Saturday 7 February 2015


Two Christian friends, Alex and Bob, decide to go on a holiday. While travelling on a treacherous road that cuts through mountainous terrain, their 4WD vehicle fell off the cliff. Both died. What happens next?

Alex believes in ‘Once Saved Always Saved’. He believes he does not have to work out his faith since God is gracious. No one can pluck him out from Jesus’ hands once he is saved (John 10:27-28). He truly believes that the question of eternal destiny is settled once and for all at the point of entry (conversion).  

However, Bob believes that it is important to persevere in the faith and continue living an upright life. He believes in continually working out his salvation (Philippians 2:12-13). He prefers to keep “short accounts” with God—the moment the Spirit convicts him of any sin, he repents and asks God for strength to please Him.

If OSAS is true, then both will go to heaven. Both stand to benefit. Their doctrinal disagreement makes no difference whatsoever.

What if OSAS is false?

On the basis of the way he lives it out his beliefs, Alex may land up in hell, eternally tormented by unquenchable fire. Despite being sincere in his belief about OSAS, this will be a most cruel blow to him for it is irrevocable.

It is likely that Bob would wake up and find himself in heaven—provided he has persevered in his faith till the end. Living by his worldview, he exercises greater discipline on earth compared to Alex (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). But what he loses through self-denial (Luke 9:23) while on earth is well compensated as he passes into a state of eternal bliss.

Now, would you embrace the OSAS premise or reject it?

In my humble opinion, it is wiser to err on the side of exercising greater discipline in our Christian life. Be stricter on ourselves in our attitude towards holiness. This means that, apart from acknowledging God’s grace on our lives, we need to emphasise reverential fear. Like Bob.

  • “Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

  • “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28-29).

  • “For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

What if Alex says, It’s not my fault. My leader teaches that once saved, we will always be saved?

We ourselves are accountable in keeping God’s law. God judges us based on the choices we make as individuals. We cannot pass the blame on anyone, even our teachers. We need to make up our own minds after having considered both sides of the OSAS argument—the pros and cons.

And it is not enough just to start off well and then fizzle out in the spiritual race.

Hearing and believing the message once upon a time is not enough; we must endure till the end.

Jesus warns of end time sorrows when persecution, deception and lawlessness will be pervasive (Matthew 24:9-12). And then He makes a very startling remark: “But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). The implication is that if we deny God because of persecution, fail to overcome deception or fall into the cesspool of lawlessness, we will not be saved.

“But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die” (Ezekiel 18: 24-25)

Unless the righteous man who commits sin repents, he will face judgment.

To recap, there are two contending truths and we can argue till the cows come home and be none the wiser for it:
  • Those who are saved will finally make it to heaven because God who is faithful will keep us. Nothing can ever go wrong. This is what Alex embraces—OSAS.
  • Those who are saved must keep on believing and working out their faith till the end in order to make it to heaven. This is what Bob believes—he rejects OSAS.
If we choose the former (OSAS)—and we are proven wrong in eternity—the consequences for embracing wrong beliefs may be disastrous and, sadly, irrevocable.

However, if we choose the latter (reject OSAS)—and we are proven wrong in eternity—the likely consequences, if any, are minimal. We are none the worse for it.

So, in my humble opinion, it is wiser to err on the side of caution and reject the ‘feel good’ teaching that once saved, we will always be saved (OSAS).

Footnote: The names Alex and Bob used in this tale are for the sake of illustration only—not intended to refer to anyone in particular.


If we believe in OSAS and that we do not have to work out our faith, then we will have to cut off the following verses from our Bible:

  • Work out your faith with fear and trembling: Philippians 2:12-13

  • Keep striving: Philippians 3:12-14

  • Run the race with discipline so we won’t be disqualified: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

  • Bear fruits that befit repentance and don’t rest on your spiritual laurels: Luke 3:8

  • Narrow and difficult is the way that leads to life: Matthew 7: 13-14

  • Holiness requires effort; confirm your election: 2 Peter 1: 5-8, 10


Why we have to be steadfast in our journey of faith. What are the possible consequences if we fail to persevere?

Is there eternal security for believers if they deny God or continue living in sin?

Five ways believers could possibly jeopardise their eternal destiny

Two men share about their supernatural experiences in heaven and hell.


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