Sunday, November 29, 2009

All Means "ALL"

A Candid Look at OSAS "Support"

When addressing the erroneous doctrine of Once Saved Always Saved, one will often hear, "All means ALL." This statement is usually made in reference to two Scriptures.

ALL Will Be Raised

"And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:39-40

Jesus describes those who will be raised on the last day in two ways:

They have been given to Him by the Father = They have seen Jesus and believe on Him.

"See", some say, "It is the Father's will that Jesus should lose nothing of what the Father gives Him; that all which is given be raised up into eternal life. All means ALL!."

It is true that the Father's will is for all He gives Jesus to remain, not be lost, and be raised up unto eternal life. A similar sentiment is also reiterated later on in John.

"While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." John 17:12

Jesus acknowledges here that the Father "gave" Him Judas, but that Judas is now "lost". In this case, "all" doesn't mean all, but means "all minus one". Jesus lost none...but Judas.

Some will say that Judas was not really saved. Yet, let's examine again what the Scriptures say. We know from John 6:39-40 that the only ones given to Jesus by the Father are those who have seen Jesus and believed on Him. Further, it is the Father's will that all He gives to Jesus not be lost, but be raised up in the last day...and all means "all".

If this text is a promise from God of unconditional, eternal security for those who have been "given" to Jesus, then what happened to Judas? If God is promising that none given will be lost, then why is Judas lost?

Yes, it was predestined (based on foreknowledge) for Judas to betray God. Yet, that does not dismiss the fact that the Father "gave" Judas to Jesus along with the other disciples. God did not have to include Judas in the number of those who had been given to Jesus...but He did. He could have described Judas as simply a false convert who hung around, but never had saving faith and therefore was never given to Jesus by the Father...but He didn't. According to Jesus, Judas is an example of one the Father gave Him who is lost.

"Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me." Psalm 41:9

"I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me." John 13:18

I am not being flippant here, I am stressing that we must understand what Jesus is truly saying in John 6:39-40 because there are no contradictions in Scripture. God is not a liar; He will not make a promise and then break it.

If a belief we hold is contradicted by Scripture, then either our belief or our understanding of the text (or both) is wrong. Claiming that this text represents God's unilateral promise to keep all who are given to Jesus and raise them up to eternal life contradicts the Scriptures. Either Judas was never given to Jesus by the Father or else it is possible for ones given to Jesus to be lost.

The answer to this seeming discrepancy lies in an understanding of the Father's "will". Examine the following text:

"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." II Timothy 2:3-4

Does "all" mean "all" here in this text as well? Does not Scripture say that God wills for all men to be saved? So, I ask you, "Are all men saved?"

God's will for all men to be saved is not a promise that He will save all men. Similarly, the text in John 6:39 is not a promise that He will ensure that all who have been given to Jesus are not lost.

It is the Father's will that Jesus loses none just like it is the Father's will that all be saved. Yet we know from Scripture that these statements don't reflect what God performs, because Judas was admittedly lost and all men are not saved.

These texts do not reflect Gods promises, but His preceptive will. The will of God in Scripture is reflected in three ways:

  • His Decretive Will - God's decrees which He sovereignly performs in His own power and cannot be changed or thwarted.

  • His Preceptive Will - The principles or precepts He gives to men expressing His desires for what should or should not happen to man.

  • His Permissive Will - What God permits man to bring about, even if it is sinful or not in line with His preceptive will.
A great example of these displays of God's will is seen in the institution of marriage.

"And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him. And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you? And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.

But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." Mark 10:2-9

Getting married is in the Father's will, but He does not command that every person be married; it is not His decretive will. Once married, God wills for no one to put asunder what He has joined; such is His preceptive will. However, He allowed Moses to call for bills of divorcement due to the hardness of man's heart; that was His permissive will.

The purpose of this article is not to go into details of how God's will manifests in Scripture. The point is to examine what is meant when God says that He "wills" for all who are given to Jesus to be raised unto eternal life.

God DOES will for "all" who are given to Jesus to be raised up in the last day. But this is not something He takes responsibility for (or else Judas wouldn't be lost) nor is it something that is simply permissible to Him. He does not want us to be lost once we are given to Jesus.

Consider also the following:

"But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not..." Luke 22:32a

Jesus told this to Peter prior to His crucifixion. It was Jesus' desire that Peter's faith not fail. Did Peter's faith fail? YES. Jesus stating His will for Peter did not mean that Peter's faith could not fail, neither did it mean that Jesus would prevent Peter's faith from failing. He was expressing His sincere desire for Peter's well-being and steadfastness in the faith. Just because God "wills" something does not mean He has agreed to perform it.

God does not promise to ensure that all who are given to Jesus will not be lost anymore than He promises that all men will be saved. These texts express God's preceptive will; what He desires for man...and He only desires that which is best for us.

ALL Sins are Forgiven

"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses." Colossians 2:13

Another question some asked by those attempting to support OSAS is, "If Jesus has forgiven us of all sin, then what sins could possibly result in a loss of salvation? All means all!"

By asking this question, it is implied that man is not accountable for sins committed after salvation, because "all" sin - past, present, and future - are forgiven. Yet, is this Scriptural?

"But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." II Peter 1:9

The word "old" here is the Greek word palai which means former or past. Why doesn't God say that we are forgiven of our past and future sins? If His forgiveness of "all" sin includes the future, then why does He even need to restrict the sins forgiven to those in the past?

"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. Do not err, my beloved brethren." James 1:14-16

Why is God admonishing the "brethren" not to "err" and reminding them that sin leads to death if in fact all future sins are already forgiven?

"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1:7-9

Why is Jesus' blood "cleansing" us from sin as we walk with Him? Shouldn't God have said that His blood "cleansed" us from sin? Why is there a need to be continually cleansed from sin if we are immediately cleansed from ALL sin (past, present, and future) the moment we get saved?

Further, God not only encourages us to confess when we sin, He says that at such times, God is faithful and just "to forgive" us. HOW is this possible if we have already been forgiven?

When speaking to the churches in Revelation, why does Jesus repeatedly tell them to repent if they have already been forgiven of every possible sin?

"Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent." Revelation 2:5

Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth." Revelation 2:16

Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds." Revelation 2:22

Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." Revelation 3:3

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." Revelation 3:19

Not only does Jesus tell them to repent, but there are consequences for not doing so. What are the consequences of not repenting? Having their candlestick removed from Christ's church, having Christ come against them, being thrown into great tribulation, being caught by Jesus unawares and unprepared, or being spewed from His Body.

It is clear from Scripture that we are forgiven of all sin that has occurred up until the time we are born again. After that, we are commanded to sin no more, but to walk in the light of the Spirit. If we do sin, we are told to confess and seek Jesus for forgiveness. If we do not repent of sin, but continue therein, God tells us that the end for such "brethren" is death.

ALL Scripture

The question is not whether "all means all", but whether "all" means what some imply it to mean.

In finishing this post, there is another "all" that I would like to address:

"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." II Timothy 3:16-17

We cannot pick and choose texts from Scripture, build a doctrine around it, and call it truth. This pattern is the same for all false doctrines in the church, including Once Saved Always Saved. We are advised by God to give consideration to the whole of Scripture and to study to show ourselves approved so as not to be deceived.

I will say again, if a belief we hold is contradicted by Scripture, then either our belief or our understanding of the text (or both) is wrong. There is no text where God says He will ensure that all those given to Jesus will not be lost, although it is clear that it is God's desire that this be the case. Neither is there text which says that all future sins are automatically forgiven, but rather God reminds us not to err and that the end of sin is death.

In the last article in this series, we will discuss the one and only reason why salvation can be lost.

This article is part of a 6-part series evaluating a doctrine referred to as Once Saved Always Saved, Eternal Unconditional Security, or Preservation of the Saints.

  1. God Doesn't Mince Words
  2. "IF"
  3. Salvation is a Result of Covenant
  4. Sealed Until the Day of Redemption
  5. A Candid Look at OSAS "Support"
  6. The ONLY Reason Salvation Can Be "Lost"

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