Is it true, once saved, always saved? (092) (093) If it is not true, how many times can a person be saved, lost, and resaved? If it is true, does it mean that a person can live any way he chooses and still go to heaven? What does the Bible say about this?
Two main issues are established by the Scriptures in a multitude of places: 1) that the Bible disallows salvation by a mixed method (a person is either saved by the works of Jesus Christ, or he is saved by his own--the issue is whose merit provides the basis of salvation?); and 2) the Bible only allows salvation by grace through faith (so that the real issue is the content of what is believed by the saved and what is rejected as an object of faith by the lost). Everyone who knows the Bible very well will agree that our salvation is based upon the merit of Christ and that it is applied to us by grace through faith. The areas of disagreement are basically two: 1) where does saving faith come from?; and, 2) how much impact does it have upon the believer?
To answer the first question, let us consider why people believe anything. It rarely has anything to do with choice. It almost always has to do with the power of persuasion that the evidence for belief has. In other words, people believe things because the evidence is, for them, undeniable. This is not the case with unbelief, which is almost always a matter of choice against evidence because of other factors.
Let's consider this briefly. When people are from Missouri (the show-me state), their claim is that they will believe what they see with their own eyes. The Bible tells us of one such type of person in John 20:24-29. But this person is simply committed to one kind of evidence--the kind of which springs from the 5 senses (sight, taste, touch, hearing, smell). Faith of this kind often springs up unbidden and undesired. For example, a mother watches helplessly as a car strikes and kills her small child. Her eyes tell her that the baby is dead. Even though her heart rebels against that reality, the evidence is undeniable to her. She believes against her will. The evidence is too powerful to overcome.
But there are people who choose to reject such evidence. There are mothers whose commitment to having a living baby is so powerful that they reject the evidence and enter into what the psychologists call denial. These people invariably go crazy because their wills refuse to allow them to believe what their minds tell them is indisputable. They end up in places that are designed to take care of those who have lost touch with reality.
The point that I am making is that faith is almost always created by powerful evidence; while unbelief is almost always the consequence of a choice to refuse the evidence because of more powerful values held deeply in the heart.
Thus, faith is not the result of choice. It is the result of being confronted with powerful evidence that overrules the natural desires and tendencies. Thus the Bible says that faith comes from hearing from God (Romans 10:17), not choosing God.