Q. I’ve heard John 5:1-14 used as an argument against OSAS. It’s talking about Jesus healing the lame man. Jesus said in the second part of verse 14, “See, you have been made well. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon you.” What did he mean,”lest a worse thing come upon you.”
A. John’s gospel is unique. It’s single purpose is to demonstrate that Jesus is the Son of God. The healing at the Pool of Bethesda (John 5:1-14) is one of only seven miracles in John’s Gospel. Each one was chosen to illustrate an important point related to the Lord’s divinity.
According to tradition, angels periodically stirred up the waters of the Pool of Bethesda. When that happened, the first one in the pool would be healed of whatever disease he or she had. Many disabled people were lying there waiting for the waters to be stirred up. Jesus could have healed them all, but picked just one. He used him to represent Israel in an example that illustrates the poverty of the Law and the need for a Savior.
Because he was crippled, the man couldn’t get into the water to be healed when it was stirred up, but if he could have gotten to the water he wouldn’t have needed the healing. It was a Catch 22. He needed someone to heal him. Likewise, the Israelites were futilely trying to keep the Law to save themselves from their sins, but if they could keep the Law they wouldn’t have needed to be saved. They were also in a Catch 22. They needed someone to save them.
Jesus healed this man to show Israel that if they wanted to be saved, He was willing to be their Savior. By telling him to stop sinning lest something worse should happen he was in effect saying to Israel, “Stop trying to save yourselves and receive your Savior lest you wind up in hell forever.”
Although the man was truly crippled and obviously healed, Jesus was using him to act out a parable. There’s no evidence anywhere to suggest a connection between the man’s sins and his disability, and such a stern warning with its implied threat was totally out of character for the Lord, who came to seek and to save what was lost. (Luke 19:10)
Using this verse as an argument against eternal security not only violates its intent, but it imposes impossible conditions upon believers resulting the same Catch 22. If we could keep our salvation, we could have earned it and wouldn’t need a Savior.
It also contradicts several of the Lord’s clear promises, such as John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”