John Piper on “Once Saved Always Saved”

“Once saved, always saved” has become an evangelical cliché which grossly misrepresents the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. It has unfortunately been used by immature Christians and perhaps even unsaved “Christians” as a license to sin.

Here’s what John Piper has to say about the subject in his book Future Grace (via Delight in Truth friend Gabe Bogdan):

“A few years ago I spoke to a high school student body on how to fight lust. One of my points was called, “Ponder the eternal danger of lust.” I quoted the words of Jesus–that it’s better to go to heaven with one eye than to hell with two–and said to the students that their eternal destiny was at stake in what they did with their eyes and with the thoughts of their imagination…

After my message… one of the students… asked, “Are you saying then that a person can lose his salvation?”

…This is exactly the same response I got a few years ago when I confronted a man about the adultery he was living in…

I pled with him to return to his wife. Then I said, “You know, Jesus says that if you don’t fight this sin with the kind of seriousness that is willing to gouge out your own eye, you will go to hell”…

As a professing Christian he looked at me in utter disbelief, as though he had never heard anything like this in his life, and said, “You mean you think a person can lose his salvation?”

…So I have learned again and again from firsthand experience that there are many professing Christians who have a view of salvation that disconnects it from real life, and that nullifies the threats of the Bible, and puts the sinning person who claims to be a Christian beyond the reach of biblical warnings.

I believe this view of the Christian life is comforting thousands who are on the broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13)…

The main concern of this book is to show that the battle against sin is a battle against unbelief. Or: the fight for purity is a fight for faith in future grace.

The great error that I am trying to explode is the error that says, “Faith in God is one thing and the fight for holiness is another thing… The battle for obedience is optional because only faith is necessary for final salvation.” (John Piper, Future Grace pg. 330-331 and 333)

It is a grave error to separate obedience to the Word from an initial conversion type event. Disobedience, lack of striving for holiness, and lack of perseverance in the faith may be indicative that the professing Christian is not saved.

12 comments on “John Piper on “Once Saved Always Saved”

  1. I read some excerpts out of the book before. It is excellent in how it explains what saving faith was in OT and what it look like in NT.if I am not mistaken DG might even have this one for free on their web site


    The apostles John was given direct messages from Jesus to relay to the seven churches. Was the message to the churches “once saved always saved”? No, it was not.

    1. Revelation 2:1-5..the church in Ephesus…5 Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and the deeds you did first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent.

    Does that sound like once saved always saved?

    Revelation 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

    The tree of life is promised to him that overcomes. He was giving Christians that promise on the condition that they would repent. Jesus did not say once saved always saved.

    2. Revelation 2:8–11 …the church in Smyrna…10…Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. 11…..He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.

    These Christians were given a condition to receive the crown of life, be faithful until death.

    Does that sound like once saved always saved?

    3. Revelation 2:12-17…the church in Pergamum…14 But I have few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality……16 Therefore repent; or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of My mouth.17……To him who overcomes, to him I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and a new name written on the stone which no one knows but he who receives it.’

    Christians need to repent of sinful lifestyles and beliefs. There is no doctrine of once saved always saved proclaimed by Jesus.

    4. Revelation 2:18-29 …the church in Thyatria…20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel…21 I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality…….26 He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over all the nations;( SEE: Rev. 20:4-6)

    Is is always he who overcomes. It is never he who is once saved always saved.

    5. Revelation 3:1-6..the church in Sardis..3 So remember what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent. therefore if you do not wake up , I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I come to you. 4 But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5. He who overcomes will be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels……

    Some Christians will have their names erased from the book of life. The ones who will not have their names erased are those who repent of their sinful lifestyle and repent of the teachings that are contrary to God’s doctrines. He who overcomes will be saved, not he who is once saved always saved!

    6. Revelation 3:7-13 …..11 I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. 12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God…..

    There are men who can talk you into relinquishing your crown. He who overcomes will not be in that number. Once saved always saved is just another teaching of false doctrine.

    7. Revelation 3:14-22…16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth…. [ DOES THAT SOUND LIKE ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED?]….19 Those whom I love. I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent……….21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne….

    There are no Scriptures that give Christians a license to sin. There is no Scriptures that says unrepentant Christians can live a sinful lifestyle, or teach doctrines contrary to the gospel of Christ and remain saved.



    you are invited to follow my christian blog. Google search>>>> steve finnell a christian view

      • you don’t lose your salvation…you make a choice to walk away from it by the life style you choose to live and embrace over Christ. People want to make it a “once saved always saved or if you can lose it then you are trying to earn it” its a matter of love to your Savior, what is important to your heart you will serve. if i give you a birthday present and you never open it then the gift is never utilized and has no use to you. same with salvation if you never allow Christ to take control and transform you then how can you be saved…salvation is not just about being saved from eternal hell it is about being saved here too…transformed into the image of Christ. He is not just our Savior, but our Lord…he cannot be just half of a present he is the whole present.

    • steve good day. you are quoting john in the book of revelation. i would like to point out that in the verses that you quoted there is a repitition of the phrase ‘he who overcomes’. what does this mean? John in his other books clearly states who are the overcomers. and i quote ‘For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?’ 1 John 5:4, 5 (NKJV)

      the bible also teaches that a believer can receive five crowns. you mentioned only one, the crown of life. what is this crown? james 1:12 states ‘Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.’ So this crown of life are for those who endured patiently thru trials. This crown is not a crown for/about eternal life.

      God bless

  3. Most of these comments are creature centered. There is only one good, and that is God. God cannot lie, ergo, if he gave you eternal life, you have eternal life now and for eternity. As for one´s focus on the “gift” and what one does with the “gift,” this is called idolatry: when you worship the gift more than the Giver. He who overcame, and will overcome in the believer, is Jesus Christ our Lord. He is our righteousness.

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