I’ve always been in ‘once saved always saved‘ churches, so the idea that might not be true was news to me.
At one point, I read of a church that came under particularly severe persecution so much so that many believers agreed to give up the faith. Once the persecution had ended, many of them decided to be believers again. The church wasn’t sure how to deal with these lapsed believers, after all, they had publicly denounced Jesus. All of the leaders got together and debated the issues: they denied the faith but they want to come back, they hurt the church witness but severe persecution was going on, they failed Jesus but Jesus won’t fail them, they weren’t really believers but they are believers and they are human.
Calvinism says that believers will persevere in salvation because God will see to it that none will be lost. Believers are secure in the faith because God will finish he work he began.
Arminianism says that by the exercise of free will, believers can turn away or fall away from grace and lose their salvation.
One question that comes to my mind: If free will is so important that you must choose to be a believer, then why must it vanish once one becomes a believer?
Perhaps it’s the optimist that hopes that believers are turning away from a false understanding or practice of Christianity and into a truer way of being a christian.
I remember one person says that Jesus won’t let anyone snatch a sheep (soul) from his hand, but he won’t prevent any from jumping out of his hand either.
Not everybody walks an easy path. sometimes the road they are on is uneven, rocky, full of potholes, snares, obstacles and dangers. There are days, weeks, and months when your faith is really being tested.
But I see a lot of young people that grew up in the church turn their back to it every day. Some were brilliant minds told that they had to stop thinking too much. Some were expecting promises to be fulfilled only to watch them be broken. Some heard one message from the church but saw them live out something different. Young people are walking away from the church and somehow not their faith. And some walk away from both.
But that optimist realizes that though the story is already written, it has yet to play out. We have no idea at what point we are in on our own stories. Are we being tested? Have we failed? Are we in the process of restoration?
The church ultimately decided to reconcile and restore it’s lapsed believers. After all, Peter denied Jesus three times and he was in charge of the church – the least they could do was show grace to these prodigal believers that wanted to return home.