Chinese Translations: GB Big5

ETERNAL SECURITY
(Once Saved, Always Saved)?

Part I:  Salvation is Not Contingent upon Righteous Behavior

What is salvation contingent upon under the New Covenant according to the Bible?

Eph 2:8,9 "It is by grace you have been saved, through faithó and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of Godó not by works, so that no one can boast."

Rom 4:1-5 "What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast aboutó but not before God. What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness."

John 3:36 "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for Godís wrath remains on him."

The good news is that salvation is by faith in Christ and not a function of one's performance, one's efforts, one's works. Those who trust in their good behavior to obtain or maintain their salvation status are not trusting in the blood of Christ. For "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood." Rom 3:25  And "he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy." Titus 3:5 Thus salvation is not contingent upon our works.

A performance based salvation is a righteousness obtained by law, a conformity to a set of moral standards. "No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Rom 3:20-24 Consequently, The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. Rev 22:17 "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 6:23

But there are those disturbed by the gospel that salvation is a free gift, and claim that such a concept would lead to licentious behavior. Consequently we find heretics, wolves among the sheep, who change the gospel, reckoning salvation to be a function of one's behavior, thus making salvation contingent upon one's works, one's behavior.

Such heresy is nothing new. Even in Paul's day under the very noses of Peter, James and John, overseers of the church at Jerusalem there arose such a cult saying, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses." Acts 15:5 In Galatians 2:4 Paul says, "This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves." So also today there are those claiming that if you fail to follow the 10 commandments, for example, you will lose your salvation status. Or in order to be saved you have to go through a ritual to be saved, namely water baptism. And others will add all kinds of requirements. But all are of the same spirit as the first century cult of the circumcision.

Part II: The Cause-Effect Relationship Between Salvation and Behavior

There are many verses the heretics use to mislead people into a different gospel - a legalistic gospel. Even the churches in Galatia were being led astray on this point, to whom Paul wrote, "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospeló which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" Gal 1:6-8

Those who turn from the gospel of God's grace whereby salvation is not dependent upon one's performance, to a different gospel - a gospel of legalism whereby one views salvation contingent upon a certain behavior, a certain performance level, a conformity to rules, regulations or rituals, have been severed from Christ. "You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace." Gal 5:4

But as an example of how such a person would justify their legalistic gospel based upon scripture, they'll used verses like 1Cor 6:9,10, which says, "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

And there are many of these kinds of verses which correlate a person's behavior with their salvation status such as also Eph 5:5,6; Gal 5:18-24; 1John 3:7,8, and a number of verses in the gospels.

The heretics use these verses with the following logic:

Heretical Hypothesis:
But their logic is faulty in that, intentionally or otherwise, they fail to take into account the nature of the correlation, the cause-effect relationship, between a person's behavior and their salvation status.

What I am saying first of all is that when a person believes in Christ, he is saved right then. For if he is not saved until he acts upon his faith, whether changing behavior or getting baptized or such, then salvation is a matter of works, which it isn't. And secondly that once a person is saved, their behavior is changed by the Holy Spirit such that their lifestyle is characteristically righteous and not sinful. For "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because Godís seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." 1John 3:9 and as such one's salvation status can be diagnosed based upon their behavior, as John continues, "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John 3:10

Thus such verses as 1Cor 6:9,10 like verses are not speaking of salvation being contingent upon behaivor, but rather behavior being a way to diagnose whether a person has been saved. Consider the verses right after 1Cor 6:9,10 "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." 1Cor 6:11 Notice he says "were". Granted that he was speaking to the Corinthians who had become genuine believers and as such were washed. But notice that the change of behavior was so inevitable due to the regenerative effect of being born of God that there wasn't a single one of them who could be characterized as "wicked". Not one of them could be characterized according to such lists of wicked behavior.

Thus the heretic's position concerning such verses is no more than a strawman argument in that there doesn't actually exist anyone born of God who continues to live a lifestyle of sin.

But there are those who use the reverse logic saying that they knew so and so who was "genuinely" saved, but then continued to live a lifestyle of sin and on that basis they derive their doctrine. In contrast I encourage people to derive their doctrine from the Bible and scrutinize their experience in light of what the Bible teaches.

For example in this case concerning an alleged believer continuing to live in sin,  I would call into question whether they are genuine believers. In fact John goes even further saying that such people were never saved to begin with. For he says, "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." 1John 2:19

Part III: Loss of Faith?

Now of those who believe you can lose your salvation, there are two categories. There are the Legalists as I mentioned above, being heretics, the children of the cult of the circumcision. But another group are those who acknowledge that salvation is contingent upon faith in Christ alone - though granted it is an application oriented faith, which is the same as saying it is a genuine faith. Such people also agree that one is saved prior to actually acting upon one's faith, nor is salvation lost if one fails to live up to.

Much as I hesitate to use the word "clear" or "clearly", as such words are abundantly used in arguments of which the matter is not in fact clear, I would say that they are clearly correct in their stand that seeing as salvation is abundantly spoken of thoughout the New Testament as contingent upon faith in Christ, a person who does not believe will not be saved. Like if a person dies as an unbeliever he is condemned to suffer God's wrath in the lake of fire. Yes I agree with that.

However what I would take issue with is whether in fact a person who has come to faith in Christ and consequently been born of God and given te Holy Spirit, being washed in regeneration from his former way of life, can then go on to become an unbeliever. Has such a person ever existed?

In practice there's no difference between my own perpective which is that of eternal security and this position. For while if there are those who are alleged to have believed but lose their faith I would claim they didn't really believe to begin with, while these others would say that they lost their salvation, but in either case the present state of the unbelieve is that such a person is unsaved, and the solution is the same in both cases - namely both I and these would agree that the gospel is "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" Acts 16:31a

But I would contend that there are no verses which unambiguously indicate that a person who had in past genuinely believed in Christ and consequently had been saved, born of God, having received the Holy Spirit "who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance" Eph 1:14 who then went on to become an unbeliever.

Part IV Saving Faith

Take into consideration the fact that the Bible at times uses the word "believer" to refer to false brethren. For compare Acts 5:15 "Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses." with Gal 2:4 where Paul spoke of the same circumstance "This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves."  For Acts was speaking of the outward claim and affiliation, but Paul speaking of their inward conviction.

Jesus and Paul speak likewise of wolves in sheep clothing. Thus the outward "faith" is merely skin deep. I content that such faith is not the kind of faith that saves. Non-application oriented faith does not save because it's not genuine faith. Anyone who has genuine faith in any particular thing will end up taking action on it.

Likewise Paul speaks of a "vain" faith, which I contend is not genuine faith.  For example he says, "By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain." 1Cor 15:2 Notice also the tenses here, which cannot be explained other then by the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. For he does not say, "By this gospel you will be saved if you hold firmly", but rather "By this gospel you are saved if you hold firmly". For a person who doesn't continue in the faith is not indicative that they lost their salvation, but rather that they had never been saved to begin with, their belief being futile. Like notice Jesus description of those who "believed for a while", speaking of the sower who sowed the Word of God to those whose hearts were characterized as rocky ground. "Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away." Luke 8:12 Notice that the Word stayed only on the surface, failing to take root in their hearts, and as such their faith was vain, only having a surface faith, but not genuine faith.

And again in the case of 1John 2:19 John evaluates those who leave the faith as never having been saved to begin with based upon the principle that "if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us"

The faith that saves is the faith that persevers. Thus Jesus said, "he who endures to the end shall be saved." Mt 24:13

Part V: Other Eternal Security Verses

The question is whether we as created beings can separate ourselves from Christ, or whether there are things to come which can separate us from Christ, Paul writes, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 8:38,39 Since we are all part of the creation, and since nothing in all creation can separate us from Christ, it logically follows that we cannot separate ourselves from Christ. Furthermore note also the word "future". There's nothing that will occur in the future that can separate us from Christ. In other words this verse advocates eternal security, the burden of proof being upon those who see otherwise.

And there are many verses which express full assurance that one will be saved, which could not be the case if salvation is loseable. For example when Paul says, "The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen." 2Tim 4:18 He could not logically say this if it were possible that he would end up in hell.

Likewise with all the verses which speak of salvation contingent upon faith, but which use the aorist tense. The aorist tense is a tense in Greek (the language of which the New Testament was originally written in) which expresses a point in time or historical event, as opposed to present tense that has a strong sense of continuity, stronger than we generally use in English.

(Promise of Eternal life based on a past condition or point in time event)

John 10:9 I am the gate; whoever (ean) enters (aorist subj) through me will be saved. (fut ind) He will come in and go out, and find pasture.(all fut ind)

Acts 2:21 And everyone who calls (aorist subj) on the name of the Lord will be saved.(fut indic)

Acts 16:31 They replied, "Believe (aorist imp) in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved (fut ind) -- you and your household."

Rom 6:5 If we have been (perfect) united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.

Rom 6:8 Now if we died (aorist) with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

Rom 10:9 That if (ean) you confess (oarist subj) with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe (aorist subj) in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

1Tim 2:11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died (aorist) with him, we will also live with him;

The future indicatives are basically promises of that which will occur, not simply may or may not occur. For the subjunctive would be used for possibility, but the indicative for certainty. But notice the condition. Here each example is a case in which a promise of future salvation is contingent not upon continued faith, but upon a past or point in time event. Not that there isn't a continued faith, for in fact there is. But since perseverance is inevitable, therefore salvation can be spoken of as being contingent solely upon one's initial faith, if it is genuine.

If salvation were loseable then it is a lie to say that if you believe right now, right at this point in time, then you will be saved in the future. For if it were possible for a person to lose faith, then it would have been a POSSIBILITY that they would have lost their salvation status at some point. Thus these promises should have used the subjunctive and not the indicative. But the fact they use the future indicative indicates the speakers advocate eternal security.

The only possible rebuttal to this is to hypothesize that the authors are speaking by way of ellipsis, leaving out possible exceptions. Burden of proof is again on them, and as a figure of speech, an ellipsis is generally used only when those who are being spoken to are so well aware of the exception that it need not be spoken. But if you take an example like Acts 16:31 I would think it would be clear that Paul's jailor was no Bible scholar.

And likewise you don't get the sense that losing salvation is possible from verses which speak of unconditioned guarantees. "Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee." 2Cor 1:21,22 "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance" Eph 1:13,14 Having been sealed and guaranteed eternal life, doesn't sound like the rhetoric of a loseable salvation.

Part VI: Free Gracers

There's also another theological position which begs for comment, namely Free Grace Theology. These people believe in eternal security, but unlike myself are more in line with those others I mention above who trivialize the effect of regeneration. Thus they would say that a person may come to genuine faith in Christ and be saved, but continue to live a lifestyle of sin and or fall away from the faith, but still maintain their salvation status. These along wtih the others deny that "No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because Godís seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." and consequently deny that "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." The Bible says, "everyone born of God overcomes the world." 1John 5:4 Does EVERYONE born of God overcome the world? I say, Yes, but not according to all these other people I've written about. Does "overcoming" involve behavior? It certain does. Read the first three chapters of Revelation where the word is used abundantly. Or better yet Rev 21:7,8 "He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liarsó their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." The "But" indicates overcoming involves the opposite type of behavior spoken of those who end up in the lake of fire.

Furthermore verses which diagnose a person's salvation status based upon their behavior have really no place in Free Grace theology. Consider 1Cor 6:9,10 which I mentioned previously, or like passages which mention a list of characteristics of those who do not inherit the kingdom of God, such as Gal 5:19-21 which ends "those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." When "push comes to shove", Free Gracers end up advocating a puratory scenario to explain such verses. And to be saved from such a purgatory scenario they end up with much the same position as the legalists to be saved from such a scenario. You take for example Witness Lee's Local Church, which advocates Free Grace Theology, one of their theological leaders, Watchman Nee writes the following, "If a person has become a Christian but his hands or feet sin all the time, he will suffer the punishment of the eternal fire in the kingdom of the heavens. He will not suffer this punishment eternally, but will suffer it only in the age of the kingdom" "The Gospel of God, Volume 3" pg 443 "Age of the kingdom", but the way is 1000 years. So they're alleging there are geniune believers in Christ who will suffer in the eternal fire for 1000 years. Not all that much different than Catholicism on that point as I see it.

Thus Free Grace Grace theology has not only a deficient concept of the effect regeneration and sanctification has on a person's behavior, but more significantly is deficient in its concept of being forgiven of sin and saved from God's wrath.

For more on Free Grace Theology see http://www.bcbsr.com/topics/freegrace.html



Eternal Security Notes


Introduction

What does the Bible Teach?
Should Christians Live in Fear?
Verses which Advocate "Eternal Security"
Supposed Scriptural Refutations of "Eternal Security"

Introduction

Salvation is by faith in Christ, but not just any faith can save. It must be of the right content and of the right quality to be acceptable to God for salvation. Those who have decided to follow Christ are often deficient in one of these two areas and so go through a "nominal" stage" in which, although they may be called "Christians", they have yet to be born of God.
 
Unsaved
Saved
Non-Christians
Nominal Christians
Christians Born of God
Non-Christians
Christians

However, once a person has been born of God and thus saved, can he lose his salvation status and revert to a nominal or non-Christian status? There have been different points of view on this issue.
 

Once Saved, Always Saved
You can lose your salvation
Free Grace
Lordship Salvation
Arminians

There is often confusion among Christians between the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and the Free Grace doctrine of eternal security. Here is a general summary of both doctrines:

Free Grace Theology

Calvinism (Perseverance of the Saints) or (Lordship Salvation) Arminianism

What does the Bible Teach?

1. Can those born of God leave Christ? 2. Can those born of God live a lifestyle of sin? Conclusion:

Should Christians Live in Fear?

If a doctrine has no application, then it has no relevance to the Christian life. What is the application of the Doctrine of Eternal Security? One application is to consider whether Christians should live in fear of going to hell. And if so, on what basis should they fear?

Free Grace advocates a "no fear" philosophy, regardless of the performance of the supposed "Christian". And even if one falls away and doesn't believe in Christ such a person is still supposedly "saved".

Lordship Salvation advocates that Christians should fear that perhaps they are only nominal Christians and have yet to be born of God. And thus they don't fear losing salvation, but they fear that they may not have gained it yet.

Arminians advocate that Christians should fearthat they may lose their salvation.

The Bible advocates the Calvinist point of view on this issue, as there are clear warnings to make sure you have been born of God, as in 2Cor 13:5, and warnings to nominal Christians against falling away (as I deal with below), yet the security of the true believer is also clearly advocated (as in Ephesians 1 and 1John 4:15-18) and other places. In fact 1John 4:18 advocates no fear of condemnation for those living in Christ as does Romans 8.


Verses which Advocate "Eternal Security"

Jeremiah 32:38-41 (Concerning the Promise of the New Covenant) "They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul."

1John 2:19, 1John 3:6,9 (as explained above)

John 5:24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."

John 6:37 "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." (Combine this with Jeremiah 32:40 above)

John 10:28 "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."

Romans 6:8 "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him."

Romans 8:9-10 "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness."

Romans 8:28-30 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified."

1Cor 1:8,9 "He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful."

1Cor 3:15 "If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."

2Cor 1:21,22 "Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."

Ephesians 1:5 "he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--"

Ephesians 1:11 "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,"

Eph 1:13,14 "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-- to the praise of his glory."

Hebrews 7:25 "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."

1Pet 1:3-5 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-- kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." (xref Eph 1:14)

1John 5:4 "for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith."


Answers to Supposed Scriptural Refutations of 
"Eternal Security" used by Arminians

Parable of sower

Fallen from grace passage:


"Meno" passages:

1 John 3:6 "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him."

According to the second part of this verse, no one who lives a lifestyle of sin was ever a real Christian. He had never known Christ. He had never been born of God. Furthermore, according to the first part of this verse, of those who do "live in him" (are born of God - are real Christians) not one of them lives a lifestyle of sin. Why is that? John explains a few verses later in 1John 3:9

"No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains ("meno") in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."

The word "cannot" is the greek word "dunamai" where we get the English "dynamite" and it refers to ability. Those who have been born of God have lost the ability to live a lifestyle of sin because God's seed (the Holy Spirit) lives in them. The word "remain" is the word "meno" which in 1John 3:6 is translated "lives" and means the same thing here.

"Living in Christ" is not so much a condition for salvation as it is a description of a saved person. Are there any verses which indicate that a person who has been living in Christ and who then stops living in Christ and loses his salvation status? Let us continue to consider other verses with this in mind.

John 15:5-6 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains ("lives") in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain ("live") in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."

"If anyone does not live in me": This is not to say that such a man ever lived in Christ to begin with. But those who are real Christians will inevitably produce fruit, not by their own efforts, but simply because Christ produces such through them.

John 15:2 "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit" Here he doesn't use "live, abide or dwell", but simply says "in".  I believe he's speaking of those who associate with the visible church, who have a surface knowledge of Christ, but who have not established a living relationship with Christ as is evident of their fruitlessness.

Notice from verse 5 that it is inevitable that branches that have a living relationship with the vine produce fruit.  How does a branch produce fruit?  It simply allows a passage way for nutrients to flow through it from the vine to the fruit.  Why do some branches not produce fruit?  Because they are only attached on the surface, but have not opened up inwardly to the Lord.  These are nominal Christians.

1John 2:24 "See that what you have heard from the beginning remains ("lives") in you. If it does, you also will remain ("live") in the Son and in the Father."

This could simply mean "Make sure you're not just a nominal Christian, but a real Christian (one born of God). If you believe what you have heard and hold it as a conviction (rather than merely an opinion), then I guarentee that you will continue to live in Christ." Realize that John is speaking to those who call themselves "Christians", but then again how does he know that they are "real" Christians? This is the major subject of the book of 1John - HOW CAN YOU IDENTIFY THOSE BORN OF GOD. And provides many examples of those who call themselves Christians, but are not.


References to groups rather than individuals

There are often passages that refer to groups, such as churches or societies that are given warnings. But salvation is given only on an individual basis. So care must be taken not to misinterpret these to mean that an individual, once saved can them be lost.
Romans 11:19-23 "You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again."

From the context, Paul is not referring to individuals, but societies. The Jewish society as a whole was the "branch" broken off that he is referring to. But that is not true on an individual basis, for many Jews did believe. After all, Paul himself was Jewish. Paul's warning about being "cut off" is referring to the Gentiles as a group, or more specifically, to the society in which these "Christians" lived. This warning is repeated by Jesus in the first three chapters of Revelations where he said "If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place." Most of the areas where the early Christian churches existed are now dominated by Islam - they're lampstands have been taken away. Why? Because the churches became nominal.

The Churches of Revelations

Revelation 2:5 "Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place."

The church as a whole was becoming nominal and eventually would no longer be a lamp to the society around it. This is true of the history of many churches. Over generations they often become nominal. But again, this is not speaking on an individual basis.

Revelation 3:1-5 "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels."

Most of this church was composed of dead-unsaved nominal Christians, just as Jesus says "you are dead". In 1John 5:12, Jesus says, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." Most of these Christians did not have the Son. But a few did and to those Jesus promised that he would never blot out their names from the book of life.

Also, some point out that the phrase "I will never blot out his name" implies that there are some people who do have their name written in the book of life whose name will be blotted out. But it does not say that explicitly. However some will point out Luke 10:20 "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." which was spoken to the disciples of whom we assume Judas was among them, but who was later condemned. Did he lose his salvation?

Besides the fact that no one had been born of God until the Spirit came at Pentecost and so the guarantees to those born of God were not effective until then, Jesus may not be telling them that their names were actually written in the book of life at that time. For example, if I said "Don't cry over spilt milk, rather cry at the lose of your brother." (Meaning the death of your brother), but in fact I'm not saying that your brother has died, but rather that if it occurs, cry over that. So Jesus may be saying "rejoice over your names being written in the book of life", not that they had yet been, and not over something like demons being subject to you.

Revelation 3:16-17 "So, because you are lukewarm-- neither hot nor cold-- I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

Again referring to nominal Christians who have not yet been saved. Though salvation (being born of God) occurs at a point in time, it usually takes a long process before a follower of Jesus is actually converted and so along the way, it's possible to get side-tracked and fall away, as many of these passages refer to.


Hebrews Passages:


Doctrinal Apostasy passages:

Moral Apostasy passages:


Old Testament passages


More Verses


More Warnings to Nominal Christians


The error that many Arminians make in interpreting such passages is that they assume that these are are talking about conditions for a person to be saved rather than realizing that these are describing attributes of a saved person. (Something to think about the next time you run across an "if" passage)


Kenneth Wuest

(A Translator of the NASB)

on Heb 6:4

Heb 6:4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, (NIV)

Heb 6:4 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, (AV)

"Partakers of the Holy Ghost"

We must be careful to note that the Greek word translated "partakers" does not mean "possessors," in the sense that these Hebrews possessed the Holy Spirit as an indwelling Person who had come to take up His permanent abode in their hearts. The word is a compound of the Greek verb "to have or hold", and a preposition meaning "with" thus "to hold with." It is used in Luke 5:7 where it is translated "partners," signifying one who co-operates with another in a common task or undertaking. It is used in Hebrews 1:9 where the angels are "fellows" of our Lord, partners or associates with Him in the work of salvation. It is used in Hebrews 3:1 where the recipients of this letter are called participators in the heavenly calling. That is, they participated together in the heavenly calling. These Hebrews had left the earthly calling of the nation Israel, and had identified themselves with the Church which has a heavenly calling. It is used in Hebrews 3:14, where it speaks of those who participate together in the Lord Jesus.

The word (metochos) was so used in secular Greek. Moulton and Milligan give examples of its usage in the following phrases: "We, Dionysius son of Socrates and the associate collectors;" Pikos son of Pamonthes and his colleagues," "the Joint-owner of a holding," "I am unable to take part in the cultivation," "Some do so because they are partners in their misdeeds." Thus the word signifies one who participates with another in a common activity or possession. It is so used here. These Hebrews became participators in the Holy Spirit insofar as an unsaved person can do so, namely, in the sense that they willingly co-operated with Him in receiving His pre-salvation ministry, that of leading them on step by step toward the act of faith. He had led them into the act of repentance. The next step would be that of faith. Here they were in danger of turning their backs upon the Spirit and returning to the sacrifices. Peter in his first epistle (1:2) in the words, "through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience," speaks of this work of the Holy Spirit on the unsaved, setting them apart from unbelief to faith. This word in its context does not at all imply that these Hebrews had been born of the Spirit, sealed with the Spirit, indwelt by the Spirit, anointed with the Spirit, baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, or filled with the Spirit. This work of the Holy Spirit in leading them on towards faith was a once-for-all work, so thoroughy done that it needed never to be repeated. However, there was nothing permanent of itself in this work, for the work was only a means to an end. This is shown by the aorist participle used, referring to the mere fact, not a perfect, speaking of a finished act having present results. The fact that the writer did not use the perfect tense here, which is a specialized tense, but rather the aorist, which is the maid of all work, points to the incompleteness of the work of the Spirit in the case of these Hebrews. So far as the work had been done, it was perfect, thorough. But it would not be complete until the Hebrews accepted the proffered faith from the Spirit. The incompleteness of the work would be due, therefore, not to the Spirit, but to their willingness to go on as a partner or cooperator with the Spirit.


Kenneth Wuest on
1John 2:19

"They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." (NIV)

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us." (AV)

The words "out from" and "of" in this verse are the translation of the preposition ek which is followed by the ablative case. There are two classifications of the ablative here, ablative of separation and ablative of source. In the statement, "They went out from use," we have the ablative of separation. These false teachers (antichrists) went out from the true believers in the sense that they departed doctrinally from the position of the Church as to the Person of the Lord Jesus, a position which they had held only in an intellectual way. It was a mental assent to the doctrines concerning, not a heart acceptance of, the Person of Christ.

In the words, "They were not of us," we have the ablative of source. That is, the antichrists did not have their source in the Mystical Body of Christ composed only of true believers. They were merely members of the visible, organized church on earth. They did not partake of the divine life animating the members of the Body of Christ, made up of true believers. All of which means that an apostate is an unsaved person who has mentally subscribed to the doctrines of the Christian faith and who then rejects those doctrines while still remaining within the organization of the visible church and posing as a Christian.

John argues that had these antichrists belonged to the Body of Christ, thus possessing the divine life in company with true believers, they would in that case have remained with these true believers in matters of doctrine. But, he says, they departed from the doctrinal position of the Church so that it could be shown that they did not belong to the company of the saints. The words of the A.V. are misleading, "that they were not all of us," the implication being left with the reader that some of these antichrists had belonged to the company of the saints. The translation should read, "All were not of us." In the Greek text, the verb separates not from all. In such cases, accordign to New Testament usage, the negation is universal. The A.V. not all makes it partial.


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Jul 29,2015