Sep 15, 2009

OSAS in I John

"Once Saved Always Saved" doctrine in I John.

Let us look at some verses in the Apostle John's first general epistle as it deals with the perseverance of believers.

"And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him." (I John 2: 3, 4 KJV)

This is similar to other verses by John, Jesus, Paul, and the writer of Hebrews. It states, in the form of a premise, this proposition, "we are genuinely saved now if in the future we persevere" (where "keep his commandments" = "perseverance"). It also states the adverse proposition - "he who does not persevere in the future was not saved in the past," but was a "liar," that is, a deceived one, a masked one, a hypocrite. We can put these apostolic propositions into formal syllogistic structure as follows.

1. John was saved in the past if he perseveres in the future.

2. John did not persevere in the future.

3. John was not saved in the past. (was a "liar" or imposter)

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."

They went "out" tells us that these apostates were once professing Christians "in" external fellowship with the apostolic churches, but that they had never been truly or actually joined in heart, faith, and spirit, with those churches, and this is why the Apostle quickly says "but they were not of us," meaning they were not genuinely "of" us, though they were "of" us formally or externally. John says he knows that these apostates were not really "of us," or "one with us," for he believes firmly that their departure from the apostolic churches revealed their hypocrisy, and the fact that they were never truly one with them, or truly converted. John gives us a proposition that says "if they had been of us, they would have continued." The statement - "they went out from us, but they were not of us" is the conclusion of the syllogism furnished by the Apostle John. Here is the Apostle's syllogism.

1. If they had genuinely been saved ("of us"), they would have persevered ("continued").

2. They did not persevere.

3. They had not been genuinely saved.

"And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." (I John 3: 3 KJV)

"Every man," that is a universal. "Hath this hope," that is, this Christian hope, springing from faith. "Purifieth himself," that is, he perseveres. He does not lose salvation. Once saved always saved is taught in many scriptures as this one and is stated very plainly.

If some who genuinely have the Christian hope fail to persevere and are finally lost, then how could the Apostle John's statement be true? Would he not say it thusly - "and some of those who have this hope purify themselves"?


1. Whoever is now saved now ("hath this hope") continuously purifies himself (perseveres).
2. John did not continuously purify himself.
3. John was not saved.

"...whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him." (3: 6)

Notice how "sinneth" is a present tense participle, denoting action on going in the present, from a point in the past, while "hath not seen" is perfect tense. The Apostle clearly affirms again the proposition that "whoever does not persevere, has never been saved."


1. Whoever does not persevere (practices sin) has never been saved ("known" or "seen" him).

2. John did not persevere.

3. John was never saved.

"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." (3: 9)

The word "commit" is present tense, linear, speaking of ongoing action, or lifestyle. We can substitute the word "persevere" for the word "commit."


1. Whoever is born of God perseveres (by not practicing sin).

2. John did not persevere.

3. John was not born of God.

"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death." (3: 14)


1. Whoever has passed from death unto life loves the brethren.

2. John does not love the brethren.

3. John has not passed from death unto life.

"My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him." (3: 18, 19)

Clearly John shows that he 1) Is aware of the presence of unsaved professing believers, who do all "in word" but not in "deed" or in "truth," or really, and 2) that genuinely converted people love in deed as well as in word. Thus, we can structure another syllogism based upon the premises and conclusions of the Apostle.


1. Those who are "of the truth," or genuinely saved, love in deed and in truth.
2. John loved in word only, and not in deed.
3. John was not "of the truth," or genuinely saved.

"If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" (3: 20)

Again, "loveth" is present tense, linear, and refers to ongoing action or lifestyle.


1. He that loves God loves his brother continuously (perseveres).
2. John did not love his brother continuously.
3. John did not love God.

"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him." (5: 1)

Again, "believeth" and "loveth" are present tense, denoting continuity, while "is born" is perfect tense. Thus the proposition of the Apostle is this - "whoever is continuing in faith (persevering), has been born of God."


1. He that continues believing has been born of God.
2. John does not continue believing.
3. John was not born of God.

"We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." (5: 18)

Again, "sinneth" is present tense, denoting ongoing action, of the practice of sin. "Is born" is perfect tense, "has been born." The Apostle's proposition is - "whoever is practicing sin has not been born again."


1. Whoever continues practicing sin has not been born of God.
2. John continued to practice sin.
3. John was not born of God.

Clearly John taught once saved always saved, that all the genuinely converted will persevere.

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