Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 8, 1962
NUMBER 27, PAGE 1,5,13b

Calvinistic Conceptions Considered --- (3)

Hoyt H. Houchen

The Impossibility Of Apostasy

This Calvinistic conception stems from the old doctrine of predestination and foreordination and unconditional election. It is a relic of the theory that God decreed before the world began that a certain elect number should be saved and a number as certain and fixed could not be saved, the number cannot be increased or diminished, having been determined of God, irrevocably and unalterably before the foundation of the world. In substance, it is the idea that the sinner cannot do anything to be saved and the saved cannot do anything to be lost. Naturally, then, a study of the impossibility of apostasy or the security of the believer involves the question: Can a child of God so sin so as to finally be lost?

The question under consideration has to do with the child of God. It is not God that we are discussing, but a child of God. We readily recognize that God can do all things. We do not question God's power, God's mercy, God's love, God's goodness, or God's faithfulness. God has the power to keep a man saved, but does he exercise that power? Is man a free moral agent, or is he a mere object in God's hand only to be moved by God's impulse? Is salvation conditional or unconditional? Is there anything that man himself can do so as to finally be lost? These are the questions that challenge our thinking at this time. If the child of God is not a free moral agent, then it boils down to the fact that the child of God is unable to disbelieve, he is unable to act according to his own choice, he does not have the power to think an evil thought or a good thought, he does not have the power to be lost because God would not allow him to be lost. This is the position that must be adhered to by those who hold to the Calvinistic conception that a child of God cannot so sin so as to finally be lost.

The unconditional security of the believer, like the other concepts already considered, is not new. It is as old as the garden of Eden. It originated when the serpent came to Eve and said, "Ye shall not surely die." (Gen. 3:4) God had already pronounced the curse of death upon Adam in the day that he would eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In Gen. 2:16,17; God said to the man: "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." This was not physical death, for Adam did not die physically in the day that he ate of the tree for he lived several hundred years after this. It is true that his body entered a state of physical deterioration, but the death that he died in the day that he violated God's command was a spiritual death. The basic meaning of death is "separation." Before one is converted to Christ he is said to be "dead in trespasses and sins." (Eph. 2:1,2) He is alive physically, but he is separated from God, he is dead spiritually. When man sinned he died---he was separated spiritually from God on the very day that he ate of the forbidden tree. Spiritual life is union with God; spiritual death is separation from God, so from the account of the origin of sin we learn that it was man himself who separated from God. God had the power to prohibit man from sinning, but the fact is God did not exercise that power because man was created as a free moral agent. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die." (Ezek. 18:20)

We do not argue that salvation is not dependent upon faith. One must have faith in coming to God. (Heb. 11:6) It is that faith that leads one to repent of his sins (Acts 2:38), to confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God (Acts 8:37; Rom. 10:10), and to be baptized into Christ. (Gal. 3:27) It is then by faith that the child of God must live. But what may happen to the faith of the child of God? Paul wrote to Timothy, 1 Tim. 1:19, "holding faith and a good conscience; which some having thrust from them made shipwreck concerning the faith." Paul also warned Timothy that some could depart from the faith. He wrote in 1 Tim. 4:1, "But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times, some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons." Paul also wrote that the faith can be denied. "But if any provideth not for his own, and specially his own household, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever." (1 Tim. 5:8) The King James version reads "infidel." If a man denies the faith he is worse than an infidel. If, therefore, a child of God who has denied the faith cannot be finally lost, then we have God saving a man who is worse than an infidel. But furthermore, Paul wrote that we may cast off the faith. "But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith." (1 Tim. 5:11,12) Too, our faith can be overthrown. 2 Tim. 2:16-18: "But shun profane babblings: for they will proceed further in ungodliness, and their word will eat as doth a gangrene: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; men who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already, and overthrow the faith of some." Summarizing; the foregoing scriptures we learn that a child of God may make "shipwreck of the faith," he may "cast off the faith," he may "depart from the faith," he may "deny the faith," and he may "overthrow the faith." Although faith is a condition of salvation, in view of what the child of God himself may do, it is obvious that his salvation is conditional.

The child of God is warned against falling. Paul feared that after preaching to others he might even lose his reward. He wrote in 1 Cor. 9:27, "but I buffet my body, and bring it into bondage: lest by any means, after that I have preached to others, I myself should be rejected." Paul recognized that his body could become the instrument of sin; therefore, he says: "I buffet my body." It is contended by those who subscribe to the doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy on the part of the child of God that when the child of God commits sin it is only his body that sins; he sins outwardly, but not inwardly. In Mk. 7:21-23 Jesus said: "For from within, out of the heart of men, evil thoughts proceed, fornication, thefts, murders, adulteries, covetings, wickedness's, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, railing, pride, foolishness: all these evil things proceed from within, and defile the man." The body is the instrument of sin and the outward acts of the body result from our thoughts from within. When the child of God walks by the spirit he does not sin. "But I say, Walk by the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Gal. 5:16) Paul also wrote in Horn. 8:1, 2: "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit." For whom is there no condemnation? For those who walk not after the flesh but after the spirit. Paul feared that he might lose his reward, that he might be rejected, therefore, he buffeted his body, the same thing that must be done by all children of God today. The salvation of the child of God is conditional.

Children of God are warned against falling. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 10, we have one of the plainest warnings to show that a child of God can so sin so as to finally be lost. The Israelites fell in the wilderness and lost their inheritance because they lusted after evil things, they committed Idolatry, they committed fornication, they made trial of the Lord, and they murmured. Five specific sins are listed in this passage as having been committed by the Israelites. As a result, they did not enter into the land of Canaan. Then Paul, addressing children of God, gave this solemn warning: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." The Israelites failed to enter Canaan, they did not receive their reward; we can so sin so as to lose our reward. The lesson is plain enough that a child of God can so sin so as to finally be lost. But what caused the Israelites to sin? It was unbelief. "And we see that they were not able to enter in because of unbelief." (Heb. 3:19) We have this warning in Heb. 4:1, "Let us fear therefore, lest haply a promise being left of entering into his rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it." Then, Peter addressing children of God, wrote: "Be sober, be watchful: your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour."

We are not only warned against falling, but we are given the very things to avoid to keep from falling. Notice James 5:12, "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by the heaven, nor by the earth, nor by any other oath: but let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay; that ye fall not under judgment." We read In 2 Peter 3:17, "Ye therefore, beloved, knowing these things beforehand, beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own steadfastness."

Children of God are warned against falling, we have examples where they did fall, we are told what things to avoid to keep from falling, and then we have the law of pardon to which we must submit if we do fail. Simon was a baptized believer. When he sinned, Peter commanded him to "Repent therefore of this thy wickedness and pray the Lord, if perhaps the thought of thy heart shall be forgiven thee." (Acts 8.22) This is the law of pardon to the erring child of God. Jesus Christ is the advocate through whom he can pray. John wrote, "My little children, these things write I unto you that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (1 John 2:1,2)

In these essays, we have not attempted to delve into all the considerations, arguments and ramifications of the Calvinistic conceptions, but rather we have endeavored to state the doctrines, clarify the issues, and then proceed to a simple, forthright, and positive declaration of what the word of God teaches. We pray that by this effort, points of interest and benefit have been brought to the reader.

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