By Bob Felkner
“Once Saved, Always Saved”
I am not a Baptist because Baptists are wrong when they teach that once a person is saved he cannot be lost. The Baptist book declares: “When a person believes unto salvation, he is saved forever” (Joe T. Odle, Why I am a Baptist, p. 99). Although that is not true, the Baptists try to support their doctrine by quoting a couple of scriptures. But the Catholics quote a few scriptures to justify their pope too, don’t they? You will also remember that the devil quoted scriptures when he tempted Jesus (Matt. 4:6). Baptists, Catholics, and the devil are all guilty of perverting the scriptures to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16).
Baptists misunderstand John 10:27-29, which says:”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.” The key word in this passage is “pluck,” and it means, “to seize” or “snatch” (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 190). No one can seize or snatch a disciple from the Lord any more than they can force him into becoming a disciple. Obedience and disobedience are voluntary actions (Rom. 6:16). The grace of the Lord provides adequate protection to all who seek it, and no outside power can destroy this security. However, a person can voluntarily disobey just as he can voluntarily obey. This is why we are warned: “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:t2). Baptists do not truly believe in this scripture, for they teach that brethren are “saved forever.” This passage was addressed to “brethren” who could have fallen away, but Baptists claim that their brethren cannot fall away. What a great difference we see between Baptist doctrine and the doctrine of Christ!
It is comforting to know that nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39). Unfortunately, Baptists find false comfort in these scriptures. There is absolutely nothing here that supports the idea of “once saved, always saved.” Baptists should remember that God loved us even while we were in sin: “But God commendeth his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). God loved us, and He made it possible for us to be saved through the gift of His son. Although nothing can separate us from the love God has for us, we can commit sin and become alienated (Isa. 59:2). We can be separated from God without being separated from the love of God. But when we consider the context of Romans 8:38-39, we must conclude that the “love of God” refers to the love that we have for God. The point that Paul makes here is that no outside force can compel us to stop loving God. If we stop loving God, it will be a voluntary act rather than something that was forced upon us.
It is evident that the Baptists are wrong on this matter, for the scriptures teach that a person is saved if he is faithful until death (Rev. 2:10). Salvation is a conditional gift, and if we fail to meet the conditions, we will not receive the gift. We are informed that “the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men,” but “all men” will not enjoy the benefits of God’s grace (Tit. 2:11). If we are to receive the benefits of God’s grace, we must continue to deny “ungodliness and worldly lust” and “we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world” (Tit. 2:12). The only way to remain saved is to remain faithfultherefore, we must be diligent to make our “calling an~ election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10). Paul shows that salvation is conditional when he speaks of the gospel “by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain” (1 Cor. 15:12). There is a very real possibility of “falling away from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). Baptists, therefore, are wrong when they proclaim the impossibility of apostasy. They teach that a Christian cannot fall from the grace of God and be lost, but let me direct your thoughts to what the New Testament teaches. The book of Galatians was addressed to the churches of Galatia; therefore, the warnings and instructions in that book were meant for church members. Paul wrote to them and said: “Ye are severed from Christ, ye who would be justified by the law; ye are fallen away from grace” (Gal. 5:4). Now, if those people had been “saved forever,” how could they have been “severed from Christ”? And the old cliche that claims “they were never saved in the first place” cannot be supported, because these people had to be united with Christ before they could become “severed from Christ.” Also, they had to be in God’s grace before they could fall away from it. From this, I hope you can see why I am not a Baptist.
“Almost thou persuadest me to be a . . . “
Baptists are wrong when they conclude that the Bible makes Baptists. From the Baptist book, we hear the following statements: “The Bible has’a tendency to turn men toward the Baptist position” (Odle, p. 94). “I believe that anybody who gets hold of a New Testament, reads it, and obeys it is very likely to come out of that experience a Baptist” (Odle, p. 24) . . . . . . every doctrine of the New Testament is Baptist doctrine” (Odle, p. 93).
It would be nice for them if they could turn to Acts 26:28 and read, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Baptist.” But they cannot read that in the New Testament; furthermore, they cannot read of anyone ever being “a Baptist.” John, the son of Zacharias and Elisabeth, was known as “the Baptist,” not “a Baptist.” He was called this because he was “the baptiser” or the one who baptized (Mk. 6:14, 24, ASV). He was not a Baptist preacher, and he was not a member of the Baptist church, but it does mention the church that Christ built. John the Baptist was never a member of the church that Christ built because he was dead before it was established. In Matthew 14:10, we read that Herod “beheaded John in the prison,” and in Matthew 16:18 (two chapters later), Jesus promised to build the church. John was never a member of the Baptist Church, and Paul never persuaded anyone to become a Baptist, and that is why I am not a Baptist. I had rather be a member of the church that Christ built and wear the name that shows my relationship to Him. The apostle Peter said, “if a man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God in this name” (1 Pet. 4:16, ASV).
The doctrine of the New Testament is not Baptist doctrine; it is the doctrine of Christ. The warning is: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn. 9). The doctrine that produces Baptists is not the doctrine of Christ, and the “gospel” that Baptists preach is different from the gospel of Christ. Paul said: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:6-9). Baptists are guilty of preaching doctrines other than that which the apostles preached, and that is why I am not a Baptist.
Baptists are wrong when they endorse denominationalism. From the pen of a Baptist, we read: “At this point I might add that I am a denominationalist. I have never had any temptation to shed my denominational loyalties for a wider ecumenicalism” (Odle, p. 46). When a Baptist says he is a denominationalist, he is confessing membership in an unscriptural organization. During New Testament times, there was no such thing as a denomination. The term “denomination” itself suggests division, and anyone who endorses denominationalism encourages division. The inspired apostles taught the same truth “everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:14). Jesus promised to build only one church, and He gave no authority for any kind of division (Matt. 16:18). Instead of telling people to join the church of their choice, He prayed for unity (Jn. 17:21). Politically speaking, religious freedom is good, but Jesus never authorized men to establish their own churches. He said He would build His church, and He did; therefore, any religious body other than the church of Christ is unscriptural. This is not a narrow-minded view; it is what the New Testament clearly teaches. Jesus built the church (Matt. 16:18); He purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28), and He is the savior of it (Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18). He is not the builder, purchaser, or savior of denominational churches. True Christians are non-denominational, and they have no “denominational loyalties.” Their allegiance is with Christ instead of seminary professors and the doctrines of men (Matt. 15:9).
All attempts to defend donominationalisin are futile. Some sectarians think of the seven churches of Asia as “the seven original denominations” (Rev. 1:4). Of course, there is absolutely no basis for such presumptuous thinking. The Psalmist said: “Keep back thy servant also from presumptous sins” (Psa. 19:13). The seven churches of Asia were local congregations that belonged to Christ. They were all known as “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16). But some folks will argue that “all denominations are churches of Christ.” A perversion of John 15:5 is sometimes used to justify such claims. However, when Jesus said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches,” He was speaking to individuals rather than denominations. A study of the immediate context will support this view. Verse six clearly shows that individuals are branches in the vine. Jesus said: “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” Jesus spoke of “a man,” not “a denomination.” There is nothing in the New Testament that justifies denominationalism, and that is another reason why I am not a Baptist.
“Joining” the Church
Baptists are wrong when they speak of joining the church. One Baptist said: “I joined the church at eight years of age, but 1 had been a professing Christian in my heart long before that” (Odle, p. 44). Although some Baptists will scoff at this point, it is still a matter of distinction between the two churches. In New Testament times, when people obeyed the gospel, they were “added to the church” (Acts 2:41,47). Since I cannot read in the scriptures where anyone ever became a member of the Baptist Church, and since the Baptist Church is not even mentioned in the scriptures, I have decided that I should not be a Baptist.
There are many reasons why I am not a Baptist. I have discussed only a few of those reasons, but I am convinced that enough has been said to show the distinction between being a Baptist and being a Christian. Baptist words and Baptist doctrines have been compared with the words of the New Testament, and there is an impressive difference between them. I have attempted to make an honest presentation of the truth. If Baptists will be just as honest in their acceptance of this truth, they will cease to be Baptists. I will admit that I have been hard on Baptist doctrine, but I cannot apologize for it. I am unable to find a pleasant way of destroying falsehood. I agree with the Baptist preacher who said: “This day in which we live, beloved brothers and sisters, is no day for dillydallying, or shillyshalling, by mealymouthed preachers. It is the day of all days for no stammerer in the pulpit or an insipid, spineless, and convictionless Christian in the pew” (Odle, p. 117). It would be difficult to respect a man who would not preach his convictions, and I could not respect myself if I did not preach mine. I am not ashamed to say that the gospel condemns Baptist doctrine. The apostle Paul set the example when he said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel” (Rom. 1:16). If I preached doctrines I could not defend, 1 would be ashamed, and that is why I am not a Baptist.
Truth Magazine XX: 50, pp. 790-792
December 16, 1976