Can You Believe For a While and Then Fall Away?

by Louis A. Turk


[Below is my response to an e-mail with the above title which I received from a person that read Once Saved Always Saved. (You will be better able to understand this article if you read that article first.) What Sal wrote is indented. My comments are not indented and are in green.]

Dear Sal,

Thanks for your response; I've inserted answers in between your questions below.

At 11:09 AM 1/20/00 -0500, you wrote:

You said: "If you do not believe that once a person is saved he is always saved, then you have NEVER really trusted in Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are lost in your sins, and you are heading straight to Hell."

THOSE ARE SOME VERY STRONG WORDS! DO YOU THINK THAT YOU HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO PUT ALL THOSE PEOPLE IN HELL SO QUICKLY? WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE ANYWAY, JESUS CHRIST!

Strong words, yes!  But full of love.  Strong words are needed to warn the unwary of their danger.  No, I do not think I am Jesus Christ, but I do believe what He says.  Are not the people who disbelieve Christ's promise to give eternal life to every believer really the ones who think they are their own Christ? Are not they the ones who think that Jesus Christ's power is not sufficient to keep them saved, but that their own power is sufficient? Their trust is in their own selves, and not in Jesus Christ. That is the reason they are lost in their sins and heading straight to Hell.

HEBREWS CHAPTER 6 SAYS THAT A PERSON CAN PARTAKE OF THE HOLY GHOST AND THEN FALL AWAY. IT ALSO SAYS THAT IF YOU DO THAT, YOU CANNOT BE RENEWED AGAIN UNTO REPENTANCE. THAT IS, YOU CAN'T BE SAVED AGAIN. WHAT'S SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT THAT. IT SEEMS VERY CLEAR TO ME.

Let us think for a moment about this passage. How could a person fall away? He or she would have to sin to fall away, would they not? How many sins would a person have to sin to fall away? Just one, for James 2:10 tells us that "whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all." Since you professed faith in Christ, have you ever sinned a sin? Of course you have. Therefore, according to your doctrine you are lost and cannot be renewed again to repentance---you are doomed.

However, you have misunderstood Hebrews chapter 6. There is a big difference between "falling out of" and "falling away from"? A person can taste "the good word of God," but not swallow it. They can taste of the "heavenly gift" of eternal life, but spit it out. However, a person that does so has NEVER BEEN SAVED, for verse 9 says: "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak."


IN 1COR. 10:12 PAUL SAID "WHEREFORE LET HIM THAT THINKETH HE STANDETH TAKE HEED LEST HE FALL." WHAT DO YOU THINK HE MEANT BY THAT?

Paul did NOT say, "Let him that thinketh he is saved take heed lest he lose his salvation." You have simply read that into this verse because you came to it with preconceived ideas.

IF IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE TO FALL AWAY, WHY WOULD HE EVEN SAY SUCH A THING?

1 Cor. 1:12 does not contain the word "away." You added it because you came to this verse with preconceived ideas, and are trying to force them into this verse. This verse is not talking about falling "away" from anything. Rather it is talking about falling into sin. The very next verse says: "The hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way of escape, that ye may be able to bear it."

However, just for the sake of explanation, let as assume that 1 Cor. 10:12 does mean "Wherefore let him that thinketh he stands in salvation take heed lest he fall out of it, " as you seem to think. Would that not be a stern warning to people who are so proud that they reject the free gift of eternal life, chosing instead to think they can stand saved by their own power to life a holy life? If this verse does mean what you think it does, it condemns you.


HOW ABOUT LUKE CHAPTER 8. THE PARABLE OF THE SOWER SAYS THAT A PERSON CAN BELIEVE FOR A WHILE AND THEN FALL AWAY! LOOK:

8:11 "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. 12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. 15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."

NOTICE HOW JESUS IN VERSE 12 SAYS "LEST THEY SHOULD BELIEVE AND BE SAVED." SO FAR IT SOUNDS LIKE "ETERNAL SECURITY"...RIGHT?


Yes, I am glad that you can see that.

BUT WHEN YOU HIT VERSE 13 JESUS TAKES THAT "ETERNAL SECURITY" HERESY AND TOSSES IT RIGHT OUT THE WINDOW WHERE IT BELONGS. HE HITS HOME HARD BY TELLING YOU THAT YOU CAN BELIEVE AND NOT BE SAVED IF YOUR BELIEF DOES NOT CONTINUE THROUGHOUT YOUR LIFE AND BEAR FRUIT.

It is possible to believe in one's mind without being saved. However, it is not possible to believe in one's heart without being saved. The words "in thine heart" are not found in Romans 10:9-10 without reason: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."

THE IDEA OF HAVING TO CONTINUE IN YOUR BELIEF IS FOUND THROUGHOUT THE NEW TESTAMENT. THE PARABLE ABOVE IS CONFIRMED BY WHAT JESUS SAYS IN JOHN CHAPTER VERSE 2. LOOK:

"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."

NOTICE HOW JESUS SAID "IN ME". ARE YOU IN CHRIST? CAN YOU BE TAKEN AWAY FROM CHRIST? THE ANSWER IS OBVIOUSLY YES! YOU JUST READ IT!

Again, you are adding words that are not there. This verse does not say, "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away from Christ..." You simply added "from Christ" because you came to this verse with preconceived ideas, and therefore you are blinded to what the verse really says. The verse could just as easily mean (and in fact does mean) that "Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away" to Heaven.


IN CONCLUSION I WOULD LIKE TO SAY: YES, NO MAN CAN PLUCK YOU OUT OF GOD'S HANDS! ...BUT GOD CAN DROP YOU LIKE A HOT POTATO!!!

That is your opinion, but John chapter 6 says:

35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Jesus promises that He will not cast out those that come to Him, and He won't.  If you be among those who can be cast out, then you are not of those who have come to Christ.  Be careful lest your unbelief send you to Hell. It is dangerous to call Jesus Christ a liar by denying what He said in verse 37 (above). 

Do you really think you are righteous enough to keep your own self saved considering that the Bible says: "there is none righteous , no not one" (Romans 3:10) and "there is none that doeth good, no, not one." If you do not trust Christ to keep you saved, instead of continuing to trust in yourself, you will surely doom yourself to the eternal flames of the pit. I say this out of love, because it it the truth, and I do not want you to go to Hell. Don't trust in yourself---that is pride (sin)---, rather trust only in God.

In Christ,

Sal

HERE ARE SOME VERSES THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE OVERLOOKED:

John 8:31
Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, IF ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;

Yes, you must believe what God's word says. All who truly believe in Jesus Christ with their heart continue to believe God's word. However, if you do not believe all the multitude of verses in God's word which promise "eternal life" to the believer, then how can you honestly think you are continuing in God's word?


Acts 13:43 Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

Yes, you must continue in the grace of God. But if you think that you must do good works to keep yourself saved, then you are not continuing in the grace of God. Rather you are rejecting the grace of God, and continuing instead to trust in your own good works.

Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

There is a difference in "faith" and "the faith." "Faith" refers to heart belief in God. "The faith" refers to the complete body of doctrine found in the Bible; we are to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).  It you reject the Bible doctrine of etenal security, then you are not continuing in the faith.  Instead you are continuing in false doctrine.


Romans 11:20+ Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 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.

As in John chapter 6, these verses do not refer to being cut off from salvation, but rather from service. The Jewish nation was cut off from being God's voice to the nations of the world, and was replaced by Gentiles. Salvation is "by grace through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9). Rewards, however, come by works.

Note also that the term "natural branches" refers to the Jewish nation.  In the early days of the Jewish nation the majority of the Jewish people believed in the coming Messiah (Christ). However, in the passing of time more and more Jews were born who chose to not believe in Christ, until eventually the Jewish nation was controlled by these unbelievers who were highminded and thought that they could obtain salvation and could keep themselves saved by their own good works without Christ. Those unbelieving Jews to this day believe just like you do that the doctrine of eternal security in Christ is not true, but rather that they themselves have the power to save their own souls. Therefore God cut the Jewish nation off from being his servant. Of course, the unbelieving individual Jews were never saved in the first place. However, the individual believing Jews were once and forever saved at the moment they trusted Christ as Lord and Saviour. The Jewish nation being cut off from being God's oracle does not mean that the individual Jewish believers were cut off from salvation. Remember that Peter, Paul, and John were all Jews, but they were eternally saved because they believed God's record concerning His Son.

Colossians 1:21+ 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;

Are you continuing in "the faith" which teaches that salvation is once and forever? No. You have "moved away for the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard." Instead of believing the gospel, you are believing in yourself and your works.


1Timothy 4:16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.

Yes, Sal, this verse also is true; I have not overlooked any of these verses. You must take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine as taught in verses such as 1 John 5:10-13:

10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have [have is present tense, not future tense] eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Notice in the above verses that not only can you have eternal life right now, but also you can know right now that you have it right now!


2Timothy 3:14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; (you have to continue in what you have been assured of)

God has repeatedly assured you that there is eternal life in Christ. You learned that from reading my tract. More importantly, you learned that from the multitude of Bible verses quoted in my tract. But you have refused to continue in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of. You have to continue in these truths or you will be forever lost. It is not sufficient to just hear these truthes; you must also believe them in your heart.


James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

The law "of liberty" is much different from the law "of bondage" which you are confusing it with. The law of bondage says, Do or die. The law of liberty says, Believe and live. You have chosen to reject the law of liberty, and are continuing instead in the law of bondage. This will be fatal, except you repent.

Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.
7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.
8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.
9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

[Note in verse 10 above that if you want to be saved by your works you had better live it perfectly, for "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."   You know that you have not continued in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them."   So you are already cursed.  That is why you need to turn in repentance to the Lord Jesus Christ, and receive from Him the free gift of eternal life that He promises.]

11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.
12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.
13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
15 Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though it be but a man's covenant, yet if it be confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.
16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
18 For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.
19 Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator.
20 Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one.
21 Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.
22 But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed.
24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.
26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.
27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.


Galations 4:9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
12 Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.
13 Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.
14 And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
15 Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
16 Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
17 They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.
18 But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.
19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
20 I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
21 Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
22 For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
23 But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
24 Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
25 For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27 For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29 But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
30 Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
31 So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.


1John 2:23+ Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. IF that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

(That's a pretty big IF, wouldn't you say?)

Yes, it is a big if, and you had better not forget it. You have heard from God's record that by believing in Jesus Christ you can have eternal life immediately. However, you have not let God's record which you have heard remain in you, having rejected it. If you would only believe God's record you would instantly receive eternal life, but if you do not believe then there is no other hope for you. You have rejected God's promise and His gracious gift, and unless you repent of your unbelief you are doomed.

I do hope that you will believe God's record, and be eternally saved today. Having eternal life is so wonderful that no words can adequately discribe it.  If I you have further questions, please feel free to write me.

Eternally secure in Christ,
Louis A. Turk




Louis A. Turk, B.A., M.Div., Ph.D.

www.EternalSalvation.Org

The website dedicated to the study of eternal life.

ETERNAL LIFE IS NOT TEMPORARY LIFE!