What Does the Bible Say About Eternal Security?

Compare Bible Verses in the Debate Over Eternal Security

Eternal Security Verses - Can You Lose Your Salvation?
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Eternal security is the doctrine that people who believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior cannot lose their salvation

Also known as "once saved, always saved," (OSAS), this belief has many supporters in Christianity, and the biblical evidence for it is strong. However, this subject has been disputed since the Reformation, 500 years ago.

On the other side of the issue, many believers insist it is possible for Christians to "fall from grace" and go to hell instead of heaven.

Proponents from each side argue that their view is clear, based on the Bible verses they present.

Verses in Favor of Eternal Security

One of the most compelling arguments for eternal security is based on when eternal life begins. If it begins as soon as a person accepts Christ as Savior in this life, by its very definition, eternal means "forever":

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30, NIV)

A second argument is Christ's all-sufficient sacrifice on the cross to pay the penalty for all of a believer's sins:

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:7-8, NIV)

A third argument is that Christ continues to act as our Mediator before God in heaven:

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:25, NIV)

A fourth argument is that the Holy Spirit will always finish what he started in bringing the believer to salvation:

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:4-6, NIV)

Verses Against Eternal Security

Christians who think believers can lose their salvation have found several verses that say believers can fall away:

Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. (Luke 8:13, NIV)

You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Galatians 5:4, NIV)

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (Hebrews 6:4-6, NIV) 

People who do not hold to eternal security cite other verses warning Christians to persevere in their faith:

All men will hate you because of me, (Jesus said) but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 10:22, NIV)

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8, NIV)

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. (1 Timothy 4:16, NIV)

This perseverance is not by works, these Christians say, since salvation is gained by grace, but is a perseverance in faith, which is carried out in the believer by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:14) and Christ as mediator (1 Timothy 2:5).

Each Person Must Decide

Eternal security supporters believe people will certainly sin after being saved, but say those who completely abandon God never possessed saving faith in the first place and were never true Christians.

Those who deny eternal security say the way a person loses their salvation is through deliberate, unrepented sin (Matthew 18:15-18, Hebrews 10:26-27).

The debate over eternal security is a complicated topic to cover adequately in this brief overview. With opposing Scripture verses and theologies, it's confusing for the undecided Christian to know which belief to follow. Each person, therefore, should rely on serious discussion, further Bible study, and prayer to make their own choice on the doctrine of eternal security.

(Sources: Totally Saved, Tony Evans, Moody Press 2002; The Moody Handbook of Theology, Paul Enns; "Is a Christian 'Once Saved Always Saved'?" by Dr. Richard P. Bucher;  gotquestions.org, carm.org)

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Zavada, Jack. "What Does the Bible Say About Eternal Security?" ThoughtCo, Jan. 16, 2017, thoughtco.com/what-does-bible-say-eternal-security-701987. Zavada, Jack. (2017, January 16). What Does the Bible Say About Eternal Security? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/what-does-bible-say-eternal-security-701987 Zavada, Jack. "What Does the Bible Say About Eternal Security?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/what-does-bible-say-eternal-security-701987 (accessed December 16, 2017).