By Mackey W. Harden
One of the five basic tenets of fatalistic Calvinism is the doctrine of the Final Perseverance of the Saints. Most people recognize it better by the slogans “Once Saved, Always Saved” or “Can’t Fall From Grace.” Basically it means that once a person is saved, it is impossible to ever be lost. This doctrine is totally foreign to Holy Writ. In fact, if this doctrine were true, many passages of Scripture in the New Testament would be meaningless to the Christian. The simple fact that God’s word contains repeated warnings to mankind should point out to anyone who is desirous of truth, that this Calvinistic theory is totally without foundation. If a person never has to worry about being lost, then why all these warnings from God? The answer is simple: man can sin and lose his soul, therefore God has given warnings to help us avoid the danger and folly of certain situations.
The countless warnings that we find in the Bible are of great significance. W.E. Vine defines the word warn as follows: “to put in mind, warn, is translated to warn in the A. V.; to teach, make known.” The Random House Dictionary defines it as: 1. to inform plainly and strongly of possible trouble. 2. to advise (a person) that a certain act, negligence, etc., on his part will lead to opposition or reprisal.” Some interesting synonyms are also given. “Forewarn, Caution, Admonish – these imply attempting to prevent another from running into danger or getting into unpleasant or undesirable circumstances.” Thus, we see the importance of the word warn.
Actually, we deal with warnings of some sort everyday of our life. If the automobile in which we are driving becomes overheated, it is equipped with a red light that should come on to warn us. Our car is also equipped with a horn that we can blow, with which we can warn people if we need to. As my family and I were traveling through the Smokey Mountains this past summer, we saw several signs that read, “Warning, Falling Rocks!” Those who smoke cigarettes (Christians included) should take heed to the stern warning on the package, which says, “Warning, May be Hazardous to Your Health.” On and on we could go. The point should be very clear.
Yes, we need to pay careful attention to the warnings that are found in the Bible. They were put there because of the need to be warned about the dangerous situations that can affect the destiny of our souls. If the doctrine of Once Saved, Always Saved” is true then these warnings are senseless. In this series of articles, we are going to notice many of these warnings that the Bible reveals to us. These articles should be examined very carefully, in light of the ever increasing popularity of Calvinistic acceptance by some who claim to be our brethren in Christ. Though they have not accepted the “total package” of Calvinism as of yet, it may not be long until they do.
In this first article, we will deal with “Biblical Warnings” in a general sense. In subsequent articles we will delve into many of the specific warnings that have been given to us by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The following should be warned:
(1) The Wicked. God told the prophet Ezekiel in the long ago that he was “a watchman in the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me” (Ezek. 3:17). It was Ezekiel’s responsibility to warn the wicked so that they might have opportunity to turn from their unrighteousness. If he failed to warn them, he would be found guilty in God’s sight. He was also told, “Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul” (Ezek. 3:20; cf. vv. 16-21; Lk. 3:1-8). What a great responsibility lays upon our shoulders even today, to warn the wicked.
(2) Christians with selfish ways. It seems that the Corinthian brethren whom Paul wrote to, had a problem with selfishness. In 1 Cor. 4:6-16, Paul deals with this problem and appeals to his own unselfishness in preaching the gospel. He tells them about the many trials and tribulations that he endured, and then says to them, “I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you” (vs. 14). Christians in any time period (Ist century or 20th) should be warned against the perils that will come if we have selfish ways. This is an area in which gospel preachers would do well to spend much time in preaching. Because of selfishness many problems arise in the Lord’s church. It is our duty to warn against this dreaded spiritual disease.
(3) Christians who are unruly. Paul writes in 1 Thess. 5:14. “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” Another version says, “admonish the disorderly.” It is our responsibility to warn those of our brethren who are walking disorderly (unruly). We should warn them of the possible danger to their souls, unless they change and walk as God would have them to. Christians need to understand just how very important it is that we warn those who are unfaithful to the Lord and His church. Paul exhorted the Thessalonian brethren to do this, and we should likewise heed his exhortation.
(4) Every man. To the Gentiles, Paul taught that Christ was their hope of glory, “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus . . .” (Col. 1:27-28). For hundreds of years the Gentiles “were without Christ . . . having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). With Christ’s death on Calvary’s cross, the abolition of the Old Law became a reality. Now both Jew and Gentile had the opportunity to obey the gospel and be saved. When Paul “preached Christ,” he warned every man, not just the Jews or just the Gentiles. He also taught every man so that all men might be perfect (complete) in Christ Jesus. In similar fashion, when we “preach Christ” today we should warn every man, and not just a certain nationality or race. Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved. . .” (Mk. 16:15-16). Let us work with all the power within us to preach the gospel to every man.
Truth Magazine XXIV: 37, pp. 600-601
September 18, 1980