Free Will Baptist- an important question

Yesterday I sat down with a pastor from a free will baptist church and had a chance to talk some theology with him.  From what I have heard, Free Will Baptists believe that a person can lose their salvation, so this was an excellent opportunity to learn something different from what I believe. Below is a shortened version of the conversation.

When we got around to the subject, I started with a more fundamental question… “Do you believe that a person is justified when they come to Christ? Are their sins forgiven, past, present and future?”

And he answered, “Yes, I believe a person is totally justified. The death of Christ was sufficient for ALL sin.”

Then I asked, “Do you believe that someone can lose their salvation, and if they can, tell me how that happens?”

He replied, “I believe that a person can backslide to the point that God cuts him off.  And after a person has lost their salvation, they cannot be brought back into a saving relationship with God.”

So I then asked him the big question, “If a person has to maintain a minimum level of personal righteousness to stay in God’s grace, how is that not works righteousness?”

To that he answered, “You bring up a valid concern, but I cannot explain, from a theological standpoint, how these two fit together. There are some things in the Bible that you and I will not be able to fully understand. The Trinity is an example, I will never fully understand the nature of the Trinity. You cannot work your way to heaven, but I do believe that the Bible does teach that someone can lose their salvation, and I have known people that I believed had the fruit of salvation in their lives that walked away from God.”

I do understand his point, but to say that someone can be justified of all their sins and then say they can lose their salvation because of their sin is a contradiction. So what about those people who seeming have the fruit that comes with salvation? There IS another  explanation that does not violate the doctrine of justification.

There are verses in the Bible that indicate a person saved by God, will be kept by God. This doctrine is known as “the perseverance of the saints”. If God is the author of our faith, He will be the finisher of our faith (Heb 7:25).  He is able to keep them from falling and present them faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).

So what about those verses that seem to talk about people falling away from the faith?

These are people who look righeous on the outside but their heart has never been converted. They go through the motions, sometimes with passion and conviction, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones. The inside of the cup is still dirty. These are the Ted Haggards and Ray Boltz of the world.

These people are called hypocrytes, pretenders. And if you know someone who you would have sworn was a Christian,  and they walk away from God, then they were never saved to begin with. When someone is saved by God, they are a new creature with a new heart and new desires. If they go back to the world, then their heart was always with the world.

I think this is what the apostle John meant when he said , “They went out from us, but they were not really of us, for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” (1 Jn 2:19)

–Danny

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Published in: on January 18, 2009 at 2:35 pm  Comments (5)  

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  1. In the parable of the sower, Jesus talks about seeds that spring up, but then wither in the sun. He also mentions seeds that do not take root in good soil, and they wither away. I think the analogy is of the person who seems to make a conversion and is excited for a little while, but never had real faith. They make a profession, seem to “walk the walk” for a short time, then go back to the way they had been before. The seed sprang up, but never took root. This person was never a true believer to begin with.

    I believe a person who receives Christ has his name written in the Book of Life, no power on heaven or eath can remove us from the hand of God. Being able to loose salvation is no better than the Catholic believers who are never certain they really have it in the first place.

  2. I have one problem with the ‘once saved always saved’ theology. I know that I am saved. I trust completely in the death of Jesus as payment for my sins and I know that if I died tonight I would go to be with God. However according to your statements, if I decided, ‘right Ive had it with being a Christian, God, im living my own way from now on!’ and proceeded to do so, ignoring God and my conscience and living blatantly in sin, then i would still be saved?? I don’t believe that i would be – because I would be living in unrepentant sin. However just because I have a choice to do this, doesn’t mean that I am not saved currently… While I would have to be completely balmy to make this kind of a decision I believe that I still have the free choice to make it…

  3. The problem with that argument is that salvation is left up to the person. A person is saved by their “decision”. But the bible says that God saves people. He changes them from the inside and makes them a new creature. It even goes so far as to tell us that God “keeps” them by His power.(jhn 6:44,10:29,11:26;Phil 1:6;Heb 7:25,12:2;Jude 24;Ps 37:23-24;Prov 2:8) So what do we do with all the verses that seem to indicate that a person can walk away from their faith? Well, if I TRULY believed my car had bomb under the driver seat, I wouldn’t drive it. If my beliefs are superficial, they will fade away in time. Your true beliefs govern your actions. If you think rape is wrong, you wont do it, now or ever. If go back to sin, then you didn’t really see anything wrong with it in the first place. You might have been influenced by something but no real substance was there. (1 john 2:19) If I have truly seen my sin and know the horrible price that Christ suffered to redeem me, I can’t trample the very blood of my savior that is so precious to me.
    –Danny

  4. Well, yes, our beliefs do govern our actions, but not always… plenty of people do things they believe and know are wrong. I have. That’s why we need to repent.
    But back to the ‘once saved always saved’ question.
    Hebrews 6:4-6 talks about those who have ‘been enlightened’, ‘have tasted of the heavenly gift’, ‘were partakers of the Holy Ghost’, ‘have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come’. It seems to be making the point that these people were really saved….BUT, if they shall fall away, it is impossible ‘to renew them again unto repentance’.
    Is this not talking about those who were once saved falling away?
    To me it seems that, yes, God is able to save us and keep us, and no power can snatch us out of His hand… but does that preclude us choosing to turn away from him and ‘jump out of His hand’ of our own will?
    Also, in verses such as 2 Pet 1:10 “..give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things ye shall never fall” and Jude 21 “Keep yourselves in the love of God..”, 1Jn2:28 “abide in Him”, 2Pet 3:17 “Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” we are urged to do something (give diligence to, keep ourselves, abide, beware) in order not to fall away. These and similar verses all seem to point to it being possible to be saved but then to fall away. These verses were all addressed to Christians – to people who were saved.

    I don’t agree with the pastor you talked to, Danny, who said “a person can backslide to a point where God cuts him off.” That seems to imply that if a person is so slack and drifts into enough sinfulness then God will ‘cut him off’ and be done with him. ie. if we’re not good enough we won’t be saved. Well, I’m so glad I don’t have to be good enough to be saved. None of us would ever be saved if such were the case. But it seems to me that mucking up and falling into sin a bit, and repenting, is a different thing from making a conscious choice to turn away from God – to ‘jump out of his hand’.

    I also find 2 Phil 12-13 interesting. It makes the point that God works in us, but it also says “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” . What does this mean exactly?
    -Sue

  5. Sue, you bring up some great points that we need to look into. Taking Heb 6:4-6 alone without any other scripture does seem to imply that people can lose their salvation, but those who were healed by Jesus were partakers of the Holy Ghost but that does not mean that they were necessarily saved. Scripture tells us that Judas Iscariot was NOT a believer, but you can ascribe all of those things in Heb 6:4-6 to him. I can see both sides when talking about this passage so I would personally want a more clear verse.

    Another good point you brought up is the call to stay in Christ, making it seem that we can fall out of Christ if we don’t stay diligent. These verses are to those who CLAIM to be Christians. I cannot see a person’s heart, only their fruit. If evidence of salvation comes from a life spent growing in Holiness and submitting to God, then those who come to God with a wrong motive WILL fall away. When you view the parable of the sower (Mark 4) with this perspective, then you see how people who fall away were never truly regenerated in the first place. There is a VERY clear verse that I cling to that says, if God begins a good work in a person, He will complete it in that day.

    I believe 2Phil 12-13 is telling his readers to do the same thing that 1John goes into detail about, and that is- this is what a true Christian is, this is what to look for to know that you are in Christ. Work out you own salvation, make you calling and election sure. We are so easily fooled by our feelings or our traditions that we need God to testify for us that we are saved.
    Thank you for your input.
    –Danny


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