Saturday, November 7, 2009

Once Saved, Now Lost - Part 1b

God Doesn't Mince Words

As we saw in the previous article, God declares in the Old and New Testaments that He can and will blot out names from His Book which contains the names of those who receive eternal life. We can also see in His word that God continually references man's ability to forfeit the salvation found in Him.

It IS Possible to Fall Away

Let's first establish that there are such things as false converts to the faith. People who are never really converted. References to such persons are often discussed as these individuals not being "true believers" or not having "saving faith". Essentially, what is meant by such expressions is that these individuals have never been born again through faith in Christ.

It is important also to note that only GOD can give us the new birth. We are not born again because we say that we are or because we have attained to some intellectual knowledge about God. God is the only one who generates the new birth within us via the power of His Holy Spirit.

So, while the Scriptures do speak of false converts, it also speaks of those who believe and then fall away from the faith.

As you read these texts, consider that these are God's words. What I mean by that is God knows whether these individuals really believed or were only false converts. He identifies these as believers, partakers of the Holy Spirit, and brethren. For others to say that they were not means that either God lied or God was mistaken in these texts.

"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." Hebrews 6:4-6
Let's say for the sake of argument that this text is addressing false believers. Consider what would really be said. God is saying that someone who DOES NOT really belong to Him has lost all hope of redemption if they fall away from their false beliefs???

God is not speaking of some mental ascension to the things of God. He is not referencing someone who falsely claims to believe. This text only makes sense logically if God is addressing true believers; the ones held accountable for remaining in the faith are the ones who are in fact in the faith. However, we don't have to assume. The text makes it clear of whom God is speaking.

Our first indication is that these individuals were "enlightened". This is the Greek word phōtizō which means to give light, to spiritually enlighten, to imbue with saving knowledge. It is ONLY used in Scripture in reference the type of light that comes from God (Luke 11:36; John 1:9; I Corinthians 4:5; Ephesians 1:18; Ephesians 3:9; II Timothy 1:10; Hebrews 6:4; Hebrews 10:32; Revelation 18:1; Revelation 21:23; Revelation 22:5).

We also see that they had been given the Holy Spirit. No matter how much one fancies himself to be "saved", God only gives His Holy Spirit to those who are born again. It is the evidence or earnest of the promise that we have been given eternal life.

Another evidence of the born again experience is that these individuals had received an inner working of God's word and power. The text also says they cannot be renewed "again" which confirms that they were once made new.

It should also be noted that the word for "fall away" (the Greek word parapiptō), is only used in this text in all of the New Testament. While there are other references to believers "falling" in the New Testament, none use that particular word. So this "falling away" is presented as distinct and different from other types of falling; it is meant to convey a specific situation.

While the Old Testament was written in Hebrew/ Aramaic, the Jewish people created a Greek translation (the Septuagint) prior to the time of Christ. If we examine some uses of the word parapiptō in this text, we find interesting parallels which shed light on this particular type of "falling":

"But when the righteous turneth away [parapipto] from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal? When a righteous man turneth away [parapipto] from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die." Ezekiel 18:24-26

"Therefore, son of man, speak to the people of Israel and say to them, This is what the Sovereign LORD says: In this also your fathers blasphemed me by forsaking [parapipto] me." Ezekiel 20:27

In the original Hebrew text, the word used is ma`al meaning "unfaithfulness or treachery."

God is not speaking of someone simply "falling" in their walk with Him. He paints the picture of someone who is unrepentant, who has no desire to continue with God; someone who has forsaken the Lord. This is the context by which the text in Hebrews 6:4-6 is presented.

It makes perfect sense that if one walks away from faith in Jesus Christ, there would be no other hope of redemption. They have essentially turned their back on the one option provided for man's salvation. Again, Scripture is logical.

Yet the question remains. Why would God need to address this topic at all if one can never forsake God? If such is not possible, then the entire statement is nonsensical. It is the equivalent of me discussing with my daughter what will happen if our dog starts talking and gets a job.

Why would God waste time laying out consequences for what happens when a born again believer forsakes Him if it could never happen?
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." I Timothy 4:1

The text doesn't say, "In the latter times, will some pretend that they belong to the faith when they really didn't."

Depart is the Greek word aphistēmi which means to withdraw, to remove, to go away, to become faithless.

God says some shall depart from the faith. Is He mistaken? Did God just think they were "departing" when in fact they never really belonged to the faith?

If it is possible for even one person to become faithless and depart from God after salvation, then man can indeed forfeit salvation. God says that not only is this possible, but it will happen. Do we believe what God says?
And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended." Mark 4:16-17
In discussing the parable of the Sower, we are told that some "endure for a time". If these individuals were never true believers, then in what were they enduring...even "for a time"?

The Greek word for endure here is eisi which means "are, be, were". It speaks to the actual nature and existence of who they are. It is like saying these individuals were but for a time... But what "were" they for this short time?

If these people were never born again, then they remained the same old creation they were before. As such, they would not be anything other than what they had already "been"; lost in sin.

The text indicates that there was some change in the condition of these individuals. They became something different than what they "were", but then they reverted back.
"They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe and in time of temptation fall away." Luke 8:13

This is a retelling of that same part of the Sower parable referenced in Mark 4:16-17. Instead of saying that they endured for a while, it states that they "believed" for a while.

Were these just unconverted sinners who never really believed? God says that they indeed did believe...albeit for only a while.

Now we understand why the similar passage of Mark 4:17 references a change in these individuals (eisi). One can only be changed from what one "was" by being born again. Further, one can only be born again by "believing" in Jesus Christ.
"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." Hebrews 3:12

God addresses this to the "brethren". Only those who are born again believers are considered by God to be our brothers in sisters in Him. Yet, it says that these brethren could "depart from the living God". This is the same "depart" we reviewed above in I Timothy 4:1.

Did God erroneously inspire Paul to call these individuals brothers? If God tells us not to depart, it must then be possible to depart. Certainly God would not give this instruction to those who really don't believe.

Would God tell non-believers or false believers not to depart from Him when they have never belonged to Him? Such is illogical, and we already know that the Bible is a very logical book as it reflects the mind of God.

Clearly this is a statement which only makes sense, when addressing those who are in fact abiding with the living God. And God warns such persons not to depart from Him.
"For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

For if
after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire." II Peter 2:18-22

These individuals had "clean escaped from them who live in error" and had "escaped the pollutions of the world". These are very unambiguous statements.

Consider this. Is there any option available to man to be set free from the snares of this life other than Jesus? These people were not just imagining that they had escaped, but God says they indeed had clean "escaped."

False converts are never really converted and therefore can never escape the world which has them bound. Either what God says is true (meaning they were born again and had escaped) or there is another way to be free from the world outside of Christ.

The text goes on to say they became entangled "again" in the world. False converts never leave the world because they don't have the new birth; they cannot be entangled again in that which they never left.

It also says that these previously knew the way of righteousness and were "washed". While knowledge of truth does not equal salvation, no amount of wishful thinking can wash away our sin. We are only washed clean by the blood of Jesus through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5).

So, again I ask, "Is there a way for man to be washed from sin and the filth of the world outside of being born again through faith in Jesus Christ?"

The Lord clearly establishes that these are individuals who had come to know Him and were changed from what they were by being born again so that they could be set free from the world.

Why is the latter end of these individuals worse than the beginning? Why is it better had they not known the way of righteousness? Because there remains no more sacrifice for these individuals once they forsake Christ (Hebrews 6:4-6). Again, Scripture is very logical and consistent.

"But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." I Corinthians 9:27

The word "castaway" here is the Greek word adokimos which means: Not standing the test, not approved; spurious, reprobate. Reprobate!!!

Reprobate: a morally depraved, unprincipled, or wicked person; a person rejected by God and beyond hope of salvation.

Why would Paul state it was even possible for him to become reprobate, if such was not possible? Why is he striving to prevent something that can never happen?

Shouldn't one of the Apostles or God Himself have corrected Paul to let him know that he had no obligation in maintaining his relationship with the Lord? Why didn't someone tell him, "Sorry Paul, you are wrong here. What you are doing is trying to be saved by works. Don't you know that you are kept by the power of God alone and you can never be lost?"

Paul could have said any number of things here:

I keep my body under subjection because my life is a sacrifice to Jesus.
I keep my body under subjection because God keeps me and ensures that I do.
I keep my body under subjection because it is my desire to please my Lord, whom I love.

But I keep my body under subjection so that I do not become reprobate???!

As part of His inerrant word, God inspired Paul to write that he was taking care so that he would not wind up reprobate. If Paul - a leading Apostle who wrote most of the New Testament - could still become reprobate (and needed to take care to ensure this didn't happen), then what makes people think such is impossible?
"But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not. I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan." I Timothy 5:11-15

Why do these women have damnation? Is it because they never knew Christ? No. Never received Him? No.

They now "have damnation" because they have waxed wanton against Christ and cast off their faith. They had turned aside after Satan.

Is this result just a break in their fellowship with God? Does this mean they just get a lesser reward? No. Scripture says that they now have damnation.
These are certainly not all of the Scriptures which speak to how man can reject God and forfeit salvation. God continually warns us not forsake Him.

We can claim that none of these individuals are actually born again, that they are not true believers, and don't have saving faith. We can also claim that the things they lost was not really salvation. But what does GOD say?

God does not mince words. He means what He says and says what He means. The only question is, "Do we believe Him?"

In the next article, we will address the nature of salvation and examine the conditions - according to Scripture - upon which eternal life is granted.

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
  • Sealed Until the Day of Redemption
  • A Candid Look at OSAS "Support"

  • The ONLY Reason Salvation Can Be "Lost"
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