I disagree with the Baptist tenet of ‘once saved, always saved’, and have for a while now. The Baptists cite Calvin and other church leaders in supporting this false doctrine, but they do not have any clear references to biblical origin in their arguments.
Just because one becomes born again in the Spirit, does not mean that he will abide in the Spirit, any more than Adam abode in the Spirit while he lived in Paradise, even though the Spirit Himself walked among Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve were literally born into the Spirit (as we are now born into the flesh), yet they fell away and found death. As Adam was cast out to certain death, so is anyone else who falls away from Christ, even who at one time-as Adam-was born into the very same Godly Spirit.
Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven.” Blasphemy means to commit an act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things. To blaspheme means to speak disrespectfully about God. But only blasphemy of the Spirit will not be forgiven. What is the Spirit? It is the living Christ, as explained in the gospel of John: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (~John 14:26)
So the Spirit is always among us and never leaves nor forsakes us, but we can blaspheme the Spirit, and fall from grace. It is a matter of ongoing, daily faith that determines whether we are saved. God does promise us in John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” ‘Believes’ is a present tense verb, which means we must choose to believe in Jesus as Christ every day, every moment. If once we were saved, we were always saved no matter what, this verse would be written with the word ‘believed’! Furthermore, Jesus said also, ‘Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me.’ (~John 15:4). So it takes constant belief and faith in Christ to remain in salvation, and it takes abiding in the Holy Spirit to produce life.
Abide means: to wait for, to endure without yielding, to bear patiently, to accept without objection, to remain stable or fixed in a state, to continue in a place, and to conform to. Abide is also a present tense verb. To abide means to stay under the gift of His blood, and in our heart to want to be with Him. Believing and abiding happen with a right heart, led by the Spirit and not by the flesh. If someone has fallen away to the point of following their flesh, they are not guaranteed eternal salvation through the scriptures, because they are believing and abiding in their flesh, not Jesus Christ. Abiding in Christ on a daily basis, or living corum deo, makes it hard for us to sin, because God, through the Helping Spirit, will guide our paths and make us to go straight.
Paul states in Romans 11:23 how the Jews were considered first for the salvatory gift of Christ, but when they did not believe in Christ, God reached out to the Gentiles, as related in the Old Testament. It was because of the Jews’ unbelief that they fell from God’s goodness (Romans 11:22), yet they can be grafted in again, if they choose to believe:
“And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.”
There is really no ‘lukewarm’ Christian. You are either in Life or in Death. Headed for Heaven or Hell. Jesus said lukewarm Christians were to be spat out:
“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” ~Revelation 3:15-21
We must be zealous and dine daily with Christ. Instead, if we choose to dine with whose who shun our Lord and continue in their worldly ways in blindness, and believe ourselves to be saved, we are ultimately headed for certain rejection, even if we at one time believed. We have fallen asleep. Again, Saint Paul clearly states in the following passage how falling asleep in Christ invites final judgment upon those guilty of such a thing, just as if they were part of the world all along:
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” ~1 Corinthians 11:27-32
I suspect this notion of ‘once saved, always saved’ is simply a ploy of the devil to trick Christians into complacency regarding their salvation. Think about it. We are commanded to lovingly rebuke our fellow brethren if we see them sinning, yet our Christian culture is trending toward the opposite attitude now, one of complacent non-judgment. Christians are reticent to get in each other’s business following the worldly attitude of, ‘It’s all good.’ Except affixing to the end of that ‘In Christ.’ ‘ It’s all good, in Christ’. And because most Christians buy into the false doctrine of ‘once saved, always saved’, they look upon each other as living ‘in Christ’, when their neighbor may really be living in ‘the world’. In other words, in not wanting to be ‘judgmental’ we let our fellow brethren be lulled to sleep by the devil and fall asleep in Christ, thinking that they will be granted eternal life anyway.
This is a sin on our part. We must understand that anyone who does not daily believe in Christ and live out God’s love has fallen asleep in Christ and is as good as dead until they are awakened, which we must try to do. We can only try. If they will not listen, we are commanded to move on and share the gospel with someone who will listen.
Therefore to fall into disbelief is to fall from the grace in Christ Jesus, and to stop abiding in Him is to die. And if one gets to the point of blaspheming the Spirit, he will find himself in an unforgivable state (these people are beyond hope or salvation, though some pastors argue to the contrary). Salvation is a gift given to God’s chosen ones through justification in Christ. To be justified by Christ, one must believe in Him and abide in Him. This is an ongoing pursuit, and not a one-time event.