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Personal salvation:

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Can a person lose their salvation,
or is once-saved always saved?

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This topic is sometimes called the perseverance of the saints;
 unconditional eternal security; or 'once saved, always saved.'

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Quotation:

bullet "One of the most widely taught doctrines in the church today is the doctrine of 'eternal security'. It says, briefly, that if you say a little prayer asking Jesus into your heart, then it obligates God to forgive you for anything you ever do wrong. You can cheat on your wife, rob banks, curse God, worship the Antichrist, massacre innocent civilians, and plunder the world, and it matters not one iota as far as your personal salvation is concerned, because 'Jesus did it all for you'." 1

bullet "Jesus brought us the New Covenant and, like all covenants, conditions must be met if the benefits are to be received. Throughout the New Testament, the word 'if' is used many times in association with salvation. When the conditions God sets by these 'ifs' are not met then an individual can't expect to receive the rewards, as God never makes idle claims." 2

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About the permanence of salvation:

As described in the salvation overview essay, salvation is of paramount importance to all Christians who believe in heaven and hell. It determines where they will eventually spend eternity. It may also be a high priority topic for those who believe in reincarnation, or in any other form of life after death.

Various faith groups within the Christian church have taught conflicting views about whether a saved person can subsequently lose their salvation:

bulletSome believe, with John Calvin, that  "once saved, a person is always saved." As soon as one is saved, they are secure in the knowledge that they will attain heaven after death, no matter what they do during the rest of their life.

bulletOthers believe, with John Wesley, that one can be saved one day and lose one's salvation later in life, either through an improper thought or deed.  Thus, a person's salvation status is not determined until they actually die.

bulletStill others believe, with the Amish, that salvation is attained through living properly according to strict rules, and that one's salvation status is not determined until one dies.

There are passages in the Bible that support all viewpoints. There are also surviving writings from church leaders in the emerging Christian movement of the first and second centuries which discuss the permanence and impermanence of salvation.

Modern-day denominations typically interpret some biblical passages literally, and conflicting passages symbolically. That way, they can support their denominational doctrine by quoting selected passages from the Bible.

This section of our web site does not attempt to teach our beliefs about eternal salvation; we couldn't if we tried because we disagree among ourselves. Neither do we attempt to reach a consensus by resolving conflicting beliefs. We merely explain the diversity of beliefs among present-day Christians.

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Topics covered in this section:

bullet Conflicting beliefs among modern-day denominations about the permanence of salvation
 
bullet What the early Christian movement believed about salvation permanence
 
bullet Bible passages which imply that one cannot lose one's salvation
 
bullet Bible passages which imply that one can lose one's salvation:
bullet By engaging in various forbidden behaviors
bullet By committing the one unforgivable sin

Related topic:

bulletCan a person lose their salvation (or be prevented from gaining their salvation) by committing the "unforgivable sin"?

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Site navigation:

Home > Christianity > Christian themes > Beliefs > Salvation > here

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References:

  1. "The seriousness of the cross," Jesus Christians, at: http://cust.idl.net.au/
  2. "Perseverance of the Saints, Christian Issues at: http://www.christianissues.biz/
  3. D.W. Bercot, "Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity," Scroll Publishing, Tyler, TX, (1989), Pages 72-73.
  4. "If you can lose it," a Gospel tract at: http://www.lovejesus.org/salvndex.htm
  5. W.A. Quanbeck, "The Letter to the Hebrews" in C.M.Laymon, "The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible," Abingdon Press, Nashville, TN (1971), Page 905.

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Copyright © 2000 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2010-DEC-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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