One of the most dangerous doctrines taught in denominationalism today is what John Calvin called, “Perseverance of the Saints.” This doctrine asserts that once a person enters into a saved state with God there is nothing that saved person (i.e., Christian) can do to fall from that state of grace. He cannot so sin as to be lost in hell eternally. Once he is saved, he is always saved. Does the Bible teach this?
2 Peter 2:20-22 teaches that one can fall away from God and lose his salvation. Peter was writing to Christians who had “escaped the corruption that is in the world” (1:4), “escaped from those who live in error” (2:18), “escaped the pollutions of the world” (2:20), knew “the way of righteousness” (2:21) and once walked “the right way” (2:15). In other words, they had clearly been saved. But, now, “they are again entangled in them and overcome” (2:20) and did “turn from the holy commandment” (2:21). “AFTER” they “escaped” and are saved, they are “AGAIN” entangled like they were before being saved (2:20). “The latter end is worse for them than the beginning” (2:20), because they have fallen away from God and are no longer saved (read v. 22).
Galatians 5:1-4 teaches that one can fall away from God and lose his salvation. Paul was writing to Christians who were “turning away” from the gospel and God’s truth (1:6-7; 3:1; 4:9; 5:7), in order to urge them to remain steadfast (5:1). These freed Christians were urged not to be “entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (5:1). However, by “seeking to be justified by law,” these Christians had “been severed from Christ” and had “fallen from grace” (5:4). The verbs are past tense. Those once saved had now “fallen from grace.”
James 5:19-20 teaches that one can fall away from God and lose his salvation. James warns Christians that some of them could “wander from the truth” and need a brother to “turn him back” (5:19). This wandering brother is called a “sinner” who needs to be turned “from the error of his way” (5:20). When he is, it “will save a soul from death.” Thus, if this wayward brother is not turned back, his soul will not be saved from death. He is lost! His soul is not saved!
Hebrews 6:4-6 teaches that one can fall away from God and lose his salvation. The writer describes (in vivid terms in verses 4-5) individuals who had clearly become Christians. But there is a turn of events in verse 6: “…and then have fallen away” (NASB). It is not merely “if they fall away,” but the verb tense indicates an actuality. They clearly had been saved, and then they clearly had “fallen away” and now “crucify again for themselves the Son of God.” They’re lost.
Once a person is saved, he can again become lost.