Eternal Security – An Introduction II

Last week I posted some of Lloyd A. Olson’s introduction to his book “Eternal Security: Once Saved Always Saved.” After giving it some thought I have decided to post the rest of his introduction. It makes some good points and my friend Zerich may very well find it useful.

In this excerpt Dr. Olson makes a strong connection between the “Not Once Saved; Always Saved” [NOSAS] and Roman Catholicism by quoting from the Council of Trent and mentioning “infusion of God’s grace” via the sacraments. This seems to lay the problem of NOSAS primarily at the feet of the Roman Catholic Church. If I understand Roman Catholic doctrine correctly they don’t really believe that you can lose your salvation the way many Protestants do. Rather their belief is that you can never be sure of salvation; lack of assurance is the Roman Catholic teaching. A Roman Catholic is never sure this side of heaven/purgatory if they are going to make it to heaven.

While I have never gotten into a discussion on the topic of “loss of salvation” with Roman Catholics I certainly have with Protestants. The NOSAS position is alive and well in 21st century American Protestantism and Dr. Olson needs to give credit where credit is due. The NOSAS position is a general problem in American Christianity today. That being said I do think that Dr. Olson’s discussion points are valid and worth thinking long and hard about.

Without further ado here is Dr. Olson:

Theological Tidbit: Justification – Event or Process?

Let’s begin with an important questionnaire on the doctrine of justification. Justification has been called “one of the best differentiae between the doctrines associated with the medieval and Reformation periods.” Some compromise about certain church doctrines such as sacraments and church policy. However, one cannot compromise on justification, the essential doctrine of the church. The following questions set the stage for the OSAS/NOSAS debate. It is impossible to understand the debate that rages without understanding this critical difference. So, answer the questions on the next page without peeking at the answers!


1(a) A right standing with God is by becoming innocent and virtuous.


*(b) A right standing with God is by being accounted innocent and virtuous.


2(a) In justification, God infuses Christ’s righteousness inside the believer.


*(b) In justification, God imputes Christ’s external righteousness to the


3(a) God accepts the believer by infusing Christ’s excellence into the believer.


*(b) God accepts the believer because of Christ’s excellence.


4(a) If sinners are transformed by the new birth, they will be accepted by God.


*(b) If sinners accept right standing with God by faith in Christ, they will be
transformed in character.


5(a) We fulfill the Law by the power of the Holy Spirit in us.


*(b) We fulfill the Law by faith in Christ’s obedience.


6(a) We are right with God by following Christ’s example.


*(b) We are right with God because Christ has given us right standing with God.


7(a) We are justified before God by His work of grace in us.


*(b) We are justified before God by His work of grace in Christ.


8(a) Justification is Christ’s work in us.


*(b) Justification is Christ’s work for us.


9(a) Justification is a process involving human obedience.


*(b) Justification is the sole act of God through Christ’s work.


10(a) God justifies only those who are born again.


**(b) God justifies the ungodly who believe.


11(a) Justification means that the sinner is really made just.


**(b) Justification lets God treat sinners as if they were just.

How did you do? Informed theologians will have either all As or all Bs depending on their presuppositions. The As represent the NOSAS view while the Bs represent the OSAS view. Only fledgling theologians or the hopelessly confused will have a mixture of As and Bs. Let’s talk about these presuppositions.

The NOSAS doctrine teaches that justification is God’s work within us. Without this inward power of God’s Spirit, we cannot be justified. The Council of Trent asks: Who are the justified through Christ? The answer is given as: “if they [sinners] were not born again in Christ, they would never be justified; seeing that, in that new birth, there is bestowed upon them, through the merit of His passion, the grace whereby they are made just.” The NOSAS doctrine of justification can be summarized as follows:

Justification refers not merely to the beginning of the Christian life, but also to its continuation and ultimate perfection, in which the Christian is made righteous in the sight of God and the sight of men through a fundamental change in his nature, and not merely his status.

The NOSAS view holds that initial justification is by faith. This is kept by a lifelong process of internal transformation by continuous infusions of God’s grace through the sacraments. Inner renewal makes one acceptable to God. Devout NOSAS theologians believe that faith in Christ potentializes God’s grace while human obedience actualizes His grace and makes one acceptable to God. Justification and sanctification are blended together so that final justification is awarded only after the process of purification.

The OSAS view holds that God justifies the ungodly; not those who have tried to make themselves acceptable through self merit. The righteousness of believing sinners is based on Jesus’ righteousness. In justification, the ungodly sinner declared righteous before God by means of a judicial declaration begun by faith in Jesus Christ’s complete, sufficient and final work on the cross. The declaration is a one time act. Righteousness is imputed on the basis of something outside of the ungodly sinner; namely, Christ’s obedience and righteousness. Justification is part legal and part accounting. God the Judge declares ungodly sinners “forgiven” and counts them “righteous.” Each new saint needs to see this. Faith in Christ and His finished works result in a finished transaction. This allows one to produce good works. One’s justification is parallel yet distinct from sanctification.

The NOSAS process and the OSAS event are exactly opposite. The process/event difference is the basis of disagreement on each of the selected passages. Do the selected passages support a lifelong process of self-righteous human faithfulness that supplements the cross or do they support a one-time act that depends solely on the theological tests given in the introduction.

Can we have true biblical harmony if one set of verses are used “to balance” another set of verses? Absolutely not! True harmony acknowledges that both sets of verses are true. Biblical harmonization makes scripture 100% true 100% of the time.


OSAS affirms a believer’s solid justification in Christ and encourages works of righteousness and sanctification.

Eternal Security: Once Saved Always Saved
pp 10-13

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