False Hope

A man with hands on his head and the sun shining through

Did you know that it is possible to believe a lie?  It is true!  Yet, just because I believe something, that does not make it so.  As you can imagine, there are numerous problems that can arise with such instances.  The worst of these problems is when there are spiritual consequences.  Right now, because they have believed a falsehood, there are many individuals who are living with false hope.  The untruth that has been propagated and embraced is known as “perseverance of the saints”.  It is one of the five basics tenets of what is collectively called “Calvinism”.  It is probably more known by another designation, which is “once saved, always saved”.  The idea is that a “saved” individual cannot do anything to cause himself to once again be “lost”.  While I have stated that this doctrine is false, let us examine the Scriptures for proof of its error.

            First of all, we will notice a segment of Scriptures from the book of Colossians.  Writing to his spiritual brethren, Paul mentioned, “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:  If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister” (Col. 1:21-23).  It is plain that Paul is addressing those that at one time were “lost”, but now they are “saved”.  They were no longer “alienated” and “enemies”.  On the contrary, they had been “reconciled”.  They were “holy”, “unblameable”, and “unreproveable”.  However, Paul did not tell them that they would automatically stay such.  Instead, Paul clarified the need for continual faithfulness.  He wrote, “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled”.  The usage of the word “if” indicates that the Christians in Colosse had a choice.  They could stay true to the “hope of the gospel”, or they could decide to do otherwise.  It would be correct for us to infer that a lack of faithfulness would mean that they would no longer remain “holy”, “unblameable”, and “unreproveable”.  In other words, they would be “lost” again. 

            Next, there is a part of the book of Hebrews that we will notice.  In that letter, we find a dire warning for Christians.  “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Heb. 3:12-14).  Interestingly, the same word, “if” is found in this discussion as well.  Just like with the brethren in Colosse, these Christians had a choice.  They could stay true to God, or they could “depart” from Him.  If they decided to remain faithful, then they would be “partakers of Christ”.  In other words, faithfulness would give assurance of salvation, but unfaithfulness would not.  The inspired writer used the example of how Israel was “saved” from Egyptian bondage, but then decided not to believe (Heb. 3:16-19).  As a result of their lack of faithfulness, they were prohibited from entering the promised land of Canaan.  The writer of Hebrews went on to warn, “Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Heb. 4:11).  The “rest” that is mentioned is a reference to Heaven (Heb 4:9).  Therefore, if a Christian does not continue to obey the will of God, then he will not go to Heaven.

            Then there is part of one of Peter’s letters which we call Second Peter.  The inspired apostle wrote, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.  For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.  But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Pet. 2:20-22).  There is no room for doubt that the ones described had become “saved” when they “escaped the pollutions of the world”.  Sadly, they were “entangled” in sin again, and “overcome”.  This caused them to be in a worse position than what they had previously been.  If impenitent, the erring brethren would have to spend eternity knowing that they once were “saved”, but because of their unfaithfulness they were again “lost”.  The examples of the “dog” and “sow” demonstrate how that a man can be rid of the things that make him spiritually “sick” and “dirty” yet, return right back to those things again.

            These are just some of the references that refute the error known as “perseverance of the saints”/“once saved, always saved”.  Heaven awaits the faithful, and Hell awaits the unfaithful (Rev. 2:10; 2 Tim. 4:6-8).
~ Corey Barnette