Can We Leave God? Follow Up

Q. In Can We Leave God? you stated that true believers cannot commit apostasy. If that were true, why did the Lord make sure there were so many warnings against it and leaving the faith? John 15:6 says the believer that does not remain in Him will be thrown away and burned. In fact there is a warning in almost every book of the new testament not to stop obeying and to keep believing the Lord. I could go on and on. So it seems to me that the few verses that talk about God’s eternal love for us are tempered with the warning if we want to remain in Him, we must do the things He commands. This view isn’t as palatable as OSAS, but I believe that if you look at what it says instead of what you want it to say, you will see that the Lord gives us a choice even to the end. How do you defend OSAS in light of these scriptures?

A. I don’t have to defend OSAS in light of these scriptures because the clearest verses in the New Testament support it. What I have to do is gently remind people that the Bible, being the word of God, cannot contradict itself. All doctrinal statements have to be consistent throughout, because the same Holy Spirit inspired all of its writers. So we take the clearest verses and use them as a guide to help us interpret those that aren’t so clear. In the case of OSAS Ephesians 1:13-14 and 2 Cor. 1:21-22 are the two clearest examples. They both say our inheritance is guaranteed by the seal of the Holy Spirit.

It’s also important to understand the context in which a verse appears. In John 15:5-6, Jesus was giving us instruction on how to be fruitful. He said it requires remaining in Him. He said apart from Him we can do nothing, but are like unfruitful branches. These verses are not about salvation because salvation is not a fruit bearing event. We can only bear fruit after we’re saved, and even then we can only bear fruit by remaining in Him.

Remaining in Him doesn’t mean keeping ourselves saved. It means doing the things He prompts us to do instead of going off on our own to do things we decide to do. And Jesus didn’t say believers would be thrown away and burned. He said unfruitful believers are like unfruitful branches that are thrown in the fire. It was a statement of comparative value. Unfruitful believers produce nothing of value to the Kingdom of God, and therefore are comparable in value to the unfruitful branches that are burned up in the fire. The difference is that in 1 Cor. 3:15 Paul said that even if all our works are burned up in the judgment fire, we’ll still be saved.

Throughout the New Testament we are admonished to put off our old self, and be made new in the attitudes of our minds. But nowhere are we threatened with the loss of our salvation for failure to obey these admonitions. Our salvation is based on what we believe, not on how we behave.

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