Are believers “once saved, always saved”? If a believer were to backslide at some point after his/her conversion, is he/she still saved?
Before we answer those questions, let us first define what it means to be a believer.
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
When we said someone is a “believer”, we are saying he/she truly believes in the heart that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9). For those who call themselves Christians but never believe (professing Christians), they are never part of Jesus’ flock, meaning they are not believers.
And for someone to be “forever saved”, he/she must first be “saved” in the first place. Non-believers are not saved and will never be saved till they truly believe.
Now back to the question: Are believers “once saved, always saved”?
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.
The Bible clearly states there is no chance a believer would lose his/her salvation because Jesus Himself promised He would never lose His sheep or have anyone snatch them out of His hand.
And God further guarantees our salvation by sealing us with the Holy Spirit (talk about “double confirm”!).
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
Then what about those who have backslidden?
Since we have established that a genuine believer will never lose his/her salvation, it also means a genuine believer will never remain in unbelief forever. God will ensure he/she comes back to Christ (either before death or before His Second Coming).
I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
What about those who went out and never return? Sad to say, they are most probably never true believers in the first place and thus never saved.
Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
(2 John 1:9 NIV)
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.
(1 John 2:19)