Once saved, always saved! I grew up hearing this repeated over and over, like a mantra. The problem is that it’s deceiving. Most people I hear using the phrase are referring to salvation as being something that happened at some point in the past, an event that makes one’s eternity secure regardless of what might happen later. And it gives peace to those who love a believer who has turned from the truth. But no matter how sincere and real a person’s commitment to God was in the past, salvation is not a single point in time event.
But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.Colossians 1:22-23a NIV
Paul here tells me that I have been reconciled to God, holy, without blemish, and free from accusation, through Christ’s death on the cross: in other words, I have been saved. But there is a big ‘if’ here that is frequently overlooked. If I continue in my faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope of the gospel. Salvation is not based on a one-time event. It is the result of being faithful to the end. It’s as much how you finish as it is how you start.
Those Who Endure to the End
While I agree that once one is saved, they are saved eternally. I also hold that it is the one who has endured to the end who is saved, not the one who puts their hand to the plow and then turns back. God knew from creation who would prove faithful. And they are his elect. But I still have to live out that life, walking in faith before my creator. Those who start but do not finish have not lost their salvation. They never had it in the first place.
Please, don’t rest on your past. Be faithful to the end. Don’t be moved from the hope held out for you in the gospel. Finish the race set out for you!