Bible Faith Fellowship: Substance Over Form

Once Saved Always Saved

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Joseph Tokar

Once Saved Always Saved Once Saved Always Saved

Date 2007-11-25
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Document (PDF) BFF-20071125-OnceSavedAlwaysSaved.pdf

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Once Saved Always Saved

This is a big argument, one that has torn church bodies apart and caused many rifts in the “Church.” So what does scripture say? I studied this for some time and have come to my conclusion. I'm going to preach a little differently today. First, I'm going to present both sides of the argument, and then we are going to discuss it. Please take notes: this could take a couple of weeks.

How do we know that we are saved?
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some. Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness."     In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for noble purposes and some for ignoble. If a man cleanses himself from the latter, he will be an instrument for noble purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.     Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.
2 Timothy 2:15-25

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom and causes us to hate evil. Proverbs 8:13, 9:10

Now if the holy God hates sin so much, then how can we claim that you're eternally saved regardless of sin in your life? 2 Timothy 2:19 says, "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away […]," yet Matthew 7:21-23 states, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

The only way anyone can do these supernatural works for God is through the Holy Spirit given to those who are following Christ. This is evidenced by Paul when he writes of the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19:13-16.

Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. (One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

These sons quite obviously did not have the Holy Spirit in them. Clearly then the people Christ is talking about were at least once followers of Christ, but did not persevere to the end. Jesus also says "Not everyone who calls me Lord! Lord! Shall be saved."

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.' But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.'     26" Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!' There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out."
Luke 13:22-28

So now we know how to tell if we are saved: Simply - is the Holy Spirit in us? Do we obey God?

Can we fall away?
CON

Ref: John 10:28 (Nobody can take our salvation.) "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."

Ref: Romans 6:23 (Eternal salvation is a gift.) "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Ref: 1 John 5:11-14 (He who has the Son has life. He who doesn't has death.) "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us."

Ref: 1 Cor 6:9-10 (Sinners are not a part of the Kingdom of God.) "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Ref: Rom 3:10-28 "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: their feet are swift to shed blood: destruction and misery are in their ways: and the way of peace have they not known: there is no fear of God before their eyes. Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law."

Ref: Galations 5:21 (Shall not inherit) "Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

Ref: 1 John 2:1-3 (We know Him because we obey his commands.) "Satan cannot take away salvation; he can tear apart our families, destroy our lives, tempt our flesh. "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments."

Ref: 1 John 3:9 (No one born of God will continue to sin.) "And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God."

Ref: Hebrews 10:12 (Christ Himself paid the price.) "But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God."

Ref: Hebrews 6:4-10 (Once enlightened, if we reject … Love-confident of better things.) "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister."

Ref: John 3:36 (believes=life : doesn't believe=death - eternal) "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."

Ref: John 3:15-17 "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."

Ref: Romans 8:15 (spirit of adoption) "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."

Ref: Romans 11:29 (irrevocable) "For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable."

Ref: Mathew 7:23 "And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."

Ref: John 6:64 "But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him."

Ref: John 6:70 "Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?"

Ref: Romans 8:38-39 "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

PRO

Ref: Galatians 5:1-6 (falling away) "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

Paul is speaking to a church whose congregation was truly saved. They were justified by faith, received the Holy Spirit, and miracles were performed in their midst.

Ref: Galatians 3:1-5 (Received the Spirit) "You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing - if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?"

So, if falling away is impossible, then Paul is just spouting nonsense, and there is nothing for the Galatians to fear.

Ref: Luke 8:11-15 "This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life's worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop."

This is not an isolated incidence in scripture. (Also the parable of the wedding feast)

Ref: I Corinthians 10:11-13 (Possible to fall through temptation) "These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Ref: 1 Timothy 1:15-20 (Honded over to Satan - rejection) "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners - of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme."

Ref: Hebrews 4:1-11 (Disobedience) "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, 'So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'' And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: 'And on the seventh day God rested from all his work.' And again in the passage above he says, 'They shall never enter my rest.' It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.' For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience."

Ref: Hebrews 12:1-15 (Bitterness) "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.' Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 'Make level paths for your feet,' so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed. Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."

Ref: 2 Peter 3:14-18 (Deception - on purpose : False Teaching - ignorance) "So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction. Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen."

Ref: James 5:19-20 (Speaking to brothers about brothers) "My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins."

How do we keep our salvation?

Ref: Matthew 10:22 "All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."

Ref: Mark 13:13 (same as above)

If these statements do not admit the possibility of falling away then what do they mean? If it is impossible to fall away permanently, these statements would have no meaning. Why would Jesus even have to say them? The context makes clear that it is a warning. Paul teaches the same thing.

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation - if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Colossians 1:21-23

Ref: Hebrews 3:6, 12-14 "But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast. See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first."

What is falling away and how can it happen?
Apostasy

Ref: 2 Thessalonians 2

What Causes Such Falling Away?

If, then, falling away is possible, what causes it according to Scripture? Technically speaking, only unbelief, that is, not believing in Jesus damns (cf. John 3:18,36; Mark 16:16). However, the New Testament itself further nuances this. An analysis of the New Testament data reveals that both (1) rejecting the Gospel and (2) living in sin unrepentantly lead to falling away from the faith.

Rejecting the Gospel, in New Testament terms, can mean either (1a) putting one's trust in persons or works of the Law in addition to Jesus Christ or (1b) a total repudiation of Jesus and the Christian faith, and (1c) rejecting an essential doctrine of the Gospel. An example of (1a) was the Galatian congregation already mentioned. They, who had been taught to trust only in Jesus for their salvation were beginning to trust in the works of the Law (i.e., circumcision) in addition to Jesus. Paul rightly pointed out that to do so meant to fall from grace. So also in our day, any Christian who begins to trust in their own performance or someone or something else in addition to Christ has fallen away.

Notation (1b) above refers to the person who formally and consciously leaves the Christian faith. A Biblical example of this is probably those to whom the letter to the Hebrews was written. Many scholars believe that the epistle to the Hebrews was written as a stern warning to Hebrew Christians who were on the verge of returning to Judaism. Demas, "who having loved this present world" deserted Paul and returned to Thessalonica, is probably another example (2 Timothy 4:10). So is Judas Iscariot.

An example of (1c) is those who denied the resurrection, such as "Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some (see also 1 Timothy 1:19-20). Some among the Corinthians were also rejecting the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12-14).

Ref: Matthew 18:15-18 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.' If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Christ is speaking about a fellow Christian (i.e., a "brother") who sins and then refuses to repent. Ultimately, if this erring brother does not "listen" he is to be treated as a "Gentile" and "tax collector," in other words, as a non-Christian.

When do we fall?

Ref: Matthew 24:9-10; Luke 8:13

Ref: 1 Timothy 4:1 – False doctrine (WILL fall away??)

Ref: Hebrews 2:3 - neglect

Can we come back?

According to the Word of God, there is only one unforgivable sin, the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Ref: Mark 3:28 "I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them."

Only if we repent:

Ref: 1 John 1:8-2:2 "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives."

Ref: 1 John 2 "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Ref: Ephesians 6:10-17; 1 Peter 5:8

The Scriptures warn us of the devil because his goal is to steal away our salvation (we already know that he can't do this, he can however deceive us).

Ref: John 10:10; Ephesians 2:2; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Acts 26:17-18

Can Satan steal our salvation?

Ref: Romans 8:38-39 "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Closing
Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.     It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.     Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.     Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Hebrews 6:1-12