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This is undoubtedly one of the most controversial and frequently debated passages in all of Scripture. It would not be going too far to say that those who believe a genuine believer can forfeit (or lose) his/her salvation appeal to this passage more often than any other. Read the passage closely.Read More

Can a true believer, one who has been born again and justified by faith alone in Christ alone, fully and finally fall away so as to forfeit his/her salvation? This question has provoked seemingly endless debate in the body of Christ. Those who answer Yes and those who answer No are convinced they have the weight of biblical evidence on their side. Each position has its favorite proof texts. But each position also has its problem passages.   Those of you who have ...Read More

What it would mean for God the Father if a true believer could fully and finally fall away We will examine the issue of perseverance by noting what it would mean for each of the three members of the Trinity should it be possible for a Christian to fall fully and finally from salvation. This lesson focuses on the Father. The next focuses on the Son and Spirit. What it would mean for God the Father 1.         He would not be wort...Read More

What it would mean for God the Son and God the Holy Spirit if a true believer could fully and finally fall away     What it would mean for God the Son   1.         Christ will have failed in the purpose for which He died   John 6:37-40; 10:14-18,27-30   2.         Christ will have failed in the purpose for which He was raised   Romans 4:24-25  ...Read More

One thing John emphasizes in his first epistle is the reality and gravity of sin. In 1:8 he forcefully labels those who say they have no sin as self-deceived and void of the truth. In 1:10 the claim not to have committed sin is tantamount to calling God a liar, and in 2:1 John clearly implies that Christians will sin (although he writes to help them avoid it). How then do we understand the statement in 3:9 that the one who is begotten of God "does not do sin" (lit.) and ...Read More

A number of people have read this text and concluded that it teaches a true believer can apostatize and lose or forfeit his/her salvation. Is that what it really says? We must first ask the question: were Hymenaeus and Alexander saved? It’s difficult to say. There is no way of knowing whether their presence in the church at Ephesus was an external association based on their verbal profession of faith or an internal, spiritual union with the body of Christ. We are ...Read More

“If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life – to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that” (ESV).   The problems posed by this passage are innumerable and therefore so are the interpretations placed upon it. Here are the more cogent views and my critical interaction with each.     A.&n...Read More

Here we find yet another installment in the Counterpoints Series from Zondervan. There are now fifteen volumes, ranging in subject matter from miraculous gifts (to which I contributed) to women in ministry, from hell to the millennium, etc. Generally speaking, these have proven to be extremely helpful, as they provide the reader with brief, but competent, summaries of the many options on a particular topic, together with critical responses from each contributor. This pa...Read More

Here the apostle refers to some in the church at Galatia who were considering submitting to circumcision, having believed the Judaizers heretical doctrine that such “works” were necessary to bring their salvation in Christ to its proper and full consummation. If a person were to embrace this doctrine, says Paul, “Christ will be of no benefit” to him/her (v. 2). Furthermore, to submit to circumcision is to submit to the obligation “to keep th...Read More

The apostle Paul describes how he is careful to be self-disciplined and to bring his body into subjection “lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.” Does this word translated “disqualified” (NASB) suggest that Paul feared losing his salvation? Once again, as we see also in Rom. 11:22, it may be that Paul is echoing a theme found elsewhere in his letters and throughout the NT, namely, that ultimate salvation ...Read More

Here we read that God, as the Vinedresser, lovingly “prunes” (v. 2), i.e., cleanses, purges, and purifies believers of whatever does not contribute to their spiritual maturity (“fruitfulness”). This might occur in any number of ways: discipline, teaching, testing, etc. The debate centers on what God does with the fruitless branches, and what the latter represent. There have generally been three views of this passage.   ·  ...Read More

Paul declares: “If we deny Him, He also will deny us” (v. 12). Paul is simply echoing the statement of Jesus in Matthew 10:32-33 – “Everyone therefore who shall confess Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.” Make no mistake about it: to deny Jesus, to repudiate him, to declare that he is not the Son of God incarna...Read More

What does Paul mean when he refers to the possibility of receiving the grace of God "in vain"? See also Gal. 2:2; Phil. 2:16; 1 Thess. 3:5 (cf. 1 Cor. 15:2). Some suggested answers: 1.            Perhaps he is urging them not to forfeit the grace of salvation which they had earlier received. In other words, it is an exhortation to persevere, to avoid apostasy. On this view, Paul would be implying that a born-again b...Read More

Paul is calling on us to think, to reflect deeply on the implications of what he has just said regarding the remarkable blessings of salvation we have in Christ. He does it by asking four questions. But he doesn't simply ask them, he "hurls these questions out into space, as it were, defiantly, triumphantly, challenging any creature in heaven or earth or hell to answer them or to deny the truth that is contained in them" (Stott, 103).   1.    ...Read More

Here our author describes someone as continuing in willful sin after having “received the knowledge of the truth.” The latter need mean no more than that they have heard and understood the gospel and have given mental assent or agreement to it. Tragically, many people hear the good news and commit themselves to shape their lives by the ethics of Jesus and in accordance with the standards and life of a local church while never experiencing regeneration and pla...Read More

Does this passage imply that genuine believers can lose their salvation? Three things may be said. (1) It may be that Paul is echoing a theme found elsewhere in his letters and throughout the NT, namely, that ultimate salvation is dependent on perseverance in faith (cf. Rom. 8:13; Col. 1:23; Heb. 3:6,14; 1 Peter 1:5; 1 John 2:19), a faith which God graciously preserves and sustains within us. (2) Others have suggested that Paul's discussion here is about Gentiles as ...Read More

In this text Paul talks about a “strong” Christian destroying a “weaker” Christian through the unloving exercise of freedom.   Paul refers to a stumbling block in v. 13 and again in v. 15 to hurting and destroying one's brother. What does he mean? Certainly it is more than distress or pain or annoyance that the weak brother feels on seeing a strong brother partake of food or drink which he believes is unclean and forbidden. Rather, Paul en...Read More

It is important to remember that everyone who believes in the Bible believes in predestination and election. The issue isn't whether you have a doctrine of election but what kind of doctrine you have. The verb to choose/elect is used 22x in the NT, 7 of which refer to election to salvation or eternal life. The noun elect also occurs 22x, 17 of which refer to men and women chosen or elected to eternal life. The noun election occurs 7x, all with reference to salvation. The...Read More

The proliferation of false teachers indicates to John that it is (the) last hour (no definite article). Note: the entire period between the first and second comings of Jesus = the "last days". See Acts 2:17; 2 Tim. 3:1; Heb. 1:2; 1 Pt. 1:20 (cf. 1 Cor. 10:11). The antichrists of v. 18 = the false teachers against whom the epistle is directed. They are the ones whom John wishes to expose by means of the application of his "tests of life". Here in v. 19 he indicates that ...Read More

Many Christians live in constant and paralyzing fear that they have committed the unpardonable sin. They are burdened and broken and grieved and terrified that some sinful habit they cannot break or some recurring transgression they cannot avoid will forever exclude them from the presence of God. Their confidence is shattered and their assurance of salvation is all but lost.   So the question is raised: What is the unpardonable sin that Jesus speaks of in Matthew...Read More

The reward promised to those who persevere is four-fold. First, in v. 4, they will walk with Jesus in white. Some see a reference here to the resurrection body, but this is more likely a promise of victory and purity in the messianic kingdom when those who have remained faithful will experience the consummation of fellowship with Jesus. The reference to “white” may allude to the righteousness imputed to us in the act of justification. That is why they are re...Read More

In the seemingly endless debate over the perseverance of the saints, one often hears something like the following: “If a Christian chooses to abandon faith in Jesus Christ, a loving God would never work in his/her heart so as to guarantee that they remain in the kingdom.” People who say this don’t deny that God is at work in our souls to influence us to remain faithful. What they deny is that God has the sovereign right to ultimately overcome or overr...Read More