Many Christians believe in the doctrine of eternal security, which teaches that once someone is saved, they can never lose that salvation. It’s a very comforting thought, but it’s not without controversy. First of all, not all Christians believe in this doctrine, because the Bible gives very mixed signals about it. Secondly, most people who have left Christianity will attest to having a genuine belief when they were Christians, though they reject it now. Finally, common sense would also tell us that people can change their minds. So how do we answer this question?
Let’s start with what the Bible says on this subject. Christians who believe in eternal security (aka “once saved always saved”) get the idea from these passages:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. — Romans 8:38-39
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. — John 10:28-29
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. — John 6:37-40
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. — Ephesians 1:13-14
Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” — Hebrews 13:5
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. — 1 John 2:19
If I’ve left any out, feel free to leave them as comments below, but these seem to be the major passages that support the idea of eternal security. I don’t know that any real discussion of these is necessary, as they seem fairly straightforward.
But a number of passages make the opposite case. To save time, I’m going to quote a comment I made about this on someone else’s blog:
In Hebrews 6:4-6, he talks about those who “have once been enlightened, have tasted the heavenly gift, and shared in the Holy Spirit.” I think those qualities could only describe believers. It then says, “if they fall away.” How can you fall away from something you were never a part of? Again, good reason to think he’s talking about the saved. In verse 4 he says, “restore again to repentance.” How is that possible unless one had already repented at some point?
Hebrews 10 is even clearer. Verses 26-31 talk about how bad it will be for those who deny Christ. But it’s not talking about just any old unbeliever or skeptic. Verse 29 says it’s talking about one who has “profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified.” You can’t be sanctified (cleansed) by Christ’s blood unless you’re a Christian.
1 Cor 9 doesn’t seem to talk about spiritual gifts to me [the other commenter had suggested that it did]. In fact, Paul says he’s working for a reward that’s imperishable. According to chapter 13 of this book, spiritual gifts were perishable. What isn’t? Eternal life. So if Paul is talking about eternal life and says that he doesn’t want to be disqualified, isn’t he talking about the possibility of losing his salvation?
1 Tim 1:18-20 is another passage to consider. Paul tells Timothy to hold his faith and a good conscience, then refers to those like Hymenaeus and Alexander who “shipwrecked” their faith. How can you wreck a faith that you never had?
But think about it. These passages are fairly clear. And take a look at Romans 11, which warns the Gentiles that they could be broken off just as the Jews had been. The Jews were broken off because of their unbelief (vs 20), but they could be grafted in again if they believe (vs 23). He’s obviously not talking about the entire Jewish and Gentile peoples, because there were both Jewish and Gentile Christians at this very time. He’s speaking in generalities to show that salvation is dependent upon faith.
So what should we make of all these passages? What’s the Bible’s position on this issue? Personally, I think some of the passages we listed at the beginning in support of eternal security can be reconciled with these that teach against it. About the only one that I think fully supports the doctrine of eternal security is 1 John 2:19. I don’t know how that fits with these other passages, but since they were written by different people, I don’t guess it should be too surprising that they’re a bit at odds. Either way, it seem clear to me that at least portions of the Bible teach that genuine Christians can most certainly stop believing and lose their salvation.
That was my experience as well. I was a sincere Christian for many years; it was the cornerstone of my life. My jobs, my wife, my financial decisions, when I had children (and what I named them) were all based around the beliefs that my wife and I shared. I was instrumental in converting several people to the particular brand of Christianity of which I’d been a member. It was very important to me to have the right beliefs. I wanted to make sure that I was serving God exactly as he had prescribed. It was actually that same desire for truth that eventually led me away from Christianity. To quote Paul, “I have lived my life before God in all good conscience up to this day.” My religious beliefs have always been genuine.
And if you think about it, it makes sense that people would be able to change their minds. If you’re like me, you believed in Santa Claus when you were a child. I assume you don’t believe in him now. Does that mean you never did? Of course not. It just means that as you’ve matured, you have received information and insight that have changed your mind. Why can’t it be the same with religion?
In fact, I’d say that the doctrine of eternal security actually has the opposite effect. After all, many Christians would now say that I was never a Christian. However, if they had known me as a Christian, they never would have suspected it then; nor did I. So what does that say about current Christians? Sure, they might think they’re Christians now, but what if they’re going to fall away at some point in the future? If eternal security is true, then they’re not actually Christians now. Even when a loved one dies, no one could really know where that person is going for eternity. What if he were going to fall away had he only lived another year? Well, obviously God would know that — wouldn’t he judge that person accordingly, since he would have never been a true Christian to begin with?
The doctrine of eternal security simply gains nothing for the Christian. It provides less assurance than believing salvation is dependent upon continued faith. The Bible has several passages that teach against it, and it is also contradicted by the testimony of those who have fallen away. To me, it seems clear that eternal security is a bogus doctrine, and I think Paul would have agreed with that as well.
50 thoughts on “Can a True Christian Ever Lose Her Faith?”
Thanks Peter !
kcchief1, perhaps the most direct challenge that science brings to Christian theology is the story of Adam and Eve. The apostle Paul uses the story to teach the doctrine of original sin in the Epistle to the Romans.
This is one reason why some folk are so determined to defend the historicity of the Garden of Eden account. Because if science can show that it is only a folk tale then the doctrine of original sin is severely damaged and the divine inspiration of the Epistle to the Romans must come under question and essentially Christian theology falls apart.
I have heard that modern DNA evidence does suggest that all humanity can trace their heritage back to one man about 135,000 years ago. An article discusses the matter Here. But it is not the scenario imagined in the Garden of Eden myth.
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Thanks for all the great comments.
Actually, the denomination I was in didn’t believe in original sin, which completely gets around the problem of Jesus being born with it. I hate to post such a long passage, but it might help us to have it to refer to (Rom 5:12-21):
We do have phrases like the one in verse 19, “For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners,” but we also have verse 14, “Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam,” which still makes a distinction between what Adam did and what the rest of us do. And Rom 3:23 says that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Ezekiel 18 goes to great lengths to say that the son doesn’t bear the guilt of his father’s faults, nor vice versa. Each person is responsible for his own actions.
So we viewed Romans 5, not as saying that everyone is literally guilty of Adam’s sin, but that we continue to bear the consequence of it in that we all live in a fallen world and will all die physically. And after that physical death, our sin (which is unavoidable in a fallen world) will sentence us to [whatever happens to the lost]. So Jesus comes — an antithesis to Adam — to bring salvation into the world. So just as one man’s actions brought sin and death, another man’s actions brings salvation. Neither applies to everyone automatically. In order to be guilty and need salvation, a person must be old enough to be responsible for their sins, and they must actually commit sins (which they will certainly do). And to receive salvation, a person must obey Christ’s gospel.
So that’s how the two figures relate to one another, and that’s how I viewed Romans 5. To me, it still seems to work pretty well with the passages, and it removes the idea of original sin, which means Jesus was sinless and children are not in a lost state until they reach an age of accountability.
Another excellent point/question, Ken! This is actually another topic that the Church of Christ has some unique views on. We very much believed in free will, and we did not believe that God preselected who would be saved and who would not. If he had, then the whole point of preaching the gospel seems moot. Instead, we took what we viewed as plainer passages (on free will, what is required of people, etc) at face value, and looked at Romans 8 and similar passages as talking generally about those who would respond to the gospel, not necessarily specific people. In other words, God knew that he would save those who would conform themselves to the example of Jesus. So does that fit with Romans 8:29-29?
I don’t know. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I can’t say it’s an impossible interpretation. When i was a Christian, I did view it as a mystery, as you and Peter have mentioned. But it wasn’t a big enough problem for me that it prompted any doubts.
“So does that fit with Romans 8:29-29? I don’t know. It may be a bit of a stretch”
If it quacks like a duck………… 🙂 Yes Nate, when I was a Christian, that’s how Assembly of God people spun it too ! 🙂
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Thanks for the comment! I appreciate your chiming in, and I hope you’ll feel free to do so again.
As I said in my article, 1 John 2:19 is the only passage that gives me pause about “once saved always saved.” But I think it’s hard to square that idea with the rest of the Bible and common sense. I think that Philippians 1:6 could be read as supporting once saved always saved, but I don’t think that’s the only possible interpretation. There are other passages in the New Testament that are used as well, but all of them (aside from 1 John 2) seem to be the idea that God is trustworthy and will uphold his side of the deal. That doesn’t mean that we can’t change our side of it. Even Phil 1:6 could just be saying that God will continue to work in us (as long as we don’t turn away):
If that’s what it means, then it fits with the warnings given in Romans and Hebrews and the qualifiers given in James. But if it truly means once saved always saved, then those passages are at odds with one another, right? I mean how else could they be interpreted?
I also think that William’s reply to you is worth consideration. Can anyone really claim to have a relationship with Jesus, especially if they don’t believe he’s literally speaking to them? I have a lot of admiration for Harrison Ford. I think he’s a great actor, he’s been in some of my favorite films, he’s one of my childhood heroes, and I know beyond a doubt that he exists. But I can’t say that we have a relationship. Does that make sense, or is it an unfair comparison?
Interesting Nate, It was Augustine who was the champion of Original Sin in the Western tradition of the Church, which was played out in the Pelagian controversy. Pelagius suggested that in theory people need not sin and was branded a heretic by the church. The Augustine position was the basis of the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity.
The concept of children being sinless until they reach the age of accountability is a can of worms. What age would that be? Is it the same for all children or does it vary? If it is the case then surely the church should favour abortion as having a child die before they reach accountability would remove the risk of Hell.
I am not sure I agree with your interpretation of Romans 5, but I need to think about it further. I understand the basic thrusts of Paul’s teaching in that chapter is that in history there were ‘two men’, Adam and Christ and that all humanity is one or the other, one was the source of sin and death and the other source of salvation and life. In essence everyone is born into Adam, the fallen humanity and through faith can become part fo the redeemed humanity of Jesus.
The concept of people losing salvation raises all sorts of theological issues and complexity.
A couple of questions to ponder:
1. could one get salvation back again after losing it or is it a one only opportunity?
2. if the answer to point 1, is yes, then when a person could end up in heaven or hell depending upon when they die, (i.e. were they in a good phase or a bad phase of their life)?
3. if the answer to point 1 is no then it would dangerous to become a Christian early in your life as the risk is all downside after that, of losing salvation.
4. if salvation is having one’s spirit re-born, can that Spirit die again?
5. If one could lose salvation what is a sufficient trigger for it to happen?
For these sorts of reasons, if a person can lose salvation then it sort of makes the Devil more powerful than God.
But I must admit when I was a Christian I used to be terrified by the warning passages in Hebrews 6 and 10 plus the threat of the unforgivable sin.
Maybe the point at which one is “accountable” isn’t a one-size-fits-all age for all mankind.
Of course, when the Israelites failed to have enough faith to take Canaan, it was those 21 and up that were to die off, while those 20 and younger didn’t seem to be held as accountable as the those that were older – so I suppose an argument could be made for one set age, and 21 and up seems reasonable since the brain isn’t fully developed until then, at least in males.
But maybe there is no set age. Maybe it’s specific to each individual, between them and God.
Of course, this is like discussing specifics and nuances of the Jedi Force.
Sorry it took me a couple of days to get back to you guys.
Peter, I think you’ve laid out the problems and the confusion relating to these issues really well. Of course, I now view much of these problems to be the result of different people writing the Bible who were not united by divine inspiration.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, this conversation reminded me of some blog posts (and subsequent discussions) that I had on this blog many years ago, when I was still a Christian. If anyone’s interested, I thought of two in particular:
The Unforgivable Sin: Blaspheming the Holy Spirit
Hebrews 6:4-6 (a “once saved always saved” discussion)
If nothing else, these articles would give you a fuller picture of what I believed when I was in the Church of Christ. It’s a pretty unique denomination. Actually, it doesn’t even consider itself to be a denomination — it thinks it’s a direct descendant or at least a reincarnation of the 1st century church. It rejects Calvinism and several other doctrines that are typically associated with Protestantism.
Thanks Nate. When I still called myself a Christian I was always very suspicious of groups that claimed they were the only true Christians and everyone else was going to Hell. I suppose what made me most suspicious was that I could not envisage a loving deity that would condemn people who sort to follow the revealed teachings but was just unlucky to be raised in the wrong church. If a God really acted that way then it would seem just so unfair as to make that deity just petty.
I concluded that some churches were closer to the truth than others but that an all powerful God surely could still work through the less perfect churches. But if we accept common Christian teaching that false doctrine comes from the Devil, then Christian history seems to portray a Devil who is more successful and powerful than God.
I suppose what I am saying is that reality of the fragmented Church and disparate Christian teaching is very hard to reconcile with what the Bible implies the reality should be.
Especially troubling is to make sense of:
Eternal Security/OSAS is the gospel..Satan always tried to attack this truth. If one doesn’t believe this they are basically saying they are co-redeemer with Christ and His perfect sacrifice wasn’t enough..They are trusting in what they do or don’t do and not Christ’s finished perfect work. Too many today miss the doctrine of regeneration and mix salvation. (FREE gift/easy yolk) with service/rewards/discipleship (costly/heavy burden) Once you believe the gospel and pass from death to life, born again, regenerated, justified, your life is hid IN Christ and are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption you couldn’t lose your salvation if you wanted. Once a son, always a son 🙂 Thank you Jesus our King… Yours is the kingdom and we are the guests!! Glad to be in your loving hands!
Once you believe the gospel and pass from death to life, born again, regenerated, justified, your life is hid IN Christ and are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption you couldn’t lose your salvation if you wanted.
Based on this statement, even those who have “left the faith” would actually still be “saved.” Of course, this is not the way believers see it. Instead, they suggest the deconvert was never “born again, regenerated, justified in Christ, and sealed with the Holy Spirit” — even though many, if not most, of them turned their entire lives over to the Christian God following the formula you have laid down.
And oh, by the way, once a son, always a son is a bit sexist, don’t you agree?
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Thanks for the comment. First of all, I agree with what Nan said: do you believe that an atheist like me is still saved? Or was I never really a Christian at all?
Secondly, you talked about the danger of being a co-redeemer with Christ, but you also said that people must believe Jesus was the Christ before they can be saved. How does that not make them a co-redeemer?
Finally, what’s your understanding of the passages that seem to speak against the once saved always saved doctrine? I listed them in the post above… it seems to me that you would need to deal with them in some way in order to keep believing in OSAS.
Nan & Nate,
Do you believe a born-again believer can become unborn? Scripture is clear in 1 John 2:19 “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” True belief can’t be overthrown. The comment regarding once a son always a son wasn’t meant to be “sexist” as you’re perceiving it, but a reference to the prodigal son being afar off and yet never ceasing from being a son. Once a child of God, always a child of God. Nanis there anything you could do to NOT go to heaven?
In regards to you being an atheist Nate, there is no such a person…
Romans 1:18-21 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 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; so that they are without excuse: 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.
The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, specific as it was to the Pharisees’ situation, cannot be duplicated today. Jesus Christ is not on earth, and no one can personally see Jesus perform a miracle and then attribute that power to Satan instead of the Spirit. The only unpardonable sin today is that of continued unbelief. There is no pardon for a person who dies in his rejection of Christ. The Holy Spirit is at work in the world, convicting the unsaved of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). If a person resists that conviction and remains unrepentant, then he is choosing hell over heaven. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), and the object of faith is Jesus (Acts 16:31). There is no forgiveness for someone who dies without faith in Christ.
One interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6 holds that this passage is written not about Christians but about unbelievers who are convinced of the basic truths of the gospel but who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. They are intellectually persuaded but spiritually uncommitted.
According to this interpretation, the phrase “once enlightened” (verse 4) refers to some level of instruction in biblical truth. However, understanding the words of scripture is not the same as being regenerated by the Holy Spirit. For example, John 1:9 describes Jesus, the “true Light,” giving light “to every man”; but this cannot mean the light of salvation, because not every man is saved. Through God’s sovereign power, every man has enough light to be held responsible. This light either leads to the complete acceptance of Jesus Christ or produces condemnation in those who reject such light. The people described in Hebrews 6:4-6 are of the latter group—unbelievers who have been exposed to God’s redemptive truth and perhaps have made a profession of faith, but have not exercised genuine saving faith.
This interpretation also sees the phrase “tasted the heavenly gift” (Hebrews 6:9) as referring to a momentary experience, akin to Jesus’ “tasting” death (Hebrews 2:9). This brief experience with the heavenly gift is not seen as equivalent to salvation; rather, it is likened to the second and third soils in Jesus’ parable (Matthew 13:3-23), which describes people who receive the truth of the gospel but are not truly saved.
Finally, this interpretation sees the “falling away” (Hebrews 6:6) as a reference to those who have tasted the truth but, not having come all the way to faith, fall away from even the revelation they have been given. The tasting of truth is not enough to keep them from falling away from it. They must come all the way to Christ in complete repentance and faith; otherwise, they in effect re-crucify Christ and treat Him contemptuously. Those who sin against Christ in such a way have no hope of restoration or forgiveness because they reject Him with full knowledge and conscious experience. They have concluded that Jesus should have been crucified, and they stand with His enemies. It is impossible to renew such to repentance.
The other interpretation holds that this passage is written about Christians, and that the phrases “partakers of the Holy Ghost,” “enlightened,” and “tasted of the heavenly gift” are all descriptions of true believers.
According to this interpretation, the key word in the passage is if (verse 6). The writer of Hebrews is setting up a hypothetical statement: “IF a Christian were to fall away . . .” The point being made is that it would be impossible (IF a Christian falls away) to renew salvation. That’s because Christ died once for sin (Hebrews 9:28), and if His sacrifice is insufficient, then there’s no hope at all.
The passage, therefore, presents an argument based on a false premise (that a true Christian can fall away) and follows it to its senseless conclusion (that Jesus would have to be sacrificed again and again). The absurdity of the conclusion points up the impossibility of the original assumption. This reasoning is called reductio ad absurdum, in which a premise is disproved by showing that it logically leads to an absurdity.
Both of these interpretations support the security of the believer in Christ. The first interpretation presents unbelievers rejecting Christ and thereby losing their chance of salvation; the second interpretation presents the very idea of believers losing salvation as impossible. Many scriptures make it abundantly clear that salvation is eternal (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:35, 38-39; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:4-5), and Hebrews 6:4-6 confirms that doctrine.
Romans 1 is simply evidence that Paul was wrong. There are atheists — I am one, so I should know. It always frustrates me when Christians make statements like this. If I say I’m an atheist, how can you tell me I’m not? I don’t deny that you identify yourself as a Christian — so, perhaps some mutual respect? Even if you still think there’s no such thing as an atheist because of your faith in the Bible, you’ll get further in discussions like this by keeping that to yourself a bit more.
As to your explanation of Hebrews 6, I could buy that. But what about Hebrews 10:26-31, 1 Cor 9:24-27, and Romans 11?
I don’t believe Paul was wrong. My apologize if the way I conveyed that was disrespectful in any way. That was never my intention and thank you for calling me out on that. I hope that we can continue discussing these things. I used to believe the same and thought God was a fairytale for grown ups for insurance reasons or to give purpose in life. I was blind then and have since come to the knowledge of the truth, which is Christ. Religion will say DO and Jesus says DONE. I rest in Him and His finished work and out of gratitude for what He has done I serve and seek to glorify Him. I know what I do or don’t do has nothing to do with my salvation. Here are takes on these passages which are a little long but compares scripture with scripture and I believe reveal the truth of these passages which most misinterpret.
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins…” I obviously know that Bible verse well, being a smoker (see chapter 1), searching whole heartedly for the truth and what is really the gospel. By looking at it alone, it is a very condemning verse. It causes much panic. I know. It caused me to panic early in my walk. It seems like one can lose his or her salvation by sinning (see eternal security chapter). However, when one looks at the context of what is being said in Hebrews, it turns panic into security. What is the CONTEXT being discussed in this section of the bible? Hebrews is a letter written to Jewish people that had believed the gospel and were saved. The writer called them “Holy brethren” (Heb 3:1). What was happening? They were going BACK to the Levitical Law. This includes the sacrificing of animals. How does one know this?
But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of GOATS and CALVES, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for US. For if the blood of BULLS and GOATS, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered HIMSELF without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works TO SERVE the living God? (Hebrews 9:11-13)
We get a lot from these verses of scripture. First, we don’t get atonement by the shedding of blood from bulls and goats (Old Testament). Second, the writer said, “Obtaining eternal redemption for US”. This means he was writing to saved people. Third, we see that “dead works” don’t save (also see Heb 6). We are not saved by works (Rom 11:6). So QUIT trying to earn salvation by working; they are DEAD works! We are saved by the precious blood of Jesus Christ shed at the cross (1 Cor 15:1-4). However, we do works “TO SERVE” the living God. Salvation is FREE without works (Eph 2:8,9). We serve the Lord because we are ALREADY saved. Salvation and service, always keep them the separate. Hebrews 9 and 10, within the context of the book, we see that these SAVED Jewish brethren were being convinced to go BACK under the Levitical law and the animal, sacrificial system of the Old Testament. The writer is trying to convince them that JESUS was the eternal sacrifice for sin. Go back to Hebrews 1:3.
“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had BY HIMSELF purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
This is the theme of the book of Hebrews and the issue the writer was attempting to address. Let’s keep going in chapter 9. Later in the chapter, it speaks of Jesus being the sacrifice ONCE FOR ALL. In the Old Testament, the priest entered into the temple every year, but no more. For Jesus has entered into the Holy place to put away sin… AMEN.
For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God FOR US, nor yet that he should offer HIMSELF often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but NOW once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of HIMSELF. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was ONCE offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. (Heb 9:24-28)
In Hebrews 10, you get the same theme.
But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE for ALL. But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins FOREVER, sat down on the right hand of God. For by ONE offering he hath perfected FOREVER them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:3,4,8-10, 12, 14)
Isn’t this one of the most uplifting books in the Bible? I mean, look how many times does it tells us that JESUS was the sacrifice of God, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world. How many times do we see ONCE for ALL? How about verse 14 “perfected forever”? YES, I know the other versions read “being sanctified”. I am KJV1611 PREFERRED for many reasons; it reads “are sanctified”. As if this wasn’t enough, the writer, talking to saved people who were leaving Jesus and grace, wants to give assurance to these believers. It does this by saying “for he is faithful that promised”. Salvation IS about Jesus’s promise to us!
Let us draw near with a true heart in FULL assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (FOR HE IS FAITHFUL THAT PROMISED) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works. (Heb 10:22-24)
HERE IS THE VERSE: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” When you read 1 John 3:9, you will see that we are all practicing sinners. Many of the sins Christians commit are willful. Let us now review Romans 7:14-25 to see Paul’s current battle with sin. What I mean by “current” is this—when he wrote Romans, he was currently sinning. Look at the verbs. They are all present tense.
For we know that the law is spiritually; but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I DO. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin. (Romans 7:14-25)
The Greek word for DO in verse 19 is prassw. It means “to practice, to habitually commit”. YES, Paul practiced sin. Sin is sin; whether willful or not. Most sin is willful. What was the willful sin going on here? It was rejecting Jesus’s sacrifice and sacrificing animals in His place. Either way, if we sin after we hear the knowledge of truth, whether willfully or not, there REMAINS NO SACRIFICE FOR SINS. What a TRUE STATEMENT this is. Today, there is NO goat, NO lamb, NO animal sacrifice that REMAINS that can take away sin. Today, there REMAINS no more sacrifice for sin. WHY? The ONCE for ALL sacrifice happened 2,000 years ago by Jesus. This is the CONTEXT of the book! We must look at who the book is written to, what is going on, and the solution. The purpose was convincing saved people who had gone BACK to sacrificing animals that no more animal sacrifices are needed. QUIT doing it! There REMAINS no sacrifice for sin. Their actions were pretty much saying, “Jesus’s sacrifice was NOT good enough.” This belief trods under foot the Son of God (verse 29). PERSONAL QUESTION: How many professing Christians do you know who say, “Jesus’s sacrifice was not good enough” by adding to the gospel? Many religious people use this passage to say a person can lose his or her salvation. Hog wash! In verse 14 it reads “perfected forever”. If a born again believer is perfected forever, how can he or she lose that salvation?!
The religious will always take scripture out of context! Again, He was telling these Jewish brethren who were sacrificing animals, “There remains no sacrifice for sins!” If we continue reading in Hebrews we read that these people believed the gospel and did some things for the kingdom (verses 32-35). Verse 35 is another assurance of salvation verse.
“Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of REWARD.” Then verse 36 continues, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.”
What is the will of God?
“…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 (John 6:40).
What are the promises of God? Salvation is promised to those who believe on the completed work of Jesus at the cross (that’s FREE a GIFT of God; Eph 2:8,9). REWARDS are promised to those who abide in the faith and bear fruit worthy of repentance (change of mind). Have you believed (trusted) in the ONCE FOR ALL sacrifice of Jesus or do you believe (trusting) in something else? Maybe you are trusting in what Hebrews calls “dead works”. If you have trusted in this sacrifice of Jesus alone, you are PERFECTED FOREVER (Heb 10:14)
Take on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a cast away” (1 Cor 9:27).
The religious like to use this verse to say one can lose his or her salvation. “You must keep your body under subjection or you will be castaway from heaven,” is proclaimed from many pulpits. This is simply another false interpretation of scripture. We have seen the Bible tell us that salvation is FREE (Rom 5:15-20), that he who comes to Jesus will in no wise be cast out (John 6:37). Why would Paul be worried about being cast out of heaven when he told us ALL the believer’s sins were forgiven (Col 3:13,14) and all believers are sealed unto the day of redemption (Eph 4:30)? What is really being said in this passage? Like many scriptures, we need to look at the context (verses before and after). Go back to 1 Cor 9:24. It reads,
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth a prize? So run that ye may obtain.”
Notice the word “prize”. Salvation is not a prize; it is a gift (Rom 6:23). As a result, Paul is talking about something else here. What is Paul trying to obtain? We find out in the very next verse.
“And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown, but we an incorruptible” (1 Cor 9:25).
We see that Paul was concerned with being cast away from earning an incorruptible crown. As an illustration of this, we can use the example of any sporting event. I will choose the Olympics. Let’s just say there are 100 Olympians that qualified for the 100-meter dash. After a few rounds, only eight have made it to the finals. This means that ninety-two Olympians have been “castaway” from earning a medal. After the eight man final, five more are “cast away” from earning a medal. By earning a silver and bronze medal, two more are “cast away” from earning the gold medal. In the past, the winner would have received a crown called an “olive wreath crown”. This was the coveted prize. However, these crowns were corruptible and over time, would fade away. The crown Paul was striving to earn was an incorruptible crown given by the Lord in eternity.
This is the same thing within Christianity. Like the Olympians, the believer is running a race to earn a crown. The Olympians were cast away from earning a prize, BUT were still Olympic athletes and competed at the events. The same applies to all sealed believers. All born again believers will be allowed to compete for a prize. If they don’t win this prize (there are other prizes), they are still born again and going to heaven; NOTHING can change that. Paul wanted to keep his body under subjection to earn (win) a crown. Salvation from hell is FREE. Rewards are earned or obtained by effort. Rewards include crowns. I believe there are 3-5 different crowns that can be earned. I will not delve into the “rewards” doctrine of scripture unless you would like me to. However, it is clear that salvation in 1 Cor 9:27 is not in view when looking at the context of the passage. If you have believed the gospel, that Jesus died for your sins and rose again, you will never be cast away from heaven.
Even if “The Holy Spirit” was Jesus’ father, wasn’t his mother, Mary a human being ? Since all humans were born into sin , wasn’t Jesus a sinner too ? During the enlightenment period when people were finally allowed to challenge scripture, and when science discovered the female wasn’t just an incubator but a 50% participant with her fertilized egg, isn’t this when the Church was forced to make up the concept of the Immaculate Conception ???
How do Christians explain this ?
Which do you believe is the strongest evidence for the reality of Jesus Christ, the Creator, Ruler of the Universe?
1. the Resurrection
3. Your personal experiences of Jesus’ presence within you and in your life?
Thanks for the apology and for being so gracious about what I said. 🙂
Also, thanks for laying out your thoughts on Hebrews 10 and 1 Cor 9. Let’s talk about 1 Cor 9 first. I agree with you that context is of the utmost importance. If you read the 9th chapter, you’ll see that he begins it by talking about the right of preachers like himself to be provided for by the congregations. Nevertheless, he points out that he’s taken advantage of very little of that. Mainly, because he wouldn’t want anyone to be able to use it as a criticism against him, or (more importantly) to create a stumbling block for any Christian who did think there was something wrong with it. Instead, Paul says that he always tried to find points of commonality with those to whom he was preaching, so that he could eliminate as many barriers to belief as possible. That’s what he’s talking about when we get to verse 24:
So what is this talking about? I don’t see an immediate connection to what he was talking about before. And if I understood your point correctly, you’re arguing that Paul is speaking about some additional spiritual prize that the saved can compete for — something that has nothing to do with their actual salvation. Maybe you’re right… though I can’t think of any other passages that really spell out what this could be. And I think Paul’s use of the phrase, “lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” speaks more to salvation than something else. As Paul says in the 1st chapter of this book, Jesus simply sent him to preach the gospel. He’s not even concerned with baptism as much as he is with spreading the gospel. So I doubt that he would spend much time preaching about additional rewards for Christians beyond salvation. He was trying to save as many as possible.
Furthermore, if we look into chapter 10 to see where Paul goes after making this statement, I think we find even more support for the idea that the “imperishable crown” is talking about salvation.
In chapter 10, he begins by talking about the examples of the patriarchs in the Old Testament, specifically, the Israelites that came out of Egypt. They were all together in passing through the Red Sea, in following the cloud, in drinking from the water that sprang from the rock, etc. Nevertheless, even though they did all those things, God was not pleased with them and they fell away in the wilderness. He underlines the point in verses 9-12:
To me, it’s clear that these verses are saying that Christians must remain faithful in order to be saved. You’re right that the Bible also teaches that Christians will continue to sin. That’s human nature. I think taken together, the overall message is that Christians must be trying to remain faithful. They will sometimes stumble. And some of them don’t understand as much as others, and therefore aren’t liable for as much (like in the Parable of the Talents). But to completely turn away from Christ is something else altogether. Or even if someone continues to believe that Jesus is the son of God, but chooses to live a life of rebellion, that’s really no different than the kind of belief that the demons have, as talked about in James 2.
I’ll have more to say in the next comment.
As a continuation of my last comment, I’d like to offer an analogy that I used to give people to help illustrate my view of this issue.
Remember the game show Deal or No Deal? That’s the one where there were a series of briefcases, all containing some amount of money. If I remember right, the values ran all the way from $.01 to $1,000,000. The player picked briefcases to be removed from the stage, and as available values were taken off the board, they got different buy-out offers. If higher dollar values were left, then the offer would be high. If most of the high value briefcases were gone, then the offer would be lower.
Anyway, each contestant ended up winning something, even if it was $.01. But most tended to win tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Did any of those contestants earn the money? I mean, it wasn’t uncommon for people to walk away with $100,000… most people don’t even make that in a year. So did they earn it by being on the show? I don’t think so.
At the same time, were there still requirements the person had to meet in order to get the money? I mean, if the studio called and offered them the chance to play, could the person have just said “Nah, that’s okay — I think I’ll just stay home, and you can send me a check”? Of course not. They needed to travel to the studio and play the game by the rules.
In the same way, the New Testament teaches that salvation is a free gift, given by God’s grace. Yet, you acknowledge that a person must have faith in Jesus in order to receive that gift. That faith doesn’t mean they’re somehow earning their salvation. The NT teaches that there’s nothing a person can do to earn salvation.
But somehow, a large segment of Christianity has begun to think that things like repentance, baptism, and living a life dedicated to Jesus are somehow “works” that are trying to earn their salvation. I don’t think that’s true at all. I think it’s just like the Deal or No Deal scenario. God has laid out certain requirements that a person must meet before they can receive the gift of salvation.
In the game show, if a contestant arrives and begins playing the game, but halfway through kicks Howie Mandel, throws the phone to the floor, and stomps off the stage, will he still win any of the money? In the same way, if a Christian reaches a point where they no longer believe any of Christianity is real, why would God still give them salvation? Or if they suddenly decide that they just don’t care what Jesus thinks or what he did, they’re going to live their life on their own terms, aren’t they in effect “storming off the stage”? That doesn’t mean that they were never Christians to begin with, just as it would be ridiculous to claim that a contestant who stormed off the stage was never a “true contestant” to begin with.
To me, the most important part of Hebrews 10 that deals with this issue is not vs 26-27, where your comment focused. Instead, I think it’s vs 28-31:
If someone was “sanctified” by the “blood of the covenant,” then they were saved. Yet the writer of Hebrews says that turning against Jesus and profaning that sacrifice is a much bigger deal than when Israelites set aside the Law of Moses. The rest of that passage is clearly talking about something far more severe than not winning some extra prize in Heaven. The rest of chapter 10 drives the point home even more:
Finally, let me remind you that I don’t believe any of this anymore. I do think that most of the NT writers viewed salvation similarly to what I just laid out. I’m not quite as sure about the writer of 1 John, because 2:19 seems so clearly in favor of once saved always saved. But I don’t see how the other books can be twisted to conform with it.
I’m convinced that the Bible was not inspired by God. I think there’s really good evidence that shows it’s just man-made, through and through. So while I’ve enjoyed discussing this doctrine in such an in-depth way with you, it’s not really something that affects me much one way or the other. I’d be more interested in moving to a discussion on why someone should or should not believe the Bible…
Either way, this has been a great discussion. Thanks for putting so much time into it. And feel free to keep it going. I’m not trying to politely bow out of it — I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your comments. 🙂