Hubs and I have been neck-deep in our discussion over the OSAS (Once saved, always saved doctrine). It all started after a d-group member in our Saturday group raised her brows and stood adamant on her resolve about one’s eternal security once he/she starts to believe in God’s saving grace. According to her, nothing that a “Christian” could do (or no sin, no matter how gross it may be) can make a person lose his salvation. While this idea seems appealing, as this used to be what we believed in in our early days in the faith. Such teaching is also dangerous as it seemingly runs in contrast to the call of endurance, perseverance, repentance and holiness.
I personally believe this teaching can deceive a believer into thinking that he can just settle for a comfortable Christianity which may even lead to bits of compromises here and there. Why? He is secured with his position as a believer anyway. Why go the hard way? With this teaching, his tendency might be to let loose of his guards or defenses making him prone to the wiles and attacks of the enemy.
I have a personal experience on this.
When I graduated from the university, I felt I was ready to take on the world. I had been trained in a discipleship-focused ministry and I knew all about the spiritual disciplines I had to practice to “make” it in the secular realm. For four years, I had been in an ideal environment where I got to mingle with fellow believers in the campus. I had no real struggles at that time except for a few academic and emotional issues which I never considered as gargantuan.
I found myself employed in a government office in Calamba City where busybodies lurked. Me, oh, my. I never realized that I’d be the one who would be pulled down, spiritually even as I had resolved initially to be the light bearer in that place. I even felt like I ought to trail blaze a ministry there, but as I was overtaken by the demands of work, I never was able to make this plan happen. I had a few PTs with a fellow Christian in our place, but the meetings soon fizzled out. Soon thereafter, I was influenced by my co-employees love for mediocrity and snooping on other people’s lives.
While I poured my heart out in my work, I nonetheless quashed any thought of improving as a person. I eventually gave up my QTs which I used to do back in college, my Bible reading and even prayer time. In short, I cut my connection to the one true source of my life. I soon degenerated, part of which was caused by the demands of raising two kids. My husband was not of much help either when it comes to spiritual matters (even though we regularly went to church on Sundays) because he was deep into earning money as well. Even his associations, some of which, were with fellow Christians, were mired by inauthenticity (read: hypocrisy as they later turned out).
I got excited over material things. I drooled over clothes (and bought a lot, of course). I engaged in godless chatter—to the point of backbiting other co-workers who were not in my circle of friends and clique. I even cheated in my time-in because I asked a janitor to punch on my behalf my time card in our bundy clock. I was verbally cautioned by our Admin chief who was gracious enough not to hand me an official memo about it. I harbored resentment against people around me including my husband ( who I felt was insensitive and too controlling at that time). I loved thinking about how to make money (though, looking back, such exercise never improved our economic condition a single bit as the kids were always in the hospital with all sorts of ailments).
Earlier, it came to a point when I totally replaced Bible reading with pocketbook reading as I desired more the excitement of romance than the seeming monotony of delving into God’s Word. It was a burden, a drudgery and a yoke to open the Bible at that time. Besides, I felt that I was through with it because I had been reading it back in college. My work and the environment I was in just took me away from my first love.
Despite all these, did I entertain any thought that I was not saved at all? Not at all. I felt I was secure and that nothing could shake my eternal position. Not even if I give up my quiet time and devotion. Not even if I deliberately commit wilful sins, because, I banked on my memory verse about God’s unfailing love and his forgiveness. I even contemplated on deliberately disobeying with the thought that I would just ask for forgiveness later because 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
I was deceived.
One night, after I finished reading a mushy novel and once again let my imagination run wild, I went to sleep. In the middle of my sleep, I was awakened by a stern male voice. I knew it was not from an external source. It was as if “injected” in my consciousness. The voice had a ring of anger in it and these were the exact words I heard in the vernacular: “Alisin na ang babaeng yan. Masyadong makamundo” (Remove that woman. She is worldly.) Boom. I immediately felt as though a spirit of life flew out of my system. Where would I be removed? A dreadful thought sprang: Would I be removed from God’s presence because of my sinfulness? Could it be that my name was already listed in heaven and it would be removed because of my worldly focus? I had no doubt in my mind it was a stern warning from the Lord that I heard.
Immediately I asked for forgiveness for my wilful sins. I had never been more afraid in my life. I dreaded the thought that my Father would cut me off from his presence forever, as what I assumed with His warning. It seemed as though He was instructing somebody to remove my name from his record. It had the ring of authority and firmness.
The morning after, I rushed to a friend’s house and asked for prayers. I had resolved since then not to take God’s grace in vain nor to abuse it because I know God is God and He is sovereign in everything. I realized that being too confident of one’s eternal security as what has been taught by various churches can make or unmake a believer. What matters, in reality, is that day by day, there has to be repentance and communion with the Lord.
Now, as this OSAS idea/teaching again cropped up in our present Christian circle, it must be stressed that security is guaranteed only if one REMAINS in Christ. And remaining in him and in his love means that we obey his commands. This is best supported by John 15: 1-10 which is all about remaining in the true Vine – the Lord Jesus, and the uselessness of the branches that are not attached to the vine. Verses 9-10 emphasize that to remain in him, we ought to obey his commandments.
Now, after days and days of research and verbal exchanges, my husband and I have come to the conclusion that OSAS is a dangerous teaching. The best and most Biblical insight on eternal security is ESIRIC (we coined this acronym). It simply means that there is Eternal Security If (and only if) one REMAINS In Christ.
ESIRIC certainly reflects the Lord’s teachings in John 15, the call for perseverance of Paul in his epistles (even as he exemplified it in his life, saying that he kept the faith and finished the race), and the Lord’s words in the Book of Revelations that only those who overcome, who have washed their robes and clothed themselves with garments of obedience and endurance even to the point of death (as he commended both the churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia) will enter the holy city and partake of the tree of life. For those who compromise, tolerate false teachings, are lukewarm in their faith, focused on dead works and disloyal, He issued a stern warning that unless they REPENT, they would be judged severely. The Lord would remove their lampstands, or spit them out of His mouth.
For us, OSAS, cannot only make a believer hold on to a false sense of security and thus make him lax and less vigilant of the schemes of the Devil, it also does not leave room for God’s sovereignty who alone is the final judge over all things. Eternity is within his realm and eternal security is guaranteed only through sustained faith in His son, the Lord Jesus, who endured suffering and conquered death. Hebrews 12:1-2 is a good reminder for believers:
‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us FIX OUR EYES ON JESUS, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the Father.”
God alone knows those who love Him. And only those who love Him can see Him. Praise God forever!