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Can a child of God so live as to fall from Grace and be eternally lost?

Some of our religious neighbors sincerely teach and practice that once a Christian has been saved, nothing he or she can do will separate them from their eternal inheritance.  This is known as the "Once Saved, Always Saved" Doctrine.  Is this scriptural?  What does the Bible teach us?

A Child of God can fall from Grace.

 Gal 5:4
“Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”   Paul wrote this to “the churches of Galatia” (Gal. 1:2); to those who had been called “into the grace of Christ” (Gal. 1:6); who had received the Spirit and begun in it (Gal 3:2,3); whom “Christ hath made free” (Gal. 5:1); and who were called “children of God” (Gal. 3:26; 4:6).

The Galatian Christians had been “removed…unto another gospel” (Gal. 1:6); “bewitched” (Gal. 3:1); desired “to be under the law” (Gal. 4:21); were trying to receive circumcision (Gal. 5:2,3); and were not obeying the truth (Gal. 5:7).  Paul said “Christ shall profit you nothing” (Gal. 5:2); “ye are fallen (from ekpipto (ek-pip'-to); to drop away; specially, be driven out of one's course; figuratively, to lose, become inefficient: ) from Christ (Gal. 5:4); “ye are fallen from grace,” if you “would be” justified by the law.

Since our salvation is by grace (Eph. 2:8) and all “spiritual blessings” are “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3) then a child of God who falls “from grace” and is “severed from Christ” is lost if they remain in that condition.

One’s name can be blotted out of God’s book of life.

Those who have their names written in the book of life are God’s children.  (cf. Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3).  In the judgment those whose names are “not written in the book of life” will be cast into the lake of fire.  (Rev. 20:14,15

Jesus promised: “He that overcometh…I will not blot out his name out of the book of life” (Rev. 3:5).  If he does not overcome then his name will be blotted out of the book of life.  “Blot out” here is from the same Greek word as in Acts 3:19, exaleipho (ex-al-i'-fo); from NT:1537 and NT:218; to smear out, i.e. obliterate (erase, tears,):  KJV - blot out, wipe away.

Ex 32:33
And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. (KJV)

Question:  How can a name be blotted out/erased from the book of life unless it had first been there?

An apostate’s last state is worse than the first.

“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them”  (2 Peter 2:20-21).

Those here described were children of God.  They had “escaped the pollutions of the world” (V. 20) and had “known the way of righteousness” (V. 21).  Also, they had been in the right way (V. 15); for they could not have forsaken the right way without first being in it.  Furthermore, they had been bought by the Lord Himself (v.1) (The “they” of verse 20 refers to the “false teachers” of verse 1).  Those bought by the blood of Christ are redeemed, forgiven of sins, and make up the church (Eph. 1:7; Acts 20:28). Therefore, these people had been redeemed, forgiven of sins and were in the church.

These saved people became “false teachers … denying the Lord that bought them (2 Peter 2:1; cf. Gal. 1:8; Matt. 10:33).  Their ways were pernicious (v. 2); they were covetous (v. 3); walked “after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness,” “presumptuous,” “self-willed,” not afraid to speak evil of dignities” (v. 10), “Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin” (v. 14).   They had “forsaken the right way,” (and had entered the wrong way, cf. Matt. 7:13-14), “and are gone astray” (v. 15). They become “servants of corruption” (v. 19); again entangled in the pollutions of the world and overcome (v. 20); having turned “from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (v. 21).  As “the dog is turned to his own vomit; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire,” these saved persons had turned back into sin (v. 22).

Peter says they “bring upon themselves swift destruction” (v. 1); that their “judgment … lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (v. 3).  He adds that such unjust persons are reserved “unto the day of judgment to be punished” (v. 9); that they “shall utterly perish … and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness” (v. 12-13).  He calls them “cursed children” (v. 14); “to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever” (v. 17). He concludes that “the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.  For it had better for them not to have known the way of righteousness…” (v. 20-21).

2 Peter, chapter 2 gives a very vivid picture of some who have been delivered (redeemed, saved), from sin but go back into sin and are lost.  This demonstrates that a once saved child of God can so live as to be lost.


The Once Saved, Always Saved doctrine cannot be true if it can be scripturally proven that any Christians fell away from Christ.  If any "once saved" Christians were to backslide or fall away, they were therefore not "always saved".

There can be no question that early Christians could and did fall from grace.  God is no respecter of persons.  That which was true for the Christians of the early church is true for us as well.  The good news is that Christians who find themselves in this fallen state can be forgiven if they repent, are truly sorry, and ask for forgiveness.   

Related Studies:

Was Timothy "Once Saved, Always Saved"?

A Believer can become an Unbeliever.

Can one Err from Truth and be Lost?

A Christian can fail of the grace of God. (Heb 12:14-15)


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