Chapter 32: MEN CAN FORFEIT THEIR SALVATION
BY TURNING AWAY FROM CHRIST
by George W. DeHoff
Man is created in the image of
God. He became a sinner by going astray from him. Adam and Eve were created
pure, holy and innocent. They were God's children by creation but being in the
image of God, they had the power of choice. They chose to do wrong. The devil
had told them "Ye shall not surely die" (Genesis 3:4) but God has said "The soul
that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20). Adam and Eve were separated from
God because of their sin. Man is a free moral agent before and after conversion
- he is capable of choosing to follow Christ and thus become a Christian. In the
same way, he is capable of choosing to reject our Blessed Lord by refusing to be
faithful to him.
God loves his children and
wants them to be saved. Throughout the Bible - more than 2,000 times God has
warned his children against unfaithfulness, falling away, drifting away and
sometimes outright rejection of their Heavenly Father. If it were impossible for
him to fall away, then all of these warnings would be meaningless. They are
given because God loves us and wants us to go to heaven.
Biblical examples of those who
became children of God and then turned back and were lost are abundant. "God
spared not the angels that sinned but cast them down to hell" (2 Peter 2:4).
Christians are told "Make your calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10). Paul
said, "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians
10:12). The beloved apostle Paul buffeted his body to bring it into subjection
lest that after he had preached to others he himself should be a castaway (1
Corinthians 9:27). Our Lord has told us, "If a man keep my sayings, he shall
never see death" (John 8:51). If we live after the flesh, we shall die but if we
mortify the deeds of the flesh, we shall live (Romans 8:13).
Every Christian has an
obligation to abide in, remain in and continue in the teaching of Christ (1 John
2:24) in order that he may serve God now and go to heaven at the end of the
journey. It is this faithfulness which God's people seek to encourage.
GOD'S EXAMPLE - ISRAEL
The Israelites were God's
children during the Old Testament period. "Ye are the children of the Lord your
God" (Deuteronomy 14:1). They were an holy people unto the Lord. Notice from 1
Corinthians 10:1-10 the many things God said about them: (1) They were baptized
into Moses. (2) They ate spiritual food. (3) They drank spiritual drink. (4)
They were overthrown in the wilderness. (5) They lusted after evil things. (6)
They were idolaters. (7) They committed fornication. (8) They fell - 23,000 in
(9) They tempted Christ. (10)
They murmured. Some were even killed in the very act of fornication (Numbers
25:8). God said that those who are guilty of these works of the flesh cannot be
saved (Galatians 5:19-21).
It is often said that if one is
once a child of God, he is always a child of God. It is possible for a child to
be disinherited. God said he would disinherit his disobedient children. "I will
smite them with pestilence, and disinherit them" (Numbers 14:12). God is
longsuffering and gives his children opportunity to repent but he will by no
means clear the guilty (Numbers 14:18).
What happened to Israel is an
example for us today. We are God's children. He has reserved for us a home in
heaven but he will disinherit us if we prove unfaithful. If we forget God we
will be cast into hell. "My people have forgotten me days without number"
(Jeremiah 2:32). "The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that
forget God" (Psalm 9:7).
THE BOOK OF LIFE
When we become Christians, God
writes our names in the Lamb's Book of Life. "Whose names are in the book of
life" (Philippians 3:13). Our names may be written in prominent places but none
can compare with having them written in heaven. But God will blot out of that
book those who will not do right. "Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I
blot out of my book" (Exodus 32:33). Those whose names are not written in the
book of life will be lost. "And whosoever was not found in the book of life was
cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15). How important it is that we have
our names written in this book by becoming Christians and, then, how very
important that we live in such a way that God will not blot our names out!
God teaches through His Bible
that Christians have eternal life. This everlasting life is in Christ (John
6:40). The Bible is written to cause us to believe and thus have "life through
his name" (John 20:31). Those who will not come to Christ will not have eternal
life (John 5:40).
Christians receive eternal life
in the world to come. While here we are "In hope of eternal life" (Titus 1:2). Eternal life is promised to Christians (1 John 2:25). We receive this life after
the good fight of faith has ended (1 Timothy 6:12). Jesus said this reward is in
the world to come (Mark 10:29-30). Our resurrection from the dead is "unto the
resurrection of life" (John 5:28-29). After the judgment day, the righteous go
away into life eternal (Matthew 25:46).
How wonderful to know that
while we live here we are sowing the seed of the kingdom day by day and that at
the end of the journey, we receive life everlasting (Galatians 6:8).
Here on earth all things are
fragile - we break them, lose them or they wear out. But at the end of the
journey, when the battles have all been fought and the final victory is won, we
receive a crown of life that fadeth not away.
KEEP THE FAITH
It is possible for children of
God to believe the truth, become Christians and later (1) Depart from the faith,
(2) Heed seducing spirits, (3) Take up with doctrines of devils, (4) Speak lies
in hypocrisy and (5) Have their consciences seared (1 Timothy 4:1-2). It is said
concerning some that they have damnation because they have cast off their first
faith (1 Timothy 5:12) and of others that their faith was overthrown (2 Timothy
2:18). Some made shipwreck of faith (1 Timothy 1:19) and others believed for
awhile and then fell away (Luke 8:13).
The Lord cast his own servant
into outer darkness (Matthew 25:14) and took away from the vine those who would
not bear fruit (John 15). Notice these were in the vine - in Christ who is the
vine - and were later taken away by the Lord himself. They were cast into the
God's grace never fails but it
is possible for us to fall from grace (Galatians 5:4). If we could be saved in
that condition, we would be saved without the grace of God!
If a brother sins, he does not
need to be baptized again - he is already God's child. He needs to repent and
pray (Acts 8:22). By walking in the light as given in God's Word, we have
fellowship with other Christians and the blood of Christ cleanses us from all
sin (1 John 1:11). This daily cleansing comes to those who faithfully serve the
Lord. Those who will not serve him, who reject his faith and turn from his
grace, will be finally lost.
Our great task is to remain
faithful to our Blessed Lord and to teach others to love and serve him.
Who was the first to teach man
that he could not lose his salvation? (Genesis 3:4).
Discuss our freedom to make
choices and the possibility of turning away from Christ.
Name some Bible examples of
children of God who fell away and were punished.
Would a loving God actually
disinherit a rebellious child? (See Numbers 14:12).
What would be the consequence
if a Christian's name was blotted out of God's book of life? (Exodus 32:33).
If God's grace never fails, how
could a Christian ever be lost?