All scripture is taken from the American Standard Version 1901
I once had a short conversation with a young lady whom was very adamant that once a person is saved from their sins, that there is nothing that could happen or nothing that that person could do to take that salvation away from her. Her favorite pet verses are found in the gospel of John. Because she leaned completely upon these two verses without obviously understanding the true meaning behind them, I thought that it would be good to analyze them. Lets take a look.
"and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand, " John 10:28-29.
First of all there is a rule of thumb that Biblical students of the Word should always remember in their quest for truth within the Word of God. And that rule is this. If a verse of scripture seems to contradict many plain and easy to understand verses of scripture on any particular Biblical subject, we can most always assume that the scripture in question has another message and or meaning. Such is the case we have before us here I believe.
Let us first examine what these two verses do not say, because initially this is the most important aspect in all of this. They do not say that a saved person cannot leave the fold by and of their own choosing. Nowhere do these two verses imply that a person's free will is in effect waived or terminated at the moment they are converted to Christ. Just as surely as man has free will when obeying the Gospel, that same man has free will to turn from Christ, only to become once again lost.
The idea that a person cannot lose their salvation is a direct result of Calvinistic doctrine that is false to the core. Many people since the 1500's have latched on to this doctrine which was largely inspired from the mind of John Calvin, although Augustine before him flirted with this idea to some degree. At any rate, “once saved always saved, " is a direct product of the teaching of what is called, “irresistible grace. " That is, God saves who He will by the method of, “predestination. "
Now let us explore what is really taught within scripture on this subject of once saved always saved. In verse 27 of the book of John chapter 10 it says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: Christ's followers are oft times described as sheep. He says here that His sheep hears or, “know" His voice. He knows His sheep. His sheep truly, “follow, " Him. Is there ever instances of sheep that somehow get lost and no longer follow Him? Are there sheep that will wander away from the fold of their own free will? Of course! It is illustrated in the following short parable spoken by Jesus.
"How think ye? if any man have a hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and go unto the mountains, and seek that which goeth astray?" Matthew 18:12.
We see here according to Jesus that one who is considered a sheep in His fold can most assuredly become lost. If a convert who is in Christ decides to wander from the love and fold of Christ to return to the evil ways of the world that Satan rules, that person is indeed lost unless he or she repents and returns to the fold.
"For freedom did Christ set us free: stand fast therefore, and be not entangled again in a yoke of bondage, " Galatians 5:1.
This whole chapter of Galatians deals with the problem of the Hebrews who wished to keep and mix the law of Moses with the perfect law of freedom that is found in Christ. The law of Moses is what Paul refers to and calls, “The yoke of bondage. " And so what does Paul tell them? Please read verse 4.
Galatians 5:4 “Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace. "
It should be evident to any honest student of the Word that in order to fall from grace one would had to have been in God's grace in the first place. If one is in God's grace then that person is saved. If one is not in God's grace then it goes without saying that that person is not saved, for we are saved by grace. “for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Ephesians 2:8.
And so what verses 28 and 29 of John chapter 10 are truly saying is that as long as one, “sheep, " continues to abide in Christ, there is no one that can return them to their former state of sin and separation from God, the Shepherd.
The young lady with whom I conversed with just could not understand this concept. She wanted to see a verse that said word for word that a convert could be, “snatched, " away from God thereby becoming lost. What we find with study is that Christians that choose to remain Christians need not fear being snatched away from Christ or the, “Great Shepherd, " by any means outside of their control. This is the key. A convert need not worry about being lost as long as they remain in the fold and do not stray. This should be an easy concept to understand. No one can take, or steal a saved persons salvation from them. That is, unless the saved person allows it.
There are many verses other than what I have provided that plainly teach that a child of God can become lost. 2Peter 2:20-22 cannot make this truth any more plain. “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first. For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them. It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in the mire. "
Can you imagine waking to the judgment day with the realization that you had heaven and all of the glory therein at your fingertips? Can you picture how you would feel to know that you gave all that up because you wandered from the fold and allowed, “Satan, " to snatch away your soul? Who else would it be that could snatch a believer from the Father's hand? I truly believe that this is what Peter meant in 2Peter chapter 2. I believe that that is the reason that it would be better for one not to have known about salvation. I shudder at the thought myself.
In conclusion we find with proper study and honesty, that we can indeed be saved and through our own God given will return to a lost state, and actually be in a worse condition than before we were saved in the first place!
This is a good lesson on why it is so important to, “rightly divide the Word of truth, " 2Timothy 2: 15.
I am a Christian that has been a student of the word of God for 36 years. I have had no formal training of note and only hold a degree in the lonely burning of the midnight oil. God has blessed me with a wife, 2 daughters, a son and a beautiful 1 year old granddaughter. I am a member of the church of Christ in Michigan. My interests outside of Biblical study and writing are, Music writing and playing guitar, Art, Playing with my grand baby (of course), and growing my garden out in the back! Did I mention I love to talk about my grand baby? My web-site is an effort to reach as many of the lost of the world as I possibly can, while teaching the truth of the Gospel. My thought is that if I only reach one soul that obeys God's word, then I have been successful. And so that is also my prayer.