“Once Saved, Always Saved” & Luke 8:13
by Jack Cottrell (Notes) on Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 12:18pm
A RECENT REQUEST: “I have been debating a Calvinist over necessary perseverance, and I was wondering your view on Luke 8:13. Do you believe this describes a true believer or a false believer? The Calvinist is arguing that Jesus shows that if someone falls away from the faith, they were never saved to begin with. He believes that his arguments for eternal security rise and fall based on the four soils of Jesus’ parable. If you could offer any advice or input, I would greatly appreciate it.”
MY REPLY: Your Calvinist adversary has chosen a very weak redoubt if he is attempting to defend “once saved, always saved” based on the parable of the sower. Jesus very clearly states that only the first soil (the roadway) did NOT produce faith when the seed fell upon it (Luke 8:12). These only hear, but “will not believe and be saved.” (He does not specifically state one way or the other whether the third and fourth soils produced faith; but it is obvious that the fourth one did, and the third probably did, too.) He also clearly states that the second (rocky) soil DID produce faith: “they believed for a while” (v. 13). In v. 12 Jesus specifically connects believing with salvation. Thus it is proper to conclude that the believers in v. 13 (the rocky soil) were saved for the period of time when they believed. Otherwise Jesus is using the word “believe” in two different senses in these two connecting verses, which would be unnecessarily confusing. The fact is that there is absolutely no basis for the distinction between a “true believer” and a “false believer.” A person is either a believer or not a believer. Only the false presupposition that one who is truly saved cannot lose his salvation causes anyone to try to make this distinction.
Please consult my book, “The Faith Once for All,” ch. 21, “Assurance of Salvation,” for a concise refutation of the “once saved, always saved” doctrine (pp. 375ff.). The strongest passage against this false idea is Romans 11:17-24 (esp. v. 22). In this passage Paul is addressing the Gentile Christians (wild olive branches) that have been grafted into the church (the post-Pentecostal olive tree) along with believing Jews. He says in v. 20 that (you) Gentiles “stand by your faith,” i.e., they are a part of the tree by trusting in God’s kindness (v. 22). This can only be a true faith; they are obviously true believers. But then in v. 22 he says if they do not continue in God’s kindness, they will be cut off from the tree. I.e., they now have true faith, but they can lose it and be lost. See my commentary on Romans for further comments on this passage.