CAN A SAVED PERSON LOSE HIS/HER SALVATION?
There are many verses offered on both sides of this debate, but obviously, both sides cannot be correct. I will begin by telling the reader that I believe that a saved person cannot lose his/her salvation. I will present the scriptures which lead me to that belief and I will present and discuss the other side of the coin, i.e. scriptures offered by those who believe that one can lose their salvation.
Many believe that if one dies without having confessed their sins, they will lose their salvation. As the paper on this web-site on forgiveness will prove from Scripture, forgiveness has nothing to do with salvation. I realize that this is not a widely held view and for that reason the paper on forgiveness discusses every time God’s forgiveness is mentioned in His holy Word. Obviously, that is quite a long study and I have, therefore, not included it in this paper. The reader is, however encouraged to consider this view as presented in the paper mentioned.
So that the reader may find a particular verse I have listed the section headings and each verse found under that heading.
1) SCRIPTURES THAT POINT TO A ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED POSITION
2) SALVATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE GOSPELS ACCORDING TO MATTHEW, MARK AND LUKE
Luke 8: The Parable of the Seeds
John 15: The True Vine
3) INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE SAID TO HAVE LOST THEIR SALVATION
Saul: I Samuel 10:6 and I Samuel 5:11
Solomon: I Kings 11:4 and I Chron. 22:10
Judas: John 17:12
5) PASSAGES TAKEN OUT OF THEIR DISPENSATIONAL CONTEXTS
6) OTHER PASSAGES FROM HEBREWS
7) “HE WHO ENDURES TO THE END”
8) “TWO SIDES OF A TRUTH THAT GIVE US A PERFECT WHOLE”
9) NEW TESTAMENT PASSAGES THAT REFER TO UNBELIEVERS
I Corinthans 10:12
II Thessalonians 2:3
II Peter 2:20-21
10) PASSAGES THAT SPEAK OF LOSS OF REWARDS, NOT LOSS OF SALVATION
I Corinthians 3:17
I Timothy 4:15-16
I Timothy 5:24-25
II Timothy 2:11-13
11) PASSAGES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH LOSS OF TEMPORAL LIVES, NOT ETERNAL LIVES
12) “IF” PASSAGES
I Corinthians 15:2
1) SCRIPTURES THAT POINT TO A ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED POSITION
We read in Eph. 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”. It is of extreme importance to note that salvation is a gift. But too many think of salvation as an agreement between themselves and God. That is to say that some think that because they have agreed to believe in Him, God will give them salvation. From that point they argue that if one party of the assumed “agreement” fails in that agreement, the agreement is canceled.
But salvation is not an agreement, it is a gift. God gives this gift of salvation to those who believe in Him. Let us look at John 3:16 as an example of the message of salvation. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever should believe in Him shall….have everlasting life”. In other words, salvation is a gift that God chooses to give to only those who believe in Him. Salvation is not an agreement between man and God, it is a gift that God chooses to give to those who believe in Him.
It should also be noted that we read no less than nine times in the Word of God that one must believe in Christ in order to partake in this gift of salvation. I will quote those nine verses and ask the reader to please note that there is not one word of a condition attached to them. That is to say, surely if this gift could be withdrawn God would have explained when He offered it what the conditions were, but He did not. The gift of salvation is given to all those who believe and the gift cannot be withdrawn without God breaking His word. God cannot lie, and therefore, God cannot break His word. He promised the gift of salvation to those who believe in Him and that promise will be fulfilled, even if it is not appreciated.
Those nine verses that explain the gospel of salvation are:
Jn. 1:12, “But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name”.
3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”.
3:18, “He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already”.
6:40, “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”.
6:47, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life”.
11:25, “Jesus said unto her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live”.
20:30-31, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye might have life through His name”.
Acts 16:31, “And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house”.
Rom. 3:26, “….that He might be just and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus“.
We read in Eph. 1:13-14, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession ….”. Note the three words highlighted in this passage. We were sealed, with a promise which is the earnest or guarantee of resurrection. This guarantee is a promise which is given when we were sealed. This promise does not come with any conditions. Therefore, God, Who cannot lie, cannot break this promise of resurrection to all who had been sealed, i.e. all who are saved.
John 10:28, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand“. The Greek translated here “never” is “ou me”. The Companion Bible gives the following definition, “The two negatives when combined lose their distinctive meanings, and form the strongest and most emphatic asserevation“. Had the Holy Spirit used the Greek “me” alone He would have given a conditional aspect to the statement of this verse. The Companion Bible definition of “me” is, “expressing conditional negation….”. But the Holy Spirit did not use the conditional word, He used the phrase which makes the statement that “they shall never perish” unconditional.
Romans 8:37-39, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him That loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
Phil. 1:6, “Being confident of this very thing, that He Which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”. The Greek word translated “perform” is “epiteleo”. It is translated “perform” 4 times, “do” once. But it is also translated “accomplish” two times and “perfect” or “perfecting” or “made perfect” and “finish”. In other words “epiteleo” carries the idea of finishing the act. Therefore, the NIV translation gives a better sense of the meaning of this verse. “being confident of this, that He Who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”. The work that was “begun” was obviously, salvation. Here we are told that that work will be completed. The term “until the day of Christ Jesus” refers to resurrection day. Therefore, we are told in this verse that God will complete the work of salvation at resurrection. Note there is no condition attached, and it is not man, but God Who will complete the work.
A STUDY OF THOSE PASSAGES THAT SEEM TO SUGGEST THAT ONE MIGHT LOSE THEIR SALVATION
2) SALVATION IN THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE GOSPELS ACCORDING TO MATTHEW, MARK AND LUKE
Too many Christians begin their study of God’s Word in the middle of the book, i.e. at the New Testament. There are any number of questions that are highly controversial, in part, because some don’t study the question beginning with the Old Testament. The question before us is one of those.
When the New Testament opens, Christ and His apostles were addressing, for the most part, Israelites. Christ and His apostles understood the mindset of those Israelites, because they understood that their mindset came from the Old Testament, and they addressed their audience with that thinking in mind. We must have the same thinking as did the audience of Christ and His apostles if we are serious about understanding their teachings. The New Testament did not come out of a vacuum, it began as a continuation of the teachings of the Old Testament. So let us look at what the Old Testament has to say about salvation and loss of salvation.
It may surprise some to know that, apart from the types and shadows, there are only four scriptures in the entire Old Testament that speak of salvation. They are: 1) “Abraham believed God and it was counted unto him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). 2) “I know that my Redeemer liveth” (Job 19:25). 3) “The just shall live by faith” (Hab. 2:4). 4) Ezekiel chapter 37 which speaks of the resurrection. There are no Old Testament scriptures that allude to the loss of salvation. (As we continue, we will discuss some Old Testament scriptures that are thought by some to be about loss of salvation, but, as the reader shall see in the section below, that is pure conjecture.)
It is clear that the Old Testament has very little to say about salvation. But the Old Testament has much to say about the blessings of the millennial reign of Christ. That is to say, the emphasis in the Old Testament was not on salvation for the individual, it was on the blessings for the nation of Israel associated with Christ’s reign, which would be a time of tremendous blessings. It is clear from such passages as Matthew 21:9 that that same emphasis was continued in the early part of the New Testament. That is to say, Matthew, Mark and Luke did not write primarily about salvation or about Christ in His office of Savior. Matthew 21:9 reads, “And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David….”. The title “Son of David” points to Christ as King, not to Christ as Savior. It was Christ as King, not Christ as Savior, that is the emphasis of the Gospel of Matthew. It is Christ as Servant, not as Savior, that Mark emphasizes in his Gospel. And it is Christ in His office of Son of Man, not in His office of Savior that Luke emphasizes in his Gospel. (For the Scriptural evidence of those statements please see the paper on this web-site The Kingdom of Heaven.) The first few chapters of the book of Acts also primarily presents Christ as King to Israel.
If we are to understand what the Bible teaches about salvation, we must not depend on that portion of Scriptures of which the primary emphasis is not on salvation.
THE PARABLE OF THE SEEDS
With that in mind let us now look at the parable of the sower as recorded in Luke 8. The parable itself is recorded in verses 5-8, “A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it: and some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And others fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold”.
The explanation of the parable is recorded in verses 12-15, “Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 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. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience”.
The seed that fell by the “way side” were deceived by the devil. But we read in Romans 8, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. The devil is a creature. We are specifically told that no creature can separate us from the love of God. Therefore, in order to avoid a contradiction in the perfect Word of God, we must conclude that those represented by the seed at the way side were not saved. It should also be noted that the Lord told us in the phrase, “lest they should believe and be saved” that these were not saved.
We read that those represented by the seed that fell on the rock were carried away by “temptation”. But temptation is something that will come. And we read in Romans 8, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Therefore, in order to avoid a contradiction in the perfect Word of God, we must conclude that those represented by the seed that fell on the rock were not saved. But one might object that at first they did believe and therefore, must have been saved. But God knows who truly believed, and because those who are represented by those who fell on the rock succumbed to temptation, and temptation cannot separate true believers from the love of God, we must conclude that they were not true believers.
The seed that fell among the thorns represent those who are choked with cares and riches etc. of this life. But again, those are things of the present life and we read in Rom. 8, “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord”. Again, in order to avoid a contradiction with Rom. 8 we must conclude that those represented by the seed that fell among the thorns were never saved.
In short, we may not assume that any of those represented by the seeds that fell in various places were saved, and then lost their salvation.This is especially true because Luke does not write primarily of Christ as Savior.
Matt. 7:23 reads, “And then will I profess unto them ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity”. Let us consider the context as I believe it will explain this statement of our Lord’s. Verse 18 reads, “A good tree can not bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit”. What do the good tree and the corrupt tree represent in this context? Given that we know that without faith we can do nothing to please God (Heb. 11:6), I believe that the good tree represents believers. If the good tree represents believers, then obviously, the corrupt tree must represent unbelievers.
So it is the unbeliever, even though he may do some good things, that Christ will not know. Therefore, this passage in Matt. 7 does not contradict anything else in the Word (there are absolutely no contradictions in the perfect Word of God). A believer cannot lose his salvation.
We read in Matt. 25:1-13 the parable of the ten virgins. “Then shall the kingdom of Heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, ‘Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,’ Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, ‘Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, ‘lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered and said, ‘Verily I say unto, I know you not.’“.
It has been suggested that virgins always represent believers in the Bible and I will address the scriptures used to prove that point.
Ps. 45: 1-15 speaks of the virgins that will be companions to the “kings daughter”. There is no hint here that the virgins represent believers or unbelievers. In this context they are simply virgins. Cant. 1: 3; 6: 8. The Hebrew word used in these verses is not “behomath”, which means “virgins”, it is “alomoth” which means “young maiden”. There are however, two of these references that do indeed use virgins to represent believers. They are Rev. 14: 4 and 2 Cor. 11: 2.
Rev. 14:4 speaks of those who are redeemed (vs. 3), so we may conclude that they were believers. And II Cor. 11:2 speaks of Paul presenting the church as a “chaste virgin”. My point is that both contexts tell us quite clearly that the virgins represent believers. But that doesn’t mean that every time we read of virgins, they represent believers. That would be like saying that because the lion represents the tribe of Judah, every time we read of a lion in the Bible it is in reference to the tribe of Judah. That is not only unscriptural, it is illogical as well. So how can we determine if the five foolish virgins represented believers or unbelievers?
I believe that as we consider the phrase “But he answered and said, ‘Verily I say unto, I know you not'”, we will have the answer to that question because Matt. 7 also records a situation in which the Lord tells some that He never knew them. As discussed above, in the section on Matt. 7, the ones that the Lord said He would not know were unbelievers. That being the case, we may conclude that those virgins who He would not know are also unbelievers.
It has also been suggested that none of the virgins, foolish or wise, would have been invited to the banquet unless they were believers in the first place”. I believe the parable of the wedding feast of Matt. 21 disproves that statement. That is to say, that parable tells of many who were invited to the marriage feast of the king’s son who not only did not come, but even killed the messengers who invited them. So it is not at all accurate to say that they must have been believers in order to have been invited.
THE TRUE VINE OF JOHN 15
Jn. 15:1-2, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the Husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit He taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit”.
It is obvious that when our Lord said, “I am the true vine” that He was not speaking literally, because He was not a vine, He was a Man. The “vine” therefore is a metaphor. As is true of all figures of speech, this metaphor enhances the truth for which the metaphor was used. What is that truth that is enhanced by the metaphor of the vine? The answer to that question is given quite specifically by our Lord and recorded in verses 4-5, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing”. The truth that is enhanced by the metaphor of the vine is put most succinctly in the phrase, ” for without Me ye can do nothing”.
It is also important to know who is represented by the branches. I suggest that that question is answered once we determine what Christ meant by the “fruit” of the branches. The fruit of the branches can be one of two things. It can be, 1) the fruit of the spirit, or it can be 2) the fruit of one’s labors. Gal. 5:22 speaks of the fruits of the spirit, “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith…”. The more immediate context of Jn. 15 gives us an example of the fruit of one’s labour. We read in Jn. 15:16, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain….”. Note the phrase, “that ye should go”. Going is not required to bring forth the fruits of the spirit. Therefore, I believe the most logical conclusion is that the fruit of the vine refers to the fruits of one’s labor, not to the fruits of the holy spirit.
I believe that the context will give the same answer to the question as to which fruit is meant in John 15. This chapter is part of a long discourse given by our Lord to His disciples at the last supper, or rather to eleven of them, as Judas had departed earlier (see Jn. 13:30). Jn. 13:1 sets the time of His discourse, “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father…..”. In other words, this discourse was given to the 11 at a time when Christ knew that His earthly ministry was coming to a rapid close.
Taking into consideration that chapter 15 comes in Christ’s last message to His disciples before the end of His earthly ministry, I believe it is more logical to conclude that the “fruits” of the branches of the vine are not the fruits of the spirit of Gal. 5, but the fruits of the labors of the disciples. That is to say, the “fruits” are those who the disciples “bring forth”.
We are now ready to discuss who is represented by the figure of the branches of the vine. We have already learned that Christ was speaking to the 11 disciples. The question is: was He speaking to them as followers or as believers. These 11 were, of course, both followers and believers, so the distinction is not that obvious. But we read in verse 16, “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit”. In my opinion, the phrase “I have chosen you and ordained you” points to the conclusion that Christ was speaking to them primarily as His followers. That is to say, not every believer has been “chosen” and “ordained” to go bring forth fruit. It is true that all believers are expected to bring forth fruits of the holy spirit as listed in Gal. 5:22, but not all believers have been chosen and ordained to go forth to bring forth other believers. But there are a few more hints in the context that Christ is speaking to the 11 primarily as His followers.
We read in 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another”. It is true of course, that this can be said of all believers, but it is significant that our Lord said that their love will show that they are His disciples, not that it will show that they are believers.
Consider also 15:8, “Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples“. Every word in the Bible is God inspired. Note that Christ did not say that their fruits showed that they were believers, but that their works showed that they were His disciples. I am suggesting that because the fruit of the branches represented those to whom the disciples were sent forth to reach for Christ, that the branches of the vine represented Christ’s disciples primarily as His disciples, i.e. followers, not primarily as believers.
Having determined that the branches of the vine represented the followers of Christ, more specifically the 11 disciples, we are now ready to consider who is represented by the branch of verse 2, the one that was cast away. I believe the branch of verse 2 was Judas. The branches represent Christ’s followers, Judas was a follower. Consider also verse 3, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you”. Compare that with Jn. 13:10-11, “……and ye are not all clean. For He knew who should betray Him; therefore said He, ‘Ye are not all clean'”. In my opinion there is an implied reference in this comparison to Judas, who was not clean and who was therefore, a branch that was taken out of the vine.
But Judas was not a believer (see the discussion of Judas in the section below “Individuals Who Are Said To Have Lost Their Salvation”). Therefore, as the branch that was taken out of the vine, Judas did not lose his salvation, because Judas as an unbeliever was never saved. Judas lost his place as a disciple of Christ, but he could not have lost what he never had, i.e. salvation.
We must consider verse 6, because that verse is not about just the 11, it is about any man. Verse 6 reads, “If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered….”. Logic plus the context demands that if the branch of verse 2 is Judas who was a follower, but not a believer who did not bring forth fruit, then the man of verse 6 is also a follower, but not a believer, one that did not bring forth fruit.
I believe that the branches that are taken out of the vine are those followers who do not bring forth other followers who will “remain”. This passage does not speak of loss of salvation, it speaks of followers who will be cast out of the Vine because they fail to bring forth the fruit for which they are sent, i.e. followers who will “remain”. Verse 2 sets the precedence for the conclusion that these followers who do not produce fruit, are unbelievers. So again, they did not lose their salvation because as unbelievers, they were never saved.
For the sake of thoroughness, we must consider the objection by some that we are told that these branches are “in Christ”, which makes them believers. Because the context is about the relationship of Christ’s disciples to Him as His followers, I believe that the context points to the phrase “in Me” as meaning that same relationship, i.e. follower to Master.
3) INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE SAID TO HAVE LOST THEIR SALVATION
This brings me to a web-site that discusses how certain individuals in the Bible lost their salvation. That web-site address is: www.eternallysecure.com/examples.html. I would like to discuss just a few of these examples.
King Saul is said on this web-site to have lost his salvation. The reference given to prove that he was saved is I Sam. 10:6. The reference given to prove that Saul lost his salvation is I Sam.15:11. Let’s look at those references.
I Sam. 10:6, “And the spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them; and shalt be turned into another man”. Does the fact that the spirit of the Lord coming upon Saul mean that he was saved? No. When the spirit comes upon someone, or someone is “filled” with the spirit it is power from the Holy Spirit. In those cases the figure of speech “Metonymy” is used. That figure puts the cause (the Holy Spirit) for the effect (the power from the Holy Spirit. ) For the Scriptural evidence of that statement please see the paper on this web-site A Study of Spirit.) The spirit of the Lord is always given so that the ones to whom it is given may accomplish a specific work in accordance with the will of God. That specific work for which the spirit was given is always described in the context. The power from the Holy Spirit is never given for salvation. That is to say, being filled with power from the Holy Spirit does not save a person. When a person believes in Christ that person receives the gift from the Holy Spirit, i.e. the spirit from above, but that is not the same as being filled with the power from the Holy Spirit.(Again, the above mentioned paper on Spirit will prove these statements.) Let us look at just a few examples for proof of that.
In the verse we are considering, Saul was given the spirit of the Lord so that he could prophecy. Salvation is not in view in this context. We are told only that the power from the Holy Spirit ( the figure of speech Metonymy is used) will come upon Saul and that he would prophecy.
Consider also Judges 14:6, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon him with power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands”. The spirit of the Lord came upon Samson for the very specific purpose of protecting him from the lion. This does not in any way allude to eternal salvation.
Consider also, Judges 15:14,”…. The Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax and the bindings dropped from his hands”. The spirit of the Lord came upon Samson so that he could bring down the temple of the heathen. Again, salvation is not in view in this passage. In point of fact, it is destruction, not salvation that is in view.
Numbers 11:17, “I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit that is on you and put the Spirit on them. They will help you carry the burden of the people so that you will not have to carry it alone”. Moses did not lose his salvation when the spirit of the Lord was taken from him, it was simply given to others in order to share his burden of leadership. Salvation is not in view in this context.
It is clear from these verses that the spirit coming upon someone does not imply salvation. That spirit is given so that the one who receives it may accomplish the specific will of God for which it was given. As for the phrase, “and shalt be turned into another man”, in view of the fact that the spirit coming upon him does not save, it is pure conjecture to assume that Saul becoming “another man” means salvation.
Now let us look at the verse given to prove that Saul lost his salvation, i.e. I Sam. 15:11, “It repenteth Me that I have set up Saul to be king: for he is turned back from following Me, and hath not performed My commandments”. What we are told is that God did not want Saul to be king over Israel any longer. To see a loss of salvation in this verse is again, pure conjecture.
I am not saying that Saul was saved or that he was not saved. I don’t know, because we are not told, if he was or if he wasn’t. What I am saying is that the account of Saul becoming king is not an account of his salvation, it is of his being chosen by God to rule as king over Israel, and that rule was eventually taken from him, period. My point is that we must not see salvation, especially in the Old Testament and the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, when salvation is not the message.
The above mentioned web-site also claims that Solomon was saved and lost his salvation. The verse given to prove that Solomon was saved is I Chron. 22:10, “He shall build an house for My Name; and he shall be My son, and I will be his Father; and I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel for ever”.
The verse given to prove that Solomon lost his salvation is I Kings 11:4, “For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father”. It is, of course, highly regrettable that the man responsible for building the temple of God had turned away to other gods. But there is nothing in this verse that implies that Solomon lost his salvation. Once again, to say so is pure conjecture.
The author of the web-site also suggests I Kings 11:9 and I Chron. 28:9 as the proof that Solomon lost his salvation. I Kings 11:9 tells us that “the Lord was angry with Solomon because his heart was turned from the Lord…..”. But this does not say that God took away his salvation. I Chron. 28:9 reads, in part, “if thou forsake Him, He will cast thee off for ever”. The Hebrew word translated “cast off” is “nagh”. It is used by David in reference to himself in any number of Psalms including Ps. 43:2, 44:9, 60:1, etc. One example should suffice to prove that “cast off” does not mean loss of salvation., “Ps. 43:2, “why dost Thou cast me off“. If one says that “cast off”, as applied to Solomon means loss of salvation, one must say the same of David. Given that David is spoken of as reigning as Christ’s regent in the millennium, it is quite impossible that David lost his salvation (For the Scriptural proof that David will reign as Christ’s regent in the millennium, please see the paper, Will David Reign As Christ’s Regent On The Millennial Throne?
My point is that much of the so-called proof that one can lose his salvation, especially in the Old Testament, which does not have salvation as its primary message, is pure conjecture.
It is often said by those who believe that one can lose their salvation that Judas lost his salvation, therefore that proves it is possible for anyone to lose their salvation. But as we read in John 6:64, Judas was never a believer, and therefore was never saved. “‘But there are some of you that believe not’. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray Him”. If Judas was not a believer, and this verse tells us that he was not, then he obviously was not saved. One cannot lose something he never had.
But some have pointed to Jn. 17:12 in an effort to prove that Judas had been saved. That verse reads, “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”. Does the phrase “those that Thou gavest Me” refer to those the Father gave to Christ to be saved? Obviously not, because Judas was not a believer and therefore never saved. The only way we can understand the phrase without contradicting Jn. 6:64 is to conclude that “those that Thou gavest Me” refers to those the Father gave to Christ to be followers, not to be saved.
I will not discuss any more of the individuals who are spoken of on the web-site mentioned. I hope that the reader will be able to see for himself/herself that the scriptures given on that web-site to prove that one is saved and then lost that salvation is pure conjecture.
Ezek. 18:24 reads, “But when the righteous turneth away 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 them shall he die”.
We must understand the Hebrew word translated “righteous”. That Hebrew word is “tzadek”. This word does not mean “saved”, it means having done correctly or having done the right things. How do we know that? The meaning of a word is always derived from its usage and we read in I Sam. 24:17, “Thou art more righteous than I”. A person is not more saved than another. He may have done more of the right things, but he is not more saved. Consider also I Kings 2:32 which uses the word in the same way and reads, “…two men more righteous and better….”. Again, a person is not more saved.
Let us also determine from the context exactly what the Holy Spirit means by the phrase “the righteous turneth away from his righteousness”. In point of fact it is explained in the very next phrase, “and committeth iniquity”. In other words, to turn away from righteousness is to commit iniquity. This is consistent with the correct meaning of “tzadek”.
But many believe that this man lost his salvation because the Word says that he was “righteous”. But again, “righteous” does not mean “saved”. To say, therefore, that this man was saved is pure conjecture, there is no Scriptural evidence that he was ever saved.
Further, does this passage really speak of resurrection life? I think not. Let us review the phrases, “shall he live? ” and “in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in them shall he die”. In other words, this passage asks the question shall a man that turns from doing the right things live, or shall he die? In short, neither the word “righteous” nor the context suggests that this passage has to do with salvation unto resurrection life. It has, rather, to do with a man’s temporal life and his death.
5) PASSAGES TAKEN OUT OF THEIR DISPENSATIONAL CONTEXTS
Heb. 6:4-8, “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. ………..But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned”.
The epistle to the Hebrews is not written specifically to believers, nor is it written specifically to unbelievers. It is written to Hebrews, which, of course, include believers and unbelievers. The context of each passage will tell us which the writer was addressing.
The question is, does Heb. 6:4-8 speak of believers or unbelievers? On the surface it seems that it refers to believers, but then how are we to explain the verses quoted above in the first section of this paper which tell us that one cannot lose their salvation? I suggest that we consider individual phrases of this passage so that we might discover the answer to the question as to whether the passage refers to believers or to unbelievers.
Let us begin with the phrase, “once enlightened”. The Greek word translated “enlightened” is “photismos”, and is defined in the Companion Bible as, “a lighting, illumination, shining”. As we all know, many have had the truth shown and/or illuminated to them, but have not accepted it. So I don’t think a strong argument can be made that being enlightened implies acceptance which leads to salvation.
Let us continue with the phrase, “have tasted of the heavenly gift“. The question is: is this “heavenly gift” eternal life? Let us consider a few individual words in this phrase in order to answer that question. I believe that if we consider the next phrase, we will have the answer to our question about what this heavenly gift is.
The Greek word translated “and” in the phrase “and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost” is “kai” and is often translated “even”. If we translated it “even” here we will have the answer to our question as to what the heavenly gift is. The heavenly gift is to have partaken in the “holy ghost”.
Now the question is what does it mean to have partaken in the holy ghost? Please note that I have put the “h” and the “g” in lower case letters. Greek rarely uses upper case letters and when used in the translation it is purely a matter of interpretation. I do not believe that any man can literally partake of God, the Holy Ghost and therefore, we must take this as a figure of speech. I believe that this is one of the dozens of cases where “holy ghost” is used as the figure of speech Metonymy of the Cause. The Holy Ghost is the cause and the result is His power. (Please see the paper on a study of Spirit for a further examination of this issue.) In other words, the writer of Hebrews is speaking here of having partaken of the power from the Holy Ghost. That power was seen all throughout the Gospel and Acts period as it was manifested in tongues, miraculous healing, prophecies, etc.
I am suggesting, therefore that the heavenly gift is the power from the Holy Spirit (same word in the Greek as “Ghost”). So that this phrase should read,”and have tasted of the heavenly gift, even were made partakers of the power from the Holy Ghost”.
Does this mean that those referred to in this passage actually had the power from the Holy Spirit? Let us consider the Greek word translated “tasted’ in the phrase, “have tasted of the heavenly gift”. That Greek word is “guomai”. I believe as we consider how the word is used in Matt. 27:34 we will understand how the Holy Spirit used that word. “They gave Him vinegar to drink, mingled with gall; and when He had tasted thereof, He would not drink”. I believe it is obvious that the Greek “guomai’ tells us that one did not fully participate in what was offered.
Let us add to that a consideration of the Greek word translated “partakers” in the phrase “partakers of the Holy Spirit”. The Greek word translated “partakers” in this passage is “metokos”. The first occurrence is in Luke 5:7 which reads, “and they beckoned to their partners (Gr. “metokos”) which were in the other ship that they should come and help them…. “. Those in the other ship were not partaking of the same problem, but they were partners in that they were involved in the same activity, i.e. fishing. The word is also translated “fellows” and, of course, “partakers”. Let us consider for a moment the word “partakers” as it is used in Eph. 3:6. That Greek word is “sunmetocha”. It is the same root, but note the prefix “sun” is used which makes it “together partakers”. But the word in Heb. 6 is without the prefix and, in my opinion, that must be taken into consideration. In other words, without the prefix “metokos” does not mean “together partakers”. Also, I believe that the context of the passage in Heb. 6 helps us to interpret the word “partakers” as “partners”. That is to say, just as the ones in the other ship were partners, but not fully participating in the same struggle, so too those in Heb. 6 were not directly participating in the power from the Holy Spirit, but rather in a ship close by so to speak. In short, I do not believe that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that those referred to in this passage actually had the power from the Holy Spirit.
In short, those who are warned in this passage had not fully participated in the gifts from the Holy Spirit, they tasted, but did not eat.
Let us continue with the phrase, “and have tasted the good word of God”. Again the word “tasted” implies that they had heard the Word of God. But again, the fact that they had only tasted, i.e. not fully accepted it, suggests that they were not committed believers.
Going on with the phrase, “and the powers of the world to come”. The Greek word translated “world” is “aion” and means “age”, i.e. “powers of the age to come”. The age to come is obviously the millennium. Given that the verse speaks of the power from the Holy Spirit, I believe that the power spoken of in this phrase is the power that will be in evidence in the millennium spoken of in Joel 2, i.e. dreams and prophecies, etc. .
Now let us consider the phrase, “seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame”. Given that the phrases we considered above do not prove that this passage is in regards to believers, I see no reason to conclude that these phrases are in reference to believers either. In point of fact, because James tells us that our faith is completed by works (see James 2:22), I believe that anyone who lives as if he were crucifying Christ was never a believer and therefore does not lose something he never had.
Now let us turn our attention to the last part of this passage, i.e. verse 8 which reads, “that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing”. What is the curse that is alluded to in this verse? Is the loss of salvation ever referred to as a curse? It is not, mostly because there is no loss of salvation. What is referred to as a curse is the loss of the right of entrance into the Land. Ps. 37:22, “For such as be blessed of Him, shall inherit the earth ( Hebrew is eretz” and should be “Land”); and they that be cursed of Him shall be cut off”. Verse 9 explains what it means to be “cut off”. “For evildoers shall be cut off; but those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the earth (again it is “eretz” and should be translated “land”, i.e. Land of Israel)”. And verses 28-29, “…..For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not His saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous shall inherit the land, and dwell therein for ever”. What we learn from these passages is that to be blessed is to inherit the Land during the millennium, and to be cursed is to be denied entrance into the Land for millennial blessings.
How are we to understand the phrase, “whose end it is to be burned”? For that, we must turn to Matthew 13:41-43, “The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity: And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father……..”. I believe a few words of clarification are called for.
1) The phrase “furnace of fire” is obviously not to be taken literally. That is to say, there is no Scriptural evidence to suggest that there is a literal furnace into which some will be cast. Therefore the phrase must be interpreted figuratively. It believe it is used in reference to the countries outside the Land which will not enjoy the blessings that the righteous in the Land will enjoy. (For the Scriptural proof of that statement please see the paper on this web-site, The Kingdom of Heaven. ) 2) This passage in Matthew speaks of those already in the Land at His coming who will be cast out because of their unrighteousness.
For the purpose of clarification I will offer a paraphrase of Heb. 6:4-8, “For it is impossible for those who had heard the word, and have only tasted and not fully accepted the heavenly gift which is the power from the Holy Spirit, and were made partners of those who had received the power from the Holy Ghost, and have tasted, but not fully accepted the good word of God, and the powers of the age 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. ………..But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and will not enter into the millennial Land, but will instead be cast out of it to live among unbelievers of the nations.”
Heb. 10:26-31, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted, the blood of the covenant, wherewith He was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the spirit of grace? For we know Him that hath said, ‘Vengeance belongeth to Me, I will recompense’, saith the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord shall judge His people’. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”.
The phrase, “fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation” has led many to conclude that hell is in the mind of the writer of Hebrews. Let me say first that the traditional view of hell is unscriptural, and therefore does not enter into the interpretation of this passage. Please see the paper, A Study Of Hell on this web-site for the Scriptural evidence of that statement.
Next, let us consider the phrase, “fiery indignation”. The note on this phrase in the Companion Bible reads, “= jealousy, or fervour of fire. A Hebraism. See Ps. 79:5, Ezek. 36:5, 38:19, Zeph. 1:18, Cp. Deut. 29:20”. Let us look at just a few of these verses.
Ps. 79:5, “How long, Lord? wilt Thou be angry for ever? Shall Thy jealousy burn like fire?
Ezek. 36:5, “…..Surely in the fire of My jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen….”.
Ezek. 38:19, “For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath have I spoken….”.
This phrase then has nothing to do with hell, or with loss of salvation. The burning fire is a figure of speech used to enhance the picture of God’s anger.
Let us consider the phrases, “‘Vengeance belongeth to Me, I will recompense’, saith the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord shall judge His people’. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”. As we add together the picture of God’s anger and the “vengeance” of God, I believe we may conclude that the punishment of this passage in Heb. 10 refers to the day of God’s vengeance which will be meted out in the day of the Lord. (Please see the paper on the days of the end times for proof of that statement.) Believers will have been raptured before the day of God’s vengeance proving that this passage has to do with the punishment of unbelievers. Again, unbelievers were never saved because of their unbelief, therefore there is no loss of salvation in this passage.
6) OTHER PASSAGES FROM HEBREWS
Heb. 2:3, “…how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation….”. We must be constantly aware in reading Hebrews that it was written to Israel, some of whom were believers (and therefore saved) and some of whom were not. So we must ask ourselves was it believers or unbelievers that the writer warns of neglecting salvation? I believe a short study of the Greek word translated “neglect” will answer that question.
That Greek word is “ameleo”. The first occurrence is in Matt. 22:5 where it is translated “make light of“. In Heb. 8:9 it is translated “regard not“. In my opinion, the use of the word “neglect” points to this warning being directed to those of Israel who were not believers, i.e. who “regarded not” and who made light of the salvation that was in Christ. In other words, they never took the gift of salvation seriously enough to accept it. Note verse 4 which speaks of bearing witness by miraculous signs. Those signs were sent to unbelievers so that they would not “neglect” the salvation in Christ. So verse 4 also points to the warning of verse 3 as being directed to unbelievers. Unbelievers never had salvation and therefore never lost what they never had.
Heb. 3:6- 4:16 This passage concerns entering into God’s rest. It is true that those of Israel who God led out of Egypt did not enter into His rest, but we must ask ourselves why they did not. The answer is given very plainly in 4:6, “….and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief“. Those who use this passage to try to prove that believers were not allowed entrance into His rest miss the point. The whole point of this passage is that the reason some were not allowed entrance into His rest is because they were unbelievers. They never lost a salvation because as unbelievers they never had it. Note also 3:19 which tells us the same thing, “so we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. And 4:11, “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief“.
Having established the main subject of this passage let us consider a few verses that seem to say that one can lose his salvation. For example, 3:6, “…Whose house are we if we hold fast….”. Bearing in mind that this epistle was written to the Hebrews (some of whom were saved and others were not) we must consider the Old Testament and the emphasis therein of works. We read in the Old Testament that one is justified by faith. But as mentioned above, the Old Testament has very little to say about salvation. The main emphasis in the Old Testament was works, i.e. the obedience to the Mosaic Law in order to lay hold of earthly blessings and avoid earthly punishments. (Please see Lev. 26 as it is the cornerstone of the Old Testament.) So Israel was quite used to thinking in terms of works to please God. And James tells us that works completes ones faith (please the paper on this web-site Faith And Works In God’s Plan of Salvation for the proof of that statement).
The thought of works completing one’s faith is also seen in this context as we compare verses 17 and 19 of chapter 3. Verse 17 reads, “But with whom was He grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness”. But in verse 19 we read, “so we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief“. Verse 17 tells us that they did not enter into His rest because of their sin, but verse 19 tells us that they did not enter in because they lacked faith. There are no contradictions in the word of God. The only way we can avoid that contradiction is to consider James 2 which tells us that faith is completed by works.
Heb. 3:12 is helpful in understanding this passage. It reads, “Take heed brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God”. Note that it is not the believers who “depart from the living God”, it is unbelievers. Again we must bear in mind that Hebrews was written to believers and unbelievers alike of Israel. So verse 14 is also addressed to unbelievers.
Heb. 5:8-9 “…..he became the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him”. Again, we cannot forget that this epistle was written to Israel, i.e. Hebrews. The Hebrews knew their own Old Testament and they knew the principle so clearly stated by James in chapter 2 of his epistle. That principle is that works complete ones’ faith. So yes, those who do not obey do not do not partake of the promise of salvation because their works (i.e. their lack of obedience) prove that they were not believers.
7) “HE WHO ENDURES TO THE END”
Matt. 24:13, “But he that shall endure unto the end shall be saved”. There are two questions that must be asked. 1) “Endures unto the end” of what? And 2) that person will be saved from what?
The context will answer our first question. The context is obviously about the great tribulation. Note verses 15-16, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place…..then let them which be in Judea flee into the hills” The answer to our first question is that he endures to the end of the tribulation will be saved.
Our second question asks, from what will he that endures to the end be saved? The paper on this web-site An Overview Of The End Times will show that immediately after the tribulation, the Lord will mete out His wrath in the day of the Lord. The rapture will save all believers from that wrath. In other words, he who endures to the end of the tribulation will be saved from the day of God’s wrath by the rapture.
Matt. 10:22 also uses the phrase “he that endureth to the end”. “And ye shall be hated of all men for My name’s sake; but he that endureth to the end shall be saved”. Is Matt. 10:22 also a tribulation passage? We read in verse 21, “And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death and the father the child; and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death”. Let us compare that with Luke 21:16. Luke 21:16 is a tribulation passage which is proved by verse 12, “But before all these (the “fearful sights and great signs” from heaven, i.e. the signs of the day of the Lord), they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons….”. We read in this context verse 16, “and ye shall be betrayed both by parents and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends…..”.
In short, we know that Luke 21:16 is in the context of the tribulation. Luke 21:16 tells us the same thing as Matt. 10:22, therefore Matt. 10:22 is also a tribulation passage. Therefore, the same is true of the phrase “he who endures to the end” of Matt. 10:16 as was true of Matt. 24:13, i.e. he who endures to the end of the tribulation will be saved from the day of God’s wrath by the rapture.
8) “TWO SIDES OF A TRUTH THAT GIVE US A PERFECT WHOLE”
We read in Phil 3:11, “If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead”. This verse seems to be saying that Paul was not sure he would be raised, i.e. that he might lose his salvation. But we have seen several passages that tell us that no saved person could lose his salvation. How are we to understand this verse? There are no contradictions in the Word of God, so we must look a little deeper at this passage.
The title of this section is a quote from Charles Welch taken from his article called “Second Step”. He writes, “Meanwhile his (Paul’s) ‘confidence’ in Philippians one and his ‘diffidence’ in Philippians three give us the two sides of truth that give us a perfect whole”. To what does Mr. Welch refer when he wrote of “Paul’s confidence”? He is referring to Phil. 1:6 where we read, “Being confident of this very thing, that He Which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”. If Paul was so confident that Christ will continue the good work in the Philippian believers until resurrection in the day of Jesus Christ, how then is he so lacking in confidence as to his own resurrection? Let us examine the concept of two sides of a truth giving us a perfect whole.
Several things in the Bible seem to contradict themselves unless we see them as “two sides of a truth that give us a perfect whole” or opposite sides of the same coin. Take for example faith as opposed to the Law of Moses for justification. In Galatians 2:15 Paul writes, “We who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners know that a man is not justified by observing the law……” But in Romans 2:13 he writes, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.” Is this a contradiction? Of course not, it is simply “two sides of truth that give us a perfect whole”. That is to say, it is faith in Christ that makes one righteous, but the law was given to Israel to obey, and their obedience completed their faith in the One Who gave them that law.
Let us consider another example of “two sides of a truth that give us a perfect whole”. Eph. 2:8-9 reads, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast”. But James writes in James 2:24, “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone”. There is no contradiction here. That is to say, one is justified by faith, but “faith without works is dead”. This is another example of “two sides of a truth that give us a perfect whole”, two sides of the same coin.
Paul also writes in Philippians, “……Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling”, (Phil 2:12). Did he mean that we are not saved by grace but by works? Of course not; he meant good works must accompany true faith. Again, “two sides of a truth that give us a perfect whole”. I’m sure the reader can think of other examples of Bible doctrine in which two sides of a truth give us a perfect whole.
Paul’s confidence in resurrection is expressed several times in his writings. See for example Eph. 1:6, “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. Note that Paul writes of resurrection in the past tense. This is the use of the figure of speech ““Heterosis”. It is used to express the absolute certainty that what has been promised will indeed be fulfilled. Note also Col. 3:1, “If ye then be risen with Christ…”. Again, note the tense.
The “diffidence” of Phil 3 is the uncertainty of attaining resurrection. In Ephesians Paul is certain of resurrection, in Philippians three he is uncertain of attaining it. Is this a contradiction? Of course not! It is “two sides of truth that give us a perfect whole”.
In his article mentioned above in the section called “Second Step”, Mr. Welch gives his reasons for preferring the R.V., so I will quote that version here. “Not that I have already attained or am already made perfect, but I press on if so be that I may apprehend that for which also I was apprehended by Christ Jesus”. What was it that Paul was apprehended for by Christ? Paul was apprehended by Christ for resurrection life. And yet Paul writes that he had not “already attained” it. Again, in this one verse we see two sides of the same resurrection coin. On one side of the coin we see that Paul was hoping to “attain” resurrection. And on the other side of the same coin Paul sees that Christ had already “apprehended” him for resurrection.
Some believe that Rom. 2:5 says that one can lose his salvation. That verse reads, “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God”.
What did Paul mean by the phrase “day of wrath”?. We read in Ps. 110:5-6, “The Lord at Thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, He shall fill the places with the dead bodies; He shall wound the heads over many countries”. A comparison of the phrase “He shall fill the places with the dead bodies” with Rev. 19 will show that both refer to the second coming of Christ.
Let us also consider the phrase “the great day of His wrath”, which must in my opinion, refer to the same day. We read in Rev. 6:13-17, “And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men…….said to the mountains and rocks, ‘Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him That sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?'”. Again, the great day of His wrath is obviously at the same time as the day of wrath. Is there any significance to the addition of the pronoun “His”? In my opinion, it is a significant addition. It tells us that this wrath comes from God and none other.
A comparison of Joel 2 will reveal the fact that the cosmic signs described in Rev. 6 will occur before the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord is a time of God’s judgment of those who are alive at the time. Therefore, the day of His wrath, like the day of wrath is the time in which God will mete out His judgment of all those who worshiped the beast during the tribulation.
Coming back then to Rom. 2:5 (“But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God”), we see that the day of wrath will be at the time of the day of the Lord and believers will not endure His wrath because they will be raptured. On the other hand, unbelievers, i.e. those who treasure up wrath, will not be raptured and they will indeed endure the day of wrath.
My point is that Rom. 2:5 concerns only those unbelievers of the end times and, more to the point of our study, were never saved and therefore, could not lose their salvation.
9) NEW TESTAMENT PASSAGES THAT REFER TO UNBELIEVERS
Romans 1:24, “….wherefore, God also gave them up”. Were those who God gave up saved? Some have jumped to the conclusion that because we read in verse 21 that they “knew God” that they were saved. Let us look at the context to decide if these people whom God had given up were saved.
We read in verses 21-25, “Because that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts to dishonor their own bodies between themselves; who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more that the Creator, Who is blessed for ever…”. Were these people ever believers? Let us continue in this same context.
We read in Rom. 1:26-32, “for this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaning the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet. and even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient: Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers , without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful; who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them”.
Does this sound like people who have the new nature which is the guarantee of resurrection life? No, it does not. But one might object, it says that they “knew God”. I believe that Rom. 1:19-20 will add some light to that verse, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even, His eternal power and Godhead”. The point is that these people knew about God, but their lives proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they did not acknowledge Him as God.
One other point should be made. James tells us that “faith without works is dead”. In other words, if one says he has faith but his life does not show it, he does not have faith.
“For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live”. We need to consider this verse in context.
We read in verses 8-9, “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His”. This passage tells us that believers have the Spirit of God in them and unbelievers do not, so they live in the flesh, i.e. the sinful nature. Therefore, when we read in verse 13 of those who “live according to the sinful nature”, we are reading of those who do not have the spirit of God in them, and are therefore “none of His”, i.e. they are unbelievers. In other words, believers have the Spirit of God dwelling in them, but unbelievers do not and will therefore die.
In short, Romans 8:13 is a warning to unbelievers and as such never had a salvation to lose.
Rom. 11:19-21, “Thou wilt say then, “the branches were broken off that I might be graffed in’. Well, because of unbelief they were broken off. and thou standest by faith, be not high minded. For if God spared not the natural branches take heed lest He also spare not thee”.
This passage is used to try to prove that one can lose their salvation because it is assumed that the good olive tree represents the church. That assumption is incorrect. Let me explain why I say that.
We read in verse Rom. 11:17 of the good olive tree, “And if some of the branches be broken off….”. These branches were broken off because of unbelief (vs. 23). That tells us that originally, the good olive tree had unbelievers who were eventually broken off. Christ’s church has no unbelievers in it. So the good olive tree could not represent the church. If it doesn’t represent the church, what does it represent?
Rom. 11:24 reads, “….how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree”. The natural branches were, of course, Israelites. How do we know that the natural branches were Israelites? We read in verse 13 that Paul was speaking to Gentiles, “For I speak to you Gentiles….”. Then in verse 17 we read, “….and thou (Gentiles) being a wild olive tree.…”. If the Gentiles were the “wild olive tree”, obviously Israel was the good olive tree. Therefore, this passage could not be more clear; the good olive tree is Israel.
I suppose the reason so many think the good olive tree represents the church is because it is said to be “holy”. But the Greek and Hebrew words translated “holy” mean only “set apart”. Certainly Israel was a nation set apart.
Let us not make the common mistake of beginning our study of the meaning of “holy” with the New Testament. The New Testament did not appear out of a vacuum. First century believers would have had a very clear idea of the meaning of the word “holy” from their knowledge of the Old Testament. So we will begin our study with the Old Testament study of the Hebrew word translated “holy”.
The Hebrew word translated “holy” is “kodesh”. The first occurrence is in Ex. 3:5, “the place wherein thou standest is holy“. This obviously means “set apart” as special. That is to say, the place is set apart from all other places because it was at that place that Moses spoke with God. The second occurrence carries the same meaning. We read in Ex. 12:16 of “the first day there shall be an holy convocation to you”. The first day was set apart as a special one unto the Lord. Ex. 16:23 speaks of the “holy sabbath“. Ex. 29:6 speaks of the“holy crown”. Verse 29 of that same chapter speaks of the “holy garments of Aaron”. All these occurrences speak of things that are set apart unto God, not of things being saved.
It is clear that the Hebrew word “kodesh” means “set apart” as special unto the Lord. Let us continue with the New Testament study of the Greek word translated “holy”. But, again, we must bear in mind that the Hebrews, to whom the apostles addressed their comments, would certainly have understood “holy” to mean “set apart” unto God, not “saved”.
The Greek word is “hagios”. It is used in the term “Holy Ghost”. It tells us that the Spirit of God is set apart in His specialness from all other spirits. In Matt. 4:5 we read of the “holy city”, i.e. Jerusalem. That city has been set apart unto God as the city of David. The word is translated “saints”. We know that “saints” are saved, but that is not what the Greek (or Hebrew) word tells us about these people. It tells us that they had been set apart unto God.
What Romans 11 tells us is that the good olive tree represents Israel and the unbelievers of Israel were cut off from their nation. But believing Gentiles were grafted into the olive tree (Israel) in their stead. But if the Israelites who were cut off because of unbelief would come to believe, they too would be added into the olive tree.
So Romans 11 does not tell us that believers are cut off from the church, it tells us that unbelievers were cut off from Israel.
I CORINTHIANS 10:12
I Cor. 10:12 reads, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”. What did Paul mean when he wrote of a “fall”? Was he speaking of losing your salvation? Let us consider the context in order to answer that question.
We read in verse 11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come”. Verse 6 also speaks of examples, “Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted’.
Let us first consider those who served as an example as recorded in verses 1-5. Obviously, these verses refer to the generation of Israel that had been led out of Egypt, but with whom, “God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness” (verse 5). The writer of Hebrews also speaks of those who were “overthrown in the wilderness”. Let us consider Heb. 3:17-19, “But with whom was He grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? and to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that believed not? so we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief“.
What we learn from Heb. 3 is that those about whom Paul wrote as an example in I Cor. 10 were unbelievers. That is to say, Paul’s message in I Cor. 10 has nothing to do with believers losing their salvation, it has to do with unbelievers falling because of their lack of belief. But let us continue with verses 7-10 of I Cor. 10.
Paul speaks of those who” rose up to play” in verse 7. Who were they? We read of them in Ex. 32:1-6, “And when the People saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the People gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, ‘Up, make us gods, which shall go before us’: as for this Moses, the man that took us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what has become of him'”. And they made a golden calf, “and they said, ‘These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (vs. 4). And in verse 6 we read of these Israelites of whom the writer of Hebrews said were unbelievers, “and they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought pace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play“. So just as I Cor. 10:1-5 speaks of unbelievers, so too does verse 7 speak of unbelievers. Note that verses 8,9 and 10 all speak of “some of them“. The “them” refers, of course, to those unbelievers of Israel who were led out of Egypt and fell in the wilderness because of their unbelief.
The point is that I Cor. 10 does not speak of believers losing their salvation, it speaks of unbelievers falling into sin. So that we may understand Paul’s point in this passage let us add an ellipsis to I Cor. 10:12 that is taken from the context, “wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall into sin“.
We read in Gal. 5:4, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace”. Does the phrase “ye are fallen from grace” refer to a loss of salvation? We must consider the context if we are to come to the truth of what God has for us in this epistle. Let us first determine the overall reason for Paul’s writing this epistle.
In Gal. 1:6 we read, “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 gospel“. We learn from this that the Galatians had listened to someone other than Paul, and that this person had led them astray from the truth of the gospel.
We see the same thing in 3:1, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?…..” and 5:7, “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?”
Gal. 2:15 is helpful in determining just what this false teaching was that was “bewitching” the Galatians. “We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.” We are getting a clue in this verse as to why Paul was so discouraged about the false teaching in Galatia. Someone was leading the Gentile believers to believe that they needed to be circumcised and observe the law in order to be justified. They were teaching that faith was not enough, that they must also keep the law. That is the reason for Paul’s question in 3:3b, “After beginning with the spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?”
In 3:2-5 Paul sets the problem out for all to see. “I would like to learn just one thing from you? Did you receive the spirit by observing the law? or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing- if it really was for nothing? Does God give you His spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard?”
The problem that Paul addresses in his letter to the Galatians was that some were preaching that faith in Christ was not enough for salvation; that they also needed to observe the law. That their “believing” was insufficient and that “human effort” was required of them.
Gal. 3:6-7, “Consider Abraham: ‘He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’ Understand then, that those who believe are children of Abraham.” Here again, Paul is stressing the point that, just as was true of Abraham, they too are made righteous by faith, without the law.
Gal. 3:11, “Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, ‘The righteous will live by faith”.
Gal. 3:18 reiterates the point, “For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in His grace gave it to Abraham through a promise”.
Consider also 3:21-22, “Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe”.
Now let’s consider chapter 5 in light of the reason for Paul’s writing this epistle to the Galatians. Let us consider verse 4 once again. “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace”. What is Paul’s point in this verse? The entire epistle concerns the fact that they are justified by faith, not by the law. Obviously, therefore, Paul was not suggesting that one could be justified by the law rather than by grace through faith. The point of verse 4 is that if they think they are justified by the law, they are, in effect, denying the necessity of Christ’s death and resurrection because they are trying to earn their salvation by observing the law. So if they do not recognize that salvation is by grace, through faith, they are failing to see that they are saved by grace.
In short, this verse has absolutely nothing to do with losing one’s salvation. It has to do with the question of being saved by grace as opposed to being saved by observing the law.
Gal. 5:21 is another verse that is purported to teach that one can lose his/her salvation. That verse reads, “…..they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God”. There is nothing in the context to suggest that “they which do such things” are believers. To say that those who “do such things” are believers is pure conjecture. Therefore, this verse does not suggest that believers will lose their salvation and will not inherit the kingdom of God. It does say that some will not inherit the kingdom of God. It is more reasonable to assume (and assume we must, because we are not specifically told) that those that do such things are unbelievers.
II THESSALONIANS 2:3
II Thess. 2:3, “Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition”. The “man of sin” is, of course, the antichrist. The argument is that those who are deceived into following the antichrist are believers, and because they follow Satan, who controls the antichrist, they will lose their salvation. But who are those that will be deceived? Verse 10, “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved”. Those that are deceived had never been saved. The phrase, “them that perish” is defined in the Companion Bible as, “the perishing. See the same phrase in I Cor. 1:18, II Cor. 2:15 and 4:3”. Let us look at those passages.
I Cor. 1:18, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish, foolishness…”. Here it is clear that those that are perishing are the unsaved.
II Cor. 2:15, “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved and in them that perish”. Here again, it is clear that Paul is referring to those that are perishing as the unsaved .
II Cor. 4:3, “For if our gospel be hid it is to them that are lost“. The phrase, “them that are lost” is the same in the Greek as in the other verses quoted, and refers obviously, to them that are perishing, i.e. the unsaved.
Note also the phrase, “they might be saved”. This phrase is in my opinion, clear. If they “might be saved”, they obviously were not saved.
II Thess. 2:3 therefore speaks of the unsaved who will be deceived by the antichrist, not the saved who will lose their salvation.
II PETER 2:20-21
II Peter 2:20-21, “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”.
To whom does Peter refer by the pronouns “they” and “them”? For the answer to that question we must go all the way back to verse 9 where we read, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished”. Note the contrast between the “godly” who will be delivered out of temptations, and the “unjust” who will be reserved unto judgment. Let us see if there is a thread that will lead from the unjust of verse 9 to the “they” and “them” of verses 20 and 21.
Verse 10, “But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness….Presumptious are they…”. The “them” and the “they” here refers back to the unjust of verse 9.
Verse 12, “But these ….”. The “these” refer back to the unjust of verse 9.
Verse 13, “….as they count it pleasure to riot”. Here again, “they” refers back to the unjust of verse 9.
Verses 13-16 describe those spoken of in the previous verses. Then in verse 17 we read of “These are wells without water. Again, “these” are the unjust of verse 9.
Verse 18, “For when they speak great swelling words”. Here too, the “they” refers back to the unjust of verse 9.
And verse 19 speaks of “they themselves are the servants of corruption”. Once again “they” refers to the unjust of verse 9.
We have followed the thread from verse 9 to verses 20-21 and have seen that those for whom “the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” are the unjust, i.e. the unsaved, not the saved. But what of the fact that Peter wrote in verse 20 that they had “the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”? Does that mean that Peter was writing about the saved?
Let us consider word “of” in the phrase “the knowledge of the Lord….”. The word “of” is the Genitive of Relation defined in part in the Companion Bible as, “pertaining to”. We would understand the “of” to mean “the knowledge pertaining to the Lord….”.. But knowledge pertaining to the Lord is not what saves. It is faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God that saves (see Jn. 20:30-31). :
The word “of” in the phrase, “the way of righteousness” is also, in my opinion, the Genitive of Relation. So that phrase is to be understood as, “the way pertaining to righteousness” But obviously, because the subject of this passage is unbelievers, they may have known about the way of righteousness, but they were certainly not righteous.
Now let us consider the phrase “to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them”. The subject of “the commandment” brings us to works, i.e. obedience to the holy commandment. And that in turn brings us to James’ point that “faith without works is dead”. That is to say, if those about whom Peter wrote were true believers rather than just having knowledge pertaining to the Lord, they would not have become “entangled” with the pollution of the world again.
In short, those about whom Peter wrote in this passage had some knowledge of Jesus Christ, and had known the way of righteousness, but they proved by their actions that they had not been true believers.
For the sake of clarity let me suggest a paraphrase based on what we have learned about this passage, “For if after they (unbelievers) have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge pertaining to the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they (unbelievers) are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them (unbelievers) than the beginning. For it had been better for them (unbelievers) not to have known the way pertaining to righteousness than, after they (unbelievers) have known it, to turn from the holy commandment ( the Mosaic Law given to them in order to complete their faith) delivered unto them”
We read in Rev. 3:4, “Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white: for they are worthy”. Note that there will be only some in the church at Sardis that will be worthy. Does that mean that those who will not be worthy lost their salvation? I believe not.
The assumption is that all those in the Sardis church were saved because they will be in the church. But that is based on an incorrect understanding of the Greek word translated “church”. The Greek word translated “church” is “ekklesia” and means literally “called out”. The word is used in Act 7:38 for the “church” in the wilderness. That “church” was composed of Israelites who had been brought up out of Egypt and about whom we read in Heb. 3:18-19 that they were unbelievers, i.e. they were never saved. My point is that the word “church” does not tell us that those in the church are believers. Therefore, there is no reason to assume that the church at Sardis was made up of only believers.
Further, let us consider the next verse as well. Verse 5 reads, “he that overcometh the same shall be clothed in white raiment.”. First of all, we may not take this verse out of the context of the book of the Revelation. When we read of “overcoming” in Revelation, we must understand it as overcoming the testing that will be carried out by the antichrist during the great tribulation. Secondly, let us consider the “white raiment”. That phrase takes us Rev. 7:13-14, “…..what are these that are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? …..And he said unto me, ‘Sir, thou knowest.’ These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”.
So we have a church composed of some who will not overcome the testing of the tribulation, i.e. some will receive the mark of the beast. Are those who will receive the mark of the beast believers? In order to answer that question let us consider James 2:22 which reads, “seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect” (should read “complete”).
Those who were not found worthy were those who received the mark of the beast and thus proved that they were never saved. So Rev. 3:4 tells us that those who were not found worthy to walk with Christ in white were unbelievers, they did not lose their salvation because they were never saved.
10) PASSAGES THAT SPEAK OF LOSS OF REWARDS, NOT LOSS OF SALVATION
I CORINTHIANS 3:17
I Cor. 3:17, “If any man defile the Temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the Temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” Let us consider the context. Verses 14-15, “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward“. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire”. It is clear that verse 17 is in the context of rewards. But how are we to understand the phrase “him shall God destroy”?
The Greek word translated “destroy” is “phthiro”. It is used nine times in the New Testament, and is translated “corrupt” in all but the two occurrences in I Cor. 3:17 where it is translated”defile” and “destroy”. If, for the sake of consistency we translate the word in I Cor. 3 the same as it had been translated in every other occurrence it would read, “If any man corrupt the Temple of God, him shall God corrupt“. Given that this verse comes in the context of rewards, I believe that is a better translation. And given that we are quite specifically told that “he (whose work shall be burned) himself shall be saved“, we must conclude that I Cor. 3:17 does not speak of a man losing his salvation, it speaks of him losing his rewards.
I TIMOTHY 4:15-16
I Tim. 4:15-16, “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee”. Let us consider the Greek word translated in verse 15, “profiting”. The Greek word is, “prokopee” and it is used three times in the New Testament. Phil. 1:12, “unto the furtherance of the gospel”. Phil. 1:25, ” for your furtherance and joy of faith”. And lastly, in I Tim. 4:15. So the meaning is “furtherance“. The NIV translation of verse 15 is, “Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them so that everyone may see your progress“. Progress towards what? Salvation is not a matter of progress, it is a matter of accepting Christ, which Timothy had already done. What is a matter of progress is the life that leads to rewards. Because Timothy’s salvation (as is everyone’s) based on the acceptance of Christ by faith, and not a question of progress, I believe that this passage is speaking of progress toward rewards in resurrection life.
I TIMOTHY 5:24-25
I Tim. 5:24-25, “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after. Likewise also the good works of some are manifest beforehand; and they that are otherwise cannot be hid”. Is this a judgment of the believer for salvation? I believe that the fact that verse 25 speaks of “the good works of some” points to a judgment of rewards. Good works in and of themselves have nothing to do with salvation, but it does have to do with rewards. So when the believer is judged for what rewards he may or may not receive, his sins and his good works will be considered.
II TIMOTHY 2:11-13
II Tim. 2:11-13, “It is a faithful saying saying :’For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us; if we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself”. What does it mean that He cannot deny Himself? He cannot deny Who He is. For one thing, God cannot lie. God cannot break the promise of salvation to those who believe. But there does seem to be a contradiction in this passage. On the one hand we read that “if we deny Him, He also will deny us”. But on the other hand we read that “He cannot deny Himself”.
What does it mean when we read, “if we deny Him, He also will deny us”? That He will deny us comes in verse 12. Let’s look at the entire verse. “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him: if we deny Him, He also will deny us”. Suffering does not produce salvation. But if we endure suffering in faith we will receive rewards. But if, in our suffering, we deny Him, He will deny us the rewards of a faithful life.
Therefore, I believe that if we do not continue in faith He will deny us the reward of reigning with Him. But He cannot deny Himself. That is to say, .He cannot deny salvation to those who are saved.
If we do not see the denial in terms of rewards, we have a contradiction with the verse in this same context that tells us that “He cannot deny Himself”.
11) PASSAGES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH LOSS OF TEMPORAL LIVES, NOT ETERNAL LIVES
Luke 13:3-4, “I tell you, ‘Nay’; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Of those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem”? This passage is speaking of those who died in accidents and warning of loss of temporal lives. This passage is not speaking of losing salvation. Therefore, it has nothing to say about salvation or loss of salvation.
James 1:14-15, “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”. The phrase “and sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death” is not a new thought. Paul expressed the same thought in Romans 6:20-21, “For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death”. It is clear that neither of these passages has to do with loss of salvation. The only difference is that Paul makes it more clear that it has to do with the loss of temporal life.
12) “IF” PASSAGES
Col. 3:1, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God”. The word “if” (Ge. “ei”) gives the impression that perhaps not all believers are risen with Christ. But we read of the word “if” of Col. 3:1 in the Companion Bible Appendix 118, 2 a, “Followed by the Indicative Mood, the hypothesis is assumed as an actual fact, the condition being unfulfilled, but no doubt being thrown upon the supposition”. If Paul, through the Holy Spirit, wanted to convey a conditional resurrection, he would have used the Greek word “ean”, not the one he did use, i.e. “ei”.
I CORINTHIANS 15:2
I Cor. 15:2 uses the same Greek word translated “if” as in Col. 3:1 and, of course, tells us the same truth, i.e. the “if” is “assumed as an actual fact”. That verse reads, “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain”.
Let us also consider the phrase, ” unless ye have believed in vain”. Is there such a thing as believing “in vain”? Of course not. To what then is Paul referring? I believe that Paul is referring to the fact that some among the Corinthians had been saying that there is no resurrection of the dead. We read in I Cor. 15:12, “….how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?” We read in verse 14, “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain“. Obviously, neither Paul’s preaching or their belief in Christ was in vain. Paul’s point is that if there is no resurrection, that would make his preaching and their belief in vain. So too in verse 2 where we read, “unless you have believed in vain” the point is that if what some had been saying was true, i.e. that there is no resurrection, that would mean that their faith was in vain.
We read in Gal. 1:8-9, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, ‘If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed’”. What does it mean to be accursed? Does it mean to lose one’s salvation? “Accursed” is, of course, the noun of the verb “to curse”. “To curse” is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “a prayer or invocation for harm or injury”. To be saved is to be saved from the grave. If one is not saved he remains in the grave and “is no more” (Job 14:10, “But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more“.). So there is a loss of eternal life in not being saved, but there is no harm or injury as one cannot suffer harm or injury (or anything else) when he is “no more”. (Please see the paper on death for a more complete discussion of this much misunderstood issue). Therefore, I believe we must conclude that to be cursed is a prayer for harm or injury during one’s temporal life.
The word translated “accursed” in Gal. 1:8 and 9 is the Greek word “anathema”. The first occurrence is found in Acts 23:14 which reads, “And they (“certain Jews”, 40 in number-see vss. 12-13) came to the chief priests and elders and said, ‘We have bound ourselves under a great curse, (Gr. “anathema”) that we will eat nothing until we have slain Paul’”. We have in this verse exactly what this curse was, i.e. “we will eat nothing” until Paul was slain. My point is that the curse is explained in the context and it is in accordance with the definition of the English word “curse”, i.e. an “invocation for hurt or harm”. It is certainly not a lose of salvation, it is one that is suffered during one’s temporal life.
In short, Paul’s point in Gal. 1:8-9 was not that one who preached a different gospel should lose their salvation, it was that they should suffer an injury or harm in their temporal life.
We read in Rev. 2:5, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen and repent, and do the first work; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place except thou repent”.
We read in Rev. 1:20, “…And the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches”. In other words, if those of the church of Ephesus do not repent, the church will be removed. I cannot say what the removal of the church means, but I cannot believe, especially considering the passages quoted at the beginning of this study which say that one cannot lose their salvation, that an entire church will lose their salvation because they left their first love (vs. 4).
Rev 3:15-16 reads, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of My mouth”.
What does “spue” mean”. Does it mean that they will lose their salvation? The Greek word is used only here, so we have to take the meaning from the immediate context. We read in verse 19, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten…”. God does not chasten unbelievers in order for them to love Him fully, i.e. unbelievers do not love Him at all, which is proved by their unbelief. So I believe that this passage is in reference to believers. So what will happen to these lukewarm believers when God spues them out of His mouth? We are told quite specifically that they will be chastened. One may think that this chastening means that God will take away their salvation, but there is nothing in the context to support that thought. Rather let us consider what Heb. 12:7-8 has to say about chastisement, “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? but if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons”. Note that we are “all” chastised. If one says that the chastening is to take away one’s salvation than no one is saved. I believe therefore that we must conclude that Rev. 3:15-19 does not say that God will take away one’s salvation when He spues them out of His mouth, but that He will chastise them because they are His sons and he loves them.
We read in Rev. 22:19, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book”. First of all we must be clear that this verse is in reference to the book of Revelation only, not to the entire Bible, i.e. “take away from the words of this prophecy“.
I believe that this verse does speak of one losing his salvation. But let us also consider the meaning of the Greek word translated “if” in this verse. Dr. E. W. Bullinger defines it as, “…it expresses a hypothetical but possible condition”. It seems to me that this verse says that it is hypothetically possible for one to take away the words….and therefore lose his salvation. However, I believe that because of the several promises of God that one cannot lose their salvation, that the hypothetical will never come to fruition. Consider that Christ could have said “when” rather than “if”. Every word is inspired, and the “if” is not coincidental. I can not believe that God, Who made an unconditional promise of everlasting life to all those who believe, will break that promise. That makes Him a liar and God cannot lie.
But some may object that if God knew that no believer would take away the words of the prophecy doesn’t that make the threat meaningless? No, I don’t believe it does. Let us consider God’s threat to Nineveh as recorded in the book of Jonah. We read in Jonah 3:4 of Jonah’s cry to Nineveh, “….Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown”. But we read in verse 10, “And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that He would do unto them: and He did it not”. God, of course, knew from the beginning that He would not destroy Nineveh because they would repent. But the threat of destruction was what made them repent, so it was not a meaningless threat. So too, in my opinion, no believer will take away the words of the prophecy for fear of being taken out of the book of life, which makes this, rather than a meaningless threat, a very meaningful one.
We might also ask, why, of all the prophecies in the Bible does this threat appear in the book of Revelation? We can’t know for certain because, as far as I can tell, we are not told. But Revelation is the most comprehensive record of what will happen in the end times and of the second coming of Christ. Without this record those who live in the end times will not have sufficient knowledge to recognize the works of the antichrist and thus are more likely to fall prey to his wiles and evil plans.
But I suppose some will take this verse as proof that one can lose their salvation, so I will add a comment on that thinking. Rev. 22:19 speaks of a very specific act (taking away the words of the prophecy) and the punishment is also given very specifically. But most who are of the opinion that one can lose their salvation believe that it is sin in a person’s life that will cause them to lose their salvation. That is never stated with any degree of clarity as is the statement in Rev. 22. Therefore, in my opinion, this verse in Rev. 22 does not prove what the Armenians are trying to prove, i.e. that sin can lead to a loss of salvation.
CONFESSION OF SINS
Many believe that one must daily ask for forgiveness of sins daily or he will lose his salvation. The paper on forgiveness in God’s plan of salvation lists and discusses every occurrence of the word “forgive”, “forgiveness”, etc. This paper proves from Scripture that forgiveness is not part of God’s plan of salvation. In point of fact, the only reason that God forgives sin in the dispensation of the mystery is for fellowship. That being the case confession of sins does not impact on one’s eternal security.
For the most part, I have chosen the passages used by those who do believe that one can lose their salvation. If I have missed some that the reader feels is compelling I would appreciate knowing of them.
This paper is written by Joyce Pollard. If you would like to respond to this paper, please e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org