In this article I will very briefly examine five problems that I have with the Once Saved Always Saved message (sometimes abbreviated OSAS).  

The  teaching says that certain people are predestined to be saved, and if you are one of them, you will be saved regardless of anything that you do… good, bad, or otherwise.  There is nothing you can do to cause God to save you, and there definitely is nothing you can do that would allow God to take your salvation away, because once you get it, God is locked in for eternity and cannot take it back.

Here are five problems I have with this.

1. OSAS offers no clear definition for a Christian.

Obviously if some people are predestined to be saved and some are predestined to be lost, the big question is, “How do I discover which group I’m in?”  

Some say the sinner’s prayer (i.e. telling Jesus you are sorry for your sins and thanking him for dying for you so that you can live forever) makes you eternally saved.  But many if not most opponents of OSAS teaching have also said the sinner's prayer.  Consequently, it usually comes down to them saying that only those people who preach their doctrine of being eternally saved without any form of obedience are really saved.  In other words, “We’re saved because we say we are saved.  And the only way we can be lost is to stop and question the authenticity of such a claim.”  Sorry, but that is just not good enough.  In fact, it’s quite meaningless.

2. No Repentance
The Bible teaches repentance as part and parcel of salvation.  At the very least, repenting is an expression of deep remorse at the harm we have caused by our sinfulness.  But it also means turning around and heading in the opposite direction, i.e. changing our behaviour.  One may argue that a rather glib “Sorry, God,” in the sinner’s prayer covers this; but dedicated OSAS-ists say that even saying sorry is not needed, because it is a “work of the flesh”, and God doesn’t want us trying to be good.  The more we relax and do nothing, the more we will change spontaneously, in response to this totally free, unconditional gift that he has given to us.

3. The promised spontaneous change never happens.
OSAS teaching is that just telling people they don’t have to do anything will cause them to respond so enthusiastically, in gratefulness to God for having already saved them, that the end result will be a greater change in these people than would ever have come about by simply doing their best to obey Jesus.  This, they say, is because any attempt to be good is a “work of the flesh” and nullifies your salvation in a way that disobedience and rebellion never could.

The theory sounds good, but in practice, they continue to be afraid of doing good, because it may plunge them back into that worst of all sins:  trying to work your way to heaven.  Even now they are openly teaching people that they can take the Mark of the Beast, for example, and it won’t result in them experiencing God’s wrath, even though the Bible clearly says that it will.  So, while it promises that righteousness will be the fruit of such a teaching, it simply does not happen.  The only disciplines that they ever get around to are their own churchy disciplines, e.g. listening to lots of lectures about how you don’t have to obey Jesus.

4. Paranoia about “working your way to heaven”.
Even people who do not support the OSAS teaching have been so heavily influenced by this teaching’s absolute fear of discipline, that the phrase “working your way to heaven” is used widely amongst Christians everywhere.  Such a phrase never appears anywhere in the Bible.  This worry about being guilty of doing good works comes from a couple of incomplete sentences which say that no matter how good we are, God never owes us salvation.  Such verses are good warnings against getting self-righteous; but more shocking than self-righteousness about being good is self-righteousness about not being good, which is pretty much what the OSAS teaching pushes.

5. Jesus never taught it.
Even many followers of the OSAS teaching do not realise that the OSAS experts agree that all the teachings of Jesus are contrary to OSAS teaching.  They say that Jesus was still teaching “the law”, and that the true Christian gospel only came from Paul (the one who said those two or three half-verses about not getting too proud of how good we are).  They don’t rubbish Jesus altogether, as their argument is that Jesus taught stuff that is so hard to do, that he was really trying to impress on his followers that it is impossible to obey him; and so you should really just give up and listen to what they say Paul taught.

Of course it doesn’t take much reading through stuff that Paul wrote to see that he did NOT hammer this no works teaching, and he said much about the need to stay faithful to the end to be saved.  But, really, after you’ve thrown Jesus out, it’s not all that hard to throw everything else out as well, which is exactly what this teaching does in the end.

So, in conclusion, there are some very serious problems with the Once Saved Always Saved teaching, and, until they have been sorted out, the safest way is to listen to Jesus, and believe him when he says that his teachings are what will judge us in the last days… not the teachings of Paul and definitely not the teachings of those who tell you to stop trying to obey Jesus and just listen to them.