On Backsliding

The issue on the table had to do with backsliding. A believer wrote:

It is UNBELIEF to think that we can effect our salvation or even find favor with God by what WE do.

And that is Gospel Truth!

About four centuries ago, the Dutch theologian Jacob Arminius rejected the Calvinist doctrine of predestination and formed a doctrinal system of conditional election and emphasizing human free will and God's grace. The five points of the Arminian Remonstrance are:

1 Conditional election based on God’s foreknowledge;
2 unlimited atonement;
3 although man has a free will he cannot save himself;
4 prevenient grace, which enables man to cooperate with God in salvation;
5 conditional perseverance—believers can be lost

I submit that to accept points 4 and 5 above is to deny the promises of Christ and to label Almighty God as an Indian-giver.

I imagine that most who read here are familiar with Ephesians 2:8,9; and would agree that we are saved by grace through faith—not works.

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
-- Ephesians 2:8,9

What happens when one is truly saved? Is salvation a permanent—an eternal—condition? Or is it an ephemeral state that, like a lamp, can be turned on and off?

Those who subscribe to Arminian theology, and some others, would argue that salvation lasts only as long as one conforms to certain conditions, many of which had their origins in the minds of men rather than God. Failing to meet those conditions—backsliding, if you will—can result in the loss of salvation.

The Lord God Almighty informs, in the inspired writing of the Apostle Paul, that those who are redeemed by Christ are freed from bondage to worldly things. He also tells us that Christ came to redeem sinners in order that we might become adopted sons of God the Father. Finally, in the passage quoted below, we see that the Third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit has been sent into our hearts, where He calls out to God as “Abba,” or "Daddy.”

3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.
-- Galatians 4:3-7 (My emphasis)

Do you see? Those who are redeemed by Christ’s substitutionary atoning sacrifice no longer are servants; but are sons and heirs of God. If this be true, and I believe with all my heart that it is; is it reasonable to believe that God will revoke one’s adoption and disinherit him?

If it were possible for one to lose his salvation would not it require that God un-adopt and disinherit him? Assuming that could happen—and I do not believe that it could—the result would have the effect of denying the eternal significance of Christ’s finished work at the cross. It would deny the power of the righteousness of God. And it would demand that the new creature be converted back to those old things that we are told pass away. The Apostle wrote, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
-- 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 (My emphasis)

In addition to the foregoing, the Holy Spirit would necessarily be required to abandon His place in the hearts of those who had been redeemed by the blood of Christ. How could the Third Person of the Trinity remain in the heart of someone who has lost his salvation due to a failure to conform to the requirements of legalism? Thus, the Seal and Earnest of our inheritance would be broken; as would the redemptive work of each of the Three Persons of the Godhead.

12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
--Ephesians 1:12-14 (My emphasis)

The words of John 3:16 are proclaimed just about everywhere. And why not? The words express God’s love of mankind and the possibility of salvation. But how many times have you seen that verse proclaimed in context? The passage informs that those who believe in Christ will not perish—that they will have eternal life. Read a bit farther and we come upon less pleasing words; that those who do not believe are condemned.

15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
--John 3:15-18 (My emphasis)

Why did God send His Son? “That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” Is it possible to believe in Christ even though one is labeled a backslider because he does not regularly attend worship services? If it is not possible, what hope do shut-ins have? Is a person a backslider if he cannot or will not tithe a tenth of an income that barely enables him to care for his family? Is it possible to believe in Christ though one does not tithe? If it is not, why did Jesus call attention to the Widow’s Mites? (Mark 12:41-44)

If it were possible that one might lose his salvation, then the Lord is a liar and His words are not trustworthy. Did Jesus not tell us that these words were worthy of trust by prefacing the following statement with the words verily, verily?

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.--John 5:24

Who is qualified to define what constitutes backsliding? How many failures is a saint permitted before he is identified as a backslider? Who is qualified to brand another with that label?. Who is so righteous that he might consider unworthy those who do not come up to his standards? It appears to me that we are referring to modern day Pharisees who, in their self-righteousness, take it upon themselves to condemn those who fail to meet the standards they have established. The Apostle John, inspired by the Holy Spirit, informs:

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
--1 John 1:8-10 (My emphasis)

If it is possible to lose one’s salvation, can we believe that God is faithful and just; that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness? Or are these simply empty words?

If God is a liar, then these assurances of Jesus Christ are valueless:

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
30 I and my Father are one.
--John 10:27-30 (My emphasis)

I can speak for no other, but as for me; I choose to rest in the promises of Christ.

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