Examples of Christians Who Fell From Grace

Now, let’s consider some examples in the New Testament of people who were moved away from the hope of the gospel, who didn’t take earnest heed, let some things slip, and didn’t continue in the faith, grounded and settled.

Let’s consider Demas, one of the Apostle Paul’s companions. Demas was a faithful brother in Christ for a while, but evidently he did not remain so! Paul sent greetings from Demas to the “saints and faithful brethren in Christ” who were at Colosse in Colossians 4:14. In Philemon 24 he mentions Demas as one of his “fellow laborers.” But, writing to Timothy shortly before his martyrdom, he has this sad report: “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” 2 Tim. 4:10a.

The Apostle John wrote: “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15. So it appears that it must have happened with Demas as Jesus warned that it would be with some: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” Matt. 24:12- 13. We have no record whether or not Demas ever repented of his error and was restored to “the love of the Father.”

Then there were Hymenæus and Alexander. Paul writes thus to Timothy concerning them: “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenæus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” 1 Tim. 1:18-20.

There was also Judas Iscariot, one of the first twelve apostles chosen by Jesus Christ. Peter, speaking of him, says, “…Judas by transgression fell…” Acts 1:25b.

Paul says in 1 Tim. 4:1, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.”

In 1 Tim. 5:11-12 (instructing Timothy regarding the support of widows) Paul says, “But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.

In the 3rd chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul expresses his deep concern for the converts who had turned to Christ under his labors in Thessalonica, and how that he had sent Timothy to establish and comfort them concerning their faith “lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labor be in vain” (verse 5b). And in verse 8 he says, “For now we live, IF ye stand fast in the Lord.” He goes on to express through the remainder of the chapter how he prayed night and day that he might be permitted to come to them again “and might perfect that which is lacking in [their] faith” … “to the end he [the Lord] may stablish [their] hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” (Verses 10b, 13). Then he goes on to tell them in chapter 4 that “this is the will of God, even your sanctification” … “that every one of you should know how to possess his vessel [keep, or maintain his body] in sanctification and honor” (verses 3 and 4). Then in chapter 5 he exhorts them to “hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved [kept] blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verses 21b – 23).

What sense would these scriptures make if indeed it were impossible for saved people to lose their salvation? Oh, but one argues, “Some of these folk were never saved in the first place.” But tell me how can one “depart from the faith,” “cast off their first faith,” etc., if they never had it to begin with? Do the above scriptures not coincide perfectly with the warning given to us in Heb. 3:6, 12? “But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, IF we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. … Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.” Since it is very clear that all who depart from the living God depart from salvation, then obviously this time side of eternity IS probationary. Take a good look again at Jude 3-6. Not once did any of Christ’s apostles ever tell any of their converts, “You are now unconditionally, eternally secure – there is no possibility now, since you have turned to Christ and partaken of His saving grace, that you can ever be lost.” On the contrary, the tone of their language is quite the opposite!

Notice also how the above scriptures coincide with Jesus’ words, “he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13), and Paul’s words, “because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” (Rom. 11:20-22). Such scriptures are too plain to even need comment!

Peter’s Teachings Regarding Apostasy and Believers Insuring Their Security

We also have the plain teachings and admonitions of the Apostle Peter throughout his second epistle. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” (2 Pet. 1:10a). Obviously, there would be no need for this admonition if our “calling and election” were made sure by just one primary act of believing! There has to be a holding of faith, a continuing in the faith, grounded and settled, and not moved away from it (as we have seen by many foregoing scriptures) in order to make our “calling and election” sure.

In chapter 2, Peter tells us that “of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 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. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” 2 Pet. 2:19b-22.

How much clearer can language possibly be? Obviously, Peter was not a man who went around preaching that people could never lose their salvation once they had believed unto righteousness! Not once did he ever tell them that their status could never change! Instead, he warned the people, just like Jesus and the other faithful apostles did, that they must take earnest heed to not neglect their salvation. Jesus taught the people, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31b-32. He also went on to say, “Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.” (verse 34b). Notice how this corresponds with Peter’s words, “of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” Christians who are overcome and brought once again into the bondage of sin are no longer saved. In God, our salvation, there is complete deliverance and freedom from the bondage of sin. “He that committeth sin is of the devil.” 1 John 3:8a. He is in the kingdom of darkness. He is no longer walking in the light as God is in the light, therefore the blood of Jesus Christ His Son is no longer cleansing whoever is walking in darkness and serving sin. Please listen to Apostle Paul, and simply believe what he says:

“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Rom. 6:16. All sinners are servants of sin; therefore, ALL SINNERS ARE LOST! Only by being made free from sin and becoming servants to God (walking in the light of the gospel of His Son) can we have “fruit unto holiness, and in the end everlasting life.” (Rom. 6:22b.)

The Three Witnesses of Salvation and Security

The importance of obedience to the Word of God relative to salvation cannot be overstressed. There are three agents that operate in the process of grace and salvation. They are the Spirit of God and the Word of God (both of which are metaphorically referred to in various scriptures as water) and the Blood of Christ. These are the “three that bear witness in earth” (1 John 5:8a). Our hearts and lives must be in agreement with all three in order to be saved and keep saved. If we get out of line with any of these three witnesses, we thereby violate our own salvation. This is a fact we all do well to remember! It is the Spirit who applies the Blood of Christ to our hearts as we walk in the light of His Word. If we misalign ourselves with the Word, the Spirit who applies the Blood, and works only in conjunction with the Word, withdraws. In fact, by disobeying the Word we actually remove ourselves from the realm of His operation. The Spirit cannot apply the blood to any person who has moved outside the realm of His operation, that is, the Word. And the Blood can only cleanse and cover us as the Spirit applies it to our hearts, while we obey the Word, the Spirit’s co-witness. With the above thoughts in mind, consider the following scriptures:

John 3:5: Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

1 Peter 1:22-23: Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

Ephesians 5:25-27: Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

James 1:21: Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

John 8:30-32: As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, IF ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

We are initially justified and saved by grace when, by repenting and turning away from our sins and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and His atonement for our sins, He washes them away by His own blood, giving us a clean slate and a clear conscience; the Spirit bearing witness to our conscience and imparting peace to the soul. Thus He sets us free from sin. But to maintain that freedom we must live without disobedience to His Word. Our souls are purified in “obeying the truth through the Spirit.” To live without disobedience to the Word will require loving the Lord, our God, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as our self – the two great commandments on which all the others hang. Jesus said, “This do, and thou shalt live.” (See Matt. 22:35-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28.) Whoever fails to do this shall surely die. “The blood of the everlasting covenant [will] make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ” (Heb. 13:20c-21b) if you will diligently follow the Word and the Spirit. This requires concentrated effort on the part of a believer, following his/her initial conversion, and this is how we “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” and avoid becoming “entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (see Gal. 5:1). We inherit all the benefits and provisions of the blood of the everlasting covenant as we apply ourselves to the Word of His grace (which is able to build us up, and to give us an inheritance among all those who are sanctified – see Acts 20:32), and continually yield ourselves to the Holy Spirit of grace who applies the holy virtue of the soul-cleansing blood to our inner man.