- Parent Category: FAQs
- Category: Questions about Sin and Salvation
- Published on Saturday, 05 February 2011 23:14
THE “FALLING AWAY” DOCTRINE
Is it possible for one who has been truly converted and has eternal life to be eternally lost?
Surely the terms “eternal life” and “eternal perdition” are incompatible and mutually exclusive. A life that can be lost cannot be eternal. The Lord says of His sheep: “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:28), and again, “He that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation (lit, judgment) but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). Christ is the life of His people (“Christ, who is our life”—Colossians 3:4) and each true believer is “baptized in one Spirit into one body,” and is a temple of the Holy Spirit and a child in the family of God. Not one such then could be lost, for if so, the Church would be blemished; the temple marred; and the family broken for all eternity. The Word says, “He that hath begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6). It behoves us then to be sure that this good work has truly begun in us, for as there were false brethren crept in unawares in the primitive churches, so there may be spurious Christians to-day even in the most scriptural assemblies, men who can pass muster with their fellow-men, but who are only counterfeit professors, and who will one day be exposed as such—”Every tree that my Heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted out.” We should not then take ourselves too easily for granted. Perhaps a few doubts about ourselves now and again are not a bad sign, though we should never, never doubt Christ. I question whether false professors often doubt themselves. How then does God begin His work in a soul? By convicting of sin by His Spirit and then revealing Christ crucified as the all-sufficient Saviour. He continues, however, to shew us increasingly the evil within, till we find that we must look away to Christ for everything, and be content to have Him for our All in All. But if we want to convince others that we are indeed true believers, something more is needed than a profession of faith. We read of some who became antichrists, who had no doubt professed faith, been baptised and broken bread: “They went out from us, but they were not of us, for if they had been of us they would no doubt have continued with us, but they went out that they might be made manifest, that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19). Not even great gifts, successful preaching and mighty works prove reality. Judas Iscariot had all these, and so also have the wonder-workers of Matthew 7: 2, 23, of whom the Lord utters one of His most solemn warnings: “Many will say unto me in that day, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name cast out demons, etc.?” Yet He will say to them “I never knew you.” They were never possessors of eternal life through faith in Him. Gift is of great profit, where there is grace, but gift without grace is nought. There is a number of tests in the Epistles of John, which we may apply to ourselves, if we would be assured that we have truly been born of God, of which I will here quote two or three: “Every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:29). If a man is crooked in his ways, unrighteous in his acts and untruthful in his words, he may well tremble for himself. Then here is another test: “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin” (i John . ). This does not mean that a true child of God never sins, for in chapter i. we have God’s gracious provision for the failures of His people, but it means he does not continue in it, like a swine in his wallowing. Alas! with what warning voice to us all do the sad exposures of years of immorality and dishonest dealing of which we sometimes hear, even among professed believers, speak. It is not for us to say glibly of such that we know them to be children of God, because they have long passed as such. The hidden life which has come to light, seems to give the lie to any such theories. One more such test will we quote:
“Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world” (1 John 5:4). The overcomer is not one who is never overcome, but who, like Joshua, overcomes at last (Exodus 17:11). The final overcomers are not some extraordinary kind of Christians; they are true Christians who prove themselves to be such by continuing to the end. For other tests we may see chap. 3. 1 and 14; 5:1; 2 John 1:9. Enough has been said to remind us of the solemn words: “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”; “Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation!” Thank God for the words of our Lord Jesus, “Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out”; which not only mean that He will not reject, but that He will not eject the one who comes to Him.