I want to begin to examine a very popular doctrine often called “Once Saved Always Saved” or “Eternal Security.” It is my studied opinion that this doctrine is the single greatest “doctrine of demons” in the church. I think many have and will slide into hell thinking they are going to heaven because of this doctrine. For me, it seems there is so much scriptural evidence against this teaching that I have a difficult time fathoming how it ever got such a foothold in the church. I have also seen much negative fruit in people who believe this doctrine.
In this article I am going to examine the Parable of the Soil. This is a basic teaching of the Lord Jesus, and it deals squarely with the question of “once saved always saved.” Here is the parable:
“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold” (Luke 8:5-8).
The disciples asked Jesus to explain the parable, and this is what He says:
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.
12 Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.
13 But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.
14 Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity.
15 But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:11-15).
The first group of people, “seed that fell on the wayside,” apparently never got saved; for He says about them, “lest they should believe and be saved.” The second group, however, “did believe for a while” but then “fell away.” If they were never saved, how could they “fall away?” What did they fall away from but saving faith? The text concerning the second group makes it very clear that they were actually saved and then lost their salvation.
Remember, we are dealing with a parable of a seed and plant or tree. It is clear that the first group of seeds never came to life in the ground. However, the second, third, and fourth groups all attained life for varying amounts of time. Anyone who has ever planted a seed and seen it come up knows that it has life then. The question is how long will it retain that life, for the life can be lost for a number of reasons as Jesus explains. If the plant of Jesus believes and has life, then that means it was indeed saved in order to attain that life. However, the second group did not get the proper moisture to continue that life. The plant died.
This parable is clearly teaching that a person can attain spiritual life and then lose that salvation life if that plant does not continue to get the proper conditions of growth and protection.
I have a piece of property about a hundred miles from where I live. It has a bank along the road that tends to erode. I talked to a lady in the plant department at Lowes about what to plant to help stop the erosion. She recommended spreading junipers. I knew the soil was rocky so I decided to just buy one plant to see if it would live or continue to be saved. (Remember in the Parable of the Soil, Jesus is comparing plant life to spiritual life and salvation.) I planted the juniper on the top of the bank. I could not dig the hole very deep because of big rocks. I also poured some water on it. Since I only go to the property a couple times a year, I was dependant upon rain to water it. I knew it could either get too little or too much. It was a very precarious situation for the plant. I really didn’t know if it would be saved when I came back again. About three months later I came back and was surprised to see it was still saved. Nevertheless, it had only sent out one spreading arm about a foot, and it was brown in areas. I thought it would be dead the next time I went there. It is still living and thus “saved.” But it has not grown at all. It was about a foot in diameter when I bought it, and they are supposed to grow to about 20 feet in diameter. I am glad that I didn’t buy any more than one to test the situation. I know exactly what the problems are, but I just can’t drive that far to water it and can’t do anything about the soil. So I still expect it to die. For we all know that once a plant lives, it will not necessarily keep on living. Thus, just because a person is “saved” does not mean they will retain that spiritual life. This is the obvious object lesson of the parable.
Jesus called the second group of people in the parable “believers,” which is a common designation for saved people in the New Testament. They received the word in their hearts with joy; this is how a person gets saved.
For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Rom. 10:10).
A person can get saved or attain spiritual life but not get enough water of the word and then wither and die. That means they lose their salvation. That means they die spiritually. This is the warning of the parable. Nothing is so basic as Jesus’ lesson comparing plant life with salvation. Everyone understands a plant can die if not given the proper conditions to sustain life. It was a very simple lesson but, for some reason, very difficult for many to accept.
Now lets take a look at the third group of people in the parable. They are the ones who accept the word but are chocked out with the cares of the world and the pursuit of riches. It says (verse 14) they don’t bear fruit and come to maturity. We have other teachings and parables in the New Testament that make clear if a plant or tree does not bear fruit, it will be cast into the fire. Following are examples:
And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt. 3:10).
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Matt. 7:19-20).
And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the fig tree withered away (Matt. 21:19).
“A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down’” (Luke 13:6-9).
“A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard.” [They killed him instead.] . . . Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others” (Luke 20:9-10, 15-16).
I have seen the fruit of the doctrine of Once Saved Always Saved. We know a girl who got on heroin and eventually got into a drug program, which was a ministry of a big outreach church in our area. I went into their bookstore one time and saw there were only three books in it – all written by the pastor. One was titled, Once Saved Always Saved. I learned that was one of the pastor’s favorite doctrines. His church was packed with sinners because he preached that doctrine often and assured his followers even if they kept on sinning, they were still going to heaven. This girl got saved at that church, and we saw a great change in her. But when she got out of the program, she again began to sin and do the things she used to. I told her she would lose her salvation if she kept sinning. She replied, “No, I won’t because once saved always saved.” They had ingrained that doctrine in her. As for the pastor, he has now been arrested for seven counts of child molestation. No wonder he loved that doctrine so much.
Then there was the fourth group of people in the Parable of the Soil. This is the seed that fell on good soil and “through patience bore fruit.” They are divided into 30-fold, 60-fold, and 100-fold believers. They held on to the life they had and continued to be saved and went on to bear fruit for the Lord.