This morning, David Wheaton was on challenging people to call in and discuss OSAS, aka "Once Saved, Always Saved". He said that the most convincing argument in his mind for it comes in the tenth chapter of the gospel of John:
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.
Aside from the knee-jerk apologetic reaction, the "Yeah, but we can take ourselves out of his hand", I decided to think a little deeper.
The foundation of his argument hinged on the statement that he believes that "Those who have really been saved are saved", as in "those who have truly decided to follow Christ are saved". But that leaves the question, assuming his assertion is true - How do I know that I have truly decided to follow Christ?
I think most people who follow OSAS assume that they have, but I have met a couple of people who have fallen away for a time and have come back. That leads them to believe that they weren't really saved in the first place, and then they realize that they can never really know if they are currently saved, or are they one of those who will fall away again?
Let's look at the verse in John. The key to the argument is this: "My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me." So if we are really his sheep, then we hear Jesus' voice. But how do we hear Jesus' voice?
After this the Lord appointed seventy[-two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. He said to them, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. Whoever listens to you listens to me. Whoever rejects you rejects me. And whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”
In this verse, Jesus demonstrates the Church. This group of people he has called and sent forth to proclaim the good news. Those who listen to them, listen to Christ. How do the sheep hear his voice? Through the Church!
But one may argue that the "Church" is nothing but the set of all believers in Christ, and in one sense it is, but that is not the Church that Christ established. He established a visible Church made up of true teachers, not an invisible Church made up of true believers (as many non-Catholics believe). How do we know this?
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Jesus said "IT". The gates of hell will not prevail against "it". He didn't say "the gates of hell will not prevail against "them".
We sheep hear His voice, and the voice is His Church, the Catholic Church, founded upon Jesus and all of His teachings. And the teaching of the Catholic Church is that, unless we are predestined, that we are most certainly not "Once Saved, Always Saved."