Once saved always saved? Is eternal security biblical? Can a Christian lose salvation?

Is Eternal Security Biblical? Examining the Debate Over “Once Saved Always Saved”

The concept of eternal security sometimes referred to as “once saved always saved,” is a debated theological doctrine among Christians. It asserts that once a person has truly become a born-again believer in Jesus Christ, their salvation can never be lost or revoked. But is this teaching biblically accurate? Let’s explore the key arguments.

Pros: The Case for Eternal Security

There are several major biblical arguments put forth in favor of eternal security by advocates of this position:

Salvation is the gift of God that cannot be earned or lost

Verses such as Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, and Titus 3:5 present salvation as a free, undeserved gift from God received by faith, not works. Supporters contend that if we cannot earn our salvation, neither can we lose it through our imperfect actions after being saved. It depends fully on God’s grace.

God keeps and protects all who are born again

Verses such as John 10:28-29, in which Jesus says no one can snatch his sheep out of his or the Father’s hand, are taken to mean that God securely preserves the salvation of the elect. Philippians 1:6 also discusses God completing the work he begins in a believer. These point to salvation being God’s work from start to finish.

Salvation depends on election by God, not human effort

Based on verses that discuss predestination and election, like Romans 8:29-30 and Ephesians 1:5,11, some argue that God specifically chose certain people to save. This choice depends completely on God’s will, not any person’s actions. So God will not condemn those he specifically elected.

Once saved always saved

Cons: The Case Against Eternal Security

Those who disagree with eternal security as a biblical doctrine also have several theological arguments:

Numerous warnings against falling away

There are many verses, particularly in Hebrews, that warn against rejecting Christ after believing, falling away, or failing to endure to the end to be saved. Examples include Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 10:26-27, Hebrews 10:38-39. These passages indicate it is possible to give up one’s faith and lose grace.

Being cut off from Christ due to lack of spiritual fruit

Jesus taught in John 15:1-6 that he is the vine and his followers are the branches. He says branches that do not bear good fruit can be cut off from the vine and thrown into the fire. This indicates fruitless believers may lose their connection to Christ.

Conditional security based on continued obedience

Many verses speak of salvation as conditional upon ongoing obedience, repentance from sin, and persevering faith. For example, Hebrews 5:9, Matthew 24:13, Romans 11:22, and I Corinthians 15:2. These indicate those who fall into unrepentant sin can lose their salvation.

Once saved always saved

Key Considerations in the Debate

When assessing arguments on both sides, there are a few key theological concepts to consider:

Election vs free will. There is paradoxical tension in Scripture between God’s sovereign election and human free will and responsibility. Verses supporting eternal security focus on the election, while warnings of falling away assume free will.

– Interpreting warning passages. Those who disagree interpret the passages warning believers against falling away differently – as hypothetical warnings, tests of genuine faith, or addressed to unbelievers in the church.

– Defining “salvation.” Some distinguish between an initial conversion experience and the lifelong sanctification process. Others see salvation as contingent on completing the process.

– Understanding the biblical covenants. Covenants in Scripture have implications for whether one can break a relationship with God once entered into a covenantal bond.

Once saved always saved

Conclusion: Assessing the Biblical Evidence

In evaluating the theological arguments around eternal security or “once saved always saved,” good cases can be made on multiple sides. There is tension in Scripture between God’s sovereign election, unconditional grace, and keeping power with warnings for believers to persevere, obey, and not fall away.

All Christians can agree salvation originates with God. However, disagreement arises over whether God ever revokes this gift and whether human choice or actions play a role in retaining it. This will continue to be a disputed doctrine. The most balanced perspective may be recognizing paradox – embracing assurances of God’s love and preservation without negating scriptural warnings against forsaking Christ. The safest path is relying on grace while persevering in faith and obedience to the end.


  1. Eternal Security vs. “Once Saved Always Saved”:
  1. Ephesians 4:30 and Eternal Security:
  1. The Bible and Eternal Security:
    • Some Christians debate the concept of “once saved always saved.”
    • While some believe in this assurance, others do not.
    • The Bible does not explicitly use the phrase “once saved always saved,” but it emphasizes a continuous relationship with God and an unfolding process rather than a fixed state of salvation.