When it comes to believers’ security, there are 3 primary views:
1. Eternal Security/Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS)
2. Perseverance of the Saints
3. Perseverance in the Faith
Here is a brief summary of each position:
Eternal Security/OSAS – This view, which is held by many Baptists and non-denominational churches, says that once a person accepts Christ, they couldn’t back out if they wanted to. Many who hold this view are Arminian in theology, which seems paradoxical: a person has free-will to choose whether or not to accept Christ after being drawn by the Holy Spirit, but they apparently lose some free-will if they choose to accept.
Perseverance of the Saints – This reformed view, which was taught by John Calvin, states that only those who persevere to the end were truly saved, and that the saved (i.e. the Elect) will always persevere to the end.
Perseverance in the Faith – This view, which says a believer can fall from grace and become apostate, was held by some of the early church fathers including Irenaeus (130 AD- 202 AD). Even Augustine and Luther believed it was possible in some situations for a Christian to fall away into unbelief. This view is often associated with Jacob Arminius and later with John Wesley, although Wesley disagreed with Arminius’s view that there was no further hope for salvation for those who had fallen from the faith into a state of spiritual death.
Questions surrounding the security of believers have been debated for hundreds of years and I don’t expect they will cease until this earth comes to an end.
Rather than take a dogmatic stand on this issue, I think it might be best to just say, the Elect are those who persevere to the end, so persevere.