Study 1 CAN A BELIEVER FALL AWAY AND BE LOST?
Things Hard to be Understood
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: Romans 8: 28-29)
There are many truths revealed in the Word of God which are “hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16), and there are some things we shall not understand until we get to Heaven (1 Corinthians 13:12). In this series of studies we shall consider some important truths which are quite impossible to understand apart from the illumination of the Holy Spirit - 1 Corinthians 2:14. Each theme is vital, and the first of these is: Can a believer fall away and be lost?
Notice the words “a believer”; look up Romans 10:9 - one who has been born again (John 3:3), and washed in the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7). But can one who has believed and been saved fall away and be lost? We believe the emphatic answer from the scriptures is – NO!
God wants us to be sure of our salvation and to know we are His - for ever! He does not want us to live in a state of uncertainty, hoping that in the end He will accept us. As Noah and his family went into the ark and were absolutely secure because God shut them in from the outside, so all believers are safe in Christ, hidden with Christ in God - look up Genesis 7:7,16 and compare Colossians 3:3.
However, many have taught, and do teach, that a believer can fall away and be lost. There seem to be four reasons for this view:
- 1. We are weak, we fail, and we wonder if we can endure to the end.
- 2. We know of some who appeared to be real Christians who apparently have fallen away.
- 3. Some scriptures seem to teach the possibility of a believer being lost:
(1) Matthew 24:13; (2) 1 Corinthians 9:27; (3) John 15:6; (4) Galatians 5:4; (5) Hebrews 6:4-6; (6) Hebrews 10:26-29.
- 4. It is said the teaching of the security of Christians is dangerous as it makes for careless living.
How do we answer these four objections?
- 1. Our salvation does not depend upon our ability to keep it; we are kept - look up 1 Peter 1:5, and compare Jude 24.
- 2. Those Christians who have apparently fallen away - were they ever truly saved? If so, God has many disobedient children. What about the Prodigal Son? - a son, but disobedient - look up Luke 15:11-24.
- 3. The scriptures mentioned do not teach that a believer can be lost. These either do not refer to true believers, or they refer to service and rewards and not to salvation. (1) Matthew 24:13 refers to the Tribulation period and to the physical salvation of those who endure to the end. (2) 1 Corinthians 9:27, and (3) John 15:6 both have to do with service, and not salvation. (4) Galatians 5:4 does not teach that we can fall out of grace! (5) Hebrews 6:4-6 and (6) Hebrews 10:26-29 were written to Jews and for Jews, and surely the argument is that if we reject Christ there is no more sacrifice for sin.
- 4. The teaching of security does not make it easier for the believer to live carelessly; it provides an incentive to the believer to live more wholeheartedly for God – look up Romans 6:1-2.
There are seven reasons given in the scriptures why the true believer can never fall away and be lost:-
1. The believer is eternally secure because of the eternal purpose of God concerning all His redeemed people.
Believers are His elect people - look up Ephesians 1:4, and compare Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 2:10; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 1:2. These scriptures prove that all believers are eternally secure according to the eternal purpose of God.
2. The believer is eternally secure because the redemption work of Christ is complete, sufficient, flawless and eternal.
Look up Romans 4:25 to 5:2, and compare 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Hebrews 1:3; 7:24-25; 10:10-14. Our salvation depends wholly on Christ Himself - what He is and what He has done. His work has been accepted by God the Father, and we are secure because of this.
3. The believer is eternally secure because salvation is altogether of grace.
The work of man has been excluded from each tense of salvation - past, present and future. We are saved from sin’s penalty and power altogether by grace, and when the Lord comes we shall be saved from sin’s presence - also altogether by grace. Look up Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 2:12-13; Titus 3:5. If our salvation depended on ourselves we would have great cause to doubt - but, thank God, it does not depend upon ourselves!
4. The believer is eternally secure because of the nature of salvation.
Look up John 3:16; 5:24; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 5:9; 9:12. In these verses we are told that we have received “everlasting life”, “eternal salvation”, “eternal redemption”, and that we have already “passed from death unto life and shall not come into condemnation”. We are eternally saved!
5. The believer is eternally secure because of the many specific promises and statements that guarantee security.
Look up and compare John 5:24; 6:37; 10:9; 10:27-29. Then look up John 17:2,6,9,12. Could this prayer of the Saviour possibly be unanswered? Look up Philippians 1:6.
6. The believer is eternally secure because of his vital union with the Lord Jesus.
We are “in Him” and He is “in us” (John 1:12-13; 15:5; 1 Corinthians 12:13-27; Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 1:13; 3:3). Can such a wonderful union be effected today and broken tomorrow? Surely not!
7. The believer is eternally secure because the work of the Holy Spirit on behalf of the believer is eternal.
The indwelling and the sealing of the Holy Spirit are eternal - as John 14:16; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30 tell us. “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” - to the end of the journey! The vital question, therefore is: Am I truly His? Have I truly believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and am I trusting utterly and only in Him as my Saviour and Lord? If so - Romans 8:33-39 and Philippians 1:6!