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The will of man and the possibility of falling from grace

 

What shall we say then about the will of man, if all his ways depend on God and his destiny was determined beforehand by God? We shall say the following things: the will of those who still live under the power of darkness is molded by God and turned in the direction He has appointed, without them knowing it; so those who were predestinated to be justified will be allowed or enabled by God (at God’s appointed time), through endless circumstances, to believe in Jesus Christ, while those who were prepared for destruction will not be allowed or enabled to believe.

And what shall we say then about the conduct of those who have believed in the Lord? We shall say this: those who have believed must see to it that they make their call and election sure by continuing in the faith and being zealous for good works, for this is the will of God. But can a believer lose justification? The answer is ‘Yes,’ because this is what the Scripture teaches us. For if a believer draws back, by committing the sin unto death (in other words, if he forsakes and denies the Lord who has rescued him), he will lose the justification he has obtained by faith and his name will be blotted out from the Book of Life. For God said to Moses:

“Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (Exodus 32:33),

and the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews says:

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:4-8)

and again:

“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26-29)

How then can we ‘reconcile’ these doctrines (that is, the doctrine of predestination and the doctrine that says that a believer may lose his salvation and go to perdition)? Of course, we can, even though it seems the opposite. Actually, it seems that these doctrines nullify one another, that they contradict one another, however, we know that both of them are true, both of them are part of the counsel of God. Therefore, do not deceive yourselves.

 

Giacinto Butindaro

 

 

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