Friday, November 6, 2009

Once Saved, Now Lost - Part 1a

Before getting into this topic, it should be stated that our purpose here is not to instill fear in anyone's heart or to cause one to be less assured in our standing before God. In His word, God has given us great and precious promises so that we may know that we know Him, and know that He has granted His people eternal life. The intent in this series is to examine a particular doctrine to see if it holds water in the light of Scripture.

What Saith Scripture?

There is a doctrine that has permeated parts of Christianity often referred to as Once Saved Always Saved, Eternal Unconditional Security, or Preservation of the Saints. This doctrine asserts that once one has received the gift of eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, such a gift is always assured. It can in no ways be lost.

Personally, I do not prefer the term "lost" as it gives the image of someone looking around for a set of misplaced keys. In terms of this series, the word "lost" refers to man's ability to determinately walk away from a covenant relationship with Him.

The purpose of this series is not to start debates or even change the minds of those who believe differently. This is not a matter of salvation one way or the other. However, I have been asked to breakdown Scripturally why I believe this doctrine to be false, and that is what I am attempting to do here.

It is my hope that the information provided will be sufficient enough to enable one to study the topic on his/her own and see what God has to say about it. Do not let any man's words (mine or any other) be your barometer for the truths of God. Hold everything up to the light of Scripture and in prayer seek God for understanding. He will give it.

Because of the breadth of this topic, I am dividing it into 6 sections which will be posted and linked here as they are completed:

  1. God Doesn't Mince Words
  2. "IF"
  3. Salvation is a Result of Covenant
  4. Sealed Until the Day of Redemption
  5. A Candid Look at OSAS "Support"
  6. The ONLY Reason Salvation Can Be "Lost"
God Doesn't Mince Words

God means what He says and says what He means. Everything God says has meaning; every word, every nuance.

The Scriptures are a living word and - in His own wisdom - God uses a symmetry, beauty, consistency, and logic that is meant to impart life to the hearers. When God tells us something, it is because He wants us to be aware and prepared.

Let's examine what He says regarding whether our relationship with Him is irrevocable once established.

Names Blotted Out of the Book of Life

Everyone who has eternal life must have their names written in the Book of Life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; Revelation 17:8; Revelation 20:12-15; Revelation 21:27). Yet, Scriptures assert that God can and will blot out names in that book.

"He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." Revelation 3:5

Clearly this is a promise from God to believers. It is meant to give us assurance in Him and should do just that! However, this verse does more than that. While it doesn't say that God will blot names out of this book, it sets forth the premise that He can. We must take notice that even the possibility of such speaks against the contention that one cannot lose salvation. If it is at all possible to have one's name blotted out of this book, then it is possible to lose salvation.

On the other hand, if God would never blot any names out of this book, then why does He use this language? If the object here is only to encourage believers about the assurance of salvation, then God could have made this statement in the affirmative. He could have said something like, "He who overcomes has their name written in the Book of Life and I will confess him before my Father." Instead, He uses a negative context and says He "I will not blot out...but will confess."

This is a rather bizarre statement if in fact it is not even possible for God to blot names out. Is He merely making an empty threat? And if so, what does that reveal about the character of God? That He desires to scare us into faith by alluding to horrible consequences that could never happen?

It would have been easy enough for God to make this statement in the affirmative, yet, He doesn't. We cannot just close a blind eye to what was said and grasp on to what we want to see. He phrased it in this way for a reason, and we need to understand why.
"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Revelation 12:19

Here we see a similar reference to names being blotted out of the Book of Life. Unlike the previous verse where this was only alluded to, here God says definitively that He will remove names from the Book of Life.

Again, I ask you, "Why does God continue to say this if such is never possible?" He could have easily said, "Such persons are damned for they have never known me." God didn't have to set the premise that these individuals were once saved (being in the Book of Life)...yet He does. Why??

No one has any "part" in the Book of Life unless they have been given eternal life. Why does God state that they had received eternal life and it was being taken away, if in fact one can never lose it?
"Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book." Exodus 32:32-33
Again, God clearly states that He will blot out names from His book.

Some have said that this does not refer to the Book of Life, but a separate "Book of the Living" which they say records each person's existence. The 'blotting out' - they say - refers to physical death and not the loss of a relationship with God. Yet, there is much debate about whether there even is a separate "Book of the Living" as this term may simply be another reference to the "Book of Life."

Nonetheless, let's assume that there is a separate Book of the Living. This interpretation still presents a major problem for this text. First, the text says nothing about this being a Book of the Living; it simply says "Thy book."

Second, death became a reality for all men after the fall of Adam & Eve in the garden. God's people had no expectation that they would be spared a physical death. Yet God is distinguishing here between Moses (the righteous) and his idolatrous brethren (the sinners). He refuses to apply this penalty to Moses, but only those who have sinned against Him.

This "blotting out" cannot be physical death, because even the righteous were subject to physical death. The context of these verses indicates that God is discussing a punishment specifically for sinners.

The wages of sin is death. However, that is not just a reference to physical death. The only type of death that sinners suffer - as opposed to the righteous - is a spiritual death of being cast away from the presence of God.

Further, the only book which separates the "righteous" from the "sinner" is the Book of Life.
"Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous." Psalm 69:28

In this Psalm, David is asking God to blot out the names of his enemies from the Book of the Living.

Those who support the idea of a separate book claim that this verse speaks of two different books: The "Book of the Living" (where names are requested to be blotted out); and the "Book of Life" where the written names of the righteous are referred. They then conclude that the "blotting out" does not happen in the "Book of Life" at all, but in the "Book of the Living."

Yet, Scripture proves that this is not the case. The names of God's people are written in the Book of Life from the foundations of the world (Revelation 17:8). God is not in Heaven busily writing down names of the righteous in His book. So, David was not asking God to refrain from taking steps to write down these names. Every name which will ever be written therein has already been written before the world began. The only way to ensure that names - which are already written - do not appear, is to blot them out.

We know that only the Book of Life separates the righteous from the sinner. We also know that all names of the righteous are already written in this book. Therefore, the request to blot out the names must be directly tied to the request for them not to appear with the righteous.

It can be seen therefore, that the "Book of the Living" referenced here is the "Book of Life", and as such, God continues to confirm that He can blot out names.
We have listed a variety of Scriptures which indicate that God can and will blot names out of the "book" that determines who has eternal life. He has continually promised to do so in the Old and New Testaments.

It bears repeating that even the possibility of such speaks against the contention that one cannot lose salvation. If it is at all possible to have one's name blotted out of this book, then it is possible to lose salvation.

While the position against OSAS doctrines could rest on this alone, there are a myriad of ways in which this doctrine is contradicted by Scripture. It is important to look at all of these things as they impact our understanding of Scripture and the nature of salvation itself.

Oftentimes in discussing this topic, people will just begin to throw out Scriptures that they think support one side or another. Such is not our intent. ALL Scripture must harmonize with other text in order for it to hold true. As such, we are attempting to take a holistic approach in this review, covering specific texts speaking against this; discussing reasons why the concept is erroneous; evaluating purported support for this doctrine; and examining the one reason Scripture gives for why salvation can be lost.

I also realize that this topic may generate questions or even disagreements. However, it will likely prove difficult to engage in discussion in the comments section of this blog. As such, I have created a section on the message board for this series and people are free to post there as they feel led.

In the next article in this series, we will look at other Scriptures which show that God does not mince His words, specifically when He says that man can forsake Him.


  1. Hey Mia...

    Mercy! I haven't even begun to read it all yet, but i can tell that this is going to be a good sound edifing yet convicting teaching! I am excited to start. You remind me of an older sister with much wisdom from God who i met online that was used by the Lord to teach me and others so much. She is now absent from her body to be present with the Lord, but her teaching did not fall on deaf ears, and her labor was not in vain, and i am thankful that i found this site because the Lord is using this ministry (to me personally) to pick up where she left off, but on another level. One plants, another waters, but God definatly gives the increase!

    God bless!

  2. HI LDM

    I am concerned about the issue about “once saved always saved” This is my side of point. The moment I believed in Jesus as my savior im not condemned, period. Jesus is my savior and not me. If it is me I will do up and down to gain it and also to retain it. The Galatians had been misled to the same heresy. That it depended entry on their works to retain salvation. Do you know of salvation that preaches that you must have good works to gain salvation?

    Let me ask you a question do you loose your legitimacy when you wrong your earthly father? Even if he denies you will still be his daughter. God being much holier than him can’t do the same when you are his daughter. ‘What works did you do to gain salvation?’ Same principle applies ‘to what works will you do to lose it’.

    I don’t see any conditions given in John 3:16. “ For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life, but when he sins he will lose eternal life.” or any other verse God has promised us son ship or salvation then giving us conditions to full fill or lose it ! I don’t see the love of Christ when he says ‘He lay down his life for his friends then denying them salvation coz of their sins. As all have sinned all won’t go to heaven. What amount of sin do I have to do to loose salvation? No where in the bible I see one loosing salvation even the one u have quoted. 1Cor 5:5b.

    Those who believe he gave them the power to become sons of God but they loose it if they sin! God chastise those whom he love, those whom he don’t he stripe them their salvation! If u say u don’t sin the truth is not in you &you calling God “you liar!”

    Do you know how many Christians die with unrepeated sins; because they don’t when they will die, I would say 99.9%. The promises of God are yes and Amen. The moment you add works to salvation it is not salvation, whether in gaining or retaining you say well when you say we don’t need works to gain salvation but you go all wrong when you say we need works to retain it. Once saved always saved have a nice time.

  3. Hi Anonymous,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Let me start by saying that a number of your points are addressed in other articles, so please feel free to read them. For the sake of brevity, I will not respond here to those points.

    Second, there is no "my side" of the issue for me to hear from you. There is only God's truth and error. One is wrong and one is right. I have no interest in debating "points of view". I am only interested in knowing and submitting to God's truths. I don't mean to suggest that we cannot dialogue about. I am saying that any discussion must start and end at what saith the Lord, and not what man thinks.

    Third, your type of response is exactly why this series was written. As stated in the article:

    "Oftentimes in discussing this topic, people will just begin to throw out Scriptures that they think support one side or another. Such is not our intent. ALL Scripture must harmonize with other text in order for it to hold true."

    You never address the actual content of the article itself, but rather start jumping around to other texts which you think supports your understanding. That says to me that you are not really interested in seeing what Scriptures say in this matter, rather you are trying to justify your own perspective.

    Either way, in case you are interested in reviewing answers to your concerns, you can review the following:

    The role of "works" in the life of a born again believer

    License, Legalism & Liberty - Part 1

    License, Legalism & Liberty - Part 2

    Isn't having a relationship with God as a Father like having an earthly father?

    You cannot be Unborn

    What is the only reason salvation can be lost?

    The only reason salvation can be lost

    The born again believer and our relationship to sin

    Sin is Past

    I am not a Sinner - Part 1

    I am not a Sinner - Part 2

    May God give wisdom to those who sincerely desire it.


In an effort to reduce the amount of spam received, Anonymous posts will no longer be accepted. Comments are still moderated and will appear once approved.

If you have a personal message to relay, please use the "Contact Us" form at the top of the blog. Thank you!