- 1 Scripture
- 1.1 I. Good Works in Sanctifying Grace are Necessary for Salvation
- 1.2 II. We are not Guaranteed Salvation; We Hope For Salvation
- 1.3 III. Predestination and the “Elect”
- 1.4 IV. Jesus’ Teaching on Losing Salvation
- 1.5 V. Other Apostolic Teaching on Losing Salvation by our Own Choice
- 1.6 VI. I Have Been Saved (past event)
- 1.7 VII. I Am Being Saved (present event)
- 1.8 VIII. I Will Be Saved (future event)
- 1.9 IX. I Save (by participating in Christ’s salvific work)
- 2 Tradition / Church Fathers
I. Good Works in Sanctifying Grace are Necessary for Salvation
Neh. 13:14, Psalm 11:7,28:4, Isa. 3:10, 59:18, Jer. 25:14, 50:29, Ezek. 9:10, 11:21, 36:19, Hos. 4:9, 9:15, 12:2, Sir. 16:12,14 – The 2,000 year-old Catholic position on salvation is that we are saved by Jesus Christ and Him alone (cf. Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:5). But by the grace of Christ, we achieve the salvation God desires for us through perseverance in both faith and works. Many Protestants, on the other hand, believe that one just has to accept Jesus as personal Lord and Savior to be saved, and good works are not necessary (they just flow from those already saved). But these verses, and many others, teach us that our performance of good works is necessary for our salvation. Scripture also does not teach that good works distinguish those who are eternally saved from those who are not saved.
Sir. 35:19; Luke 23:41; John 3:19-21, Rom. 8:13, 2 Tim 4:14, Titus 3:8,14, Rev. 22:12 – these verses also teach us that we all will be judged by God according to our deeds. There is no distinction between the “saved” and the “unsaved.”
1 Cor. 3:15 – if works are unnecessary for salvation as many Protestants believe, then why is a man saved (not just rewarded) through fire by a judgment of his works?
Matt. 7:1-3 – we are not judged just by faith, but actually how we judge others, and we get what we have given. Hence, we are judged according to how we responded to God’s grace during our lives.
Matt. 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13 – Jesus taught that we must endure to the very end to be saved. If this is true, then how can Protestants believe in the erroneous teaching of “Once saved, always saved?” If salvation occurred at a specific point in time when we accepted Jesus as personal Lord and Savior, there would be no need to endure to the end. We would already be saved.
Matt. 16:27 – Jesus says He will repay every man for what he has done (works).
Matt. 25:31-46 – Jesus’ teaching on the separation of the sheep from the goats is based on the works that were done during their lives, not just on their acceptance of Christ as Savior. In fact, this teaching even demonstrates that those who are ultimately saved do not necessarily have to know Christ. Also, we don’t accept Christ; He accepts us. God first makes the decision to accept us before we could ever accept Him.
Matt. 25:40,45 – Jesus says “Whatever you did to the least of my brothers, you did it to Me.” We are judged and our eternal destiny is determined in accordance with our works.
Mark 10:21 – Jesus says sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. This means that our salvation depends upon our works.
Luke 12:43-48 – these verses teach us that we must act according to the Lord’s will. We are judged based upon what we know and then do, not just upon what we know.
Luke 14:14 – Jesus says we are repaid for the works we have done at the resurrection of the just. Our works lead to salvation.
Luke 23:41 – some Protestants argue that Jesus gave salvation to the good thief even though the thief did not do any good works. However, the good thief did in fact do a good work, which was rebuking the bad thief when he and others were reviling Jesus. This was a “work” which justified the good thief before Jesus and gained His favor. Moreover, we don’t know if the good thief asked God for forgiveness, did works of penance and charity and was reconciled to God before he was crucified.
Rom. 2:6-10, 13 – God will judge every man according to his works. Our salvation depends on how we cooperate with God’s grace.
2 Cor. 5:10 – at the judgment Seat of Christ, we are judged according to what we have done in the body, not how much faith we had.
2 Cor. 9:6 – Paul says that he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully, in connection with God’s judgment.
2 Cor. 11:15 – our end will correspond to our deeds. Our works are necessary to both our justification and salvation.
Gal. 6:7-9 – whatever a man sows, he will reap. Paul warns the Galatians not to grow weary in doing good works, for in due season they will reap (the rewards of eternal life).
Eph. 6:8 – whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same again from the Lord.
Col. 3:24-25 – we will receive due payment according to what we have done. Even so, Catholics recognize that such payment is a free unmerited gift from God borne from His boundless mercy.
1 Tim. 6:18-19 – the rich are to be rich in good deeds so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed, that is, eternal life.
2 Tim. 4:14 – Alexander the coppersmith did Paul great harm, and Paul says the Lord will requite him for his deeds.
Heb. 6:10 – God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love which you showed for His sake. God rewards our works on earth and in heaven.
Heb. 12:14 – without holiness, no one will see the Lord. Holiness requires works of self-denial and charity, and does not come about simply by a profession of faith.
1 Peter 1:17 – God judges us impartially according to our deeds. We participate in applying the grace Jesus won for us at Calvary in our daily lives.
Rev. 2:5 – Jesus tells the Ephesians they have fallen from love they used to have, and orders them to do good works. He is not satisfied with their faith alone. They need to do more than accept Him as personal Lord and Savior.
Rev. 2:10 – Jesus tells the church in Smyrna to be faithful unto death, and He will give them the crown of life. This is the faith of obedience to His commandments.
Rev. 2:19 – Jesus judges the works of the Thyatirans, and despises their tolerance of Jezebel, calling them to repentance.
Rev. 2:23 – Jesus tells us He will give to each of us as our works deserve. He crowns His own gifts by rewarding our good works.
Rev. 2:26 – Jesus says he who conquers and keeps my works until the end will be rewarded in heaven. Jesus thus instructs us to keep his works to the very end. This is not necessary if we are “once saved, always saved.”
Rev. 3:2-5,8,15 – Jesus is judging our works from heaven, and these works bear upon our eternal salvation. If we conquer sin through faith and works, He will not blot our names out of the book of life. This means that works bear upon our salvation. Our “works” do not just deal with level of reward we will receive, but whether we will in fact be saved.
Rev. 3:15 – Jesus says, “I know your works, you are neither cold nor hot. Because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth.” Jesus is condemning indifferentism, which is often based on our works.
Rev. 14:13 – we are judged by the Lord by our works – “for their deeds follow them!” Our faith during our life is completed and judged by our works.
Rev. 20:12 – “the dead are judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done.”
Rev. 22:12 – Jesus says, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay everyone for what he has done.”
Sirach 16:12,14 – we are judged according to our deeds, and will receive in accordance with our deeds.
II. We are not Guaranteed Salvation; We Hope For Salvation
Heb. 7:27, 9:12,26;10:10; 1 Pet 3:18 – Jesus died once and redeemed us all, but we participate in the application of His redemption by the way in which we live.
Heb. 9:12 – Christ’s sacrifice secured our redemption, but redemption is not the same thing as salvation. We participate in and hope for salvation. Our hope in salvation is a guarantee if we are faithful to Christ to the end. But if we lose hope and fail to persevere, we can lose our salvation. Thus, by our own choosing (not by God’s doing), salvation is not a certainty. While many Protestant churches believe in the theology of “once saved, always saved,” such a novel theory is not found in Scripture and has never been taught by the Church.
Rom. 5:2 – we rejoice in the “hope” (not the presumptuous certainty) of sharing the glory of God. If salvation is absolutely assured after accepting Jesus as Savior, why would Paul hope?
Rom. 5:5 – this “hope” does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. Our hope is assured if we persevere to the end.
Rom. 8:24 – this “hope” of salvation that Paul writes about is unnecessary if salvation is guaranteed. If salvation is assured, then why hope?
Rom. 10:1 – Paul prays that the Jews “may be saved.” Why pray if it’s guaranteed? Further, why pray unless you can mediate?
Rom. 12:12 – rejoice in your “hope” (not your certainty), be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer.
2 Cor. 3:12 – since we have a “hope” (not a certainty), we are very bold. We can be bold when we are in God’s grace and our persevering in obedient faith.
Gal. 5:5 – for through the Spirit by faith we wait for the “hope” (not the certainty) of righteousness.
Eph. 1:18 – that you may know what is the “hope” to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance.
Eph. 4:4 – there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one “hope” (not the one certainty) that belongs to your call.
Eph. 6:10-17 – Paul instructs the Ephesians to take the whole armor of God, the breastplate of righteousness, and the helmet of salvation, in order “to stand,” lest they fall. Paul does not give any assurance that the spiritual battle is already won.
Phil. 3:11 – Paul shares Christ’s sufferings so that “if possible” he may attain resurrection. Paul does not view his own resurrection as a certainty.
Phil. 1:20 – as it is my eager expectation and “hope” (not certainty) that I shall not be at all ashamed before Christ.
Col. 1:5 – Paul refers to the “hope” (not guarantee) that Christ laid up for us in heaven.
Col. 1:23 – provided that you continue in the faith, not shifting from the “hope” of the gospel which you heard.
Col. 1:27 – to them God chose to make known His mystery, which is Christ in you, the “hope” (not the certainty) of His glory.
1 Thess. 1:3 – remembering before our God your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of “hope” in Jesus Christ.
1 Thess. 2:19 – for what is our “hope” or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you?
1 Thess. 5:8 – we must put on the helmet of “hope” (not of certainty) of salvation.
2 Thess. 2:16 – the Lord Jesus and God our Father who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good “hope” through grace.
1 Tim. 1:1 – Paul describes Christ Jesus as our “hope” (not our guarantee). We can reject Him and He will allow this.
1 Tim. 4:10 – Paul says we toil and strive because we have our “hope” (not our assurance) on the living God. This is not because God is unfaithful, but because we can be unfaithful. We toil and strive for our salvation.
1 Tim. 5:5 – she who is a real widow, and is left all alone, has set her “hope” (not her assurance) on God. Our hope is a guarantee only if we persevere to the end.
1 Tim. 5:15 – Paul writes that some have already strayed after satan, as God Himself tells us in 1 Tim. 4:1. They were on the right path, and then strayed off of it.
2 Tim. 2:10 – Paul endures for the elect so that they “may also obtain salvation.” This verse teaches us that even the “elect,” from the standpoint of human knowledge, have no guarantee of salvation.
Titus 1:2 – Paul says that he is in the “hope” (not the certainty) of eternal life. Paul knows that his hope is a guarantee if he perseveres, but his ability to choose sin over God makes his attainment of eternal life less than an absolute certainty until it is actually achieved.
Titus 2:13 – awaiting our blessed “hope,” the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
Titus 3:7 – Paul says we have been given the Spirit so we might become heirs in the “hope” (not the certainty) of eternal life.
Heb. 3:6 – we are Christ’s house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our “hope” (not our certainty).
Heb. 6:11 – we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of “hope” (not certainty) until the end.
Heb. 6:18 – we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to seize the “hope” (not the certainty) that is set before us.
Heb. 6:19 – we have a “hope” that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone before us.
Heb. 7:19 – on the other hand, a better “hope” (not certainty) is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
Heb. 10:23 – let us hold fast the confession of our “hope” without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.
Heb. 11:1 – now faith is the assurance of things “hoped” for (not guaranteed), the conviction of things not seen (heaven).
Heb. 12:1 – let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.
Heb. 12:15 – see to it that no one fail to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness spring up and cause trouble, and by it many become defiled.
James 1:12 – we must endure trial and withstand the test in order to receive the crown of life. It is not guaranteed.
1 Peter 1:3 – by His mercy we have been born anew to a living “hope” through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:13 – set your “hope” (not assurance) fully upon the grace that is coming to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:21 – through Him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead so that your faith and “hope” are in God.
1 Peter 2:2 – like newborn babes, long for spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation. How can you grow up to something you already possess?
1 Peter 3:15 – always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the “hope” that is in you.
1 John 3:3 – and everyone who thus “hopes” in Him purifies himself as He is pure. These verses teach us that we must cooperate with God’s grace and persevere to the end to be saved. We can and do have a moral certitude of salvation if we persevere in faith, hope and love.
III. Predestination and the “Elect”
Eph. 1:5 – Paul teaches that God “predestined” us in love to be His sons through Jesus Christ. “Predestination” means that God knows what we will do before we do it (it does not mean that God determines what we do; otherwise, we would have no freewill). Predestination is taken from the Greek word “prooridzo” which means to know or declare in advance by God’s foreknowledge. See, for example, 1 Peter 1:2 where Peter writes about the “elect according to the foreknowledge of God.” The terms “predestination” and “the elect” always refer to God’s knowledge (not human knowledge) because God is outside of time (and humans cannot predict the future). There are two types of “predestination,” to grace and to glory. In this verse, Paul is teaching about predestination to grace, which means becoming a Christian.
1 Pet. 1:1-2 – Paul teaches about being destined by God for obedience to Christ. This is another example of predestination to grace. But there is also predestination to glory.
Rom. 8:29-30 – Paul also writes that we are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son. Now Paul is writing about predestination to glory, which means not only becoming a faithful Christian during our lives, but persevering to the end by conforming our will to Christ’s will.
1 Cor. 15:49 – Paul writes that we are conformed in His image at the resurrection, when we shall bear the image of the man of heaven. These are the people who were predestined to glory.
Rev. 3:5 – Jesus warns that He can blot out the names that are in the book of life. This refers to those currently, not ultimately, justified (those who are predestined to grace, but not to glory).
Eph. 1:5; 1 Peter 1:2; Rom. 8:29-30; 1 Cor. 15:49 – therefore, predestination is either to grace (which we could lose) or to glory (which we cannot lose). As alluded to above, some non-Catholics confuse the definition of “predestination” (which means God knows what we will do before we do it) and “predetermination” (the erroneous belief that God determines what we will do). But God does not author evil. We choose evil by our own freewill.
Ezek. 18:23-24, 32 – God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Our death is our freewill, failing to respond to His grace. God does not predetermine certain people to hell. God also does not predetermine certain “elect” people to heaven. We all, as God’s children, have been given the grace we need to be saved, but we can decide to reject God’s grace.
2 Peter 3:9 – God is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. God wills all to be saved, but our salvation depends on our willingness to repent and receive God’s grace.
Matt. 18:14 – Jesus says it is not the will of the Father that any of the children should perish. But He did not make us robots and respects the freewill He has given us. If we did not have this freewill, we would not be able to love, and if we would not be able to love, we would not have been created in God’s image and likeness.
Acts 10:35, 45 – these texts show that non-Christians can also be saved if they fear God, even though they haven’t formally accepted Jesus as Savior at an altar call. They just do not have the fullness of the means of salvation.
1 Tim. 2:4 – God desires all men to be saved. But our freewill may choose to reject God’s grace. In order for our gift of freewill not to be a sham, God must also give us the freedom to reject Him.
2 Pet. 3:9 – the Lord doesn’t wish that any should perish, but come to full repentance.
James 1:13-14 – God tempts no one. Each person is tempted by his own desire. God gives us freewill to cooperate with Him or reject Him.
1 Cor. 10:13 – God permits temptation, but does not author temptation. God also provides us sufficient grace to overcome any temptation.
John 3:16-17 – God so loved the world He sent His Son, that the world might be saved (not that only the “elect” might be saved).
John 4:42 – Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world (not just the Savior of the elect). Some will perish by their own choosing.
Rom. 5:6,18 – Christ died for the ungodly (all of us), and His righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men (not just the elect).
2 Cor. 5:14-15 – Christ has died for all (not just the elect), that those who live might live for Him.
1 Tim. 2:6 – Jesus Christ gave Himself as a ransom for all (not just for the elect). But only those predestined to glory will be saved.
1 Tim. 4:10 – our hope is on the living God who is the Savior of all men (not just the elect).
Titus 2:11 – for the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men (not just the elect).
1 John 2:2 – Christ is the expiation for the sins of the whole world (not just the elect). But not all are predestined to glory because of their own choosing.
1 John 4:14 – again, Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world (not just the Savior of the elect).
Sir. 15:11-20 – salvation, a free gift, is ours to accept or reject. God’s sovereignty includes our freewill. Our fate is predestined, but not predetermined.
IV. Jesus’ Teaching on Losing Salvation
Matt. 7:18 – Jesus says that sound trees bear good fruit. But there is no guarantee that a sound tree will stay sound. It could go rotten.
Matt. 7:21 – all those who say “Lord, Lord” on the last day will not be saved. They are judged by their evil deeds.
Matt. 12:30-32 – Jesus says that he who is not with Him is against Him, therefore (the Greek for “therefore” is “dia toutos” which means “through this”) blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. This means that failing to persevere in Jesus’ grace to the end is the unforgivable sin against the Spirit. We must persevere in faith to the end of our lives.
Matt. 22:14 – Jesus says many are called but few are chosen. This man, who was destined to grace, was at God’s banquet, but was cast out.
Luke 8:13 – Jesus teaches that some people receive the word with joy, but they have no root, believe for a while, and then fall away in temptation. They had the faith but they lost it.
Luke 12:42-46 – we can start out as a faithful and wise steward, then fall away and be assigned to a place with the unfaithful.
Luke 15:11-32 – in the parable of the prodigal son, we learn that we can be genuine sons of the Father, then leave home and die, then return and be described as “alive again.”
John 6:70-71 – Jesus chose or elected twelve, yet one of them, Judas, fell. Not all those predestined to grace persevere to the end.
John 15:1-10 – we can be in Jesus (a branch on the vine), and then if we don’t bear fruit, are cut off, wither up and die. Paul makes this absolutely clear in Rom. 11:20-23.
John 17:12 – we can be given to Jesus by the Father (predestined to grace) and yet not stay with Jesus, like Judas.
John 6:37 – those who continue to come to Jesus He won’t cast out. But it’s a continuous, ongoing action. We can leave Jesus and He will allow this because He respects our freewill.
John 6:39 – Jesus will not lose those the Father gives Him, but we can fall away, like Judas. God allows us not to persevere.
John 6:40 – everyone who sees the Son and believes means the person “continues” to believe. By continuing to believe, the person will persevere and will be raised up. Belief also includes obedience, which is more than an intellectual belief in God.
John 6:44 – Jesus says no one can come to me unless the Father “draws” him. This “drawing” is an ongoing process.
John 10:27-28 – when Jesus says, “no one shall snatch them out of my hands,” He does not mean we can’t leave His hands. We can choose to walk away from Him.
Rev. 2:4-5 – Jesus tells the Ephesians that they abandoned the love they had at first and have fallen. Jesus warns them to repent and do the works they did at first, otherwise He will remove their lampstand (their awaited place in heaven).
Rev. 3:4 – in Sardis, Jesus explained that some people received the white garment and soiled it with sin.
Rev. 3:5 – Jesus says whoever conquers will not be blotted out of the book of life (see Exodus 32:33). This means that we can be blotted out of the book of life. We can have salvation, and then lose salvation by our choice.
Rev. 3:11 – Jesus says to hold fast to what we have, so that no one may seize our crown. Jesus teaches us that we can have the crown of salvation and lose it.
Rev. 13:10; 14:12 – we are called from heaven for the endurance and faith of the saints, keeping the commandments and faith.
Rev. 21:7 – we must conquer in order to share in our heritage and become a true son of Jesus.
Rev. 22:19 – we can have a share in the tree of life in God’s holy city and yet have that share taken away from us.
V. Other Apostolic Teaching on Losing Salvation by our Own Choice
Acts 7:51 – you stiff-necked people, you always resist the Holy Spirit. We, by our own freewill, can resist God and His grace, and turn away from Him.
Rom. 11:20-23 – in expounding on Jesus’ teaching in John 15, Paul teaches that the Jews (the natural branches) were broken off by lack of faith (v.20), but says that the Romans stand fast through faith (v. 21). So the Romans are justified. However, Paul then says that the Romans can also be cut off if they don’t persevere in faith and kindness (v. 22-23). Hence, those justified before God can fall away from the faith and lose their salvation (be “cut off”). Paul also says that those who are cut off can be grafted back in if they do not persist in their unbelief, for God has the power to graft them in again (v.23). These verses are devastating to the “once saved, always saved” position.
1 Cor. 9:24-27 – Paul says that all the runners compete, but only one wins the prize. Paul recognizes that if he doesn’t train himself properly in perseverance, he too can become “disqualified.” The word “disqualified” comes from the Greek word “adokimos” which literally means cut off from Christ, or reprobate. When “adokimos” is used in the Scriptures, it always refers to those who are to be condemned by God. It has nothing to do with going to heaven with less rewards. See, for example, Rom. 1:28; Titus 1:16; 2 Tim. 3:8; Heb. 6:8; 2 Cor. 13:5-7. This proves that Saint Paul thought he could lose his salvation. No one would reasonably argue that Paul wasn’t “saved” when he wrote the Scriptures. So if Saint Paul thought that he could lose his salvation, why do many Protestants think that they cannot lose theirs?
1 Cor. 9:24 – Paul says that only one wins the “prize” (brabeion). To further prove that the race Paul is writing about refers to our journey to heaven, “brabeion” always has a soteriological implication. See, for example, Phil. 3:14 where “prize” refers to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus (which is heaven).
1 Cor. 9:25 – Paul writes about achieving the “imperishable” (aphthartos) wreath. Again, to further prove Paul is writing about salvation, “aphthartos” always refers to the eternal. See, for example, 1 Cor. 15:51 (the only other place in NT Scripture where “aphthartos” appears relative to humans) where Paul says the dead will be raised “imperishable.” This refers to the resurrection of our salvation. See also 1 Tim. 1:17 where the King of ages is called “immortal” (imperishable).
Rom. 13:11 – for salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. If we already have salvation, then how can we only be nearer to it?
1 Cor. 4:4 – Paul says he is not aware of anything against himself, but he is still not acquitted. Paul is not presumptuous about his salvation. Only the Lord is our Judge.
1 Cor. 6:9-11 – we can be washed, sanctified, and justified, yet Paul still warns us that we can be deceived and become unrighteous.
1 Cor. 10:6-13 – the passage is about how the Israelites, once justified before God, fell away from God. Therefore, let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall (v.12). You can be standing in God’s grace, and then fall away. But God will always provide enough grace to overcome the temptation (v.13).
1 Cor. 15:1-2 – we can be believers (predestined to grace) but believe in vain. Scripture refutes the novel Protestant theory “once saved, always saved.”
2 Cor. 6:1 – we can receive the grace of God (predestined to grace) in vain. We can choose not to cooperate with His grace.
2 Cor. 11:2-3 – Paul writes, “I betrothed you to Christ, but I am afraid that your thoughts will be led astray from a devotion to Christ.” The Corinthians already had a sincere devotion to Christ, for Paul wrote to them earlier in the letter, “you stand firm in your faith.” (2 Cor. 1:24). They are already “saved.” But Paul warns them that they can fall away just like Eve fell away (and, remember, Eve was created without sin!) This is another verse that is devastating to the belief of “once saved, always saved.”
Gal. 1:8-9 – Paul says, “if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel to that which we preached to you…let him be accursed.” Paul says “if we,” which means he believed even the sacred writers (currently “saved”) could fall away from the true faith and teach a heretical gospel.
Gal. 4:9 – Paul asks those who know God how they can now turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits, whose slaves they once were. Paul acknowledges and warns of this possibility.
Gal. 5:1 – Paul writes that the Galatians are free in Christ, but warns them to stand fast, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. You cannot be severed from Christ if you were never connected to Christ. This warning applies to those who are connected to Christ in faith.
Gal. 5:4 – Paul teaches that we can be in Christ, then be severed from Him and fall away from God’s grace. You cannot be severed from something unless you were previously connected to it.
Phil. 2:12 – we cannot assume salvation. We need to work it out to the end with fear and trembling. If “once saved, always saved” were true, why would the great apostle Paul have to work his salvation out in fear and trembling? What is there to fear if salvation is assured?
Phil. 3:11-14 – Paul writes that “if possible,” he may attain the resurrection, says he is not perfect, and presses on toward the prize of salvation. Paul has no presumption of salvation but works it out in fear and trembling.
Col. 1:21-23 – we have now been reconciled in His body to be presented holy and blameless, provided we continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which we heard. Paul warns them that it is possible to turn away and lose hope in the gospel.
Col. 2:18-19 – a man puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind has lost the connection with Jesus. He had the connection and lost it.
1 Tim. 1:5-6 – some people have wandered away from a sincere faith, a pure heart and a good conscience. They had a sincere (not a fake) faith, and still fell away.
1 Tim. 1:19-20 – Paul tells Timothy to hold fast to the faith, and not shipwreck it like Alexander and Hymenaeus. They had it, and then they lost it.
1 Tim. 4:1 – the Spirit “expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” God Himself is telling us that some people who had the faith will lose the faith.
1 Tim. 5:8 – if we do not provide for our relatives, we have disowned the faith (we had the faith, and we lost it).
1 Tim. 5:15 – Paul says that some have already turned away and gone after Satan. There is never any distinction between falling away from a true faith versus a false faith.
1 Tim. 6:10 – for the love of riches we may wander from the faith (we had the faith, and we can lose the faith).
Heb. 2:1 – we must pay closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. We have it, but we can drift away from it.
Heb. 3:12 – the author warns the Hebrews to take care, lest there be in any one of you an evil heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. We can be with God, and choose to fall away from Him.
Heb. 3:13-14 – the author warns the Hebrews that they need to exhort one another every day, so that none of them may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. Paul teaches that we share in Christ, but only if we hold our first confidence firm to the end.
Heb. 4:1 – while the promise of entering his rest remains, let us fear lest any of you be judged to have failed to reach it. There would be nothing to fear if salvation were assured.
Heb. 4:6,11 – we can receive the good news (predestined to grace) and then disobey it and fall away. The author thus exhorts us to strive to enter that rest, that no one falls by the same sort of disobedience.
Heb. 6:4-6 – those who have been enlightened and partakers of the Holy Spirit (predestined to grace) can fall away, commit apostasy and crucify the Son of God.
Heb. 10:23-29 – we can sin deliberately after receiving knowledge of the truth (predestined to grace) and then face a fury of fire.
Heb. 10:26 – if we continue to sin after knowing truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin – our salvation is jeopardized.
Heb. 10:35 – we can have confidence in salvation (predestined to grace), and then throw it away. We can have it, and lose it.
Heb. 10:36: – we have the need of endurance, so that we may do the will of God and receive what is promised. There is no need for endurance to get what is promised if salvation is assured.
Heb. 10:38-39 – the author says that the righteous live by faith, but can shrink back. He then exhorts the people not to shrink back and be destroyed, but to keep their souls.
James 5:19-20 – we can be in the truth, and then wander from the truth which means death, unless we are brought back.
1 Peter 1:14 – Peter warns that, as obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance. Thus, you can first be ignorant, then receive the truth and become obedient, and later revert back to the passions of your former ignorance.
2 Peter 2:1 – we can be bought by Christ, and then become false teachers of destructive heresies and destroy ourselves.
2 Peter 1:10 – we must be zealous to confirm our call and election; for if we do this we will never fall. But Peter is saying that it is possible to fall, without zeal and perseverance.
2 Peter 2:15 – forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing. They had the right way, and then chose to forsake it.
2 Peter 2:20-22 – we can escape the defilements of the world through Jesus (predestined to grace) and then become entangled again therein.
2 Peter 3:16-17 – we can be the beloved of God and then lose our stability and carried away with the error of lawless men.
1 John 1:7 – if we walk in the light, the blood of Jesus cleanses us. But we need continual cleansing, and can walk out of the light.
1 John 1:9 – if we confess our sins, Jesus will forgive them and cleanse us. But we need continual cleansing. Growing in holiness is a lifelong process.
1 John 2:19 – “they left, but didn’t not belong to us” refers to those who were Christians who did not persevere and were thus not predestined to glory.
1 John 2:28 – we must abide in Him so we have confidence and don’t shrink in shame. If we fail to abide, we are lost.
2 John 8 – look to yourselves, that you may not lose what you have worked for. You can lose the grace you currently have.
Jude 6 – even some of the angels, who beheld the face of God, fell. How much more could we fall?
Gen. 3:6 – Adam and Eve, who were already living the divine life of supernatural grace, fell away from God. Is falling more possible for us?
Ezek. 3:20; 18:24; 33:12,13,18 – the Lord clearly teaches us in these verses that a righteous man can turn away from his righteousness and commit iniquity. He was righteous (there is nothing about having phony righteousness), but he fell away and chose unrighteousness. When he does, his prior good deeds shall be forgotten, and he shall die.
SOME VERSES PROTESTANTS USE TO PROVE “ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED”
2 Tim. 4:8 – Protestants often use this verse to prove “once saved, always saved,” even in the face of all Paul wrote about the possibility of losing his salvation (including his). But it is only at end of Saint Paul’s life that he has a moral certitude of salvation. This is after a lifetime of perseverance. As faithful believers in Christ, we indeed have a moral certitude of our salvation, but this is different from being certain of our salvation. We must persevere throughout our lives, and can choose to fall away.
Also, Catholics have more assurance of salvation that those who espouse “once saved, always saved.” This is because the only distinction between a true Christian and a superficial Christian is that the superficial Christian will not persevere to the end – but this is something a Christian cannot know during his life, and this necessarily imposes uncertainty upon him until the end. For Catholics, we know that salvation is ours to lose. For “once saved, always saved” Protestants, they don’t even know whether it is theirs to begin with.
Rom. 11:29 – “the gifts and the call of our God our irrevocable.” Some Protestants use this to prove “once saved, always saved.” But this verse has nothing to do with our response to salvation. It deals with God’s unmerited gifts and call to us. Moreover, if a person is in “the elect,” then his salvation is irrevocable. But we can never know if we are in the elect during our lives (“the elect” only deals with God’s knowledge).
Rom. 14:4 – and he will be upheld, for the Master is able to make him stand. This is another verse Protestants use to prove “once saved, always saved.” But the verse speaks only to what God is able to do. It does not address what the person is free to do (accept God’s grace or reject it).
Phil. 1:6 – “I am sure that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Protestants also use this verse to prove “once saved, always saved.” But Protestants wouldn’t argue that the whole Philippi church was saved, so this statement must be qualified. In fact, Paul does qualify it in Phil. 2:13 when he warns them to work out their salvation “in fear and trembling,” and in Phil. 3:11-14 when he writes that “if possible,” he may obtain the resurrection, and that he has not yet received the prize (of salvation). Moreover, the verse tells us what God will do (He will give all the grace to bring us to completion), but says nothing about our cooperation with God’s grace.
Phil. 4:3 – some Protestants point to this verse about names which are in the book of life. Indeed, because God knows the future, He knows who will persevere (the elect). These are the people whose names are in the book of life. But Jesus in Rev. 3:5 warns us that He can blot our names out of the book of life if we fail to persevere.
Col. 3:23-24 – “work heartily as serving the Lord, not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward.” This is another verse used to prove “once saved, always saved.” But the verse says our inheritance depends on “working heartily.” It’s not just a matter of accepting Christ as Savior, but working heartily in perseverance. If we persevere, then we will indeed receive the inheritance as our reward.
2 Tim. 1:12 – “But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.” Another verse proving “once saved, always saved?” Of course not. Paul is writing about the Revelation of faith with which God has entrusted him, and specifically that God will preserve his ability to teach the faith until the end of his life (see v. 13 where Paul then exhorts Timothy to safeguard this deposit of faith as well).
2 Tim. 4:18 – “the Lord will rescue me from every evil and save me for his heavenly kingdom.” Again, this verse demonstrates God’s faithfulness to us, but God’s ability to save us also depends upon our cooperation. God preserves His elect, but only He knows who are His elect by His foreknowledge.
1 Peter 1:3-5 – Peter says we are born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and to an inheritance which is imperishable, who by God’s power are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. No Protestant, however, would argue that all of northern Asia Minor (to whom the letter was addressed) was saved. The verse simply sets forth the tautology that God’s elect are saved (by God’s grace and the elect’s perseverance), but only God knows who are His elect.
1 John 5:18 – John writes that anyone born of God does not sin (this, of course, doesn’t say or prove anything about salvation). This is an example of proverbial literature which John uses frequently. For example, see 1 John 1:8 – if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. Proverbial literature tries to make a point by using an absolute, even though the absolute is necessarily qualified (here, as seen by 1 John 1:8 which seemingly contradicts 1 John 5:18).
Psalm 37:28 – “For the Lord loves justice; He will not forsake His saints. The righteous shall be preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.” Again, this verse shows that God will give the graces necessary for the elect to persevere. Thus, they will be preserved. But the verse says nothing about how we can ever know who is among God’s elect.
Psalm 121:3,7-8 – “He will not let your foot be moved, He who keeps you will not slumber. The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever more.” This is another example of proverbial literature about how God will preserve His elect. But this also depends upon human cooperation. The verse is about how faithful God will be, not how faithful we will be.
Jer. 32:40 – God will make them an everlasting covenant, that He will not turn away from doing good to them; and He will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. This is another verse which describes the faithfulness of God and how He, through His grace, causes the elect to persevere to the end. But there are never any teachings in Scripture about how we know whether we are part of God’s elect.
VI. I Have Been Saved (past event)
Rom. 8:24 – for in this hope we were saved (but, again, why “hope” if salvation is a certainty?)
Eph. 2:5,8 – for by grace you have been saved through faith.
2 Tim. 1:9 – He saved us and called us through grace and not by virtue of our own works outside of His grace.
Titus 3:5 – He saved us in virtue of His own mercy, and not by our deeds.
VII. I Am Being Saved (present event)
1 Cor. 1:18 – for the word of the cross is folly to those perishing, but for to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. Salvation is not a one-time event. It is a process of perseverance through faith, hope and love.
2 Cor. 2:15 – for we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved. Salvation is a continual process.
Phil. 2:12 – we are working out our salvation through fear and trembling. Salvation is an ongoing process.
1 Peter 1:9 – you obtain the salvation of your souls as the outcome of your faith. Working out our salvation in fear and trembling is a lifelong process.
VIII. I Will Be Saved (future event)
Matt. 10:22, 24:13; Mark 13:13 – again, Jesus taught that we must endure to the very end to be saved. Salvation is a past, present and future event (not a one-time event at an altar call).
Mark 16:16 – Jesus says whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.
Acts 15:11 – we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus.
Rom. 5:9-10 – since we are justified by His blood, we shall be saved.
Rom. 13:11 – salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. How can we be only nearer to something we already have?
1 Cor. 3:15 – he will be saved, but only as through fire.
1 Cor. 5:5 – Paul commands the Church to deliver a man to satan, that he will be saved in the day of the Lord.
2 Tim. 2:11-12 – if we endure, we shall also reign with Him. This requires endurance until the end of our lives.
Heb. 9:28 – Jesus will appear a second time to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him.
James 5:15 – the sacrament of the sick will save the sick man and the Lord will raise him up.
IX. I Save (by participating in Christ’s salvific work)
Rom. 11:13-14 – I magnify my ministry to make the Jews jealous and thus save some of them. Paul says that he is the one doing the saving, but he really means that he participates in Christ’s work of salvation.
1 Cor. 7:16 – Paul indicates that a wife can save her husband and vice versa. We are lesser mediators in Christ’s salvific work.
1 Cor. 9:22 – Paul says he has become all things to men that he might save some. Only God saves, but His children participate in their salvation.
1 Tim. 4:16 – you will save both yourself and your hearers. Christ is the only Savior, but He wants us to participate, for we are members of His body.
James 5:20 – whoever brings back a sinner will save his soul from death. We are saviors in the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude 22-23 – we are instructed to save some people, by snatching them out of the fire. We participate in our salvation and in the salvation of others.
Prov. 16:6 – by love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for. We can participate in Christ’s atonement through our love and faith.
Tradition / Church Fathers
I. We are Saved by Faith and Works, and Not Faith Alone
“Seeing, therefore, that we are the portion of the Holy One, let us do all those things which pertain to holiness, avoiding all evil-speaking, all abominable and impure embraces, together with all drunkenness, seeking after change, all abominable lusts, detestable adultery, and execrable pride. ‘For God,’ saith [the Scripture], ‘resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble.’ Let us cleave, then, to those to whom grace has been given by God. Let us clothe ourselves with concord and humility, ever exercising self-control, standing far off from all whispering and evil-speaking, being justified by our works, and not our words.” Clement of Rome, Epistle to the Corinthians, 30 (A.D. 98).
“For what reason was our father Abraham blessed? Was it not because he wrought righteousness and truth through faith?” Clement of Rome, Epistle to the Corinthians, 31 (A.D. 98).
“All these, therefore, were highly honoured, and made great, not for their own sake, or for their own works, or for the righteousness which they wrought, but through the operation of His will. And we, too, being called by His will in Christ Jesus, are not justified by ourselves, nor by our own wisdom, or understanding, or godliness, or works which we have wrought in holiness of heart; but by that faith through which, from the beginning, Almighty God has justified all men; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Clement of Rome, Epistle to the Corinthians, 32 (A.D. 98).
“Now I beseech thee, by the grace with which thou art clothed, to add [speed] to thy course, and that thou ever pray for all men that they may be saved, and that thou demand things which are befitting, with all assiduity both of the flesh and spirit. Be studious of unity, than which nothing is more precious. Bear with all men, even as our Lord beareth with thee. Show patience with all men in love, as [indeed] thou doest. Be steadfast in prayer. Ask for more understanding than that which thou [already] hast. Be watchful, as possessing a spirit which sleepeth not. Speak with every man according to the will of God. Bear the infirmities of all men as a perfect athlete; for where the labour is great, the gain is also great.” Ignatius of Antioch, To Polycarp, 1 (A.D. 110).
“Look ye to the bishop, that God also may look upon you. I will be instead of the souls of those who are subject to the bishop, and the presbyters, and the deacons; with them may I have a portion in the presence of God! Labour together with one another, act as athletes together, run together, suffer together, sleep together, rise together. As stewards of God, and of His household, and His servants, please Him and serve Him, that ye may receive from Him the wages promised. Let none of you be rebellious. Let your baptism be to you as armour, and faith as a spear, and love as a helmet, and patience as a panoply. Let your treasures be your good works, that ye may receive the gift of God, as is just. Let your spirit be long-suffering towards each other with meekness, even as God is toward you. As for me, I rejoice in you at all times.” Ignatius of Antioch, To Polycarp, 6 (A.D. 110).
“For he who keepeth these shall be glorified in the kingdom of God; but he who chooseth other things shall be destroyed with his works.” Epistle of Barnabas, 2 (A.D. 132).
“But He who raised Him up from the dead will raise up us also, if we do His will, and walk in His commandments, and love what He loved, keeping ourselves from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, falsewitness; ‘not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing,’ or blow for blow, or cursing for cursing, but being mindful of what the Lord said in His teaching: ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged; forgive, and it shall be forgiven unto you; be merciful, that ye may obtain mercy; with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again; and once more, “Blessed are the poor, and those that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of God.'” Polycarp, To the Philippians, 2 (A.D. 135).
“They only who fear the Lord and keep His commandments have life with God; but as to those who keep not His commandments, there is no life in them.” Shepherd of Hermas, 2 Comm 7 (A.D. 155).
“But those who do not keep his commandments, flee from his life, and despise him. But he has his own honour with the Lord. All, therefore, who shall despise him, and not follow his commands, deliver themselves to death, and every one of them will be guilty of his own blood. But I enjoin you, that you obey his commands, and you will have a cure for your former sins.” Shepherd of Hermas, 3 Sim 10:2 (A.D. 155).
“We have learned from the prophets, and we hold it to be true, that punishments, and chastisements, and good rewards, are rendered according to the merit of each man’s actions. Since if it be not so, but all things happen by fate, neither is anything at all in our own power…But this we assert is inevitable fate, that they who choose the good have worthy rewards, and they who choose the opposite have their merited awards. For not like other things, as trees and quadrupeds, which cannot act by choice, did God make man: for neither would he be worthy of reward or praise did he not of himself choose the good, but were created for this end; nor, if he were evil, would he be worthy of punishment, not being evil of himself, but being able to be nothing else than what he was made.” Justin Martyr, First Apology, 6 (A.D. 155).
“On this account also Paul the Apostle says to the Corinthians, ‘Know ye not, that they who run in a racecourse, do all indeed run, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. Every one also who engages in the contest is temperate in all things: now these men that they may obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible. But I so run, not as uncertainty; I fight, not as One beating the air; but I make my body livid, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means, when preaching to others, I may myself be rendered a castaway.’ This able wrestler, therefore, exhorts us to the struggle for immortality, that we may be crowned, and may deem the crown precious, namely, that which is acquired by our struggle, but which does not encircle us of its own accord (sed non ultro coalitam).” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4:7 (A.D. 180).
“But do you also, if you please, give reverential attention to the prophetic Scriptures, and they will make your way plainer for escaping the eternal punishments, and obtaining the eternal prizes of God. For He who gave the mouth for speech, and formed the ear to hear, and made the eye to see, will examine all things, and will judge righteous judgment, rendering merited awards to each. To those who by patient continuance in well-doing seek immortality, He will give life everlasting, joy, peace, rest, and abundance of good things, which neither hath eye seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive. But to the unbelieving and despisers, who obey not the truth, but are obedient to unrighteousness, when they shall have been filled with adulteries and fornications, and filthiness, and covetousness, and unlawful idolatries, there shall be anger and wrath, tribulation and anguish, and at the last everlasting fire shall possess such men. Since you said, “Show me thy God,” this is my God, and I counsel you to fear Him and to trust Him.” Theophilius of Antioch, To Autolycus, I:14 (A.D. 181).
“‘And other sheep there are also,’ saith the Lord, ‘which are not of this fold ‘–deemed worthy of another fold and mansion, in proportion to their faith. ‘But My sheep hear My voice,’ understanding gnostically the commandments. And this is to be taken in a magnanimous and worthy acceptation, along with also the recompense and accompaniment of works. So that when we hear, ‘Thy faith hath saved thee, we do not understand Him to say absolutely that those who have believed in any way whatever shall be saved, unless also works follow. But it was to the Jews alone that He spoke this utterance, who kept the law and lived blamelessly, who wanted only faith in the Lord. No one, then, can be a believer and at the same time be licentious; but though he quit the flesh, he must put off the passions, so as to be capable of reaching his own mansion.” Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, 6:14 (A.D. 202).
“[T]hus by the grace of the Saviour healing their souls, enlightening them and leading them to the attainment of the truth; and whosoever obtains this and distinguishes himself in good works shall gain the prize of everlasting life… But others rightly and adequately comprehend this, but attaching slight importance to the works which tend to salvation, do not make the requisite preparation for attaining to the objects of their hope.” Clement of Alexandria, Who is the rich man that shall be saved?, 1,2 (A.D. 210).
“[T]he apostolic teaching is that the soul, having a substance and life of its own, shall, after its departure from the world, be rewarded according to its deserts, being destined to obtain either an inheritance of eternal life and blessedness, if its actions shall have procured this for it, or to be delivered up to eternal fire and punishments, if the guilt of its crimes shall have brought it down to this.” Origen, First Principles, Preface 5 (A.D. 230).
“Whoever dies in his sins, even if he profess to believe in Christ, does not truly believe in Him, and even if that which exists without works be called faith, such faith is dead in itself, as we read in the Epistle bearing the name of James.” Origen, Commentary on John, 19:6 (A.D. 232).
“And in like manner, the Gentiles by faith in Christ prepare for themselves eternal life through good works.” Hippolytus, Commentary on Proverbs (ante A.D. 235).
“He, in administering the righteous judgment of the Father to all, assigns to each what is righteous according to his works….the justification will be seen in the awarding to each that which is just; since to those who have done well shall be assigned righteously eternal bliss, and to the lovers of iniquity shall be given eternal punishment. And the fire which is un-quenchable and without end awaits these latter, and a certain fiery worm which dieth not…But the righteous will remember only the righteous deeds by which they reached the heavenly kingdom, in which there is neither sleep, nor pain, nor corruption” Hippolytus, Against Plato, 3 (ante A.D. 235).
“For both to prophesy and to cast out devils, and to do great acts upon the earth is certainly a sublime and an admirable thing; but one does not attain the kingdom of heaven although he is found in all these things, unless he walks in the observance of the right and just way. The Lord denounces, and says, ‘Many shall say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.’ There is need of righteousness, that one may deserve well of God the Judge; we must obey His precepts and warnings, that our merits may receive their reward.” Cyprian, On the Unity of the Church, 16 (A.D. 251).
“You must pray more eagerly and entreat; you must spend the day in grief; wear out nights in watchings and weepings; occupy all your time in wailful lamentations; lying stretched on the ground, you must cling close to the ashes, be surrounded with sackcloth and filth; after losing the raiment of Christ, you must be willing now to have no clothing; after the devil’s meat, you must prefer fasting; be earnest in righteous works, whereby sins may be purged; frequently apply yourself to almsgiving, whereby souls are freed from death. What the adversary took from you, let Christ receive; nor ought your estate now either to be held or loved, by which you have been both deceived and conquered. Wealth must be avoided as an enemy; must be fled from as a robber; must be dreaded by its possessors as a sword and as poison. To this end only so much as remains should be of service, that by it the crime and the fault may be redeemed. Let good works be done without delay, and largely; let all your estate be laid out for the healing of your wound; let us lend of our wealth and our means to the Lord, who shall judge concerning us. Thus faith flourished in the time of the apostles; thus the first people of believers kept Christ’s commands: they were prompt, they were liberal, they gave their all to be distributed by the apostles; and yet they were not redeeming sins of such a character as these.” Cyprian, On the Lapsed, 35 (A.D. 251).
“You therefore, who are rich and wealthy, buy for yourself of Christ gold tried by fire; that you may be pure gold, with your filth burnt out as if by fire, if you are purged by almsgiving and righteous works. Buy for yourself white raiment, that you who had been naked according to Adam, and were before frightful and unseemly, may be clothed with the white garment of Christ. And you who are a wealthy and rich matron in Christ’s Church, anoint your eyes, not with the collyrium of the devil, but with Christ’s eye-salve, that you may be able to attain to see God, by deserving well of God, both by good works and character.” Cyprian, Works and Almsgiving, 14 (A.D. 252).
“For this reason He has given us this present life, that we may either lose that true and eternal life by our vices, or win it by virtue.” Lactantius, Divine Institutes, 7:5 (A.D. 310).
“But our faith thus teaches, that when men fall asleep, they sleep this slumber without knowing good from evil. And the righteous look not forward to their promises, nor do the wicked look forward to their sentence of punishment, until the Judge come and separate those whose place is at His right hand from those whose place is at His left. And be thou instructed by that which is written, that when the Judge shall sit, and the books be opened before Him and the good and evil deeds recited, then they that have wrought good works shall receive good rewards from Him Who is good; and they that have done evil deeds shall receive evil penalties from the just Judge… But hear, my beloved, this proof that retribution shall take place at the end. For when the Shepherd divides His flock and sets some on His right hand and some on His left. until He shall have acknowledged the service of the good, then He will cause them to inherit the kingdom; and until He shall have rebuked the evil and they are condemned, then He will send them to the torment.” Aphrahat, Select Demonstrations, 8:21 (A.D. 345).
“Terrible in good truth is the judgment, and terrible the things announced. The kingdom of heaven is set before us, and everlasting fire is prepared. How then, some one will say, are we to escape the fire? And how to enter into the kingdom? I was an hungered, He says, and ye gave Me meat. Learn hence the way; there is here no need of allegory, but to fulfil what is said. I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took Me in; naked, and ye clothed Me; I was sick, and ye visited Me; I was in prison, and ye came unto Me. These things if thou do, thou shall reign together with Him; but if thou do them not, thou shalt be condemned. At once then begin to do these works, and abide in the faith; lest, like the foolish virgins, tarrying to buy oil, thou be shut out.” Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 15:26 (A.D. 350).
“We shall be raised therefore, all with our bodies eternal, but not all with bodies alike: for if a man is righteous, he will receive a heavenly body, that he may be able worthily to hold converse with Angels; but if a man is a sinner, he shall receive an eternal body, fitted to endure the penalties of sins, that he may burn eternally in fire, nor ever be consumed. And righteously will God assign this portion to either company; for we do nothing without the body. We blaspheme with the mouth, and with the mouth we pray. With the body we commit fornication, and with the body we keep chastity. With the hand we rob, and by the hand we bestow alms; and the rest in like manner. Since then the body has been our minister in all things, it shall also share with us in the future the fruits of the past. Therefore, brethren, let us be careful of our bodies, nor misuse them as though not our own. Let us not say like the heretics, that this vesture of the body belongs not to us, but let us be careful of it as our own; for we must give account to the Lord of all things done through the body.” Cyril of Jerusalem,Catechetical Lectures, 18:19,20 (A.D. 350).
“Say not, none seeth me; think not, that there is no witness of the deed. Human witness oftentimes there is not; but He who fashioned us, an unerring witness, abides faithful in heaven, and beholds what thou doest. And the stains of sin also remain in the body; for as when a wound has gone deep into the body, even if there has been a healing, the scar remains, so sin wounds soul and body, and the marks of its scars remain in all; and they are removed only from those who receive the washing of Baptism. The past wounds therefore of soul and body God heals by Baptism; against future ones let us one and all jointly guard ourselves, that we may keep this vestment of the body pure, and may not for practicing fornication and sensual indulgence or any other sin for a short season, lose the salvation of heaven, but may inherit the eternal kingdom of God; of which may God, of His own grace, deem all of you worthy.” Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, 18:19,20 (A.D. 350).
“For it is not productive of virtue, nor is it any token of goodness. For none of us is judged for what he knows not, and no one is called blessed because he hath learning and knowledge. But each one will be called to judgment in these points–whether he have kept the faith and truly observed the commandments.” Athanasius, Life of Antony, 33 (A.D. 362).
“‘O Lord, my heart is not exalted, neither have mine eyes been lifted up.’ This Psalm, a short one, which demands an analytical rather than a homiletical treatment, teaches us the lesson of humility and meekness. Now, as we have in a great number of other places spoken about humility, there is no need to repeat the same things here. Of course we are bound to bear in mind in how great need our faith stands of humility when we hear the Prophet thus speaking of it as equivalent to the performance of the highest works: O Lord, my heart is not exalted. For a troubled heart is the noblest sacrifice in the eyes of God. The heart, therefore, must not be lifted up by prosperity, but humbly kept within the bounds of meekness through the fear of God.” Hilary of Poitiers, Commentary on the Psalms, 130/131:1 (A.D. 365).
“Now we have a woven work, when faith and action go together. Let none suppose me to be misguided, in that I made at first a threefold division, each part containing four, and afterwards a fourfold division, each part containing three terms. The beauty of a good thing pleases the more, if it be shown under various aspects. For those are good things, whereof the texture of the priestly robe was the token, that is to say, either the Law, or the Church, which latter hath made two garments for her spouse, as it is written’–the one of action, the other of spirit, weaving together the threads of faith and works…. Faith is profitable, therefore, when her brow is bright with a fair crown of good works. This faith–that I may set the matter forth shortly–is contained in the following principles, which cannot be overthrown.” Ambrose, On the Christian Faith, II:11, 13 (A.D. 380).
“Then, in the tenth place, work that which is good upon this foundation of dogma; for faith without works is dead, even as are works apart from faith. This is all that may be divulged of the Sacrament, and that is not forbidden to the ear of the many. The rest yon shall learn within the Church by the grace of the Holy Trinity; and those matters you shall conceal within yourself, sealed and secure.” Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration on Holy Baptism, 45 (A.D. 381).
“Innocence, then, and knowledge make a man blessed. We have also noted already that the blessedness of eternal life is the reward for good works…Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.’ And again: ‘He that will come after Me, let him take up his cross and follow Me.'” Ambrose, Duties of the Clergy, 3:9 (c. A.D. 391).
“‘Is it then enough,’ saith one,’ to believe on the Son, that one may have eternal life?’ By no means. And hear Christ Himself declaring this, and saying, “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. vii. 21); and the blasphemy against the Spirit is enough of itself to cast a man into hell. But why speak I of a portion of doctrine? Though a man believe rightly on the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, yet if he lead not a right life, his faith will avail nothing towards his salvation.” John Chrysostom, Homilies on John, 31:1 (A.D. 391).
“You had a wife, the apostle says, when you believed. Do not fancy your faith in Christ to be a reason for parting from her. For ‘God hath called us in peace.’ ‘Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing but the keeping of the commandments of God.’ Neither celibacy nor wedlock is of the slightest use without works, since even faith, the distinguishing mark of Christians, if it have not works, is said to be dead, and on such terms as these the virgins of Vesta or of Juno, who was constant to one husband, might claim to be numbered among the saints.” Jerome, To Pammachius, Epistle 48:6 (A.D. 393).
“Paul, joining righteousness to faith and weaving them together, constructs of them the breastsplates for the infantryman, armoring the soldier properly and safely on both sides. A soldier cannot be considered safely armored when either shield is disjoined from the other. For faith without works of justice is not sufficient for salvation; neither, however, is righteous living secure in itself of salvation, if it is disjoined from faith.” Gregory of Nyssa, Homilies on Ecclesiastes, 8 (A.D. 394).
“And he who has not this love, ‘though he speak with the tongues of men and angels, is sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; and though he have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and though he have all faith, so that he can remove mountains, he is nothing; and though he bestow all his goods to feed the poor, and though he give his body to be burned, it profiteth him nothing.’ How great a good, then, is that without which goods so great bring no one to eternal life! But love or charity itself,–for they are two names for one thing,–if he have it that does not speak with tongues, nor has the gift of prophecy, nor knows all mysteries and all knowledge, nor gives all his goods to the poor, either because he has none to give or because some necessity hinders, nor delivers his body to be burned, if no trial of such a suffering overtakes him, brings that man to the kingdom, so that faith itself is only rendered profitable by love, since faith without love can indeed exist, but cannot profit. And therefore also the Apostle Paul says, ‘In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by love:’ so distinguishing it from that faith by which even ‘the devils believe and tremble.’ Love, therefore, which is of God and is God, is specially the Holy Spirit, by whom the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, by which love the whole Trinity dwells in us. And therefore most rightly is the Holy Spirit, although He is God, called also the gift of God. And by that gift what else can properly be understood except love, which brings to God, and without which any other gift of God whatsoever does not bring to God?” Augustine, On the Trinity, 15:18,32 (A.D. 416).
“According to the Catholic faith we believe this also, that after grace has been received through baptism, all the baptized with the help and cooperation of Christ can and ought to fufill what pertains to the salvation of the soul, if they will labor faithfully.” Council of Orange II, Predestination (A.D. 529).
“They acknowledge that they know God, but in deeds they deny Him (Tit. i. 16). And John says, He that saith that he knows Him, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar (1 John ii. 4). James also, the brother of the Lord, writes saying, Faith without works is dead (Jam. ii. 20). If, then, believers now are not saved without good works, while the unbelieving and reprobate without good action were saved by our Lord descending into hell, then the lot of those who never saw the incarnation of the Lord was better than that of these who have been born after the mystery of His incarnation.” Gregory the Great [regn. A.D. 590-604], To George (Presbyter), Epistle 15 (A.D. 591).
“If good life is wanting, faith has no merit, as the blessed James attests, who says, Faith without works is dead (Jam; ii. 18).” Gregory the Great [regn. A.D. 590-604], To Theoderic, Epistle 110 (A.D. 591).
“The remission of sins, therefore, is granted alike to all through baptism: but the grace of the Spirit is proportional to the faith and previous purification. Now, indeed, we receive the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit through baptism, and the second birth is for us the beginning and seal and security and illumination s of another life. It behoves as, then, with all our strength to steadfastly keep ourselves pure from filthy works, that we may not, like the dog returning to his vomit, make ourselves again the slaves of sin. For faith apart from works is dead, and so likewise are works apart from faith. For the true faith is attested by works.” John Damascene, Orthodox Faith, 9 (A.D. 743).
II. We are not “Once Saved, Always Saved”
“And pray ye without ceasing in behalf of other men; for there is hope of the repentance, that they may attain to God. For ‘cannot he that falls arise again, and he may attain to God.'” Ignatius of Antioch, To the Ephesians, 10 ( A.D. 110).
“Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ye ready, for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh. But often shall ye come together, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if ye be not made perfect in the last time.” Didache, 16 (A.D. 90).
“And as many of them, he added, as have repented, shall have their dwelling in the tower. And those of them who have been slower in repenting shall dwell within the walls. And as many as do not repent at all, but abide in their deeds, shall utterly perish…Yet they also, being naturally good, on hearing my commandments, purified themselves, and soon repented. Their dwelling, accordingly, was in the tower. But if any one relapse into strife, he will be east out of the tower, and will lose his life.” Hermas, The Shephard, 3:8:7 (A.D. 155).
“[T]hat eternal fire has been prepared for him as he apostatized from God of his own free-will, and likewise for all who unrepentant continue in the apostasy, he now blasphemes, by means of such men, the Lord who brings judgment [upon him] as being already condemned, and imputes the guilt of his apostasy to his Maker, not to his own voluntary disposition.” Justin Martyr, fragment in Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, 5:26:1 (A.D. 156).
“Now, in the beginning the spirit was a constant companion of the soul, but the spirit forsook it because it was not willing to follow. Yet, retaining as it were a spark of its power, though unable by reason of the separation to discern the perfect, while seeking for God it fashioned to itself in its wandering many gods, following the sophistries of the demons. But the Spirit of God is not with all, but, taking up its abode with those who live justly, and intimately combining with the soul, by prophecies it announced hidden things to other souls.” Tatian the Syrian, To the Greeks, 13 (A.D. 175).
“Christ shall not die again in behalf of those who now commit sin, for death shall no more have dominion over Him; but the Son shall come in the glory of the Father, requiring from His stewards and dispensers the money which He had entrusted to them, with usury; and from those to whom He had given most shall He demand most. We ought not, therefore, as that presbyter remarks, to be puffed up, nor be severe upon those of old time, but ought ourselves to fear, lest perchance, after [we have come to] the knowledge of Christ, if we do things displeasing to God, we obtain no further forgiveness of sins, but be shut out from His kingdom. And therefore it was that Paul said, ‘For if [God] spared not the natural branches, [take heed] lest He also spare not thee, who, when thou wert a wild olive tree, wert grafted into the fatness of the olive tree, and wert made a partaker of its fatness.'” Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4:27:2 (A.D. 180).
“But some think as if God were under a necessity of bestowing even on the unworthy, what He has engaged (to give); and they turn His liberality into slavery. But if it is of necessity that God grants us the symbol of death, then He does so unwilling. But who permits a gift to be permanently retained which he has granted unwillingly? For do not many afterward fall out of (grace)? Is not this gift taken away from many?” Tertullian, On Repentance, 6 (A.D. 204).
“Confession is the beginning of glory, not the full desert of the crown; nor does it perfect our praise, but it initiates our dignity; and since it is written, ‘He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved,’ whatever has been before the end is a step by which we ascend to the summit of salvation, not a terminus wherein the full result of the ascent is already gained.” Cyprian, Unity of the Church, 21 (A.D. 251).
“Therefore, my beloved, we also have received of the Spirit of Christ, and Christ dwelleth in us, as it is written that the Spirit said this through the month of the Prophet: –I will dwell in them and will walk in them. Therefore let us prepare our temples for the Spirit of Christ, and let us not grieve it that it may not depart from us. Remember the warning that the Apostle gives us:–Grieve not the Holy Spirit whereby ye have been sealed unto the day of redemption. For from baptism do we receive the Spirit of Christ … And whatever man there is that receives the Spirit from the water (of baptism) and grieves it, it departs from him until he dies, and returns according to its nature to Christ, and accuses that man of having grieved it.” Aphrahat, Demonstrations, 6:14 (A.D. 345).
“Thou art made partaker of the Holy Vine. Well then, if thou abide in the Vine, thou growest as a fruitful branch; but if thou abide not, thou wilt be consumed by the fire. Let us therefore bear fruit worthily. God forbid that in us should be done what befell that barren fig-tree, that Jesus come not even now and curse us for our barrenness.” Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, I:4 (A.D. 350).
“It is the Spirit then which is in God, and not we viewed in our own selves; and as we are sons and gods because of the Word in us, so we shall be in the Son and in the Father, and we shall be accounted to have become one in Son and in Father, because that that Spirit is in us, which is in the Word which is in the Father. When then a man falls from the Spirit for any wickedness, if he repent upon his fall, the grace remains irrevocably to such as are willing; otherwise he who has fallen is no longer in God (because that Holy Spirit and Paraclete which is in God has deserted him), but the sinner shall be in him to whom he has subjected himself, as took place in Saul’s instance; for the Spirit of God departed from him and an evil spirit was afflicting him.” Athanasius, Discourse Against the Arians, 3:25 (A.D. 362).
“Clerics who are guilty of the sin unto death are degraded from their order, but not excluded from the communion of the laity.” Basil, To Amphilochius, Letter 199:32 (A.D. 375).
“This temple is holier than that; for it glistened not with gold and silver, but with the grace of the Spirit, and in place of the ark and the cherubim, it had Christ, and His Father, and the Paraclete seated within. But now all is changed, and the temple is desolate, and bare of its former beauty and comeliness, unadorned with its divine and unspeakable adornments, destitute of all security and protection; it has neither door nor bolt, and is laid open to all manner of soul-destroying and shameful thoughts; and if the thought of arrogance or fornication, or avarice, or any more accursed than these, wish to enter in there is no one to hinder them; whereas formerly, even as the Heaven is inaccessible to all these, so also was the purity of thy soul.” John Chrysostom, To the Fallen Theodore, Letter 1 (A.D. 378).
“But these sins were not after Baptism, you will say. Where is your proof? Either prove it–or refrain from condemning; and if there be any doubt, let charity prevail. But Novatus, you say, would not receive those who lapsed in the persecution. What do you mean by this? If they were unrepentant he was right; I too would refuse to receive those who either would not stoop at all or not sufficiently, and who would refuse to make their amendment counterbalance their sin; and when I do receive them, I will assign them their proper place; but if he refused those who wore themselves away with weeping, I will not imitate him.” Gregory of Nazianzen, Oration on the Holy Lights, 39:19 (A.D. 381).
“Let us admonish each other. Let us correct each other, that we may not go to the other world as debtors, and then, needing to borrow of others, suffer the fate of the foolish virgins, and fall from immortal salvation.” John Chrysostom, Concerning Statues, 21 (A.D. 387).
“Some offences are light, some heavy. It is one thing to owe ten thousand talents, another to owe a farthing. We shall have to give account of the idle word no less than of adultery; but it is not the same thing to be put to the blush, and to be put upon the rack, to grow red in the face and to ensure lasting torment. Do you think I am merely expressing my own views? Hear what the Apostle John says: ‘He who knows that his brother sinneth a sin not unto death, let him ask, and he shall give him life, even to him that sinneth not unto death. But he that hath sinned unto death, who shall pray for him? ‘You observe that if we entreat for smaller offences, we obtain pardon: if for greater ones, it is difficult to obtain our request: and that there is a great difference between sins.'” Jerome, Against Jovianus, 2:30 (A.D. 393).
“And, consequently, both those who have not heard the gospel, and those who, having heard it and been changed by it for the better, have not received perseverance, and those who, having heard the gospel, have refused to come to Christ, that is, to believe on Him, since He Himself says, ‘No man cometh unto me, except it were given him of my Father,’ and those who by their tender age were unable to believe, but might be absolved from original sin by the sole layer of regeneration, and yet have not received this laver, and have perished in death: are not made to differ from that lump which it is plain is condemned, as all go from one into condemnation.” Augustine, On Rebuke and Grace, 12 (A.D. 427).
“The faith of these, which worketh by love, either actually does not fail at all, or, if there are any whose faith fails, it is restored before their life is ended, and the iniquity which had intervened is done away, and perseverance even to the end is allotted to them. But they who are not to persevere, and who shall so fall away from Christian faith and conduct that the end of this life shall find them in that case, beyond all doubt are not to be reckoned in the number of these, even in that season wherein they are living well and piously. For they are not made to differ from that mass of perdition by the foreknowledge and predestination of God, and therefore are not called according to God’s purpose, and thus are not elected.” Augustine, On Rebuke and Grace, 16 (A.D. 427).
“It is, indeed, to be wondered at, and greatly to be wondered at, that to some of His own children–whom He has regenerated in Christ–to whom He has given faith, hope, and love, God does not give perseverance also.” Augustine, On Rebuke and Grace, 18 (A.D. 427).
“Let the inquirer still go on, and say, ‘Why is it that to some who have in good faith worshipped Him He has not given to persevere to the end?’ Why except because he does not speak falsely who says, ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, doubtless they would have continued with us.’ Are there, then, two natures of men? By no means. If there were two natures there would not be any grace, for there would be given a gratuitous deliverance to none if it were paid as a debt to nature. But it seems to men that all who appear good believers ought to receive perseverance to the end. But God has judged it to be better to mingle some who would not persevere with a certain number of His saints, so that those for whom security from temptation in this life is not desirable may not be secure.” Augustine, On the Gift of Perseverance, 19 (A.D. 429).
“The manifold mercy of God so assists men when they fall, that not only by the grace of baptism but also by the remedy of penitence is the hope of eternal life revived, in order that they who have violated the gifts of the second birth, condemning themselves by their own judgment, may attain to remission of their crimes, the provisions of the Divine Goodness having so ordained that God’s indulgence cannot be obtained without the supplications of priests. For the Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, has transmitted this power to those that are set over the Church that they should both grant a course of penitence to those who confess, and, when they are cleansed by wholesome correction admit them through the door of reconciliation to communion in the sacraments.” Pope Leo the Great [regn. A.D. 440-461], To Theodore, Epistle 108:2 (A.D. 452).
“The branches of the vine. Thus there are branches in the vine, not that they may bestow anything upon the vine, but that they may receive from it the means by which they may live…And by this it is an advantage to the disciples, not to Christ, that each have Christ abiding in him, and that each abide in Christ. For if the branch is cut off, another can sprout forth from the living root; but that which has been cut off, cannot live without the root.” Council of Orange, Canon 24 (A.D. 529).
“And they who mourn their transgressions certainly cast forth by confession the wickedness with which they have been evilly satiated, and which oppressed the inmost parts of their soul; and yet, in recurring to it after confession, they take it in again. But the sow, by wallowing in the mire when washed, is made more filthy. And one who mourns past transgressions, yet forsakes them not, subjects himself to the penalty of more grievous sin, since he both despises the very pardon which he might have won by his weeping, and as it were rolls himself in miry water; because in withholding purity of life from his weeping he makes even his very tears filthy before the eyes of God.” Pope Gregory the Great [regn. A.D. 590-604], Pastoral Rule, 30 (A.D. 591).
“The remission of sins, therefore, is granted alike to all through baptism: but the grace of the Spirit is proportional to the faith and previous purification. Now, indeed, we receive the first fruits of the Holy Spirit through baptism, and the second birth is for us the beginning and seal and security and illumination s of another life. It behooves as, then, with all our strength to steadfastly keep ourselves pure from filthy works, that we may not, like the dog returning to his vomit, make ourselves again the slaves of sin. For faith apart from works is dead, and so likewise are works apart from faith. For the true faith is attested by works.” John of Damascus, On the Orthodox Faith, 4:9 (A.D. 743).