Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Gal 6:7-9 ESV
As one who spent most of his life in the Lord under the teaching of once saved always saved (OSAS), when I quickly review the passage above, I automatically think of the theme of rewards in the afterlife. It is a common teaching and given the background of the teaching I was receiving, made sense in many ways. After all, my teachers spoke confidently of the New Testament teaching the OSAS doctrine, sometimes providing a proof text to back up their claim. The few verses that do not fit the OSAS teaching must surely have a simple explanation. “Loss of rewards” is the slot this passage fell into. This response satisfied my curiosity for many years.
But as I read the passage, I want to be careful of not inserting words into the text that are not written down. We all do it, at least unintentionally I am sure, but we so often gloss over the text due to our familiarity, that the text isn’t allowed to communicate it’s actual message.
As an example, I often read verse 8 in the following manner.
For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh
reap corruption loss of rewards, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap rewards in the afterlife eternal life.
Can you identify with my assumptions of the authors intent? If OSAS is the teaching of the New Testament, we must interpret the passage in a manner such as I have described. We cannot allow the verse to inform us that a continual sowing to the Spirit will result in eternal life, if we are eternally secure at the point of conversion. That just doesn’t fit the overall teaching of the New Testament!
Or does it?
As many also may know who have followed this blog, I have attempted to provide passages that bring the OSAS doctrine into question. If of interest to my reader, search Considering the Bible for “Conditional Security”. The number of posts dealing with this topic have increased greater than I had originally expected, and I still have additional passages waiting to be written and published.
When I began to have my initial doubts on OSAS, it was due to the Hebrews passages that are so often depended on. The I tripped over a passage in 1 Peter. Eventually I stumbled onto a passage in Colossians that caused quite a stir in my thinking, and as I brought the question up in a meeting, I received a reaction from a brother that mirrored my attitude regarding any challenge to the OSAS teaching. Conditional Security – Colossians 1:21-23. Since then, I have reconsidered my attitude regarding a commitment to OSAS, and found a growing number of passages that to varying degrees refute the teaching.
Maybe – just maybe – the New Testament does not provide the general overall (non-specific) OSAS teaching that my former teachers depended on.
My rose colored glasses are slipping off, and as the passages pile up that bring OSAS into question, I will also reconsider passages that OSAS depends on, in order to reconsider their meaning. One of the favorite passages I referred to in my OSAS days was John 10:28-30. That passage surprised me in my study, and allowed for a perspective I hadn’t allowed previously. Conditional Security – John 10:28-29
I suppose I have somewhat drifted from the intent of this study in Galatians to more of a general discussion on the topic of OSAS. For that I do not apologize, since I often hear the claim that general Bible teaching supports OSAS, and that a verse that may indicate otherwise requires to be “brought into line”. Let us seek to carefully reconsider “general” teachings that seem to conflict with specific Bible verses. This is a massive undertaking, and we need His grace to be open to these challenges, even if it is to simply admit blind spots we may have in our thinking.
May God provide us all wisdom and understanding as we seek to grow in our knowledge of Him and His message to us.
For we all know that He is good, and that He is good all the time.
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