CAN A CHILD OF GOD FALL FROM DIVINE GRACE AND BE LOST?
The Bible answers, that a Christian, a baptized believer, a disciple of Christ, one who has been born again, has been regenarated by obedience to the Word of God, who has been saved, redeemed, cleansed, and sanctified by the blood of Christ, can so sin as to fall from God's grace and be eternally lost or condemned. In Gal. 5:4, we read, "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from Grace." In 1 Cor. 10:12 we read, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." In 1 Tim. 4:1 we read, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils."
For one to have his faith overthrown is for him to quit believing. Paul affirms that this would happen to some. What access then, can such of God's children have to the grace of God and eternal salvation when they no longer possess faith? Will Jesus Christ take disbelievers to heaven with Him when He comes again?
We read in Heb. 3:12-19, "Take heed, brethren, lest there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the the living God: but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called today; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin: for we are become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence firm unto the end: While it is said, today if ye shall hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For who, when they heard, did provoke? Nay, did not all they that came out of Egypt by Moses? And with whom was He displeased forty years? Was it not with them that sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that were disobedient? And we see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief."
Consider the teaching contained in these verses. In verse 12 the writer states that brethren are to be watchful that they not allow unbelief to occupy their hearts, in falling away from the living God. If, as some affirm, it is impossible for children of God to quit believing, to fall away from God, then the inspired writer is giving here needless warning. Verse 13, continuing the thought expressed in the previous verse, counsels us that if we are to partake of the blessings of Christ, we must hold firm our confidence (faith) unto the end. If, however, there is no way for a child of God ever to lose his faith, then the advice of this verse would also be needless.
The writer continues by showing that the ancient Hebrews who typify God's children under the New Covenant, were not allowed to enter the Canaan rest because of unbelief and disobedience. These Jews had left Egypt believing in God and obeying His Will, but in the wilderness they quit believing and obeying; therefore, they were kept out of the Land of Canaan. What is the reason for the inspired writer's use of this illustration? To show God's children under the New Covenant that they, too, can quit believing, and thus fail to enter into the spiritual Canaan, Heaven.
We read in 2 Pet. 2:1, "But there arose false prophets among the people as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction."
Those who teach the impossibility of falling from grace insist that such were never actually converted to Christ in the first place and thus had never received the grace of God. But it is plainly stated that these who fell from grace had denied the Christ who had BOUGHT them. The price had been paid, the blood of Christ, they had accepted and obeyed the conditions to be converted to the Lord. "Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase unto God with Thy blood men of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, and madest them to be unto our God a kingdom of priests; and they reign upon the earth" (Rev. 5:9).
It is Scriptural that every person who has been bought by the blood of Christ is a child of God, saved and cleansed from his past sins. No one can be bought by the blood of Christ who is not a true believer (Rom. 3:25). Thus the false teachers whom Peter describes as being bought by Christ had at one time been believers in Him and the saving power of His blood. But somewhere along the way they quit believing, denying the Master and bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
In Jno. 15:1-6, we read, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the Husbandman. Every branch IN Me that beareth not fruit, He taketh it away: and every branch that beareth fruit, He cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit. Already ye are CLEAN because of the Word which I have spoken unto you. ABIDE in Me, and I in you, as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, EXCEPT IF ABIDE in the vine; so neither 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 beareth much fruit: for apart from Me ye can do nothing. If a man abide NOT in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."
The branches designated here represent those who have been brought into union with Christ, who are in Him. It is possible, however, for these branches, who are a part of the vine, not to bear fruit, by failing to obey the Lord's Will and consequently are taken away (vs. 1, "Cast forth as a branch... cast into the fire and burned" vs. 6). Evidently referring to their condemnation in hell. Can there be any plainer description of falling from grace, due to the failure of those who have come into Christ to obey His Will and to live a fruitful life?
After the Lord said, "Already
ye are CLEAN because of the Word which I have spoken unto you" (vs. 3)
descriptive of those who have been truly converted to Him, in the next verse
He commands them, "Abide in Me." If however, the
Lord's disciples are eternally secure and cannot fall from grace, this would be a needless command. But disciples of Christ must be duly exhorted to abide in Christ because there is the constant possibility that they will quit abiding in Him and suffer eternal torment in the fires of hell.
We read in (Rom. 14:13,15), "Let
us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge ye this rather, that
no man put a stumbling block in his brother's way, or an occasion of falling...For
if because of meat thy brother is grieved, thou walkest no longer in love. Destroy
not with thy meat him for whom Christ died". This citation affirms that
a brother, a child of God, can fall, that he can sin and be destroyed. Destroyed
where? In hell...(Matt. 10:28 "Fear Him Who is able to destroy both soul
and body in hell."
We read in Heb. 10:26-31, "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and a fierceness of fire which shall devour the adversaries. A man that hath set at nought Moses' law dieth without compassion on the word of two or three witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, think ye shall he be judged worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified and unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know Him that said, 'Vengeance belongeth unto Me, I will recompense. And again, the Lord shall judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
Who are these described in this passage? Definitely, children of God. Notice the following description of them:
1. Received The Knowledge Of The Truth: -- One might conclude that this was merely traditional knowledge of the truth which these persons received were it not for the further description that writer gives of them, undeniably portraying them as children of God. The fact is that they received the knowledge of the truth because without it they could not be delivered from sin (Jno. 8:32; 17:17).
2. Sanctified By The Blood Of The Covenant: -- There can be no reasonable doubt that this is a description of people who have become children of God, for they have received the benefits of Christ's blood in being sanctified. Can any one be freed from the guilt of sin by the blood of Christ and not be a child of God?
Now let us consider what children of God, those who have been sanctified, can do:
1. They Can Sin Wilfully: -- Falling completely from God, cutting himself off deliberately from all further part in the service of Christ.
2. They Can Tread Under Foot The Son Of God: --
3. They Can Count The Blood Of Christ An Unholy Thing:--
4. They Can Do Despite Unto The Spirit Of Grace: --
In Jas. 5:19,20, we read, "My brethren, if any among you err from the truth, and one convert him; let him know, that he who converteth a sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall cover a multitude of sins."
James here teaches that a brother in the faith of Christ can err from the truth and that when he is converted back to the truth his soul is saved from death.
1 Pet. 5:8, tells us to "be sober, be watchful: your adversary, the Devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." If it is impossible for children of God to be devoured by the Devil, then why is the warning written to them?
You can be overcome by sin, we read in 2 Pet. 2:20-22, "For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the last state is become worse with them than the first. For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them. It has happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog turning to his own vomit again, and the sow that had been washed to the wallowing again in the mire."
One's name can be blotted out of the book of life (Rev. 3: 5), "He that overcometh shall thus be arrayed in white garmen-ts; and I will in no wise blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father, and before His holy angels." It surely is agreed by all Bible believers that those whose names are written in the book of life are Christians, God's children. "And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15). If it is impossible for Christians to fail to overcome and to have their names blotted out of the book of life, then the passage under consideration has no meaning at all, being as wasted, needless warning from God to His children.
We find that God preserves the souls of the saints in reading Psa. 97:10, "O ye that love Jehovah, hate evil; He preserveth the souls of the saints, He delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked." The preservation of the souls of the saints by the power of God is not unconditional; the text states that the saints must love Jehovah and hate evil. But what about the child of God whose love for Jehovah grows cold and who turns to the love and practice of evil?
The child of God is plainly and pointedly given due warning by the Bible that it is possible for him to be eternally lost. On the other hand, he is just as plainly and pointedly encouraged to live faithful, godly living, both by exhortation and by the incentive presented in the picturization of the beautiful, wonderful place called heaven, so that he can escape condemnation and receive eternal life. It is comforting and uplifting for him to realize that God loves him, that Has the power to deliver him from sin through the merits of Christ, and through him meeting the conditions of pardon, and thereby grant unto him a place in the heavenly mansions that Christ went to prepare for them that prepare for Him.
He must constantly realize, however, that as he acted as a free moral agent in choosing to become a Christian, so must he exercise the freedom of choice in living like a Christian. Yes, he must keep in mind that God did not force him to become a Christian and neither will He force him to live like a Christian. If he will be eternally saved, he must give constant diligence to prayer, worship, and service, keeping himself by love and faith in the grace of God. Then, and only then, will he be able to finally say with all the redeemed, "Thanks be to God, Who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." Yes, a child of God can so walk in this life as to fall from the divine grace of God and thereby be lost eternally.
By Jim Sasser.
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