Did Jesus Teach Eternal Security
Or Once Saved Always Saved?

Dan Corner

[Works Salvation and Once Saved Always Saved Refuted]

There Is NO Once Saved Always Saved
In Jesus' Prodigal Son Teaching

Though there are many teachings of the Lord Jesus that we could focus in upon to answer the question, Did Jesus teach once saved always saved, perhaps his teaching known as the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) would be the best of all. The Prodigal Son teaching demonstratively shows the full extent of sin's destructive power in the life of a son of God, the key roles that free will and human responsibility have, the limited protective power offered by the seal of the Holy Spirit, as taught by Christ Himself and much more. Let's examine it closely.

The teaching starts by focusing in on the younger of the two sons of the father, who asked for and received his share of the estate. Soon afterward, he departed from the father's presence for a distant country of "wild living" (v.13). There he squandered his wealth with prostitutes (v.30). After he spent everything he had there was a severe famine in that country, during which time he personally longed to eat the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything! He then came to his senses, returned to the father repentfully to serve him and found complete forgiveness and restoration. Beyond this, the father with no hesitation initiated the "kill the fattened calf" celebration for his homecoming.

Everyone Should Know John 10:28 Doesn't Apply To Prodigal Backsliders

How Could He Become Spiritually Dead and Lost
IF Once Saved Always Saved Was True

Verses 24 and 32 are essential to this parable, controversy and study. Both of these Scriptures, declared by the father, reveal the spiritual condition of the prodigal both BEFORE and AFTER the time of his "wild living." Verse 24 spoken to his servants says, "For this son of mine was dead and is ALIVE AGAIN; he was lost and is found," while verse 32, spoken to the older son says, "... this brother of yours was dead and is ALIVE AGAIN; he was lost and is found." The important point the father was emphasizing was the complete reversal of the prodigal's spiritual condition, now that he repented. He went from DEAD to ALIVE AGAIN which is equated in the same sentence as going from LOST to FOUND. Hence, there is great reason to rejoice over such a sinner that repents, as already mentioned two separate times in this same chapter in the parables of the Lost Sheep and Lost Coin.


Perhaps the words ALIVE AGAIN are most revealing. The Greek word from which "ALIVE AGAIN" comes is found five times in the New Testament -- in these two verses just cited, Rom. 7:9; 14:9 and Rev. 20:5. It means LIVE AGAIN or REVIVE. This is easily seen in Rom. 14:9, "... Christ died and returned to life ...." Here it is stated that the Lord's physical condition went from LIFE to DEATH [on the cross] to LIFE AGAIN [when He arose from the grave]. Similarly, the prodigal's spiritual condition went from LIFE to DEATH [when with the prostitutes] to LIFE AGAIN [when he returned to the father's presence]. Regarding this type of action and the believer's security, one strain of once saved always saved is perhaps best exemplified by what John MacArthur wrote:

"No matter how convincing a person's testimony might seem, once he becomes apostate he has demonstrated irrefutably that he was never really saved" [John F. MacArthur, Jr., The Gospel According to Jesus (Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, 1989), p.98].
The Lord Jesus, in contrast to MacArthur and his Calvinism, clearly taught such can occur, in this parable! Also study our teaching entitled, The Never Really Saved Argument Scrutinized for other points.

SPRITUAL DEATH -- Not Just The Joy of Salvation

Furthermore, there are many in our hour that unfortunately teach and sincerely believe that the most one could ever lose through sin after initial salvation is their joy of salvation, spiritual rewards and/or position in the kingdom. Jesus, however, very clearly taught otherwise! The Lord taught the prodigal's spiritual condition degenerated to DEAD, the same as for everyone before initial salvation (Eph. 2:1)! Paul stated likewise, after initial salvation:
"If you live according to the sinful nature you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body you will live" (Rom. 8:13).
This is what happened to the prodigal, that is, he died spiritually because he chose, through his own free will, to "live according to the sinful nature." Luke 15:13 states "wild living" characterized his behavior when spiritually DEAD and LOST in his unconfessed and unrepented sins. The word for "wild living" comes from the Greek word meaning EXCESS, as found in Eph. 5:18:
"And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit" (KJV).
Hence, the prodigal's behavior, as implied by Lk. 15:13, included DRUNKENNESS and other excesses that go with that kind of sinful lifestyle. This would be a safe assumption anyway, especially since he spent his money with prostitutes! Therefore, among other grievous sins, the prodigal's sins were SEXUAL IMMORALITY and DRUNKENNESS -- two rampant spiritual killers in our day too! Paul wrote about these and other similar sins in Gal. 5:19-21 and 1 Cor. 6:9,10. This former passage, written to Christians in WARNING form, reads:
"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I WARN YOU, as I did before, that those who live like this will NOT inherit the kingdom of God."
Robert B. Thieme, another influential once saved always saved teacher of our day, likens the prodigal son to a carnal Christian whom he describes as follows:
"The behavior pattern of a carnal Christian cannot be distinguished from that of an unbeliever (1 Cor. 3:3). As far as God's Word is concerned, you may act like an unbeliever; but if you have believed in Christ, you are still a believer -- a believer in status quo carnality -- out of fellowship. This principle is important in understanding the prodigal. A BELIEVER OUT OF FELLOWSHIP ACTS LIKE AN UNBELIEVER" [emphasis his] [R. B. Thieme, Jr., The Prodigal Son, Houston, TX, 1974, p.7].
WHAT A VENOMOUS LIE THIS IS! Please know the following about carnal Christians as mentioned by Paul:

(1) 1 Cor. 3:3 is very clear about their sins being "jealousy" and "quarreling" and nothing as severe as the Prodigal's were. Paul wrote:
"You are still worldly. For since there is JEALOUSY and QUARRELING among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men?"
Furthermore, in the next two verses we see why they were acting like this, that is, some at Corinth apparently favored one Christian leader over another, namely Paul over Apollos and vice versa!

(2) In 1 Cor. 6:11, we read:

"And that is what some of you WERE. But you WERE washed, you WERE sanctified, you WERE justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."
Please note: those "carnal" Christians were NOT drunkards any more or sexually immoral any more, etc., as clearly indicated by the word "WERE" in this verse referring back to verses 9 and 10! Do NOT be deceived by Joseph Prince daily devotional or anything else! This again shows an all important difference between what the once saved always saved teachers are saying and what God says, as recorded in the Bible.

NO Once Saved Always Saved In 1 John 3:10

(3) To believe the once saved always saved teachers regarding carnal Christianity and the behavior of such people would also render meaningless verses such as 1 Jn. 3:10:

"This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother."
Please note that John's test to KNOW a child of God from a child of the devil was a present-tense behavioral one and not just a testimony of a past conversion experience! See also 1 Jn. 2:3,4. It is my contention that as water is to fire, so the teaching of once saved always saved is to the fear of God, as evident by once saved always saved teachings such as these.

His Future Sins Were NOT Automatically Forgiven

Please note: unlike what some of the once saved always saved teachers would say, based on a faulty interpretation of Col. 2:13, the prodigal's future sins were NOT automatically forgiven, because if they were, it would have been impossible for them to bring about his DEAD and LOST spiritual condition! "He forgave us all our sins" (Col. 2:13), can only refer to all of our PAST sins getting forgiven at the point of initial salvation. If not, there would be no need to confess sins committed after salvation for forgiveness, as shown in 1 Jn. 1:9. In addition, many other Scriptures would be meaningless if all our future sins were automatically forgiven also at the point of initial salvation! In contrast to Scripture and reason, another once saved always saved teacher (June Hunt) said,

June: "Well, technically, Carl, a person who has truly entered into a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, let me ask you this, how many of their sins were forgiven once they entered into that relationship with Him?"
Carl: "Well, I believe all of mine have been."
June: "Yes, because that's what Scripture teaches."
Carl: "Past, present and future."
June: "And future. So the issue is, all of our sins are already forgiven" [June Hunt, tape: "Suicide or Survival," #9114] (emphasis ours).

John 10:28 Does NOT Include Backsliders

While some heavily rely upon Jesus' promise stated in Jn. 10:28,29, that is, that no one will snatch his sheep from His hand or the Father's hand, please note that this doesn't exclude the apparent possibility of a sheep walking off due to his own personal free will to a lifestyle that will result in spiritual death, as exemplified by the prodigal son! No one plucked the prodigal out of the Father's hand, but the Father let him walk away! Also, the wonderful promise of John 10:28,29 holds true ONLY for those who follow [continuous tense in the Greek] Jesus (v. 27)! John 10:28, clearly, doesn't include backsliders!

The Believer's Seal Does NOT Equal Once Saved Always Saved

Also, many read into the believer's seal as a impenetrable spiritual protection, that is, an absolute assurance that a person once saved will have a future entrance into God's kingdom no matter what. Jesus' teaching on the prodigal son also refutes this faulty interpretation, for that seal didn't prevent the prodigal's dead and lost condition from coming about! The same can be emphatically stated from James 4:4b regarding anyone who would "choose to be a friend of the world" and consequently become an "enemy of God." Enemies of God will be consumed by raging fire (Heb.10:27)! This too shows the seal doesn't prevent spiritual death.

Furthermore, in light of Heb. 13:5 which states that God will never leave or forsake us, please note the prodigal left and forsook the father and the father let him walk off! Besides, Heb. 13:5,8 is a quote from Deut. 31:6,8, which shows by Deut. 31:17 that God will forsake us because of sin! [See The Believer's Conditional Security for a full explanation.]

The Purpose of Jesus' Parables

Many once saved always saved proponents try to weaken such truths as the aforementioned and others taught in the parables by saying things like: Parables weren't given for doctrine or parables teach only one truth and not several! Regarding the latter, Charles Stanley wrote in his monthly magazine:
"Jesus told the story of the prodigal son for one reason, to portray God's unconditional love. (Luke 15:11-32)" [In Touch, September 1994, p.7.]
NOTE: Parables were taught by Christ as a means of revealing the secrets of the kingdom to believers and concealing the same secrets from the unbelievers (Matt. 13:10-13). Since doctrine is one and the same as teachings, obviously parables are for doctrine. For example, the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector (Lk. 18:9-14) clearly teaches the doctrine of INSTANT JUSTIFICATION for all, who like that tax collector, sincerely and humbly pray directly to God asking for forgiveness. Furthermore, a second basic truth is clearly taught in the same parable -- namely, one must first be aware of his own personal need of forgiveness before he will receive it. The self-righteous pharisee lacked this insight and went home unjustified and unforgiven! Hence, both objections raised by once saved always saved proponents, against the use of parables, are clearly refuted here! (BTW, eternal salvation doctrine has nothing to do with once saved always saved, as Stanley teaches.)

Finally regarding the prodigal son, let us all rejoice that the father QUICKLY and JOYFULLY took him back after he repented. In other words, we know from this that a person can get saved MORE THAN ONCE based on this teaching and elsewhere. True grace teaching is shown in Rom. 11:19-23 and James 5:19,20:

"You will say then, 'Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.' Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. DO NOT BE ARROGANT, BUT BE AFRAID. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in AGAIN." (Romans 11:19-23)
My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. (James 5:19,20, ESV)
Romans 11:19-23 and James 5:19,20 seems to be tailor-made and customized for this controversy over the believer's security. Clearly, both causes much trouble for the once saved always saved proponent, that is, if he even knows they exist! Other passages given by Jesus which refute eternal security are: Matt. 6:14,15; 10:22,33; 24:13; 25:26-30; Lk. 8:13; 12:45,46; Jn. 15:6; Rev. 2:10,11,26; 3:15,16.

Come Home Modern Day Prodigals

COME ON HOME MODERN DAY PRODIGALS. God will likewise accept and rejoice over YOU! Don't think you have sinned too much to return. The prodigal Jesus taught about, likewise, knew ONLY wild living for an undesignated period of time -- perhaps many years. God wants you home in his presence, too -- alive again and no longer lost. Come while you still can.

False Prophets Today

The Gospel is Anti Once Saved Always Saved

The bible plan of salvation is repentance towards God and faith in Christ Jesus (Acts 20:21). We prove our repentance by our deeds (Acts 26:20). The Lord Jesus taught the road to life is hard and only a few will find it (Mt. 7:13,14, NKJV). Many get saved, but afterwards fall away (Lk. 8:13; Jn. 6:66; 1 Tim. 1:19; etc.). In other words, after initial salvation we must endure to the end to enter the kingdom of God and escape the lake of fire (Mt. 10:22; Heb. 3:14; Rev. 2:10,11). Eternal life comes to the repentant the moment such believe on Jesus for salvation (Jn. 3:16; 6:47; 1 Jn. 5:12,13), but there is another important aspect of eternal life that many are totally unware of in our day because of the false teaching of eternal security. According to true grace teaching, eternal life is also a HOPE (Titus 3:7), yet to be REAPED (Gal. 6:8,9) in the AGE TO COME (Mk. 10:30) for only the ones who PERSIST IN DOING GOOD (Rom. 2:7) and DO NOT GROW WEARY AND GIVE UP (Gal. 6:9).

If a saved person sows to please his sinful nature he'll die spiritually (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 6:8,9). The prodigal is a clear example of this (Lk. 15:24,32). The end result of sin is spiritual death, so DO NOT BE DECEIVED (James 1:14-16). For more information regarding the believer's security, see our 801 page book, The Believer's Conditional Security: Eternal Security Refuted, which is the most exhaustive and comprehensive refutation to eternal security ever written. It will not be refuted!

Because of the teaching of once saved always saved, grace has been taught as a license to sin for so long, and without challenge, that when Scripture is quoted, such as 1 Cor. 6:9,10 or Rev. 21:8, it is disregarded, and the giver of God's Word is falsely accused of teaching legalism, bondage, works salvation, etc. This reflects how truly dark are the days in which we live! Do you know the ACID TEST question to know if a ministry or local congregation is teaching a license to sin as condemned by Jude 3,4. Remember, once saved always saved is spiritual poison to your SOUL.

Skull and Crossbones Awards of False Prophets and False Teachers

Aliens and Religion Do NOT Mix

Eternal Security -- Doctrine of Demons

Approaching Death

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