James E. Finley

We often hear our friends in the denominations argue that once a person is saved, he cannot so sin as to be eternally lost. Thus the argument is made that "once saved always saved." Most of us are familiar with the scriptural arguments that expose this erroneous doctrine. There is the case of Simon (Acts 8) who was a baptized believer but was rebuked by Peter for his sin (after initial salvation) and instructed to repent. The Corinthians were told to take heed lest they fall (1 Cor. 10:12). Paul said "I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified" (1 Cor. 9:27). Those at Sardis were described as dead. They had to live first in order to die. Some had not "defiled their garments" which obviously means that others had. The Lord told them to repent, to hold fast and to watch (Rev. 3). Many other scriptures could be used to show that a man can indeed be lost after receiving forgiveness for his past sins.

In answer to another commonly held false doctrine that baptism is not essential to salvation, we emphasize those scriptures teaching that baptism is indeed required in order to be saved. Because of this emphasis most of us are familiar with Acts 2:38 (baptism for remission of sins), Mark 16:15-16 (he that believes and is baptized..), Acts 22:16 (be baptized and wash away your sins); and 1 Peter 3:21 (baptism now saves us). We know that baptism puts one into Christ or into the body (Rom 6:1, Gal. 3:27, 1 Cor. 12:13); and we are familiar with many other scriptures that prove the essential nature of baptism.

It is good that we understand the ideas outlined above but I fear that because of all the emphasis on the essentiality of baptism we sometimes lose sight of the fact that a faithful life is essential. We need to guard against the feeling that "I have been baptized so I am right with God." Once baptized always saved is no more correct that once saved always saved. Those scriptures in the first paragraph are not just an answer to false doctrine, they are instructions on how to live after being baptized into Christ. As a matter of fact, most of the New Testament pertains to life after initial obedience. Baptism is not the end of the matter, it is the beginning.