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, p. 632 for a long list of possible spiritual tragedies.] To share in Christ and enter the kingdom of God, a Christian must endure to the very end of his life (Heb. 3:14; Mt. 10:22; Rev. 2:10,11). There is no seniority with God regarding salvation. Don't be deceived by John MacArthur or any other teacher (including an author or pastor), who says something different about this or even an occasional act of adultery or drunkenness in the life of a Christian not negating their salvation. Eternal souls are at stake over this issue.
In his 30 year ministry, John MacArthur has achieved world-wide influence through his "Grace to You" radio broadcasts, more than two dozen books, 12,000,000 cassette tapes, Grace Community Church and other endeavors. Undoubtedly, his religious influence and Calvinistic interpretations of Scripture have permeated into the lives of countless professing believers throughout the world.
Back in the late 1980's and early 1990's John MacArthur was in a doctrinal war regarding saving faith with especially Charles Ryrie and Zane Hodges. It was then that John MacArthur wrote one of his best known books, The Gospel According To Jesus. He has even produced his own study Bible called, The MacArthur Study Bible.
Before that doctrinal war, John MacArthur made the secular newspapers across the USA in the 1980's because his church was sued over the suicide of Kenneth Nally, who received "counsel" from those who worked at Grace Community Church and afterwards went through with it. [See The Believer's Conditional Security, pages 460-462 for more details(1).]
In his books and audio teachings, unlike many others who embrace eternal security, John MacArthur sometimes presents an appearance of teaching holiness, but this is nothing more than an occasional teaching and smokescreen on his part, which has deceived many into unduly exalting his ministry and accepting his teaching phraseologies and concepts about his version of saving faith. Sadly, even some Christians who reject eternal security have been misled by his presentations!
It is the purpose of this treatise to reveal some of the inconsistent and unscriptural declarations of John MacArthur's holiness teachings, as well as to reveal his amazingly loose tolerance for sin in the lives of Christians. It must be understood that John MacArthur is a Calvinist and, therefore, an eternal security teacher (also called the perseverance of the saints or once saved always saved abbreviated OSAS). Hence, his beloved doctrine of OSAS cannot really allow him to teach true holiness the way the Bible declares it. It is impossible as you will see.
Moreover, he cannot truly understand what saving faith is, because he only knows how to interpret the Scriptures to be consistent with the false teaching of OSAS, just like other such teachers. Therefore, there will always be gaping holes and major problems because his theology is fatally flawed in vital areas.
Unlike OSAS teacher Charles Stanley, who incredibly teaches that a Christian can stop believing all together and still remain saved,(2) John MacArthur would say a person such as that was never really saved to begin with. This would also be John MacArthur's occasional response regarding a person who has had a convincing Christian testimony for many years but later goes astray from the Lord and never returns! Hence, his doctrine leaves a present tense follower of Jesus unsure if he is really a true follower or a counterfeit that will later walk away to never return! It is during these explanations of his version of saving faith that he oftentimes conceals how far a real Christian can go into sin, yet all along calling that saving faith and holy living. When one knows what John MacArthur really believes about how far a Christian can go into sin with his version of saving faith, his holiness message is illuminated and reduced down to being on a par with Charles Stanley, Charles Ryrie and Zane Hodges, even though he believes one must repent to be initially saved.(3) If you are like many you probably aren't aware of this.
Never Saved To Begin With
The following five quotes are a small selection of statements that are cited showing how John MacArthur sometimes discusses sin in the life of a Christian. With these types of statements he has deceived many regarding his other teachings about sin:
John MacArthur Sometimes Seems
to Teach Against Sin
And Stress HolinessJohn contrasts the children of God with the children of Satan in terms of their actions. While those who are truly born again reflect the habit of righteousness, Satan's children practice sin ... A third reason why Christians cannot practice sin ...(4)John MacArthur seems to be stressing holy behavior, forsaking sin and a lifetime habit of extricating personal sin immediately, but this is part of the grand deception associated with his ministry and doctrines. The other side of his teaching about sin is not so readily known but is just as much a part of his doctrine and ministry.
And if we don't understand how heinous our sin is, we won't understand the consequences of it.(5)
Since God Himself is holy, He wants His people to be holy. Living a holy life distinguishes us from the world.(6)
Living a holy life will give you boldness before God. That involves regularly confessing and forsaking sin.(7)
And when we do become aware of personal sin, we must make it a lifetime habit to extricate it immediately. The threat of sin also compels us to be spiritually alert.(8)
Brace yourself for the other side of John MacArthur's sin teaching in the life of a Christian, which is also connected with Calvinistic OSAS and the false version of saving faith it has produced:
John MacArthur's Belief About Sin
And Temptation Unmasked... sin does not result in spiritual death for the believer ...(9)Important: Did you know that John MacArthur, who gives the illusion of teaching holy living at times, proclaims a Christian's sin works for good? Wouldn't you like to hear him tell us how sin worked personal good in the lives of Adam and Eve, Ananias and Sapphira, King David, Saul, Solomon, Hymenaeus, Philetus, Judas, the people of Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26-29; etc.? Moreover, if temptation really works for our good, then why did Jesus tell us to pray not to be led into temptation (Mt. 6:13)? To believe this Calvinistic/eternal security lie that sin and temptation work good is surely to teach a license for immorality, just as Jude said (Jude 3,4), even though this would obviously be flatly denied!
Temptation also works for our good. The main reason is that it makes us depend on God .... Temptation also works for our good because it makes us desire heaven.(10)
God promises that all things will ultimately work out for our good, and that includes the worst thing of all: sin. His promise doesn't lessen the ugliness of sin or the beauty of holiness. Sin is intrinsically wicked and deserving of eternal hell. But in His infinite wisdom God overrules it for our good.(11)
Although God sovereignly causes our sin to work for good, we should never view that wonderful promise as a license to sin.(12)
In his so-called study Bible, John MacArthur also reveals his deadly teachings about sin in the life of a Christian:
John MacArthur's Deadly TeachingsNo sin a believer can commit—past, present, or future—can be held against him, since the penalty was paid by Christ and righteousness was imputed to the believer. And no sin will ever reverse this divine legal decision ....(13)Calvinistic John MacArthur makes God the author of temptation and sin. (See James 1:13 for the real truth.) Did you know that John MacArthur actually teaches that Christians have to go all the way back to live as they used to as unbelievers before their sinful behavior would indicate they were never really saved? If they stop short, ever so slightly, then they were saved and possessed saving faith, even though they were and perhaps still are again in almost all of those old heinous sins that were sending them to Hell before initial salvation.
In His providence, God orchestrates every event in life—even suffering, temptation and sin—to accomplish both our temporal and eternal benefit ...(14)
... the believer can never be found guilty ....(15)
Some who used to have those patterns of sinful life were falling into those old sins again, and needed reminding that if they went all the way back to live as they used to, they were not going to inherit eternal salvation, because it would indicate that they never were saved ....(16)
Practice and unbroken life pattern are two of John MacArthur's key terms used when describing his deceptive version of saving faith. Regarding these he teaches:
Practice And Unbroken Life PatternWhile believers can and do commit these sins [the list of sins cited in 1 Cor. 6:9,10], they do not characterize them as an unbroken life pattern.(17)Usually John MacArthur doesn't go on to say how far you can go and not practice sin or have it be an unbroken life pattern. However, he does tell us what whole lifestyle is not in the life of King David (and Lot):
God never tolerates sin, which has no place at all in His kingdom, nor will any person whose life pattern is one of habitual immorality, impurity, and greed (see v. 3) be in His kingdom, because no such person is saved ....(18)Didn't David commit murder and adultery and allow his sin to go unconfessed for at least a year? Wasn't Lot characterized by worldly compromise in the midst of heinous sin? Yes, those examples prove that genuine believers are capable of the worst imaginable sins. But David and Lot cannot be made to serve as examples of "carnal" believers, whose whole lifestyle and appetites are no different from unregenerate people.(19)Notice: According to John MacArthur's usage of (whole) lifestyle, David was both an adulterer and murderer for at least a year, but according to him, during this time, David was a believer possessing saving faith! (John MacArthur is just like all the rest of the eternal security teachers, that is, ever trying to make the Scriptures allow for wicked behavior in the life of a believer.) So if you know a person claiming to be a Christian living just as holy as David did during that time, then (according to John MacArthur) he must have saving faith and possess salvation too, which he can never lose regardless how heinous his sins may become, as long as he doesn't go all the way back to live as he used to and that would only show he was never really saved. In contrast, the Bible declares a totally different version of saving faith and condemns John MacArthur as a false teacher. See Jude 3,4. Clearly, no adulterer or murder is saved, while in these sins (Rev. 21:8; 1 John 3:15; 1 Cor. 6:9,10; etc.).
[By the way, OSAS teachers seem to read into the Scriptures to allow for their sin gospel of eternal security by saying things like the above about Lot. Lot cannot be proven from the Scriptures to be characterized by worldly compromise in the midst of heinous sin. Also, it wasn't until after he was led out of Sodom that he did the types of sin that would condemn him. See Ezek. 18:26; 33:13; Psa. 125:5. While living in Sodom Lot was righteous (2 Pet. 2:8).]
To recap, John MacArthur's counterfeit saving faith and holiness teaching declare the following:
John MacArthur's Saving Faith And
Holiness Message Summarized
- A true Christian possessing saving faith can commit occasional acts of adultery and drunkenness. (Hence, there are some Christian adulterers and Christian drunks.)
- A true Christian possessing saving faith can murder himself (be a suicide) and afterwards go to heaven, even though he died as an unrepentant murderer.
- A true Christian can commit the list of sins cited in 1 Cor. 6:9,10 just short of going all the way back to live like he used to and still have a saving faith. Here is that passage and list, in case the reader is unacquainted with it:Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
Hence, anything better than an uninterrupted and unrepentant practice of sin could describe a person with saving faith bound for heaven because of OSAS, even though he might be living in many of the sins cited in 1 Cor. 6:9,10.
- No sin regardless how heinous, including child molestation, rape, murder, homosexuality, etc., will ever prevent a person previously saved from entering heaven. (This is the same concept that Hodges, Ryrie and Stanley proclaim.)
- Sin works for the Christian's good!
- A person who is lacking saving faith is one whose basic character is summed up in the uninterrupted and unrepentant practice of them [sins] ....(20)
One of the most common responses of OSAS proponents is the phrase he was never really saved to begin with, which is sometimes, but not always, used when a person turns away from God after showing the fruits of redemption for a time period. The primary passage which has been cited by such OSAS people, especially John MacArthur and other Calvinists, is from Mt. 7:23. Let's back up to Mt. 7:20-29 to better get the flow of the context:
Mt. 7:20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
In this verse, Jesus said we can know (or recognize) a person by his fruit. According to the context, this is especially true of a false prophet, who is really a ravenous wolf in sheep's clothing. We know from reading down a few verses that such fruit is not (1) Prophesying in Jesus' name; (2) Casting out demons in Jesus' name or (3) Performing miracles. (This will be proven later in more detail.)
Mt. 7:21 Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Who Is Going To Enter The Kingdom Of Heaven
It might come as a surprise for some to know that both the saved and unsaved call Jesus Lord. Besides the context of v. 21, there are multitudes ensnared in the deception of the cults, such as Roman Catholicism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Seventh-Day Adventism, etc. who call Jesus their Lord.
Also, Mt. 7:21 is especially an important verse for it states who is going to enter the kingdom of heaven in the end. Jesus, who also gave us Jn. 3:16, explicitly said here:"... only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."The word does is a present active participle in the Greek, which means that it expresses continuous or repeated action. This same basic truth about final salvation [an actual entrance into God's kingdom] is reiterated elsewhere in the Scriptures:He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice" (Lk. 8:21).Getting back to Mt. 7:21, what is the will of the Father? John 6:40 says:For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.So as long as we continue to look to the Son and believe on Jesus, we are doing the Father's will and we shall have eternal life. (Believe is continuous tense in the Greek.) Inherently linked with saving faith in Jesus is obedience and doing good. Notice how clear this is from the following:And come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned (Jn. 5:29).So a real, true saving faith in Jesus will always have obedience and good works with it.
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life (Rom. 2:7).
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead (Jam. 2:14-17).
We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 1:3).
Through him and for his name's sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith (Rom. 1:5).
Mat 7:22,23 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'.
Clearly, such people were never saved, as shown by the words I never knew you. Compare that to the following:"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me" (Jn. 10:14).The same Greek word translated knew is used in both places and refers to a personal relationship with Jesus (or salvation).
How surprised should we really be from the Mt. 7 passage which shows that religious people who were never saved can perform miracles, drive out demons and accurately prophesy, as other Scriptures also clearly show?
Again, the unsaved can prophesy and have it come to pass:
Unsaved People Can Give True ProphecyIf a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a miraculous sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder of which he has spoken takes place, and he says, "Let us follow other gods" (gods you have not known) "and let us worship them," you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul (Deut. 13:1-3).
Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish." He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation (Jn. 11:49-51).
Perhaps most surprising is the fact that unsaved people can perform great miracles! The sorcerers in Pharoah's court did this as the false prophet will also do in behalf of the antichrist:
Unsaved People And Demons Can
Perform Great MiraclesSo Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs (Exo. 7:10-12).Even demons can perform miracles:
And he [the false prophet] performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men (Rev. 13:13).
But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur (Rev. 19:20).
They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty (Rev. 16:14).
The unsaved can even cast out demons! Besides Mt. 7:22 this same truth is shown elsewhere:
The Unsaved Can Cast Out DemonsAnd if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges (Mt. 12:27).Therefore, if we never read Mt. 7:22,23 we would still know that some religious unsaved people can prophesy accurately, perform miracles and even cast out demons, according to the Scriptures. Also, in the occult it has been reported they sometimes do these same similar things but are still headed for the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8). Some think Jesus referred Mt. 7:22,23 to occultists. (On the other hand, in the book of Acts we also see that true Christians did all of those things—prophesy accurately, perform miracles and even cast out demons in Jesus' name, but these religious acts are still not fruit or evidence of salvation.)
Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" (Acts 19:13-15).
The key verse in Mt. 7:20-24 is definitely v. 23! The ones referred to were constant evildoers (NIV) or worked iniquity (KJV) or practiced lawlessness (NASB), even though they cast out demons, performed miracles and prophesied in the name of the Lord at the same time! Their constant doing of evil is the fruit by which we can tell a person's spiritual status, as Jesus mentioned in v. 20. Remember also these supportive verses:
Matthew 7:23This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother (1 Jn. 3:10).The Lord's apostles taught that we can tell children of the devil from children of God by their present tense behavior, that is, by what they do, don't do or by their love. This is true Christian teaching, though such is often rejected and despised in our dark hour.
Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning (1 Jn. 3:7,8).
Furthermore, the same Greek word translated evildoers in Mt. 7:23 is found in other Scriptures and translated wickedness:Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold (Mt. 24:12).
Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good (Titus 2:14).
Present tense evildoers are not Christians. Such come in two types: (1) The ones who were never saved (or were always unbelieving) and (2) The ones who were once saved and afterwards lost their salvation. One example of many are those who went back to their sin as a dog returning to its vomit (2 Pet. 2:20-22). In other words, the evildoers of Mt. 7:23 committed sin in general, yet they did religious things in Jesus' name as well—performed miracles, drove out demons, prophesied. Awesome!
Present Tense Evildoers Are Not Christians
With authority Jesus' taught:
Jesus' Concluding WordsTherefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law (Mt. 7:24-29).Notice that in the Lord's concluding words from this key passage, he simply stated there are only two types of people: (1) The wise, who hear these words of mine and puts them into practice and (2) The foolish, who hear these words of mine and does not put them into practice. The evildoers (of Mt. 7:23) were of this latter group—not putting Jesus' words into practice. Hence, Jesus never knew them. Such religious people never showed the evidence of salvation, which accompanies a true regeneration, which many others have had and yet went back to their old life of sin and selfish living, such as those who depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1), become a shipwreck of the faith (1 Tim. 1:19,20), fall from grace (Gal. 5:2,4), etc., which of these neither the Lord nor His apostles ever said of them, or scores of others just like them, that they were never saved to begin with. Again, not even one time are the words never saved to begin with ever used in the New Testament for such people like these.
Many people are undoubtedly misinformed about John MacArthur and his saving faith teaching. They really don't know what he teaches about sin in the life of a genuine believer, since he sometimes (and inconsistently) says if a person turns to wickedness after turning to God, he was never really saved, but at other times when the same occurs he claims that the elect do sometimes stray into grievous sins (and remain saved all along), which is typical for Calvinists.
A License For Immorality In Disguise
As with other OSAS teachers, respected John MacArthur contradicts himself. Notice again what this man has also put in print about sin. While commenting on 1 Cor. 6:9, he wrote:While believers can and do commit these sins, they do not characterize them as an unbroken life pattern.(21)Let me refresh your memory about 1 Cor. 6:9, since he wrote of the sins cited there:Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,Hence, according to John MacArthur, a true believer (or Christian) with saving faith can do those sins and will remain saved while unrepentant! Why doesn't he say here that if it occurs then such a professing Christian was never saved to begin with as he teaches at other times? In fact, this quote explicitly reveals that he is actually teaching a license for immorality in disguise!
Let me again repeat a quote from John MacArthur's study Bible. It is cited under 1 Cor. 6:11:
If They Went All The Way BackSome who used to have those patterns of sinful life were falling into those old sins again, and needed reminding that if they went all the way back to live as they used to, they were not going to inherit eternal salvation, because it would indicate that they never were saved.(22)Did you notice the contradiction in his statement? He referred to some who used to have [past tense] those patterns of sinful life. So implied in his statement is freedom from sin's slavery for a period of time! This only comes from contacting Jesus' blood at the point of experiencing true salvation, according to the Bible. Among other Scriptures, Rev. 1:5 is clear:To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,It is heresy in itself to say that one can be freed from sin apart from contacting the blood of Christ at salvation. Moreover, according to John MacArthur, such people would have to go all the way back to live as they used to, to prove they were never saved! So if Christians commit adultery, drunkenness and theft 5 times per week instead of 6-8 times, which would be just short of what they were doing before getting born again, such professing Christians are still okay as far as salvation is concerned and show they have been saved all along while doing these unholy acts, according to John MacArthur's version of grace and saving faith. Again, they show themselves saved while in these same exact sins that drag others to Hell, as long as they don't quite go all the way back.
At one moment, John MacArthur will speak of enduring to the end in the way of righteousness and holiness, then turn right around and declare a person remains saved, even while he commits the sins cited in 1 Cor. 6:9! Clearly, to commit those types of sins is not walking in holiness, especially if they would end their life by committing suicide, which John MacArthur has taught in the past would send a person previously saved to Heaven and which teaching landed him in court!
One must also ask why are certain people who once showed evidence of saving grace and defected labeled never saved to begin with and other ones are not like King David, who turned to adultery and murder or Solomon whose heart turned to idolatry after decades of faithful service to God? While David came back to God Solomon never returned. He is an example of one who totally and finally fell away from the faith.
One Must Ask Why?
The so-called study Bibles that are available in the so-called Christian bookstores are not true study Bibles, since they contain a lot more than just maps, weights, measurements, charts, etc. Many of the notes (interpretations) are really dangerous, false doctrines given by OSAS teachers, such as the John MacArthur quotes you just read. They should more accurately be renamed indoctrination Bibles because that is what they often do. Even worse, when the lie of OSAS is taught in these study Bibles, it actually taints an otherwise perfectly good Bible by these lies contained alongside God's truth.
Study Bibles or Indoctrination Bibles?
So if a man has the favor of a publisher and believes the teaching of OSAS, like John MacArthur, this deadly doctrinal lie will be slipped into their so-called study Bible to the eternal danger of all who would make the mistake of thinking the notes and comments are beneficial to their understanding. (Other dangerously deceitful so-called study Bibles besides John MacArthur's are: Ryrie's Study Bible, The Schofield Reference Bible, the New Geneva Study Bible and Holman's Christian Standard Bible, just to mention a few!)
Another term that is used by John MacArthur when he teaches about sin is lifestyle sinning. (Some people who say they reject OSAS also teach this erroneous John MacArthur lifestyle sinning doctrine to the detriment of their followers and are, likewise, condemned by Jude 3,4.) Perhaps you have heard John MacArthur and others use this term.
Over the years as I have obeyed the command to contend for the faith against OSAS (Jude 3,4), I have met some people who say they reject OSAS, but then teach a Christian can engage in occasional acts of adultery, drunkenness, theft, etc. and remain saved. Such usually deny that David lost his salvation when in unrepentant adultery and murder. Others have said it is possible to lose your salvation, but it is very hard to do so. One even stated that you must tell God that you don't want him before you'll lose your salvation. Is there Biblical evidence for these claims? Do they have any validity? Or do the Scriptures state salvation can be lost with a single act of certain kinds of sin? (Please know that all sin is not of the same degree—some leads to [spiritual] death while others don't, 1 John 5:16,17.)
Salvation Can Be Lost Over One Sin!
How many times must a righteous person commit sexual immorality, drunkenness, theft, etc. in order to lose his salvation? Must it be lifestyle or continuous sinning? Does one have to practice sin before he becomes unsaved or shows himself never saved to begin with, as some would say? Let's look at God's word.
Getting back to an important Scripture already quoted, one of the original grace teachers declared:
The Eternal FactsOr do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9,10).According to the above Scripture, if any person is described there he will not inherit the kingdom of God. So how hard is it to become a bible-defined adulterer or any of the others in the list? Must a person practice adultery before he becomes a bible-defined adulterer? Must it be lifestyle? Here are the facts:If a man commits adultery with another man's wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death. (Lev. 20:10)As just shown, God's word is consistent with the definition of the word adulterer—one who commits adultery. Hence, any person who commits one or more acts of adultery is an adulterer. The same can likewise be said about the other words bolded in 1 Cor. 6:9,10. The definition is one who commits that particular act, whether it is stealing, drunkenness, idolatry, etc. It doesn't have to be 5, 16, or 113 times or the nebulous lifestyle before they become a fornicator, idolater, adulterer, effeminate, homosexual, thief, covetous, drunkard, reviler or swindler of 1 Cor. 6:9,10. This is crystal clear, as shown above, with the word adulterer.
Other Scriptures reveal the same devastating truth, refuting the idea that continual or lifestyle sinning is the only way to lose salvation (or show one was never really saved). For example:
It Doesn't Have To Be Continual
Or Lifestyle SinningIf a man strikes someone with an iron object so that he dies, he is a murderer; the murderer shall be put to death. (Num. 35:16)Again, a single act of murder makes a person a murderer. (That would include suicides, who are self-murderers.) Such a single act of sin will exclude any person from God's kingdom, unless he repents:But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. (Rev. 21:8)
The Lord Jesus told those already saved the following:
Disowning JesusBut whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. (Mat. 10:33)Later we learn that all of the original apostles, except Judas who betrayed Jesus, disowned the Lord:Then Jesus told them, "This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee." Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same. (Mat. 26:31-35)So how hard was it for Peter, and the other sheep, to disown Jesus and fall away? It wasn't very hard and occurred in a short period of time, according to the record:Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said. But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said. Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth." He denied it again, with an oath: "I don't know the man!" After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away." Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!" Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Mat. 26:69-75)Just like Peter, a real Christian can disown Jesus (or fall away). The Apostle Peter did this by denying he was with Jesus or knew Him. He didn't have to say to God, I don't want you (and it didn't have to be lifestyle). What Peter said was enough to cause Jesus to disown Peter! If Jesus disowns you, then you can't be his sheep anymore, just like other unsaved people. Christians are described as God's possessions: his sheep (John 10:26,27; 21:16,17), his bride (Rev. 19:7), his body (Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:24); etc.
The first act of disobedience by man in the Bible occurred in Gen. 3. God had forewarned Adam, the son of God (Lk. 3:38), that the day he would eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he would die (Gen. 2:17). That is exactly what happened with one single act of sin. It wasn't lifestyle habitual practice, but one single act of sin that brought both Adam and Eve to their spiritual death.
Adam And Eve
Shockingly, even people exceedingly strong in faith can afterwards stray to the point of committing sin that leads to death. David did this. His glaring sins were one act of adultery and one act of murder, which would exclude him from God's kingdom and place him in the lake of fire (1 Cor. 6:9,10; Rev. 21:8). For at least 9 months, he was a bible-defined adulterer and murderer because of his single acts of adultery and murder.
David Became An Evildoer
Nathan told David:Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. (2 Sam. 12:9)Note, David did what was evil. You might say this is no great revelation of truth. Of course adultery and murder are evil. But false teachers, some of whom say they reject eternal security, would declare David didn't lose his salvation, even though 1 Cor. 6:9,10 and Rev. 21:8 are so clear. When 2 Sam. 12:9 is coupled with this and the following, we have even more supportive evidence that David did lose his salvation at that dark time in his life:
David Died SpirituallyIf I tell the righteous man that he will surely live, but then he trusts in his righteousness and does evil, none of the righteous things he has done will be remembered; he will die for the evil he has done. (Ezek. 33:13)Those who do evil, like David did, die spiritually, according to the above. The following is more evidence that David lost his salvation for a time:But if a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked man does, will he live? None of the righteous things he has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will die. (Ezek. 18:24)Sadly, some will reject the clarity of these Scriptures and try to distort the facts to say that David didn't lose his salvation (die) after committing adultery and murder. Such a person is as bad or even worse than an eternal security teacher, even though he might outwardly deny the teaching of eternal security.
If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it. (Ezek. 33:18)
If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and commits sin, he will die for it; because of the sin he has committed he will die. (Ezek. 18:26)
Note: The strong warnings of Ezek. 18:24,26; 33:13,18 were not just hypothetical, as some might say, for such happened to David.
Even David knew he was an evil doer during that time and hence one who died spiritually because of his sin:Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. (Psa. 51:1-4)Furthermore, some like to misuse Psa. 51 to say David only lost the joy of his salvation. They somehow miss how David humbly and sorrowfully asked God for mercy because of his sins, as just cited, which is also how Jesus said the repentant tax collector got saved (or justified):But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:13,14)After David prayed for mercy, forgiveness (and salvation), he also asked for other things like the joy of his salvation to be restored (Psa. 51:12). Psalm 51 is the prayer of a backslider.
The Lord must have shocked the people of his day by many of his teachings, including the following one:
Don't Look Back From The PlowBut Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62, NASB)Another translation says:Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God." (Luke 9:62, NIV)
There is no essential difference between these translations because those who do enter God's kingdom will serve Him there (Rev. 22:3). Not to be fit for service in the kingdom of God is not to enter the kingdom of God, but to go to the lake of fire. Either way, looking back will exclude one from the kingdom of God.
God wants us to be faithful to him and love him more than any person or thing in this world. See 1 Jn. 2:15. The Lord elevated this to a salvation issue (Mt. 10:37-39; Lk. 14:26,33). James commented similarly:You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (Jam. 4:4)Christian people who chose to be friends of the world become enemies of God again as they were before their salvation. That is the same as committing spiritual adultery. Remember also Lot's wife who looked back one time and was destroyed (Gen. 19:26). Jesus mentioned her:Remember Lot's wife. "Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." (Lk. 17:32,33)
People have a hard time believing that words can endanger a person to hell fire, but Jesus actually taught this:
Your WordsBut I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, "Raca," is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, "You fool!" will be in danger of the fire of hell. (Mt. 5:22)Through this single act, such extreme danger of hell fire becomes a reality, even for people previously saved. This parallels another eternal truth about words. Jesus also taught:But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. (Mt. 12:37)Your words can bring condemnation or the opposite, which is justification. Remember, Peter disowned Jesus with his words.
It is also through words that a person can commit eternal sin, which will never be forgiven:
Eternal SinBut whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin. He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit." (Mk. 3:29,30)Notice please that eternal sin is committed through words. It also seems from this Scripture and the historical background of the book of Hebrews, that some of the people addressed there committed eternal sin and couldn't be renewed by repentance (Heb. 6:4-6). They couldn't return to God through repentance because in their case, that would be crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Raging fire was awaiting them, even though they had been previously sanctified by the blood of the covenant (Heb. 10:26-29). There was no eternal security for them and there is none for us today.
Paul wrote to those already saved and knew that their spiritual identity could be changed to idolater by a single act of this sin:
IdolatersDo not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: "The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry." (1 Cor. 10:7)Paul referred to the golden calf incident in Exodus 32. Hence, by that single act of idolatry they became idolaters and he knew the same could happen to these Christians he addressed. Remember, idolaters will go to the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).
In spite of the clear warning regarding the mark of the beast, many will take it because of the heavy pressure to do so. The saints who yield will lose their salvation with this single act of disobedience:
The Mark Of The BeastA third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (Rev. 14:9-12)Faithfulness to Jesus to the end of our life is needed for salvation, even though it might mean severe persecution and physical death:Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death. (Rev. 2:10,11)
There are various ways for a Christian to lose his salvation. Sometimes a single act of sin can do it, while at other times it won't happen as abruptly, as with being lukewarm (Rev. 3:15,16). Furthermore, one doesn't even have to sin to lose his salvation. He can lose it by believing a false gospel (1 Cor. 15:2 cf. 1 Jn. 2:24,25) or preaching a false gospel (Gal. 1:8,9). What a shock this is to those who have been deceived by those who change grace into a license for immorality by teaching David never lost his salvation or a single act of sin like adultery, suicide or drunkenness won't cause this. Jude identified all who change grace into a licence for immorality as ungodly (Jude 3,4), divisive, who don't have the Spirit (v. 19) and for whom blackest darkness is reserved forever (v. 13).
Please Don't Be Deceived
False teachers that declare lifestyle sinning not only ignore or twist the above Scriptures, but also dangerously portray the possibility of a loose, wild, immoral person as being a Christian. Ponder again 1 Cor. 6:9,10 and the list there. (See also Eph. 5:5-7 and Rev. 21:8.) According to such false teachers, declaring their unscriptural version of grace, if a person previously saved commits occasional acts of fornication, idolatry, adultery, being effeminate, homosexuality, theft, covetousness, being drunk, reviling and swindling all at the same time he remains saved. This is a horrible and deadly distortion of the true Christian described in the Bible. Please note that Paul didn't have to consider the lifestyle of Elymas to know he was a child of the devil (Acts 13:6-10). See also 1 Jn. 3:10.
Moreover, such a teacher proclaiming lifestyle sinning is no real friend of the immoral, since he is only endangering their souls to hell by misleading them with a false security and their so-called grace and gospel message. They are not being merciful or loving by preaching their lies and tickling the ears of the backslider. The loving and vital message the immoral need to know is they must turn from such sin for salvation's sake or be damned to hell.
False shepherds say the righteous person who becomes an evildoer can still go to heaven, but Jesus made it crystal clear that evildoers will instead rise to be condemned and thrown into the fiery furnace:Those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (Jn. 5:29)
The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mt. 13:41,42)
The bottom line difference between eternal security teachers, who unashamedly declare a Christian can commit the occasional acts of sin such as cited in 1 Cor. 6:9,10 and remain saved, and those who say they reject eternal security but teach the same, is non-existent! There really is no difference. Both are just as deadly and are misleading people to hell by their message. If you are a real Christian flee from such a congregation and so-called "pastor," regardless how convenient it may be to remain. Don't endanger your eternal soul and the souls of those you love by attending and supporting such a ministry, local church or ravenous wolf in sheep's clothing. Don't share in his wicked work (2 Jn. 10,11).
Both Are Just As Deadly
Clearly, first century Christians could tell who the other Christians and the unbelievers were:
The Evidence Of The Grace Of GodNow those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts (Acts 11:19-23).Please note: when a person gets saved there is observable evidence of saving grace. This would logically follow a true regeneration, since such a person, at the point of his salvation, passes from death to life, from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to the power of God (Jn. 5:24; Acts 26:18)! Is it possible for this type of most-extreme change from the very core of an individual to occur, yet be unnoticed? Hardly! So, as in the book of 1 John, the aforementioned passages state that truly saved people can be detected. Many other times in Scripture this same truth is shown, in contrast to what the OSAS teachers want us to believe! To confuse the issue they sometimes say only God can see the heart. But many other Scriptures teach that man can tell a truly saved person from one who is not, as already shown. Furthermore, there is more proof of this:
These are just some of the many Scriptures that are a clear refutation to those who would say of a person who turns from the faith that he was never really saved to begin with. As just proven, the Bible teaches there is observable evidence of salvation. So, we can clearly know if a person has been saved to begin with, even though this is flatly denied by Calvinism:
- Epenetus was Paul's first convert to Christ in the province of Asia (Rom. 16:5). The only way Paul could know this is if there was observable evidence of his salvation. Obviously, Paul knew who got saved and who did not get saved from his preaching of the gospel. The same can be said of the household of Stephanas, the first converts in Achaia (1 Cor. 16:15).
- Paul knew Apelles was tested and approved in Christ (Rom. 16:10). Again, Paul knew the man was in Christ.
- Paul told the saints at Rome to "Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord" (Rom. 16:11). Clearly, Paul believed the people in Narcissus' household, who were in the Lord, could be detected from the others in the same household, who were not in the Lord. This is an ability that all saints should have.
- Paul wrote a Christian widow can remarry, but that man must belong to the Lord (1 Cor. 7:39). This implies that Christian widows have the ability to know who belongs to the Lord and who doesn't.Gal. 5:24 is one of the Scriptural gauges for such:Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.
- The true saints in Caesar's household sent their greetings (Phil. 4:22). Paul knew the ones sending greetings were saints.
- In 1 Timothy 3, Paul sets down the spiritual guidelines for overseers and deacons so Timothy will know whom to appoint. In verse 6, Paul wrote:He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil.Clearly, Timothy could tell who recent converts were, thereby implying that he would know when a person truly gets saved.
- Paul wrote a general command, "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers" (2 Cor. 6:14). Christians can obviously be distinguished from the unbelievers.
- Paul wrote that we are to do good to all people, "especially to those who belong to the family of believers" (Gal. 6:10). This would be impossible if we couldn't distinguish the true believer from those who are not.
- Paul wrote to Christian slaves that have believing masters. He said they should serve them ever better because they are brothers (1 Tim. 6:2). This ability to distinguish one's spiritual family must obviously exist even for a Christian slave.
- In fact, even the darkened world can tell true disciples of the Lord! Jesus taught:By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another (Jn. 13:35).God's decree of election is secret; which persons are elect and which are reprobate will not be revealed before the Judgment.(23)
There are specific identifying traits in the life of any person who has been regenerated by the Spirit of God and cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. Besides John's checkpoints already cited, we also have the following:
Those Who Belong To The Lord
- Persecuted for godly living:Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also (Jn. 15:20).
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12).
- Bothered by wickedness:And if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard) (2 Pet. 2:7,8).
- Ashamed of their past life of sin:What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death (Rom. 6:21).
- Good works and obedience in general:But He answered and said to them, "My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it" (Lk. 8:21).
What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? (Jam. 2:14).
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life (Rom. 2:7).
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Gal. 6:7-9).
- Adherence to the Christian gospel:But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed (Gal. 1:8,9).
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you; unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Cor. 15:1-4).
- Separation from the world:They think it strange that you do not plunge with them into the same flood of dissipation, and they heap abuse on you (1 Pet. 4:4).
Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty" (2 Cor. 6:17,18).
- Freedom from sin's bondage:"... the truth will set you free." They answered him, "We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?" Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed" (Jn. 8:32-36).
Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness (Rom. 6:16-18).
Notice: Nowhere in the Bible is it shown that prophesying, performing miracles, or casting out demons in Jesus' name as in Mt. 7:21-23 is the evidence of saving faith cited at Acts 11:23. Moreover, going to "church," passing out salvation literature, or even preaching is not such evidence either.
In the parable of the sower, four types of people are mentioned by the Lord that hear the word of God. Only the first type never gets saved! Besides the clarity of Lk. 8:12, we see that no plant sprang up from the seed (the word of God), unlike all of the other three types that did get saved, at least for a little while (Lk. 8:5-8). The ones in Lk. 8:12 would be the never really saved group. (NOTE: Here is a never saved to begin with verse which John MacArthur and others don’t readily use for such because of the next verse, Lk. 8:13, which is clearly a refutation to OSAS. We know those of v. 13 did experience true salvation because of the clarity of this verse as well as a plant springing up for a time to die later because of persecution for righteousness, Mk. 4:16,17.) Again, the second group definitely did have salvation for a time because Jesus said they did believe for a while! Of course, this type of person is understandably denied of ever having salvation by the OSAS never really saved crowd. Ponder both verses together and their error will become apparent:
The Parable Of The SowerThose along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away (Lk. 8:12,13).Also, Paul definitely could not have been an OSAS teacher like John MacArthur. He didn't think Hymenaeus and Alexander were never really saved to begin with because their faith in Jesus got shipwrecked or was just temporary as some OSAS people would say today:Holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme (1 Tim. 1:19,20).Paul knew the same horrible thing that happened to Hymenaeus and Alexander could also happen to Timothy, who was certainly saved, and told him how he could prevent this.
John MacArthur would say the road is hard that leads to life (Mt. 7:14), but it really isn't in light of how he and other OSAS teachers distort the Scriptures, especially when giving their meaning of the "sin unto death." To them it means that God kills an unrepentant Christian, who may be in adultery or some other similar sin, and rewards him by taking him quicker to a paradise kingdom! D. James Kennedy, who is also a Calvinist like John MacArthur, wrote specifically about this:
Calvinism's "Sin Unto Death"Twelve, your sins as a child of God can bring about your death prematurely in this world .... I think back many years ago of a man in this church who was engaged in adultery—a man who had been a minister and had left the ministry, but a man who seemed to be a godly man—a man who seemed to be a Christian. Only God knows the heart. He became involved with a married woman. He was going to have her divorce her husband and marry him. I admonished him and urged him to repent. He was brought before the discipline committee and they admonished him to repent. He was suspended from the sacraments, but he did not repent. Finally, the Session determined that since he remained impenitent, they would have to excommunicate this man from the church. Just before that happened, God pulled his string and suddenly that young man died. These are just some of the unlimited, infinite ways God can chasten those who are truly His own, who do not repent of their sins.(24)That is the teaching of a man who is the senior pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with about 10,000 members. Kennedy has also written over 45 books with his book Evangelism Explosion selling more than 1.5 million copies. His audio teachings are heard via radio and television throughout America and in other parts of the world, including the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. He has also founded a radio station, Knox Theological Seminary, and a fully accredited K-12 academy with more than 1,250 students. His influence is incredible, yet he has been spreading spiritual poison to the multitudes!
These grace changers, including Kennedy, are inconsistent about whom they say are never saved to begin with. For some unknown reason, at times, they will charge a person who once had a convincing salvation testimony of this, then contradict this method by saying that others who suddenly died physically in unrepentant sin such as adultery or drunkenness were saved all along and it was God who killed them and took them to a better by far paradise Heaven! Their teaching is nothing more than contradictions, confusion and a license for immorality.
According to OSAS and Calvinism an unrepentant adulterer remains saved even though he died physically in that spiritual condition. God could NOT bring him to repentance through discipline and, therefore, killed him. Remember, death is gain for the Christian, whom these teachers think this refers to! Hence, such an interpretation as theirs of the sin unto death clearly gives license for sin since the Christian who goes astray to live after the flesh will be removed from this cursed age by remaining unrepentant and being taken more rapidly into God's paradise kingdom! What an incredible license for immorality the teaching of the perseverance of the saints, eternal security or once saved always saved is.
No Doubt About It!
This also forever lifts the veil that the OSAS version of Calvinism could be associated with holy living. This interpretation of the sin unto death exposes instead how it allows for the exact opposite. How is it this adulterous man, and others like him that remain unrepentant, are not labeled as never saved to begin with like other ones are? Again, why some but not all? Since the OSAS teachers refuse to understand the sin unto death to mean spiritual death, which would refute OSAS, they trap themselves into this dilemma, that is, one can be an unrepentant adulterer till his physical death and still be saved. It apparently has never dawned on the OSAS teachers that perhaps God has killed people he once delivered from Egypt for their sin and sent them straight to Hell, as he did Korah. See Num. 16:26-34. Then again perhaps they refuse to see it to perpetuate the teaching of OSAS and their own ministries. Notice what the Bible says:
Enduring In Holiness?Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire (Jude 5-7).
Their teachings are filled with multiple contradictions and flaws. Notice another contradiction which Kennedy wrote:
God Will Bring Them Back If They Are Truly HisThis is the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints ...."[they] can neither totally nor finally fall away "which means that they may partially or temporarily fall away, but God will bring them back if they are truly His.(25)
God never brought back Kennedy's unrepentant adulterer who used to be a minister, yet he is labeled of those who are truly His own. Their doctrine completely destroys the holy image of being a Christian for now anyone can be a Christian regardless how wickedly they are behaving, just like Charles Stanley's carnal Christian. So, these blind guides are indirectly admitting that God's discipline doesn't always work in bringing a person back to God (Jer. 32:33; etc.), the very truth conditional security Christians have been saying for a long time.
This also exposes their deceptive doctrine in another way. Kennedy shockingly went on to write:
Calvinistic Double TalkIt is only as we persevere in godliness and in a holy life and in service for Jesus Christ that we will end up in His eternal kingdom.(26)Kennedy speaks with a forked tongue as the Indians would say. He just taught that an unrepentant adulterer was killed by God and entered God's kingdom. Hence, that man surely did not persevere in godliness and in a holy life and in service for Jesus Christ.
The MacArthur-Kennedy Calvinistic saving faith message is nothing more than a license for immorality under the guise of a sometimes surface holiness teaching. Just like Kennedy, please read carefully the following quotes from John MacArthur and you'll see the real message underneath his ongoing facade which has deceived multitudes for years:
John MacArthur's Holiness FacadeSlaves of sin—unbelievers—are free from righteousness (Rom. 6:20). Christians, on the other hand, are free from sin and enslaved to God through faith in Jesus Christ (v. 22). The inevitable benefit is sanctification, and the ultimate outcome is eternal life (v. 22). This promise sums up the whole point of Romans 6: God not only frees us from sin's penalty (justification), but He frees us from sin's tyranny as well (sanctification).(27)
A genuinely saved and obedient follower of the Lord Jesus will know divine truth and both freedom from sin (v. 34) and the search for reality.(28)
Apparently, such teachings like the ones above have caused concern in some of John MacArthur's readers and hence he writes about what a pattern of sin is not and starts to switch his position and reveal again the license for immorality he has been covering up so well, but contradicts himself by doing so. Notice, he wrote the following about people, which he thinks are Christians:
Christians—Enslaved By Sin?I frequently receive letters from anguished Christians who doubt their salvation because they can't seem to break a sinful or unwise habit. They most often write about smoking, overeating, and masturbation. They fear their struggle with such things means they are locked into a pattern of sin. But John is not saying that the frequent occurrence of one particular sin in a person's life means that person is lost. Rather, he clarifies his meaning in saying that a true believer cannot practice lawlessness (1 John 3:4). The Greek term used there (anomia) literally means living as if there were no law. A person who rejects God's authority doesn't care what God thinks about his habits, and is obviously not a Christian.(29)
John MacArthur teaches that frequent occurrence of one particular sin does not mean that such a person is lost, even if such can't break away and get freed from a sexual sin addiction such as masturbation. Somehow all of this doesn't mean they are practic[ing] lawlessness, according to him. To do that, they'd have to not care what God thinks about their [wicked] habits, which enslave them! John MacArthur apparently made this concept up out of his head and doesn't even attempt to justify such an unusual statement with unrelated Scripture, as he cites at other times. He gives no support whatsoever for such. So, according to John MacArthur, as long as you care what God is thinking about your own wicked, sinful habits which you can't get free from and frequently fall prey to, you are saved and shouldn't doubt your salvation, even if you are a slave to sexual sin! This is part of his real definition of a genuine believer, which he seldom reveals but likes to keep hidden for special occasions. Such explains why he also believes that the unnamed sexually immoral man of 1 Cor. 5, who was doing things that even pagans don't do (1 Cor. 5:1) was a Christian and that a genuine believer can do the sins that King David did in his darkest recorded time:
John MacArthur's Hidden Definition Of A ChristianGenuine believers sometimes commit heinous sins, as David did in 2 Samuel 11.(30)John MacArthur's saving faith message declares he was still a genuine believer all along and since he can't contradict OSAS, David didn't lose his salvation. Then, on the same page as the aforementioned quote, John MacArthur wrote:In other words, all true believers follow Jesus (John 10:27-28).(31)
So somehow a genuine believer can sin like King David and still be follow[ing] Jesus while in his unrepentant sins of adultery, murder, etc., and remain saved all along. The same can be said about the anguished Christians who doubt their salvation because they can't seem to break a sinful or unwise habit [of masturbation]. He goes on and writes more about genuine believers:
King David was Following Jesus All AlongThose with true faith will fail - and in some cases, frequently - but a genuine believer will, as a pattern of life, confess his sin and come to the Father for forgiveness (1 John 1:9).(32)
Saved people who stray don't always confess their sins and come [back] to the Father for forgiveness by his own understanding of sin unto death, which he and other Calvinists like Kennedy teach. About that John MacArthur wrote:
Another ContradictionSin ... can even endanger our physical life and health (1 Cor. 11:29-30).(33)So if God kills an unrepentant sinning Christian, he cannot confess his sin and come to the Father for forgiveness, as John MacArthur teaches a genuine believer will do!
While sin does not result in spiritual death for the believer, it can lead to physical death (1 Cor. 11:30; 1 John 5:16).(34)
Failure to repent of and forsake sin may eventually lead to physical death as a judgment of God (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor. 5:5; 11:30).(35)
Sometimes one must wonder if John MacArthur isn't a split personality, because of the ways he teaches. Notice the following quote:
If They Fall Away They Were Never Saved!Those who do fall away from Christ give conclusive proof that they were never truly believers to begin with (1 John 2:19).(36)The departure of people from the truth and the church is their unmasking.(37)
John MacArthur also adds to these by the following comment on Mt. 26:31 where the Bible reads that the original Apostles (sheep) all fell away:
Less Than Full And Final ApostasyThe Gr. Word is the same word Jesus used for "offended" in 24:10, describing the falling away and spiritual treachery that would occur in the last days. Here, however, Jesus spoke of something less than full and final apostasy.(38)So, according to John MacArthur's teaching, a real Christian can fall away and still remain saved all during that time, as long as it is less than full and final apostasy. For the Apostles that would mean they didn't lose their salvation even by denying Jesus, with Peter doing that three times! If one looks for John MacArthur's notes in his study Bible on Mt. 10:33, where Jesus taught the following, he gets referred to another note. Here is the Mt. 10:33 warning to the same group that later denied Jesus in Mt. 26:31,56:But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
As just mentioned, John MacArthur refers the reader to his note on Luke 12:9, where he shockingly wrote:
The Apostle Peter's Soul-Damning DenialThis describes a soul-damning denial of Christ—not the sort of temporary wavering Peter was guilty of ....(39)This is what the actual verse (Lk. 12:9) says, as well as a corresponding one from Paul:But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God.The Greek word used in Lk. 12:9, 2 Tim. 2:12 (and Mt. 10:33) is arneomai and means:
If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us (2 Tim. 2:12, KJV).to contradict, i.e. disavow, reject, abnegate: - deny, refuse.(40)This is the same exact word found in the following Scriptures, which show that the Apostle Peter committed that very sin, which, according to John MacArthur was a soul-damning denial:But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said (Mt. 26:70).How could John MacArthur overlook these facts? He claims to have studied the Scriptures an impressive thirty years, thirty hours a week. Here's his note once again from Lk. 12:9:
He denied it again, with an oath: "I don't know the man!" (Mt. 26:72).
But he denied it. "I don't know or understand what you're talking about," he said, and went out into the entryway (Mk. 14:68).
Again he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, "Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean" (Mk. 14:70).
And he [Peter] denied him [Jesus], saying, Woman, I know him not (Lk. 22:57).
As Simon Peter stood warming himself, he was asked, "You are not one of his disciples, are you?" He denied it, saying, "I am not" (Jn. 18:25).
Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow (Jn. 18:27).This describes a soul-damning denial of Christ—not the sort of temporary wavering Peter was guilty of ....
Notice the part where he wrote not the sort of temporary wavering Peter was guilty of. So it's soul-damning, but in Peter's case, it was somehow different. Why? No doubt to save his beloved OSAS doctrine. Also, notice how John MacArthur tries to downplay Peter's deadly denial by calling it a temporary wavering. Why call it temporary wavering when Jesus said it was a denial? Such a denial that results in Jesus denying or disowning us doesn't have to be permanent. All it has to be is just a denial, which Jesus said all the Apostles would do. What John MacArthur wants us all to believe is exactly the opposite of this truth. Rather than declaring the real meaning of these Scriptures, John MacArthur apparently has as his first allegiance his desire to protect the teaching of OSAS. The truth is the Apostle Peter committed soul-damning sin and lost his salvation temporarily until he repented and got it back. Furthermore, Peter did that without habitually practicing sin or having a pattern of sin, as John MacArthur stresses elsewhere! Rather than deny these disturbing Scriptural truths, it is much safer spiritually to accept them and walk in light of this and other related eternal facts which declare that the real Christian can lose his salvation and it can happen very quickly as already proven.
As in the past with Kennedy, John MacArthur's understanding of the sin unto death contradicts what he teaches elsewhere. Certainly, such people who committed the sin unto death were guilty of full and final apostasy yet entered God's kingdom. Hence, they fell away to that extreme degree and not just temporarily yet they remained Christian, according to OSAS.
What's this - Full And Final Apostasy?
Hence, the sum of all this evidence forces us to conclude that John MacArthur's teachings (as well as Kennedy's and all other OSAS teachers) are filled with unscriptural declarations and contradictions that are not only wrong, but much worse - deadly. John MacArthur denies the basic truth that sin can bring righteous people to their spiritual death, which he admits happened to Adam and Eve.(41) His oftentimes concealed definition of a genuine believer has been clothed by him in a false garment of holiness (as Kennedy has also done). Consequently, many sincere Christians have been deceived by him to the point where they think both he and his ministry are sound. Never forget, John MacArthur (and many others) are only OSAS teachers and nothing better. They cannot, therefore, teach a true Scriptural holiness message for the doctrine he embraces, as part of his understanding of saving faith, will never allow it. Consequently, they try to juggle some of the Scriptures and avoid other ones in their efforts to force it into the Scriptures as a Christian teaching, which it clearly isn't.
John MacArthur's Faith And Holiness Message
What is the true saving faith, which is needed to finally enter the kingdom of God? In a sentence, it is a trusting-submitting-enduring faith in Jesus Christ, which includes repentance [turning from sin]. To elaborate further, it is the faith in Jesus Christ, which obeys Him to the point of putting into practice his word and living holy. This same faith, which brings instant salvation, can afterwards be destroyed by false teachings (2 Tim. 2:18), become shipwrecked (1 Tim. 1:19,20), cease to exist (Luke 8:13), etc. even though it previously brought forth eternal life and forgiveness of sins. Hence, a true Christian must remain very guarded in his personal battle for eternity because he can still go to Hell, like many in the past did who once knew salvation.
True Saving Faith
Sin after salvation is poisonous to a Christian and can clearly bring forth spiritual death [loss of salvation], according to true grace teaching (Rom. 8:13 cf. Lk. 15:24,32; Jam. 1:14,15; Gal. 5:19-21; 6:8,9). It never brings forth good as John MacArthur wants us to believe. It is possible to have a heart purified by faith in Jesus (Acts 15:9 cf. 1 Tim. 1:5,6), afterwards become defiled again by sin and go back to the old life of sin (2 Pet. 2:20-22). [See our book The Believer's Conditional Security
Eternal security teachers—popular teachers in our day who avoid certain Scriptures and distort others to allow for wicked behavior in the life of a Christian while spuriously assuring him that his sins, regardless how severe, will not exclude him from God's paradise kingdom because he was previously saved. Such ravening wolves in sheep's clothing are misleading multitudes to Hell, while oftentimes they themselves get financially prosperous by promising their listeners nothing but a false salvation in their sins such as those cited in 1 Cor. 6:9,10, under their twisted version of grace and the infinite work of Christ. These grace distorters (Jude 3,4) are clearly described in the book of Jude and must be opposed by Christians for the sake of souls.
Please pass this vital information on to your friends and family.
(2) See our booklet, The Gospel According To Charles Stanley, available through Evangelical Outreach, PO Box 265, Washington, PA 15301.
(3) Many don't realize that John MacArthur also believes that salvation will continue to be possessed without repentance for soul-damning sin after getting born again, just like Ryrie and Hodges teach. Their chief difference is regarding the need for repentance to experience getting born again, but after that occurs there is no difference between Ryrie, Hodges and John MacArthur as far as remaining saved in "occasional" acts of unrepentant wickedness such as adultery, murder, etc. We know this by the way they all teach similarly about the David-Bathsheba-Uriah scene, 1 Cor. 5:1-5, Peter's thrice denial, etc.
(4) The MacArthur Study Bible (Word Publishing, 1997), p. 1969, comment on 1 John 3:8.
(5) John MacArthur, Jr., God: Coming Face to Face with His Majesty (Victor Books, 1993), pp. 47,48.
(6) ibid., p. 48.
(8) ibid., p. 119
(9) The MacArthur Study Bible (Word Publishing, 1997), p. 1927, comment on James 1:15.
(10) MacArthur, God: Coming Face to Face with His Majesty, p. 118.
(11) ibid., p. 119, italics his.
(12) ibid., p. 119.
(13) The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1706, his comment on Rom. 8:1.
(14) ibid., p. 1708, comment on Rom. 8:28.
(15) ibid., p. 1709, comment on Rom. 8:34.
(16) ibid., p. 1736, comment on 1 Cor. 6:11. <>Twenty-six times or more in the New Testament we have examples of people, named or unnamed, who wandered from the truth, shipwrecked their faith, fell away, etc. and yet not one single time did any of the early Christians say of such people that they were never saved to begin with! Furthermore, MacArthur cites Jn. 10:28,29 as a passage in support of eternal security. Hence, he is teaching a "security in sin" doctrine by saying the people he describes in 1 Cor. 6:11 as being Christians are saved and all along eternally secure based on Jn. 10:28,29 even though they are in such sins cited in 6:9,10.
(17) ibid., p. 1736, comment on 1 Cor. 6:9.
(18) ibid., p. 1811, comment on Eph. 5:5.
(19) John F. MacArthur, Jr., Faith Works: The Gospel According To The Apostles (Word Publishing, 1993), p. 128.
(20) The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1798, comment on Gal. 5:21.
(21) ibid., p. 1736.
(23) New Geneva Study Bible, NKJV (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), p. 1784. It is impossible to have salvation assurance with this type of teaching. This and other OSAS study bibles should be avoided.
(24) D. James Kennedy, Can A Christian Fall From Grace, pp. 14,15, pamphlet (italics emphasis his). A person who dies physically while sowing to please the flesh goes to Hell, according to Scripture (Gal. 6:8,9). To teach otherwise is an attempt to mock God (v. 7).
(25) D. James Kennedy, The Perseverance Of The Saints, p. 5, pamphlet (brackets in original).
(26) Kennedy, Can A Christian Fall From Grace, p. 10.
(27) MacArthur, Faith Works, p. 121.
(28) The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1599, comment on John 8:32.
(29) John MacArthur, Jr., Saved Without A Doubt (Victor Books, 1992), pp. 77,78.
(30) MacArthur, Faith Works, p. 24.
(31) ibid., p. 24.
(32) ibid., p. 31.
(33) ibid, p. 134.
(34) The MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1927, comment on James 1:15.
(35) ibid., p. 1974, comment on 1 John 5:16,17. NOTE: John MacArthur, like John Calvin, believes the sexually immoral man of 1 Cor. 5 was saved like the others in 11:30 and Acts 5:1-11. Why doesn’t he say the man of 1 Cor. 5 was never saved to begin with, because of his habitual sexual sin? Furthermore, John MacArthur says the judgment on the unnamed sexually immoral man of 1 Cor. 5:5 was physical death but in 2 Cor. 2:6,7, he states he was still alive physically after this judgment because he had repented and it was time to restore him. John MacArthur as well as other Calvinists have a confused theology.
(36) ibid., p. 1439, comment on Mt. 24:13. Please know that the teachers (antichrists and false apostles) who left John in 1 John 2:19 never showed any evidence of saving grace or redemption, since they clearly denied that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 2:22). Therefore, to cite this verse as a basis for the sometimes never really saved to begin with OSAS statement is a gross misuse of Scripture as well as avoiding all the other Scriptures that reveal others had a true salvation experience along with its evidence only to later turn away to their own spiritual death. See 1 Tim. 1:5,6; 1 Tim. 1:19,20; Heb. 10:26-29; etc.
(37) ibid, p. 1967, comment on 1 John 2:19.
(38) ibid, p. 1445, comment on Mt. 26:31.
(39) ibid., p. 1538, comment on Lk. 12:9.
(40) Strong's Concordance, Greek dictionary, no. 720.
(41) The MacArthur Study Bible, pp. 19, 20, comments on Gen. 2:17; 3:4,5.
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