April 2018 Bible Questions & Answers

Topics:  “once saved, always saved,” Satan the dragon, the Holy Spirit & apostolic inspiration, re-baptism

Please explain why people believe in “once saved, always saved.”

The idea of “once saved, always saved” (as is commonly known in Protestant circles currently), or its original concept of “perseverance of the saints” (as it was originally taught in Calvinism) is basically the notion that, as Baptist preacher Sam Morris once put it, a Christian could commit any sin from idolatry to murder, and it wouldn’t put his soul in danger in any form or fashion.  Basically, a saved individual could never sin in such a way so as to fall from grace and lose the salvation they had earlier obtained.

As John Calvin, founder of Calvinism, taught it, those predestined by God for salvation are called and sanctified miraculously by the Holy Spirit.  They have no free will in the matter and cannot resist God’s grace.  Due to all of man being totally depraved spiritually due to inheriting Adam’s sin, no one can contribute to our salvation in any way and thus Jesus intercedes for us.  Calvinists reason that with all three of the Godhead working on our behalf, it would be ridiculous to think that any saved could still sin so as to be lost.

Ignorance of God’s Word is the primary reason people hold to this and other erroneous beliefs (Hos. 4:6; Acts 17:11).  In this case, passages like 1 John 1:7-9 and Hebrews 10:26-31 clearly contradict the notion that once a Christian is saved, they could never lose their salvation no matter what.

The reason some tend to still believe in this and other error even when shown scriptural truth is selfish pride (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Satan is called a dragon in Revelation 20:2.  Is John being literal?

Revelation 1:1 (KJV)
1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John

Revelation was written in signs & symbols.  Therefore, Satan being depicted as a dragon in chapter 12 and 20 is not to be taken literally.

Interestingly, the fact that God inspired John to use the symbol of a dragon to represent Satan implies that dragons existed; otherwise, how would the original readers of Revelation be able to picture the symbol of a dragon in their heads?

Read the description of the creature called Leviathan and see the similarities between it and what are commonly thought of as dragons (Job 41:1ff, especially vs. 15-21).  As late as the 1200’s, Marco Polo wrote of seeing pet dragons in the court of the Chinese emperor.

Was the Holy Spirit upon the apostles at all times?  Was everything they wrote inspired by God?  Were all of their actions inspired?

John the Immerser said this about Jesus:  “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure(John 3:34).  “Measure” (metron) literally means “determined extent, portioned measured off, measure or limit” (blb.org).  Thus, John was saying that God gave the Holy Spirit to Jesus without any determined extent, without any portion measured off, without any measure or limit.  This is significant when one reads that God later gave the Spirit to early Christians WITH various determined extents, portions measured off, measures and limits.

In his discussion of spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12-14), Paul informed the saints at Corinth at “there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit” (12:4), meaning that none of them had the Spirit given to them “without measure” as was the case with Jesus.  Paul went on to write that some of them had the spiritual gift of wisdom, others the gift of knowledge, others the spiritual gift of faith (cf. Matt. 21:21-22), others could perform miracles, miraculously heal others, prophecy or distinguish between spirits (1 John 4:1; cf. Acts 5:1-11), while still others of them could miraculously speak in other languages or interpret (12:7-10).

The Holy Spirit distributed each of these gifts to each of the Corinthian Christians as He saw fit (1 Cor. 12:11), something in direct contrast to Christ receiving the Spirit “without measure” (John 3:34).  Paul also rhetorically showed that not all of the Corinthians possessed all or even the same spiritual gifts (12:28-31).  He would then encourage them to “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts,” especially the gift of prophesy rather than speaking in tongues (14:1-5, 39), and would also encourage the one who had the spiritual gift of speaking in other languages to also “pray for the power to interpret” (14:13).  This shows that God gave the Spirit to these saints in portions, in measures.

The apostles seemed to be a different story, though.  On Pentecost, the twelve received the Holy Spirit in a way similar to how Jesus received it at his immersion, with the difference being that the Spirit seems to have appeared as “divided tongues as of fire…rest(ing) on each one of them” (Acts 2:3-4). Acts would reveal that as a result of this, the twelve seemed to have all the spiritual gifts Paul would later list to the Corinthians, thus indicating that they too received the Spirit “without measure” (cf. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; 16:12-15).

They were able to miraculously speak in other languages (Acts 2:4-12) with miraculous wisdom, knowledge, and prophecy (2:4, 14-36).  They were able to miraculously heal (3:1-10) and perform other miracles (5:12), including the gift of discernment of spirits (5:1-11; cf. 1 John 4:1).  They could pass on to others these gifts through the laying on of their hands (Acts 6:1-6, 8; 8:14-18), although those on whom they laid their hands and gave these spiritual gifts were not given the Spirit “without measure” as they were.

When the Spirit came upon Jesus in the form of a dove, it “remained on him” (John 1:32-33), meaning that Christ received the Spirit “without measure” (John 3:34).  He then promised his apostles that He “will give you another Helper to be with you forever” (John 14:16-17), thus basically promising them that the Spirit would remain on them just as He had with Christ.  This shows that the apostles also received the Spirit “without measure,” explaining the wisdom, knowledge, and miraculous discernment and power both Christ and His apostles displayed during their ministries.

Thus, everything they said and wrote for religious, instructive purposes as providentially preserved in the canon of New Testament Scripture was inspired by the Spirit of God (Acts 2:4; 2 Pet. 1:19-21; 1 Cor. 2:11-13; Eph. 3:3-5), thus being free from error (1 Cor. 2:14-16).

The fact that they were inspired by the Spirit when they taught God’s doctrine does not mean that they themselves were infallible.  Both Peter and Paul were shown to sin out of hypocrisy and fear (Gal. 2:11-14; Acts 21:17-26; cf. Rom. 7:1-6).  Certainly while committing these sins out of weakness their actions were not inspired by God.

Does a person need to be baptized more than once?

If one’s previous baptism is later shown to be lacking something the Scriptures show that it needs, then the example of the twelve disciples re-baptized by Paul in the name of Jesus proves a second baptism is necessary (Acts 19:1-5).

The Scriptures teach there is “one baptism” under the New Covenant (Eph. 4:5), and that is baptism in the name of Jesus (Acts 2:38; 19:5), meaning by the authority of Jesus.

A study of the totality of New Testament teaching about this one baptism shows that it must be immersion (baptizo), in water (Acts 10:48; John 3:5), for salvation (Mk. 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21), for forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16), into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27) meaning into His body, His church (1 Cor. 12:13; Col. 1:18; cf. Acts 2:41, 47), in order to be spiritually circumcised and thus in a relationship with God (Col. 2:11-14), and in order to come into contact with the forgiving blood of Christ (Eph. 1:7; Acts 22:16).

If one is thus scripturally baptized, there is no need to be baptized again.  This is true even though God knows baptized believers will still sin (1 John 1:8).  In order to be forgiven after baptism when one sins as a Christian, one must acknowledge their sin before God (1 John 1:7), have the same grief over their sins as God (2 Cor. 7:9-10), and thus repent of their sins, showing deeds in keeping with their repentance (2 Cor. 7:10-11; Acts 26:20).