THE KNOWLEDGE OF ETERNAL SALVATION
NOT LEADING ONE TO SIN AT WILL
Before we consider some of the problems in the Scriptures, we have to consider one strong objection and doubt that some men raise. Some think that if a person is "once saved, always saved," such a person will surely sin more freely. This can be considered as the most common and strongest point of objection. If a man knows that he is eternally saved and will never be condemned, will he not become loose, start to commit all sorts of sins, and be bold to do anything? Since this could be the case, is not this kind of teaching very dangerous?
I remember that a man once wrote a letter to Mr. Mackintosh—the one who wrote a commentary on the Pentateuch. In that letter he told Mr. Mackintosh that he had heard a preacher a week earlier preaching on the matter of being a child of God eternally. A young man in the audience said that since such was the case, he could do anything he wanted to now. Within a few days, the young man committed all sorts of sins. The writer of the letter complained that because of the teaching of "once a child, eternally a child," the young people had been damaged. In response to his letter, Mr. Mackintosh wrote, "It is true that once a person is a child of God, he is eternally a child of God. But I doubt whether the young man you mentioned is a child of God in the first place. I have a son. Suppose I were to say to my son that since he is my son, he will be my son eternally. Upon hearing this, would my son be so overjoyed that he would right away smash the window with a stone, break his dishes on the floor, pull off the tablecloth and roll the bowls on the floor, and do all sorts of impolite things before me? Can there be such a person? It is true that when a person becomes a son, he is a son eternally. But he will not act lawlessly just because he is a son. If he acts lawlessly, I doubt if such a one is really a son."
According to the Bible, there is nothing wrong with the preacher’s word. But the young man’s action is totally wrong. To determine if a teaching is right, we can only judge it by the truth in the Bible; we cannot determine it by man’s conduct. As teachers of the Bible, we can only be responsible for telling others what the Bible says. We cannot be responsible for telling others what the Bible should say. We do not have this authority. We know that the Word of God says that once we are a son, we are a son eternally. We do not know to what result this knowledge will lead us. The problem today is that man would not judge God’s Word with God’s Word. Man likes to drag out someone from the corner and say that since man is the way he is, how can one say that a man is "once saved, eternally saved"? It is true that some believers have failed and are weak. It is also true that some people are false ones. It is true that there are millions of believers who have different experiences. We can only judge them by the truth of the Bible. We cannot judge the truth of the Bible by what others have done. We can only prove them wrong by the truth of the Bible. We cannot condemn the truth of the Bible as wrong because of what they have done.
The starting point of a Christian is the Word of God, not man’s conduct. Today you may ask me whether you are still saved, because you lied yesterday. I cannot ascertain whether or not you are saved based upon whether your lie was a good lie, a bad lie, a bright lie, or a dark lie. I can only tell you what the truth of the Bible says. If this is not the case, there will be no need of the judgment seat and the great white throne. We can only look at what the Word of God says. We can only judge man’s act by God’s Word. We can never judge God’s Word by man’s act. It is God’s Word that says once a man is saved he is saved eternally. There is nothing wrong with it. Though it is wrong for man to act irresponsibly because of this word, we still must judge everything by God’s Word. God’s Word is our complete constitution and our highest court.
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)