We can start with John 5:24 where Jesus said, “He who hears My word and believes has everlasting life. Next we can look at 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.” Can we therefore say once in Christ always in Christ? Can we find a conditional ‘If’ anywhere concerning always in Christ? Here we run into a major problem found in John 15:5-6 where Jesus teaches, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown in the fire.” Being that these are the words of the Lord once in Christ is not necessarily always in Christ. Therefore here is evidence that once saved not always saved. Is there possibly another if somewhere in the Scriptures of another example? We can see what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:1, “Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved. If you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain."
It seems like the argument is over. How about those major sinners who are going to church every Sunday? What if someone is a homosexual and is acknowledging his sin and asking God to give him the strength to overcome? What if there is a man who his sleeping with his father’s wife? This actually is discussed by Paul and he stated even the pagans don’t do this. You can look at 1 Corinthians 5:5 to see what Paul instructed the church to do. He said, “you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus.” Please note this man was still attending church and obviously celebrating Holy Communion. Paul said he would be saved on the day of the Lord. The man didn’t turn to another gospel. He was just overcome with sin.
We know that salvation is from the Jews. Is there any reference to this complex situation in the Old Testament? There is a very clear reference in the 13 Foundations of Judaism written by the very famous Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides. Maimonides writes in Principle 13, “And even if he did all the sins in the Torah due to desire of the emotions, and from his physical aspect’s conquering him, he will be punished for his sins, but he still has a share in the world to come and among sinners of Israel. However, if he rejects even one of these fundamentals he leaves the nation and is a denier of the fundamentals and is called a heretic, a denier, etc.” Interestingly Principal 8 Maimonides states, “he who believes that the Torah is from heaven except this verse that God did not say it but rather Moses himself did (he is a denier of the whole Torah.)
Clearly, in the sense that if we continue to ask forgiveness for our sins we shall be saved. In this sense we have a great argument for once saved always saved. We can for the rest of our life stay with the gospel that Paul preached and ‘repent’ of our sins and we will be saved. That does not mean that you tell God that if you can’t come to church next week God might as well forgive you for next week as well as this week. We can see in another proof in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Simply put if you accept Christ as your savior and repent of your sins you will be saved in the end.
We can read that we are saved by faith alone. This is certainly true. Even Pope John Paul II said Luther was right in that we are saved by faith alone. We also must believe in Jesus Christ to be saved. The Greek word for faith is pistis and the Greek word for believe is pisteuo. You can notice their similarity. Then we see a verse James 2:17 which say, “So faith in itself, if it has no works, is dead.” You probably already know that Martin Luther wanted the Book of James removed from the Bible because of this verse. The fact is that verse is there and we must deal with that verse. You can look at the work believe in the English language and simply interpret it as acknowledge. The word for faith in Greek means reliance upon Christ for salvation. The word for believe in Greek is to put your trust in Christ. Both of these words could be interpreted much less meaningful than the words in Greek that are used actually mean.
The famous Evangelical Free preacher Chuck Swindoll said you really don’t believe people are saved by answering an alter call at a Billy Graham Crusade do you? Swindoll said they are meeting Christ for the first time. He emphasized there has to be some change after their conversion. This is similar to the faith required for salvation has to show some evidence. I remember in science class learning about passive energy and kinetic energy. I believe it can be applied to faith in that, at least at times, it must be kinetic faith. I have a booklet from the Radio Bible Class located in Grand Rapids, Michigan that gives a good description of faith. It says, “This faith, however, is more than mere intellectual assent. The people who say Lord, Lord but don’t obey Christ show that they do not really trust Him as their Savior. In fact, faith that produces no good works is not true faith. Real faith produces a change is the evidence of a genuine encounter with God. True faith always produces good works, but acceptable works are impossible without faith. Faith alone justifies, but a faith that justifies is not alone. ‘’
I would hope this article would bring both sides together. I’ve believe I might have presented information for which believers possibly haven’t considered. My purpose is to present common ground.