By Larry Ray Hafley
A tract published by Calvary Baptist Church in Oak Forest, Illinois, and entitled “19 Reasons Why A Christian Cannot Be Lost!” has been given to me with the request that I review its teaching. The author of the “19 Reasons” is not specifically stated, but the name of “Dr. William F. Schroeder, Pastor” is on it, so we shall hold him responsible and accountable. If “Dr.” Schroeder hollers “Uncle,” we will consent to take him off the hook. We trust “Pastor” Schroeder will ultimately be led to disavow the ’79 Reasons, “anyway, but if he is not the author he has only to say so. I know I would not want to be accused of writing the tract! I can think of “19” good “reasons” why I would not want to be listed as the author of it.
“I. He Has Been Chosen”
“This was before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Why would God choose me before the foundation of the world if I were to be lost again? Is Christ not Omniscient and does He not know all? If I could be lost again, His choice was poor.”
Reply: God’s choice was not individual and particular. It was corporate and general. God did not choose you, you, and you and fail to pick me or Dr. Schroeder. The thing God purposed by His grace “before the foundation of the world” was that all who were in Chris( would be saved (Eph. 1). He did not specify each particular person (I Jn. 4,:14).
The Doctor’s questions are based on a false assumption. But let us proceed on his theory. If God chose some to be saved, it follows that He chose some to be damned. Now, does Mr. Schroeder preach the gospel to the lost? Does he save any to whom he preaches the gospel? Assuredly, he would say he does. Then, we might ask him concerning a chosen damned one who is afterward saved by hearing the gospel, “Why would God choose me before the foundation of the world to be doomed if I were to be saved?” Or to paraphrase the “Pastor, ” “If I could be saved again, His choice was poor.”
“2. God’s Foreknowledge”
“God’s Word says, ‘He knew,’ or ‘foreknew,’ that I would be saved (Rom. 8:29). If God foreknew I was going to be saved, why not that I would backslide and be lost? If He foreknew my salvation, why not my backsliding9 It is reasonable to ask, ‘If He knew I would backslide, why did He save me in the first place. Surely the Lord foreknew what I would do before He saved me. His foreknowledge of my failure afterwards did not stop Him from saving me.”
Reply: Again, if God “foreknew” each individual who is saved, He “foreknew” each one who is lost. Dr. Schroeder says he preaches to and saves the lost. Thus, “It is reasonable to ask, >If God knew I would be saved by hearing the gospel, why did he damn me in the first place?= Surely the Lord foreknew what I would do before He saved me.” This is “Dr.” Schroeder’s prescription on the other side of the matter. It is as foolish and fatal on one side as it is on the other.
“I was predestinated to be saved (Eph. 1:5).
(1) God foreknew I would be saved (Rom. 8:29).
(2) Because He foreknew, I was predestinated (Rom. 8:29, 30).
(3) Because I was predestinated, I was called (Rom. 8:30).
(4) Because I was called, I was justified (Rom. 8:30).
(5) Because I was justified, I was glorified (Rom. 8:30).
“This is according to the foreknowledge of God. If a Christian can be lost again, then God’s foreknowledge is no good, for His Word says that God’s foreknowledge saw the Christian even glorified.”
Reply: In the reverse and converse of Mr. Schroeder, a lost one may say, “I was predestinated to be lost (Eph. 1:5). (1) God foreknew I would be lost. (2) Because He foreknew, I was predestinated to be lost (Rom. 8:29, 30). (3) Because I was predestinated to be lost, I was not called (Rom. 8:30). (4) Because I was not called, I was not justified (Rom. 8:30). (5) Because I was not justified, I was not glorified” (Rom. 8:30). This is according to the foreknowledge of God. If a lost person can be saved, then God’s foreknowledge is no good, for His Word says that God’s foreknowledge saw the lost person even condemned.”
The conditions of Romans 8 show that verses 29 and 30 have no reference to a specific person’s predestination. Salvation is conditional–if we “walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4). “For if ye live after the flesh ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13). We are “joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Rom. 8:17).
The church, the corporate body, exists “according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11). It is spoken of without respect to any particular individual’s obedience or disobedience. “All things” which are “according to his purpose” are the plans and purposes of God from all eternity which are centered and seated in Christ (Eph. 1: 10, 11). “The called” are the saved as a class. There is no reference to individual predestination, justification, and glorification. “All things” gathered together in Christ work together in Christ (Rom. 8:28, 29; Eph. 1:10, 11). The general subject is redemption and reconciliation. “All things” that God purposed and proposed have been consummated in Christ and enunciated in the gospel.
“4. Born Again”
“A Christian has been ‘Born Again,’ ‘born from above’ (John 3:5, 6). He has been ‘born of God’ (I John 5: 1). If a Christian is born, may he be unborn? It is impossible to be I unborn,’ therefore it is not possible to be lost if born from above.”
Reply: Physically, it is impossible to be unborn, but it is possible to be denied and disinherited; it is possible to lose all blessings of sonship. A Father cannot undo his paternity, but he can refuse privileges that accrue to the child if the child is wayward and rebellious. God called Israel His “children.” They were “his sons” and “his daughters” (Deut. 32:19, 20), But to the disobedient he said, “I will . . . disinherit them” (Num. 14:12). The same is true today. “If we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Tim. 2:12).
Dr. Schroeder treats us to statements on being “born again.” Surely, a “Dr.” should know something about births, and he asks, “If a Christian is born, may he be unborn? It is impossible to be ‘unborn,’ therefore it is not possible to be lost if born from above.” Well, I Am not an obstetrician nor a pediatrician, but the Bible says sinners are “children of the Devil” 0 Jn. 3: 10). It says their Father is the Devil (Jn. 8:44). That means, in a figure, they are begotten or born of the Devil. Question: “If a child of the Devil is born, may he be unborn? It is impossible to be “unborn,’ therefore it is not possible to be saved if born from below.” Now, let the Dr. make a delivery for us. Children are born of the Devil. Does the good Dr. believe they can be “unborn” and be saved? We trust that the Dr. himself will not go into hard labor over this matter, but it is his own obstetric principle that we are prodding him with. All have sinned; all are thus “children of the Devil.” Since “It is impossible to be ‘unborn,’ therefore,” no one will be saved-that is universal damnation according to the Dr.’s rules of birth. Will our Dr. make a house call and examine this patient’s dilemma for us? Will he attempt to clarify or “explainify” this matter for us? Or, are we going to have to induce labor to get him to answer? Only a quack Dr. keeps silent when genuine skills are needed.
“5. Eternal Life, A Present Possession”
“Every Christian is given eternal life by Christ. ‘I give unto them eternal life’ (John 10:28). He now has this life (I John 5:13). This life is not for ten, twenty or thirty years, not as long as we hold out, but it is for eternity, forever (John 6:47; John 5:24; John 3:36; 1 John 5:12, 13). One cannot be lost when he has eternal life.”
Reply; Jesus gives eternal life, but this life, this gift, is conditional. Eternal life is given to those who hear and believe (Jn. 5:24; 6:47), but one may cease to hear and quit believing (Prov. 28:9; Heb. 3:12; Psa. 106:12, 24). What then?
“God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son” (I Jn. 5:11). Eternal life is where? It “is in his Son.” But one may choose not to abide in Christ-“if a man abide not in me” (Jn. 15:6). One who does not abide in Christ does not have eternal life, for “this life is in his Son.”
Eternal life is “not for … as long as we hold out,” the tract says. But the Bible says Christ is “a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (Heb. 3:6). “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Heb. 3:14). Those reconciled by the blood are to be presented “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Col. 1:21-23). Eternal life is eternal, but it is not given unconditionally eternally.
Christians have eternal life in promise (I Jn. 2:25). We now live “In hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2). Eternal life is “that which is to come” 0 Tim. 4:8). “In the world to come life everlasting” will be given to the faithful (Lk. 18:30; Rom. 2:6, 7).
“6. A New Nature”
“Every Christian possesses a new nature (2 Pet. 1:4), God’s nature. If a Christian could be lost with such a nature, this would bring God down to a human level, and God’s nature would be lost.”
Reply: 2 Peter 1:4 does not say that Christians are “possessors of the divine nature.” It says “partakers of the divine nature.” We do not possess, rather we share or have fellowship, of the divine nature. Our possessions in 2 Peter 1:4 are “exceeding great and precious promises” which have been “given unto us” and “by these”, we become “partakers of the divine nature.” A reverse paraphrase of “Pastor” Schroeder’s statement may. shed some light. “Every unbeliever possessed an old nature, the Devil’s. If an unbeliever can be saved with such a nature, this would bring the Devil up to a divine level and the Devil’s nature would be saved.” Does this prove that an unbeliever cannot become a believer and be saved? No, it does not, and when it is explained, it clarifies Mr. Schroeder’s statement.
But 2 Peter also says “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (1:10). Some “bought” by the Lord will deny Him “and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2:1). “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning” (2:20). “Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (3:17). Why these statements if 1:4 shows one cannot be lost?
(To be continued)
Truth Magazine, XVIII:39, p. 6-8
August 8, 1974