Once saved, always saved
By David Brandt Berg
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“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.”—John 10:28–29
I finally realized I was really saved and that it wasn’t off again, on again, gone again, when I was reading the Gospels one day and came across the verse: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life.”1 Of course, there are plenty of other good verses besides that one. If you’ve received Jesus, I believe that even if you make mistakes or commit suicide, you will still be saved. Of course, if you repent, I’m sure the Lord will forgive you, but we often still suffer for our sins.
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life. And he that believeth not the Son, shall not see life.”2 Those who really believe in Jesus and really have faith, really believe that He is the Son of God, who “confess with their mouth and believe in their heart that God has raised Him from the dead,” are saved.3 I’m a firm believer in eternal security if people receive Jesus. But I’m also a firm believer that a lot of people are going to be doing some weeping in heaven—even if He wipes away their tears.4 But even according to Catholic doctrine, Purgatory is a temporary thing. Jesus Himself said, “They that knew not their Father’s will and did things worthy of stripes will be beaten with few stripes, and others that knew their Father’s will and did things worthy of stripes will be beaten with many stripes.”5 But to both of those there comes an end, whether they be few or many. A parent doesn’t spank his child forever.
Look at the prodigal son; he was an example. No matter where he was, way off in the far country, spending his substance in riotous living, doing everything against the will of his father, he was still a son! He eventually came home, back to the father’s house. The older son then complained about the father being so nice to the younger son. He said, “I’ve been with you all this time and have been faithful, and you put on this big party for that rotter who has wasted everything and come back with nothing!” The father said, “He that was dead is alive again, the lost is found, that’s why we’re rejoicing. But all that I have is yours now.”6 In other words, the older son was going to get the rewards; he was going to get the property, the house, the land, the cattle, and be the head of the family, everything.
This younger son, however, was going to have to work on the farm. He’d lost his inheritance. He didn’t lose his birthright, because his birthright was to be a son, and he was still a son and acknowledged as a son and received by the father and allowed to live in the father’s house. What better example of salvation can you have than that? He had lost everything but a place in the father’s house and at his table. He’d lost everything but his salvation.
The father said to the older son, “Your brother wasted his inheritance, threw it away, so now it’s all yours. But he’s still a son; he can still live in the house, work on the farm, eat at the table.”
I’m convinced of eternal salvation, eternal security, because there are so many verses about it. The holiness people try to use other verses to convince you that you’re not secure and you can fall from grace and all this sort of thing. You may fall from grace out of the Father’s favor like the prodigal son did, but you don’t fall out of God’s family. You don’t fall out of being a son!
I used to think about that when I was naughty. “Boy, I don’t want to die this way and face the Lord right now. I would be so ashamed, I wouldn’t want to see the Lord. I wouldn’t want to get caught this way and die this way and have to go see the Lord in this shape.” I didn’t doubt that I was going to see the Lord, but I was a bit ashamed to see Him in the condition I was in right then.
When my mother was a little girl about 12 and was visiting in the home of her great aunt Amanda, she was telling my mother that she was a sinless saint—she had reached sinless perfection and she could not sin; it was impossible for her to sin, because she had that “third work of grace,” whatever that was. My mother looked at her with great awe to think that she was a sinless saint, that she couldn’t sin! Because my mother knew she was often doing naughty things, and she was kind of wondering whether she could be saved. But here’s this saved, holy sanctified, sinless, “couldn’t sin” Great Aunt Amanda, and she just looked at her with great awe. Until the next week, when she threw a flatiron at Uncle John!
Brother Brown at Valley Farms was one who believed in that business of sinless perfection, that he was holy sanctified. I said, “Why then do you pray the Lord’s Prayer, ‘Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others’?” He said, “Well, a trespass is not a sin. A trespass is more like a mistake.” I said, “Then why does it say in the other Gospel where the same prayer is translated, ‘Forgive us our sins’?”
A works-based salvation is no salvation at all! You cannot be good enough. No matter what you do, your works won’t save you. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”7 It’s impossible to save yourself. You have eternal life through His Son, which is the gift of God—and you cannot lose it, for He will keep you! You are His child. You’re the Lord’s forever!
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”—1 John 5:13
Originally published July 1988. Adapted and republished May 2015.
Read by Gabriel Garcia Valdivieso.
1 John 3:36.
2 John 3:36.
3 Romans 10:9–10.
4 Revelation 21:4.
5 Luke 12:47–48.
6 Luke 15:20–32.
7 Ephesians 2:8–9.