Once Saved, Always Saved?

by Steve Ray on March 2, 2009

A friend of mine, Randy Carson, wrote this insightful article:

Ironically, while one group of Protestants is touting “once saved always saved” another group is stating that you can never really be sure who has REAL faith until the end because it might turn out that one is “overcome” by the world at the last minute. Maybe the salvation really never “took” in the first place.

I’m just curious, which of these groups is “rightly dividing the word of God” and which is wrongly dividing it? They can’t both be right yet both claim scripture as their sole rule of faith. So much for the doctrine of sola scriptura.

Isn’t it ironic that when Catholics speak of mortal sin, many “once-saved-always-saved” Protestants will begin screaming about how “wrong” Catholics are to hold that someone could justified according to the Word of God and still lose out on salvation in the end because they are not in a state of grace due to mortal sin at the time of their death. Yet, another Protestant declares that if one is “overcome” by the world and does not persevere (in what? good works?) to the end, that is evidence that one does not have saving faith.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick Norelli March 2, 2009 at 12:57 PM

I’m certainly no friend of the “once saved always saved” doctrine (I’m with the Catholics on this one) but Sola Scriptura (flawed as it may be as a doctrine) doesn’t presume that its adherents will always arrive at the same conclusions through their interpretations of Scripture. It’s more a doctrine about Scripture’s sufficiency and authority.

STEVE RAY HERE: IT IS A DOCTRINE ABOUT SCRIPTURE AS THE ONLY BINDING AUTHORITY! THAT IS ITS MAIN WEAKNESS.

Ed March 2, 2009 at 1:28 PM

It’s pretty convicing that people are confused by Paul’s teachings as Scripture says in 2Peter 3:15-16. Paul talks about getting rid of the law and we are justified apart from works. He was talking about circumcism and the Jewish rituals the the Ten Commandments. Which Jesus said him came to fulfill. Salvation is a daily commitment to Christ. Why would Paul say ” work out your salvation in fear and trembling”.

Patty Bonds March 2, 2009 at 6:06 PM

No document, no matter if it’s inspired by God or written by an ordinary man, can interpret itself. Period.

On a personal note, I was taken aback when my brother, a Calvinst, told me that by becoming Catholic I was jeopardizing my soul. Think about that. One with faith in Christ who puts their salvation in jeopardy must be in danger of losing what they had. Otherwise, it would not be a salvation in jeopardy but a salvation rejected. That one really blew me away.

Brother Ed March 2, 2009 at 6:19 PM

Brother Steve –

I admire those of you who have developed a heart for these people and can speak of them in charity. My opinion is that they are all NUTS!!!

I know that is not the way I am supposed to feel as a member of the Church. I just wonder what Jesus thinks of them with the way they hurt people and spread lies and falsehoods about the Church that He shed His Blood to found upon St. Peter.

What is worse is that when one tries to have any sort of conversation with them regarding the scriptures, they are as arrogant and unteachable as the Pharisees themselves.

Pray for me that I might develop charity for them.

mike sanders March 2, 2009 at 6:54 PM

I beleive James says “faith without works is dead” and Jesus himself says in Matthew: 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ 44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ 45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ 46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Enough said.

Patti March 2, 2009 at 7:43 PM

” It’s more a doctrine about Scripture’s sufficiency and authority.

STEVE RAY HERE: IT IS A DOCTRINE ABOUT SCRIPTURE AS THE ONLY BINDING AUTHORITY! THAT IS ITS MAIN WEAKNESS.”

That, of course, is the real underlying root of any and all rebellion against the Catholic Church: Authority. In order to circumvent the Christ-established and Spirit-maintained authority of the Church, something else must be imbued with that authority. Why, here is this nice collection of Scriptures… How handy. Unfortunately, the Scriptures, because they come from God (through His Catholic Church, often forgotten and/or downplayed) and not man, will not long support any man-made doctrine. As Father Bart, OP, told us on a retreat: “At the heart of any heresy is a contradiction. Peel away the logical veneers and sophistry and you’ll find it, a twisted lie disguised to look like God’s truth.”

Sola Scriptura is not found in Scripture. Judaism was not a religion solely of the book. Christ Himself quoted non-Scriptural phrases that came from Jewish oral teachings. So did His Apostles. Christianity isn’t a mutation of Judaism; it is its fulfillment, its perfected form. As such, it relies on both written and oral teachings from a living, ongoing authority given to it by God. After all, man can’t be left alone to proclaim God’s truth; God must protect it constantly. If man tries, the result is chaos, a religious Tower of Babel. From the Fall onward, man’s refusal to accept God’s authority has resulted in error, sin, and spiritual shipwreck.

Great article, Randy! You have identified two great contradictions underlying those who claim that mortal sin is not possible and yet someone can be “overcome” and lose his salvation after all, and that works must be done to show (who? God and/or man?) that one is saved yet Catholics cannot say works have a place in the salvation economy. You and Mr. Ray keep up the good work. My family will keep you in our prayers.

Yours in Christ,
Patti

Ed Verbus March 4, 2009 at 7:54 PM

The writing above are all very informative. The first question I ask a Protestant is what came first the Church or the Bible. Based on the printing press being inventing in the 1500 century. That says it all. Every history book or museum all eludes to the Catholic Church. I go to Getty Museum here in Southern California and it’s art work looks like I’m in the Vatican. How can a Protestant walk though there and not wonder why I’m not Catholic. May only prayer would be that the Orthodox Church would come into communion with Rome. I love there traditions as ours. The icons are just so beautiful and revealing. I love being in true Church that Christ created while on earth. It dosen’t get any better than knowing the TRUTH.

Barbara Edsall March 7, 2009 at 8:58 PM

Brother Ed, as a recovering evangelical (new to the Catholic Church and loving it as I always knew I would)–I hear you about the difficulty in maintaining patience and charity with ranting Protestants. The people who prattle about sola Scriptura, sola fide and sola gratia don’t DO any of those, let alone all three. The worst of it is that they hurt and damage others in their never-ending quest to be right. But, patience and charity are not optional for Catholics, they are what our Lord commands, and wouldn’t we do whatever we had to, to please Him? In my opinion, many doctrinal disputes aren’t really about doctrine. I think they’re about man’s ego (sin) and brand marketing–my brand’s better than yours, so I’m better than you (sin). I know I must take care not to be drawn into this and respond in kind.

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