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PART 2 ETERNAL SECURITY
In the Old Testament, Could a Person Who Believed in God as He Was Revealed Lose Their Salvation?
There is a view that individuals who believed in God in the Old Testament could lose their salvation; the idea being that with the loss or departure of the on-resting Spirit and his benefits, the person’s destiny after physical death would go to a compartment of Hades, which I will call Torments. With that said, let’s take a look at a parable that talked about where the souls of Old Testaments saints went following physical death.
Hell (Hades): The Temporary Realm of the Dead
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead (Luke 16:19-31).
Two men were in different financial and spiritual places during their lifetime on earth. One man was rich and without a relationship with God, while the other was poor but had a relationship with God. When the rich man died, he went to a place in hell, which I have chosen to call Torments; and when the beggar died, he went to a place called Abraham’s bosom or Paradise.
In the midst of great pain and suffering in this unforgiving place, the rich man looked up and could see Abraham far away, yet within hearing distance. He asked him to send the poor man, Lazarus, to come to where he was with water so that his tongue could be cooled. Abraham said that this was not possible because there was a vast, impassable, and permanent abyss between them so that no one could go from one place to the other. He then begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his father’s house to testify (warn) to his five brothers about the fact that there is a literal place of torment that they don’t want to go to at death. Abraham replied that they will have the opportunity to listen to the words of Moses and the prophets concerning salvation, but if they chose not to accept this message then nothing else would persuade them to repent.
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:8-10)
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise. (Luke 23:43)
It is believed by many theologians that our Lord emptied the Paradise part of Hades (Hell) of its people, when he returned (ascended) to the Father. Today the word paradise refers to heaven where Jesus reigns in glory (2 Corinthians 12:1-4). Even though Torments was a place of punishment for the Old Testament saints, there will be a place of future punishment for all those who didn’t believe in God as He was revealed called the lake of fire.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (Revelations 20:13)
One day in the future, the sea and the grave will give up the bodies, and Hades will give up the souls, thus reuniting the two, and the lost will stand before Christ in judgment (Revelation 20:10-15).16 We now know where the spirits of those who died before Christ’s ascension went. However, the question remains, can a person who believed in God in the Old Testament lose their salvation? By salvation in this dispensation, I mean lose the entrance into Paradise of Hades that they at one time were destined to go at death.
Let’s begin by saying that not everyone who believed in God received the on-resting Spirit. And it is also true that some who received the on-resting Spirit had it depart from them because of habitual sin.
This brings us back to the question of losing one’s salvation, which has been restated. What is the basis for entrance to Paradise upon physical death? Is not entering in based on the departure of the on-resting Spirit or on believing in God (Jehovah) as He was revealed but not obeying the mandates of the Mosaic Law? With this question in mind, let’s take a look at various people in the Old Testament who believed in God and try to ascertain as whether as some suggest that they lost their salvation.
Before we go to these passages, I would like to share a brief story with you. In the early years of my walk with God following my salvation, I attended a church called the Church of Bible Understanding. This church was located on one of the main streets in the city, where I grew up. On a particular day, I saw the sign for worship, wrote down the hours for attendance, and showed up for what I thought would be a normal church service (e.g. singing, teaching, financial offering, prayer). When I walked in one of the first things I noticed was there were no pews. Instead, the small room was filled with regular chairs placed in a circle. I sat in one of them and noticed that there weren’t many in attendance, probably about fifteen. Some of the other things which I became aware of was that there was: no staging area for someone to speak from, no area for musical instruments, not even a cross being displayed.
Eventually, one of the members of the group said, “let’s get started” and we began with prayer. He asked us to open our Bibles and turn to a particular book and verse. He read a verse and then discussed some of the words in it. As he picked out certain words, he asked if anyone had a thought as to what the word or words meant. In some cases, he would respond back to anyone who said something by saying that was pretty close, and at other times he would politely say that what was said was not quite the meaning. All of a sudden someone opened the front door of the meeting room and loudly declared, “I’m sorry I haven’t been here for a while, because I have done some things which I shouldn’t have done and I know I have lost my salvation.”
I had never heard anything like this. I can honestly say that I didn’t even know what this meant. The same person who opened with prayer, who I assume might have been the pastor, asked this person to confess her sins to God, which she did. He followed this up by saying something like, “Now that you have repented to God you have regained your salvation.” This person proceeded to then sit in one of the vacant chairs and hear the remaining part of the teachings. When the pastor ended his teaching, a short time of prayer followed and then all of us left.
Two things stood out to me. The first was that I didn’t understand what the message was about. There was no title, and neither was there any continuity of thought because instead of teaching with sentence declarations, we only looked at certain words. The second thing that stood out was this idea that a believer could lose their salvation because of sin. This was pretty scary to think that a believer could be on their way to heaven and then, because of sin, wind up going to a place of intense suffering forever.
Hopefully this study will help us understand what verses are used to support the view that salvation (entrance to paradise) can be lost and how these same verses are used to support the view that salvation cannot be lost.
Were There Certain People That Might Have Lost Their Salvation?
Read the content that follows along with the suggested scripture reading, if any. Then read the responses of “yes” and “no” to the question posed. Hopefully, this will provide you with a further awareness regarding the basis for believing whether a person who believed in God in the Old Testament can or can’t lose their salvation.
The Children of Israel
And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses. (Exodus 14:31)
Having been slaves in Egypt for 430 years, the children of Israel—possibly numbering over two million people—were brought out from under slavery by a man named Moses, whom God had called. The nation Israel was pursued by Pharaoh’s army after their departure from Egypt and subsequently delivered by God at the Red Sea. Israel initially recognized and honored God, and submitted to the leadership of Moses.
Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob; because they have not wholly followed me: Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the Lord. (Numbers 32:11-12)
There was no indication that most of those Israelites who had a relationship with God ever received the on-resting Spirit. Indeed, they were so rebellious and disobedient during their 40-year wilderness wanderings that only those who were under 20 years of age when they left Egypt along with faithful Caleb and Joshua were allowed to enter the Promised Land of Canaan. With these thoughts in mind, how would you answer this question?
Did the Children of Israel Lose Their Salvation?
If you believe they did not, then these might be some of the reasons to support your argument.
• No, they did not lose their salvation. Keeping one’s salvation is not determined by receiving and retaining the on-resting Spirit.
• They did not lose their salvation, because of continual sin (disobedience and complaining). However, the consequence for their transgressions was that most were not allowed to enter the Promised Land of Canaan. (Numbers 14:22-23)
• The basis for entering Paradise was their belief in God as He was revealed. (Luke 16:23; Genesis 3:6)
• Possibly, over 1,000,000 Jews believed in God, which secured their destiny of entering Paradise upon physical death.
If you believe they did lose their salvation (entrance to Paradise upon physical death) then here
might be some reasons to support your claim.
• Yes, they lost their salvation, because they never received the on-resting Spirit.
• Another reason for them losing their salvation was because they continually complained and disobeyed God. This is evidenced by them not being able to enter the Promised Land, the land of Canaan, which is a type of not entering Paradise. (Numbers 14:22-23)
• Over 1,000,000 Jews went to a compartment in hell, which I have chosen to call Torments.
The next person we will look at was one of the many Judges of Israel following the Jews entrance into the Promised Land of Canaan and the death of their leader Joshua, the successor of Moses.
Suggested Reading: Judges Chapters 13-16
And the woman bare a son, and called his name Samson: and the child grew, and the Lord blessed him. And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol. (Judges 13:24-25)
And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him. (Judges 16:20)
And it came to pass, when their hearts were merry, that they said, Call for Samson, that he may make us sport. And they called for Samson out of the prison house; and he made them sport: and they set him between the pillars. And Samson said unto the lad that held him by the hand, Suffer me that I may feel the pillars whereupon the house standeth, that I may lean upon them. Now the house was full of men and women; and all the lords of the Philistines were there; and there were upon the roof about three thousand men and women, that beheld while Samson made sport. And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. (Judges 16:25-30)
Samson was one of the judges of Israel, whom the Lord blessed as he was growing up. At various times, the on-resting Spirit would rest on him. While Sampson was used mightily by God to defeat Israel’s enemy, the Philistines, he unfortunately had a propensity to engage in fornication with foreign women. One of them was Delilah, who eventually betrayed the secret of his great physical strength, his long hair, resulting in the departure of the on-resting Spirit. Subsequently, he was unable to defend himself against capture by the Philistines, who gouged out his eyes.
Unfortunately, he was a person who listened to his own conscience and followed after the lusts of his own heart, i.e. in longing for and pursuing Delilah, whose betrayal resulted in both physical and spiritual blindness. His condition was the sad result of his own self-desired choices and caused him to exhibit a dishonorable testimony to others. On a certain day, 3000 Philistines were gathered together to offer a great sacrifice to their god, Dagon, and so they called for Samson to be brought out of confinement so they could laugh and make fun of him. As he stood between two middle pillars, which held up the section of the prison house they were gathered in, he called out to God, asking to be empowered by Him one more time in order to collapse the pillars and avenge what they had done to him. God heard and answered his prayer, resulting in the death of not only Samson, but of all of the Philistines. We these thoughts in mind, how would you answer this question?
Did Samson Lose His Salvation?
If your opinion is no, then these might be some of the reasons to support your conclusion.
• No, Samson did not lose his salvation.
• The Spirit departed from him because of continual sin, and later returned as a result of his final prayer. The receiving, departing, and receiving again of the on-resting Spirit had nothing to do with securing his eternal destiny.
• And neither did he lose his salvation, because of engaging in habitual fornication.
• His belief in God was the basis for his destiny to Paradise.
Likewise, if you believe he did lose his salvation, these might be some of the reasons to support your conjecture.
• Yes, and then No.
• Initially, Samson lost his salvation with the loss of the on-resting Spirit, but regained it again as evidenced by God answering his prayer to avenge himself of the Philistines.
• Others would say that he did lose his salvation, because of engaging in habitual sexual sins, However, he recovered from these desires, because he sought the Lord asking Him to strengthen him once again, intimating within this context that he had confessed his sin of fornication. (Judges 16:28)
• Therefore, his destiny to Paradise was secure.
The next person we will take a look at is Israel’s first king. If anyone could have lost their Salvation, it would be him. Let’s determine why.
Suggested Reading: 1 Samuel 9:1-27; 10:1-10
And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man. (1 Samuel 10:6)
Saul was shown the word of God and then anointed as king by the prophet/judge Samuel. Samuel instructed him to go on a journey, on which he would eventually meet up with a company of prophets, where the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him and he would prophesy with them. During his reign, the Israelites gained victories over many of their foes. However, he began to repeatedly disobeyed the divine instructions that were relayed to him via the prophet/judge Samuel.
In one instance, he was commanded to destroy all the people and animals of the Amalekites, including their king, Agag, but instead he spared the king along with the best of the cattle. After Saul continually rebelled against God’s directives, Samuel told him that God had rejected him as king. Samuel was then instructed by the Lord to visit the sons of a man named Jesse, one of whom would be chosen to be the next king of Israel. And so, David, the youngest, became God’s next choice.
By the way, not only was Saul disobedient to God’s instructions, but eventually he became incessantly jealous of David, because he not only had killed a champion of the Philistines named Goliath in a particular battle with the Philistines, but also because he was given higher accolades than Saul in regard to his military exploits. From that time on, even though David was appointed one of the commanders of the Jewish army by Saul, Saul sought to kill him for just about all of the remaining days of his life.
But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. (1 Samuel 16:14)
Because of Saul’s continual self-reliance, disobedience, and jealousy, the on-resting Spirit left him and an evil spirit from the Lord came upon him.
How could anyone think that Saul would go to Paradise at death? Well, how would you answer the same question we have been asking?
Did Saul Lose His Salvation?
• No, Saul did not lose his salvation, because of losing the on-resting Spirit and receiving an evil spirit from the Lord.
• But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. (1 Samuel 16:14)
• The on-resting Spirit departed from Saul, because of not obeying the Word of God. (1 Samuel 15:26, 28)
• It is true that Saul continually disobeyed God’s word. He even attempted to kill David, even after he married his daughter Michal. (1 Samuel 19:11)
• If anyone deserved to go to a place of torments after physical death, it was Saul. (Luke 16:23)
• However, when King Saul died, he joined the deceased prophet Samuel in Paradise. This is made evident when the witch of Endor was asked by King Saul to summon Samuel so that he could find out about what the outcome might be concerning an upcoming skirmish with the Philistines. Samuel, who was now abiding in Paradise, answered him by saying that both you and your sons will be killed in battle, and after which all of you will join me where I am located. (1 Samuel 28:4-19)
• V. 15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.
• V. 19 Moreover the Lord will also deliver Israel with thee into the hand of the Philistines: and tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me: the Lord also shall deliver the host of Israel into the hand of the Philistines.
If you believe that there is no way that King Saul went to Paradise at death, then these might be the reasons to support your premise.
• Yes, Saul lost his salvation with the loss of the on-resting Spirit and the receiving of an evil spirit from the Lord.
• But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him. (1 Samuel 16:14)
• Others would say that Saul lost his salvation, because of continued disobedience of obeying God’s word. (1 Samuel 15:26, 28)
• For example, he attempted to kill David with a javelin. (1 Samuel 18:11) On another occasion, he was supposed to kill an enemy king along with all of the livestock, which he chose not to do. (1 Samuel 18:11)
• Not only did the on-resting Spirit of the Lord depart from him, but God wouldn’t even provide an answer for him when he inquired as to what the outcome might be in respect to an upcoming battle with the Philistines. (1 Samuel 28:6)
We have one more person to look at, who was a king of the Southern Kingdom.
In the seventh year of Jehu Jehoash began to reign; and forty years reigned he in Jerusalem And his mother's name was Zibiah of Beer-sheba. And Jehoash did that which was right in the sight of the
Lord all his days wherein Jehoiada the priest instructed him. (2 Kings 12:1-2)
…Jehoash… And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord; he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin: but he walked therein. (2 Kings 13:10-11)
Now after the death of Jehoiada came the princes of Judah, and made obeisance to the king. Then the king hearkened unto them. And they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served groves and idols: and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their trespass. (2 Chronicles 24:17-18)
Jehoash was one of many kings of the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and initially he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, being instructed by Jehoiada, the high priest. After Jehoiada died, Jehoash was influenced by the petitions of the princes of Judah, who urged him to worship idols. He began to follow the ways of Jeroboam I, the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and became idolatrous.
So, for a good part of the beginning of his reign he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord. In the later part of his reign, he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord. Here is the question we will ask as we did for the others we have looked at.
Did King Jehoash Lose His Salvation?
If you believe he did not, then some of the reasons that could justify your perspective are as follows.
• No, King Jehoash did not lose his salvation, because his belief in God was the basis for his destiny to Paradise.
• Over time, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had 19 kings and the Southern Kingdom of Judah had 19 kings and one queen. Belief in God as He was revealed determined each person’s destiny, whether Paradise or the place of torments.
If you believe that he did lose his salvation, then what follows might be some of the reasons to support this belief.
• Yes, King Jehoash lost his salvation, because initially, he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, inferring that he followed God’s directives, but there is no record that he ever received the on-resting Spirit.
• Later on in his life, he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, and even if he had received the on-resting Spirit, the Spirit would have probably departed.
• Another reason as to why he might have lost his salvation was because he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.
• Over time, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had 19 kings and the Southern Kingdom of Judah had 19 kings and one queen. If the receiving and keeping of the on-resting Spirit is the basis for a person to enter Paradise, it is possible that as many as 32 kings subsequently went to the place of Torments.
• Likewise, if disobedience to obeying the Mosaic Law is the basis for a person not entering Paradise, then it is possible that most of the kings of Judah and Israel never went there.
Based on what we have studied so far, we could deduce the following concerning whether or not an Old Testament saint could lose their salvation.
Those who hold that a person cannot lose their salvation propose that those who believed in God as He was revealed is the sole basis for them going to the part of Hades called Paradise or Abraham’s bosom.
Those who believe that a person can lose their salvation propose that there could be different reasons for the loss of one’s salvation such as:
a. Those who believed in God as He was revealed, who received the on-resting Spirit at some point and lost Him due to continual sin went to Torments.
b. Those who believed in God as He was revealed, who received the on-resting Spirit at some point and chose to no longer obey the tenets of the Mosaic Law went to Torments.
c. Those who believed in God who did not receive the on-resting Spirit would go to a compartment of Hades referred to as a place of Torments.
I think that an awareness of the on-resting Spirit and the fact that He (the Holy Spirit) could depart because of habitual sin seems to provide the basis for some in leadership to believe that a person’s salvation could be lost. If this is the case, then it is understandable as to why many in leadership believe that a New Testament saint could lose the indwelling Spirit and thus their salvation. In the sections that follow, we will look at whether a New Testament saint could or could not lose their salvation.
Before we take a look at the next chapter, I would like to leave you with this quick story.
A few years ago, I spoke on this topic of eternal security in front of a small gathering of believers. I thought they would be excited to hear what I had to say. I presented the two prevalent views and suggested that we should take a look at both. Upon hearing this, a few of them vehemently objected. Their belief was that if a New Testament believer continued in habitual sin and/or chose not to obey Christ’s commands, then at some point the Holy Spirit would depart, end of story.
I explained to them that they had every right to believe this view. However, I mentioned to them that some of the other believers thought just the opposite. In their mind, the penalty and forgiveness of sin was completely taken care of by Christ sufferings on the cross and his subsequent death and resurrection. In other words, sin was no longer an issue. If an unbeliever repented of their sins to God the Father and believed in his Son Jesus Christ as to who He is and what He accomplished, they would be saved. Subsequently he/she would have received the indwelling Spirit along with many other benefits. If he/she chose to commit habitual sin this would result in a loss of fellowship with God the Father and alienation from the filling (control) of the Holy Spirit; the consequence of such would be divine discipline, but not the departure of the indwelling Spirit.
After much uproar, I proceeded to teach on this topic. Eventually, a few walked out. This series was to last for about five weeks. I would post in the local newspaper the title of the message for the upcoming weekly gathering. It was not until a new topic was posted in the local newspaper that those who left returned. When they did, they expressed clear displeasure at the idea of teaching any Biblical topic from opposing views.
As time went on, I continued to teach in this way. This pattern of response went on for a while. Not surprising, some stopped attending altogether. I was myself involved in a church in my earlier years that was, like them, intolerant of any doctrinal views which were contrary to those they espoused. Pastors or fellow believers who had become my friends would be quick to respond in an angry way, if they found out that I held to a view that was contrary to the doctrinal platform of the church.
I do agree that there are some truths that I would consider absolute i.e. the trinity, the deity of Christ, etc. Along with this, there are many doctrines which most Christian churches agree on such as redemption, forgiveness, sanctification, etc. However, there are some doctrines concerning which there are clear divergence (disagreement) such as: Is a believer allowed to drink alcohol?; Are Christians commanded to tithe?; Can a believer lose their salvation?; Are prayer tongues the evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?; Have the gifts of the Spirit ceased?; Are the offices of the church only held by men?; Is there such an event known as the Rapture?; etc.
We might be surprised as to how divided many of the Christian churches are in respect to various doctrinal topics. With this in mind, you would think that believers would gladly welcome divergent teachings on Biblical subjects, but unfortunately, I think this not to be the case. At any rate, I welcome such not for argument sake, but to better understand what serves as the basis as to why a fellow believer thinks differently than myself so that hopefully we can learn from one another instead of ostracizing one another.
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