Categories of Difficult Passages


1.  Profession mistaken for Conversion

  • Matthew 7:22-23
  • Performing miracles is not proof of salvation because Satan can perform miracles.
  • NOTICE that Jesus is NOT quoted as saying that “I used to know you” BUT, rather, “I never knew you“, which implies that they were never in a relationship with Jesus and that they were never converted at all …  even though they claimed, and may even have believed, otherwise …
  • so this passage is not talking about loss of salvation, at all.
  • Matthew 13:1-8
  • The four types of soil represents four types of hearts.
  • NOTE that this is a parable, which was told to make a single point … and, in this case, the point is not about loss of salvation …
  • The parable is about spiritual growth that depends of being rooted in the word of God … so the parable is about growth, low growth or no growth, at all …
  • NOTE, also, that there is NO mention of loss of salvation … The crops that withered or got choked could be referring to loss of rewards … and not to loss of salvation.
  • (NOTE … We should never use a parable as a basis for developing doctrine.)
  • Luke 11:24-26
  • Some claim that the departure of the demon meant that the person was saved … and return of the demon meant the person lost salvation … That is faulty theology, however, because salvation depends on God’s grace, not on the presence or absence of a demon …
  • That said, the departure of a demon does not necessarily mean salvation … and the return of a demon does not mean loss of salvation.
  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
  • In this passage, Paul is NOT saying that any of the Corinthians had lost his/her salvation … Note that he calls them “believers”
  • Paul is dealing with the content of the Gospel.
  • He is saying that salvation is based only on the Gospel that he preached … and, if any Corinthian believed salvation depended on any other gospel, then he/she would have believed in vain …
  • That said, this passage is NOT about loss of salvation, BUT about a false sense of security, resulting from a wrong understanding, based upon a belief in a wrong gospel.
  • 2 Timothy 2:14-19
  • Context: Two men, who taught error, even though professing to be Christians.
  • The men professed, but didn’t possess
  • 1 John 2:19
  • The people were “not of us” … they were professors, not possessors
  • NOTE:  Scriptures show that there is a difference between a real possession of faith and a mere profession of faith … Clearly, there were people who had made a profession of faith and, for a while, appeared to be believers, but their subsequent actions showed that they were only professing without believing.  These two passages are not about loss of salvation … because salvation had never occurred
  • We receive salvation the moment we believe Jesus of Nazareth is the only begotten Son of God, that He is whom He claims to be and He is our only way to salvation.

2.  Absence of Fruit of Salvation

  • John 8:31
  • True salvation is evidenced by fruits, BUT …
  • the absence of fruits is NOT proof of loss of salvation
  • Fruits always refer to discipleship, NOT salvation.
  • They were believers … had received salvation … but were not producing fruit.
  • This verse is about discipleship, not about salvation.
  • John 15:1-6
  • about fruit-bearing and rewards … or lack of fruit and loss of rewards (NOT loss of salvation)
  • First 11 verses of John 15 is talking about fruit-bearing.
  • NOTE John 15:3 … They were already clean (saved) … but not bearing fruit.
  • Fruits always refer to discipleship, NOT salvation
  • James 2:17-18, 24-26  …
  • Even though salvation is apart from works … True saving faith will manifest in works (or fruit)
  • James is talking about works as evidence of salvation.
  • 2 Peter 1:10-11
  • Peter’s point:  Demonstrate your election by being obedient … and bearing fruit.
  • Merely claiming to be a believer does not make it so … True faith is evidenced by works
  • Peter is talking about discipleship fruit … NOT about loss of salvation, BUT about failure to demonstrate salvation (by their lack of works).
  • “Stumbling” … a reference to failure to demonstrate salvation by obedience to works, NOT loss of salvation
  • 1 John 3:10
  • NOT about believers who have lost salvation … BUT about a contrast between “children of God” and “children of the devil” … true believers with unbelievers …
  • NOT not two levels of believers, but two sets of children — believers and unbelievers (who never received salvation).
  • Fruits refer to discipleship, not to salvation.
  • 1 John 3:6-10 … Everyone who resides in him does not sin; everyone who sins has neither seen him nor known him. 3:7 Little children, let no one deceive you: The one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as Jesus is righteous. 3:8 The one who practices sin is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was revealed: to destroy the works of the devil. 3:9 Everyone who has been fathered by God does not practice sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God. 3:10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are revealed: Everyone who does not practice righteousness—the one who does not love his fellow-Christian — is not of God.
  • 1 John 3:6 … occurs in a section where John is giving reasons why believers should not sin. Here he gives one reason after another not to question our salvation but to motivate believers to walk in the light.
  • Does 1 John 3:6b mean the abiding believer, the one who clings to Christ, actually never sins?
  • Such an idea would contradict 1 John 1:8, 10 and 1 John 5:16, given our weakness and lack of perfection in this life, even abiding believers sin. So what does John mean?

As an illustration, let’s say a young child steals a pack of gum at the supermarket. When the mother finds out, she says, “the members of this family do not steal. Do you understand that?” Does that make sense? One of them had just done that very thing. What was this mother saying? She was saying that stealing was against the moral standards of their family, and therefore, the little boy had to learn this lesson and refrain from ever doing it again. She wasn’t saying she had gone around and checked and found that none of the members of the family had ever stolen. She was pointing out the standards of their family as a motivation to her son.

John is simply telling us, this is the standard, that we do not sin, and we need to get with the plan. He is not denying that believers sin or that they can fall into the pattern of sinning. To drive this concept home even more, this verse is followed by more reasons and illustrations against sin in the lives of believers.

Another statement for motivation is in verse 9: “Everyone who has been fathered by God does not practice sin, because God’s seed resides in him, and thus he is not able to sin, because he has been fathered by God.” It is not saying believers are incapable of sinning. This would contradict the verses mentioned above.

Most take this verse to mean that John is saying Christians cannot sin or will not sin habitually. Is this what John is saying? No. I do not believe this is his point. “Practices” is a misleading translation. If that was John’s point, the Greek prasso, which John uses in the verses below, could have expressed that more clearly.

John 3:20 For everyone who does ( prasso) evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed.

John 5:29  and will come out—the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done ( prasso) what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation.

So, what is John saying? The word “cannot” does not always mean incapable. It can also mean unwilling. The following New Testament passages illustrates this:

Luke 11:5-7  Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6 because a friend of mine has stopped here while on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7 Then he will reply from inside, ‘Do not bother me. The door is already shut, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.’

Luke 14:20  Another said, ‘I just got married, and I cannot come.’

Mark 1:45  But as the man went out he began to announce it publicly and spread the story widely, so that Jesus was no longer able to enter any town openly but stayed outside in remote places. Still they kept coming to him from everywhere.

Mark 6:3-5  Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And aren’t his sisters here with us?” And so they took offense at him. 4 Then Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown, and among his relatives, and in his own house.” 5 He was not able to do a miracle there, except to lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.

1 Corinthians 10:21  You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot take part in the table of the Lord and the table of demons.

1 John 3 is saying we must be unwilling to sin because we were born of God’s nature. This is much like Romans 6:1-10, which follows the declaration of Romans 5:20-21.

Let’s say a doctor tells a smoker with throat problems, “You cannot smoke again.” This doesn’t mean the person is incapable of smoking but that he must not because of the physical consequences to his body.

It is clear from the life of King David, who is called a man after God’s own heart, that believers can and do fall into serious sin and for long periods of time. For believers in Christ (with all that they have in Christ) to live under sin’s reign like the unbelieving world is an illogical and contradictory position. It carries with it very serious consequences including the possibility of the sin unto death as God’s divine discipline to stop the pattern of sinning.

1 Corinthians 11:27-32  For this reason, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead. 31 But if we examined ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the world.

1 John 5:16-17  If anyone sees his fellow Christian committing a sin not resulting in death, he should ask, and God will grant life to the person who commits a sin not resulting in death. There is a sin resulting in death. I do not say that he should ask about that. 17 All unrighteousness is sin, but there is sin not resulting in death.


3.  False Teachers (who never received salvation)

  • Matthew 7:15
  • NOT about “sheep” who became “wolves” … BUT about “wolves” who were never “sheep” …
  • They were never sheep .. they were always wolves.
  • It is NOT about believers who became false prophets, BUT about persons who were never believers to begin with
  • Acts 20:29-30
  • NOT about disciples or other believers, BUT about false prophets who rose up from without or within the church and who were never believers in the first place.
  • The term “savage wolves” is not a reference to believers
  • The “wolves” could never lose a salvation they never possessed.
  • Romans 16:17-18
  • The passage is speaking about false teachers who corrupt the church, BUT it does not say the false teachers were believers who lost salvation … NOT about loss of salvation, BUT about false prophets
  • The false teachers/prophets never served Christ … They served their bellies.
  • The passage is NOT about teachers who lost salvation, BUT about teachers who had never received salvation.
  • 2 Corinthians 11:13-15
  • NOT about loss of salvation, BUT about correction of false teachers …
  • The passage speaks of “false apostles” and “deceitful workers” who are also referred to as “ministers” of Satan …
  • NOTE that the reference is to “his ministers” (i.e. Satan’s ministers)
  • NOTE that the passage does not say that they were once ministers of righteousness … it says they were impersonating such
  • 1 Timothy 4:1-2
  • NOT about loss of salvation, BUT about a fall from faith (which was professed, but not really possessed)
  • The passage is more about persons who professed to be believers, but who were not true believers (as indicated by the fact that they yielded to seducing, demonic spirits and were teaching false doctrine).
  • They claimed to be believers, but their apostasy proved that they were only mixed in with those who had truly received salvation, but who, themselves, had never received salvation.
  • The passage is about false teachers (apostates), who never received salvation … not about true believers who lost their salvation.
  • 2 Peter 2:19-22
  • Peter was NOT talking about persons who lost salvation … BUT about false teachers (who have destructive heresies … and deny Christ)
  • NOTE 2 Peter 2:1-2, 21 which shows Peter was talking about false teachers who came into the body … with destructive heresies that could cause others to blaspheme … despite knowing the way of righteousness.
  • NOTE verse 19, again … Peter was NOT talking about believers, BUT about false teachers, persons who never converted to begin with.
  • They understood the Gospel, but rejected Christ, by denying the person and works of Christ.
  • 1 John 2:19
  • NOT about believers who lost salvation, BUT about persons who, while being part of a Christian fellowship, at one time, were never really converted and eventually left the fellowship …
  • NOTE that John said they were “not of us” and the fact that they “went out from us” was proof that they were “not of us” … they were never saved
  • John was not saying that those who left were once saved, but lost their salvation … He is saying that they left because they were never really “of us” (the true believers)
  • Again, the passage is about false brethren who were never really converted, even though numbered among the members of the church
  • Jude 1:3-4, 5-11, 12-19
  • Like the passage in 2 Peter, this passage is talking about persons who knew what the Gospel was about, but who rejected the truth of the Gospel and were actually teaching contrary to the Gospel …
  • Again, the passage is NOT about believers who lost salvation, BUT about persons who were never converted to begin with.

4.  Basic warnings to all men

  • 1 John 5:4-5 … NOT saying that only believers who overcome the world will retain their salvation, BUT that everyone who is born of God overcomes the world, by virtue of that birth from above.  And who is the one who overcomes the world?  The one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
  • Revelation 22:19 … NOT saying that anyone who takes away from the words of the Book of Revelation will lose salvation, BUT that anyone who denies the truth in the Book will be punished.  There will be punishment, yes, but there is no mention of loss of salvation.
  • The purpose of warnings in the Scriptures was to incite to greater faith and to prayer … They were about the duty of believers, not their ability – to show what should or should not be done … They were never intended, however, to threaten believers with loss of salvation.

5.  Loss of Rewards confused with Loss of Salvation

  • The Judgement Seat of Christ is only for believers … and the issue there is not about salvation or loss of salvation … The issue is about rewards (for faithful service since receiving salvation as a believer) or loss of rewards.
  • Those who say “once saved, always saved” are correct, just as a butterfly, which was once a caterpillar, cannot return to being a caterpillar … but that does not mean it doesn’t matter how they live after receiving salvation
  • Appearance at the Judgement Seat (Bema Judgement, not Great White Throne Judgement) is not about loss of salvation, but about loss of rewards that could have been received,
  • Think of the Judgement Seat as an awards banquet, where there is a table for each believer … and on each table are the rewards that each particular believer will receive … Those rewards could (in some cases) fewer than the total number chat could have been received.
  • What are the rewards?
  • Consider the parable of the talents.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:10-15
  • NOT about loss of salvation, BUT about loss of reward(s) …
  • NOTE, in verse 15, that the person is saved, even though losing things related to him/her …
  • Interestingly, even though “fire” is referred to, it is a fire that purges and purifies the individual, rather than destroys the individual.
  • This passage discusses the fact and basis of the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Judgment Seat of Christ is a future evaluation for believers only, and the issue is not salvation. The issue is Jesus’ acknowledging and rewarding acts of obedience of those believers who faithfully served Him during their journey and Jesus not rewarding those who chose not to serve Him during their journey.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:11 … the foundation of your salvation was laid by Jesus Christ … Your salvation rests solely on that foundation.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:12 … your journey involves building your life … either on that foundation or your own foundation
  • If you build on your own foundation (live for yourself) during your journey, you will only produce wood, hay and straw … However, if you build on the foundation laid by Christ (if you live for Christ) during your journey, you will produce gold, silver, and precious stones.
  • Building on your own foundation results in no reward … but building on Christ’s foundation results in rewards.
  • Most importantly, according to 1 Corinthians3:15, even if you lose your potential rewards, you cannot lose your salvation?
  • This passage teaches that you can lose your rewards, but not your gift (your salvation).
  • 1 Corinthians 9:25-27
  • Is Paul talking about being disqualified and losing his salvation, as a result?
  • NO.  He is talking about being disqualified and losing rewards.
  • Paul is talking about rewards and loss of rewards, NOT loss of salvation.
  • He talks about 1) running a race … for a reward and 2) fighting a good fight (instead of beating the air) … Rewards is the issue.
  • He was writing to believers, whom Paul is encouraging to live for God stay the course, when everything is pulling them away from serving God … obedience and conformity to God’s word will result in rewards when Christ returns … because Paul knows God has rewards for them.
  • To be “rejected” does not have to mean losing salvation … The context of the passage is that of a race, where one is rewarded at the end … So, the passage is about loss of rewards, NOT loss of salvation.
  • To be “disqualified” is disqualification for rewards, not for salvation.
  • Passages that deal with the Bema (the Judgment Seat of Christ) and are thus warning believers against the potential loss of rewards — rather than the loss or lack of salvation.

6.  The Olive Tree

  • Romans 11:17-24
  • Some teach that this passage proves one can lose salvation because being grafted into the olive tree means being saved, while being cut off means losing salvation … For that to be valid, however, the olive tree would have to have to represent salvation, but it does not …
  • Paul is not dealing with conditions for salvation (He dealt with those in earlier chapters).
  • He is not dealing with the security of the believer.
  • The olive tree represents a place of blessing — which are available through the Jewish covenants (especially the Abrahamic covenant)  … and the natural branches represent the Jews (natural, physical descendants), whereas the other branches represent Gentiles …
  • The “broken off” branches refer to physical Jews … the “grafted in ” branches refer to Gentiles, who will share in the physical blessings.
  • Paul is talking about two national divisions.
  • So, the passage is NOT about loss of salvation, BUT about loss of national blessings

7.  The “IF” clauses in Letter to the Hebrews

  • Some take the “IF” clauses in HEBREWS to be conditions for salvation, meaning a person will be saved IF he does certain things … or lose salvation IF he doesn’t do certain other things.
  • These clauses in Hebrews, however, are warnings to press on to spiritual maturity … and failure to heed these warnings could result in physical death, NOT spiritual death (or loss of salvation).
  • God’s discipline can (and did at times) result in physical death.
  • Hebrews 2:3
  • Hebrews 3:6, 14
  • In understanding these “IF” passages, it is helpful to understand the context
  • Audience: Hebrew Jews in Jerusalem (as opposed to Hellenistic Jews) …
  • Date: ca 66AD, about 4 years before fall of Jerusalem … so probably written during the siege of Jerusalem …
  • Purpose: to encourage the Hebrews in Jerusalem to endure and press on to spiritual maturity.  Why?  Many of the Hebrew believers were suffering, being ostracized, even killed because of their faith … and some were contemplating going underground to avoid persecution and resurface later.
  • NOTE:  The writer was addressing physical death, not spiritual death or loss of salvation … and he was telling them that going underground was not the way to avoid being killed … and if they stood firm in their faith, they would be delivered.
  • Hebrews 6:4-8 …  Some believe this passage is talking about unbelievers, who were never really saved, and so they leave the church and go to Hell.
  • The wording about those who”have tasted the heavenly gift” and who “share in the Holy Spirit” suggest, however, that the letter is addressed to true believers. In that case, this passage is a warning to Christians about the potential consequences of immature faith … Those who fall into doubt and disobedience cannot be ”restored,” except by the fire of God’s judgment … Just as salvation is not earned by works (Romans 3:20; 11:6), it cannot be lost by works (1 John 1:9) … So once a person is saved, he is saved forever …
  • To “fall away” is to fall from Christianity back into Judaism.
  • To “fall” back into Judaism would be to agree with the Jews that Christ was a deceiver and blasphemer and deserved to be crucified.
  • For someone, who had once believed that he was saved because Jesus was Emmanuel, to believe instead that He was just a mere man, would be to get to a point where he could not trust in the only One who could save him … and so it would be impossible for such a one to “repent” since Christian repentance is all about a change of mind toward Christ … and since Jesus Christ, having died once, will not die again.
  • Rather than a loss of salvation, verses 4 through 6 describe the possible consequences of immature, stunted faith, which can cause one to be vulnerable to the same kind of disobedience which Israel experienced in the wilderness … as discussed earlier in the letter (Hebrews 3:12–19; 4:11).  Christians who lose their trust in God, and doubt fundamental doctrines, are effectively saying that Christ should be crucified and what He said was not true (Hebrews 6:6) … Once a person reaches that state, it’s impossible to bring him back to a living, active faith.
  • Fields which fail to produce are treated with fire—often a symbol of God’s judgment (Hebrews 10:26–27). The field is not destroyed, but it is treated harshly. This, again, is the same pattern seen in Exodus when Israel was forced to wander for forty years. Doubt led to disobedience, leading to judgment, producing change, and eventually resulting in obedience and restoration.
  • An alternative interpretation is that these verses are hypothetical, bringing up loss of salvation … only as a theory … to show that loss of salvation is impossible because it would imply a re-crucifixion of Christ.
  • Hebrews 10:26, 38 … NOT about loss of salvation, BUT about God’s punishment on those who willingly rebel against His will … Since the new covenant is superior to the old covenant, we can expect those who ”profane” the new covenant to suffer greater consequences for disobedience. This is followed by a word of encouragement and reassurance to those who have already survived hardship and persecution …
  • As a passage dealing with apostasy, this warning either applies to saved Christians who suffer punishment for their disobedience, or those who were never truly saved in the first place, and who experience particular wrath for so blatantly rejecting Christ.
  • The Greek phrasing here is sometimes interpreted as to “go on sinning,” or as “willfully sinning.” There is a subtle difference between these, and how one interprets the rest of the passage greatly influences how these words are understood. The wider context of this passage, however, seems to favor the second view.
  • In the case of those who “go on sinning,” it implies those who come to some level of knowledge of the gospel, but ultimately reject it in favor of their sin. Such persons would be those never legitimately saved in the first place. The following warning, then, refers to how much more severe their judgment would be. Those with greater knowledge have greater responsibility, particularly when it comes to spiritual matters (John 9:41).
  • If this reference is understood as those who are “willfully sinning,” it would seem to suggest those who have legitimately accepted Christ, but who purposefully fail to fully submit to His will. It’s true that the Bible sets forth a certain expectation for those who are saved; namely, they are generally expected to live as if they believe. However, this very letter of Hebrews pointed out the dangers of falling into faithlessness and disbelief (Hebrews 3:12–19; Hebrews 6:1–8). That prior warning was given very explicitly to saved believers, and included similar language to what follows.
  • Earlier in this chapter, the writer of Hebrews pointed out that the sacrifice of Christ was a single, once for all event (Hebrews 10:12). For this reason, there are no longer additional sacrifices being made, in heaven, for the forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 10:18). When sin is truly forgiven, there is no longer a sacrifice to remove it. The other side of that truth, however, is revealed here. Those who reject Christ reject the one and only sacrifice which can save them. There is not, and will never be, any other means to remove sin.
  • Fields which fail to produce are treated with fire — often a symbol of God’s judgment.  The field is not destroyed, but it is treated harshly. This, again, is the same pattern seen in Exodus when Israel was forced to wander for forty years. Doubt led to disobedience, leading to judgment, producing change, and eventually resulting in obedience and restoration.
  • Passages that warn against the severity of God’s discipline in this life when believers refuse to respond to His grace.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16-17  Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are.
  • Hebrews 6:1-6  Therefore we must progress beyond the elementary instructions about Christ and move on to maturity, not laying this foundation again: repentance from dead works and faith in God, 2 teaching about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this is what we intend to do, if God permits. 4 For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 tasted the good word of God and the miracles of the coming age, 6 and then have committed apostasy, to renew them again to repentance, since they are crucifying the Son of God for themselves all over again and holding him up to contempt.
  • Hebrews 10:23-31  And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. 24 And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, 25 not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near. 26 For if we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no further sacrifice for sins is left for us, 27 but only a certain fearful expectation of judgment and a fury of fire that will consume God’s enemies. 28 Someone who rejected the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much greater punishment do you think that person deserves who has contempt for the Son of God, and profanes the blood of the covenant that made him holy, and insults the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know the one who said, “ Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” and again, “ The Lord will judge his people.”

8.  Loss of Fellowship

  • John 13:8
  • NOT about loss of salvation, BUT about loss of fellowship …
  • The daily washings represents the regular forgiveness of daily sins that a person needs in order to stay in fellowship (close, personal relationship) with God …
  • One means of cleansing would be by confession of sins, as mentioned in 1 John 1:9   (Confession means turning from sin, not just admitting to having sinned.)

Divine Discipline

  • John 15:2
  • NOT talking about loss of salvation, BUT about divine discipline, which could involve premature death, as well as injury or sickness.
  • To “take away” means ” to take away from the ground” … or to “lift up” and put on stones.
  • Meaning:  God lifts up those who are not bearing fruit … that they can bear more fruit.
  • Those who are bearing fruit He prunes so they can bear more fruit.
  • The passage is addressing fruitfulness and fruitlessness, NOT salvation.
  • In some cases, those who are not bearing fruit may be disciplined … even to the point of being allowed to die a physical death … but not losing salvation.
  • 1 Corinthians 11:29-32
  • This passage is talking about divine discipline, that could result in sickness or even death.
  • NOTE that the person is not condemned (judged) with the world …
  • Again, the passage is NOT talking about loss of salvation, BUT about discipline and, possibly, loss of physical benefits of salvation … because of disobedience.
  • 1 John 5:16 … This passage is NOT talking about loss of salvation … The “death” referred to here is a physical death, not a spiritual death.
  • John is talking about a believer, in a fellowship, who has been sinning and will not repent (despite intervention by others in the fellowship) … and, as a result, God’s divine discipline involves the local church turning that believer over to Satan (by way of disfellowship) … for the destruction of the body … in which case, the church is not to pray for the believer.
  • That is similar to what James is talking about
  • James
  • It seems that the sickness James is talking about is not an ordinary sickness, but a sickness that is the result of divine discipline (NOTE:  Not every sickness that a Christian has is a “discipline sickness” … but some are … as Paul said in 1 Cor.11:29-32)
  • who are the two parties? sinner and God
  • If sinner repents … God will forgive
  • NOTE … the sinner is the one who calls for the elders … knowing he has a discipline sickness
  • people have claimed the promise in the passage … and the person died anyway … and became confused, not sure if God refused to answer or it they didn’t have enough faith.
  • The problem was that they were trying to apply a discipline remedy for a discipline sickness as a broad-based remedy for all sicknesses … but that wasn’t what James was talking about … James was talking about what Paul was talking about and what John was talking about in 1Jn.5
  • In case of man with stepmother, persons taking the Lord’s supper unworthily or brother sinning a sin unto death or the sick man in James letter … the passage was referring to God’s discipline in the life of a believer who wouldn’t repent … discipline that would lead to weakness, sickness or even physical death for the sinner.
  • To help understand the point, see 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, where we see that a person could lose his physical life without losing his salvation.

9.  Confessing Christ as a Requirement to Stay Saved

  • Matthew 10:32-33 … NOT about people who lose salvation, BUT about people who fail to confess before … The risk is denial of a person before God the Father, NOT a loss of salvation.
  • Romans 10:8-11 … Not about loss of salvation, but about being put to shame for not confessing Jesus is Lord

10.  Falling from Faith or Grace

  • Galatians 5:4 … To fall from grace is NOT to lose salvation … To fall from grace is to function as if still under the Law instead of as if under grace … There were some in Galatia who, despite knowing they had been saved by grace, felt they had to maintain their salvation by keeping the Law … Those who have fallen from grace are those who try to live the Christian life legalistically, trusting in their works, rather than trusting is God’s grace … The passage is NOT about loss of salvation, BUT about the futility of trying to live a spiritual life legalistically, trusting in Law, rather than God’s grace.

11.  Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit

  • Matthew 12:22-37 … NOT about believers losing their salvation … The context is about unbelievers, not believers … The Pharisees were not believers who trusted in Christ for salvation.

12.  Weakened spiritual condition

  • 1 Corinthians 8:8-12 … This passage is NOT about a believer who loses salvation, BUT about a believer (such as a new believer) who is spiritually weak … Such a “weak” Christian may be offended by the actions of another Christian and may stumble as a result, but he won’t lose his salvation … The passage is about stumbling and spiritual weakness, not about loss of salvation.

13.  Some Parables

  • Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23
  • Matthew 13:24-30 … This is a parable … so the “tares” should are NOT literal tares … IF the tares are not literal, THEN we should not expect the “fire” that burn them to be literal, either … The “fire” could be representative of some action (or thing) that can purge, and cleanse, without destroying … ALTERNATIVELY, why assume that the tares represent persons? … What if the “field” represents a person (or the mind of a person) … and the “wheat” and “tares” represent good and bad thoughts, character traits, habits etc. that a person acquires over time?  Isn’t it possible, in that scenario, that the “fire” would be NOT a destructive fire, BUT a cleansing, purging fire? (See 1 Corinthians 3:9-10, 12-15)
  • Luke 13:22-30 … Again, this is a parable that is discussing NOT loss of salvation, BUT loss of position in the Kingdom of God … The exhortation is to strive to find (and enter) the correct gate (Christ) … by faith (not works).
  • NOTE … It is not a good idea to establish a doctrine based on parables … Indeed, it is a bad idea.

14.  The Book of Life

  • Psalm 139:16 … Names of every person written in Book of Life
  • Revelation 3:5 … Believers have their names retained
  • Psalm 69:28 …  Names blotted our are names of unbelievers
  • Revelation 13:8 … Lamb’s Book of Life contains names of those born again
  • Revelation 17:8b

15.  Dispensational Misapplication

  • Ezekiel 18:20-26
  • NOT about spiritual salvation of individuals under grace, BUT about physical condition of a nation under the Mosaic Law …
  • Ezekiel 33:7-9
  • if living was the result of doing things, then salvation would be by works
  • Passages are not about loss of spiritual salvation, but about accountability and loss of physical life.
  • Matthew 18:21-27, 28-35 … NOT about salvation forgiveness, but about family forgiveness … Confessing sins will not result in family forgiveness IF the confessor is not prepared to forgive others who have wronged him
  • Matthew 24:13
  • NOT about living righteously to the end in order to be sure of spiritual salvation, BUT about 1) physically surviving the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of 70AD or 2) physically surviving the Great Tribulation at the end of this age
  • None of the passages above is dealing with spiritual salvation.

16.  The Fate of some Biblical characters

  • 2 Peter 2:6-9 … Lot was saved
  • Hebrews 11:32 … Samson died saved
  • Psalm 5:8-12 … David’s sin led to loss of fellowship with God, NOT loss of his salvation
  • Acts 8:19-24 … Simon Magus repented
  • John 17:12 … The word “perdition” can mean physical ruin or loss, as well as everlasting ruin or loss, so we should not assume that because Judas Iscariot may have been referred to as a son of perdition, in some translations, that means he lost his salvation … The same can be said despite the fact it was implied that Judas Iscariot was “lost” and not “clean”
  • Acts 1:24-25 … NOTE that Judas (Iscariot) fell from apostleship, NOT from salvation.



None of the passages persons use to prove otherwise can do so … once we understand that our salvation does not depend on us, but on God.  God sent His Son to save those who were lost … and he did.  It was His responsibility to save us … and it still is.


The problem passages (those used to teach believers can lose their salvation, or used to teach that they were never really saved or they would never do such and such) in reality fall into one or more of the following categories and do not deal with the issue of eternal salvation:

(3) Passages that portray the nature of who we are as God’s children, and that which must, therefore, characterize us as children of God. This includes passages that portray the nature and condition of unbelievers as a motivation to godly living or living like the people we have become positionally in Christ. These passages do not threaten us with the loss of salvation nor do they call us to question our salvation. They challenge us to live like the people we are in Christ.

For instance, compare Ephesians 5:1-12.

  • Ephesians 5:1-12  Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children 2 and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God. 3 But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints. 4 Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting—all of which are out of character—but rather thanksgiving. 5 For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let nobody deceive you with empty words, for because of these things God’s wrath comes on the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them, 8 for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light— 9 for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth— 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For the things they do in secret are shameful even to mention


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