Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Once Saved, Always Saved

QUESTION:

I'm a little confused over the once saved always saved issue. Hebrews 12:14 how would you interpret that it seems to be saying to me that without us being holy or seeking peace with our fellow humans we won't see God.

Often used by once saved always saved advocates is 1 Corinthians 3 as a proof text of once saved always saved but is seems to me all that Paul is saying is that Christians will mess up, which is different from saying that a person can be born-again and continue in an unrepentent state for the rest of their lives.

Do you have any commentaries on the verses that deal with once saved always saved

Thanks,

Glenn

ANSWER:

Glenn:

It is an honor for me to hear from you. I have long been a fan of the famous Pitcairn Islanders. I lived for seven years in Tonga where the Mutiny on the Bounty occurred. It is my understanding that at one time Pitcairn became too populated, and settlers were moved to Norfolk – where you are. Are you a descendent of the Pitcairn people?

Now, I go to your question. First, I would ask that you read the several articles on this website under spiritual life. I think specifically of the ones on salvation, eternal security, assurance of our salvation, and testing salvation. There is also the Q&A in the Bible answers section of the website.

I place the Hebrews verse in front of us in the NASB, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.”

1. First, remember the major rule of Bible interpretation: interpret an unclear verse in light of clear verses or doctrine. With this said, Paul writes, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). We must understand Hebrews 12:14 in light of Ephesians 2:8, 9 – and many other verses.

2. There is also this problem with Hebrews 12:14, if one takes the position that we must be holy through our own efforts to see God. Satan came before God (Job 1), and Paul writes that someday all will bow before God (Philippians 2:10, 11). Consequently, unholy people and creatures will see God. 

3. What, then, does it mean? Well, I understand that the “pursuing peace’ stands by itself and means that we should seek practical peace with others. It is not a way to gain salvation. If we say we are saved by getting along with others, then we have a major problem with the atonement of Christ, and what Paul said in Ephesians. Christ would not have had to die for our sins, if good relationships with others is the basis for our salvation.

Second, the holiness, or sanctification, that we are saved by is by faith through Christ alone. Without our personal faith in the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross, we can never stand in the presence of God in a state of salvation. 

Paul writes it this way, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1, 2).

4. Now, as to the verse in 1 Corinthians 3, I assume you mean, “If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire,” in verse 15. 

Well, Glenn, I don’t know what to add to what the verse says. It is true that Christians stand to lose rewards, or as some say, not get any to begin with. But, as the verse states, it is also true that we will still be secure in our salvation even though our lives could have been more fruitful here in this life. 

We do not know the condition of a person’s heart. Only God knows if a person is born again. But, for our own sake, there are definite signs of a person being born again. I would say that if a person says they are born again, but there is no change in their lives, then they might not be born again. Again, God is the judge of a person’s heart. Second, if a person claims to be saved, but is living a life of sin, they may be backslidden, and will come back to God someday. 

Again, I ask you to read the other articles, and do the questions at the end of the articles. Get back to me if you have further questions. 

All the best, and God bless,

Dr. Newman

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