Here are eight Gospel absurdities that would follow if a saved person should become lost or go to Hell. We entreat you to check them carefully, check up the Scriptures for yourself, and see how untrue to the Scripture is the doctrine that souls may be lost after they are saved, that born-again Christians, children of God, may lose salvation and go to Hell.
1. Then Salvation Would Be of Works and Not of Grace
There is no doubt that many devout Christian people who believe that a child of God can become lost again mean to believe the Bible doctrine of salvation by grace. They will be shocked when I say that they are really teaching salvation by works and not of grace. But careful study will show that that is certainly true. If a saved person can be lost again, then it is because he failed in his works. If he does not become lost, then it is because of his good works. Thus all who are saved are really saved by their own works, if the Arminian doctrine is true.
...Those who oppose the plain Bible doctrine of eternal security by simple faith in Christ, that Christ keeps His own by grace when He saved them, very frankly admit that they believe all Christians are on probation, that they are not really saved yet in any real sense. And tens of thousands of such people regularly pray, “And save us at last in Heaven,” because they do not believe in any real and definite and secure salvation here and now, obtained by the marvellous grace of God. Actually, they believe in salvation by works, not in salvation by grace.
Can a saved person ever be lost? That depends on who does the saving. If God does the saving, then of course if God fails the salvation is lost. If God is faithful and does what He promises, then one who trusts in Him will not become lost. But if man does his own saving by his good works, then when man quits working he is lost. And if he does “hold out faithful,” if he does “endure to the end,” and if he does “go through with God,” then of course his salvation is by human works and not by God's unmerited grace.
SOURCE: Dr. John R. Rice, Eight Gospel Absurdities, pp. 3, 4 and 5; ©1946, Sword of the Lord Publishers
II. The Doctrine of the Blood Atonement and Substitutionary Death of Christ Would Be Untrue If a Saved Person Loses His Salvation
The Bible doctrine of the atonement is that the blood of Jesus Christ, shed when He was crucified, paid for the sins of the whole world. First Peter 1:19 tells us that we are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” Paul in Acts 20:28 commanded the elders at Ephesus to take heed “to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” The church, according to the Scripture, is bought with the blood of Christ. And speaking about Christians who sin, I John 2, 1,2 says, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
There we have a clear Bible doctrine: Jesus died, and with His blood He made propitiation for the sins of the whole world. Anyone who will accept that payment finds his sins all atoned for, all paid for. God does not mean that just the sins up until the time of salvation are paid for, but all of the sins which one commits. Christ died once and settled the sin question once and forever for those who believe. Hebrews 10:12-14 said about Jesus as our High Priest:
“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”
One offering of Christ paid for all the sins of the past, all the sins of the present, all the sins of the future.
But this is not the teaching of those who believe that a saved person can be lost again. If a man is lost for lack of labor, lack of faithfulness after he is saved, then actually he goes to Hell to pay for his own sins. Surely it is clear that for a man to pay for his own sins is not the same as having them paid for by the Lord Jesus. If a Christian gets to Heaven only by living right, then he does not get there by the atoning blood of Christ. If he loses his salvation because of his sin, then of course he is not saved by the blood. If the blood cannot pay for sinners, it cannot pay for ANYBODY.
The Bible doctrine of substitution is akin to the doctrine of blood atonement, By substitution we mean that Christ took the sinner's place. That is expressed in Isaiah 53:6:
“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Christ on the cross was treated like a common, guilty, Hell-deserving criminal. He died as the most wicked sinner in the world. Actually He died just as you and I ought to die. He took the punishment and suffering we deserve.
But the doctrine of substitution also teaches that as Christ was counted a sinner for our sakes, so we may be counted righteous for His sake. He took our sins; we take His righteousness. Since Christ died for us, we are already accounted to have died for our sins and to be freed from them. As He died, so are we counted to have died. As He now lives forever, so we are to live. It is one of the clearest doctrines of the Bible that Christ took the sinner's place in His death, and thereby atoned for all the sins of everyone who would believe in Him, and that now the believer in Christ is accounted righteous for Christ's sake. We have Christ's righteousness in the presence of God.
But this could not be true if one who is saved can become lost again. If a sin of mine can come up against me to damn my soul forever after I have already trusted in the blood of Christ, then it is quite evident that the blood did not really settle all my sins, that Christ did not really and literally take my place, and that people are not saved by the atoning blood and the substitutionary death of Christ. If the blood paid for sin, then they are ALL paid for. If Christ took my place and died for all my sins, past, present and future, then since I have trusted in Him I cannot be condemned and go to Hell for these sins. You can see, then, that if my continued salvation depends upon my good life, it does not depend upon the blood shed by the Lord Jesus and by His substitutionary death.
SOURCE: Dr. John R. Rice, Eight Gospel Absurdities, pp. 6, 7; ©1946, Sword of the Lord Publishers
III. If a Saved Person Can Lose Salvation, Then Saved Persons Are Not Justified, as the Bible Teaches.
The Bible speaks often of justification. In Romans 3:9-18 we learn that there are none good, and none do good; that all are sinners alike. But Romans 3:24-28 tells us of sinners:
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
According to this Bible teaching on justification, men are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Justification is free; it does not cost anything.
Because Christ died, we are told, God can save a sinner and still be just while He justifies one who trusts in Jesus (verse 26). This kind of justification forbids boasting. No one can depend on getting to Heaven by “holding out faithful” or by living a good life or by “going through with God.” And then verse 28 declares, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” People are saved and justified by faith, without doing the righteous things commanded in the Ten Commandments.
What does justification mean? It means not only that the sinner is forgiven, but more than that; it means that after the sinner is forgiven, he is restored to God's favor as if he were perfectly just, that is, as if he had never sinned. In other words, he is counted righteous or just, and is made just in God's sight. So God looks on a sinner not only as a forgiven sinner, but rather as a man with no sin ever charged against him. A justified person in God's sight is as if he had never sinned when it comes to the matter of getting to Heaven and having salvation. This justification is clearly given to all those who believe in Christ.
Remember, that the penitent publican prayed in the temple, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” then he, “went down to his house justified,” that is, counted no longer a sinner (Luke 18:13, 14). In Acts 13:38, 39 Paul and Barnabas preached,
“Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”
We see that one is justified from all things as soon as he puts his trust in Christ.
...But if a saved person loses his salvation, it is clear that this whole doctrine of justification would be false. How could a man go to Hell who was perfectly just in God's sight? That is impossible! How could a man go to Hell without sin being imputed or charged up against him? That is impossible! So the doctrine that a saved person, one who is born again, a child of God, can fall away so far as to lose his salvation and be lost forever clearly contradicts the Bible doctrine of justification. Both cannot be true.
SOURCE: Dr. John R. Rice, Eight Gospel Absurdities, pp. 7, 8, 9 and 10; ©1946, Sword of the Lord Publishers
IV. If a Saved Person Ever Loses Salvation Then Christ's High-Priestly Intercessory Prayers Are of No Avail
The Bible teaches us that Christ is now our High Priest. Hebrews 10:21, 22 tells us:
“And having an high priest over the house of God; Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.”
And Hebrews 9:24 says,
“For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:”
These Scriptures make it clear that Christ's work for sinners was not done when He died. After we have put our trust in Christ, then Christ remains always at the right hand of God to take our part, to intercede for us, to represent us in Heaven.
Romans 5:9, 10 says,
“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.”
You see, we are already justified by the blood of Christ. The death of Christ took care of all of our sins. And now we are kept, not by our own lives, but “by his life.”
A Christian should hold fast to his profession. Even when Satan traps him and he falls into sin, he should not throw away his hope. Why? Hebrews 4:14-16,
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”
Jesus knows all our temptations. He is our High Priest, is now in the Heavens, taking our place. Oh, “let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”!
...But if a saved person ever falls away and loses salvation and goes to Hell, then all the high-priestly prayers of Christ are of no avail; the prayer of Jesus in John, chapter 17, was not heard. It does no good that He ever lives to make intercession for us according to the will of God. It does no good that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”—that is, I say, it does no good if a saved soul can be lost after he had been born again by faith in Christ.
Do you not see that the Bible doctrine of the high-priestly work of Christ is interceding for His own clearly contradicts the foolish thought that a child of God can be lost again? The two doctrines cannot go together.
SOURCE: Dr. John R. Rice, Eight Gospel Absurdities, pp. 10, 11, 12 and 13; ©1946, Sword of the Lord Publishers
V. If a Saved Person Can Be Lost Then God's Own Child Would Be in Hell
The Bible doctrine of salvation as a new birth is very definite and clear. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” and “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God,” and again, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:3, 5, 7). No one can ever be saved, said Jesus, without being born again.
This new birth was discussed in John 1:12, 13 as follows:
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”
...Now if a born-again person goes to Hell, God's nature goes to Hell in him, and then we would have people really born of God, still God's children, still with God's nature, in Hell! How absurd and impossible that is! But if a born-again child of God can lose salvation and be lost forever, that would be what would happen; God's own children, with God's nature within them, God's seed in them that could not sin, would be in Hell!
You see that the doctrine of the new birth and the teaching that a child of God can lose salvation cannot be reconciled. The two doctrines do not fit together. One or the other is false.
SOURCE: Dr. John R. Rice, Eight Gospel Absurdities, pp. 13 and 14; ©1946, Sword of the Lord Publishers
VI. If a Saved Person Can Ever Lose Salvation Then Many Promises of the Bible Do Not Mean What They Say or Are Untrue
The Bible has so many promises so definite and clear that if they mean what they say, and if they are true, they prove a child of God can never lose salvation. Will you study some of these promises carefully, and answer in your own heart whether or not they mean what they say, and then whether or not they are true?
1. John 5:24:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
Here we are told that one who hears the Word of Christ and depends on or trusts in the Father who sent Jesus to save sinners, already has everlasting life “and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.” Notice we are not told that the believer in Christ will one day in Heaven have everlasting life. No, he has it already! The promise is as clear as can be that this one who has trusted in Christ shall never come into condemnation. He is already passed out of death into life. How could that be true if one loses his salvation? Anyone who had trusted in Christ and been born again, then, if he should be lost and go to Hell, would have a right to look God in the face and tell Him that His Word could not be trusted. Either God did not mean what He said or He did not keep His promises.
2. John 10:27-29:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one.”
Those who are really Christ's sheep hear His voice. He knows them and they follow Him. Christ's sheep do not follow Him perfectly, but there is something in the heart of every born again person that loves God and hates sin and wants to do right; something that follows Jesus. Now about these sheep Jesus says, “And I give unto them eternal life.” Christians do not buy life, they do not work for it, they are not on probation for it; Jesus simply, freely, gives His sheep eternal life! But is it life eternal that only lasts one year or ten years or ten minutes or until sin comes in? Certainly not! Eternal life lasts forever.
...Now if the Word of God is true, if Christ meant what He said, and if His words can be relied upon, then not a single sheep of His will ever be taken out of His hands by the Devil or sin.
Someone says, “Well, Brother Rice, maybe he can take himself out of the hands of Christ and God.” No; Jesus plainly said, “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” You cannot even pluck yourself out of the hand of Christ. And who ever heard of anyone who wanted to? I have known Christians to fall into terrible sin as Peter did, as Lot did, as David did,. But neither Peter, nor David, nor Lot, nor any weak and failing and sinning Christian I ever knew really wanted to be taken out of the hand of Christ and wanted his soul lost. That is a silly thought.
So you see that if a saved person ever goes to Hell it proves the promises of Christ and God in the Bible do not mean what they say, or they are not true,
3. Romans 8:33-39:
“33. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36. As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Here God's Word plainly promises that God has justified His own elect and no one will be able to lay anything to their charge (verse 33). He says that no one can condemn a Christian since Christ has died for him and is even now living and at the right hand of God making intercession for us (verse 34).
And then there is that marvellous promise of verses 39 and 39 that “neither death, nor life” [not anything living or dead]; that neither “angels, nor principalities, not powers [whether angels of God in Heaven or fallen angels and the principalities and powers of darkness], nor things present, nor things to come [not anything that now exists, not anything that ever will exist in the future], nor height, nor depth [not anything all the way up to Heaven, not anything all the way down to Hell], nor any other creature [not any other thing ever created], SHALL BE ABLE TO SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD, WHICH IS IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD”!
That Scripture is clearly intended to give full assurance that nothing in all the universe of God—past, present or future—can separate one of God's own, His born-again ones, from His love. If that Scripture is true, if it means what it says, then no child of God can ever be lost. If that should happen it would prove that God's promises are not to be trusted, that the Bible is a lie. But that, we know, is not true. God forbid!
...Do you know how absurd it is to think that a child of God can be lost, in view of the promises given? If a saved person ever loses his salvation these promises are untrue.
SOURCE: Dr. John R. Rice, Eight Gospel Absurdities, pp. 15, 16, 17 and 18; ©1946, Sword of the Lord Publishers
VII. If a Saved Person Can Ever Be Lost, Can Lose His Salvation After Great Bible Promises, Then Christianity Is No Better Than the False Religions of the World
If salvation is by man's work instead of God's grace, then that is exactly what all the false religions teach.
If one is saved by living a good life, or partly saved by living a good life, instead of by the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, that is exactly what all the false religions teach.
Our Catholic friends teach that salvation is through the church, observing the rites and following the rules of the church, doing good deeds. Remember that Catholics believe in the death of Christ. They believe that Jesus died, but they do not believe that His death settled salvation for believers. They put in works of righteousness for people to do in order to make sure of salvation. They believe that one who has been right with God may fall away and be lost. The modernists, wicked unbelievers in Christ and the Bible, say that “Salvation is by character.” Other people say that salvation is by blood, but actually they mean that it is not good for ten minutes unless you earn it, unless you live right, unless you hold out faithful. Actually they mean that a Christian is on probation and cannot be sure he is saved until he gets to Heaven! What is the difference between that doctrine that a child of God can be saved today and lost tomorrow, and the essential doctrines of Catholics or modernists?
Search out the false religions of the world—the Mormon, the Mohammedan, or other heathen and pagan religions. They may believe in sacrifices, in certain rites and ceremonies; but they are all agreed on one thing—that is that whatever salvation there is to be obtained by living a good life, by one's own righteousness. Don't you see that to say that a child of God can be lost again is to say that his salvation depends upon his works and not upon the blood atonement, not upon the high priesthood of Christ? And to say that salvation depends in any wise upon a person's own righteousness and merits is to put Christianity in the class with all the heathen religions and all the false cults.
Heathen religions and false cults do not have a Saviour whose blood has forever finished the matter of salvation when shed on Calvary, finished it for all who put their trust in Him. They do not have any salvation wrought by the finished work of Christ.
Heathen religions and false cults do not know anything of justification—the doctrine that one's sins are all laid on Christ in such a fashion and His righteousness accredited to the sinner in such a way that the Christian cannot be charged with his sins to lose his soul. He can be chastened, he may lose his reward, but he cannot lose his soul. Heathen religions, modernism, Catholics, Mormons, and so-called Christian Scientists know nothing of this Bible doctrine of justification.
Heathen religions know nothing of the thought of a High Priest in Heaven who is ever there interceding for us, praying for His own, guaranteeing our safety and security.
These doctrines, I say, are unknown to heathen religions. But when you believe in salvation by human works, or on a salvation that is even partly deserved by human merit, then you put Christianity down on the same low plane with all the false religions.
But how absurd, how impossible to count Christianity like these heathen and false religions! If a saved person can be lost, then the salvation of a Christian is just like the salvation of a heathen—depending upon his works. We know that that cannot be true.
SOURCE: Dr. John R. Rice, Eight Gospel Absurdities, pp. 18, 19 and 20; ©1946, Sword of the Lord Publishers
VIII. If One Saved Soul is Ever Lost, Then All Saved People Will Go to Hell Alike, Since All Are Sinners Alike
To the human eye there seems to be a great difference in Christian people. One seems to be most devout and spiritually-minded and pure in heart. Another seems to be very worldly and careless and unworthy. I say it seems that there is a vast difference.
But actually there is no such difference as there seems to be. The trouble is that “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). There is a difference in the outward appearance of Christians, but in the heart each one has the same two natures. The casual observer would think that Paul the apostle had no struggle over sin and temptation like other Christians do, but the seventh chapter of Romans tells us, “When I would do good, evil is present with me,” and again, “So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin” (verses 21 and 25). Paul would appear to be the best man in all the New Testament, excepting Jesus Christ, but he plainly says, by divine inspiration, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; OF WHOM I AM CHIEF” (1 Tim. 1:15).
So then if Paul was still the chief of sinners, then he would have been lost after salvation if anybody was lost.
It boils down to this. There cannot be any real salvation except on the basis of God's wonderful grace in saving sinners who do not deserve it, saving us on the basis that out faith is counted for righteousness, the basis that all of our sins are laid on Christ and paid for and forgiven forever.
If Christ does not keep, wholly by grace, those who are His own born-again ones when they do not deserve salvation; if He does not keep Christians who sin and fail, then He does not keep anybody.
...Now you can see why those who do not believe in the blessed security of born-again Christians use human arguments instead of the Scriptures. With good intentions they quote but misuse a few Scriptures, interpreting them contrary to the intended meaning of the Holy Spirit.
...They say again and again that for the Christian “life is probation,” though such a term is not even mentioned in the Bible.
They often say that no one can say that he is already saved for sure, or that we won't know until we get to Heaven. But the Bible repeatedly teaches that one now, present tense, has eternal life or everlasting life when he believes in Christ, that he shall not come into condemnation, that he is already passed from death into life, that he shall never perish, that he is now the child of God, that he has now received the atonement, and so forth.
No matter how good these arguments sound, the simple truth is that they are used because men cannot prove by the Bible that a child of God can fall away and forever be lost. Hence they try to prove it by human reasoning. Which will you take, brother, sister—human reasoning, or the Word of God?
...I am not encouraging Christians to sin. The great love of a mother does not encourage her child to sin. Why should God's love encourage God's children to sin? God's love is more unchanging than a mother's love. A mother may punish her child and God punishes His child but He never breaks His promises and He never casts him out.
SOURCE: Dr. John R. Rice, Eight Gospel Absurdities, pp. 20, 21 and 22; ©1946, Sword of the Lord Publishers