenes I know are very strictly conservative.

First time I’ve heard of “the sinners prayer” from Protestants. It sounds similar to the act of contrition we Catholics say within the Sacrament of Confession.

What is the formula of the sinners prayer and where did it come from?

That sounds about right. The Nazarene Church is Wesleyan-Holiness, and those Holiness folks certainly do not believe in “easy believism.”

I’m also surprised that they have a liberal seminary. Is this an exception to the rule or do they have a problem with emerging liberalism in that denomination?

There is no one formula for the sinner’s prayer. Any prayer said by a “sinner” (meaning a non-Christian) that basically does several things:

  1. Confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord and that he died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins

  2. Asks forgiveness of sins and repents of them

  3. Asks Jesus to come into your heart and be your lord and master.

After a person prays this prayer, they then publicly make known their conversion to the church.

This prayer is simply someone who is responding to the grace of God and the proclamation of the Gospel. They are turning to God and expressing that in this prayer. It only has real value if the person’s words match what is happening inwardly. And of course, such confession and repentance is not a one time thing, but must be a perpetual thing for the Christian to do.

However, as you can see, some people who pray this prayer are taught wrongly that they are forever guaranteed salvation and heaven, no matter what they do or believe after they say this prayer.

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