By Larry Ray Hafley
In discussions with Baptist preachers on the possibility of apostasy, they often flee and flock to 1 John 2:1,2, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And 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.” Their argument runs something like this, “If I sin as a child of God, I have Jesus Christ, the righteous, as my atonement. His blood forgives and cleanses me from all sin. Therefore, I cannot be lost. If so, then the promise of Jesus as my Advocate means nothing.”
Reply To The Argument
First, one should never reply to an argument in such a way as to convey the idea that he is answering Scripture. No one should appear to void the promise and hope of I John 2:1,2 or any other passage. No one denies that Jesus is our advocate, our propitiation. No one doubts that the blood of the Son of God cleanses the child of God “from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7). Let that be clear.
Second, is the cleansing, the forgiveness, the advocacy, the propitiation, conditional or unconditional? Must the erring child of God respond to his sin in repentance, confession and prayer, or is he automatically forgiven? This question must be addressed. Of course, the Bible teaches that the erring child of God must be restored and converted (Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19,20). He must repent, confess and pray in order to be given life (Acts 8:22; 1 Jn. 1:9; 5:16).
Third, it may be objected that the sin discussed does not condemn the sinner; it does not cause him to be in a state of spiritual death. If not, then why use a passage that refers to our advocate, propitiation? If the sin does not cause one to be separated from God, do the “sins of the whole world” cause them to be separated from God?
Fourth, is the alien sinner, one who has never named the name of Christ, saved conditionally or unconditionally by the propitiation? Observe that the passage says that Christ is the propitiation for “the sins of the whole world.” Is that propitiation conditional or unconditional? “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Rom. 10:9). Even our Baptist opponents believe that the alien sinner is saved conditionally by the atonement of Christ. If the alien is cleansed and forgiven conditionally, then why is the child of God who sins cleansed unconditionally? Yes, Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, but not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. If the child of God is unconditionally forgiven, why is not the alien unconditionally forgiven? If the sins of the child of God do not cause him to be lost, why do the sins of the aliens cause them to be lost?
Finally, no one questions the perfect efficacy, the complete atonement of the blood of the Son of God, but that is not the issue regarding the possibility of apostasy. The question is, “Are there any steps, terms or conditions that one must obey in order to be cleansed and forgiven?” And, further, if one ignores or fails to comply with these conditions, is he forgiven anyway? If so, what about the alien sinner? By answering the questions, you can answer the Baptist argument.
Guardian of Truth XXX: 16, p. 498
August 21, 1986