Your idea that a peson who falls from grace can repent is un-biblical.

Dear Ralph,

The first thing I should say is that I agree with you as regards your view that a Christian can fall away and give back their salvation (I am a part of a Wesleyan Methodist fellowship). However, I am somewhat concerned that you seem to have the unfortunately very common, but nonetheless un-Biblical idea, that it is possible for someone who has fallen away and lost their salvation, to regain it again. I have attached below an excerpt from one of your web pages, in which you appear to tell someone that they have presently fallen away and lost their salvation, but that they can now regain it if they will turn to the Lord. It seems very clear to me from Heb. 6:4-8 and Heb. 10:26-29, that once a person has lost their salvation, they can never regain it under any circumstances whatsoever. It is "game over". These verses seem pretty clear to me. "For it is impossible to ... renew them again unto repentance", and "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins". Unfortunately many Christians seem to have the idea that someone can be saved and then not saved and then saved and then not saved and so on bouncing back and forth like a yo-yo. I would respectfully say that I do not believe that to be true.

My reply is below:


Thank you for writing me. I guess you know that I disagree with your interpretation of these two passages. I will try to explain why I disagree. First let me start with the second passage which I will quote here:

(Hebrews 10:26-29 NIV) [26] If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, [27] but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. [28] Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. [29] How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

The problem here is misunderstanding what the passage says. I would agree that the person described here cannot be saved, but why? The reason is that the person is 'continuing' to deliberately sin. That is the problem. It does not say that anyone who deliberately sins and then repents can't be saved, it is talking about someone who 'keeps' on sinning. Why would someone who deliberately keeps on sinning not be fearful of judgment? Only if they believe in OSAS.

Now let's go back to the first passage, which is different and not as easily explained. Let me lay the ground work here. We will almost always fall into error if we take one passage out of the Bible and make a doctrinal stand on it. God is not the author of confusion, which means you need to check each idea against others in His word. If you find something that seems to contradict something else in the Bible, then you can be sure that you have misunderstood one or the other of the passages, because God's word is consistent. So the first thing we need to do is see if anywhere else in Scripture a person who has turned away from the faith can come back.

(Joel 2:12-13 NIV) [12] "Even now," declares the LORD, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." [13] Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity.

(Amos 4:6-10 NIV) [6] "I gave you empty stomachs in every city and lack of bread in every town, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. [7] "I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld it from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up. [8] People staggered from town to town for water but did not get enough to drink, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. [9] "Many times I struck your gardens and vineyards, I struck them with blight and mildew. Locusts devoured your fig and olive trees, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD. [10] "I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt. I killed your young men with the sword, along with your captured horses. I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps, yet you have not returned to me, declares the LORD."

These two examples come from the Old Testament, but I am sure you would agree God never changes. In both of them He talks about His people coming back to Him. They had rejected Him in favor of all kinds of pagan gods, yet He was calling them back.

(James 5:19-20 NIV) [19] My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, [20] remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

Wander from the faith. Notice too that James says the person who turns him back has saved a sinner. This would be a direct contradiction of the passage in Hebrews if your interpretation is correct.

(Romans 11:17-24 NIV) [17] If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, [18] do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. [19] You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." [20] Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. [21] For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
[22] Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. [23] And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. [24] After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

They can be grafted back in, if they don't continue in unbelief.

(1 Corinthians 5:4-5 NIV) [4] When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, [5] hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

Here is another example where OSAS teaches this man was not lost, yet it is obvious that Paul wants him handed over to Satan so that it will shock him into coming back. If he could not come back, why bother mentioning saving his spirit?

So as you see there are clear passages which would contradict the meaning you place on the passage from Hebrews. Let me quote that passage now:

(Hebrews 6:4-8 NIV) [4] It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, [5] who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, [6] if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
[7] Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. [8] But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

Since we can be sure there is no contradiction in Scripture then we have to look and see if maybe we are not seeing something. I believe that is exactly the problem here. Who was the book of Hebrews written to? Jews of course, that is why it is called Hebrews. I would agree that this is referring to a true believer. But what exactly is it talking about? Is it just talking about someone who falls away? I don't think so. Remember that Hebrews is one letter. We have chapters but those were added afterward. The original letter was one long letter, with no chapter breaks. So you have to take it as a whole. In the chapters leading up to chapter 6 the author explains how Jesus is the Messiah, how He is a high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

As I said remember these were Jews. They all grew up under the Law. Most of their families and friends would have been non-believers who still followed the Law. They were being tempted to go back and be justified by the Law. It might have been because they felt pressure from friends and family or maybe because they wanted to make sure they covered all the bases. Whatever the reason the point is that if they, after placing faith in the completed work of Jesus Christ, then go back and try to be justified by keeping the Law they are in effect rejecting Christ as insufficient to save them. Then if they were to want to come back to Christ, they would have to resacrifice Him, because they have rejected His first sacrifice.

If that interpretation is true, then we should see other such statements in other passages. So let's see if we do:

(Galatians 5:2-4 NIV) [2] Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. [3] Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. [4] You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

This passage says exactly the same thing. If they, after placing faith in Christ, then go and try to be justified by the Law, Christ is of no value to them. We know that Paul also says in other places that circumcision or non-circumcision means nothing, so he is not talking about the physical act of circumcision, but rather the spiritual implications of the act when they do it to keep the Law and be justified by it.

So you see it has nothing to do with a person wandering from the faith and losing their salvation, it has to do with people who make a deliberate decision to reject the sacrifice of Christ and be to be justified before God in another way.

The person who wanders away and becomes a lost sinner again, is like the Prodigal son, who when he came to his senses came back to his father and asked for forgiveness. The person is a lost sheep that the Shepherd goes out to find and bring back. This makes it very consistent with the other passages. There is no contradiction at all.

Wandering from the truth and becoming a sinner is not the same thing as rejecting the sacrifice of Christ. If it was, then again there would be a clear contradiction in Scripture and we know there is not.

Ralph

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