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What about 'once saved always saved'?

Submitted: 11/9/2005
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Question: Some preachers make fun of Holiness Christians, saying something such as: 'These people believe that if you sin, you've lost your salvation, and if you've lost your salvation, that means that you have to be born again again, and be baptized in the Holy Ghost again. We don't believe you lose it, gain it, and lose it over and over again.' They usually quote 1 John 3:9 to prove their point. How does one effectively respond to that argument?

Answer: These preachers lack the authority to tell us what we believe. They can tell us what they believe, but how can they tell us what we believe? In your example they are obviously mischaracterizing our beliefs about sin and salvation.

We believe that when a person repents and is baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, the blood of Jesus flows in both directions. This means that it washes away all past sins and all future sins. The issue is not whether or not we commit a sin, but whether or not we are honest about it.

1 John 3:9 is saying that those who are born again will not sin continually without repentance. It cannot mean that they will never again commit a sin, since that would contradict 1 John 1:8-10.

The more complete message of John's first epistle is found in chapter 2 and verse 1, which says, 'My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins.'

It is the will of God that His children never again commit a sin. This should also be the hope and desire of every born again believer. But due to our weakness as human beings, God has provided a remedy for those times when we do sin so that we can continue moving toward everlasting life. This remedy is Jesus Christ the righteous, who is the propitiation for our sins. The way we receive this continued forgiveness is by walking in the light, which means exposing our sins to God by confessing them (1 John 1:7,9). Adam and Eve did not get ejected from the garden of Eden because they had sinned. It was because they wouldn't admit it. Proverbs 28:13 says, 'He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.' This is what we believe.