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PART 7 ETERNAL SECURITY
Could Someone Who Believed in Christ During the Church Age Lose Their Salvation?
The New Testament Church
Losing one’s salvation for the New Testament believer means to lose the indwelling Holy Spirit along with the subsequent benefits, one of which is eternal life that refers to the believer going to heaven at physical death. If this benefit is lost, this would mean that the believer would go to hell at physical death because of habitual sin. As we will see, there is much Scripture that can be used by the leadership of churches to support their view on this topic. Some churches will use only one section of Scripture and say here is why we believe x, y, or z. Others might use a few Scriptures. You might be asking yourself, how will I ever use any of this in the sense of there being so many sections of Scriptures that pertain to this topic to choose from? When you have finished reading this study, I would recommend picking out one or two sections that you could use in your dialogue about this topic with another believer.
There is one more thing I would like to mention in regard to studying any Biblical topic. I believe that if you have an issue with a particular topic that your church is teaching about, then go ahead on your own time and learn more about it. You should be like the Bereans in Acts 17:10-12, who, when Paul and Silas preached the gospel, were willing to listen and examine how the promises and types of the Old Testament corresponded to the alleged fulfillment in the person, works, and sufferings of Jesus Christ. The Bereans made a careful and exact study against the Scriptures in order to see if what Paul had said agreed with what the Scriptures said.57 Likewise, shouldn’t we do as such?
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)
The first section of Scripture we will look at pertaining to losing salvation would be in respect to the giving of money in return for something of a spiritual nature.
Simon Claiming Greatness within Himself: “Thy Money Perish with Thee”
Suggested Reading: Acts 8:5-24
Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me. (Acts 8:5, 12-24)
Philip, one of the 7 deacons of Jerusalem, traveled to Sychar in the region of Samaria. The Samaritans were a people who held to both Jewish and pagan rites. When Phillip preached the gospel, they believed in Jesus and were baptized in water. However, at this time, they did not receive the indwelling Holy Spirit. Two apostles, Peter and John, were sent from Jerusalem when it was learned that Samaria had received the word of God, but not the Spirit. When they arrived, they prayed for the Samaritans to receive the Holy Spirit, while having their hands laid on them, and then they received Him.
Simon, a sorcerer, who exercised control over nature and people by means of demonic power, and was considered to be the supreme Father by them, also believed in Christ. After seeing that the Holy Spirit was received by the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money in order to receive the same ability. The apostles understood that he was not only very envious of this God given bestowal on them, but that Simon was also a prisoner of sin. They told him to repent so that the punishment due to sinful conduct would be removed. Simon didn’t admit or confess to God his sinful actions, but asked the apostles to pray for him so that the punishment they declared to him would be removed.
This brings us to the utmost question to be asked.
Can a Believer in Christ Lose Their Salvation?
• When Peter said to Simon that his money would perish with him, he was saying that he had lost his salvation. He no longer had a part of an inheritance and neither was he any longer a partaker of the favor of God. He was to repent in order to recover his salvation.
• Simon had very little instruction in the basic doctrines of the church and in personal sanctification. His heart was not right, because he was operating in the mindset of his old sin nature, thus failing to understand grace, the free nature of God's salvation and blessings.58
• He was told to repent, which refers to changing one’s way of life as a result of a complete change of thought and attitude with regard to sin and righteousness.
• The idea of Peter saying to Simon that his money would die with him means that both the offering and the individual were rejected because he was operating out of the wrong motives.
• The words perish with thee doesn’t mean that his soul would go to hell, but that he will receive discipline or chastisement from God, which could result in physical sickness or even physical death.
There are many who believe that their works will determine whether they go heaven or hell. Do you think that what we do in this life will earn God’s favor?
The Day of Wrath: “Render to Every Man According to His Deeds”
Suggested Readings: Romans 2:1-10
Who will render to every man according to his deeds: (Romans 2:6)
Paul is addressing the Jews, who were condemning the Gentiles for their sinful lifestyle. He said to them that whoever you are that pass judgment on other people’s actions cannot save yourself from accusation in regard to your own evil ways. In other words, God will punish wickedness whether it be committed out in the open by the Gentiles or according to the real nature of one’s conduct, and not as to how one’s conduct may appear to others, as exemplified by the religious Jews.
For you, the hypocritical Jew, who take lightly God’s forbearance (holding back of judgment) and longsuffering (a willingness to endure rejection), because of your ignorance (degree of inattention) don’t you know that the kindness of God is trying to lead you to repent (turn away from your sins to him; change of mind, purpose, and life, and return to him)? Unfortunately, the stubbornness and insensibility of your mind to all appeals made to it continues to accumulate punishment for yourselves on the day of wrath, in which God will render to every person according to their works.
It appears that the Jews and Gentiles spoken of here are unbelievers. With that said, let’s attempt to answer the following question.
Can a Believer in Christ Lose Their Salvation?
• For those spoken of here, unbelievers, they can’t lose their salvation, because they never received it.
• Those who don’t repent of their sins to God the Father and believe in his Son Jesus Christ will be judged according to their works as to whether there was any redeeming quality empowering them. No amount of good works can convince God to accept them as allowance to enter heaven.
• Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
• This event will occur following the 1000-year Millennial Reign of Christ and could be called the Final Judgment for all mankind.
• If any of them repented and believed having received the Spirit and additional benefits and subsequently performed good works, but for whatever reason decided to engage in habitual egregious behavior, they would lose their salvation.
• If a believer repents of their egregious behavior and exhibits good works, then their salvation will be restored.
• A person’s works will be looked at, albeit differently, in regard to the group of people being addressed.
• If some of them repented and believed thus becoming born-again, then Scripture appears to indicate there will come a time when they (the entire church worldwide) will be removed from the earth according to an event called the Rapture. Both those Christians, who have already died and those who are still alive on earth will meet Christ in the sky, where the clouds are. At this time, they will receive a resurrection body along with rewards that are based on whether their works, when tried (tested) revealed whether they were of a spiritual quality. What this refers to is the testing of a believer’s works for eternal rewards, and does not have any reference to their eternal destiny. This event in Scripture is called the Judgement Seat of Christ. Some believe this will occur before a seven-year period of time called the Tribulation Period.
• For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17)
• For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (2 Corinthians 5:10)
• If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:15)
• At the Final Judgment, those believed in God as He was revealed in any dispensation will have their names written in a book called “the book of life”. Their works will not be presented as a determination as allowance to enter heaven, because works are not the basis for entrance.
• A believer’s works are testing for reward and not eternal judgment.
• He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. (Revelation 3:5)
• Unbelievers, whose names were originally in the Book of Life, but were removed because they didn’t repent and believe will have the only other thing left to evaluate, i.e., their works.
• It will be clearly made aware to them that good works do not merit favor with God as to entrance into heaven. All of them will be burned up as to their spiritual quality.
• Unfortunately, their eternal destiny will be to live in a horrific place called the Lake of Fire, where they will be devoid of God’s abundant life forever.
• And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 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. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:11-15)
Can someone or something separate us from the love of God?
All Things Work Together for Good: “Who Shall Separate Us”
Romans 8:28, 35-39
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 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.
Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome informing them that they had received the Spirit of adoption, and had become heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, adding that in the lives of those who love God all things will work out together for their good. He goes on to say to them that there is no event that can separate us from Christ’s love, not even tribulation (pressure from outside); distress (anxiety of mind; being hemmed in on every side, without the possibility of getting out or escaping); persecution (an enemy that pursues us in order to destroy us); famine (lack of the necessities of life); nakedness (insufficient clothing); peril (any sort of threat to one’s life; a state of extreme and continual danger, perplexing and distressing with grievous forebodings and alarms59); or sword (violent death). In everything that happens to us, we are more than conquerors (we will always struggle and emerge; keep on winning a glorious victory).
Paul further stated that neither could the believer be separated from God by:
â—Death (the fear of).
â—Life (the hope of).
â—Angels (fallen angels; evil spirits).
â—Principalities (heavenly rulers).
â—Powers (evil spirits that have dominion over men).
â—Human governments; things present (things that are in sight); things in the future.
â—Height (the highest position that a given star could reach).
â—Depth (to the region below the horizon out of which the stars rise).
With that said, is there anything that was not mentioned which could cause a believer to lose their salvation?
• For believers who do not love God, all things will not work together for good.
• It is only when we love God that all things are constantly working together60, such that nothing or no one will be able to separate us from the love of Christ.
• Loving God means to obey Christ in regard to the scriptural commands that He has conveyed to us such as: not committing habitual sin, not complaining in respect to affliction, but rather that they should accomplish God’s purpose, etc.
• See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, (Ephesians 5:15)
• Those who have believed in Christ and after which have chosen not to love God by being obedient to Him will lose their salvation.
• If we love God, then we will be impacted by his love, when we: decide to put on the mind of Christ; choose to think about ourselves as new creations in Christ, understand that what happens to us is a part of God’s plan. Hopefully, we will respond to such things which happen with a heavenly perspective.
• If we choose not to love God, then we will reap what we sow, which is divine discipline for correction and restoration to fellowship.
• Whether we love God or not, there is nothing that can separate us from His love, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
• We are called according to His purpose which is the working of “the everlasting purpose of God whereby before the foundations of the world were laid, He hath decreed by His counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom He hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation.”61
• Loving God has to do with our walk, and not on our standing.
• See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, (Ephesians 5:15)
• We can only love God, when we are operating in the love of the Holy Spirit.
• And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:2)
What we will look at next are two words, which in relation to salvation could mean two different things depending on who is asked.
Has a believer who is “cut off” lost their salvation?
God Has Not Cast Away His People: “Otherwise Thou Also Shalt Be Cut Off”
Suggested Reading: Romans 11:2-29
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. (Romans 11:11)
Paul is telling the believers at Rome that God has not cast away all Israel, whom He foreknew (chose beforehand). There is a remnant (a small number) that God knew beforehand (foreknowledge), who would freely believe in His Son for salvation, and it is on this basis that they are elected (chosen) by Him for salvation. He further emphasized that even though the Jews stumbled because of disobedience and unbelief, this doesn’t mean that this has resulted in their demise or final destruction. But rather, their stumbling has brought about two positive effects. The first is that the offer of salvation has now also been presented to the Gentiles. And second is that as the Gentiles witness of God working in themselves hopefully this will cause some of the unbelieving Jews to become jealous, and respond to salvation.
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Then Paul presented an analogy in regard to those Gentiles who might choose not to believe. As some of the natural branches (the Jews) of the cultivated olive tree were cut off because of unbelief, this allowed a branch (of the Gentiles) from a wild olive tree to be grafted in to the cultivated olive tree so that they would have an opportunity to partake of what it offers. However, just as God has cut off the natural branches (some of the Jews who did not believe) so also shall He cut off those Gentiles, who might choose not to believe in his Son.
Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. (Romans 11:22)
He follows this up by saying to the Gentile Christians that they notice carefully the goodness and sharpness of God. On those who fell (the Jews that chose not to believe) punishment, although there will be a remnant who will believe, but toward you (those who are saved) goodness (kindness) if you continue (to abide) in his goodness (friendship; companionship), otherwise you also will be cut off.
This brings us to the following question in respect to the words cut off.
Can a Believer in Christ Lose Their Salvation?
• If the saved Gentiles continue not in God’s goodness (friendship; companionship), then like those Jews, who didn’t believe in his Son and subsequently were relegated to final destruction, so too will they be cut off (lose their salvation).
• It’s true that those Jews, who chose not to believe in God’s Son fell (to final destruction). Another way to say this is that some of the natural branches were to be broken off; the word in the Greek exeklástheesan meaning also to be removed.
• And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree (Romans 11:17)
• In this context, what we’re talking about are believers who chose not to continue to walk with God, which the scriptures state that in this case they will be cut off. The word in the Greek being ekopeesee meaning not in the sense of removal, but metaphorically in the sense of being excluded from spiritual blessing.
• V. 22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
• In this sense, God’s punishment will not be final but temporal by means of chastisement in regard to their apostasy. This discipline could be in the form: of adverse circumstances, a rebuke from his word, or of physical suffering.
• For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. (Hebrews 12:6)
• The purpose of chastisement is so that the believer will learn how they should act from a divine perspective and subsequently use the experience as to how they should exercise themselves spiritually, the result of which will restore their fellowship with the Father and produce peace in their soul.
• Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. (Hebrews 12:11)
The word fall is often taken as meaning that a believer has lost their salvation. Let’s see what these scripture sections have to say about this.
Continuing in His Goodness: “On Those Which Fell”
Suggested Reading: Romans Chapters 10 & 11
For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. (Romans 11:21-22)
If God did not spare the natural branches (Israel), then the Gentiles (those grafted in) must continue in faith in order to be spared. Spared from what, eternal damnation or chastisement? The answers will be expressed in response to the question at hand.
Can a Believer in Christ Lose Their Salvation?
• Through the unbelief of the Jews as a nation, salvation has come to the Gentiles. But, if God didn’t spare the Jews, who did not believe in his Son, neither will he spare Gentile believers who do not continue in his goodness. In other words, they will lose their salvation.
• Through the unbelief of the Jews as a nation, salvation has come to the Gentiles.
• God's favor to the Gentiles refers to the church as a whole and not to the individual Christian.
• The words be cut off refers to the professing church departing from the faith, i.e., apostasy.
• And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:3, 12, 14)
The final discussion in this chapter relating to salvation involves two words without repentance.
The Gifts and Calling of God: “Without Repentance”
Suggested Reading: Romans Chapters 10 & 11
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (Romans 11:29)
Paul wrote to the believers at Rome, instructing them that his desire for the Jews was that they might be saved. He said that there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, the same God is over all, and whoever confesses the Lord Jesus and believes that God raised him from the dead shall be saved. God has not cast away Israel, whom he foreknew. There is a remnant according to the election of grace.
Because the Jews rejected Christ, salvation was offered to the Gentiles as well. There were Jews who didn’t believe in Christ, who became enemies of the Christian faith. Likewise, there were also Jews who believed in Christ and are beloved by God.
And by the way, the heavenly gifts, which God bestows on believing sinners include pardon, peace, joy, sanctification, eternal life and the calling of God, denoting God’s invitation to people to come and partake of his favors.62
If God’s gifts are without repentance, can a believer in Christ lose their salvation?
• Once any Jew believed in Christ and received his favor, they could lose it, if they went back and habitually followed the Mosaic Law for sanctification, or if they habitually entered into idol worship. The thought that these gifts or favors are without repentance and can never be withdrawn (Denny) 63 is not true.
• Those Jews who believed in Christ will have bestowed upon them favors such as pardon of sin, sanctification, eternal life, etc. These favors are without repentance and can never be withdrawn (Denny).64
• For God to forsake such a soul, and leave it to ruin would imply that he did repent, and would suppose a change of purpose and of feeling.65
There is a lot of information here! It can be overwhelming, but I hope eye opening. We have two more chapters to devote to an analysis of scripture sections. When I began this study, I was aware of the prominent scriptures used by both sides of this argument to support their view, but I never knew how many more scriptures there were on this topic. My suggestion is to continue reading and ask God the Father to give you insight by means of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in respect to anything that you don’t understand. My hope is that you are becoming aware as to why there is such disagreement not only concerning this Biblical topic, but for most Biblical topics.
This could also be the reason why there are so many different Christian churches as to their doctrinal platform. A difference in view on one Biblical topic could cause an assembly of believers to divide and bring about two different places of worship. Is there any other way that this could be worked out? I would say yes. Simply present Biblical topics from opposing views and let each believer decide what they want to believe with the exception being concerning those doctrines which are absolute such as: the deity of Christ; the virgin birth; Christ’s resurrection; the trinity; the Gospel of Christ.
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