Does This Text Teach that You can Lose Your Salvation?
By Steve Van Nattan
Introduction: This passage must be interpreted in the context of the whole chapter and the Bible. The Bible is its own best commentary, and your favorite scholar or creed is a lot of rubbish when either one disagrees with the whole context of the truth.
Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving
the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying
again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
A. What is impossible?
So this does NOT sound like saved people. The context is the top priority in all Bible study. In the context of the New Testament, the vocabulary in this text is NOT common to the Gospel message. It is bordering on blasphemy to twist God's Spirit's intention around to fit an Arminian application. Go ahead and believe God cannot keep you saved if you are fool enough to believe your God is so piddling weak. But, why bring damnation on your soul after all by trying to twist God's Word around to fit your presuppositions? Not smart friend!
B. Chapter context: "We" and "You" believers
Martha B. came to church one evening. She was late, and she arrived just as we were starting the Bible teaching time. We were pretty informal at Yermo Bible Church, and we were also having some fun on the preacher-- me. The deacons had come to me nine months earlier, and they had asked me to teach through the tongues chapters of First Corinthians, Chapters 12-14.
Well, I agreed with them that this was needed, but after giving it some thought and study, I asked them if I could start with chapter one and teach through the whole book. They agreed since there are about 25 problems in that book which are still with us today. So, I started through he book, and in those days I was pretty heavy into expository teaching.
Nine months later, that Sunday evening, I was getting a lot of ribbing from Dick Prebbenow and Chet Boyd. It had been a standing joke on me-- That is, how long it was taking me to get to Chapter Twelve of First Corinthians. That Sunday evening, I figured I would be in those chapters for a good long while dealing with the heresy of tongues as manifest in modern Christendom. So, I used the first Sunday evening just for introduction.
In that introduction, just after Martha B. came in quietly and sad in the back all alone, I told of all the errors we would be dealing with. I mentioned how tongues speaking was NOT an evidence of salvation. I told how we would learn that, even if tongues speaking were part of church life today, the Bible said it was ONLY used to edify, NOT to prove your salvation-- That tongues is not an "evidence" of anything. And, I mentioned how tongues speaking was not to be a badge of accomplishment in the Christian walk. I also mentioned how tongues speaking had resulted in a lot of disappointment in people who couldn't produce it.
Martha B. was all dressed up in a modest Western outfit, and she had long flowing red hair which was showing some tinges of her years. She really looked the part of one of the ladies who would be out on the verandah of the Ponderosa ranch. But, she also had a face overshadowed with a weary expression. The further I went, and you must remember, this was only introduction-- The further I went, the more intense her face became. Pretty soon I looked back at Martha, and the tears were just flowing down her face like a storm.
I figured this was a lady who was in trouble and had stopped by the church house for a place to get some release from something, and I just let her cry. I did not feel I should make her a spectacle by asking what was troubling her.
On Sunday evening, after the lesson had progressed a while, I would open it up to discussion and questions. The folks jumped right in as usual. After a while, Martha stood, holding the back of the pew in front of her in a tight grip like she had been drowning and had just caught a life line. She then went on to tell, briefly, her tale. Later, we heard the whole story, and this is how it was.
Martha and Johnny B. were Western performers. Johnny had at one time been the second fastest gun in the world in shows and state fairs. He had played second to many famous Western movie stars, one being Gene Awtry. Johnny and Martha had had to hit the road and do small performances. Johnny was old now, and he was slow on the draw. He was not longer safe with real bullets and had to fire blanks. He still was paid some small cash to do the gun spinning tricks and so on, but times were tough for Johnny and Martha.
They pulled into a town about 45 miles south of us out in the California Dessert. They set up camp in their camper, and they started going to church more regularly at the local Pentecostal church there. Soon, the pastor and the folks in the church told Johnny and Martha that they needed to prove they were born again, and they should do this by going to the altar every Sunday until they "got the gift" of speaking in tongues.
Johnny and Martha, as weary and troubled as they were with their failing lives, were eager to find assurance of salvation. Martha had believed in Jesus Christ for salvation as a young lady, but she had not walked close to the Lord for many years. Johnny didn't have any assurance of salvation, though he said he too had believed in Christ.
Well, Johnny and Martha went forward every Sunday, time after time, to receive the gift of tongues. All the people around them who went forward got the gift, but they waited in vain, never being able to speak in tongues. The people of the church formed prayer circles and prayed for them, and the pastor encouraged them over and over to find ways to get the gift.
Finally, after everyone was exhausted with trying to help Johnny and Martha "get the gift", the pastor told Johnny and Martha that he had to conclude that they were not truly born again, or they would be able to speak in tongues. Johnny and Martha went home that Sunday broken hearted, for what their souls hungered for was the refreshing that wandering saints one day come to desire, and that scum head preacher didn't give it to them-- He gave them the assurance that they had lost their salvation and were on their way to hell.
The next week, they moved to Yermo, where out church was, and set up camp in a trailer park nearby. That Sunday evening, Martha told Johnny she still wanted to find a church to visit, even though they had both concluded they were no longer born again. That was the Sunday evening Martha walked in quietly and sat in the back of our assembly.
As Martha finished her story, there was a hush that came over our assembly. Martha was weeping for joy, for she had gotten hope and was finding the joy of her salvation again. At the same time, all of us in the assembly realized that, in what I thought was merely an introduction to deeper things to come, a sovereign God was gently leading his little lamb back to the fold for comfort and solace. A deep exposition might have gone right past Martha in the state her soul was in. The folks in the assembly later spoke in awe of how God was leading. What we thought was nine months of taking too long to get to the point, was right on schedule with our Lord and Master of time and space. God knew exactly how to time those events to make sure that Martha got the joy of her salvation back.
Such miracles of timing and sovereign acts of our God to bring together events in perfect sequence are just as mighty as any alleged healing you ever saw. I am sick of this frenzy of seeking signs and wonders. This event I am telling you about is all the sign I will ever need, and many times over the years God has reminded me that He is taking care of things when I started wondering if He was paying attention. I just recall that evening when Martha walked in and sat back yonder in the back pew.
Johnny came with Martha the next Sunday, and we had a church dinner. Johnny brought his harmonica, and he played and sang. He was pretty shallow, but considering how long he had been "away from the gentle shepherd's fold", our folks tried to be patient. Johnny thanked me profusely for helping him and his wife find new assurance. Johnny and Martha were the happiest people you ever saw. Martha took a real interest in things, and she grew strong in her renewed faith in Christ, for she had always had it. It WAS possible to renew her.
A few weeks passed, and one day, in the middle of the week, a big black beat up Cadillac rolled up to our front door. Out of the car rolled, yes rolled, a big puffy eyed greasy looking Pentecostal preacher. I knew what he was as soon as I saw him. He started shouting and praising the Lord, and I got ready to do a little snake handling. Too many of them in the High Dessert anyway. This fat faced throwback from Scumville finally took a break from his counterfeit praise session, and he asked where Johnny and Martha were. I asked why he needed to know, though I had a pretty good idea. He said they had gone to his church, and he wanted to visit them.
Folks, I have to confess two things. First, I wanted to punch that fat faced devil so bad. I had a very hard time to restrain myself. Second, I lied. I told the Pentecostal preacher I didn't know where they were, then I went and got in my car and went and watched Johnny's trailer for a good hour to make sure that preacher never found them. I still get mad when I think what that devil did to Johnny and Martha.
If someone told you that you lost your salvation, and you KNOW you once accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior by faith. And, if you know you once had victory in Christ and spoke for Him and lived for Him, then you are still His. I don't care how dirty you have gotten and how far you wandered off, Jesus will not forget one of His sheep. I want you to read the following story Jesus told on a hillside in Palestine one day, and I want you to know He was talking about a lost sheep just like you. The Good Shepherd will never forget one of His sheep-- He will go find them, and He will bring them back. Read this story and just decide to go back and get into the sheep fold where you belong the first chance you get:
Luke 15:3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
Often the word "lost" here is taken to mean you can lose your salvation. The point here is that the sheep was the shepherd's in the first place, and it was lost. The shepherd did not abandon the lost sheep or expect it to come find the fold on its own. The shepherd went looking for HIS sheep. And, he found it. If you are far from God right now, stop listening to those who tell you you can lose your salvation, and consider yourself FOUND right now. Perhaps through this article, the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, has found you. He still loves you. Simply kneel down right where you are, or bow your head, and tell Jesus you want to be His found sheep. Thank Him for never forgetting you.
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and
I know them, and they follow me:
loves me, this I know,
Jesus loves me,