Patrick Donahue's Third Affirmative
Against "Once Saved Always Saved"
My friend Steve begins his last rebuttal by expressing surprise that someone could actually believe exactly what the Bible says that "God is no respecter of persons" (Acts 10:34) and that Jesus is the "author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9). Steve's expressed attitude here is the fruit of the "once saved always saved" doctrine. A Christian really doesn't have to obey God (Matthew 7:21); he can just live any old way he wants to. I wonder if Steve believes that a Christian can quit abiding in the teaching of Christ (the truth of the gospel, Galatians 2:14) as Peter did and not have God (II John verse 9), but still be saved?
Next, Steve wants to know if a Christian commits willful sin, will he lose his salvation? Hebrews 10:26 answers Steve's question precisely by saying "if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins."
Steve asked about what a Christian must do in order to receive forgiveness for his sins. Acts 8:22 and I John 1:9 answer this question, and they do not state that a once born again Christian needs to be born again again. The scriptures teach he doesn't need to be re-baptized.
Steve presents what he feels is a dilemma about a Christian sinning fifteen times and then Steve presents a solution to the dilemma. He gives no proof for the validity of his solution, but only asserts it is so. Evidently he feels the Bible solution is too hard, therefore he must make up his own solution. God's solution is that we must repent of our sins in order to be forgiven of them (Luke 13:3, Acts 17:30, Acts 2:38, 8:22). Is there anything unclear about those four passages?
Steve wonders about the possibility of "re-election" if my position is true, but all I have to do is call the reader's attention to II Peter 1:10 which reads, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure ...." If we can't lose our election, then that verse makes no sense whatsoever.
Steve asserts that II Corinthians 13:5 teaches his position, but it teaches the very opposite. Why would a Christian need to "examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith" if it is impossible to lose your faith once you have it? Hebrews 3:12 explicitly says that a brother can change and become an unbeliever, "departing from the living God." You see, this subject is not hard to understand. The Bible is simple and plain on the matter.
I replied in detail to Colossians 1:23 and I John 2:19 in my last article, so there is no need to repeat myself since Steve chose not to respond to my replies. We agree with Steve on Matthew 7:23 that counterfeit Christians were never saved to begin with.
Steve refers to the seal of the Holy Spirit that God gives faithful Christians, but fails to recognize that a seal can be broken (Matthew 27:66ff). Steve ignored my point on Jude verse 21 which reads, "Keep yourselves in the love of God ...." This shows God's seal can be broken if we want out. God does not force us to love Him.
Steve responds to I Corinthians 9:25-27 but ignores the main point, that Paul recognized that if he didn't live the Christ-like life, he would become a "reprobate" (rejected by God).
On an altogether different issue, Steve asserts that Cornelius was saved before he was baptized in water, but the text never says or implies that. I wonder if Steve thinks that Saul was saved in I Samuel 19 while he was plotting to kill God's anointed David, simply because Saul had a miraculous measure of the Spirit?
Steve asserts that if a brother loses his salvation he would not be a "brother" anymore, but it is only assertion. We gave many passages in my last affirmative that clearly show this assertion is incorrect. Steve's response to those passages was basically that when the Bible calls a someone a brother, he might not really be a brother. This is tantamount to questioning the inspiration of the scriptures. Steve's correctly points out that the Bible talks about false brethren, and men who are brethren because they are of the same Jewish race, but none of the proof texts I gave fit into either of those categories. The examples I gave of people who fell away are called "brother" in the sense of "brother in Christ." Steve in effect says that God is not telling us the truth when he tells us these people are brethren. I urge the reader to accept what God says. He is never wrong. When God says someone is a brother (in Christ), God is right. It is easy to uphold the "once saved always saved" position or another other false position if you just say the Bible is wrong whenever it contradicts your position. That is the tact that Steve has chosen to take.
On the question of do we presently possess eternal life, I agree with the Bible that we do (John 3:36), and I disagree with the quotes you supplied from Walter Scott, M.H. Tucker, and Tom Warren on this detail. Like I said in my last article, "eternal" and "un-lose-able" are two different concepts.
Steve now admits that his argument on "faith" in Acts 8:13 was incorrect, but still holds to his position on the passage by ignoring my argument on the word "also" in the verse. Go back and read what I said. The word "also proves Simon was saved just like the other Samaritans. And Steve already agrees with the rest of the passage (verses 20-23) which teaches that Simon was subsequently lost. Saved, then lost; Simon proves my position on this issue.
Back to my original arguments, Steve admits that Galatians 5:4 is referring to Christians, but he evidently thinks such a Christian can be saved even though "Christ shall profit him nothing." I am amazed that someone who believes the Bible can think that a person can be saved without benefiting from Christ and His death.
Revelation 3:5 clearly shows it is possible for a person's name to be erased from the book of life, which would have to mean a saved person losing his salvation, but for whatever reason, many will just not accept this plain teaching.
Steve's answer to James 5:19-20 is that the people who erred from the truth here and potentially lost their soul to death were not really brethren. Again that is equivalent to rejecting the inspiration of the scriptures because the Bible says they were brethren. It doesn't say they were false brethren and Steve would admit it is not talking about brethren in the sense of nationality, but they were brethren in Christ. We human beings might assume someone is a brother and not know for sure, but God wrote this. He knows. He doesn't have to assume or guess. And he says such a brother can possibly err from the truth and lose his soul. I believe what James 5:19-20 says because the Bible in inerrant.
I Corinthians 8:11
I beg the reader to accept what God says in I Corinthians 8:11. A brother (God said he was a brother, and God should know) can perish (be "condemned" according to the parallel verse, Rom 14:23).
II Peter 2:20-22
Look with an open mind at II Peter 2:20-22. If someone has "escaped the sins of the world through the knowledge of the Lord," wouldn't you say that would have to be a person who has become a Christian? But if that same person turns back to the worldly life and God says his fate is worse than one who was never saved to begin with, isn't it clear that Christian is now lost again?
II Peter 1:9-11
II Peter 1:9 is talking about a person who was "purged from his old sin." But Steve said this text is talking about a person who was never saved to begin with. Isn't this another case where Steve is saying that God is wrong? Consider this picture of Steve arguing with God. God first says a certain person was "purged from his old sins." Steve respectfully says to God, "you are mistaken, you just thought they were purged from their sins." God replies .... How do you think God would reply to Steve? Verses 10-11 go on to present the possibility that this person would fall and lose his entrance into the everlasting kingdom if he doesn't put on (live) what we call the "Christian graces."
I repeat my question, if God himself says the people of Hebrews 3:12 were "holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling" (verse 1), just why doesn't Steve believe it is really so? Doesn't Steve believe that God wrote the Bible? Please answer for us Steve. And, just like it is impossible to depart from Atlanta if you never were there to begin with, it is impossible to "depart from the living God" if you never were with Him (saved) to begin with.
I ask Steve again in regard to John 15:2-6, can a person be "clean through the word," if he has not really become a Christian? Since when are non-Christians clean from their sin? And since when are counterfeit Christians "in Christ" as this passage depicts?
I Timothy 5:12
In I Timothy 5 Paul is discussing a group of widows among the Christians that would be specially cared for benevolently. Paul's instruction goes further to say that the younger widows should not be taken into this number. His reason is that they should marry (verse 14) lest they "wax wanton against (turn away from) Christ ... Having condemnation (the KJV uses a stronger word here), because they have cast off their first faith. These young widows were clearly Christians, but Paul recognized the possibility that they might cast off their faith and be condemned. Clearly it is possible then for a Christian to lose her faith and be lost.
We are presented the possibility in Luke 8:13 that someone can become a believer, and in time of temptation "fall away." It won't do for Steve to respond that these people never really believed or had a false/pretended belief; God said that they did believe. And we can be 100% sure He is right about it. Furthermore, their falling away proves the same can happen to any Christian today. Verses like this are why I take the position I do in this debate. It is much easier just to believe what the texts clearly say than to work and work to avoid their plain meaning.
The reader should consider again the following question: Who in this debate is just accepting the plain meaning of the Biblical texts, and who is working real hard to explain away (get around) their plain meaning? Steve concludes his article by saying about me, "If a person's theology has no place for a Christian being born again and being transformed when they believe ...." Not only do I believe that a Christian is someone who is born again and transformed, I believe that he must be transformed. Steve's position is that being transformed into a new creature is optional.
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by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.