TWO DESTRUCTIVE ERRORS IN CHRISTIAN THINKING
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
I suppose it is because of the erroneous teaching of “grace” that there are two major misunderstandings of the Christian salvation. These two errors are:
- A person once having “accepted Christ” can never be lost to God’s purposes.
- Everyone who is “saved” receives the same reward.
These two doctrines, “once saved always saved,” and the idea that there are no rewards in the Kingdom of God because we all are equal being “saved by grace,” are as destructive concepts as could possibly be developed by God’s enemies.
Obviously, if we cannot be lost to God’s purposes once we “accept Christ”, then a Christian who is tempted severely is likely to yield to Satan, being under the impression that no matter what he or she does, the safety net is there. Why this is not obvious to sincere preachers of the Gospel is beyond me.
As for the Scripture references, there are too many for me to list here. But I will present a few that ought to be enough to persuade any person who honestly is seeking the truth. However, I am not sure of that, because the truth in this case is so threatening that people may just shut their eyes and minds. Also, in some cases, there may be ego involvement if one has a record of preaching “once saved always saved.” In addition, I think there may be pastors who will not preach the truth because their members may leave to go to a more “loving” pastor. But let’s look for a moment at these warnings:
It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.” (II Peter 2:21,22)
The response of those who refuse to recognize that the New Testament teaches the role of righteous behavior in the Christian salvation, often is, “such people never were truly saved.” But consider: they had known “the way of righteousness.” Those who had known the way of righteousness certainly were farther along in Christ than the Christian church members of our day who have “accepted Christ” but never have known the way of righteousness. So the people being addressed by the Apostle Peter had known the “way of righteousness”, and then had turned their backs on God and went back to their “vomit.”
“But,” the protesters will claim, “they still were saved and on their way to Heaven.” This is the sort of nonsense we are faced with today.
By the way, you may wonder why I almost always put “accept Christ” in quotation marks. First, “accept Christ” is not a scriptural expression. Second, it usually refers to people who have obeyed a religious procedure, not to someone who has received the Master with the intention of being a cross-carrying disciple.
For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, (Romans 8:13)
Is this verse written to Christian people? It must be, because it is assuming the readers have the Spirit of God.
Second, what will happen to a Christian who lives according to his or her sinful nature? He or she will die. Does this mean the individual will be saved anyway and go to Heaven to live in a mansion? Not likely. According to the immediate context (Romans 8:11), it signifies that the person’s mortal body will not be clothed with eternal life when his or her flesh and bones come forth from the grave. The person will be found spiritually naked. Doesn’t sound like Heaven or a mansion to me? How about you?
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21)
Is the above verse written to Christians? I would say it is, because Paul says if you (Christians) live like this, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God, the alternative being if you don’t do these things, you will inherit the Kingdom. So Paul is telling us that if Christians do these things, they will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
I suppose some will state that they will not inherit the Kingdom of God, but they will go to Heaven by grace and live in a mansion. So there they are. They are reclining in their mansions in Heaven but not permitted in the Kingdom of God.
I could cite many other passages, such as those mentioning that if we do not bear the fruit of righteous behavior, we will be cut out of the Vine, that is, out of Christ. Or if we sow to our sinful nature, we will reap corruption, or if we bear thorns and briars, we will be thrown into the fire. None of this matters just as long as we are in our mansion in Heaven.
Now I will give you one last passage to see what you think.
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. (Hebrews 6:4-6)
These cannot be brought back to repentance!
There are two main reasons offered why this passage does not mean what it says: one, the book of Hebrews was written only to Jewish Christians; two, these people never had been saved in the first place. This second reason I think is the most popular among the gainsayers.
The first reason I will not discuss. The book of Hebrews is part of the Received Text, so the preponderance of Bible scholars accept it as speaking to all Christians. Second, as to these people never having actually been saved:
- They had been enlightened.
- They had tasted the heavenly gift.
- They had shared in the Holy Spirit.
- They had tasted the goodness of the word of God.
- They had tasted the power of the coming age.
You as a Christian may not be as spiritually advanced as these Jewish Christians were. If you backslide, this does not mean you have committed the unpardonable sin. You probably can repent and get back with the Lord — but maybe not. You had better look to your business. Christ does not enjoy foolishness.
But concerning people as advanced as these, the Bible has spoken clearly enough.
Now, any Bible scholar who would read about the background of these Christians, and say, “They never were saved in the first place,” is leading God’s people astray, deliberately or not. He is a false shepherd, and this is the best that can be said about him. He wilfully is ignorant.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. (Hebrews 10:26,27)
When I think about all the verses that warn the Christian not to neglect his salvation, and realize the extent of the “grace” teaching and the damage that has been wrought, I realize it is time for God to open the eyes of His ministers. Unwittingly they are doing Satan’s work!
Having discussed the error of the “once saved always saved” doctrine, let’s think about the idea that because we all are saved by grace and not by works of righteousness we have done, there are no rewards to be gained. This doctrine claims that “All are saved by grace. All go to a mansion in Heaven. There really is no benefit to seeking Christ fervently, as did the Apostle Paul.”
- The damage done by the “once saved always saved” doctrine is that most Christians will sin if they are tempted severely enough, as long as they are persuaded in their heart they can never lose out with God.
- The damage done by the “no rewards” teaching is that the scriptural motivation for pressing into the life of victory in Christ is removed. All receive the same reward, so why not lay aside all else and “enjoy the good life” in America. We can’t be lost, and efforts to press into Christ are the “filthy rags” of self-righteousness, so why not relax and enjoy ourselves?
The rewards to the overcomer are listed in
In Revelation chapter 20, we notice those who participate in the first resurrection.
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:4-6)
The passage above is worth considering, in terms of whether all are saved by grace and thus have the same reward. Some were seated on thrones and had authority to judge. (This doesn’t sound like a mansion to me!) Some were beheaded because of their testimony, and because of the Word of God. They did not worship the beast or his image. They had not received the mark of the beast in their foreheads or in their hand. These are actions that were taken, not a passive belief in doctrine. Their reward was to be raised from the dead and to rule with Christ in advance of the rest of the Christians.
These statements do not fit the idea of being carried to Heaven on the basis of a confession of faith in Christ, with all receiving the same reward.
Such people are blessed and holy. The second death, the Lake of Fire, has no power over them, meaning they have gained victory over all the sins over which the Lake of Fire has authority. Their reward is to be priests of God and of Christ and to govern the earth with Him for a thousand years.
These are the victorious saints, and they will be raised when Christ comes and be caught up to meet Him in the air. Then they will descend with Him and help in the task of installing the will of God on the earth.
How in the world could anyone read this passage and still preach that once we “accept Christ” we will be “raptured” at any moment and go to Heaven to live in a mansion?
The truth is, the Gospel of the Kingdom has been replaced by several fables that have a destructive effect on Christian maturity.
Speaking of those who attain to the first resurrection:
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.) (Revelation 19:7,8)
Notice that the Bride is clothed in her own righteous acts.
- Hebrews chapter 11 informs us that Moses, having renounced the pleasures of Egypt, was looking forward to his reward.
- The Apostle Paul was laying aside everything that he might attain to the resurrection that is out from among the dead.
- The Lord Jesus told His disciples that they would sit on thrones, judging the tribes of Israel.
- The servant who put his talents to good use was rewarded with an additional talent. The servant who did not put his talent to good use was deprived of his talent and sent into the outer darkness, because he was a wicked, lazy servant.
- Those who press through to victory in Jesus will inherit all the things that God is making new, according to the Bible. Those Christians who do not choose to live a life of victory over sin will not receive the rewards promised to the victorious saints, and stand in clear danger of being regarded as wicked, lazy servants.
In the light of these obviously scriptural facts, any teacher of the Bible, or pastor, or evangelist, who continues to tell people “Once you ‘accept Christ’ you have a free pass to Heaven; you can never be lost no matter what you do; and you should not attempt to live righteously because these are filthy rags of self-righteousness,” will receive his due reward.
Ezekiel tells us that if we do not warn the sinner of his ways, and this certainly, according to the Scriptures, applies to the sinning Christian, then we will be condemned. The Christian will die in his or her sins, and the teacher, or pastor, or evangelist who did not warn him or her, will be accountable for the blood of that person.
I do not know what God will need to do to open the eyes and consciences of the ministers of the Gospel in America, but I feel certain He will do something. God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.
Yes, it is possible to reap destruction after having known the way of righteousness.
Yes, there is a reward for pressing forward in the Lord Jesus.
Anyone who teaches differently from this will be held accountable for the lack of spiritual growth of his or her students.
(“Two Destructive Errors in Christian Thinking”, 3268-1, proofed 20211019)