Can a Child of God Forfeit His Salvation?

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Can a Child of God Forfeit His Salvation?

Sermon by  Thomas Thornhill Jr

Passage: 2 Peter 2:20-22



Sunday, February 2, 2020 pm          

Recently, while engaged in a Bible study at an assisted living facility, I was asked if I believed that it was possible for one to lose his salvation. I gave a brief answer based upon my convictions that we are expected to remain faithful after we become Christians.   That is something we often emphasize as we quote the steps leading toward salvation (and beyond that).

It has been awhile since we addressed this topic in detail from this pulpit, so tonight I want us to open our Bibles and answer the question, “Can a child of God lose his salvation?”

Can a child of God lose his salvation?

  1. The Bible is clear with a substantial number of passages that it is possible to forfeit our eternal life. In fact there is more to say about this subject than can possibly be addressed in a single lesson. But we will notice a number of passages.
  2. What did Jesus teach?
    1. Luke 9:62 – no one having put his hand to the plow and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.
    2. Matthew 24:45-51 – The parable of 2 servants. The servant who is faithful in his doings will be rewarded further, but if the evil servant says that the master is delaying and misbehaves, when the master comes at an unexpected hour, he will be judged – cut in two and appointed a portion with the hypocrites where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
      NOTE: A servant is one in the household of his master.
    3. Matthew 25:12-30 – the parable of the talents. Again you have 2 servants who are faithful and one described as “wicked and lazy”, he was cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
    4. John 15:1-6 – Jesus give analogy of Him being the true vine.   Every branch that abides in Him bears fruit, but every branch that does not abide in Him is cast into the fire and burned.   NOTE: To be a “branch” requires that you start as part of the vine.
  3. The teachings of Paul
    1. Romans 11:16-22 – Paul gives an analogy of Jews as the original (natural) branches that were cut off, and Gentiles who were grafted in.   The warning, do not be haughty but fear.   IF God did not spare the natural branches, he may not spare you either. Consider the goodness and severity of God.   Goodness awaits you IF you continue in His goodness, “otherwise you also will be cut off.
    2. 1 Corinthians 8:11 as Paul deals with our liberties and considering our brethren lest they be offended he warns, “And because of your knowledge, shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?”
    3. 1 Corinthians 9:27 – Paul disciplined his own body lest he be disqualified
    4. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 – Paul declared to them the gospel (and resurrection) “in which you stand, by which also you are saved, IF you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain.
    5. Galatians 5:4 – you have fallen from grace. Is it possible to fall from grace?
    6. Colossians 1:21-23 – our hope is to be presented holy and blameless and above reproach, “if indeed you continue in the faith…”
  4. The book of Hebrews – some of the strongest warnings are found in this letter
    1. Hebrews 3:12-14 – Beware lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God… We need to exhort each other (so that doesn’t happen). “For we have become partakers with Christ IF we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.”
    2. Hebrews 6:4-6 – speaks of those who were once enlightened, and had partaken of the heavenly gifts and Holy Spirit, etc. Clearly one who is saved; “IF they fall away” it is impossible to renew them to repentance. Much could be said about this – it is describing one in the present state of crucifying again the Son of God.
    3. Hebrews 10:26-27 – equally strong. If we sin willfully AFTER we have received the knowledge of truth… there no longer remains a sacrifice… but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation…
    4. Hebrews 10:35-39 – continuing the thought. If anyone draws back
  5. Other passages
    1. James 5:19-20 speaks of one wandering from the truth and someone turning him back, he has saved a soul from death and covered a multitude of sins.
    2. 2 Peter 2:20-22 – Another strong passage that speaks of the latter end being worse than the beginning. CLEARLY it describes one who knew the truth.
    3. 2 Peter 3:17 – as Peter concludes this letter, he issues a warning, “lest you fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked…”
    4. Revelation 2:10 – be faithful until death… What if one does not remain faithful
    5. Revelation 14:13 – blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on…
  6. Add to these the multitudes of passages that call for faithfulness – 1 Corinthians 15:58, Galatians 6:9, 2 Peter 1:5-11, etc.  Then there are the specific instructions we are given as the Lord’s church and as individual Christians about what we should and should not do.
    There are so many passages that affirm what is expected of us.   To teach “once save always saved” renders these as mere suggestions that you can choose to follow or not.   That is the result of this doctrine, and one reason so many have altered God’s plan for His church, the work of individuals, who is to be accepted into fellowship (inclusive of sinful relationships, etc.), matters of morality, and numerous other points.   You can preach the truth on such subjects, but what if one chooses to NOT follow them? OSAS is a “comfort doctrine” that allows one to continue in whatever lifestyle they choose, so long as they profess their belief in Jesus as the Son of God and their Savior and Lord.
    NOTE: I do not wish to put words in people’s mouths and many would deny this – but it IS a consequence of this doctrine.
    As we can see, the need to remain faithful is clearly taught in scripture.

Why teach “once saved, always saved”?

  1. This is a doctrine that was developed by John Calvin as he developed what has been called the system of Calvinism (TULIP). This is the final point of a process that says God randomly selected who would be saved and lost (making Him a respecter of persons, etc.)   The doctrine is also known as “eternal security” or “Perseverance of the saints”.
  2. The strength of it was emphasized a number of years ago by a Baptist preacher, Sam Morris, who is quoted as saying, “We take the position that a Christian’s sins do not damn his soul! The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul … All the prayers a man may pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the sermons he may practice, all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform will not make his soul one whit safer; and all the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger … The way a man lives has nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul.” (Morris, A Discussion Which Involves a Subject Pertinent to All Men, pp. 1,2; via Handbook of Religious Quotations, p. 24)
  3. They might appeal to the love and grace of God with passages such as John 3:16 or Ephesians 2:8-9 and note the power of His grace and love.   The point is made that if we are saved by grace, there is nothing we can do to save ourselves.
    Answer: If there is nothing we can do, then universalism is the only consistent belief system. Anything else requires a distinction which means you are saying we must do SOMETHING, even if it is only professing belief in Him (is that an action?), saying the “sinner’s prayer” (is that an action?), etc.
    The fact of God’s love and grace does NOT conflict with His requirement that we obey Him and the gospel (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9
  4. They might address “everlasting life” in passages like John 3:16, 36 saying that “everlasting life” means it can’t be taken away.   There is a sense in which that is true, but the question is WHEN will “everlasting life” begin?   Can we forfeit that by rejecting Him?   See the above passages.
  5. John 10:29, My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. The point is made that no one is able to snatch them away from God.
    Again, that is a true statement.   But what is meant by that?   It is a point about the power of God – Satan (or anyone else for that matter, including the Jewish leaders who were challenging Him) can nullify God’s promises and defeat Him.
    Note the context: These are the sheep of Jesus who “hear my voice” and “follow Me” – IOW, they are faithful to Him.   Both verbs are present tense.
  6. 1 John 3:9 – it might be pointed out that those born of God “cannot sin”, which is implied to mean that if they do commit some sin, it will not be charged to them because of the blood of Jesus.
    BUT, looking at the context of 1 John, we know God demands obedience (1 John 1:7 – we are walking in the light, as He is in the light; 2:1-2 these things are written that you may not sin…   2:3 – we keep His commandments, etc.
    The point of 1 John 3:9 is that we as Christians are not to be sinning!   It is about US and our actions!   John is saying we do not have PERMISSION to keep sinning.   When we do, we must deal with our sins (1 John 1:9).
  7. Others could be added to these, but time will not permit a discussion at this time.

 Some final observations about remaining faithful

  1. God does not want us to perish – 2 Peter 3:9, when we wander away, He desires that we return.   And Our salvation is STILL primarily a product of God’s grace and our faith (and faithfulness) – though we must understand this is an obedient faith.
    He is NOT waiting for us to mess up so that He can “zap us”!       Sometimes that is the picture we paint of God.   While we NEVER have permission to commit any sin (cf. 1 John 3:9), know that He wants to save us.   All He asks of us is faithfulness to Him.
  2. He has provided a way for us to be forgiven when we do sin. 1 John 1:9, Acts 8:22, etc.  And He is quite longsuffering, forbearing and good toward us (cf. Romans 2:4).
  3. This is important for us to understand, lest we think that we can persist in lives of sin without eternal consequences.

The point of this lesson is remind us that sin has eternal consequences.   When we become children of God, we put to death that old man of sin.   We now walk in newness of life (Romans 6) which means we serve Him COMPLETELY. And we cannot quit serving Him until we enter the other side of eternity. What about you?   Are you ready to stand before God.