Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Once Saved ... Then Lost

There are many Scriptures that describe the security we have in Christ, as we keep the faith and walk in His light. These include Rom 8:31-39; Phil 1:6; and John 10:28-29. All of these indicate that God is greater than any outside threat to our salvation. No external force can overpower Him and destroy us against our will. How encouraging and reassuring that is!

However, many have taken these and other passages to mean that one who is once saved can never be lost, even if he abandons the faith and rejects the Lord! They may argue either [1] that such a person was never saved to begin with, or [2] that the person’s apostasy is temporary or not a threat to their salvation. Some say the Bible’s warnings are only intended to distinguish the truly saved from the never saved.

Where did these ideas originate? Ultimately they began with the teaching of Calvinism and Reformed Theology. This doctrine holds that the saved have been pre-selected by God and that their salvation has been predetermined since eternity. It presents faith itself as a sovereign gift of God, which He could never retract. It says that, as a result, it is impossible for one to lose his or her faith or her salvation. After all, how could God guarantee to save someone, no matter what, then plant faith in them through irresistible grace, and then ultimately allow them to be lost? To the Calvinist this is unthinkable, because to him it contradicts the sovereignty of God.

So, if you are studying with a person who believes in "once saved, always saved," be aware that this doctrine is fundamental and beyond dispute for many who have accepted it. When you show Scripture indicating that a person once saved can later be lost, your friend may think you are teaching salvation by works. 

The Bible does not teach salvation by works, but it does teach salvation by faith! The implication is that, if one abandons the faith, or rejects faith and makes it shipwreck (see 1 Tim 1:19-20), that person is no longer saved by faith.

The Bible itself has a beautiful balance of two truths. One is that we are saved by the grace of God through faith, and not by our own works. The other is that we must continue in faith in order to remain connected to God’s grace that saves. All are free to have faith. All are free to reject faith. All are free to move from unbelief to faith, and from faith back to unbelief.

Note the two concepts here.

1 John 1:7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.

And again here.

2 Tim 2:11 It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; 12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; 13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

Now let’s follow up on this second truth, that those who begin with faith may then abandon that faith and be lost. Here are Scriptures that clearly teach the possibility of a once-saved person later becoming eternally lost.

Mark 4:17 “and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they fall away.”

John 15:2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

I Cor 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,

1 Cor 10:5 But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

1 Cor 10: 11-12 Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

Gal 5:4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

Gal 5:21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Gal 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

Col 1:23 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 under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

Heb 2:1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.

Heb 3:6 but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.

Heb 3:12-14 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,

Heb 4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it.

Heb 4:11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience.

Heb 6:4-6 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they cruciöl again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

Heb 10:26-31 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people. “ 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Heb 10:36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:

James 5:19-20 Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, 20 let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way .will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.

2 Pet 2:20-21 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

2 Pet 3:17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;

Rev 2:10 “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."

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