30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM

Clarksville church of Christ

January 23, 2000

Speaker: Richie Thetford

"Can A Child of God Fall From Grace?"

A very pleasant good morning to each one of you who has honored us with your time and attention this morning here on WAVE 1450. This is Richard Thetford, Evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ. It is so good to have you in our audience and I hope and pray that you have your Bibles open, with pen and paper before you, that we may study together, "What Saith the Scriptures?" Let me remind you once again, if you would like to have a copy of this transcript, or a cassette of this program, as well as any previous ones, please let us know by writing to the Clarksville church of Christ, 407 W. Hwy 131, Clarksville, Indiana 47129 or you may call us at 944-2305. I will give this information again to you at the close of our study together. But, now to our lesson for the morning entitled "Can A Child of God Fall from the Grace of God?"

But, first, what do I mean when I speak of a Child of God? I am talking about a person who has examined the claims of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and responded to His commandments. One cannot please God without faith in Jesus Christ. So states the Hebrew writer in Hebrews 11:6,"Without faith it is impossible to please Him." Faith will lead one to ask the same question that was asked in Acts 2:37, "What shall we do?" These people who asked the question had been convicted of their sins by the message of the apostle Peter. The answer was, "Repent, and be baptized everyone one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). Those who responded and obeyed those commands were then added to the Lord's family (Acts 2:47). They had become the children of God, born into His family. They had been forgiven of past sins; made free by the blood of Christ. They were made right in God's sight.

There are those in the religious world who teach that one who is a child of God, the one who is in the family of God, cannot so sin so as to be lost in eternity. It is sometimes heard in these words: "Once a child of God, always a child of God." Or, "Once saved, always saved." Or, "God is stronger than Satan, and He will not allow Satan to have one of His children." Our question is, Does God's Word teach this? You should not be interested in what I believe on the subject or in what anyone else believes, but we must be extremely interested in what God says in His revealed truth. We need to answer the question of "What Is Truth?" with the Word of God. And to God's book we now turn to ask ourselves the question, "Can a child of God so sin as to be lost in an eternal hell?"

Let us keep the issue crystal clear. I am not discussing whether or not the Child of God should sin; or if he or she will sin; but we are discussing CAN the child of God sin so as to be lost; is it possible for that to happen? So our question of study we state once again: "Can a child of God so sin as to be finally lost in eternity? Cast from the presence of Jehovah, to dwell for eternity in Satan's abode?

The first scripture that I call to you attention is Revelation 2:10. "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee the crown of life." How long is the child of God to be faithful in order to receive the crown of life? Until death. I realize that this passage is discussing being faithful in the face of death; even if you die because of your faith. But, it also means as long as one shall live. Is it possible for one to become unfaithful? Evidently it is, because John, by the Spirit, admonished those in Ephesus to be faithful until death. What happens if one becomes unfaithful? That one shall not receive the crown of life. And if no crown of life, then no eternity in the presence of Jehovah God.

I now read from 1 Corinthians 10:1-4, "For I would not, brethren, have you ignorant, that our fathers were all under the could, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual food; and did all drink the same spiritual rock that followed them: and the rock was Christ." Here Paul speaks of the Israelites, the children of God under that former dispensation, the law of Moses. God delivered them from the bondage of Egypt and freed them from that slavery. But you will notice in the next verses that they did not remain faithful unto God. Listen to the inspired writer, beginning with verse 5, "But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play." Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages have come." Here were God's children, freed from the bondage of slavery, yet, they committed sins and God refused their entrance into Canaan, the promised land.

Did you notice what Paul was saying? He was warning the Corinthian brethren not to commit the same type of sins; Idolatry, fornication, murmuring. Can Christians commit idolatry, fornication? Evidently they can, because Paul was warning them not to do these things. Then, the apostle concludes with verse 12, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." Can a child of God fall? Paul teaches that one can fall. If one cannot fall, then why would Paul warn against falling? Do you think that a Christian who falls by committing these sins will be ushered into God's presence in eternity?

Friends, I now invite you to turn with me to 2 Peter 2:4. There it states: "For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment" If God requires angels to remain faithful, does He require any less from those who are His children. Are children of God any more secure than angels?

I invite you to look a little further down in this second chapter of 2nd Peter to verses 20 and 21. Notice what Peter writes here:"For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them." You will note that these to whom the apostle Peter make reference had at one time escaped the defilements of the world. How did they escape? Through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In other words, they had been forgiven of their sins, they had come out of the world of defilements. But, now, they had reverted back to their old life. They had become entangled AGAIN. What does the word AGAIN suggest to you. It means a second time. They had been in sin, they had escaped that sin, and they were onceAGAIN entangled therein. Peter says that they were in a worse condition now than they had been in previously. In what way could it be worse? Because they now had nothing to bring them out of sin. They had already experienced the cleansing of the blood of Christ. They had now turned their back upon that cleansing. What can be used to draw them back? Thus, their present condition was worse than their first. They stood condemned because they had gone back into their former deeds. They were now overcome again. And Peter says that their condition is now worse than it was in the first place. What was their first condition? They were entangled in the defilements of the world. How better could you describe a person who is lost in sin, separated from Jehovah God, headed for eternal destruction and the horrors of hell fire. They had escaped that condition, but now had gone back into the old life of sin. Indeed, they are in a worse condition than they were previously in.

Now, lets turn to John 15:1-6. Here the text of the Bible says:"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned." You will note in the words of Christ Jesus, that a man may become a branch to bear fruit. Yet, that same branch may cease bearing fruit and be cast forth and be burned. You should also notice that Christ is not discussing denominations, but he is discussing men. These branches in Christ are not denominations, they are individuals who have become a part of the true vine, Christ Jesus. Yet, these branches that do not become fruitful shall be cast forth into the fire and be burned. How could one describe being lost any better than that? Now friends, here are a few questions: Can a branch in Christ Jesus quit producing fruit? If so, what happens to that branch? Christ says it is burned. Does that sound like, "It makes no difference what one does"? Yes, it is a dangerous thing to become unfaithful, to quit serving our Lord.

I now read Hebrews 10:38-39, "But my righteous one shall live by faith: And if he shrink back, my soul hath no pleasure in him. But we are not of them that shrink back unto perdition; but of them that have faith unto the saving of the soul." In verse 32 of the same chapter, we learn, "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after you were enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings." These to whom the writer wrote to had been enlightened; they had been made free from sin; they had suffered much because of their obedience. To these he said, If you shrink back, God has no pleasure in you. Yes, a child of God can shrink back into the ways of perdition. And if he or she does, the inspired writer says that God has no pleasure in you. What do you think it means when it says that God has no pleasure in you? Surely you would not conclude that the Lord is pleased and satisfied with that individual.

Now please turn with me in your Bible to Jude, verses 5 and 6. There it states: "But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;" Would you say that the Israelites were not God's children? I doubt that any would make that statement. And yet, these children of God were destroyed. They did not enter into the promised land, as we have seen already in this brief lesson. If God demanded faithfulness upon the part of the Israelites, surely He expects no less from His children today.

Now I want to introduce some passages which warn each of us about going back into the ways of the world; the danger of walking in sin. I turn first to the context of Luke 15, the parable of the Prodigal Son. I will not read the complete context because of the length of it. But, you might remember that this boy asked of his father that he might receive his inheritance. Upon receiving it, he went to a far country and wasted it with riotous (or evil) living. Finally, when his inheritance was all spent, he found himself feeding swine. A despicable occupation for a Jew. He decided to go back to his father's house and confess his sins.

The Father, eagerly looking for his return, met him and restored him to his place in the family. Now someone may say, you see preacher, this child returned to his father. And that is so. But, did you notice what the father said. "For this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost, and is found." Had the son died? No! Was the son actually lost? No! He knew the way back home. What is meant by the terms "He was dead" and "He was lost"? It means that he was separated (one meaning of the term "dead") from the father's love and fellowship. Being lost means he was away from the father.

Someone may also say, "Don't you see that this boy was always a child of his fathers?" And I agree. But, he was a lost child, a separated child, a child away from the care and protection of his father. Had that boy died in the pig pen, he would have died out of the fellowship of the father. Away from the blessings of the Father.

You will note that the Father did not force the boy to return home. He did not send the elder brother out looking for him. So, likewise, when a Christian turns back to the ways of the world and walks in sins once more, God will not force his return. We each have the choice as to the life we live. Jehovah desires our faithfulness. Our continual obedience. But the decision rests with each one. I serve God because I wish to serve Him, not because he forces or compels me. And the same is so with each one in this listening audience, and as far as that goes for all who live in the flesh.

So, I ask you a question. While the boy in the parable was feeding the swine, was he in fellowship with his father or was he lost from that relationship? The father states that he was lost. He was dead. Oh, he was not dead physically, but he was away from the Father. Can a child of God be lost? Jesus seemed to think so, or this parable has no meaning to it.

Again, lets look at another Bible passage dealing with this subject. Turn now to 1 Corinthians 9:26- 27, The Bible says: "Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified." Paul, are you telling us that you could become a castaway or be rejected? It sort of sounds like it, doesn't it? Paul recognized that if his body was not kept under subjection that he would be rejected by the Lord. Paul had to keep himself under control. He could not live in the lust of the flesh and still please God. Neither can you, nor I, my friends. We, too, must keep our bodies under control at all times. We, too, must buffet our bodies. I, nor are you, any better than the apostle Paul. And what Paul felt, we too must understand. If we would please the Lord, we simply cannot walk in the sins of the world about us. Does this mean that we must live a perfectly sinless life at all times, that we cannot sin. No, it does not mean that. It does mean that the child of God does not desire to commit sin. When sin is committed, we must confess that sin and ask for God's forgiveness. We are not discussing whether or not a Christian should commit sin, or whether or not the Christian will sin. All students of the Word of God know that if we say we have no sin the truth is not in us. So states John in 1 John 1:8. But, can a Christian revert back to the ways of the world, walk in and live in sin? Surely he can. And if he dies in that condition, what shall be the eternal destiny of that one. Paul says that one would become a castaway or be rejected.

Turn now in your Bible to Galatians 5:4. There it says: "You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace." Who is the "You" in the context? To whom is Paul writing this letter? He is writing unto the churches of Galatia (chapter 1, verse 2), unto brethren in the Lord (chapter 1, verse 11); those who had been baptized into Christ (chapter 3, verse 27). He's writing to children of God. There were some of them who wished to bind circumcision upon the Gentile converts. Paul is telling them, if they seek to bind circumcision upon the new converts, seeking to be justified by the law, then they were fallen away from grace. Can one fall from the rooftop of a building if they were never on the rooftop? How can one fall from the grace of God, if that one has never been in the grace of God? It would be an impossibility to fall from grace unless one was in that grace. And yet, Paul warns, "those who would seek to be justified by the law, you are fallen away from grace." So, we ask again, Is it possible for a child of God to fall from Grace? The inspired apostle seems to think that it is. And in view of all the other passages we have studied, the inspired Word of God teaches the danger of apostasy and the possibility of one's falling away from the living God.

In 2 Peter 1:10, we read, "Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if you do these things, you shall never stumble:" First, note, the apostle is addressing "brethren." Who are brethren? They are those in the family of God, having the same Father, they are brethren. What were these brethren warned against doing? Peter says that they (and us) must do "these things." What are "these things"? The "these things" are the things listed in the preceding verses: faith, virtue, knowledge, self- control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. He says that if we do these things we shall never stumble. What if I do not add these virtues on a continuing basis to my life? I will fall, stumble. You will also notice the writer says that we are to make our calling and election sure. Do we have a part in securing eternal salvation? Of course we do. It is by our own choice that I choose to obey Jehovah and to remain faithful. God has not put a protective bubble around us and removed our choice in our desire to serve Him. Though He has promised to be with us, we must continually seek His companionship and guidance, which comes through His word.

Hebrews 4:1, reads, "Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience." The writer says, "Let US." Words mean something. Who are the "us" in this verse. It would be the ones to whom he is writing and himself. In other words, Christians. Specifically, Jewish Christians of the first century. But, also, all who shall become Christians through the teachings of the apostles (Matt 28:18-20). That includes you and it includes me, if we have obeyed the words of Christ Jesus and become His disciples, the children of God. Thus, to "us" he says, "that no man fall." Can the Christian fall? Surely, he can. What if he or she does fall? Are they pleasing unto Jehovah? To ask the question is to answer it. The falling in this context involves becoming "disobedient." Read the verse again, "Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, that no man fall after the same example of disobedience."Can the Christian become disobedient? The Hebrew writer seems to think that he can. Will the disobedient be saved? Who would say that they will?

Revelation 3:5, states: "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels." What does it mean to "blot out his name." It means to erase it, to remove it from the page. In order for us to not have our name blotted out, we must overcome. We simply cannot give in to the flesh and expect our name to be confessed before the Father. In order to have one's name blotted out of the book of life, it necessarily follows that one's name was in that book of life. How could a name be blotted out that was not there in the first place? So, one who has been placed in God's book may have that name removed, blotted out. Doesn't that sound like a child of God can so sin so as to lose heaven? To have his or her name removed from God's record.

In the same third chapter of Revelation, this time in verses 14- 16 it says:"These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: "I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth." Here is a group of lukewarm Christians whom John says the Lord shall "vomit out of His mouth." What does it mean to "vomit out of His mouth." It means to dispose of. They had become nauseating unto the Lord. Do you honestly think that a group of God's people thus described are going to be accepted by the Lord? And yet, there are those who claim that the way a Christian lives has nothing to do with the eternal destiny of their soul. Who can believe that?

The apostle Paul states it very plainly again in Romans 11:22 concerning the possibility of falling away. There it says: "Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off." Friends, it can not get any plainer than that. If we continue in His goodness, obeying His will for us, then we will be able to stand in God's goodness. However, if we do not abide in His will, then we will be cut off. This means we will not gain heaven but rather will be cast away into Hell. A child of God must CONTINUE to live righteously to be pleasing to God. If we rebel, and turn to sin, we will be cut off.

Romans 8:13, reads, "for if you live (walk) after the flesh, you must die;" You will note that Paul is speaking to brethren, members of the family of God. And he states that if they live or walk after the flesh they would die. He is not discussing physical death, for all must face physical death. Paul is discussing spiritual death, separation from Jehovah. Do we mean that a child of God can be separated from the Father? That is exactly what is stated. Paul says that to live or walk after the flesh will bring about spiritual death, separation from the father. Yes, indeed, a child of God can so sin so as to be lost in eternity.

Friends, look at your Bible. The first four books have been written to convince the world that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. The next book, the book of Acts, was written to tell people how to become a child of God. The next 22 books were written to tell the children of God how to live and act. What purpose would it be to write 22 books to tell children of God how to act if they cannot lose their eternal reward? This is something that we should all think seriously about. Our eternal destiny depends upon it.

Thank you for listening this morning and I want to invite you to listen again next week at this same time as we discuss the question, Can We All See the Bible the Same Way? It is my hope and prayer that you will strive to learn "What Is Truth?" in matters of religion!

This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"