Years ago I met P.D. Ballard, a Baptist preacher, in public debate. He affirmed the proposition that, “The Scriptures teach that a born again child of God, one redeemed by the blood of Christ, cannot sin and be lost in hell.” Of course, I had signed to deny his Baptist doctrine.
The Bible account of Acts chapter 8 related that Simon the sorcerer was a child of God’s who so sinned that he was in a lost state. “Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done” (Acts 8:13). However, Peter, a Holy Spirit inspired apostle, said that Simon had a heart “not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:21), and that Simon was “in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:23). Recall that between these two statements (about Simon) Peter warned, “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (Acts 8:22).
My opponent argued that Simon was never really saved. Advocates of the “once saved, always saved” error, contend that Simon really did not believe. They contend that if he had been saved, he could not have been in a lost state again! This is a good time to have them explain Peter’s language:
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour 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. 2:20-22).
But, they never succeed against Peter in either instance, for Peter’s argument is to this day unanswered and unanswerable.
Christ stated: “He that believeth (Greek, pisteusas) and is baptized (Greek, baptistheis) shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:16). Jesus Christ stated that the one who believes and is baptized shall be “saved.” Now, turn to Acts 8:13 and note that Simon the sorcerer “believed” and was “baptized.” While there is a difference in the tense of the Greek verb believe, the words are identical. The Holy Spirit used the words of Jesus in Acts 8:13 to tell us what Simon did. He does not tell us that Simon “pretended to believe.” What did Jesus say the condition of a man would be who “believed” and was “baptized”? Jesus said that person would be saved. After having been saved by his obedience to the teaching of Christ, Simon so sinned as to be in a lost condition. Peter, inspired of the Holy Spirit, so affirmed in Acts 8:21ff.
Does the Bible teach that a person can so sin, after having been saved, to then be lost in God’s sight? It certainly does. Simon is only one example of many. Therefore, the man-made doctrine of the eternal security of the believer is false. The Bible does not teach the impossibility of apostasy, but the possibility of apostasy.