By Cecil Willis
One of the most tenaciously held tenets of many religious organizations is called the doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy. This doctrine simply teaches that once a person has become a child of God, his eternal salvation is guaranteed. It declares that no child of God can be disinherited. It is commonly expressed by such expressions as “once saved, always saved,” or “once in grace, always in grace,” or the “security of the believer.” This doctrine is taught by Baptist and Presbyterian Churches, as well as by several others.
Sometimes the falsity of a position is best seen by drawing some logical conclusions from it. Denominational preachers have themselves reduced this false doctrine to an absurdity in their effort to defend it. Gospel preachers have often encountered these denominational preachers in religious debate. One proposition discussed reads as follows: “The Scriptures teach that a child of God, one cleansed by the blood of Christ, cannot so live as to be finally lost in hell.” A Baptist preacher affirmed this statement. It teaches that a child of God could not go to hell if he wanted to. It takes away a man’s freedom.
It furthermore teaches that regardless of what kind of a life one lives after becoming a child of God, he will go to heaven anyway. That you may see the extremes to which these false teachers go trying to defend this false doctrine, note the following statements from Baptist preachers. “Rev.” Sam Morris, who at the time was preacher at the First Baptist Church in Stanford, Texas, said “We take the position that a Christian’s sins do not damn his soul. The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people has nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul. All the prayers a man can pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the sermons he may practice, and all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform, will not make his soul one bit safer. And all the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder, will not make his soul in any more danger.” Can anyone really believe this? Yet this is a very logical consequence of the doctrine of the impossibility of falling away.
Other Baptist preachers have made equally as ridiculous statements. Mr. Vernon L. Barr, one of their outstanding debaters of this subject, says “Baptists teach that a child of God can do anything he wants to do, and go to heaven anyhow.” The reason why many people are Baptists is because they simply do not know what the Baptist Church teaches. Baptist friends, do you really believe the above statements? If not, you should not be in the Baptist Church, for this is what it teaches.
Dr. Albert Garner, President of Florida Baptist Institute and Seminary at Lakeland, Florida, in a religious debate with Brother Marvine Kelly were given a series of questions by Brother Kelly. Notice these questions asked by Brother Kelly and the answers given by Dr. Garner. “If a child of God dies while drunk, will he go to heaven?” Answer: “Yes.” Yet the Bible plainly says that no drunkard shall inherit the kingdom of God (Gal. 5:19-21). Another question. “Can a child of God lie?” Dr. Garner’s answer-“Yes.” Again, “If he dies before he repents of the lie, will he go to heaven anyhow?” Dr. Garner’s answer: “Yes.” (Kelly Garner Debate. pp. 116, 117). We see what Dr. Garner says about it, but what does the Bible have to say? “All liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” (Rev. 21:8). Does this sound like heaven? This doctrine teaches men that it makes absolutely no difference whether one lives a godly or an ungodly life after he becomes a Christian. It promises you that you will go to heaven anyway. But the Lord never so promises. You must be faithful unto death to receive the crown of life (Rev. 2: 10).
Other Baptist preachers teach that the body sins, but the soul cannot, and that God will take the soul to heaven regardless of what the body does. Dr. Ben Bogard was probably the greatest Baptist debater that ever lived. In the Ilardeman-Bogard Debate, pp. 309, 310, Bogard says “My soul sin? No. Has Brother Bogard ever sinned? In my soul I do not. I am as perfect as God himself, as far as my soul is concerned. Then what about my body? It does sin.” ‘File Bible teaches the spirit can be defiled. Paul says “let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit” (2 Cor. 7:1). And he also teaches that at the judgment we will be rewarded according to what we have done in the body (2 Cor. 5: 10).
On the possibility of apostasy, notice these three passages of Scripture written to Christians, and with these we must close this article. “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10: 12), “Take heed brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). Finally, notice Paul’s statement in Gal. 5:4. He not only says it is possible that you might fall, but that you are fallen. “Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace.”
TRUTH MAGAZINE XVII: 20, pp. 3-4
March 22, 1973