In all humbleness, I feel you should stop teaching about things you don't fully undertand. You clearly don't understand God's salvation plan as much as you think you do and you fall into the danger of teaching wrong doctrine. I'm not going to be all puffed up and tell you where you are wrong but to think that someone will be rejected by God just because they fell out of faith somewhere along the way is to totally misrepresent God's truth. Just to sum it up Ralph, eternal life is a gift, given to those who believe in Jesus "from the foundation of the world". Eternal life isn't something we look forward to, it's something we either have right now or we don't and eternal life has absolutely nothing to do with anything you do or don't do... you can't add or remove anything to that perfect plan that has been in place before the world began. Trust me, I know how we live our lives will determine how we are rewarded in heaven but not whether we get there or not. I suggest you read a book by Charles Stanley called "Eternal Security". I hope you do some research and be sure and totally convinced before you teach what you are teaching.
WIth Love and grace
My response is in Green:
You know Brother, your letter offended me. Not that you disagreed with me, that is okay, but your attitude offended me. You assume that I have not done any research, or that I am ignorant of the Bible. I take exception to that. You came from a page which had a link to another section of my site. That other section has 24 pages which discuss this issue. On those pages as well as on the page that you mailed me from I use Scripture to back up my point. You on the other hand suggest that I read a book by Charles Stanley. So are you saying that I should follow what Stanley says and quit looking at the Bible?
I will not read Stanley's book, I have read parts of it and I totally disagree with his stance. You said you were not going to get all puffed up and show me where I was wrong. Yet you go ahead and claim I am wrong without showing anything, I find that insulting. Again I don't have a problem with you disagreeing with my position, but I dislike the way you went about trying to show your disagreement.
You tell me I am in danger of teaching wrong doctrine, so let me ask you a question. What does it matter if I am teaching wrong doctrine? I am not trying to be funny, I am serious. I am teaching people that they must continue in the faith and live holy lives as commanded by God (1 Peter 1:15-16 NIV)  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." and if they stumble as we all do, that they must confess those sins and get right with God. Okay, say I am wrong, who have I hurt? Is it a burden to follow what Christ taught? (1 John 5:3-5 NIV)  This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,  for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (emphasis added)
But now let me ask you another question. What if Charles Stanley is wrong and it does matter if you walk away from the faith? Would that hurt anyone? What is the danger of telling people that they can live any way they want once they have been saved? Let me show you what God says: (Hebrews 10:26-27 NIV)  If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,  but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Sure you and Stanley can claim those passages only have to do with rewards, but "a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire" is certainly more than a loss of rewards. Or you can claim that the author of Hebrews was speaking to non-believers, but that makes no sense either.
(2 Peter 1:5-11 NIV)  For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge;  and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness;  and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.
 Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall,  and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Look carefully at the passage I just quoted. Does it give you pause at all to read in verse 9 "cleansed from his past sins" or do you just ignore that? Why didn't Peter just say "cleansed from his sins?" Then look at verse 10, "make your calling and election sure." I thought you said there was nothing we could do either way, so why would Peter write that? Then why does he say "if" you do this you will never fall? Surely you understand the plain implication that if you don't you might fall.
(Galatians 5:2-4 NIV)  Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.  Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.  You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.
Why would Paul tell Christians that if they allow themselves to be circumcised Christ will be of no value to them at all? How can that be? Why would he tell them that trying to be justified by the law would alienate them from Christ and make them fall away from grace? You said there was nothing we could do that would change anything, yet Paul clearly says that if we try to be justified by the law we will fall away from grace and Christ will be of no value to us. Again that cannot be referring to rewards.
(Matthew 13:41-42 NIV)  The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil.  They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Notice that it says "all who do evil" not just those who have not been forgiven in the past. This passage goes hand in hand with the one about deliberately sinning.
(1 John 1:9 NIV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Why are we told that God will forgive us our sins if we confess them if they are already forgiven? After all this is what God says about His forgiveness: (Hebrews 10:17 NIV) Then he adds: "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more." Why would be be instructed to bring up something that God has already forgiven and says He will never remember again?
(Mark 9:42-48 NIV)  "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.  If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.  And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.  And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,  where "'their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.'"
Look at this passage very carefully and tell me, is Jesus speaking to believers or non-believers? Let me help you answer that. If Jesus is speaking to non-believers then He is telling them that the only way to heaven is by not sinning, He never mentions having faith in Him. I am sure we can both agree that we get to heaven by having our sins forgiven, not by no longer sinning while we are still sinners. Now if He is speaking to believers, which the context of the passage shows that He is, then don't you think it strange that He would tell them to do whatever it takes to keep from sinning because it is better than ending up in hell?
(Matthew 6:14-15 NIV)  For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Again the context of this passage shows that Jesus was speaking to believers. The fact that He says "your heavenly Father" shows it is directed at believers. Now if our sins are already forgiven; past, present and future, how can what Jesus said be true? Here is another question, if these people (believers) whose sins are not forgiven still get into heaven does that mean there will be unforgiven sin in heaven? Can you really believe that?
(John 11:25 NIV) Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies..."
Doesn't the word "believes" show present belief, not past belief? So what if the person no longer believes, is the promise still true for them? I say no it isn't, because the person no longer believes.
(Revelation 3:4-6 NIV)  Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.  He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
Again I ask you to look carefully at this passage. Jesus says that there are a few people who have not soiled their clothes and they are the ones who will walk with Him. Now the question is, what is He talking about? What are those clothes that they have not soiled. It is obvious that more than just them had those same clothes because only a few did not soil them. Could it possibly be that Jesus is saying these few have never sinned? Of course not; the Bible tells us that we are all sinners. He also does not say that these few have had their clothes cleaned, rather that they have not soiled them. So either they have never sinned, which is un-biblical, or their clothes must represent their salvation. So if their clothes represent salvation then the clothes of those who have soiled their clothes must also represent salvation, yet they will not walk with Him dressed in white. Does that give you any reason to rethink your position?
I do not disagree that Salvation is a free gift which we cannot earn. But let me give you an analogy. You are in a river drowning. A boat pulls up and the person inside tells you that if you will just say you want to be saved he will pull you into the boat. You say yes and he does pull you out of the river. You have been saved. After a few minutes you stick one finger in the water, then a few minutes later your whole hand, then your arm, then your shoulder, and sure enough you fall overboard and are back in the river.
The river represents sin, the boat represents salvation and the man represents Jesus Christ (our only hope). Was salvation a free gift? Did he take it away from you? Were you never really in the boat because you eventually fell back out? Did your falling out make it so that it was not really a free gift to start with? Was it his fault that you decided to play back in the water and fell out? Were you truly saved when in the boat and truly lost when outside the boat?
(James 5:19-20 NIV)  My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back,  remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
Why would James call someone who has wandered from the faith a sinner unless that is again what they are? Notice too that he says "bring him back." You cannot come back to something unless you had it in the first place. Nor can you come back to something you never left.
(Matthew 24:12-13 NIV)  Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,  but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Whether we like it or not, we must stand firm to the end to be saved. I didn't say it, Jesus said it and we need to preach it and heed it ourselves.
Let me tell you, I have studied this and I am totally sure and totally convinced of my position. I could give you many more passages which show that we need to continue following Christ, it is not a one time, one moment thing, it is a continuing walk.
Just because we agree that Salvation is a free gift which we cannot earn, does not mean that you can never give it back or walk away from it. I would encourage you to put Stanley's book down and open up your Bible and reread these passages and the rest of the Bible with an open heart and mind. Believe what it says, not what someone has to 'explain' that it says.
E-Mail Ralph (whose comments are in green)