"Once Saved, Always Saved"
"Rev. Mack Jones," of Baytown, Texas, writes a weekly column in his church bulletin entitled, "From Your Pastor's Heart." From it, we extract the following:
"We are often questioned about the eternity of our belief. People want to know if God will disown them. The emphatic answer is, no! By no means will God ever disown one of his children. Heb. 7:25 states this very clearly; 'Hence, also, he is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them' (NAS). We are saved forever. We draw near to God through Christ, and He makes intercession for us. This gives us great assurance of our faith in Christ" (Wooster Baptist Church Messenger, Vol. 29, Number 8, 2/20/01).
It is to be doubted that folks question "the eternity of (their) belief." Faith, like hope, is not eternal. Both shall be swallowed up in the possession of "life and immortality" brought to fruition and completion. However, we shall let that pass and deal with the main thrust of Mack's message.
(1) Observe this stark contrast between the word of the spirit of Jones and the word of the Spirit of Jesus:
Mr. Jones said, "People want to know if God will disown them. The emphatic answer is, no! By no means will God ever disown one of his children."
The Bible says, "I will smite them...and disinherit them" (Numbers 14:12). "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered: and men gather them, can cast them into the fire, and they are burned" (John 15:6). "If we deny him, he will also deny us" (2 Timothy 2:12). "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off" (Romans 11:22).
God will "Disinherit, cast forth, deny, and cut off" some of his children. This cannot be speaking of the unsaved, for they have no inheritance and are already denied and cut off (John 3:18). Thus, God will, contrary to Mr. Jones' claim, "disown" his disobedient children. Jones says, "He won't." God says he will. Whom do you believe?
(2) As proof of his contention that God will never "disown one of his children," Mr. Jones refers to Hebrews 7:25, "Hence, also, he is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."
The passage is not disputed, nor is its teaching denied. It is certain that God will "save forever those who draw near to God through Him" (Christ). With that we are in complete agreement. There is no difference between us on that point.
However, that is not the question at issue. Mr. Jones believes, and Baptist doctrine teaches, that God will "save forever" those who cease to "draw near to God." He says that God "By no means will ever disown one of his children," even if they quit drawing near to God. Hebrews 7:25 makes no such promise to such people.
It is indeed possible for one who once drew near to God to depart - "many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him" (John 6:66). "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12). Remember, there is absolutely no way that a child of God who draws near to God will ever be disowned. Jones is right about that, but what of those who, instead of drawing near, turn and "draw back, or fall away? What of them? "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul" (Hebrews 10:38, 39).
Conclusion: Those who "draw near," God will "save forever," but those who "draw back" do so "unto perdition," or destruction.
(3) Other passages in the book of Hebrews show that Jones is wrong when he says that a child of God will not be disowned, no matter how he lives. Even if we did not know how to explain Hebrews 7:25, we would know that the Baptist doctrine of "once saved, always saved," is false. As proof thereof, note the following passages in Hebrews.
"Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him" (Hebrews 2:1-3).
"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God" (Hebrews 3:12).
"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it" (Hebrews 4:1).
"Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief" (Hebrews 4:11).
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins. But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace" (Hebrews 10:26-29)?
"Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled (Hebrews 12:15).
These passages show us that Hebrews 7:25 does not teach that a child of God cannot, under any circumstances, be disowned. There is perfect harmony between these texts and that of 7:25. As long as one draws near to God, he is "saved forever," but if one ceases to believe, departs from God and is "defiled," a punishment worse than death awaits him!
(4) It is at this point that someone will say, "But, the Lord said the child of God is 'saved forever.' When he says that, he cannot turn and disown that person."
Well, let us see that God means when he says a man is saved and will not be lost. Let us ask him, "Lord, when you say a man is saved, are you saying that he cannot be lost, no matter what else occurs? Is that what you are saying?" Hear the Lord's answer to our question:
"When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it (Ezekiel 33:13). From this text, we learn what the Lord means when he says the righteous man "shall surely live." He does not mean that he will live, no matter what he does, or how he lives. Rather, the Lord said that when I say he will surely live, "if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it."
Consider the reverse. God says the wicked shall surely perish. He says the wicked will be lost forever (John 3:36). Do Baptists believe that because God says the wicked are condemned that they cannot be saved? Certainly, not! So, as we all believe that though the wicked are said to be doomed, we know that if they turn they can be saved. Likewise, though the righteous are said to be saved, they will be lost if they turn back into sin (Romans 11:22).
"At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. And at what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it; If it do evil in my sight, that it obey not my voice, then I will repent of the good, wherewith I said I would benefit them (Jeremiah 18:7-10).
Language could not be plainer to one who believes what the Lord said. To those who are wedded to a doctrine rather than love for the truth, nothing will suffice to convince their hardened hearts (2 Thessalonians. 2:10-12).
First, let it be noted by those who say we are "answering questions no one is asking," that this Baptist preacher says he is "often questioned" about this topic. We know the answer he gives, and the danger it represents. If our brethren who think we ought not to deal directly with such issues had taught the truth on the subject, perhaps there would be fewer souls turning to men like "Pastor Mack" for answers.
Second, some find fault with reviews of this nature. They speak of how they sincerely appreciate the truth, but they "just wish" it had not been done in such a "dogmatic," or "bigoted," or "legalistic," or "pharisaical," or "narrowminded" (take your pick) manner.
Will those folks reprimand Mr. Jones for his plain, unequivocal avowals of his position? Note his "dogmatic and judgmental" reply to the question, "Will God ever disown one of his children?" Without testing the winds, without any sympathy for the "heartfelt feelings" of those who may disagree with him, the "Rev. Jones" says, "The emphatic answer is, no! By no means will God ever disown one of his children." Now, that is bold and direct! When he states his position in clear and certain terms, allowing no space for a contrary view, he receives no rebuke. Why, then, are we criticized and condemned when we take an equally steadfast stance? Why is it right for a false teacher to state his error boldly and directly but wrong for us to oppose it in the same way?
Third, will those who know how to answer such men as Mr. Jones please do so? They say they agree with us. They say we are teaching the truth, but they think we are not doing it as it ought to be done. That is fine. Let our critics, then, do the work. Let them give the answers as they should be given. I shall be happy to step aside and let them say what should be said in the way it should be said. Any takers?
These final points may be seen as unnecessary and cited as proof of a well meaning, but misguided, malevolent spirit. Again, if that be so, let well meaning, but correctly guided, benevolent spirits take over and handle aright the word of truth.
The truth is that there is an attitude which looks down in disgust at contending for the faith. They believe that answering denominational doctrines is a disservice to the work of the Lord and that doing it demeans and diminishes us before the world. This spirit is at home declaring their despising of "our traditions," but God forbid that they should dirty themselves by uprooting the traditions of men. They regale shallow, superficial spirituality with their mocking disdain of "brotherhood watchdogs," making fun of those who endure hardness as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.
Beware of this popular, people pleasing spirit. It will not teach your children the difference between human religion and divinely revealed faith. It will not teach your grandchildren the exclusive, distinct nature of the church Jesus bled and died for. As it was before the days of Moses in Egypt when a king arose that "knew not Joseph," so it will be among us that a generation will arise that knows neither Joseph, Jehovah, nor Jesus.
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