The phrase "once saved always saved" is a common way Christians refer to the biblical teaching of eternal security. Can a person who comes to faith in Jesus Christ lose his or her salvation?
Is 'once saved always saved' a biblical concept?
While many Christians debate this issue, the biblical evidence supports the view that a believer cannot lose his or her salvation. First, Romans 8:1 teaches, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." A Christian, expressed here as a person "in Christ Jesus", can no longer be condemned for sins and will not be separated from God for eternity.
At the end of Romans 8, we find even stronger words on the issue of eternal security: "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39). If there is no power in all creation that can separate the believer from Christ, this indicates a Christian's salvation is eternally secure.
Other biblical passages that support the view of "once saved always saved" include the following:
"You were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).
"I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand" (John 10:28-29).
"The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself" (2 Timothy 2:11-13).
"God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life" (Romans 5:8-10).
But what about biblical passages that seem to refer to a person losing salvation? Two important passages often used to speak against eternal security include 1 Corinthians 3:12-15 and Hebrews 6:1-6. First Corinthians 3, however, refers to the potential loss of rewards for believers in the afterlife. Verse 13 teaches, "he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Corinthians 3:14). Every believer will enter heaven; the difference in this context is regarding which rewards each believer will receive. Hebrews 6 is more difficult to interpret, as some see the message as written toward unbelievers and others toward believers. Since the book of Hebrews was written to Christians, it is most likely these verses were as well. Also of importance is the biblical interpretative principle of understanding the unclear passages of Scripture in view of those that are clear. Those biblical passages that do speak clearly regarding this issue greatly favor eternal security or "once saved always saved."
How can a believer have assurance of salvation?
Does the Bible teach eternal security?
Is it possible for a Christian to lose salvation?
Is eternal security a license to sin?
Is salvation by faith or works or both?
Truth about Salvation