The Gospel of Christ

Series: Calvinism

Lesson: Perseverance of the Saints

(a capella singing)

The Gospel of Christ: Spreading the soul-saving message of Jesus. And now, Kevin Pendergrass…

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,” 1 Timothy 4:1.

Welcome to the gospel of Christ. This is our final lesson in our study on refuting the doctrine of Calvinism. So far, we have looked at the T in TULIP, the total hereditary depravity. We've refuted that. We've seen the U, the unconditional election, and we have refuted that. The L, limited atonement, we've refuted that false doctrine. I, irresistible grace, we showed that that was not true. And finally, the last topic we're going to look at is the perseverance of the saints, also better known as once saved always saved, or eternal security.

And here's what this view teaches. Once you become a Christian, then you can never lose that salvation, no matter what you do. And they claim that if you somehow do end up falling away, then that means that you were never saved to begin with. That is what this view teaches, that once you become a true Christian, then, if you are a true child of God, if you're really a Christian, then you will never, ever lose that salvation. Now, doesn't that sound like a nice doctrine? I mean, it sounds good, it preaches good. Once you become a Christian, you don't have to worry about anything anymore. Everything is taken care of. Well, it may sound good, but it's not what the Bible teaches.

The Bible teaches that when we become children of God, when we become Christians, that we can fall from God's grace. In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul, being an apostle, he himself even knew that he could fall from the grace of God. He said, “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” Paul knew that he could become disqualified, even being an apostle, he knew that he had to discipline his body, spiritually speaking, that he had to bring it into subjection because he didn't want to become disqualified. When Peter was writing in 1 Peter 5:8, Peter gives us a warning, an admonition. The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8, that as Christians we are to “be sober, we are to be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” The Bible says that we need to be sober at all times. Now, who is Peter writing to? Peter is writing to Christians. And in writing to Christians, he says you need to beware, you need to watch out, because Satan is your adversary, and in being your adversary, he's coming after you and he is trying to devour those individuals who are going to be vulnerable to him. And so, he said that we have to be on the watch all the time, we need to be sober. Now, if we are once saved always saved, why would Peter be writing this to Christians? Why would he be writing this to saved individuals if once they were saved, they're always saved, why would he even be saying Satan could come after to try to devour you when that would be impossible to begin with? Well, the answer is it's not impossible to fall from God's grace. In fact, it's very possible. That's why Peter was giving this warning that we need to be ready, because Satan is coming after us. Satan is going to do everything that he can.

And another point to be made from this point, why would Satan be after us? If we cannot fall from God's grace, then Satan wouldn't be wasting his time with Christians. He would be keeping his focus on non-Christians, making sure they never did become Christians, because well, once they did become saved, then they could not fall away, any way. Well, see how ridiculous that is? Satan is after not only the non-Christian to keep him unsaved, but also he's after the saved to try to get him to fall from God's grace.

One of the clearest passages in all of scripture to teach refute the false doctrine of once saved always saved is found in 1 Corinthians chapter 10 beginning in verse 1. Now, Paul is writing to Christians, the church at Corinth. And he is going back to the Old Testament so that we can learn from the example of Israel, so that we don't make the same mistakes that they made. In verse 1 of 1 Corinthians chapter 10, the Bible says, “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all of our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink.” Verse 4, “For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” Now, verse 5 says “But with most of them, God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.” So he starts out by saying I'm talking about Israel, I'm going back under the Old Testament to show a principle so that you can learn from their bad examples. In verse 5 he said that God was not pleased with the majority of them. Now, why was God not pleased? Well, Paul goes on to tell us in verse 6. “These things-” What things? The things he's about to tell us. “-Became our examples to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.” So here Paul says that these things became our examples so that we do not fall the same way that many of them fell. In verse 6 or verse 7 it says that we're not to “become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and the people rose up to play.’” Verse 8, “Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did-” and notice verse 8: ”-and in one day twenty-three thousand fell.” What did they fall from? Notice that term they fell. What does that mean? They all fell down? Is that what that's talking about? No. They fell from God's grace, being in fellowship, being in relationship with God, they fell because of their sexual immorality. Verse 9, “nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer.” Notice, these are all God's people who were falling, who were doing these things. Verse 11, “now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” Now, why would Paul have been saying these things to Christians and saying that look at these Old Testament examples, notice how Israel, even though at one point in time a lot of them were right with God, they were saved, they were in fellowship with God, yet they fell. Now, what's the principle that Paul is trying to get us to see here? Well, here is the crux. 1 Corinthians 10:12, here's the issue: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall.” This is where it all comes to a head right here. You who think you stand as a Christian, you better take heed because there's a possibility that just as Israel fell, a lot of Israelites and Jews fell, so you as God's people can fall today if you're not careful.

There's a story that someone told me one time about rock climbing. In fact, the man who was talking about this, he is actually an owner of his own rock-climbing course. And he said that it's very rare to ever hear of a beginner or a first-timer who is a rock climber to ever fall. It's because they're very careful with what they're doing. They're always looking at their hands, they're noticing where their feet are at, they're each step they take, each time they climb, it's going to be very, very careful. They're watching where they're going. He said it's always those who've done it hundreds of times who think that there's absolutely no way that nothing can happen to them. He said it's those individuals, they're the ones that always fall; they're the ones that get hurt, and in some cases end up killing themselves. Why? Because they didn't take heed. That's how sometimes we can be as Christians. We can be so confident to the point that we think we can never fall and that Satan can never touch us, and that's when we fall from the grace of God. We need to be like we were when we first became a Christian. Very eager to learn, always willing to be corrected, wanting to do only that which God would have us to do. We need to take heed, lest we fall.

Another passage that teaches that we can fall from God's grace is found in 2 Peter 2:20-21. Peter is writing, and again, he's writing to Christians. Keep in mind these letters are being written to saved individuals. And he says, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.” Now look at verse 21. “For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.” The Bible says it would have been better for you to have never known the truth, to have never been a Christian than to have become a Christian and then end up falling from that, and turning away from the truth. The book of Hebrews 3:12, the Hebrews writer warns us. He says, “Beware,” every time you see that word “beware”, we'd better listen to it. I mean, that goes without saying. We need to always be willing to listen to what the Bible has to say and always have an open ear, but especially when you see the word “beware”. If you're driving down the road or if you're walking and you see a sign that says, “beware”, you're going to pay attention to that. Well, let's pay attention to Hebrews 3:12. “Beware,” “beware lest” what? “Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” He says beware, take heed, there's caution. Make sure that you realize you can depart from the living God. Here's a point to be made from Hebrews 3:12. Can you depart from the living God if you were never in the living God to begin with, if you were never in fellowship? Can my fellowship; can I take my fellowship away from God if I never had fellowship to begin with? Absolutely not. If I'm in an airport, I depart from that airport. But if I've never been to that airport, then I can never say I've departed from there. In order to depart from something, you have to be there to begin with. And that's what Hebrews 3:12 says. Beware because you can depart from the living God. Even as a Christian we can fall away.

The Hebrews writer continues in Hebrews 6:4-6, and the Bible says, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and they have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” The Hebrews writer says that it is impossible to renew these individuals who've hardened their hearts if they fall away. Why? Because they keep sinning. When we keep sinning, we can't be right with God. We're going to have to repent and get right with God again. It's not enough just to say well, I'm a Christian, God's accepted me. No. The Bible teaches that it's impossible to renew you if you've got the Spirit in you that's going to continue to sin without changing. And you can get to that point where you have hardened your heart; sere seared your conscience so much more than what it were before that there is no way that you can change. Not because that you don't have choice, but because you've hardened your heart, you've seared your conscience that much.

One of my favorite examples to look at to prove that one can fall from God's grace is by looking at the Book of Life and what the Bible has to say about the Book of Life. In Revelation 21:27 the Bible says, “But there shall no means enter in anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life. In Revelation 21:27 says if you want to go to heaven, the only way to go to heaven is to have your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life. In order to have your name written in the Lamb's book of life, that means that you are a saved individual, you have done what the Bible teaches you have to do in order to be saved. Therefore, you a now written your name is now written in the lamb's book of life. It's like probably you've seen these shows or these movies and someone's trying to go into a restaurant and they said well, your name's not written on the book. Same way. Your name has to be in the book of life, Revelation 21:27. Not only does your name have to be in the book of life, but notice what the Bible teaches is going to happen to you if your name is not written in the Book of Life. Revelation 20:15 says, “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” So if my name is not written in the Book of life, not only am I not going to go to heaven, but the Bible teaches I'm going to be cast in the lake of fire, I'm going to be cast into hell for eternity, Mark 9:42-48. Now you say well, Kevin, what does that have to do with anything? Why is that important for us to understand? Well, look at what Revelation 3:5 says, a letter being written to Christians, and this is what it says. “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” Here we read a letter that the Lord is writing Himself to these Christians. And he says that if you do overcome, if you continue to do the right thing, if you do repent, then I will not blot out your name. What does that mean? That means if they don't change, then the Lord will blot out their name. That means at one point in time they were saved, they were in the book of Life, but now if they do not repent, the Lord will take their name out of the Book of Life, which means they will be lost in hell for eternity. That clearly proves that a Christian can lose their salvation.

There's a couple of parables and stories we can go to. One of those would be found in Mark 4:14-19. Now, even though this is a parable, keep in mind that God never used a non-truth to illustrate a truth. And so someone's argumentation can't be, oh, well, that's a parable. Well, the point of parables is to prove a point, is to illustrate a truth. In Mark 4:14 the Bible says that “the sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, need immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word's sake, immediately they stumble-“ or they fall. Version 18, “Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires of for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.” And so here the Bible teaches that there are going to be individuals, who take the word, they hear the word, they accept the word, but then they end up giving that up. An example of this is Judas. Judas was someone who fell into sin. In Acts 1:25 the Bible says “to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by sin or by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” Here it says he fell from the grace of God because of his sin. Someone who walked with Jesus, someone who followed Him, someone who was around Him, yet even Judas fell from the grace of God and went to his own place. And rest assured you do not want to go to your own place. This is a reference to eternal condemnation because it says he fell from his by his own sin. So we need to look at these examples so that we do not fall into the trap that they did.

Another example of this in the New Testament would be Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:2-3. The Bible says that “he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet.” You see, what they did is they went and sold their possessions so they could give it to the apostles, but they lied to the apostles about how much they were giving them. Verse 3 the Bible says, “Peter said ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?’” When you continue reading in Acts chapter 5, you'll see what happened to them. Well, they ended up dying. The Lord struck them dead immediately for their sin. Why? Well, it shows that they violated God's law even after they became a Christian they sinned, they continued in that, and there was punishment. If we continue in sin, then we fall from God's grace. Romans 6:1-2 makes this crystal clear. The Bible says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” Once you become a Christian, you can't say well, this is wonderful. Now I'm going to keep sinning, and the more I sin, the more God's grace is going to be bestowed upon me. Paul said that's not the case. In fact, if you continue in sin, once becoming a Christian, then you have fallen from God's grace, because God’s grace is not going to continue to cover you.

Think about in Acts chapter 8, Simon the sorcerer. The Bible teaches that Simon was someone who was practicing what they would consider magic. It was fake magic or false magic just so he could get money. He was a great deceiver. But then when he saw the apostles, when he saw Peter, when he saw what the apostles were doing with the miraculous power, he saw what they were doing was real. You couldn't deny that. And so in verse 20 what we see is Peter rebuking Simon because Simon, once he became a Christian, Simon saw what Peter and the other apostles were doing, and Simon wanted to have the power to be able to pass on the miraculous Spirit to other individuals. That's the power that he wanted. And this is what Peter said to him. He said, “Your money perish with you,” now, this is a new convert, keep in mind, someone who was baptized for the forgiveness of sins, new convert. He said “your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!” He goes on to say that “You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.” He said that you're wrong, your money perish with you, you have no part, you have no portion anymore with us. Your heart's not right, and you need to repent to be right with God. That was a Christian. But he fell away.

In 1 Corinthians 5:1-11 the Bible talks about withdrawing from Christians who are no longer faithful. And Paul makes it crystal clear, because he says that he's not talking about someone of the world. Because if we had to withdraw from ourselves everybody who was walking disorderly, then we would have to withdraw ourselves from the world. But he says I'm talking about those Christians, I'm talking at a brother or sister in Christ, someone who at one point in time made the commitment to follow the Lord, was baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, and then later on they fell away and they didn't repent. The Bible says we are to withdraw ourselves from those individuals. Now, if it's the case that once you're saved, you're always saved, then why would passages such as 1 Corinthians 5:1-11 be in the Bible? Well, the answer is they wouldn't be in the Bible. So since they are there, this clearly teaches us that we can fall from God's grace. And when there are Christians, when we read of Christians or when we know about Christians who are living in sin, we don't need to have any fellowship with them. We need to Mark them, Romans 16:17, and we need to avoid them. In the book of Galatians 1:2, Paul was writing an epistle to the churches of Galatia. The Bible says “to all the brethren who are with me to the churches of Galatia.” Paul was writing to all the churches in that area. Once again, who's he writing to? Let's keep it in context. He's writing to Christians. And in Galatians 5:4, look at what Paul says. “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” The Bible is writing to these churches here, and there were individuals who were trying to be justified by the Old Testament law system, and the Bible says when you do that, when you try to be justified by anything other than Christ, you have fallen from the grace of God. When you try to be justified by the Old Testament authority, you've fallen from God's grace. The exact phrase that people say you can want do, you can't fall from God's grace, the Bible teaches that you can fall from God's grace.

Now, we can always repent. There's no doubt about that. But we have to do what it takes in order to be right with God again. The Bible teaches that some will fall from God's grace. In 1 Timothy 1:19 and 2 Timothy 2:17-18, not only is it possible to fall from God's grace, but there will be Christians who actually do fall from God's grace. We read about Hymenaeus and Alexander, Philetus. In 2 Timothy 4:10 we read about a companion of Paul. The Bible says, “For Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world.” You see, Demas was someone who walked with Paul, he followed Paul, he was a Christian, but yet he loved this present world too much. 1 John 2:15-17 teaches that we're not to “love the world or the things in the world”, because if we do, those things will start to take priority over the Lord, and we'll be in violation and we will fall from God's grace.

The Bible teaches that we must remain faithful if we want to go to heaven. This implies that we can fall. Because why would there be admonition and encouragement to remain faithful if it would be impossible to fall away to begin with? So the Bible teaches us that not only is it enough to become a Christian, we must remain faithful. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:15-16, the Bible says, “Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yours and those who hear you.” 1 Timothy 4:15-16 says you need to continue in the doctrine. You need to continue in these things, 2 John 9. We must abide in the doctrine and continue in it. In Matthew 10:22 the Bible says that “you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” We've got to endure to the end. Now in context of Matthew 10, that's the limited commission. But the same principle would be the same for the great commission or the New Testament law that we live under. We must endure till the end. Paul wrote to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:20-21, “O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge-by professing it,” notice this, “some have strayed or erred according to concerning the faith. Grace be with you.” Paul's writing Timothy, says Timothy, you need to guard what you have because there's a lot of folks out there, they are now erring away. They've strayed concerning the faith. In 2 Peter 3:17-18, as Peter is writing, Peter is talking about there would be individuals who twist scripture. There would be perhaps ignorant or unlearned or just following after false doctrines, and because of that they are twisting scripture to their own destruction. And Peter says because of that we need to be careful. We need to make sure that we're not twisting scripture to our own destruction. 2 Peter 3:17-18 the Bible says “You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness,” notice that word. Do what? “Fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked. But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.”

When you become a Christian, you obtain eternal life, and in that, that is the promise of eternal life, 1 John 2:25. But it's not enough just to have that promise. We must make sure that we keep that promise. That promise is conditional. Hebrews 3:14 says, “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.” The Christian life is looked upon as a race. How many of you have seen people run before or seen people race? Or perhaps you have been in a race yourself? Well, just because you enter the race, is that when you quit? Is that when you receive the prize? No. You must continue in the race. You need to make sure that you run it so that you can obtain that crown, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

Well, as we come to a conclusion on our study on refuting the false doctrine of Calvinism, we need to make sure that we're right with God. We need to make sure that we've done what God has told us to do so that we stay far away from false doctrines that will lead us astray so that we won't fall from the grace of God. The Bible teaches in Acts 2:38 that you are to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. If you have yet to obey the truth, then we pray today that you will obey the gospel of Christ.

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(a capella singing)