Yet another example from the Bible which I think refutes the notion of Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS) is that of Simon the Magi from Acts 8.
Simon was a magician who was sort of a big shot in Samaria, popularly known as the “Great Power” (Acts 8:9-11). But then an actual big shot, St. Phillip, came through town and presented the Gospel, which put Simon’s tricks to shame. And then, significantly, Acts 8:13 tells us “Simon himself believed and was baptized.” Note that: Simon believes and is baptized. In Mark 16:16, Jesus says that “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” So in Acts 8:13 Simon got saved. He didn’t just “seem to believe” or “appear to be saved,” we’re told he actually “believed and was baptized” by an author inspired by the Holy Spirit.
But then some even bigger shots came to Samaria, Peter and John. And they went around imparting the Holy Spirit upon people. And then Simon fell back to his old ways (Acts 8:18-24):
When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money and said, “Give me also this ability so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”
Peter answered: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
Then Simon answered, “Pray to the Lord for me so that nothing you have said may happen to me.”
We don’t know how this story ends. We don’t know if Simon fully repented or not (the text seems promising), but it’s significant to note a few things. Even though Simon had previously been saved, he again becomes “captive to sin,” and is at risk of damnation – if he weren’t, Peter’s curse wouldn’t scare him. That is, if he knows that when Peter says “perishing,” he really means, “you’ll die and go to Heaven,” that’s not a curse or a threat. No, Peter’s telling him he’s not part of the ministry, he’s not right with God, and he’s at risk of perishing… as in, eternally perishing. And his best shot is that perhaps the Lord will forgive him. It’s not a forgone conclusion.
Since there’s at least a possibility that Simon’s actions will damn him, how can this be squared up with OSAS?