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And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:32

Possibility of Fatal Apostasy

By H. A. (Buster) Dobbs
I.  Introduction.
    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 
        Reformation teach:
        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" 
                  (Gen. 44:22).
             (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 
                  cannot come."
         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?

H. A. "Buster" Dobbs, email:
P. O. Box 690192
Houston, Texas 77269-0192
(281) 469-3540

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