Steve Morrison's Third Rebuttal

Supporting Once-Saved-Always-Saved

But can even French fries send a Christian to Hell? The key issue here is: does a genuine Christian, who commits even the smallest willful sin (such as eating more than they know they should), lose their salvation and bound for Hell until they repent? I say "no". Patrick incredibly says "yes". Patrick has based his view in part on Hebrews 10:26-31.

However, if Hebrews 10:26-31 referred to any willful sin at all, it sinks his case, because for those who sinned in this way it says, "no sacrifice for sins is left". Rather, these verses refer to apostasy; those who received the gospel, were a part of the church for a while, but fell away and trusted something else, such as Judaism, for their salvation.

I am surprised that Patrick and I agree on "once-transformed-always-transformed" though. He and I both say there is no "born-again again". He is mistaken to state I believe transformation is optional. I believe all who are truly born-again will persevere and go to Heaven; Patrick believes they can lose their salvation, for any sin, and go to Hell even though they were born again. Or, they can repent, and get salvation back, without being regenerated/transformed again. Patrick made some incorrect statements about me; trying to paint me with the "cheap grace" view. However, a) cheap grace, and b) regenerated, born-again people in Hell, are not the only two options; both are wrong. Re-read my first rebuttal where I stand against cheap grace; I hold to the "perseverance of the saints" view.

Patrick was wrong and uncharitable to claim I don't believe God is no respecter of persons, or to claim that I think we do not have to obey Jesus, or God, etc. As I have stated in my first rebuttal, "We strive hard for Christ (Romans 12:11-12), to be more holy and Christlike (1 Peter 1:16; Ephesians 5:1), not to earn the right to keep salvation, but for love of God (Romans 12:1-2),...". I specifically rejected the "cheap grace" view, and yet you asserted my express attitude is "he can live just any old way he wants to." Patrick if you deliberately misrepresented my view, that is a sin. Now according to my understanding of your theology, you just lost your salvation, and, if so, you would think you are going to Hell. According to my understanding of your theology, now that you know this, you should immediately try to get your salvation back right away. Then you can have confidence in your salvation, at least until next week if you say any careless words (Matthew 12:36), have unChristlike attitudes, or like Peter, hypocritically skip eating with someone. Now I forgive you, and I do not claim to be sinless either, but the issue here is understanding the "no confidence" viewpoint Patrick affirms. It is wrong because

a) Many scriptures deny it (Romans 8:28-35,38-39; Ephesians 1:4-7,13-14, etc.)

b) It cannot be held consistently (as I showed in my second rebuttal)

c) It is not needed as the "only check" against living-as-you-please, when one understands the warnings against counterfeit conversion, i.e. receiving the gospel but still ending up in Hell.

So while Patrick denies "once-saved-always-saved", he is at least part way there, because he believes in "once-transformed-always-transformed". So then our disagreement becomes "are some people in Hell who were and still are born-again, transformed, and regenerated." Now Patrick, I sincerely think I have presented what your view accurately; however, I this view is so strange (to me) that I admit it is possible I could have misunderstood what you were saying. So please correct anything here where I misrepresented your view. Here is a summary of my view: genuine Christians still sin; we need God's continuing grace, and with it we will repent and persevere.

On John 3:36, thank you for correcting what I thought you might have believed about those teachers' words. You do affirm we have eternal (though not unlosable) life. Patrick, you and I then agree that Church of Christ teachers Walter Scott, M.H. Tucker, and Tom Warren are all wrong on saying we only have "eternal life in prospect", etc.

Perseverance Fits with Every Verse Brought Up

I thought I showed how all the verses you mentioned fit into the doctrine of perseverance. But looking back I see that I missed some, plus you brought up some new ones. Here are answers for verses I missed, plus more explanation on others.

In reply on Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30; Acts 2:38; 8:22; yes, not only do Christians need to repent of their sins, but all those who will ultimately go to heaven (whom I call genuine believers) will repent of their sins. Up to this point we agree. But we disagree where I say they are not going to Hell between the time they have sinned and the time they are aware of their sin and also repented.

In reply on Colossians 1:23, I already explained myself in the first rebuttal para:7, but I will be happy to do so again. Colossians 1:22-23 tells of promises in Christ of reconciliation, without blemish, and free from accusation, "if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved form the hope held out in the gospel." Patrick and I agree that a person could intellectually believe, fail in the "if" clause and be eternally lost. Patrick sees that this means a person could be a genuine, heaven-bound believer, and then lose his salvation. He can see no other way. I say this correlation shows the result of the elect being ultimately heaven-bound, not cause. Patrick asserts this teaches the opposite of "The genuine elect will persevere, if they are the genuine elect." Patrick, you have dodged or ignored the verses I brought up about foreknowledge and election. Even after three affirmatives, I (and presumably the readers), still do not see where God's certain foreknowledge and predestination fit in your theology, if at all. You have no basis for saying this verse teaches the opposite of the genuine elect will persevere, if never affirm what you think "elect" means. Otherwise, your "affirmative" is only a disguised denial of God's election.

Genesis 3:22-24 and 1 Corinthians 15:22 do not say what Patrick claims. It never states they had "eternal physical life", only that the day they eat of the fruit they would die. Of course Adam and Eve had a different experience from us too, so that is not relevant to losing salvation, if they were never told they had eternal life like we have.

1 Samuel 19 The Spirit would leave in Old Testament times, but He is a seal guaranteeing our salvation in New Testament times. (Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:29-33)

Joshua 6:2-21; 24:13 may be a metaphor for God's promise and our working out that promise, but it does not refer to loss of salvation. Pat is teaching "stay saved by works here".

Matthew 27:66ff A seal of man that is broken by God does not prove we can break God's seal over us of the Holy Spirit.

Luke 8:13 says people believed but fell away. They believed intellectually, but were never saved (i.e. God's elect in the first place). They were never good soil that became bad; they were always rocky soil. Rather Luke 8:15 says good soil persevered.

We agree that John 3:16; Acts 10:43; 16:31; Romans 10:9-10, refer to a saving faith, a belief that is not just intellectual, but also desires to obey Christ as Lord of their life.

Pat's interpretation of Romans 6:23 causes me to question if he understands the heart of the gospel. The wages of sin is death for everyone, sinner and saint, but let's not forget the last half of the verse: the gift of God is eternal life. Even a repentant sinner still has that "wage" that needs to be paid. That wage is not paid by our works, our repentance, our faith, or our obedience. The one and only way that wage was paid was at the cross by Jesus. Either Pat is thinking those who have accepted the gift have to do some sort of wage to earn staying saved (which sounds really against God's grace), or else ... (Pat help me out here!)

Please re-read Galatians 2:14. It does not say, much less prove, that since Peter was not at that moment acting in line with the truth of the gospel, he was going to Hell.

In affirmative 2 Para:2 Patrick says "So having to meet conditions does not negate the fact that God gives us something, 'by grace through faith' (Ephesians 2:8-9). Patrick, it does negate every condition that can be considered a work. The first three words of Ephesians 2:9 are "not by works".

1 Timothy 5:12 Judgment on a believer does not mean loss of salvation.

Hebrews 5:9 Obedience is a sign of those saved, obedience (i.e. works) do not get us saved. Pat is teaching salvation by works here.

2 Peter 1:10 has no mention of re-election, or losing election. It only says to make sure what we have is genuine.

2 John 9 says that "anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God." We agree these people are lost. However, Peter never stopped abiding in the doctrine of Christ. While Peter's not eating with Gentiles was "...not acting in line with the truth of the gospel..." (Galatians 2:14) does not mean he was running ahead and not continuing in the teaching of Christ; only that he was sinning. A Christian can still commit a sin and be a Christian going to heaven.

Jude 21 - has two applications: watch out that your walk is close, and also that your salvation is not counterfeit.

Revelation 2:9-10 Yes it is salvation that is given, but there is no mention of anything taken away.


So Patrick, do I want you to change to think that once a person believes, he has it "made in the shade" and can live any way he wants to? - NOT AT ALL! Obedience is a result of genuine salvation, not a work of continued salvation. Do not misrepresent "perseverance" as "cheap grace". Perseverance affirms our responsibility to continue to obey all our lives, and agrees that those who believed and obeyed but later forsake Christ are lost. Cheap grace does not.

Patrick, I do not want to accept the plain meaning of merely some Biblical texts. I want to accept the meaning of all Biblical texts, and if your theological interpretation cannot reconcile all the Bible verses on that topic, then your theological position needs to change. You need to sit down and deal with the Biblical verses on assurance, foreknowledge, and predestination also, and not be only repeat the good verses stressing our responsibility that you ignore the verses that give the other side of the balance. You might start with Ephesians 1:4,11,14; 3:12; Titus 1:2; Romans 8:28-30; 9:22-23; Matthew 22:14; Romans 8:31-38.

Patrick, you do not understand the context of Hebrews, so you have not given an affirmative for a consistent, livable position: losing and regaining your salvation perhaps 10 to 100 times a week when you willfully sin, in any way, is not credible or consistent with the assurance given in the Bible.

So for those of us who ought to lose a few pounds (including myself), lay off those French fries because of love and obedience to Christ. But don't think that eating French fries will send a Christian to Hell.

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by Steven M. Morrison, PhD.