68. What is meant by the expression “once saved, always saved”?
The expression “once saved, always saved” can simply mean that all who have been called out by the gospel of Christ, granted true faith, and saved from his wrath and the condemnation they had been under, will never more be in peril of eternal damnation, but will be saved by God's sovereign and immutable grace for all eternity. If this is all that is intended by the expression, then it is complementary to the Reformed doctrine of perseverance, which teaches that all true saints will persevere in the faith, by God's keeping power, until they finally reach their blessed end in heaven.
However, the term is often used to mean that a Christian may be “saved” by a profession of faith, fall away to a lifestyle of open sin and unbelief of which he never repents, and still be “saved” in the last judgment because of his one-time profession. When the term is used in this way, it is in direct contradiction to many scriptural teachings about true and false faith, and the fact that God will always cause his true saints to persevere in faith and godliness. See the two questions above for a fuller treatment of this theme.
For Further Study:
Can a Christian Lose His or Her Salvation? by Greg Johnson
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