Books of Bible
Possibility of Fatal Apostasy
By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs
A. Some insist that it is impossible for a child of God to sin and
so sin as to be eternally lost. According to this view, once a
person is saved he is always saved.
B. Churches identified with either the Protestant or Anglican
1. God predestined who is to be saved and who is to be lost.
2. Babies are born totally depraved and therefore can do no
right thing. Whatever they do is evil--sinful!
3. Those whom God has chosen to salvation will receive an
experience of grace, consisting of a direct outpouring of
the Holy Spirit into their heart granting to them the
unmerited gift of repentance, faith, and salvation. This
experience is sometimes called enabling grace.
4. When lost, the sinner was helpless. When saved, the redeemed
cannot be lost.
C. The Bible teaches:
1. Babies are born into a sinful world but are not charged with
the guilt of sin, having done nothing either right or wrong.
The baby grows into maturity and along the way understands
the difference between right and wrong. He does wrong and
refuses right, and becomes sinful by his own choice.
2. The mature, lost person can hear the gospel (Rom. 1:16;
1 Cor. 1:21). He can believe as a result of hearing the
evidence (Rom. 10:17). The believer can repent (Acts 17:30).
The penitent believer is commanded to be baptized to have
his sins washed away (Acts 22:16).
3. The alien sinner can be saved as a result of obedient faith.
The saved person also has the power to disobey, or ignore
and reject (Acts 13:46), the gospel, and be lost.
4. Each person is responsible for his condition, whether lost
or saved; therefore, he is accountable for his actions.
II. Possibility of Apostasy.
A. Some say a saved person cannot be lost.
1. "Whosoever is begotten of God doeth no sin, because his
seed abideth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is
begotten of God" (1 John 3:9).
2. This is the main proof-text for those advocating the
impossibility of fatal apostasy.
3. John also says, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive
ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our
sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins,
and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that
we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not
in us" (1 John 1:8-10).
4. Also, "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).
(a) Do the verses contradict?
(b) If the person who is begotten of God cannot sin, how
is it possible for the born again person to sin?
5. Meaning of the word cannot.
(a) Cannot does not always mean impossible.
(b) The case of Joseph in Egypt: he told his half-brothers
to bring his full-brother Benjamin to Egypt: His half-
brothers answered, "The lad cannot leave his father"
(c) Cannot here does not mean impossible, but it means
ought not, should not, it is not best. If he leaves
his father and misfortune befalls him, his father will
go down to his grave in sorrow. The risk is too great
is the meaning of the brothers when they say, "The lad
6. We often use the word cannot to mean should not.
(a) Example: Someone suggests we do a wrong thing, and we
answer, "I cannot do that because I am a Christian."
We of course are saying not that it is impossible to
do the thing proposed, but I must not do it in view of
my Christian commitment.
B. The Bible offers forgiveness to the sinful child of God.
1. "If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have
fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son
cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).
2. This forgiveness is not automatic.
(a) Forgiveness is always conditioned upon repentance and
confession (James 5:16; Matt. 5:23-24; 1 John 1:9).
3. Forgiveness belongs to those who walk in the light, and who
confess their sins. The confession implies repentance.
(a) Note the scope of the forgiveness--all sin. There is
no sin the blood of Jesus cannot cleanse, provided the
conditions are met.
4. If it is impossible for a child of God to sin and so sin as
to be eternally lost in hell, then why offer forgiveness to
the penitent believer who confesses his sins. Why be
concerned about receiving forgiveness of something that
cannot condemn us?