This post is an extension of an earlier post titled “Faith and Work in Harmony” that explored the controversy of Jam2:17, where James indicted the believers that lacked works as having faith that is dead. See the following link for this post-.
The purpose of this reflection is to offer evidence to support the claim, “Once Saved Always Saved.”
Three approaches are adopted to support this claim.
The first approach enhances the clarity between works mentioned in Jam2:17 and the works that lead to soul salvation in 1Pet.
The second approach explores the implications of 1Co5 concerning the Corinthian believer, who is foolishly brave to commit adultery with his stepmother openly.
The third and final approach is to examine Col2:13 and John10:27-29, which offer direct scriptural evidence to support the claim, “Once Saved Always Saved.”
Apostle Peter with a key before St. Peter’s Cathedral, Vatican
First Approach – The Connection between 1Pet and Jam2:17
A more explicit connection between these two verses provides a better foundation to support the conclusion that Jam2:17 was speaking of the faith that saves the soul and does not relate to the salvation of the born again spirit.
1Pet9 states, “obtaining as the outcome (telos – final destination, purpose, goal) of your faith the salvation of your souls.” This faith spoken of here is the means to produce the goal, which is soul salvation.
This faith is the loving faith in the unseen Christ (1Pet1:8) and the living hope of the resurrection (1Pet1:3-5). In the context of 1Pet1, this faith was tested in fiery trials (1Pet1:7) of persecution to validate their faith genuineness as to whether their faith is sufficiently genuine to produce soul salvation, which has nothing to do with spiritual salvation.
Later in 1Pet1:22, Peter reveals this faith’s manifestation that purifies (saves) the soul taking the form of sincere brotherly affection-love with a pure heart. 1Pet2:1 defines this sincerity in negative examples of “laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking.”
It is notable that the word “sincere (anypokritos)” is used 6 times in the New Testament and was ascribed to faith (2 times), love (3 times), and good fruit (1 time). See link- https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G505&t=NASB.
The rest of 1Pet has a repeated theme that supports the scope of this sincere love. This theme shows believers committing their souls to the will of God the Father (1Pet4:19), enduring temporal suffering (1Pet1:6, 1Pet5:10), as they pour out their lives in sincere love for righteousness sake (1Pet4:14). By doing so, they partake (1Pet4:13) in Christ’s suffering where His suffering is set as an example (2Pet2:21) for believers to emulate in action (1Pet4:2) and attitude (1Pet4:1).
When one can appreciate the arduous journey to produce soul salvation, it makes sense when 1Pet18 says,” If the righteous one is scarcely saved” (NKJV). This “saving” refers to the soul salvation and not the salvation of the born again spirit. Soul salvation is difficult!
For the born again spirit is perfectly saved by God’s the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (John3:6 and John3:16). The only part played by a man is to believe by confessing (Rom10:9) Christ’s saving work apart from works (Eph2:8-9). The spiritual salvation is secure apart from the man’s works!
1Peter’s works that save the soul and Jam2:17 works share the common elements of suffering and submission to God’s will.
The two examples of works mentioned by James 2 is about Abraham and Rahab. Abraham suffered the loss of Isaac when he offered Isaac to God. However, Abraham submitted to God’s power to resurrect Isaac from the dead (Heb11:19). Rahab suffered the threat of execution for betraying Jericho when she sheltered the two Israelite spies and submitted to God’s manifested power (Joshua 2:9-11).
It stands to reason to assert at this point with greater confidence that the walk of sincere love that suffers while doing good, as the believer’s work is to emulates Christ’s suffering, is the mentioned in Jam2:17.
Aerial drone photo of the iconic archaeological site of Ancient Corinth built in the slopes of Acrocorinth, Peloponnese, Greece
Second Approach – Believer in a Sinful Lifestyle
1Co5:1 is about a man who openly indulged in a sexual relationship with his stepmother. Paul’s solution to this thorny issue of 1Co5:5 – “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
It is notable for drawing attention.
- The scripture deems the spirit saved despite his brazen behavior to openly promote his sexually immoral relationship with his stepmother and threatening to corrupt the Corinthian Church with this sin(1Co5:6).
- The scripture is silent about soul salvation. Since good works (1Pet) and natural decay of the body (2Co4:16-18) produces soul salvation, such practice of sin against the body deserves the bodily death of 1Co3:17
1Co3:17- “If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.”, where the body is destroyed.
- Paul did not attempt to cast doubt concerning the believer’s salvation (born again spirit) status. Apostle Paul is faithful to his revelation that such judgment belongs to God (1Co4:4-5).
The above implications support the understanding that sin does not deprive the believer of their place in heaven.
Colossae ancient city in Denizli, Turkey
Third Approach- Col2:13 and John10:27-29
The Bible has three God personas, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
The whole person also has three personas, the Spirit, Soul, and body (1The5:23)
It is an often committed error in the reading of scripture.
- The failure to identify the various God personas speaking or spoken.
- The failure to identify which part of the man that particular God persona is speaking to.
When the one reads the scripture bearing the above in mind above, scripture becomes relevant and alive. A careful examination of Col2:13 will reveal this benefit.
Col2:13- “And you, being (G5607) dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
The Greek Interlinear Bible clarifies that the tense of this being (G5607- ōn) is a present participle that indicates the ongoing action in the present.
The next step is to identify where the born again spirit, unsaved soul, decaying body, God the Father, and God the Son fit within the scripture.
And you ( born again spirit), your soul being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh that is in your decaying body, hath he, God the Father, quickened the born again spirit together with him, Jesus, having forgiven you ( born again spirit) all trespasses;
The above holds the perspective of a believer’s walk after the spirit is born again. The born again spirit is immune to the unsaved soul that experiences death when it sins due to the sinful flesh.
God the Father confers immunity by the quickened (syzōopoieō- to make alive with Christ) of born again spirit. For the born again spirit HAS received forgiveness from sins once and for ALL. God has thereby immunized the born again spirit against harmful effects of the soul and body that sins—thus securing the “Once Saved Always Saved” salvation.
John10:27-29 truths echo and resonate with Col2:13. Jesus refers to believers as sheep that are given eternal life in John10:27-29. The sheep secure eternal life by the protection offered by His hands and the hands of His Father, who is greater than Him. The power of God secures the sheep’s salvation once and forever.
While I have attempted to offer systematic reasoning of evidence to support the belief of unshakable eternal salvation, there are always outlier scenarios that reside in the domain of God to determine the authenticity of the believer’s salvation status in the very first place.
Two outlier scenarios come to mind.
- The unpardonable sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirt seems to the sword hanging over the believer’s secure salvation. (Mat12:31-32)
- The sins of apostasy.
Another post or posts is required to cover the unpardonable sin in detail. For this post, the fact that no other scriptures further warn of this sin suggests that this sin’s applicability does not extend beyond the specific circumstances required for the sin to be relevant. The circumstances were such that Jesus had to be physically present, and Man blasphemes the Holy Spirit operating through Him. Christ’s physical presence with the Holy Spirit in Him are realities not available to Man.
Apostasy in Greek, apostasia, is mentioned twice in the new testament. In 2Th2:3, Paul used apostasia in the anti-christ context, and in Act21:21, Paul’s accusers used apostasia to voice their concerns of forsaking the old covenant traditions. Hence the apostasy is used in a specific context. Scripture DOES NOT support the casualness among Christians to lay this charge against their brethren.
In-summary, It makes little sense to construct barriers to salvation based on these outliers, given the great price paid by our Lord Jesus for humanity’s salvation. Let’s set aside these needless arguments that seek to divide the unity of the faith in the love of Christ.
Those that are adamant about doing so are usurping God’s sovereignty to judge His flock by discriminating their born again spirit genuineness in-place of God the Father.