Apologetics for the Masses - Issue #116

Bible Christian Society

General Comments

I want to thank all of you who responded with donations to my recent appeal. The Bible Christian Society could not do what we do without your support and generosity! Every seed we’re able to plant, every bit of ignorance we are able to dispel, every conversion or re-conversion we have a part in – is only possible because of you!


I also want to thank all of you who are praying for 10-yr. old Breigh Gallagher (see "General Comments from Issue #115). I have established direct contact with her grandmother. I have no updates on her condition at this time other than to say that there has been basically no change and she is continuing with treatments for the lesions on her skin. All of you who sent in suggestions and information, those have been passed on to Breigh’s grandmother.


There is one exception, though. One of you wrote to me about a clinic that does work with stem cells (non-embryonic) and I wanted to pass that along to Mrs. Gallagher, but I must have inadvertently deleted it. If you could re-send that information, I would greatly appreciate it.

Introduction

This week, I’m continuing on with another chapter of my book. This chapter is on the Protestant doctrine of “Once Saved Always Saved.” I’ll get part of it done in this issue and finish it up in the next issue.


Where I leave off this week’s issue, you’ll see a number of Scripture passages. Most, if not all, of these will be used to complete the chapter. I put them there in case you want to look at these verses ahead of time and see if you can tell why it is they are arguments against once saved always saved.

Challenge/Response/Strategy

Chapter 5

Once Saved Always Saved

The doctrine of “once saved, always saved” (OSAS), also known as the doctrine of "eternal security," as it has been presented to me time and time again, is essentially this: once a person accepts Jesus Christ into their hearts as their personal Lord and Savior, once they pray the “sinner’s prayer,” once they confess with their lips that Jesus is Lord and believe on Jesus in their hearts – once a person does that, then that person is “saved.”  That person has a one way ticket to Heaven and there is absolutely nothing that can derail that train.  In other words, Heaven is guaranteed.  One has, as they put it, “absolute assurance” that they will go to Heaven. 

This doctrine of OSAS is a corollary to the doctrine of Sola Fide that I talked about in the last chapter.  The reasoning behind the doctrine is that since we are saved by faith and faith alone, and since, according to the doctrine of Sola Fide, works play no role whatsoever in gaining our salvation, then works can play no role whatsoever in losing our salvation.  In other words, once you are “saved”, there isn’t anything that you can do or not do to lose your salvation, and that includes sinning.

According to Protestant theology, once we have accepted Jesus Christ into our heart as our personal Lord and Savior, then God, like a judge in the courtroom, declares us innocent – we are “hid” with Christ in God, as it says in Colossians 3:3.  Since you are “hid” with Christ, the judge, God the Father, doesn’t see you and your sins, He sees only Christ, the innocent victim who has paid the price for all men’s sins.  Seeing only Jesus, He renders a verdict of innocent.  This innocent verdict is then applied to all who are “hid” in Christ Jesus, all the believers.  And, once the verdict has been rendered, once you have been declared “innocent,” there is nothing that can happen that will ever cause God to reverse His judgment.  After all, you are “hid” with Christ.  You will often hear Rom 8:1-2 quoted by OSAS adherents, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.”  “See,” folks will say, “once we are in Christ we cannot be condemned.” 

That’s the doctrine in a nutshell.  Before giving the arguments against this doctrine, I want to point out that not all Protestants believe in this doctrine, and there may be slight variations in the doctrine, depending on who you’re talking to.  But, again, the explanation above is how it has generally been presented to me.

So, how does one go about arguing against this doctrine of once saved, always saved?  Well, you can use a whole bunch of Scripture, and you can use a little bit of logic, as well.  I’ll start with the little bit of logic and then move into the whole bunch of Scripture.  

When confronted with someone who believes in OSAS, the first question you need to ask is this: "If a baby dies, does it go to Heaven or Hell?"  The majority of Protestants that I’ve come across who believe in OSAS, also believe that children who die before they are old enough to commit a sin, are saved – they go to Heaven.  Even though the baby hasn’t been able to make a confession of faith, that baby still goes to Heaven.  This belief, however, leads to a logical contradiction.

Consider that if a baby dies, and it goes to Heaven, then that means the baby was, in essence, "saved" while it was still alive.  However, if that child does not die, if the baby grows up and starts committing sins, yet never makes a personal commitment to Christ, never accepts Jesus into his heart as his personal Lord and Savior, then what happens?  Is he still saved?  The Protestant answer is: "No."  Which means that there was a point somewhere in that child’s life where it went from being saved, to being unsaved. 

But this is a big problem if OSAS is true.  This doctrine teaches that a person cannot go from the state of being saved to the state of being unsaved.  Which means, if the baby was saved, then he can never be unsaved, even if he grows up to be an unbelieving moral reprobate.  Yet, no believer in OSAS would agree that an unbelieving moral reprobate is saved.  So for those folks who believe in OSAS, yet also believe that babies that die go to Heaven, there is a logical contradiction in their beliefs. 

There are only two ways around this problem: 1) To say that once saved always saved is true only after you have professed a belief in Jesus Christ, or 2) To say that babies who die before they are able to make a profession of faith automatically go to Hell. 

The first line of reasoning is simply a position that one would back into out of necessity so as to avoid the contradiction in logic that has been exposed in their beliefs.  "Uhmm, oh yeah, I forgot to mention that once saved always saved doesn’t kick in until after you make a profession of faith in Christ."  Oh, really?  And where does it say that in the Bible?  And how does that make any sense whatsoever?  Is being saved as a baby somehow different than being saved as an adult?  What a ridiculous notion.  Either you’re saved or you’re not.  And if you are saved, and once saved always saved is true, then if you’re saved as a baby you have to be saved as an adult – whether you ever profess faith in Christ or not. After all, you cannot lose your salvation.

Now, I doubt you will ever hear this particular response.  Instead, you will either get blank stares or there will be an attempt to hurriedly change the topic.  But, you very well might hear that second line of reasoning, which is to say that babies who die before they are able to make a profession of faith in Christ go straight to Hell.  It is logically consistent with a belief in once saved always saved; however, it makes God seem a very unreasonable God indeed.  God tells us that He wants all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2:4), yet He gives babies who die absolutely no chance to be saved?  What kind of God is that?

We see, then, that the doctrine of once saved always saved has a serious problem when one starts applying a little bit of logic to it.  Now, let’s move on to the whole bunch of Scripture I mentioned above.    

I’m going to start first in the Old Testament.  Ezekiel 33:13, "Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered; but in the iniquity that he has committed he shall die."

What’s going on here?  God says to a righteous man that he, the righteous man, shall surely live.  Since this is a "righteous" man, that means he is a "saved" man, in Protestant terminology.  So, since he is saved, and since God has told him that he shall surely live, he has eternal security, right?  Once saved always saved, right?  But what happens if the righteous (saved) man presumes that his salvation is guaranteed (i.e., believes in once saved always saved), and starts committing sins?  Is he still saved?  The doctrine of once saved always saved says, "Yes!"  The Bible says, "No!"  Scripture tells us the righteous man who turns away from God through his sins shall die in his iniquities.  He loses his salvation.  He is righteous no more.

How can that be if once I’m saved, that’s it?  "Well," some might say, "that’s the Old Testament.  We don’t go by the Old Testament any more so you can’t use that verse to argue against eternal security."  Really?  Was salvation different in the Old Testament than in the New?  Didn’t the Old Testament saints have to have faith in order to be saved?  Doesn’t faith save you in the Old Testament as well as in the New? 

I don’t know how many times I’ve had Protestants point out to me, when trying to tell me the "real" meaning of James 2:14-26, that Scripture says, "Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness," (Rom 4:3; Gen 15:6).  And after they point out that verse they say, "See, Abraham was made righteous (saved) by faith alone."  Well, if someone was supposedly "righteous" through faith alone in the Old Testament, just as they are supposedly righteous by faith alone in the New Testament, then would not once saved always saved apply in the Old Testament just as it supposedly does in the New Testament?  Of course it would.  But, if once saved always saved was operative in the Old Testament, then how could God say what He said in Ezekiel 33:13?  How could someone be righteous (saved) at one point, yet they then sin and lose their righteousness?  How could God say that it was possible for a saved person to end up dying in their iniquity?  

Yet, that is exactly what God says.  We have the righteous (the saved).  The righteous believes he cannot lose his salvation (he believes in once saved always saved).  The righteous commits iniquity.  The righteous loses his salvation.  Once saved always saved?  I don’t think so.

Let’s move now to the New Testament.  There are so many verses in the New Testament that so completely, clearly, and directly obliterate the teaching of OSAS, that it can be difficult to know where to start.  So I’ll start with the verses I mentioned above that Protestants will use to argue for OSAS.

Rom 8:1-2, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus has set me free from the law of sin and death.”  As a Catholic, I agree 100% with this verse.  For those who are in Christ Jesus, there is no condemnation.  But, I don’t see anything in this passage that tells me I can’t fall away from Christ Jesus.  That I can’t, at some point in the future, reject Christ Jesus.  It’s not there.  “But, wait a minute”, someone might say, “it says I am set free from the ‘law of sin and death’”.  That’s right, but again, it doesn’t say that I have lost my free will to at any time in the future choose to go back to the law of sin and death if I desire.

Paul tells us in Romans, chapter 6, verses 15-16, “What then?  Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?  By no means.   Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”

Paul tells the Romans that they are no longer under the old law, but under the law of grace.  So, according to Protestant doctrine, he is talking to the saved, to those who are “hid” in Christ, those for whom there is now “no condemnation.”  And what does Paul say to the saved?  Does he say that since they are under grace that no sin will ever be held against them?  Not quite.  He tells them that if they sin, that if they yield themselves to sin, that they will become slaves of sin which will lead to death.  Spiritual death.

Again, Catholics agree that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, as long as they stay there   But that’s the problem: staying in Christ Jesus; avoiding sin.  When you sin, you separate yourself from Christ.  When we sin, we are no longer “in Christ Jesus”.

The big problem for folks who believe in the doctrine of OSAS, is the problem of sin.  They don’t know what to do with it.  To get around the problem of sin, I’ve had people tell me either one of two things is true: 1) That once you’re saved sin no longer has any consequences for you; at least, no consequences in terms of your salvation; or 2) That once you’re saved you will not sin any more.  And, if you do sin, it is a sign that you were not really saved in the first place. 

Both of these arguments, however, fly in the face of Scripture.  Let’s look at the second argument first.  Is it true that once you’re saved, you no longer sin or that if you do sin it means you really weren’t saved in the first place?  Rom 7:15, "I do not understand my own actions.  For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate."  Was Paul saved according to Protestant standards?  Of course he was.  Yet, here is Paul, one very saved individual, telling us very plainly that he still sins.  Does that mean Paul really wasn’t saved after all?  No self-respecting believer in once saved always saved would say such a thing.  Which means it is contrary to Scripture to say that once a person is saved they can no longer sin.  It also contrary to Scripture to say that if a person who has made an act of faith in Christ does sin, it is a sign that they really were not saved in the first place.  Paul’s comments in Romans 7 prove that, but you can also read his other letters where he constantly warns the Christians he is writing to avoid sin.  If a Christian cannot sin, then why did Paul warn them so often to avoid sin? 

Hebrews 12:26-27, "For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries."  I thought we couldn’t sin deliberately after we’ve received the knowledge of the truth? 

Verse 29, "How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?"  The writer of Hebrews is talking about someone who has been sanctified, made holy, by the blood of the covenant.  This cannot describe someone who has not accepted Christ, so he must be talking about those who are saved.  Those who are "really" saved.  But, how can he be talking about someone who has been saved when he’s referring to people who have "spurned" the Son of God and who have "profaned" the blood of the covenant and have "outraged" the Spirit of grace?  A saved person cannot do those things, can they?  They can if you believe what you read in the Bible.  And, after they have done these things, does it say they are still saved?  No.  It says they will receive "punishment" and a "fearful prospect of judgment and a fury of fire."  Once saved always saved?  I don’t think so.

Now, the other argument mentioned above, which is the more common argument regarding the problem of sin: once you are saved, you can still sin, but that sin is not counted against you.  Of course, out of love of God, you will avoid sin as best you can, but it is possible, nonetheless, to sin.  However, every time you sin, God the Father sees only God the Son’s innocence – since you’ve been "hid" in Christ – and, therefore, does not hold any sin against you.  Or, if He does hold your sins against you, it is only to the degree that you will not have as high a place in Heaven as you would have had if you were able to avoid those sins.  Your position in Heaven might be affected, but not the fact that you are going to be in Heaven.  

The problem here is, that nowhere does the Bible say such a thing.  Plus, if sinning does not affect your salvation, the question is again: Why does Paul so many times warn the Christians he writes to against sin?  It simply makes no sense.

Let’s look again at Rom 6:15-16, “What then?  Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?  By no means   Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?”  Paul is talking to those who are under grace – they are the saved.  Does he say, "You are not to worry for your sins will not be held against you?"  No!  He is speaking specifically to the saved and he tells them that if they yield themselves to sin, it will lead to death – and he’s not talking about physical death, because this death is contrasted with righteousness.  In essence, Paul is saying that yielding yourselves to sin on a constant basis will lead to unrighteousness.  Why is he telling the righteous that if they sin it will lead to unrighteousness?  That’s not possible if once saved always saved is true, is it?  Which leads one to conclude that once saved always saved cannot be true.   

1 Cor 6:18, "Shun immorality [fornication]."  Why does Paul warn them to shun fornication?  All we have to do is go back a few verses to get the answer.  1 Cor 6:9-10, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived; neither the immoral [fornicators], nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God."  Here is Paul, talking to the saved, telling them to avoid fornication, because, as he just told them, fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Notice that nowhere does Paul say, "Avoid fornication out of your love for God, but if you do fall, rest assured that it will not be held against you." 

By committing any of these sins, the righteous become the unrighteous.  The saved become the unsaved.  Ephesians 5:5, "Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God."

Ask someone who believes in OSAS if it is possible for a saved person to commit adultery or fornication or steal or be greedy.  If they say, "No," ask them where the Bible says this – it doesn’t.  If they say, "Yes," then ask them if those folks still go to Heaven if they commit these sins and do not repent of them.  If they say, "Yes," then they are contradicting the very clear words of the Bible. 

Matt 13:40-42, "Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age.  The Son of man will send His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth."  This doesn’t make a distinction between the saved evildoers and the unsaved evildoers.  It says all evildoers.  If you have accepted Jesus Christ into your heart as your Lord and Savior, and you were "really" saved, and then you commit serious sin for which you do not repent, you will end up in Hell.  At least, that’s what the Bible says.

Colossians 3:25, "For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality."  It doesn’t say that this only applies to those who have not been saved.  No partiality it says.  Everyone who does wrong, will be paid back for the wrong he has done. 

I could go on and on with one Scripture verse after another to show that the Bible nowhere says that once you’re saved sin no longer has any consequences in regard to your salvation or that once you’re saved you will no longer sin, but I will include just one more verse here that pretty much seals the deal, so to speak. 

Matthew chapter 5 – the Sermon on the Mount – verses 27-32.  “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”  

What do we see here?  Does Jesus say, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ but I say to you that if you are a believer adultery will not be held against you?"  Absolutely not.  Jesus is very clearly telling us that there is a consequence for sinning – you go to Hell. 

Jesus is talking about "saved" people here.  We know this because He is telling them that they can avoid Hell by plucking out an eye or cutting off a hand to avoid sin.  If they do not go to Hell, that means they go to Heaven.  Avoiding sin = going to Heaven here.  According to OSAS theology, however, people go to Hell because they do not believe, because they lack faith.  If an unbeliever avoids sin, he still goes to Hell, because he is an unbeliever.  So, these people Jesus is referring to as going to Heaven by avoiding sin, must be believers.  They must be people who have been saved.   But, they cannot be people who have been saved, according to OSAS theology, because sin is not held against people who are saved.  And sin very clearly is held against the folks Jesus is talking to. 

This passage is a big problem for folks in the OSAS camp, since Jesus cannot be talking to unbelievers as He nowhere tells them that they can get to Heaven by faith and faith alone.  But, if OSAS is true, neither can He be talking to believers as sin will supposedly not cause a believer to go to Hell, yet the folks Jesus is talking to will clearly end up in Hell if they do not do whatever is necessary to avoid sinning.  

Why doesn’t Jesus just say: “Believe in me and you will be saved?”  Why, pluck out our eye or cut off our hand if sin will no longer be held against us? If there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus?  Why go to such an extreme measure to avoid sin if sin is not held against us?   

 


 


 

James 5:19

 

John 15:1-6

Gal 5:1-4

Gal 5:19-20

2 Tim 2:12

1 Corinthians 11:32

2 Peter 2:20-21

2 Peter 1:4-12

1 Timothy 3:6

2 Peter 2:17-22

Rev 3:1-5

Rev 2:4-7, 10, 19-25-26

Rev 22:14-15, 18-19

Matt 13:40-42

1 Corinthians 15:2

 

Matt 5:27-32

Matt 18:7-9

Hebrews 4:1-4, 11

Hebrews 6:4-8

Rom 11:17-22: Paul is talking about how salvation has come to the Gentiles, while many of the Jews have rejected it – and he uses the analogy of an olive tree.  Verse 17, “But if some of the branches were broken off [the Jews], and you, a wild olive shoot [the Gentiles], were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree [Jesus Christ], do not boast over the branches,” (don’t get cocky).  Verse 20, “That is true.  They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith.  So do not become proud, but stand in awe.  For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you.”  Did you catch that threat?  If the natural branches were broken off, you could be, too.  Verse 22, “Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness; otherwise you, too, will be cut off.”

You will not be broken off from the olive tree (Christ) only IF you continue in His kindness.  And what happens if you do not continue in His kindness?  "You, too, will be cut off."  Is this the language of eternal security?  Is Paul here reassuring his readers that they have nothing to fear since they’ve already been grafted into the olive tree?  Absolutely not. 

Let’s continue with verse 23, “And even the others, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.”  Perfect example of being in, being out, and then being in again – kind of like the way the Catholic Church teaches it.  And, perfect example of Scripture showing us very plainly that once you are grafted in, once you are “saved”, you had better not become presumptive about it and start believing you can’t be cut off.  Because you can be.

 

In Conclusion

As always, comments and suggestions and editing corrections are welcome and all will be read and considered, even though I am unable to personally respond to each one of them.


Hope you have a great week!

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Apologetics for the Masses