Category: “Once saved always saved?”


“What happens if I sin, and then I die before I have an opportunity to confess that sin to God?” Another common question is “what happens if I commit a sin, but then forget about it and never remember to confess it to God?” Both of these questions rest on a faulty assumption. Salvation is not a matter of believers trying to confess and repent from every sin they commit before they die. Salvation is not based on whether a Christian has confessed and repented of every sin. Yes, we should confess our sins to God as soon as we are aware that we have sinned. However, we do not always need to be asking God for forgiveness. When we place our faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, all of our sins are forgiven. That includes past, present, and future, big or small. Believers do not have to keep asking for forgiveness or repenting in order to have their sins forgiven. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and when they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43).

What we are to do is confess our sins: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). What this verse tells us to do is “confess” our sins to God. The word “confess” means “to agree with.” When we confess our sins to God, we are agreeing with God that we were wrong, that we have sinned. God forgives us, through confession, on an ongoing basis because of the fact that He is “faithful and just.” How is God “faithful and just”? He is faithful by forgiving sins, which He has promised to do for all those who receive Christ as Savior. He is just by applying Christ’s payment for our sins, recognizing that the sins have indeed been atoned for.

At the same time, 1 John 1:9 does indicate that somehow forgiveness is dependent on our confessing our sins to God. How does this work if all of our sins are forgiven the moment we receive Christ as Savior? It seems that what the apostle John is describing here is “relational” forgiveness. All of our sins are forgiven “positionally” the moment we receive Christ as Savior. This positional forgiveness guarantees our salvation and promise of an eternal home in heaven. When we stand before God after death, God will not deny us entrance into heaven because of our sins. That is positional forgiveness. The concept of relational forgiveness is based on the fact that when we sin, we offend God and grieve His Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). While God has ultimately forgiven us of the sins we commit, they still result in a blocking or hindrance in our relationship with God. A young boy who sins against his father is not cast out of the family. A godly father will forgive his children unconditionally. At the same time, a good relationship between father and son cannot be achieved until the relationship is restored. This can only occur when a child confesses his mistakes to his father and apologizes. That is why we confess our sins to God—not to maintain our salvation, but to bring ourselves back into close fellowship with the God who loves us and has already forgiven us.

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This is perhaps the most important question in all of Christian theology. This  question is the cause of the Reformation, the split between the Protestant  churches and Catholic Church. This question is a key difference between biblical  Christianity and most of the “Christian” cults. Is salvation by faith alone, or  by faith plus works? Am I saved just by believing in Jesus, or do I have to  believe in Jesus and do certain things?

The question of faith alone or  faith plus works is made difficult by some hard-to-reconcile Bible passages.  Compare Romans 3:285:1 and Galatians 3:24 with James 2:24. Some see a  difference between Paul (salvation is by faith alone) and James (salvation is by  faith plus works). Paul dogmatically says that justification is by faith alone  (Ephesians  2:8-9), while James appears to be saying that justification is by faith plus  works. This apparent problem is answered by examining what exactly James is  talking about. James is refuting the belief that a person can have faith without  producing any good works (James  2:17-18). James is emphasizing the point that genuine faith in Christ will  produce a changed life and good works (James  2:20-26). James is not saying that justification is by faith plus works, but  rather that a person who is truly justified by faith will have good works in  his/her life. If a person claims to be a believer, but has no good works in  his/her life, then he/she likely does not have genuine faith in Christ (James 2:14, 17, 20, 26).

Paul says the same thing in his writings.  The good fruit believers should have in their lives is listed in Galatians 5:22-23.  Immediately after telling us that we are saved by faith, not works (Ephesians 2:8-9), Paul  informs us that we were created to do good works (Ephesians  2:10). Paul expects just as much of a changed life as James does:  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the  new has come” (2  Corinthians 5:17). James and Paul do not disagree in their teaching  regarding salvation. They approach the same subject from different perspectives.  Paul simply emphasized that justification is by faith alone while James put  emphasis on the fact that genuine faith in Christ produces good works.


Once a person is saved are they always saved? Many worry over this question. When people come to know Christ as their Savior, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their salvation as eternally secure. Numerous passages of Scripture declare this fact.
(a) Romans 8:30 declares, “And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.” This verse tells us that from the moment God chooses us, it is as if we are glorified in His presence in heaven. There is nothing that can prevent a believer from one day being glorified because God has already purposed it in heaven. Once a person is justified, his salvation is guaranteed – he is as secure as if he is already glorified in heaven.
(b) Paul asks two crucial questions in Romans 8:33-34 “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? No one will, because Christ is our advocate. Who will condemn us? No one will, because Christ, the One who died for us, is the one who condemns. We have both the advocate and judge as our Savior.
(c) Believers are born again (regenerated) when they believe (John 3:3; Titus 3:5). For a Christian to lose his salvation, he would have to be un-regenerated. The Bible gives no evidence that the new birth can be taken away.
(d) The Holy Spirit indwells all believers (John 14:17; Romans 8:9) and baptizes all believers into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). For a believer to become unsaved, he would have to be “un-indwelt” and detached from the Body of Christ.
(e) John 3:15 states that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If you believe in Christ today and have eternal life, but lose it tomorrow, then it was never “eternal” at all. Hence if you lose your salvation, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.
(f) For the most conclusive argument, Scripture says it best itself, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Remember the same God who saved you is the same God who will keep you. Once we are saved we are always saved. Our salvation is most definitely eternally secure!