Generally, Catholics, Pentecostals, most Methodists, some non-denominational churches all teach that a Christian can ‘fall from grace’ and lose their salvation. There are Free Will Baptists also, who teach that someone can lose their salvation as well.
One of the major points of Calvinism is “the eternal security of the believer” or the “perseverance of the saints.” It is also called “impossibility of apostasy,” or simply “once saved, always saved.” The doctrine teaches that it is impossible for a child of God to so sin as to fall from grace and be eternally lost. It is based on the belief that salvation is unconditional, so there is nothing a person can do to be saved; and once he is saved there is nothing he can do to be lost.
The Philadelphia Confession, adopted by many Baptist churches, is almost identical to the above.
Sam Morris, “Pastor” of the First Baptist Church, Stamford, Texas, expressed the doctrine in its most extreme form as follows:
“We take the position that a Christian’s sins do not damn his soul! The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul … All the prayers a man may pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the sermons he may practice, all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform will not make his soul one whit safer; and all the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger … The way a man lives has nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul.
Part 1 : Evidence Offered to Show that a Child of God Cannot So Sin as to Be Lost
Folks are sometimes confused by passages that are used to defend “once saved, always saved.” We need to understand the arguments and how to answer them. Some of these passages do offer hope and security to believers, but they are conditional passages, and these conditions are often overlooked. If we study the verses in light of what we have already learned we will see that, while they do give security to those who are faithful, they do not teach unconditional “once saved, always saved.”
1. “They shall never perish … no one shall snatch them out of my hand”. John 10: 28, 29
As the Good Shepherd, Jesus protects His sheep so no one can destroy them, as long as the sheep hear Jesus and follow Him. But what if they cease to hear and follow ?
Neither Satan nor any outside force can steal you from the Lord, as long as you meet the conditions.
a. Sheep can stray from the shepherd’s protection.
Luke 15:3-7 – 100 sheep belonged to the shepherd , but one became lost.
Acts 20:28-30 – Wolves may enter among the flock, speak perverse things, and draw away the disciples.
If sheep cannot possibly stray, even of their own free will, then this would deny our free moral power to choose. We could not become lost even if we wanted to!
2. One begotten of God “does not sin … he cannot sin” – 1 John 3: 9
We must take all the Bible says on any subject (Matt. 4:6,7; Acts 3:22,23).
We have already shown many passages showing that it is possible for a child of God to sin. Many more verses, even in 1 John and addressed to these same people, show this is true:
1 John 1:8,10 – If we say we don’t sin, we lie and truth is not in us. This is exactly the condition of some folks who argue for “once saved, always saved”!
1 John 2:1,2 – John wrote so we would avoid sin. Jesus is our propitiation if we do sin. If sin is impossible, why write, and why would we need propitiation?
1 John 2:15-17 – Love not the world. If we do, we don’t love the Father (cf. I Cor. 16:22).
Why warn us, if it is impossible to be guilty?
1 John 5:21 – Guard yourself from idols. Why, if it is impossible to be guilty of sin?
2 Peter 2:14 – Some children of God (v1,15) “cannot cease from sin”! If I John 3:9 means children of God cannot possibly commit sin, then this passage means these children of God cannot possibly quit sinning!
Clearly 1 John 3:9 does not mean sin is impossible, else we have contradictions in the Bible. In fact, many people who believe “once saved, always saved,” will admit sin is possible.
“Does not sin” refers to persisting in the practice of sin (see NASB).
A true child of God may occasionally commit acts of sin, but he must repent, confess, and be forgiven by Jesus’ blood (1:9; 2:2). He must not continue in the practice of sin. Why not?
“God’s seed abides” in the child of God.