by Timothy A. Southall
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So often doctrines of salvation and eternal
life mislead individuals into false security or false insecurity. Some
believe you cannot lose your salvation no matter what you do, while others
believe you can be condemned to hell for a single sin. Neither of those
positions is correct.
The purpose of this study is to show the
Bible teaches that one can fall away. There are several scriptures
which are often used to try to prove the doctrine of "eternal security"
Corinthians 3:15; Ephesians
John 1:9; 1
John 2:1). But we must also seek the rest of God's
Word to see the whole truth. When we read God's Word, we must take
scripture into account-not just the ones which happen to fit our opinion
or doctrine. We must not "explain away" scriptures or say that certain
scriptures are "problem passages" if they contradict our doctrines.
Secure position. We are warned
to be on our guard not to fall from our secure position (2
Peter 3:17). We are also told to make our calling
and election secure so we will never fall (2
Peter 1:10-11). These scriptures plainly show that
one can fall, even from a secure position.
Disqualified for the prize.
Paul calls our eternal life a prize. He compares our life as a Christian
to a race (1
Corinthians 9:24-27). He clearly shows here
that one can become disqualified for the prize. He even states he had not
taken hold of or obtained the prize. He was pressing forward to win the
prize for which God had called him heavenward in Christ (Philippians
3:10-15). Paul also warns us not to follow anyone
who delights in false humility and the worship of angels or we will be
disqualified for the prize (Colossians
disqualified means you once were
qualified to receive the prize.
Believe for a while. Jesus
warns that some will receive the Word with joy when they hear it, but they
have no root. They believe in Christ for a while, but in the time of testing,
they fall away (Luke
Abandon the faith. Paul tells
Timothy that later some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits
and things taught by demons (1
Timothy 4:1). In order to abandon the faith, one
must first have it.
Drifting away. Some are lured
back into the sins of the world. Paul warns us to pay careful attention
to what we have heard so that we won't drift away by neglecting or ignoring
the gift of salvation (Hebrews
Better off not knowing Christ.
Peter tells us that some will get to know the Lord, then go back into being
entangled in the corruption of the world only to be worse off than before
Peter 2:20-21). It would be better to have never
known Christ than to know the way to righteousness and then turn one's
back on Him.
Crucifying Christ again.
Paul tells us that those who have been enlightened, tasted the heavenly
gift, shared in the Holy Spirit, tasted the goodness of the Word of God
and the powers of the coming age cannot be brought back to repentance if
they fall away (Hebrews
6:4-6). They are crucifying Christ all over again.
This shows that one can be a Christian and permanently fall away.
Standing firm. Jesus warns
us that only those who stand firm to the end will be saved (Matthew
13:12-13). We are to watch for the return of Jesus
and not to be caught sleeping so that we can stand before the Son of Man
3:1-3). This doesn't sound as if we are "once saved,
always saved." If so, we wouldn't be warned to stand firm and keep watch.
Hold firmly. Paul wrote to
the Jews to see that none of them had a sinful, unbelieving heart that
turns away from the living God. They were to encourage one another so that
none of them would be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. They were to hold
firmly until the end with the confidence they had at first (Hebrews
Blotted out. Jesus strongly
warns that if we are not faithful, our names can be blotted out from the
Book of Life (Revelation
blotted out of the Book of Life!
Of course, we know that, in order to have one's name blotted out,
it must have been in there in the first place. This warning was from Jesus
to Christians and should not be taken lightly.
Conclusion. One can
fall away by doing any of the following:
And this list may not be all inclusive, either.
While it is true that God will never forsake us (Hebrews
13:5), we can forsake Him. Only those who
obey Jesus will remain in His love (John
15:10). Take this seriously, because only a few will
be saved (Matthew
7:13-14). Don't let your name be blotted out of the
Book of Life.
Abandoning the faith to follow anyone who
delights in false humility and the worship of angels
Believing but later failing to believe when
Following deceiving spirits and things taught
Being lured back into the sins of the world
Neglecting or ignoring the gift of salvation
Becoming entangled in the corruption of the
world after knowing Christ
Not standing firm in the faith to the end
Not watching for and/or being unprepared for
Allowing one's heart to harden by sin's deceitfulness
Not living a life faithful to Christ
Copyright © 2000 Timothy
A. Southall. All rights reserved.