Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 17, 1950
NUMBER 15, PAGE 3,6b

Danger Of Falling Away — No. 1

H. E. Phillips, Clearwater, Florida

We notice signs along every highway advertising many products. We also see many signs pointing out the dangers that lie ahead. If it were not for these danger signs many lives would be lost along the way. Along the highway of life many danger signs have been placed to warn men of the danger of falling away from the narrow way that leads to eternal life. We see these signs in the infallible guide toward our inevitable destination: the Bible. Those who heed the signs will be spared; those who give them no concern will reap the fruits of disobedience.

One of the pet doctrines of the Baptist church is the impossibility of a child of God to fall away, or rather the impossibility of a Baptist to fall from grace. I think the last part of this statement is correct. How can one fall from grace when he has never been in grace? The doctrine is true concerning Baptists, but not so concerning children of God.

This old doctrine has been rocked in the cradle of Baptist theology for about three or four hundred years. But in all their nursing and disguising the doctrine still contradicts the word of the living God. I want to take advantage of this space to examine a few plain scriptures that show the possibility of a child of God to apostatize.

We are told that "Once in grace, always in grace." Now, if that be the case the signs in the Bible that point out the danger of falling away would be foolish—just use a penknife on them. Of what use would a danger sign be on the highway if there were no danger ahead? Absolutely none. The signs in the word of God pointing to the danger of falling away mean that there is a danger, else God's word deceives, and I certainly would not take that horn of the dilemma. Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, wrote this to the church in Corinth in his first letter: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." (I Cor. 10:12) If Paul had known Baptist doctrine he would never have made this statement, if, indeed, he were a Baptist. But from this statement Paul must have understood that it was possible for Christians to fall, else his statement is both out of place and false. To whom was Paul speaking? Verse 1 of this chapter tells us that he was talking to his "brethren." He was speaking to Christians. Therefore, he warns "his brethren" of the danger of falling away by not taking heed to themselves. Baptist preachers do not follow Paul in this, for they say: "You, my brethren, need not take heed, for once you stand you can never fall." Somebody is preaching a false doctrine, and I don't believe Paul was.

There is a danger to our physical bodies in a fall. Of course, the distance one falls determines how serious the consequences will be, but any fall may be serious. How much more serious is the fall of the soul? The soul of many is his most precious possession. When he loses that he has lost all. When the soul falls down into the pitfall of sin, he is forever doomed unless he can find the way out of sin through Christ. "For what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?"

We have cases in the Bible where individuals, nations and congregations of the Lord's church have fallen away from their once security with God. Perhaps a few of these are necessary to prove that falling away is possible. God never forces upon man His will. He sets before man two ways: one that leads to life; the other that leads to eternal death. Man may choose either way he pleases, but he must receive the consequences of his choice.

Paul wrote to the Roman churches of Christ after this manner: "For whatsoever things were written afore-time were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." (Rom. 15:4) Whatever history we read of Israel in the Old Testament is an example of us today, that we may profit by their mistakes. Adam and Eve are good examples of individuals departing from God. Before they sinned they were pleasing to God, but sin entered and separated them from God, thus they fell away from the grace of God. Their captivity in sin was due to neglect in observing the commands of their God. When tempted by the devil, Eve obeyed him and sinned against God. She also persuaded her husband to indulge in the sin with her. For this sin they were driven out from the presence of God. Did they fall away? If they didn't, what did they do?

But what about a nation falling away? In speaking of the nation of Israel, a prophet had this to say: "But they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy." (2 Chron. 36:18) Israel had so sinned against God that redemption was impossible. This is a clear example of a nation falling away from God; falling so far away that they could not be recovered. Were they lost? They were unless someone can show how one can live in sin against God and at the same time be saved. This the Baptists try to do. They usually divide the thing up in this manner: The spirit of man is born again—regenerated—and cannot sin so as to be lost, but the body of such a one is still subject to sin. Before regeneration the spirit and body sins (lies, steals, drinks to drunkenness, murders, etc.), after regeneration the spirit does not sin, but the body only.

Paul is plain on this subject in the Roman letter. "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." (Rom. 6:12) Paul is writing to Christians. (Rom. 1:6-8) Paul commanded not to permit the mortal body to be overcome in sin. But the next verse: "Neither yield ye your members" (members of the mortal body) "as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin; but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God." It is the man, the soul, spirit of man that controls and uses the members of the body. That spirit of man is entirely and completely responsible for every act of the body. The body of man does nothing without the consent of the spirit of man. James says the body is dead when the spirit leaves it.. (Jas. 2:26) The members of the body are neither used for righteousness nor unrighteousness after the spirit of man leaves the body, but while the spirit is in the body, the members are used either in serving righteousness or unrighteousness. How silly it is to argue that an intelligent man is not responsible for the deeds of the body.

Let us read the next verse. "For sin shall not have dominion over you; for ye are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin, because we are riot under the law, but under grace? God forbid." Sin will not destroy because grace through obedience to Christ forgives sin. This the law could not do, therefore, being under grace instead of law we can be forgiven of sin and it does not have dominion over us. But now this next verse: "Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?" If we yield our members to serve the devil, then we are his servants; if to God and righteousness, we are servants of God. Christ said we cannot serve two masters. (Matt. 6:24) But we can if Baptist theology is true. We serve God with the spirit and the devil with the body. But Paul says here that we are the servants of him whom we serve with the members of our body. The deeds of the body are the will of the spirit. Hear Paul once more: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that everyone may receive the things DONE IN HIS BODY, ACCORDING TO THAT HE HATH DONE, WHETHER IT BE GOOD OR BAD." (2 Cor. 5:10) We will be judged by the deeds of the body because the spirit of man controls those deeds. This should be enough to show that the spirit of man sins and is guilty even after obedience to the gospel as an alien. Whatever a man uses the members of his body for, he is responsible for every act if a responsible person, as long as he is in his right mind.

(Continued in Vol.2, No.16, Pg.3, Danger Of Falling Away — No. 2 )