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Once Saved Always Saved
This is not a discussion about the eternal security of believers. There are probably some who do not concur, but I for one believe that believers are secure. The real question is can a believer stop believing and as a result be lost? Are there warnings in the Scriptures against apostasy? Are there examples of those who have fallen from grace. Why would the Holy Spirit warn us of apostasy if it cant happen?
The proponents of, "once saved always saved," reason that since faith is entirely a gift of God, faith cannot be lost to the extent that salvation is lost. While it is true that faith is a gift of God in that He enables us to come to faith in God and Jesus Christ, paradoxically faith is also a response that man makes.
The proponents of, "once saved always saved," reason that since salvation is the work of God and God never changes and is sovereign, then salvation can not be lost. God is indeed the initiator and facilitator of salvation and is at work within us, it is also true that He tells us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling and that our obedience is a factor in salvation. Obedience contributes to both entering into a relationship with Jesus and maintaining that relationship. It is that relationship, per se, which saves. Philippians 2: 11-13; Hebrews 5: 9; 1 Chronicles 28: 9;
2 Chronicles 15: 2
Does Romans 8: 38-39 teach once saved always saved? This is a verse that affords great comfort and assurance to the believers, for it tells us that nothing, nothing external to ourselves can separate us from the love of God. I feel confident that Paul is not saying that we individually cannot be separated by our own lack of faith, because in Romans 11: 20-24, he tells us that Israel was broken off for that very reason, because of their unbelief. Then he follows with a warning to his readers to not likewise be cut off. Can you be broken off if at one time you were not joined?
Since God gives eternal life to those that believe, would this not indicate that life can not be lost? It is true that God gives eternal life, but we need to consider how this is accomplished. First: only God and Christ have life within themselves. Second: we have eternal life only as a branch has life from its vine. Third: if the branch is broken off because of unbelief, life is forfeited. Fourth: "And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life." Obviously if you are severed from Christ (Galatians 5: 4), you would loose the eternal life. John 5: 26; 15: 1-10; Romans 11: 16-24; John 3: 16, 36; 5: 13, 24;
11: 25-26; 1 John 5: 12-12
Jesus said that no one shall snatch His sheep out of the Fathers hand. This is true that no one shall snatch His sheep out of the Fathers hand but sheep can and do wander off. Cite an example of those who have fallen away. Paul tells the Galatians that if they receive circumcision as necessary to Christianity, Christ will be of no benefit to you, they will be severed from Christ and they have fallen from grace. Galatians 5: 1-2
What is the gist of the book of Hebrews? The author is telling the Hebrew Christian that the new covenant is superior to the old in every way and therefore it is totally illogical to even consider returning to the old. The entire letter is a warning of apostasy. Hebrews 6: 1-6
Since salvation and eternal life are by the grace of God, as free gifts, does not this suggest man can not lose these gifts? It is true that life and salvation are free gifts of God, but they are given only to those who are in Christ. If you are severed from Christ then the gifts are forfeited. Ephesians 1: 3
Can eternal life be forfeited? To answer this question we will look at four discourses of our Lord:
This four discourses indicate that apostasy is possible.
What argument is usually made against apostasy? Adherents of perseverance usually argues that the one who supposedly apostatized only appeared to be a disciple. They say in reality this one was never truly united with the Lord. The four examples given above refute this idea because Jesus certainly knows those who are His.
Is the "faith which saves" the act of the moment by which one is ushered into an irrevocable state of grace in which he is unconditionally secure or is it an attitude of life which must be perpetually implemented during the life of the believer? The answer is to be found in the following passage. "And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach-
If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation, and of which I Paul, was made a minister."
Does not the realities of a new birth, a spiritual birth, suggest that the relationship is irrevocable? Obviously there are similarities between the spiritual birth and the physical birth or the one would not be used as an analogy of the other, but there are also differences or they would be identical. Analogies can be pushed to far; usually there is one major area of correspondence. In this case the relation is likened to a father and a child. In physical birth the subject has no prior knowledge and gives no consent; in the spiritual the subject has both. In physical birth the subject receives life independent of the father, but not so in the spiritual. While the physical relationship between a father and a son is irrevocable, the spiritual relation can be, and tragically, often is broken. The relationship between God and His children is spiritual, not physical. Consider John 1: 12: "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name." Those who are born again, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God, nevertheless, in some sense, are "given the right to become the children of God." Those born again are born not only of the Spirit but also of water. The Scriptures suggest that through water, baptism, one enters into this spiritual sonship. In addition this relationship is maintained by the obedience of faith on the part of the individual. "He that overcometh shall inherit all things, and I will be His God and he shall be my son." Revelations 21: 7; 3: 4-5; John 3: 1-6; Act 14: 22; 2 Thessalonians 1: 4-5
Does the giving of the Holy Spirit guarantee that God will keep us secure to the end? While the giving of the Spirit to regenerate, renew and strengthen us is a tremendous blessing we must remember that God acts powerfully in our lives but not irresistibly. Israel and Jerusalem all resisted the will of God. Moreover we are admonished to be filled with the Spirit, to walk after the Spirit, to sow to the Spirit, to live after the Spirit, to be led by the Spirit , not to grieve the Spirit and to not do despite unto the Spirit of grace. All of these indicate the responsibility of man in relation to the ministry of the Spirit. Ephesians 1: 13-14
Since apostasy is a possibility, does the believer have to live in fear and uncertainty about his relationship to God? Certainly not. The Apostle John explains that we may know exactly where we stand in relation to God. He states, "we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep his commandments", "we know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren", "we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has us of His Spirit." and "the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in the Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life." 1 John 2: 3; 3: 14; 4: 13; 5: 11-12
Do the Scriptures teach believers are sanctified once for all? Please read Hebrews 10: 10, 14. "By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified." Later versions remove the ambiguity and make it clear that it was the offering of His body that was once for all.
Is man immediately deprived of grace by a single act of sin? God reproves and chastens His children when they sin. Chastening is evidence of sonship not disinheritance. If we walk in the light as He is in the light the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:8-9; Hebrews 12: 5-6
Is the word, apostasy, found in the Scriptures? Yes it is found in Acts 21: 21 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3. The first is an apostasy or deflection from Moses, the second is a falling away from faith. Inherent in the meaning of the word in regard to Christianity is the severing of a union with Christ by withdrawing from an actual saving relationship with Him.
Are believers kept by the power of God? Absolutely! But all to often the entire context is not considered. The verse reads, "who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." " 1 Peter 1: 5 Faith is the imposed condition and should not be left out.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death." John 8: 51
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