Last week, I posted a clip from a sermon on Hebrews 6:1-12, “Going On To Maturity.” The clip shows the danger of apostasy as addressed by the Hebrews writer to his audience. Here is the clip in question:
As you might imagine, I immediately began receiving emails saying that I taught false doctrine in this clip. The reason, according to the skeptic, that I had taught false doctrine was because I showed from the text the very real danger of apostasy. According to the Calvinist, there is no such thing as apostasy. That is, they do not believe that a Christian can fall away from the faith. If someone does seemingly fall away then, according to them, he was never really a Christian to begin with.
One of the emails I received stated:
The question must be asked. Did Jesus lie about our security? He makes it plain that all that the Father give Him, He would lose none (Jn. 6:38). The key word is “lose”.
John makes it plain that anyone who is born of God does not live in sin, because God’s seed remains in him and he cannot sin (1 Jn.3:9). If God’s seed remains in him how does the believer lose his/her salvation? The key word is “remain”.
I responded to this individual with the following invitation:
I would love to discuss this with you on my blog at bibleqna.com. Just select a post that exposes the false doctrine of once-saved-always-saved and post your comment there. Then, as we study this issue together, others interested in studying it can follow along and everyone can benefit from our discussion. A good place to start would probably be the “Calvinism” category. There are a couple of articles there exposing the once-saved-always-saved error.
I decided to just go ahead and start a new post specifically for this discussion. And I’ll start it off by answering the erroneous Calvinistic use of the two passages above (i.e. Jn. 6:38-39; 1 Jn. 3:9).
According to Calvinism, any verses that seem to indicate that a believer can be lost is really talking about those who were never really converted. Now, I address that in the video “Going On To Maturity,” and I hope you will watch it. However, the use of Jn. 6:38-39 in an attempt to demonstrate that a true believer cannot fall away is a severe misuse of that passage.
In this passage Jesus refers to himself as the bread of life (Jn. 6:35, 48, 51). As the bread of life, he is the source of spiritual nourishment that provides eternal life, just as physical bread provides nourishment for physical life. Jesus, in no whatsoever, gives the impression here that feeding on him, as the bread of life, is a one time act. Rather, he says that we must feed on his flesh and feed on his blood (Jn. 6:57). The word feeds in this verse is in the present active tense, indicating a continuing action. The Calvinist takes this passage and makes it mean that if you ate of Christ, the bread of life, at any time (past tense) then you will have eternal life from that one time act. However, as Christ describes himself as the bread of life and tells the people that they can have eternal life by feeding on him, he is referring to a continuing activity. Just like eating physical bread, if you stop eating, you stop receiving the physical nourishment. So with Christ, if we stop feeding on him then we stop receiving the spiritual nourishment he provides. When Christ says that he will loose none, he is referring to those who are actively feeding on him. It does not have under consideration at all those who stop feeding on him.
And what is it that is clearly identified as feeding on his flesh and blood? Notice, Christ is not talking about his physical flesh and blood but his words as the source of spiritual nourishment (Jn. 6:63). After many departed from him, being unable to accept this hard saying, Jesus asked the twelve if they would leave him also. Peter’s response shows his clear understanding of what Jesus had taught about being the bread of life. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68). He understood that when Jesus was talking about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, he was referring to feeding on his doctrine the same way one would feed on physical bread. As long as you keep eating you continue receiving the nourishment. We must take the doctrine of Christ in and “live on it” the same way our bodies rely on physical food!
This passage is clearly referring to those who are actively feeding on the doctrine of Christ. To say that this passage teaches the one-saved-always-saved error is to twist the Scriptures to your own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16).
Then with 1 John 3:9, Calvinists actually have John contradicting himself. They say that John teaches a true child of cannot sin but in 1 John 1:8-9 John says that if “we” (i.e., Christians) say that we do not sin or that we have not sinned then we don’t know the truth. So, which is it? Do we or don’t we? Obviously, when John is talking the impossibility of a child of God sinning he is not talking about a literal impossibility. Rather, it is in reference to a practice of lifestyle. Notice, in 1 John 3:6, it is the one who abides in him that does not sin. Likewise, it is the one who practices righteousness the is righteous (1 Jn. 3:7). “He who sins” is the one who turns to a lifestyle of sin (1 Jn. 3:8). One who is born of God cannot be given to lifestyle of sin because then he would no longer be abiding in Christ. This whole passage is contrasting the lifestyle of a child of God to that of the lifestyle of the sinner. It teaches the impossibility of harmonizing a sinfull lifestyle with abiding in Chirst. It does not in any way teach that a person cannot change from one to the other. If this passage taught that a child of God could not cease abiding in Christ, then it would also teach that a sinner could never become a child of God. Clearly, the Calvinistic use of the passage is in error.