Once Saved Always Saved? by George O’Leary

My brother George O’Leary sent me something he recently wrote. I thought this would be a good forum to share (with his permission).

Once Saved, Always Saved? by George O’LearyOnce saved always saved

O how I’ve struggled with once saved always saved. I know and believe as it says in Romans 10:13 that all who call on the name of the lord shall be saved. I know that “No one can snatch us from our Lords hand” John 10:28-30 (paraphrasing) I know I’ve been sealed and given the Spirit in my heart as a guarantee, 1Corinthians 1:22. I know that it was Grace that saved me and not by works, Ephesians 2:8, 9. And I being a chief sinner like Paul, most definitely know that. I know that I am far from perfect but, I also know that I have been changed. I can absolutely feel it! My family and friends have seen it. I’m not boasting on myself but the changing power of the Holy Spirit when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord.

And, I think that is where I have had trouble with once saved always saved. I do not understand how people can accept the finished work of Jesus Christ and continue to live a life that is contrary to the Word of God. Don’t they realize that they have accepted the grace of God and have been freed from sin, death, the grave and a Godless hell. In one very emotional moment, people call out and accept the saving grace of Jesus Christ. A moment that should absolutely instill the desire to change a life bound for heartache and defeat to a life that is freed from the burden of sin and its destruction. Here are my questions; If that is the result of my one time decision, if in that one moment my eternity has been secured, Then why does the God call me to examine myself?(2Corinthians 13:5) Why am I to show myself approved?(2Timothy 2:15) Why am I to walk circumspectly?(Ephesians 5:15)Why am I to attend worship?(Hebrews 10:24, 25) Why am I called to be Holy?(1 Peter 1:16) Why am I to tithe?(Matthew 23:23) Why have I been called to repent?(Luke 13:3)

If after I have accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord and my eternal life has been secured, are there so many instructions on how to live my life as a follower of Jesus Christ. I accept the sacrifice He made on the cross. I fully believe in His resurrection. I mean even Jesus said “It is finished”. He is my Savior and Lord! I prayed to God to show me what I was missing?? And that’s when it hit me!!

He did finish it. Salvation was secured for the sinner that accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. There is no way to earn it, you can’t steal it, buy it or can anyone other than Jesus provide it for you. It was finished by Jesus Christ my Savior and Lord. Did you hear that? The answer was right there. There is the reason for all the post salvation instructions in our Christian walk. Jesus is my Savior and Lord. There it is again. Let me say it one more time; Jesus is my Savior and Lord. He can’t be one without the other. So many people want to make Him their Savior but do not allow Him to be their Lord. That’s the reason for all the post salvation instructions. For us to make sure that He is, not only our Savior, but our Lord also. For this reason we are to examine ourselves, we are to show ourselves approved, we are to walk circumspectly, we are to not forsake the assembly, we are to edify one another, we are to pray, we are to love, we are to repent and live holy lives set apart from the world because Salvation isn’t a onetime emotional act that changes nothing but your destination!! It is a onetime physical act that changes everything that leads to your final destination…. Those instructions are there for us to know the truth about our salvation. He showed us such grace by paying the sin debt that we could not pay. Oh what grace we have been shown. He Loves us, oh how He loves us. Let us now not forget that we are to love him also. (Matthew 22:37) Search His word for your life’s instructions. They’re there for our benefit.

Pastor Brian said it best a couple of years ago when we were chatting. I voiced my thought about once saved always saved and he said it best, “If saved, always saved. Remember, If we call Him Savior, He must also be our Lord.

Uncleanness and Bodily Discharges

As we are spending the year reading through the Bible, we sometimes come across passages that appear to not “make sense.” On this past Sunday at church, I Uncleanhad a couple of the women in my church ask me why an offering had to be made for a woman’s menstrual cycle. The text in question was Leviticus 15:19-30. Let’s take look at this passage.

Leviticus 15:19-24
19 “When a woman has a discharge, and the discharge in her body is blood, she shall be in her menstrual impurity for seven days, and whoever touches her shall be unclean until the evening.  20 And everything on which she lies during her menstrual impurity shall be unclean. Everything also on which she sits shall be unclean.  21 And whoever touches her bed shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.  22 And whoever touches anything on which she sits shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.  23 Whether it is the bed or anything on which she sits, when he touches it he shall be unclean until the evening.  24 And if any man lies with her and her menstrual impurity comes upon him, he shall be unclean seven days, and every bed on which he lies shall be unclean.

The first part of this passage deals with a woman’s “normal” menstrual cycle. During this time period the woman was considered “unclean” and anything she touched was also considered unclean. There are a number of lessons we can take from this.

First, since everything she touched was also considered unclean, this gave the woman a natural break from her household duties. In other words, she would not be cooking and cleaning during this period because in the process of doing so, she would be making everything she touched “unclean.” So, this was actually a time for the woman to rest from her normal household duties.

Second, the prohibition of sexual intercourse during this time was an indication that sex was not to be an obsession in life (either for the man or for the woman). Sex is a good gift given to a husband and a wife by God. It is to be used for procreation and it also has a unitive function (i.e., it helps the husband and wife to grow closer to one another). But sex is not an all-important activity as our culture wants to make us believe. So, God has a built in “break” from sexual activity between a husband and a wife.

Third, it is important to see that there is no special offering that needs to be made for a woman’s normal menstrual period. This is a natural part of a woman’s biology; no offering needs to be made. This period of uncleanness for the woman is similar to uncleanness experienced by the man when he has an emission of semen (see Lev 15:16-18).

Now let’s look at the remainder of the passage.

Leviticus 15:25-30
25 “If a woman has a discharge of blood for many days, not at the time of her menstrual impurity, or if she has a discharge beyond the time of her impurity, all the days of the discharge she shall continue in uncleanness. As in the days of her impurity, she shall be unclean.  26 Every bed on which she lies, all the days of her discharge, shall be to her as the bed of her impurity. And everything on which she sits shall be unclean, as in the uncleanness of her menstrual impurity.  27 And whoever touches these things shall be unclean, and shall wash his clothes and bathe himself in water and be unclean until the evening.  28 But if she is cleansed of her discharge, she shall count for herself seven days, and after that she shall be clean.  29 And on the eighth day she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons and bring them to the priest, to the entrance of the tent of meeting.  30 And the priest shall use one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her before the LORD for her unclean discharge.

A key phrase is found in verse 25, “not at the time of her menstrual impurity.” In other words, this a period of “abnormal” feminine discharge. This would be an indication that something was awry with the woman’s normal menstrual cycle. We need to keep in mind that some of the law codes given to the people of Israel were hygienic in origin. They didn’t speak to the worth of the individual, but they were designed to keep the spread of any potential diseases to a minimum.

When the woman was experiencing an abnormal discharge she was also considered unclean and she remained unclean for eight days after the abnormal discharge stopped. On the eighth day she would take an appropriate offering (verse 29) to the priest who would then offer these to the Lord.

If the abnormal discharge didn’t stop, she remained unclean. This helps us better understand the condition of the woman who reached out to touch the garments of Jesus in Mark 5:25-34.

It is important to stress three things. First, this offering was not for a woman’s normal discharge. The normal discharge is a part of her natural biology. These offerings were for “unnatural” discharges. Second, this is not a sexist part of the Law since this is the exact same process a man had to go through when he had an “unnatural discharge” (see Lev 15:13-15).

And, third, Moses tells us that the reason people to avoid the various issues that cause ceremonial uncleanness was so that they would not defile the tabernacle (15:31). But we live in an age of a new covenant, and we can look back on the old covenant and realize that the laws regarding cleansings has been fulfilled in Christ Jesus. He has entered the holy tent once for all to deliver redemption for all of us (see Hebrews 9:11-12).

For His Glory,

Pastor Brian

Book Reviews

As a part of my job, I have the great pleasure of reading good books about living the Christian life. I want to provide a brief review of two such books here.InvitationToAJourneyARoa30576_f

Mulholland, Jr., M. Robert. Invitation to a Journey: A Road Map for Spiritual Formation. IVP Books, 1993. 173pp.

As the title suggests, Mulholland’s book is about the Christian journey toward “spiritual wholeness.” He defines spiritual formation as “a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others” (12). The book is divided into four sections.

In the first section Mulholland dissects his definition of spiritual formation into four parts. The first part of spiritual formation is to recognize that spiritual formation is a process, not an event. Second, it is a process of “being conformed.” In other words, this is not something we do to ourselves. He writes, “The difference between conforming ourselves and being conformed is the vital issue of control” (25). Third, it is being conformed into the image of Christ. Mulholland argues that the image of Christ is the “fulfillment of the deepest dynamics of our being” (33). Finally, being conformed to the image of Christ is ultimately for the sake of others.

In the second section of the book Mulholland relies heavily of Carl Jung and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality test. He argues that each person has a unique personality type and understanding one’s personality type helps one grow in holistic spirituality.

Mulholland deals directly with various spiritual disciplines in the third section. He describes the classical Christian pilgrimage as “awakening, purgation, illumination, and union.” He discusses the spiritual disciplines of prayer, spiritual reading, and liturgy. He helpfully shows how God works in the Christian life to wage war against death and bring life (120-34).

In the final section Mulholland underscores the importance of the faith community for spiritual formation.

Mulholland writes from a Wesleyan theological perspective. This, in itself, is not an issue, but because he is writing from this perspective, he makes some rather elementary exegetical fallacies so that his exegetical conclusions fit his theological perspective. I’ll highlight just one such fallacy. His exegesis of Ephesians 1:3-6 is flawed by a simple word study fallacy. Mulholland argues that the Greek word (eklegomai) which means and is translated “chose” (Eph 1:4) by every major English translation really means “spoke forth” since it is a compound word with the respective parts of the compound meaning “forth” (ek) and “speak” (lego). This is a rather elementary fallacy since compound words do not necessarily have the meaning of the sum of each part. For example, we all know that a pineapple is not a special type of apple that grows on pine trees!

Without question the strongest part of Mulholland’s book is his attention to the fact that spiritual formation does not happen in isolation. We are created as communal creatures and God has designed us to live and flourish in community. Mulholland argues that not only is the end result of spiritual formation “for the sake of others” (see definition above), but even the process of spiritual formation is in the context of others. One quote will suffice even though this theme is beaten like a drum throughout the book. He writes, “There is no holistic spirituality for the individual outside of the community of faith” (50).


I would recommend this book for the discerning Christian reader who is interested in spiritual formation.


Thornborough, Tim, and Richard Perkins, eds. The Big Fight: Christian Men 51qBC3ibWELvs The World, Flesh & Devil. The Good Book Company, 2012. 107pp.

A total of 10 contributors come together to write this very helpful book for men who are pursuing holiness. Each contributor wrote one chapter of particular interest to men (although it must be stated that these are not solely men’s issues).

The “G” key on the keyboard got stuck in the naming of the chapters: Guilt, Gold, Gossip, Glare, Grumbling, Gospelling, Girls, Gifts, Grog, and Games. A preacher must have come up with the titles for each chapter!

The book is written so that it could be used for a small men’s group or one-on-one, or it could be read and used by a single individual.

None of the chapters are written to be particularly deep theologically, but every chapter is immensely practical. This is certainly by design and it does not detract from the book in any way. Every chapter includes discussion questions and recommendations of further resources for reading.


I would gladly recommend this book to a man or a men’s group.


A Bridegroom of Blood

After God had appeared to Moses in the wilderness and revealed himself as “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14), Moses set out to return to Egypt to confront Pharaoh and to tell him to let the captiveA Bridegroom of Blood Israelites go. Moses took his wife, Zipporah, and his sons with him on the journey. But along the way, something strange happened. Here is how it is recorded in the Bible.

Exodus 4:24-26 (ESV)
24 At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death.  25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it and said, “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!”  26 So he let him alone. It was then that she said, “A bridegroom of blood,” because of the circumcision.

This passage raises several important questions. Who did the Lord meet with in verse 24? Who did the Lord seek to put to death? And what had this person done that was worthy of death?

The most natural reading of the text is that the Lord was meeting with Moses to put Moses to death, but the original Hebrew language would allow for the Lord to be seeking to put Moses’ son to death. For our purposes, we will consider the more natural reading of the text, but before we do this, we will need to travel over 400 years into the past, to the time of Abraham.

When Abraham was an old man the Lord appeared to him to reiterate a covenant he had already made with Abraham. This event is recorded in the Bible as follows.

Genesis 17:1-8 (ESV)
1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless,  2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.”  3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him,  4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations.  5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.  6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.  7 And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.  8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

The “sign of the covenant” that the Lord made with Abraham was circumcision. The Lord said to Abraham,

Genesis 17:10-14 (ESV)
10 “This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised.  11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.  12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised. Every male throughout your generations, whether born in your house or bought with your money from any foreigner who is not of your offspring,  13 both he who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money, shall surely be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.  14 Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.”

This “sign of the covenant” was a sign that was to be continued “throughout your generations,” and 400 years later God chooses Moses to be his mouthpiece before Pharaoh, but Moses had not kept the “sign of the covenant,” not even with his own children.

With our 21st century sensibilities, we might consider it strange that God would take something this simple so seriously, but God is always honored when we obey. Moses had not obeyed what God had clearly taught and it nearly cost him his life. This incident serves as a judgment or as a warning about the importance for the children of God to keep the commands of God. God takes his commandments seriously.

This message is confirmed just a few verses later when in Exodus 5:3, Moses and Aaron said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”

God had already shown himself to Moses in such a way that Moses knew God was serious about his people keeping his commandments, so with a serious tone, Moses and Aaron say,  “Lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”

And God is still serious about his people keeping his commandments. In the new covenant we are no longer bound by physical circumcision since now our hearts have been spiritually circumcised (see Jeremiah 4:4; Romans 2:28-29; Colossians 2:11-12), but God is still concerned about his people following him in obedience.

Are you following the Lord in obedience? Here are just three questions to consider.

  1. If you’ve been born again, have you followed the Lord in obedience through believer’s baptism? See Acts 8:36, 38; 16:33; 18:8; 1 Corinthians 12:13.
  2. Are you a member of a local church? The New Testament knows nothing of a believer who is not ultimately affiliated with a local body of believers. The Scriptures here are too numerous to mention. A great resource to think about church membership is Jonathan Leeman’s little blue book, Church Membership.
  3. Is your life characterized by holiness? This doesn’t mean that you live a perfect life, but is your life characterized by a pursuit of holiness. Another great resource is Jerry Bridge’s book, The Pursuit of Holiness.

For His Glory,

Pastor Brian