Wednesday, August 31, 2022

What is OSAS? Backsliding and Salvation Security

OSAS stands for "Once Saved Always Saved." This is a common doctrine taught by many non-denominational churches, some Baptists, Provisionalists, and mainly Calvinist churches. It tends unfortunately to be the more mainstream view in evangelicalism today. What this doctrine suggests is that once someone puts their faith in Jesus Christ and genuinely receives the gospel and is born again, that this person can never backslide, fall away, or lose their salvation eternally. Scriptures used to back up this position include John 10:28, Romans 8:38-39, Philippians 1:6, and other scriptures that point to an assurance of salvation. However we should be careful, because the scriptures call us again and again to stand firm to the end, and to remain in Christ always. 

The word of God indicates that falling away is a possibility for genuine believers. We're told those who stand firm to the end will be saved (Hebrews 3:14). We're told to remain (abide) in the vine, for the branch that does not remain is cut off (John 15:6). If you're standing firm make sure you don't fall (1 Cor 10:12). Five virgins were wise, five were unwise and didn't receive the inheritance (Matthew 25:1-13). Take care, brothers and sisters, lest you have an unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God (Hebrews 3:12). After preaching to others don't disqualify yourself (1 Cor 9:27). If after we receive the truth we go on sinning deliberately there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins (Hebrews 10:26-27). You who would try to be justified by the law have fallen away from grace (Galatians 5:4).

And of course from Romans 11:19-22 ESV "Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off." Seems pretty cut and dry to me.

But why dispute over it? Does it really matter if someone can lose their salvation or not? It's worth having a discussion about it. 

Is it really not worth having? If I tell someone that they can't lose their salvation, look at what I've removed: They can sin as much as they want, they can never lose it. No need for the fear of the Lord. No need for evangelism either, they can never lose it. In fact, they can ditch the body all together and go sit on the beach or watch tv, because hey, they can never lose it. When we say OSAS, we're cutting off the genuine motivation for believers to live like believers. So perhaps we think well, the motivation is love, not fear, right? Love is great yes, but more often than not we have to be motivated by a genuine reverent fear for the Lord. When we say OSAS, we remove all of that and more... and we wonder, why do we see so many Christians living just like the world, so many pastors addicted to pornography, so many lazy believers who don't evangelize? Well, we've taught a theology that leaves no urgency to keep living as a real Christian.

Yes, it's very important. 

"Calvinists, who deny that salvation can ever be lost, reason on the subject in a marvelous way. They tell us, that no virgin's lamp can go out; no promising harvest be choked with thorns; no branch in Christ can ever be cut off from unfruitfulness; no pardon can ever be forfeited, and no name blotted out of God's book! They insist that no salt can ever lose its savor; nobody can ever "receive the grace of God in vain"; "bury his talents"; "neglect such great salvation"; trifle away "a day of grace"; "look back" after putting his hand to the gospel plow. Nobody can "grieve the Spirit" till He is "quenched," and strives no more, nor "deny the Lord that bought them"; nor "bring upon themselves swift destruction." Nobody, or body of believers, can ever get so lukewarm that Jesus will spew them out of His mouth.

They use reams of paper to argue that if one ever got lost he was never found. John 17:12; that if one falls, he never stood. Rom. 11:16-22 and Heb. 6:4-6; if one was ever "cast forth," he was never in, and "if one ever withered," he was never green. John 15:1-6; and that "if any man draws back," it proves that he never had anything to draw back from. Heb. 10:38,39; that if one ever "falls away into spiritual darkness," he was never enlightened. Heb 6:4-6; that if you "again get entangled in the pollutions of the world," it shows that you never escaped. 2 Pet 2:20; that if you "put salvation away" you never had it to put away, and if you make shipwreck of faith, there was no ship of faith there! In short they say: If you get it, you can't lose it; and if you lose it you never had it. May God save us from accepting a doctrine, that must be defended by such fallacious reasoning!"
-John Wesley on Once Saved Always Saved