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The doctrines of Once saved, always saved (OSAS)
or eternal security versus the doctrine of
Perseverance of the Saints

Brief Definitions:

Compatiblist Free Will:

A theory of free will that postulates that Man's will is free to make decision but constrained by external circumstances and considerations, and by God's Sovereign decree

Free Will:

A term which denotes the liberty of Man to do things and make decisions without being subject to external forces.

Libertarian free will:

A theory of free will that postulates that Man's will is free to make decisions free from but considering all external forces, circumstances and considerations, and free from God's sovereign plan


Many modern-day Arminians for example Dave Hunt and so-called 'moderate Calvinist' Norman Geisler are 4 point Arminians who only disagree with classical Arminianism in their rejection of the conditional perseverance in the faith and their embracing of the doctrine of eternal security or Once saved, always saved (OSAS). This sounds like the Christian doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. Are they the same?

The Arminian doctrine of eternal security and the Calvinistic doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints have in common their commitment to the fact that salvation is by the grace of God and not by works (Eph. 2:8-9) and therefore once a person is saved, they are truly saved and cannot fall away, noting that Jesus said that none of those who are given to him will fall away (John 6:39). Their great difference, however, stems from the libertarian free will premise of the Arminian which lead to a divorce of justification from sanctification in the lives of true believers.

Classical Arminian apologists like Dan Corner of the so-called 'Evangelical outreach' ministries accuse evangelicals of preaching a false Gospel and hones in straight on the evangelical Arminian doctrine of eternal security, calling it 'the devil's security-in-sin false gospel'. This is due to the way the doctrine of framed and presented in evangelical circles. As it can be seen later on, this accusation cannot be validly leveled against the Christian doctrine of The Perseverance of the Saints.

In the doctrine of eternal security, the process of justification is divorced from the process of sanctification. Thus, a person who is justified may not undergo sanctification. As stated above, this arises from the belief of a libertarian free will, which therefore give Man the freedom to chose whether he or she wants to be sanctified after he/she is justified. Thus, a situation may arose where a person, after being justified before God, slips back into his old habits of sin and become a so-called carnal Christian. Furthermore, it is asserted by some, especially in the non-Lordship camp, that even if that person does grievous sins like murder or rape, that person will finally be saved as he/she is justified before God. It is thus easy to see why such soul-destroying doctrine would provoke such a reaction from Arminians such as Dan Corner. However, his alternative is no better in rescuing people and is likewise damnable as it logically leads to the doctrine of salvation by faith and works, the position of Roman Catholicism, even though he would say otherwise.

The Calvinist doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints is much better by far. Unlike eternal security, it does not separate justification from sanctification (although both processes are distinct from each other), neither does it buy into the Arminian false premise of libertarian free will. Instead, it proclaims that all persons who are justified will also be sanctified (Rom. 5:2-11. See especially verses 5 and 8) and finally glorified (Rom. 8:30). In contradistinction to the Arminian, those who are justified do not have the 'free will' to 'resist' sanctification, though they willingly submit to it (Compatibilism). Thus, those who are justified do not fall into such grievous sin so as to obscure their salvation but will finally repent. Therefore, the classical Arminian objection to Reformed Christianity falls apart with the understanding of the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. Furthermore, if there are such person who do sin grievously without any remorse, the Reformed doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints also states that a person who does sin willingly and happily may not be saved after all. (1 John 2:19).

In conclusion, the doctrines of eternal security and the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints appear similar. However, at their core, they are totally different from each other and will lead to different conclusions regarding salvation.