(Once Saved Always Saved)

Dan Corner

Used by permission. Permission is granted to reproduce this in its entirety only.

The word antinomianism comes from the Greek anti (against) and nomos (law). It refers to the doctrine that it is not necessary for Christians to obey the moral law. In other words, faith frees the Christian from such obligations.

Though antithetical to Scripture, this view is popularly embraced by many who hold influencial positions on radio and TV in our day and believe the teaching of "Once Saved, Always Saved" (OSAS). Under the heading of the carnal Christian, OSAS teachers have especially spread such. The following are some of their actual teachings:

And so, sometimes out of ignorance or whatever it might be, they attempt to gratify and meet those needs the same way they did before they were saved, and therefore, you can't tell a carnal believer from a lost man. That is, you can't tell the cold from the carnal because the truth is, they're both acting the same way. Now, one of them is in Christ and one of them isn't. One of them is lost and the other one is in Christ. One of them knows about God and knows him in the experience of salvation; the other doesn't know him at all.(1)
As far as overt behavior is concerned, a carnal believer cannot be distinguished from an unbeliever.(2)
So according to popular teachers of our day, a carnal Christian behaves the same way as the unsaved! Sadly others, besides the ones just mentioned, have been teaching the same way, yet they seemingly go unchallenged.
Paul can only mean that these carnal Corinthians lived like unsaved men. That clarifies why the word carnal can label both unbelievers and believers, simply because the lifestyles of both are the same. The cure for the unbeliever's carnality is salvation; the cure for the believer's is to grow in the Lord (italics his).(3)
Carnal To have the characteristics of an unsaved life either because one is an unbeliever or because though a believer, one is living like an unsaved person (italics his).(4)
Chuck Swindoll made a similar assertion about one's understanding of the carnal Christian:
Let me clarify something because many, many in the family of God have no room in their theology for the carnal Christian, which creates tremendous confusion. If you don't understand the carnal Christian, you will begin to believe that you have fallen from grace. You will believe that you have been born again and then you will think later when you do these number of things, you have not been born again.(5)
According to Chuck Swindoll, one may have a misconception about falling from grace unless he understands the OSAS carnal Christian teaching!

To read into carnal and openly teach, as the aforementioned OSAS teachers do, is to dangerously distort the image of true Christianity. By fabricating this new type of Christian, who is behaving just like the darkened, God-hating, hell-bound, Christ rejecters, multitudes are being deceived. Some are even re-opened to the greatest possible danger of being thrown into eternal fire, yet are unaware of it.

Besides the immediate context of 1 Cor. 3:3, this OSAS concept of the carnal Christian is also refuted Scripturally by the following:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9,10, NIV).
First, Paul stated by question form the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9), then told us in the next verse how to identify someone who is wicked from their behavior. The sexually immoral, drunkards and the greedy, among others, are included in this group and will, therefore, be excluded from the kingdom, unless they turn from their sins. No exception is made for one who previously believed on Christ. This is the true grace teaching, according to Scripture. Dear reader, do not be deceived by the glib-speaking, OSAS teachers in our day, who will always present grace in a different way and speak as to appeal to those having "itching ears" (2 Tim. 4:3).

End Notes

(1) Charles Stanley (Atlanta, GA: In Touch Ministries, 1982), Spiritual Vs. Carnal: Study in 1 Corinthians, audiotape #8, PQ092.
(2) R. B. Thieme, Jr., The Prodigal Son (Houston, TX: R. B. Thieme, Jr. Bible Ministries, 1974), p. 8.
(3) Charles C. Ryrie, So Great Salvation (Victor Books, 1989), p. 62.
(4) Ibid., p. 155.
(5) Chuck Swindoll, Clearing the Hurdle of Carnality: Selections from 1 Corinthians, audiotape CHH 5-A.