That is, is it possible for someone to abandon their faith in Christ? Is it possible for someone to only temporarily believe?
ESV - 13 And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.
For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
Can a "birth" be undone or "given back?"
My cousins are Nazerenes. They believe that you can slip from salvation and need to be born again. Your take on this?
Scripture doesn't call denying Christ after you first believe becoming 'unborn', rather it is referred to as "twice dead" (Jude 1:12). That is, if you escape death do to sin and are born again unto Christ, but then you reject faith and return to slavery to sin, you are "twice dead", and worse off than you were before you ever initially accepted Christ. (II Pet 2:22).
The 'unborn' argument seems to be a common strawman argument used against the concept that people could reject faith rather than abide in the vine, as a misrepresentation of what those who reject the Calvinist point of eternal security believe. I have never met anyone who actually proposes that we become 'unborn'.
I am unfamiliar with what the Nazarenes believe, but slipping into sin or faltering does not make us lose salvation. Only rejecting faith in Christ causes us to defect from Christ and return to the world, as we cannot be saved without abiding faith in Christ. (John 15). And if we reject Christ after having believed in faith, having full, personal knowledge of him, partaking in the Holy Spirit and been given spiritual gifts, etc; no longer holding onto faith but utterly rejecting it and denying Christ, scripture says it is impossible to renew them again to repentance. (Heb 6:4-6)
There are people who slip and stumble, or who are mad at God for a time, but that isn't the same thing as utterly denying Christ.
How many times can one be born? Only Once! How many times can one be "born again?" Only Once!! Scripture does not say "ye must be born again and again and again and again etc, etc"
The opening verses of Jude explain who Jude is writing to and who he is writing about. In V. 3 he addresses his audience as "Beloved", a title used of believers only. He speaks of the "common salvation" he first delivered, exhorting them to earnestly contend for (contend for, struggle in the defense of) the gospel they had received.
He then writes concerning a second category: "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." (Jude 1:4)
"Ordained to this condemnation", "ungodly men", turning the grace of God into... etc. Kept in its context it is easy to see Jude was issuing a warning to believers, not about their possibility of defecting (loosing faith or salvation) but infiltration by heretics and how their apostasy leads to sinful living.
When the Lord told Nicodemus he must be "born again" he was giving an earthly example of a heavenly principle. Knowing that salvation is totally of the Lord (Psalms 18:2) if truly born again as Christ described, losing salvation would nullify a creation of God which is declared in scripture as undoable, forever, eternal, everlasting, sealed. Based on the authority of God's Word to become "un-born" is every bit as ridiculous as the fallacy of becoming un-saved. (See John 1:13)
2 Timothy 2:13 "If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself."
There are some new responses to the question of losing or giving back salvation. I would like to add one more thought on Luke 8:13. Notice key word in the verse, ROOT, this is the essential element of salvation. Does ones Trust have a Root that is JESUS, THE VINE? Or, is the root in a shallow belief, on your own human, intellectual attempt to be included. Jesus, is The Vine and His Root, is The Source of Life. If we are truly grafted into The Vine, then it is His Root that continues to bring Eternal Life. Our enduring is brought about by The Source, Jesus. Our good fruit is produced, by The Good Root. The Vine will never die, thus we, we will never die.
I found an applicable quote by Martin Luther. It appears that he also believed a Christian could 'give back' salvation, so to speak, if they no longer believed:
"Even if he [the saint] wants to, he cannot lose his salvation, however much he sin, unless he will not believe. For no sin can condemn him save unbelief alone. All other sins—so long as the faith in God’s promise made in baptism returns or remains—all other sins, I say, are immediately blotted out through that same faith, or rather through the truth of God, because He cannot deny Himself." - Martin Luther
The picture you paint is very different from the one in John 15.
In John 15, where Jesus is the vine, we find that:
- If a branch bears no fruit, God the Father cuts it off [Not, "all branches will bear fruit"]
- We need to remain in Christ
- We can only bear fruit by remaining in the vine
- Those who do not remain, we are thrown away like a withered branch
In Luke 8:13, the 'root' is not the same as the vine. The plants in these parables are pictures of individual humans. The root represents the security of their faith in Christ. In a time of trial, their faith crumbles and they fall away. Perhaps their conversion was based in emotion, or they didn't count the cost. Either way, their faith does not endure to the end. (II Cor 13:5, II Tim 2:12, James 1:2-3, Luke 14:27-30, etc).
"Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’" Luke 14:27-30
Luke 14: 25-30, Look at the context, Jesus is talking about being His [ talmidim ] or disciples and the cost of discipleship.
Large crowds were following Him because of His miracles, but Jesus is saying ,unless you can bear your cross or finish your building, you won't be real disciples and will fail in your attempts. Being delivered of course is the foundation, then the building.
Being a good, reliable disciple is viewed by many outwardly. It should be a reflection of your inward deliverance. If not, your testimony will be affected.
Peter didn't reflect his discipleship well, in denying, and being discouraged and going back to fishing for fish. But, Jesus confronted him, challenged him and corrected him. Peter had not lost his salvation. He had though sullied his discipleship. When he followed Jesus's direction and was filled with Holy Spirit, his entire discipleship changed. He bore his cross spiritually and according to tradition literally.
We all, when saved, must then run our race, carry our cross and reflect our Lord, to be to be considered, true and dedicated disciples.
Returning to the bondage of sin does not make you unborn, just sin-stained, in need of repentance, and redoing the first works of faith over which is turning from your sin. It is a clean conscience that commends us to God. The work of sanctification is ongoing continual learning process. That will change the very thoughts and intents as we grow and become spiritually mature.
The concept and principles of being borned again or new birth cannot be exchanged like corporeal objects. It is a new start from a clean slate you can add to that record or have things removed through repentance, this is why the blood sacrifice of Jesus is sufficient. To intentionally continue in sin thinking you will not be accountable is a false narrative designed by the great deceiver to ensnare the simple-minded.
The work of sanctification through the Holy Ghost purifies and transforms us into the likeness of our redeemer (blessed be His name forever). Please share your thoughts, on this response.
If you do not have eternal life, then you have not believed. Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace ye are saved, (what Jesus did for us) through faith, (when we believe on His finished work on the cross as full payment for all our sins forever.) And that not of yourselves, (we did nothing for it) it is the GIFT of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.
Romans 4:5-8 But to the one that worketh not, but believeth on Him who justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
6---The minute we believe on Him as the only way of salvation by grace, what HE did for us, He imputes His perfect righteousness to us, and all of our sins are covered. He will no more impute sin to our account.
All our sin is paid in full and we can never be condemned again. John 3:18
Those that say you can lose it are trusting in what they do to save themselves and were never believers.
For those who have believed and believe you have to persevere In the faith to stay saved, we have this. Second Timothy 2:13 If we believe not, He abideth faithful, He can not deny Himself.
We have to do nothing to be saved but believe, and we have to do nothing to stay saved. The only thing we do have to do is believe the gospel. First Corinthians 15-3-4 That Christ died for our sins, ALL OF THEM FOREVER, that he was buried and rose again on the third day, according to the scriptures. When we believe that gospel, and not before we believe, He imputes His Holy Spirit to us and seals us forever.