Today's post comes from studies that a friend and I have been having for the last 7 months or so. Our studies started because of the topic of "Once Saved Always Saved/ The Doctrine of Eternal Security" and I will be honest - though we talk of many other topics as well this one is still being discussed on a regular basis. We came into the study with one of us believing one way and one the other way but neither of us knowing quickly a lot of scriptures to back up the position that we took. This study has been great for both of us as we have become much more aware of what God's word says on the subject and it has just been fun to dive in and learn. It is still an ongoing process as we haven't come to a place where we completely agree yet so onward, forward.
Obviously I understand that this is a contested issue. But it just makes me more passionate about the importance of getting into God's word. Some topics aren't super easy to understand but we have no hope of understanding them at all unless we study God's word for ourselves. Just taking somebody else's word for it doesn't cut it. We need to study things out for ourselves.
Here are the verses that I have found that make me realize that a person can indeed be a Christian and then turn away from God and face eternity in hell:
"Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today" so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said, "Today if you hear his voice, Do not harden you hearts, as when they provoked Me." For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with who was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. Therefore, let us fear if while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it."
The Israelites did not get to enter the promised land (the older generation except for Joshua and Caleb) and we run the risk of not getting to enter heaven - God's rest - if we are not faithful in our belief.
"For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame, for ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.
But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
Now I am not going to pretend to understand this completely. I don't understand exactly when we get to the point that we can fall away to the point of no return as I know according to other scriptures (James 5:19 and 20 for example) that someone can fall away and be brought back again but that doesn't change the message that it has concerning the fact that a Christian (someone who has the Holy Spirit) can indeed fall away and not inherit the promises.
2 Peter 1:5-11 "Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you."
Here we are very clearly told to keep growing and becoming more like Christ. We are to practice things so that we will not stumble and fall away from Christ and our reward.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."
Paul who be this time had been a christian for many years and had taught many, many others is still being careful to run in such a way that he is not disqualified.
" But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
We have to keep pressing on if we are going to receive the prize. I don't think it will work to turn around and go the other way.
"My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."
2 Peter 2:20-21
"For if, after they have escaped the defilement of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them."
"For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?"
"But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved."
"If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned."
"Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."
"He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son."
1 Corinthians 15:2
"By which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain."
Colossians 1:22 and 23
"Yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach - if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and which I, Paul, was made a minister."
These are many more that I would love to share but this post is already getting quite long. I encourage you to study it out for yourself. Also I highly encourage going to the references that I quoted and read the context that goes with it as well. If this is something that you are trying to study too please feel free to ask me for references for more verses on this subject.
Before I close I do want to share a verse that I have heard most quoted by those that don't believe you can lose your salvation. I think it is an incredibly comforting verse but I don't believe it says that you can't turn away from God.
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27 & 28
Jesus is indeed the Good shepherd. He will take care of us very carefully and protect from the "wolves" but we do need to follow Him. He did however create us with a free will so if we choose to turn away from Him, He does not force himself upon us. We want to keep faithfully following so that we will have eternal life and never perish!
I would love to have you join in the conversation! This is a very interesting study and I have just scratched the surface - I would love to hear your thoughts on it.