If You Could Lose Your Salvation, You Would.

eternman

I’ve heard from many people that salvation isn’t sure. They believe that your salvation is only actual once you die and are judged. If you had done enough good, stopped sinning, kept on believing and repented enough, then you get finally saved. If you haven’t done enough good, sinned once too often, faltered in your faith, or failed to repent of that last sin, then you are finally damned. Usually I hear this from cults like the Mormons and the Roman Catholics. Of course the Mormons don’t believe in a Hell, just a lower realm of Heaven.

I am not trying to misrepresent their position. When someone says that they believe you can lose you salvation this is how I understand what they are asserting. This type of doctrine can only come from a person with poor hamartiology. Their understanding of sin and their culpability is not right. If they understood just little bit of how exceedingly sinful people are, they wouldn’t adopt this works righteous doctrine. Here is a story of what I did out of my own prideful attitude, I woke up one morning and thought, “I will see how long I can go without sinning.” I was brushing my teeth and realized that at that very moment where I presumed to be able to not sin, I had sinned. You see my sinful pride and self-righteous attitude produced a sinful thought.

The thought that a human could even live just a moment without sinning shows how utterly lacking their knowledge of their own personal sin is. In the span of one second we fail and commit sins in an amount approaching infinity. You might not like this, but it is true. Think about God. How holy is He in His infinite and perfect holiness? If He is that holy how can you succeed in obeying the first commandment sufficiently to please Him? Look at the rest of the commandments and ask yourself the same questions. When you steal His air and don’t thank Him for every breath, when you take for granted that He is keeping you alive every nanosecond, when you think a deceitful thought even though you didn’t actually lie, then you try to justify it because you didn’t actually lie… really? God sees our hearts and our thoughts in truth as they are. We can only perceive them through senses corrupted by the curse of the fall. If just for a moment you could see how utterly hopeless and wretched you are, it might then bring you to the conclusion that if you are to be saved it must be completely the work of God from beginning to end.

20 thoughts on “If You Could Lose Your Salvation, You Would.

  1. Your teaching is the opposite of what Jesus himself taught on the subject. In Luke 15, most teachings on the parable of the prodigal son focus on the father’s mercy and willingness to forgive his son. That is certainly true as the prodigal repented of his ways and returned to his father’s graciously open arms. However I don’t think that this aspect of the parable was Jesus’ main teaching point as Jesus repeats only one phrase in this whole story and we know that when Jesus repeats something to his listeners, he is putting emphasis on something so we’d better take heed. Moreover he summarizes his main point of the story in the last verse – v.32. In verses 24 & 32, the father describes his son as being dead but alive AGAIN; was lost but is found. How can someone be made alive again? We are born again once when we first believe but how is the son made alive a second time? Note that the father described his son as being dead – not physically dead but spiritually dead. The son was spiritually alive when he abided in his father’s house but when he separated himself to pursue a lifestyle of sin, he became spiritually dead. When he repented and returned to his father seeking forgiveness he was made alive AGAIN. Thus Jesus’ point is that a believer/child of God can forfeit their salvation/inheritance when they no longer abide and sever themselves from the vine through habitual sin and disobedience. If one repents God graciously forgives; but if one remains in an unrepentant condition, one is spiritually dead and separated from God. In order to hold to your position you would have to explain away Jesus’ own words.

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    1. I believe your interpretation is wrong. This parable is about an older pharisaical son who obeys all the rules out of a sense of duty and obligation to receive a reward in this world, and a younger son who rebels and wants earthly pleasures right now. Neither of them have their minds set on the love of the Father or his will. The rest of the verses surrounding this section also talk about our future with our Father in Heaven being where we should have our minds set. This parable shows how both sons failed, but only one came to be sorry for his lack of love for his Father. Through suffering the adversities of this world he recognized how much love his Father had for him and it broke his rebellious will. He realized even servants are treated better by his Father than he is treated by the world. He also realized he deserves his fate of servitude to the world and death because he rebelled against his Father. We start out like the rebellious son or the pharisaical son in sin. Some of us through this life and God’s sovereign will come to a knowledge of our culpability and it convicts us. We know we are sinners and come to God with no good works. We come hoping He will forgive us. Some of us are like the oldest son, self-righteous and counting on our good works to gain our reward in Heaven some time in the future. The oldest son doesn’t truly understand the depth of his guilt or the permanence of his stain. He thinks he is doing what is expected, but what he is doing is not of love for the Father. The youngest son has his reward here and now and in Heaven. He has seen the futility of worldly living and dies to it, longing to be in his Fathers house once more. If we could see how sinful we are you wouldn’t have the viewpoint you do. It is our inability to see how utterly sinful we are that leads us to thinking salvation is, “grace + my works” The Father didn’t have to welcome the son back. He could have let him starve. Instead he showed his love for his son by saving him from the life he was living which would lead to his death. I think you are wrong. I understand you think that I am wrong. You rely on grace and your ability to stay clean which proves you don’t understand how dirty you are. Grace will become amazing to you once you see how truly sinful you are. We are all deserving of death and hell, but by the grace of our Lord Jesus some are saved according to His will in sovereign election and predestination.

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  2. Bob – it is presumption on your part to assume that I think that I rely on my ability to stay clean. God’s GRACE is what saves us THROUGH FAITH (not our own works) (Eph 2:8). The difference in our views is that you emphasize the grace part of the equation but neglect the latter half of the equation which deals with the nature of our faith. What should a believer’s faith consist of and look like? Is it mere cognitive assent? Of course we do not save ourselves by doing works; however as Eph 2:10 points out we were created to do good works. So works done according the leading of the Spirit is never a bad thing. In fact, Js 2:18 states “I will show you my faith by my works….”and FAITH was COMPLETED by his WORKS” (v.22). If that is not clear enough Js 2:24 plainly summarizes the definition of justification: “You see that a person is JUSTIFIED BY WORKS and NOT BY FAITH ALONE. Therefore I believe my interpretation to be correct because I account for both works and faith where our inner faith is manifested or proved to be true by our works or fruit. Your position only considers faith without any evidence of works which contradicts James’ writing.

    Regarding the parable of the prodigal, I don’t disagree with the details of what you wrote. However, the details you cite are secondary to Jesus’ main point as I stated earlier. Like I said, in order to hold to your position you have to wholly ignore and discount the fact that Jesus repeats his main point twice in this story and concludes his teaching with that same point. A good hermeneutical approach would have to account for this. You have not addressed these particular verses at all, so that’s why I think your view is problematic.

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    1. It is no presumption. If you can maintain your salvation by obedience than you can lose it by disobedience and you believe that one who has been converted by regeneration can become unconverted and unregenerated losing their salvation becoming unjustified. I don’t believe what you believe. You insist that my assertion is unbiblical and I believe that your position is. I honesty don’t know how anyone can call themselves, “saved by grace” while denying that very same doctrine in praxia. I really do think you have bad hamartiology and hermeneutics. I think you are being eisegetical and twisting scripture to get to where you want to go. A person who leaves the faith was never converted to begin with. A person who continues in a life of blatant unrepentant sin was never converted to begin with. God will not cancel your debt and them bring it back and put it on your shoulders again. Your faith is works righteousness and not grace. Your faith is in your own ability to obey. Mine is in Christs finished work on the cross. I do good works because of my salvation not to keep it. I can’t keep my salvation no matter how hard I try because every second of every day I am sinning and so are you. You can’t see how sinful you are or you would know this. I don’t even have to try to sin. I can not love God enough to please Him. I fail at keeping the shemah. I fail at loving my neighbor as myself. I fail at not having angry thoughts or prideful attitudes. So do you. If you say you don’t then you are a liar of a person who is blind to their own sin. I have repented of sin and trust fully in Jesus for my justification. I try to do what is right according to His word because I love Him. When I fail I know that He has won the war and calls me to get up, and get back in the fight. I persevere because He has caused me to. He is my all and only source of life.

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  3. I can back it up with tons of scripture, but that won’t help yo because you don’t care. Proof texting is a game to people like you. I can talk about doctrines without having to proof-text. If you like I could do the same thing others do and google to get a list full of proof-texts to support my belief. The difference is that mine will be in context with the immediate verses around it and with the entirety of the word.

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  4. If you can talk about doctrine without proof, why should anyone believe you? Anyone can do that; even a cultist. You fail to form an argument using your own words backed with scripture and resort to using links to cite others to form an argument for you. Apparently you chose not to publish my last comment which I find disingenuous. Even your links don’t answer my pointed questions regarding Rom 8:13 and Lk 15:24,32; – so in effect you have no answer.

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  5. Let’s try this; I want to go over some of the nomenclature to see if we are using the same words with different meanings or if you don’t understand the differences between some of the doctrines we are talking about. I also included some verses at the bottom for you to look at that support, “Perseverance of the Saints.” Typically people just want me to proof-text so they can either completely ignore the texts or they will be eisegetical and bend them to fit their doctrines. I hope you will really look at them. Also, I am not advocating, “Once saved always saved.” I am advocating, “Perseverance of the Saints.”
    Once saved always saved carries with it the connotation that a so called believer can go on living a lifestyle inconsistent with holiness, being in unrepentant sin, not reading the Bible, not caring about the things of God, all the way to death and still go to Heaven. That is not what I believe. Perseverance of the saints is when a born again believer lives a life that is consistent with a person who has had their nature changed supernaturally by the Holy Spirit who enables them to want the things of God and to choose the things and ways of God that they weren’t able to do as a slave to their sinful natures before conversion. This person will continue in their faith without rejecting Christ and will have a humble attitude towards God and their sin. The will be penitent and sorrowful over their sins when they commit them and they will bring them to Christ in prayer and ask His forgiveness. They will also constantly pray for God to remove that weakness from them so they won’t fall to it again. If they do sin again it will still have the same effect on them of driving them to their knees before the cross.
    This is very different than once saved always saved. The difference here that I think we are having is who has the power to keep the repentant, regenerated, sinner saved? I say that it is God who keeps them saved, who drives them forward, and who sanctifies them. That is because the truly converted person submits their own will and forsakes it in favor of being made a servant of God in accord with His sovereign will. If they are truly converted the choice they have to make has only one option. They can’t be converted and choose to not want God’s will. This demonstrates a false convert. A person who for a time gives affirmation to the Bible and claims to be saved may be doing so out of a self-deception or false teaching. When things get tough or something comes around to shake their faith they fall away. I would say this person only believed with their mind and liked the idea of being saved from hell, but never truly was regenerated, or justified. They were never saved and demonstrate that by falling away.
    Here are some words that I use and what they mean to me when I use them. Maybe that will help also.
    Regeneration- the Holy Spirit acting in obedience to the Father brings the sinner who is dead in their sins and subject to the law, to life. They were born once in death as a sinner and are made born again to life as a believer who has been granted salvific faith and repentance by God in accordance with His sovereign will in election and predestination.
    Justification- is the condition of being justified before God. This is done by the atoning work of Christ on the cross and the imputation of His righteousness as God to the believer.
    Salvific-is having the quality of saving
    Salvific Faith- is saving faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, believing that Jesus paid for my sins and took my punishment for me so that the justice of God would be satisfied and not cheated. The faith to believe this is salvific faith and it is accompanied by salvific repentance. Neither of which are from man himself, but rather granted by God to the elect.
    Salvific repentance-is repentance from a keeping of the law for righteousness sake, and from sin. Our minds are made new. We think differently, we desire the things of God and His will. We read His word and love Him. We begin to hate the ways of the world and sin.
    Sanctification-is the process where we are set apart, and convicted of sin and we repent of it and try to do what is right according to the word and over time we are being conformed to the word and will of God to the likeness of Christ for the purposes of God.
    So in my understanding God gets all of the glory for saving a sinner and keeping him saved. The sinner gets none of the credit. Jesus’ righteousness is what is imputed to me and none of my own can make it better because Jesus’ righteousness is the righteousness of God and mine is only that of a lowly creature. You keep addressing me as if I am a, “Once saved always saved” type of person and I think it is sanctimonious to claim grace for salvation yet insist that your able to sin yourself out of salvation if you are truly saved. To me that would just be a person proving they were never saved to begin with. I don’t think you have been reading my comments to understand them, but rather to contend with them. That is why I did not post you last comment. There is nothing unbiblical about the doctrines I have explained to you. They are biblically consistent with the entirety of scripture. Here are the verses you keep insisting on having. I’m not going to get into a proof-text war with you. If that is where you take it then I will just not post any of your comments or I will edit them.
    Jn 5:24, 6:37-40, 10:27-30, Ro 5:9-10, 8:1, 8:31-39, 1 Co 1:4-9, Eph 4:30, Heb 7:25, 13:5, 1 Pe 1:4-5, Jude 24 just to list a few…

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  6. okay Bob – fair enough – we will clarify our positions. If you should read through all of my responses, I never claimed you were OSAS and I actually did understand that you were writing from a Calvinistic viewpoint regarding TULIP and “P” standing for perseverance of the saints. I am also aware of the distinction between OSAS and perseverance and how Calvinist account for the “warning” passages in Scripture by rationalizing that these people were never saved to begin with. That is why I was initially interested in getting your take on Rom 8:12-13 which is specifically addressed to believers – not unbelievers. Paul in v.12 refers to the hearers/readers of his letter as brothers and sisters – not unbelievers. Therefore I don’t believe that one can explain away v.13 by claiming that this warning pertains to those who were never saved to begin with as Calvinists do.
    Similarly in the prodigal story, the youngest son once abided in his father’s household but then chose to spend and waste his inheritance on sinful living. He eventually repented and returned to a loving and forgiving father. The point though is that he is described as being dead and alive AGAIN. From a Calvinistic perspective this verse is hard to explain away because of the word “again.” When we are regenerated we are made alive in Christ. Therefore how can someone become alive/regenerated “again”? The only explanation I can think of is that a regenerated person is alive but becomes spiritually dead as in the prodigal’s case through a sinful lifestyle and then repents of his actions thus restoring his relationship with the father and at that point becomes alive “again.”
    These passages do not refer to unbelievers or those who were never saved to begin with and that’s why I was interested in your take. So yes, the Bible does describe those who were never of the faith to begin with but it also contains passages such as the ones I’ve cited which I believe applies to those of the faith. I’m sure you believe that one must account for the whole of Scripture in order to form doctrine and belief so it is requisite that we also take into account these passages as well.

    To summarize, I agree that we must persevere. Where we disagree is that you believe that genuine believers/regenerated ones can never fall away whereas I believe that genuine believers/regenerated can and do fall away based on my understanding of the scriptures I cited. That’s why I asked for your interpretation of those specific verses.
    Finally, my definition of proof-texting is throwing out or listing verses as if those verses explain themselves without elaborating or worse yet, taking them out of context. That is why when I cite verses, I take the time and explain my understanding of them and how they pertain to the subject being discussed. That way, if I am wrong in my interpretation someone else can easily point out my error.
    I hope this response provides more clarity to our dialogue and points of agreement and disagreement. I could also respond to the verses you cited and provide my explanation of them if you wish.

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  7. To answer your question about Romans 8 I think the problem is that you are not looking at all of Romans 8. We see in verse 9 the answer to your problem. “9However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” This is about people who think they are saved. They affirm the gospel intellectually, but are not truly saved. There are almost always unbelievers mixed in with believers. It happens today in almost all churches. We have goats and sheep. We have in Romans 8 encouragement to the believers to fight against sin and warnings to the unbelievers as well as how they can tell if they are one or not. When you address a crowd of people who claim to be believers to address them as brothers and sisters is acceptable. We can’t know from looking at a congregation who is truly converted and who isn’t. This is all Paul was doing. I think you are not analyzing the text properly.
    In Luke 15 the first born oldest son is the pharisaical person and the younger son is the truly repentant person. In 15:24a you are having a problem properly understanding a figure of speech. We still use this figure of speech today, “You are dead to me.” Doesn’t really mean the person is dead. In this verse the son was gone and rebellious dishonoring his Father and was dead to him in a way of speaking. This is very clear and obvious to most people and they don’t have the difficulty you are having. What church do you attend?

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    1. Thanks for your response. Ok, let’s go with your scenario and see if it fits into the context of Rom 8. Let’s assume that Paul is addressing a mixed group of people as you propose – some believers; others nonbelievers. Take a closer look at v.12 where Paul mentions the word brethren or brothers and sisters. Following the word brethren, he continues to write: “…we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it.” Some translations say “we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh.” No matter what the translation is, it would be impossible for Paul to be referring to a mixed group of people here because only believers are able to live lives that are not under obligation to the flesh. Unbelievers by contrast are unregenerated and are still under obligation to the flesh and remain debtors to it. They are still under bondage to the flesh and have no choice other than remaining debtors and captives to sin. So because of this crucial distinction that Paul makes in v.12, I don’t see how you can include the uncoverted in your scenario.
      If that is not enough to convince you, you might wanna take a look at the last word in v.29 translated as brothers, brothers and sisters or brethren. I’m sure that you would agree that no doubt this word does indeed refer to genuine believers because they are foreknown and predestined by God himself. The word for brethren in v.29 is the Greek word adelphos which is the very same word Paul uses in v.12. So in order to be consistent in our translation, we must conclude that adelphos which references the regenerated in v.29 must also refer to the regenerated in v.12. One cannot arbitrarily change the meaning of the word when it is evident that its context defines it for us. Adelphos in v.12 means the very same thing as adelphos in v.29 – therefore the brethren in v.12 cannot possibly be inclusive of, or refer to unbelievers as you propose.

      Lastly, regarding the prodigal son. It is a hermeneutical faux pas to read back into the text our modern usage of the English language. In this case one cannot insert a modern English based idiomatic expression as you propose back into the Greek NT language. Just ask yourself this: would Paul’s audience in his day, to whom his letter was written, interpret and understand your “dead to me” idiom? As speakers of a foreign language and in a different age, they would not have the slightest idea of what you’re referring to. Even today, if you used that expression in the presence of a non-native English speaking person, that person would likely understand you as literally meaning a physically dead person; not realizing that you are using an English idiomatic expression that instead refers to the status of a relationship. One of the primary principles of hermeneutics is that we must interpret and understand the original language according to its usage at that time – not according to our own present language usage. Wherever the word “dead” is found in the NT; when it does not refer to instances of physical death, it always without exception means spiritual death and separation from God. Therefore it stands to reason that the prodigal son became spiritually dead when he lived a lifestyle of sin.

      Regarding my church affiliation – in over 3 decades as a Christian I have been involved in the Missionary Church denomination, Evangelical Free, Southern Baptist, Foursquare and house churches. I also graduated from Western Seminary in Portland, OR.

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  8. I think you are still wrong. I don’t understand why you keep arguing this point as it is quite obvious that my explanation would still apply. What Paul is saying to the true converts doesn’t apply to the false converts in the audience. Again refer to my previous explanation. It is still the same discourse to the same audience. That did not change, and you accuse me of not using good hermeneutics? This also answers you other problem with verse 29. If you happen to be a believer in the audience then what he was saying applies to you. If you are a false convert then it doesn’t apply to you, see the distinction earlier in the discourse. You are grasping at straws.
    The prodigal son was already dead in Adam. He was dead in Adam from the beginning. This parable, like the two before it is about lost sinners, dead in their sins, with condemnation hanging over them, coming to repentance, and being made alive in Christ. Even if you reject the figure of speech that emphasized the condition of spiritual death we are born in, you can’t reject that these parables are all about spiritually dead, lost people, coming to repentance, and getting converted by Christ. He didn’t become dead by sinning. He proved he was elect by truly repenting. If we want to get literal natural then he was born alive physically, then physically died and yet was still alive physically, which is impossible, but we know that this isn’t meant to be literal natural, so it must be a figure of speech. The son was dead in his sins and made alive spiritually. We also know from Hebrews that if it were possible to loose one’s salvation it would be impossible to renew it so this must be talking about the son being spiritually dead from the beginning. Oh and there is no mention of dying to self here so are you going to contrive some illogical argument about that next?
    “The key is the beginning of the chapter. Something is lost by someone. A sheep is lost (not lost its salvation!). Then a coin is lost (again the coin does not loose its salvation). The sheep and coin are what they always were; lost or found! The sinner comes back and there is rejoicing. V. 19 he is still his Son! V. 20 the father falls on his neck kissing the boy before he even knows if the boy has repented. V. 21 may be an imperfect tense, “I have been sinning,” or “I in the past have sinned.” It does not tell you it was in the far off land, but rather the boy seems to be acknowledging his sin FOR THE FIRST TIME! V. 24 an imperfect tense “was being,” i.e. not the words “went and sinned,” but was in a continuous state of sin. Note also its not the word lost actually, but rather “destroyed.” He also “was found,” but not by the father! The boy actually came to his own senses, and realized his own condition. The father was not searching! He was waiting for the by to come to his senses. V. 27 the father is glad that the son is back in good health. V. 32 imperfect tense “continuous and constant state of death,” not a basic past tense, “he died.” The emphasis is on what the boy always was, not what he became. He was always lost! Then “he came to life,” is an event. The one who was always lost, suddenly was alive. So also he was always destroyed and suddenly was found. Note he was found when he repented, NOT when he came to his father! These are simply some quick thoughts. Strange that those who hold a man looses his salvation do not baptize him again and again and again. Really lost, would require one to begin again at the beginning. But none ever do. If one does not believe he has attained sinless perfection, then one is admitting that he sins. Rom. 8 states our bodies are not yet redeemed and so they are in fact sinful and we are in the sinning bodies. The argument would have to go: “If I sin, I loose my salvation; but I have salvation, and so I am PERFECTLY SINLESS!” And if one is not perfectly sinless, they one is admitting that one is sinful. One simply cannot have it both ways. Sin is sinful beyond our understanding and grasp. A shallow grasp of one’s own sinfulness produces real problems. Try 1 John 5, “there is sin that does not lead to death.” Now there’s an idea! ”Dr. D. Dickinson
    The three parables were also an affront to the Pharisees and scribes who were there grumbling about Christ receiving sinners. Christ was chiding them for being hypocrites and not knowing their own culpability believing themselves to be righteous because of their own obedience. Sound familiar?
    You still have to contend with the major flaw of your theological point of view that you can’t answer. At what point have you committed that final sin that makes you an apostate? Have you succeeded in keeping yourself saved? If you believe you can lose your salvation by sinning either by commission or omission. Then you have to stop sinning to maintain your salvation. If you say you are without sin you make God out to be a liar.
    Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers
    (24) This my son was dead.—The words, looked at merely as part of the story, have a wonderful pathos. Absence, alienation, the self-chosen shame, this had made the father think of the son as “dead.” Death would indeed have been far easier to bear. Spiritually, we are taught that repentance is nothing less than the passing from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, from the “graves of lust” (Numbers 11:34) to the power of the resurrection. The “lost” and “found” appear as furnishing the link that connects this with the preceding parables, and makes the trilogy, as it were, complete.

    Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
    24. was dead, and is alive again] The metaphor of ‘death’ to express the condition of impenitent sin is universal in the Bible. “Thou hast a name that thou livest and art dead,”Revelation 3:1. “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead,” Ephesians 5:14. “You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins,” Ephesians 2:1. “Yield yourselves unto God as those that are alive from the dead,”Romans 6:13.

    was lost] This poor youth had been in the exact Roman sense perditus—a ‘lost,’ an ‘abandoned’ character.

    Benson Commentary
    Luke 15:24. For this my son was dead — Was considered by me as dead; and is alive again — “It is by a very common and beautiful emblem, that vicious persons are represented as dead, both by sacred and profane authors; and the natural death of their children would be less grievous to pious parents than to see them abandoned to such a course as this young sinner took.” — Doddridge. He was lost and is found — We looked upon him as utterly lost, but lo! he is come back again, beyond all expectation, in safety. Two things here are worthy of observation: 1st, That the conversion of a soul from sin to God is the raising of that soul from death to life, and the finding of that which seemed to be lost. It is a great, wonderful, and happy change: it is like that which passes upon the face of the earth when the spring returns. 2d, The conversion of sinners is very pleasing to the God of heaven, and all that belong to his family ought to rejoice in it. Those in heaven do, and those on earth should, rejoice. And they began to be merry — They sat down to the feast, rejoicing exceedingly at the happy occasion of it.

    Barnes’ Notes on the Bible
    Was dead – This is capable of two significations:
    1. “I supposed” that he was dead, but I know now that he is alive.
    2. He was “dead to virtue” – he was sunk in pleasure and vice.
    The word is not unfrequently thus used. See 1 Timothy 5:6; Matthew 8:22; Romans 6:13. Hence, to be restored to “virtue” is said to be restored again to life, Romans 6:13;Revelation 3:1; Ephesians 2:1. It is probable that this latter is the meaning here. See Luke 15:32.
    Was lost – Had wandered away from home, and we knew not where he was.

    Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
    24. my son—now twice his son.
    dead … lost—to me; to himself—to my service, my satisfaction; to his own dignity, peace, profit.
    alive again … found—to all these.
    merry—(See on [1677]Lu 15:10).

    Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible
    For this my son was dead,…. These words contain the reasons of the above entertainment, and of all that spiritual joy and mirth; in which the father acknowledges the returning penitent as his son; though he had behaved so wickedly before, and though he judged himself unworthy of the relation; and this he did, by sending the Spirit of adoption into his heart, to witness his sonship to him; and takes notice of his past state and condition, to show the great reason there was for joy, at his present one: for before be was “dead”, dead in Adam, in whom all died; dead in law, being under a sentence of condemnation and death; and dead in trespasses and sins, which is a spiritual or moral death: in which all mankind by nature are: and which lies in a separation from God, Father, Son, and Spirit; in an alienation from the life of God; in a deformation of the image of God; in a loss of original righteousness; in the darkness of the understanding; in the inordinateness of the affections; in the pollution of the mind and conscience; in the stubbornness of the will; and in an impotency to that which is spiritually good; and in a privation of spiritual sense and motion: this had been the case, but now it was otherwise:
    and is alive again: the Spirit of life from Christ had entered into him, and Christ was formed in his heart; and a principle of life was infused into him; a divine image was enstamped upon his soul; the understanding was enlightened in divine things; the affections were set upon them; the will was subjected to God, to his will and law, and to Christ and his righteousness, and the way of salvation by him, and to his commands and ordinances; and principles of grace and holiness were wrought in him, to do as well as to will; a spiritual sense of things were given him; a spiritual sight, hearing, tasting, and feeling, and savouring; he lived a life of holiness from Christ, of faith upon him, and of communion with him, and to his glory: and he came to be so, not of himself, nor by any creature; for no man can quicken himself, nor can any creature do it for him; it was entirely owing to the power and grace of God: and great reason here was for joy and mirth, as there is for every one that is quickened by the Spirit of God; for such shall never enter into condemnation, nor die again, but shall live and reign with Christ for ever:
    he was lost; lost in Adam, and in himself; so he was when in the far country, and when among the swine and husks; so as that he knew not where he was, nor what a condition he was in; nor did he know how to get out of it, nor could he help himself; nor could any other creature; though not irretrievably and irrecoverably lost; not to the love of God, his knowledge of him, care and provision for him in Christ, in his counsel and covenant: hence the following mercy,
    and is found; not only by Christ, in redemption, but by the Spirit of Christ in the effectual calling; when he was brought and came to himself, and saw his lost state and condition by nature; and when he was directed and brought home to his Father’s house, and entertained with all the provisions of it; and such have reason to rejoice and be glad, for they shall be found in Christ at death and at judgment, and shall be with him to all eternity:
    and they began to be merry: all parties. The Father expressed his joy, and the gladness of his heart, upon the return of his son to him; he exhorted to be merry on this account, Luke 15:23 and enforces it with reasons in this verse, taken from the relation he stood in to him, and the wonderful change that had passed upon him, and the finding of him; and he rejoices himself at his conversion, in the exercise of that grace which he himself implanted, and in the performance of duty by his assistance: not that any new joy arises in God’s heart at such a time; for he always rejoiced in the persons of his elect, as they were the objects of his love, as chosen in Christ, and given to him, and as interested in the covenant of grace; and he rejoiced in the accomplishment of their salvation, by his Son: but in conversion, there are new expressions of joy; he rejoices over them to do them good, and rejoices in the good he does them; and this is the open beginning of his joy, and but the beginning of it; for it will continue, it is not all over, not all expressed, but will be in the fullest manner hereafter, to all eternity: the returned son began to be merry, as he had good reason for it; as that he was come back from the far country, where a mighty famine had been: and from the citizen of that country, his fields, and swine; that he was come to his father, and his father’s house, where was bread enough and to spare; an house well furnished with all suitable provisions; a family made up of saints, where ministers of the Gospel are stewards, and angels guards, and where Christ is Son, priest, and master; and that he was received here, and owned as a son; not only was one secretly, but was owned as such openly; and was not only called so by the servants, but by the father himself; and that after he had behaved so vilely, and in his own conscience knew he was unworthy of the relation; and that he was received immediately, as soon as ever he came, and that in the most tender manner; and was entertained in the most free, generous, and sumptuous way; though he went away from his father of himself, and had spent his substance in a scandalous manner; and was in a most filthy, ragged, and piteous condition; and that he should be clothed with the best robe, the robe of Christ’s righteousness; and so had nothing to fear from law and justice; nor was he in any danger of wrath to come because of his sins; nor had he any reason to doubt of his right and admission to the heavenly glory; and that he had the ring of love on the hand of faith, and could believe his interest in it, which is better than life, and will continue for ever; and that his feet were shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; that he understood the Gospel, and was brought to a submission to Gospel ordinances, and had his conversation agreeably to it; and that the fatted calf was killed, and set before him to eat of, and feed upon: and now he began to live and fare sumptuously, and to have spiritual joy and pleasure, which he never knew before; and this was but the beginning of joy to him: spiritual joy is not all over at once, it continues and increases; nor is it full and perfect in this life, but in heaven it will be complete, and without interruption; the servants also, the ministers of the Gospel, began to be merry on this occasion; who express their joy at the conversion of sinners, because of the glory of Father, Son, and Spirit, concerned in it; because of the grace bestowed then on sinners themselves; and because the interest of Christ is strengthened, and his churches increased, and Satan’s kingdom weakened; and because their own ministry is blessed; and which strengthens their hands and hearts, and encourages them to go on in their work: and this is but the beginning of their joy; for they continue to rejoice at the growth of grace in believers, and when they are in a thriving and flourishing condition; when they walk becoming the Gospel of Christ, and live in peace among themselves; and persevere in faith and holiness to the end; and these will be their joy and crown of rejoicing, at the coming of Christ Jesus.

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    1. As I pointed out earlier, the big problem with your argument is that you take great liberties to assume that Paul is writing to a mixed audience. That is a fallacy which cannot be supported by the text; if you can show me based on the text – please do so. I previously showed you from the text why you are in error; yet you still persist in making an argument from silence which is the weakest form of argumentation. Let Paul himself clarify as to who he is specifically writing to: “…to all who are BELOVED OF GOD in Rome, called as SAINTS: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 1:7). Paul specifically addresses his epistle to the saints or holy ones. He goes on to write: “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because YOUR FAITH is being proclaimed throughout the whole world” (v.8). I find it hard to believe that you really think that Paul is including believers in his audience as it is clear that he is specifically addressing the SAINTS in his epistle. In Rom 8:12 Paul uses the term “WE” to refer to himself and his fellow believers. Would he use “we” if he were including unbelievers? I certainly doubt it. Letters are addressed to a specific audience whereas sermons in today’s churches are preached to a mixed group. I have given you plenty of scriptures in context to show you that Paul is addressing believers only. You have supplied no scriptural texts whatsoever – only your presumption. Show me scriptural evidence to support your claim. Even when I take your assumption into account, it still doesn’t make sense. In Rom 8:12 Paul is warning those who walk after the flesh of spiritual death. It should be quite apparent to you that you cannot threaten a spiritually dead person with spiritual death. Such a person is already dead; therefore to claim that there are unsaved in Paul’s audience is nonsense. Moreover, the clause “IF you walk according to flesh” can only apply to believers. Only believers have a choice as to whether to walk after the flesh or the spirit. Unbelievers by contrast have NO SUCH CHOICE as they are UNREDEEMED and ALWAYS walk after the flesh. You also violate the plain definition of adelphos when you insist on your interpretation.
      I also find it quite peculiar that of all the commentaries you cite, NOT A SINGLE ONE deals with the fact that the prodigal was made alive AGAIN. They ALL IGNORE this apparent and plain detail. Why do you suppose that is? Perhaps it is too thorny for their pet theology. Nevertheless, it is a biblical fact that when one accepts Christ as his/her Savior, he/she is made alive in Christ. A lost sinner who has never come to Christ cannot be said to be made ALIVE AGAIN. They are simply made alive in Christ initially or for the first time. Logic dictates that ONLY A SAVED person who loses his salvation can be made alive AGAIN upon repentance and returning to the Father. This fact plainly refutes your view and all of those scholars.
      Also regarding these parables, you eisegete them based on your theology rather than allow them to speak for themselves. The prodigal was not lost to begin with as you claim. He belonged to his father’s household and he had an inheritance which makes him a child of God and one of God’s own. I don’t know where in the Bible that it teaches that the unregenerate are part of God’s household and that the unsaved are entitled to an inheritance. Do you, and if so where? Also in the two preceding parables – the sheep and the coin do not represent lost people as you claim. Who owns the sheep? God does – indicating that the one sheep is already a part of his 100 numbered flock. It then becomes lost and he leaves the other 99 to go search for it. The point is the sheep was part of God’s flock to begin with – and then became lost. Based on the text the sheep was not lost to begin with as you falsely assert. The one sheep became part of the flock again upon repentance. The other 99 however always remained a part of the flock because they were “righteous persons who need no repentance” v.7.
      Same principle applies to the lost coin. God ALREADY OWNS the 10 coins and AFTERWARDS one of his coins becomes lost. The coin is not lost to begin with as you claim. God already owns it and it belongs to him but the coin then becomes lost via sin and upon repentance, the sinner is found. That is the plain meaning of these passages which is totally the opposite of your interpretation.
      Lastly you made the statement: “If you believe you can lose your salvation by sinning either by commission or omission. Then you have to stop sinning to maintain your salvation. If you say you are without sin you make God out to be a liar.” Again it appears that you go to great lengths to presume things and attribute what I believe without me making any such declaration. I don’t know where you get that idea as I certainly did not write it. I believe no such thing and I would advise you to carefully read the book of 1 John which again contradicts your belief. I have always maintained that believers have a choice to sow to the flesh or to the Spirit. Believers who live according the flesh are in danger of spiritual death and separation from God as Paul warned. Does that automatically mean that believers must live a perfect, sinless life as you maintain? Of course not; your argument is a red herring because 1 Jn 1:10 states that we all sin. However John, like Paul warns of the consequences to believers who continue to practice and engage in sin:
      “Everyone who makes a PRACTICE of sinning also PRACTICES LAWLESSNESS; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who the children of God are, and who are the children of the devil: WHOEVER DOES NOT PRACTICE RIGHTEOUSNESS IS NOT OF GOD, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 Jn 3:4-10
      In 1 John 1, John is describing those believers whose lives are generally characterized by walking in the light; i.e., obeying/abiding in Christ. Forgiveness is conditional as indicated by the clause “if we walk in the light” in v.7 and is granted by God for those OCCASIONAL sins since no one can claim to be without sin. In 1 John 3 however, John goes on to distinguish those believers who continue to engage in the PRACTICE of sin. Verse 4 states that anyone who practices sin, practices lawlessness and is of the devil v.8. Verse 9 states no one born of God PRACTICES sinning. Hence in these two chapters, John is describing the different results for those believers who walk in the light in contrast with those believers who continue to walk in the darkness. Thus both Paul and John convey the same message. Salvation is only assured to those who walk according to the Spirit; whose lives though not sinless, can be characterized as walking in the light.
      “If you know that he is righteous, you MAY BE SURE that everyone who PRACTICES RIGHTEOUSNESS has been BORN OF HIM.” 1 Jn 2:29
      I don’t think the scriptures can get any clearer than that.

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  9. You are so close to believing in perseverance of the Saints that I don’t see any point in going further. You keep believing it your way. If you are truly converted and you are right about the distinction between doctrines than you’ll be fine and so will I. Perseverance of the Saints does not allow for an abuse of grace like the once saved always saved position. Since this is, “Snyder’s Soapbox” and not Evan’s, I’m going to call this one done. I think we have both fleshed out our doctrines principles. I usually don’t entertain this type of dialogue on my blog. It is hardly ever productive. Let’s part in peace.

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  10. I agree to disagree although I do think it has been a productive dialogue as anyone who happens to read your blog would at least get an idea of our differing opinions. I always believe iron sharpens iron as long as it is done in a respectful manner which you have done. I do believe that a saint does indeed persevere. The only difference is that you believe someone who doesn’t persevere wasn’t a saint to begin with whereas I believe that a saint can lose their salvation. Peace to you.

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  11. Susan

    Thanks Bob, indeed it is very presumptuous and preposterous to believe we have to keep ourselves saved. One day all who believe that way will either 1. come to the end of themselves and their abilities and fall away because they never were truly saved to begin with or 2. Come to the end of themselves and truly surrender all to Jesus in humility and joy in their salvation, finding that true rest in Jesus and what He completed on the cross.

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