Salvation – Once Save WIill Always Be Save ?
In fact the ONLY place in the New Testament where the words “faith alone” appear is in the Book of St. James where James says that we are “not saved by faith alone” (James 2:24). This was the reason Luther wanted to get rid of the book of James.
This man was arrogant in his desire to conform the Bible to his personal, and heretical, opinions.
James 2:24 Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith. So Luther added the word “faith alone” to Romans 3:28 in his German Translation.
Catholics never outlawed the reading of the bible. They outlawed certain editions of the bible that were translated incorrectly by reformers. Versions where the word “Only” was added to the word Faith in Rom 3:28. That one word changes the whole entire meaning of the doctrine of the bible. We are not supposed to add to the word of God.
The church is the bibles guardian and the guardian of all truth because the Catholic church is the Pillar and foundation of all truth(1 Tim 3:15). The Catholic church is the biggest promoter of scripture and always has been. We wrote it(at least the new testament), copied it, passed it on, and canonized it in 382 At the council of Rome under Pope Damasus I.
If it was not for the Catholic Church and her popes and traditions the world would never of even known what the bible was. Protestants only know the bible because of us. Martin Luther admitted that. St Augustine also did in the 4th century. fundamentalist always spread rumors about us keeping the scriptures away from people. Bugt htose are just lies.
1. Salvation by Faith Alone?
John 3:3 – One cannot be saved, unless they are born again and accept Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
This is partially true but the meaning is distorted. The verse non-Catholics like to quote, John 3:3, is not completed by Jesus, or let us say interpreted until verse 3:5.
Let us look two verses ahead at John 3:5.
In John 3:5, Nicodemus is confused about being born again.
Jesus clarifies what He states to Nicodemus stating:
John 3:5 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Here we see that born again means the sacrament of baptism!
If the non-Catholic would only read a little further he would find the true meaning of being “born again.”
2. Do Catholics believe that the good works they do will get them into Heaven?
Catholics do believe that works will get them to Heaven accompanied by faith and God’s grace.
There are so many verses in the Bible stating that entrance into Heaven is not as simple as saying “I accept Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.” Let us see what the Bible has to say about salvation:
(Phil 2:12) -…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
(Rom 2:5-6) – …the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
(James 2:14) – What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? Can faith save him?
(Mt 16:27) – For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.
(2 Cor. 5:10) – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
(Mt. 25:31 46) – (the verse is too long to quote, here is a summary) Jesus states that He will separate His sheep from the goats. Jesus goes on to say; when I was hungry did you feed me? When I was thirsty did you give me drink? When I was naked did you clothe me? When I was sick did you visit me? When I was in prison did you visit me? When I was stranger did you take me in and clothe me?
Jesus then states that anyone who has done these things for his brother did so for Himself and He invites the righteous into life eternal. Those who did not help his brother in need, were sent into everlasting punishment.
In the verses above, it is quite clear to see that salvation is not as simple as stating that one proclaim Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. It is a nice thing to say and should be said every day, but there is more to salvation then accepting Christ as one’s personal Lord and Savior.
3. sola fide is wrong. First, because the Bible never says it anywhere.
Second, because Luther inserted the word “alone” in his German translation, there in Romans 3, although he knew perfectly well that the word “alone” was not in the Greek. Nowhere did the Holy Spirit ever inspire the writers of Scripture to say we’re saved by faith alone. Paul teaches we’re saved by faith, but in Galatians he says we’re saved by faith working in love. And that’s the way it is in a family isn’t it? A father doesn’t say to his kids, “Hey, kids, since you’re in my family and all the other kids who are your friends aren’t, you don’t have to work, you don’t have to obey, you don’t have to sacrifice because, hey, you’re saved. You’re going to get the inheritance no matter what you do.” That’s not the way it works.
The original publications of the King James did include the same books that the Catholic Bible has, but they are in an appendix.
Martin Luther, on his own and without any authority, ripped seven books out of the Old Testament and claimed they were not Sacred Scripture (hence being put in an appendix).
Martin Luther also wanted to rip out of the Bible several New Testament books too — such as James, Hebrews, and Revelations.
In addition Martin Luther add to the Bible words that do not exist in the Greek extant manuscripts. When Martin Luther was confronted about why he was messing with the Bible, he replied, “Because my will is good enough.” This was one arrogant person.
One of the reasons that Luther ripped out books of the Old Testament is because some of those books helped to explain some Catholic doctrines. The reason why he wanted to rip out of the Bible the Book of St. James is because it contradicted his personal and heretical view about justification. He said justification was by faith alone. NOWHERE does the Bible say that, so Luther added the word to Romans 3:28 in his German Translation.
In fact the ONLY place in the New Testament where the words “faith alone” appear is in the Book of St. James where James says that we are “not saved by faith alone” (James 2:24). This was the reason Luther wanted to get rid of the book of James.
James 2:24 > Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith
This man was not just arrogant but evil in his desire to conform the Bible to his personal, and heretical, opinions.
Anyway, this is the short and quick version of this story.
The Protestants are quite easily shown to be wrong when it comes to whether or not works are necessary for salvation, and whether or not faith alone will suffice.
As the Epistle of Saint James says,
“Do you see that by works a man is justified; and not by faith only? For even as the body without the spirit is dead; so also faith without works is dead.”
As it is, we see Christ our Lord commanding us to do works in order to be saved throughout the Sacred Scriptures.
in John 3:5 Christ commands us to be baptized in order to be saved. And in Matthew 19:16-17 Christ commands us to keep the commandments in order to be saved. While in 1 Corinthians 13:2 the Scriptures tell us that faith without charity is useless.
The Scriptures As Matthew 16:27 tells us, and I quote:
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels: And then will he render to every man according to his works.”
The Book of the Apocalypse says the same thing in chapter 20 verse 13, while in Chapter 22 verse 13 of the same book it says the following “Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to every man according to his works ”.
Absolutely not. In fact, the Bible is full of passages that either directly or indirectly contradict this doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved.” For example: Rom 11:17-23, “But if some of the branches were broken off [the Jews], and you, a wild olive shoot [the Gentiles], were grafted in their place to share the richness of the olive tree [Jesus Christ], do not boast over the branches…For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you…Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in His kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.”
Paul is talking about how salvation has come to the Gentiles, while many of the Jews have rejected it. And he makes it very clear that once you have been grafted into Christ, you must “continue in His kindness,” or you can also be cut off. So, even after you’ve been saved, you can still be cut off from Jesus Christ.
This is further seen in Galatians, chapter 5. Verse 1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand fast therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery [sin].” If once saved always saved is true, then one cannot “submit again” to a “yoke of slavery,” and Paul’s warning makes no sense.
But Paul goes on in verse 4 to say, “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” Paul is talking to Gentile Christians who had been wrongly taught by the Judaizers that they have to be circumcised and obey the Mosaic Law in order to be true Christians. Paul tells them that is false, and if they submit to circumcision and to the Old Law, they will be “severed from Christ.” If once saved always saved is true, though, they can’t be severed from Christ and, once again, Paul’s warning is meaningless.
We also have the Parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke chapter 15. The Prodigal Son was in his father’s house, and the father here is representative of God the Father. Then, the Prodigal Son leaves his father’s house and goes and lives a sinful life. In the end, though, he repents and returns to his father. After the Prodigal Son returns, the father says this of him in verse 24: “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.”
In Evangelical terminology, to be dead is to be unsaved, and to be alive is to be saved. Notice very carefully, though, that the father says the son is alive “again.” In other words, the son was alive, or saved, when he was in his father’s house at the beginning of the parable; was “dead,” or unsaved, when he left his father’s house and lived in sin; then was alive again, saved again, when he repented and returned to his father’s house. Alive, dead, alive again. Saved, unsaved, saved again.
Once saved always saved? I don’t think so.
…so that we might be justified by His grace, and become heirs in hope of eternal life. Titus 3:7
One day while going to Confession, I found a Protestant tract (pamphlet) wedged in the confessional screen. Its basic message was that we can be assured of our salvation as long as we believe in Christ. To paraphrase that tract, it argued that we can be assured of going to heaven, since God loves us (John 3:16). Even though we have sinned and are separated from God (Romans 3:23), Jesus Christ died for our sins (Romans 5:8). By repenting of our sins and receiving Christ into our heart, we are saved from hell (Acts 3:19; Rev. 3:20). That tract expressed several basic Christian truths, but it lacked the fullness of the Christian Faith. A few important points need to be clarified.
Let us begin with John 3:16…
For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. [John 3:16, RSV]
This verse is a concise yet beautiful statement of the Gospel message. God so loves us that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the Cross at the hands of sinful men in order to save us from hell (Romans 5:6-11). Our salvation is a free gift from God purchased by Christ. We cannot earn heaven least we boast (Ephesians 2:8). We are saved through Christ by believing in Christ. But what is “believing?”
Now John 3:16 is not a complete expression of the doctrine of salvation. We must understand it in the context and fullness of revelation. Only twenty verses later, it is also written:
He who believes (pisteuon) in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey (apeithon) the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him. [John 3:36]
The RSV, NAB and NASB Bibles translate the Greek verb, apeithon, as “obey.” This verse connects “belief in Christ” with “obedience to Christ.” Elsewhere St. Paul connects faith with obedience as in “the obedience of faith” [Romans 1:5] and with good works as in “faith working through love” [Galatians 5:6]. Also it is written, “By faith Abraham obeyed…” [Hebrew 11:8]. According to the Bible, “to believe” also means “to obey.” We do not sincerely believe in Christ, if we disobey God’s Commandments – i.e. commit sin (James 2:18-26). Sin is a break in faith (Numbers 5:6-7).
As a result of Adam’s sin (Romans 5:12) and through our serious sins, we reject God and deserve hell – the loss of eternal life. It must be remembered that hell is not punishment from a vengeful God but the natural consequence of rejecting God – the Source of life and goodness. Our sins offend God’s love. There is nothing we can do as finite (limited) creatures to repair this infinite (unlimited) offense. Fortunately due to God’s mercy, Christ redeems us from hell through His Passion and Sacrifice on the Cross. As a free gift (Titus 3:5), God forgives us and offers us the grace to live with Him in friendship forever, beginning in the Sacrament of Baptism (Mark 16:16; 1 Peter 3:21; Acts 2:38). In the washing of Baptism, we receive Sanctifying Grace, which makes us right with God (Acts 22:16; 1 Cor 6:9-11).
Now we are surely redeemed by Christ in Baptism but we can freely choose to reject this gift through serious sin. As St. Paul writes:
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 6:23]
In this verse, eternal life is heaven, while death is hell – the opposite of eternal life. Heaven is a free gift from God, but we can still earn hell by committing serious sin (i.e. mortal sin). Obeying God’s Law does not save us, but the Law does point to sins that can damn us (Romans 3:20). As an analogy, my civil liberties are a gift from my forefathers, but if I commit a felony, I may go to jail. Also in the Bible:
Make no mistake about this: no fornicator (those who have sex before marriage), no unclean or lustful person – in effect an idolater – has any inheritance in the kingdom (heaven) of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with worthless arguments. These are sins that bring God’s wrath down on the disobedient.[Ephesians 5:5-6; NAB]
Another sobering verse from St. Paul is:
For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgement. [Hebrews 10:26-27; RSV]
Please note that the “we” in this verse also included St. Paul – a faith-filled, baptized Christian! After Baptism if we sin deliberately and remain unrepentant, then we can lose the gift of salvation. In Baptism we receive Sanctifying Grace in our souls by no merit of our own, but afterwards we must cooperate with this grace or we will lose it (2 Cor 6:1). This cooperation with God’s redeeming grace is the Catholic understanding of merit (CCC 162; 2025).
Fortunately God has given us the Sacrament of Confession (Penance or Reconciliation), so we can receive His continuing forgiveness for our sins committed after Baptism. Since we continue to sin after receiving Baptism (1 John 1:8-9), we must continually repent, confess our sins and turn our heart (will) back to Christ. Repentance is not a single event in our life, but must be an ongoing, everyday process for us. Yesterday we may have sincerely repented and been forgiven, but tomorrow through our weakness, we may stumble back into sin (2 Peter 2:20-22). We can be assured that Jesus will forgive us as often as we forgive others (Luke 6:36-37; Matt 6:14-15). Through this Sacrament, we receive Sanctifying Grace and Actual Graces which can help us resist future sins.
Jesus understands our weakness even after Baptism. This is the reason that He gave His Apostles the authority to forgive sins:
…He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” [John 20:22-23]
Through the centuries this authority has been handed on to the bishops and priests as the Sacrament of Confession. Christians today need forgiveness for their sins as much as those in the first century A.D. In addition the authority to either forgive or retain implies oral confession (disclosure) of our sins since the priest needs to know the nature of the sins (Acts 19:18; Leviticus 5:5-6).
Even though our personal salvation is not assured, we still must hope in it. In the Bible, St. Paul uses the phrases: “the hope of salvation” [1 Thess 5:8] or “hope of eternal life” [Titus 1:2; 3:7]. If we were assured of heaven, then there would be no need for hope. Hope is not the same as assurance (Romans 8:24). According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC):
Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God; it is also the fear of offending God’s love and incurring punishment. [CCC 2090]
The two sins against hope are despair and presumption (CCC 2091). The sin of despair is losing hope in our salvation by failing to trust God. The sin of presumption is losing hope by either relying on ourselves for our salvation instead of God or taking God’s mercy for granted without fear. Denying our sinfulness or believing “once saved, always saved” can lead us into the sin of presumption. However, we must not go the other extreme and fall into the sin of despair. Hope is a delicate balance between confidence in God’s promise and fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:7).
God wants all of us to be saved from hell and come to know the truth (1 Tim 2:4). Through Christ’s Church – the Catholic Church, we can come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 3:15; Matt 16:18). Through the Sacraments we receive God’s saving grace as a free gift. But afterwards we must cooperate with that grace, since we have the free will (choice) to reject God at anytime through serious disobedience, i.e. mortal sin. After receiving God’s redeeming grace in Baptism, we must continue to “work out (our) own salvation with fear and trembling” [Philip 2:12]. Through Confession, we can ask God for His continuing merciful forgiveness and more graces to help us resist sins in the future. As sinners we are not assured of our salvation. But Christians, who faithfully use the Sacraments -Channels of God’s saving grace – without giving up, can certainly hope for salvation.
Belief in Jesus and living a Christian life are both essential for salvation. The “once saved, always saved” or unconditional eternal security was not a doctrine that was taught by the ancient church, nor for that manner, by any well-known theologian before John Calvin. This doctrine is, in fact, completely foreign in the history of Christianity.
The American Revivalism Movement in the late 1800s and 1900s brought the first wave of American fundamentalists into being, with their central “eternal security,” “once-saved-always-saved,” “born again” doctrine.
Since the First Century, the Catholic Church has taught that baptism was performed for the forgiveness of sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (see Acts 2:38). That is the “water” and “spirit” that is referred to in Jesus’ discourse to Nicodemus in John 3:4.
First Peter 3:20 also says that we are saved by baptism.
Take a look at the Old Testament:
In Ezekiel 36:25-27, it says, “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses…a new heart I will give you and a new spirit I will put within you…and I will put My spirit within you…” Here, in the Old Testament, we have a foreshadowing of New Testament baptism.
Now, let’s see if the New Testament corresponds to what we just read in Ezekiel. Acts 2:38, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
I was a fundamentalist nondenominational Christian for over two decades. I believed in eternal security, with no reservation. But after converting to Catholicism and studying the Church fathers and early Christians in the light of scripture, I believe that the eternal security doctrine of the Reformation is in error. Just like the Arian Heresy, Gnosticism and Donatism, and all the other man-made doctrines that have permeated Christian teaching at times through the centuries, the “eternal security” teaching will eventually take its place with the other heretical teachings.
The sad truth is that many people will see Hell because of it.
Q: I was asked by a co–worker, who is an Evangelical, if I have “absolute assurance” of my salvation. I said, “No,” but then he started telling me that meant I wasn’t saved and he started quoting Bible verses and saying things about the Catholic Church and it all got me a bit turned around. Did I give him the right answer to his question?
A: You did indeed give him the right answer to his question. That question is based on belief in a doctrine called “once saved, always saved.” Once you are “saved,” – answered an altar call or said a sinner’s prayer and accepted Jesus into your heart as your personal Lord and Savior – then, according to this doctrine, that’s it. That’s all that needs to be done. Your train ticket to Heaven has been punched and there is nothing that can derail that train. Salvation is, in essence, a one–time event that cannot be undone. That’s why believers in this doctrine claim to have “absolute assurance” in their own salvation.
Catholics do not, however, say that they have “absolute” assurance of salvation because we do not believe that we have the authority nor the ability to judge ourselves. Paul himself says, in 1 Cor 4:3–5, that he does not judge himself, but it is the Lord who judges him. Paul even says that he is not aware of anything against himself, yet that he is not necessarily acquitted (or saved, in Evangelical terminology). That doesn’t sound like absolute assurance of salvation, does it?
Also, in Phil 3:10–13 and 1 Cor 9:26–27, we don’t see Paul talking in the language of absolute assurance: ”…that, if possible, I may attain the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own…,” and ”…lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” This is not the language of absolute assurance.
God judges us, we do not judge ourselves. At any moment in our lives, we still have the free will to turn away from God and reject Him. And, if you reject God, are you still saved? Catholics don’t believe so. What we can say is that we have believed in God and have done our best to do His will for our lives (Matthew 7:21, “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven,”) and that by His grace and mercy we hope in His salvation.
Man has this incredible capacity to fool himself, but he cannot fool God: “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart,” (Proverbs 21:2). That’s why we say that if we believe and do the Father’s will, then we have the hope in us that God will indeed have mercy upon us and grant us eternal life with Him in Heaven. But, we do not presume to judge when judgment is for God alone.
We also do not say we have absolute assurance of salvation because Catholics, like Paul, believe salvation is a process. We believe, as Jesus says, that in order to follow Him, we must deny ourselves and we must pick up our cross daily (Luke 9:23), not just once in our lives. If we don’t pick up our cross daily, then we are not following Him. And, if we are not following Him, are we still saved? The answer is, no, we are not.
And Paul very clearly believes that salvation is a process, not a one–time event. In several places he states that we have been saved (2 Tim 1:8–9, Rom 8:24, Eph 2:5 and 8, and Titus 3:5); in other places he says that we are being saved (1 Cor 1:18 and 2 Cor 2:15), which in and of itself connotes a process of salvation; and in still other places he says we will be saved (1 Cor 3:15, 1 Cor 5:5, 1 Tim 2:15, Rom 5:9–10, and Rom 10:9 and 13). We were saved, we are being saved, and w e will be saved…if we persevere to the end – that is the scriptural process of salvation.
Finally, for those who believe in absolute assurance, they have a bit of a problem with the whole concept of hope that we find all through the New Testament. Why are these these folks in the Scripture told to have hope rather than to trust in their absolute assurance of salvation? If they have absolute knowledge – absolute assurance – that they are saved, then they have no need for hope. The concept of hope fits perfectly with Catholic belief, but not so much with the belief in once saved always saved and this whole absolute assurance business.
To summarize: We have the assurance, based upon God’s own word, that if we follow His will for our lives, we will be saved. But, we do not have “absolute” assurance that we will be saved because we could, of our own free will, turn away from Christ at any given po int in our lives.
Mr. Weber’s response:
In our Bible study for next week, the leader passed out your article of December 16, 2011 on absolute assurance. In my reading and studying of your article, I find you have overlooked some very important scripture.
First of all, I think you have used the writings of Paul incorrectly. You quoted verses in which he speaks about his development as a Christian. The verses do not refer to salvation. If, as you suggest he was working toward his salvation, you would have to ignore several of his specific verses addressing salvation. He says in Romans 8:1, “There is, therefore, NO CONDEMNATION to them that are in Christ Jesus”. That verse clearly states it is not possible to lose your salvation, because all your sins have been forgiven when you trust Christ as yo ur Saviour. PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE SINS. There are many other places that Paul repeats that, but none more clearly that 2 Cor 5:17, when he says that “If any man be in Christ he is a NEW CREATURE. Old things are passed away – behold all things are become new”
The Apostle Peter verifies the authenticity of Pauls teaching when he put in his book that Paul was correct in his teachings.
The Apostle John clearly states that “These things have I written that you may KNOW that you have eternal life” I John 5:13. If you can lose your salvation, there is no way a person could KNOW he has eternal life. And the Lord himself made it quite clear that a Christian can not lose his salvation. In the book of John, 14:27, Jesus says, “My peace I give unto you, not as the world giveth”
I ask you – can a Christian have peace if he can lose his salvation? The answer is a resounding “NO”
I was teaching the book of Romans in Yalta in the Ukraine and after our class on assurance, a young lady who had only been saved for a short period of time, came to me and said that she was so thankful we had covered that subject, because she had been taught that if she died with unconfessed sin, she would not go to Heaven. The possibility that she could die with unconfessed sin and not go to Heaven had robbed her of her of the peace and the abundant life that Christ promised her. Thankfuly, I was able to show her what the Bible says – not what man thinks.
In the Book of John, 3:15, Jesus tells us that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” Notice, there is not another list of things attached that we have to do to inherit eter nal life. Jesus tells us clearly that it is only the acceptance of the shed blood of Christ that brings salvation – not any works that we might do. The scripture clearly says that “all our works are as filthy rags”
It is my prayer that you will look more closely into what the Bible teaches on this subject and pass that information along to your readers so that they may have the peace that passes all understanding – the knowledge that upon their death, the Christian can know that he will be present with the Lord.
I suggest to you, Mr. Martignoni, that if there is no assurance of salvation, the Christian has not the peace that Christ has promised us.
Dear Mr. Weber,
Below, in italics, is the 1st part of your email. My response will follow:
“In our Bible study for next week, the leader passed out your article of Dece mber 16, 2011 on absolute assurance. In my reading and studying of your article, I find you have overlooked some very important scripture.
First of all, I think you have used the writings of Paul incorrectly. You quoted verses in which he speaks about his development as a Christian. The verses do not refer to salvation. If, as you suggest he was working toward his salvation, you would have to ignore several of his specific verses addressing salvation. He says in Romans 8:1, “There is, therefore, NO CONDEMNATION to them that are in Christ Jesus”. That verse clearly states it is not possible to lose your salvation, because all your sins have been forgiven when you trust Christ as your Saviour. PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE SINS. There are many other places that Paul repeats that, but none more clearly that 2 Co r 5:17, when he says that “If any man be in Christ he is a NEW CREATURE. Old things are passed away – behold all things are become new”
The Apostle Peter verifies the authenticity of Pauls teaching when he put in his book that Paul was correct in his teachings.
Starting with the last line first, I have absolutely no doubt as to the authenticity of Paul’s teachings – so, we can agree on that point.
Regarding the first line, I have not overlooked any Scripture. I am very much aware of every verse you have cited. I simply disagree with your interpretation of those verses. Do you claim to be infallible in your interpretation of Scripture? I ask, because I am wondering if you have some authority by which to declare your interpretation of Scripture to be more valid than mine? If you b elieve you do, please let me know what that authority is.
Now, for the middle portion of what you have written above, my first thought in on your use of the word, “think.” You “think” I have used Paul’s writings incorrectly. You “think” I have, which means you’re not absolutely sure that I have used them incorrectly, right? This is a very important point to me, and one that I think is vital to our discussion, so I do hope you will answer this question directly.
Now, you assert that the verses I quoted about Paul refer to “his development as a Christian,” and not to salvation. I’m sorry, but in reading those verses, I don’t see how you come to any such conclusion. Let’s look at them one at a time:
1 Cor 4:3–5 – “But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. ; I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God.”
Okay, please explain to me how a passage that is talking about judgment, and particularly about the judgment of the Lord at the end of time, is somehow not referring to salvation? My whole point in using this verse was to show that anyone who judges themselves as being “saved,” is doing something that even the Apostle Paul didn’t do. Paul leaves his judgment up to the Lord. And even though he doesn’t know anything against himself – even though he is unaware of any sin that could be held against him – he still says that he is not thereby acquitted. He is speaking in terms of salvation here, but he is not speaking in terms of absolute assurance of salvation. Please tell me how this is the language of “development as a Christian”?
Phil 3:10–13 – ”…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me His own. Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.”
Does this speak to Paul’s “development as a Christian”? Indeed it does. But, in what context? The context of salvation. The context of pressing on f or “the prize” (v. 14). What is the prize? Is it development as a Christian? No. The prize is, “the upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” (v. 14) The prize is attaining the “resurrection from the dead.” This verse shows exactly what the Catholic Church teaches, that salvation is a process. Jesus has made Paul “His own,” yet Paul must still press on for the prize. There is no absolute assurance language here. Paul states that “if possible” he may “attain the resurrection from the dead.” This is not the language of absolute assurance. Do you contend that the “resurrection of the dead” is a phrase which means “development as a Christian”?
1 Cor 9:26–27 – “Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air; but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to othe rs I myself should be disqualified.”
Do you contend that Paul is speaking of disqualification from “development as a Christian.” That makes absolutely no sense. The only thing that he would be worried about being disqualified from is eternal life. Just as the prize he mentions he is striving for in Phil 3 is eternal life – the resurrection from the dead. Your interpretation of these verses simply is not supported by the passages.
Now, regarding these other verses you say I “have to ignore,” in order to come up with my interpretation. Far from it. Let’s look first at Rom 8:1 – “There is, therefore, no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” Amen! I agree. All Catholics agree. However, I do not agree with your fallible interpretation of that verse. You say that verse “clearly states” that it is not possible to lose your salvation. Where does it say that? Yes, there is no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. But, nowhere does this verse state that everyone who is “in Christ Jesus,” will remain in Christ Jesus. Nowhere does this passage state that those who are “in Christ Jesus” cannot, at some point in the future, reject Christ Jesus and fall away from Him. Look at what Paul tells the Galatians who, according to Gal 3:2–3, have received the Spirit. Are they absolutely assured of their salvation since they’ve already received the Spirit? Well, not according to what Paul tells them in chapter 5: “Now I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you…You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace,” (v. 2, 4). You cannot be “severed” from Christ unless you are first joined to Christ. But, according to you, once you’re joined to Christ, you cannot be severed from Him. Who should I believe: you or St. Paul? Also, you cannot fall away from grace, unless you are first in grace – saved. Once saved, always saved? Just doesn’t look like Paul believed in it.
2 Cor 5:17 – “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.” Again, I say, “Amen!” I agree 100% with that verse of Scripture. However, once again, I must respectfully disagree with your fallible interpretation of that verse. Does that mean one cannot sin? That one cannot turn away from Christ at some point in the future? Absolutely not. If so, then why does Paul tell the Philippians to “work out” their salvation “with fear and trembling,” (Phil 2:12)? Why does Paul tell the Romans who have been grafted into the olive tree (Christ) – signifying that they were “saved” – that they will be cut off from the olive tree just like the unbelieving Jews were, “if” they do not continue in His kindness (Rom 11:17–24)? Why would Paul threaten the Romans with being cut off from the olive tree (Christ), if they can’t be cut off from the olive tree? Was Paul one to make empty threats? No. Under your theological system, this whole passage makes absolutely no sense. Please explain why Paul threatened these “saved” Romans with being cut off from Christ, if it is impossible to be cut off from Christ?
I do not ignore any verse from Scripture. You are the one who has to ignore a lot of verses from Scripture, and twist the meaning of a lot of other verses of Scripture, in order to come up with “absolute assurance” of salvation. If Christians in the Bible had absolute assurance of salvation, then why are they constantly told to “hope”? How does the concept of hope fit in with absolute assurance? If you have absolute assurance, you have no need of hope.
One last question. Are there people who believe they are saved, but they really aren’t? If you believe there are, how do you know you’re not one of them?
Finally, I just want to let you know, and I will repeat this in future responses, that for you to proclaim that one cannot have “peace” without absolute assurance of salvation, is, with all due respect, an incredibly arrogant thing to say. You don’t know me. You don’t know the Catholics I know. I have an incredible amount of peace as a Catholic and as a non–believer in once saved, always saved. Many other people I know, all of whom do not believe in once saved always saved, have a great deal of peace in Christ. Catholics, as I will show you, actually have more peace regarding salvation than you ever can. Because, as I will show you, using your responses to my questions above, it is actually impossible for you to truly have absolute assurance of your salvation.
I hope all of you have a great week. Hopefully I’ll receive a response from Mr. Weber in a few days and will have time to get it into a newsletter next week.
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FALSE SECURITY Verses TRUE SECURITY
The false and unbiblical doctrine of being saved by “Faith Alone” while seemingly offering “Eternal Security” actually offers very little security when clearly examined. For example, we sometimes see good Christian men turn away from the Gospel and commit a very serious sin. If we say that committing such a serious sin has no effect on one’s salvation we contradict the Gospel. See Below. If a person who claims to be a Christian because of a “Born Again” experience commits such a sin only to later say the his original “Born Again” experience was not a true one, but that his subsequent one was true, how does he know with infallibly certainty that this is so when he had been convinced that his first experience was true ?
Even if such a Christian does not fall into serious sin how does he know that he will not do so in the future ? He can claim as Peter did that his faith and love will not fail, but the Bible warns against making such a claim. [See Mark 14: 29-31 and the article on Love, section on St. Peter.] True humility leads us to accept how easy it would be for us to fall in the future.
The false doctrine of “Faith Alone” often leads a person to put his faith in his own estimation and evaluation of how true his faith really is. And trusting in one’s own judgment is not secure at all.
The true Biblical position actually offers us much more certainty. We are saved completely by the free gift of God’s grace that is administered to us by the Sacraments as promised by Christ and by remaining in that grace by receiving it and acting in conjunction with it by a Faith working through love, Galatians 5:6. This truth offers us a true peace of mind that is based on the Rock like quality and certainty of the Promises of Christ being true and that His Sacraments would be effective by the Power of the Holy Spirit regardless of the weakness of the Priest who administers it. And our Hope in our Father’s love for us gives us assurance that if we follow the teachings of His Church that He built on Saint Peter that He will offer us the grace to avoid serious sin.
In Jesus’ discourses on the Day of Judgment He warns against being presumptuous about one’s own salvation. He told of how many would come to Him claiming to be saved, but were not.
Matthew 7:13-14, 21-23
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few. …
21 Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’ ”
“While they [the virgins that were foolish] went off to buy it [oil], the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked. Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’ But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Jesus warns us against judging ourselves or others in the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Luke 18:9-14 “He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else. ‘Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, “O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.” But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.’ ”
The Pharisee credited God for his spiritual blessings by thanking Him for them. However, God was displeased with him because he was presumptuous about his own spirituality and he assumed God’s sovereign role as judge.
Also see the Article on Love, section on St. Peter.
1 Peter 5:8-9
“ Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for (someone) to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.”
SERIOUS SIN CAN SEPARATE THE CHRISTIAN FROM GOD
If we have received Jesus Christ then we have received His gift of eternal life. If we later reject Jesus then we lose that gift of Eternal life.
St. Paul says in Romans 8:38-39 “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But notice what he does not say. He does not say that sin cannot separate us from God. This is why the New Testament constantly warns the believers to avoid serious deadly sin.
2 Peter 2:20
“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first.” RSV
1 Corinthians 6:6-20 is addressed to believers and they are warned by St. Paul to avoid sins that would cause them to lose their salvation.
1 Corinthians 6:6-20
“But rather brother goes to court against brother, and that before unbelievers? … Why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather let yourselves be cheated? Instead, you inflict injustice and cheat, and this to brothers. Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God. … 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” NAB
Again in Ephesians, Galatians, and elsewhere we find more warnings for to Christians to avoid sins that would lead to eternal damnation. These warnings would not make sense if a person could not lose their salvation.
“But fornication and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is fitting among saints. Let there be no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity, which are not fitting; but instead let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure man, or one who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is because of these things that the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not associate with them, for once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light” RSV
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh…19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness…”
“For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace ?” RSV
“For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold him up to contempt. For land which has drunk the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed; its end is to be burned.” RSV
1 John 5:16-17
“If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.” NAB
If a person could not lose their salvation these warnings would be meaningless. The breaking of these commandments leads a person to hell, (unless he is subsequently renewed by God’s grace. Cf. Jn 20: 21-23, James 5: 13-16, Lk 15: 23-24, and 1 Jn 5: 14-17.)
Some say that when a person becomes a child of God, a son, he always remains a son so therefore he cannot lose Salvation. Actually the story of the prodigal son proves a person can lose his salvation. He can throw away his inheritance. In this story the wayward son had become DEAD.
“It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.” RSV.
So, even if we remain a son, we can lose our inheritance and become spiritually dead. Because the son repented, he was accepted back into the family.
We are not even our own judge as Saint Paul points out. Philippians 3:11-12 “…if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ (Jesus).”
1 Corinthians 4:3-5
“It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord. Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God.” The word “acquitted” is a translation of the Greek word -DIKAIOO (Strong’s number 1344) which means justified.
We are saved if we have Christ in our hearts, but we will lose our salvation we lose our faith in Him. Christ holds us in his hand (Jn. 10:28) and no one else can forcibly remove us, but we are still free to leave. When we receive Christ we receive the gift of eternal life, but if we later abandon our faith in Christ and reject He who is Life, then we also reject His gift of eternal life.
When we are “baptized into Christ” (Rom. 6:3), we receive the gift of adoptive sonship. The parable of the prodigal son teaches us that if we disinherit ourselves then we become spiritually dead. Luke 15:32 “…your brother was dead…” 1 John 5:16-17 “There is such a thing as deadly sin…All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.”
Salvation is an ongoing process.
“So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.”
Saint Paul begins and ends his discussion on faith using the phrase “the obedience of faith.” Rom 1:5 and 16:26. If we go to a doctor and he tells us to take some medicine and we do not, can we say that we really have faith in what he is telling us to do ? Whenever we sin against God’s will we are saying that we don’t really believe that His will is best for us. Our faith is imperfect in those instances. God perfects our faith through our acceptance of our cross that He asks us to carry.
1 Peter 4:1
“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same thought, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin… ” RSV
“Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. … 19 You will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off. And even the others, if they do not persist in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again.” RSV
Therefore, this verse teaches that we could fail in kindness, i.e. love, and be cut off, that is lose our salvation.
Fire is often used in a bad context as below:
“Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD: Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have destined as fuel for the fire, do I make the inhabitants of Jerusalem. I will set my face against them; they have escaped from the fire, but the fire shall devour them.”
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.5 I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.”
Cf. Ezekiel 15:6-7
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
The word “abide” in the above verses, Jn 6:56 and 15:6, is the same Greek word, Strong’s number 3306, which is sometimes translated as “remain,” or as in this case “abide.” The context makes clear that we must remain, or abide, in Christ because if we do not remain in His grace then we lose that union with Him by which we are saved.
SALVATION IS NOT ONLY A PAST EVENT
Some Protestants understand Justification in the life of the believer as only a past event. Some will even quote John 19:30 … “It is finished”; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. RSV and claim that this means that they cannot lose their salvation because it is past tense.
John 19:30 “…It is finished…” The “it” here cannot be a reference to our Justification because we read in Romans 4:25 …who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification. RSV We saw in Hebrews 11: 9, quoted above, how Abraham’s Justification was on ongoing event in his life. James also makes this same point.
“Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar ?” RSV
Salvation has past, present, and future aspects in all of our lives. This is why the Bible speaks of it in the past, present, and future tense.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith…”
1 Peter 3:21
“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you…”
1 Corinthians 1:18
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves are found to be sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? Of course not!”
“But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.”
1 Corinthians 7:18-19
“Was any one at the time of his call already circumcised? Let him not seek to remove the marks of circumcision. Was any one at the time of his call uncircumcised? Let him not seek circumcision. For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God.”
Here, in Corinthians, Saint Paul contrasts the ritual law, circumcision, with the Moral Law of the 10 commandments. What counts is the Moral Law. If he had meant to say that we are justified by faith alone, apart from the good works of keeping the commandments, he would not have spoken this way. The keeping of the commandments is our life long journey of Justification. If we fail in a mortal way, 1 John 5: 16-17, we lose our salvation.
In John Chapter 15 Jesus tells us that we are like branches that must remain connected to Him, the True Vine, or else we will lose our salvation and we will be thrown into the fire to be burned.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.6 If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.’
In the verses above in the fifteenth chapter of John the English word “abide” in verses 5, 6, 7, 9, and 10 is a translation of a certain Greek word that is numbered 3306 in Strong’s Concordance. John uses this same Greek word in John 6:56 where it is also translated as “abide.” In these chapters, 13 through 17, John gives us an account of Jesus’ final evening and Last Supper discourse with His disciples. By using the same word, abide, in John 6:56 Jesus indicates how we are to remain in His Love and to remain connected to Him, the True Vine.
“He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”
Therefore, unless a person is faithful in attending Mass and continues to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, that individual is not abiding in the manner prescribed by Jesus Christ.
Those who wish to separate faith from good works are taking a position that Saint Paul never takes. Saint Paul not only begins but also ends his discourse on faith in the context of obedience. Saint Paul never separates obeying the moral law, from faith. Christ’s obedience of the moral law does not excuse us from obeying it, rather by obeying it He won the grace for us to enable us to obey it.
“through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations …”
“ … but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith” RSV
“I can do all things in him who strengthens me.” RSV
“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” RSV
Thus, we can see that while Salvation can be spoken of as past event, that is, we Christians have already received the gift of eternal life, in order for us to hold onto that gift we must remain connected to the vine and remain in God’s grace by abiding in His Love and His commandments and we must persevere in obedience to the end [Mat 24:13] or else we will lose our gift of eternal life and be cast off into the fire [John 15:6] on judgment day.
SAINT PAUL COULD LOSE HIS SALVATION
2 Timothy 1:12
“and therefore I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am sure that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”
But we must remain in His protective care by persevering in faith so that we might receive the reward that He is guarding for us.
2 Timothy 4:18 KJV
“And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever.”
2 Timothy 4:18 RSV
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil and save [“save” – Greek word 4982 ] me for his heavenly kingdom.”
“And because wickedness is multiplied, most men’s love will grow cold. But he who endures [ “endures” – Greek word 5278, sometimes translated as “perseveres” ] to the end will be saved. RSV
We know that God will do His part, and we can have a moral assurance that we will “endure” or “persevere” to the end, but other passages that I will point out show that it is possible that we will not.
2 Timothy 4:8
“From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance.”
As his earthly life comes to a end he speaks of the “crown” and he gives the reason why he will receive it. It is because he has “kept the faith,” but the implication is that if he had not persevered in his faith he would have lost his crown, his salvation. Matthew 24:13 “… the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.”
Saint Paul does speak of the crown of righteousness which he will receive, but this is spoken of only just before he is about to be martyred, after he has “finished the race.” He speaks this way in order to encourage others to persevere in their faith and hope in Christ.
2 Timothy 1:16-17
“May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me – ”
2 Timothy 4:6-8
“For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.”
Saint Paul clearly states that he could lose his salvation.
We know that Saint Paul is a Christian (see Galatians 2:19-20), but even he points out how he could lose his salvation if he were to turn from the Gospel. In 1 Corinthians 9:27 Saint Paul says “ …but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” RSV
However, some people will contest that the word “disqualified” refers to Paul loosing his extra merit and glory and does not refer to Paul loosing his salvation. So, the key is to prove what this word means. The word “disqualified” is translated from the Greek word “ADOKIMOS” (Strong’s # 96.) Saint Paul makes the meaning of this word clear in his second letter to the Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 13:5
“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are holding to your faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you? —unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” RSV
Here Saint Paul uses the same Greek word “ADOKIMOS” (#96), except here, in English, it is translated as “fail.” The context is clear. It refers to people who are spiritually lost and without the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
So, the question we must ask is, “What is lost in 1 Cor 9:27 ?” This word “ADOKIMOS” does not modify any reward that Saint Paul might have received, rather it modifies Saint Paul himself. 1 Corinthians 9:27 “ … lest … I myself should be disqualified (ADOKIMOS).” Therefore, St. Paul is speaking in 1 Cor 9:27 above how he could lose his salvation.
In summary, these three observations are unmistakable.
Saint Paul is a Christian and already has saving grace.
See Galatians 2:19-20.
The Greek word “ADOKIMOS” (Strong’s # 96.) refers to someone who is spiritually lost and does not have saving grace.
See 2 Corinthians 13:5 above.
Saint Paul points out that this condition could apply to him if he turns from the Gospel. See 1 Corinthians 9:27.
We must ask, “What does “ADOKIMOS” modify ?” “ADOKIMOS” does not modify any “rewards” that Saint Paul might have received. “ADOKIMOS” modifies Saint Paul himself.
1 Corinthians 9:27
“ …but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (“ADOKIMOS”).” RSV
Therefore, Salvation can be lost. A true security can be found, not by trusting in our own determination that our own faith is the true kind, but rather trusting in the Love of our Father in Heaven to faithfully guide His Church, and by trusting in the Truth of Promises of Jesus Christ, and by trusting in the Power of the Holy Spirit to effect those Promises.