ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED?
T. PIERCE BROWN
As far back as I can remember, our brethren have effectively denied the doctrine called “Impossibility of Apostasy,” “Security of the Believer,” “Perseverance of the Saints” or “Once Saved Always Saved.” The doctrine was the natural outgrowth of the Calvinistic doctrine of “Hereditary Total Depravity,” and an integral part of what is sometimes called the TULIP theory. Without examining each of the five parts of the theory, the idea of the whole thing is that since man is totally depraved, universally lost, God sent His Son to die for a limited portion of mankind who must respond to the irresistible grace of God, then must persevere and be saved eternally, else God’s whole plan is negated and His promise invalidated.
The purpose of this article is not to refute the theory, which is false in every point, but to point out a Bible truth that is sometimes overlooked in the process of pointing out the falsity of the Calvinistic theory. There is a sense in which it is true that once saved we are always saved! The failure to realize that truth has caused much unnecessary worry on the part of many Christians.
That is, I have had persons come to me with this problem: “I committed a sin before I became a Christian, and I want you to pray for my forgiveness, because it still bothers me.” I have replied something like this: “I cannot, for God has no record of it. He has forgotten it, and if I reminded Him of it, He would not know what I was talking about.”
The point is, once you are saved from some sin, you are always saved from that sin! It does not matter how bad the sin was. Even those who murdered the Son of God did not have to bother with it again, once they accepted the pardon offered in Acts 2:38. The Hebrew author says in Hebrews 10:17, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” If we are forgiven of a sin, we are saved from it forever.
The fact that you are saved from the penalty of a particular sin does not mean you cannot be lost for another sin in case you do not repent of it and get forgiveness on God’s terms. Nor does it mean you will not suffer some consequences of your sin as David did. But it is amazing and sad that many persons carry a guilty feeling long after the sin should have been forgiven and forgotten.
There is a difference between a feeling of sorrow that the sin was ever committed and a feeling of guilt that would cause one to keep needing to ask for pardon. There is no doubt that Paul remembered with regret his past antagonism to the Lord. There is not the slightest hint that he felt a need to ask forgiveness of it after he arose and was baptized and had his sins washed away (Acts 22:16).
When Paul said, “But I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected” (1 Corinthians9:27), he showed that a person who was once saved could be lost. Yet he had no fear of being rejected (cast away) because of his past sin against Christ. Once saved from the guilt and punishment of that sin, he was always saved from it.