Vol. 6, No. 9
Since You Asked
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What would happen if Eve had not taken the fruit? ~ Sarah Smith
God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden and gave him instructions, which included the prohibition of eating the fruit from a certain tree (Genesis 2:16-17). Eve likewise was aware of the prohibition of eating the fruit from a certain tree (Genesis 3:1-3). Adam and Eve knew that God had said that if they ate the forbidden fruit they would die. Satan, having taken the form of a snake, told Eve that she and Adam would not die if they ate the forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:4). Eve disregarded God's instructions, believed the devil's lie and ate the forbidden fruit; then, she gave the fruit to Adam who also ate it (Genesis 3:6). Eve was deceived and ate the forbidden fruit first (1 Timothy 2:14) and Adam apparently realized what he was doing when he followed his wife's lead.
The first pair died in two ways when they disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit. They died spiritually or were separated from God (Genesis 3:23-24; Romans 6:23). They began to die physically as well (Genesis 3:22-24; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22). Not the guilt of Adam and Eve's sin, but the consequence of their sin--physical death passed to all humanity (Romans 5:12-14).
Theoretically, had Adam and Eve not sinned by eating the forbidden fruit, they would neither have been separated from God nor would have their bodies begun to die; they would have lived forever as they were in the Garden of Eden or for as long as God may have wanted them to remain there, for example, as opposed to moving them to heaven. Neither sin nor death would have entered the world among humans.
Realistically, though, had Adam and Eve not eaten the forbidden fruit, humans being creatures of choice, either they or their offspring through the generations (even up to our day) eventually would have made the wrong choice and sinned. The apostle Paul wrote respecting the frailty of humans and how that not one person who has ever lived except Jesus Christ was wholly sinless (Romans 3:23; Hebrews 4:15).
Therefore, we cannot be too hard on Adam and Eve. Had sin and death not entered into the world on that occasion, then it would have entered on another occasion. We would have fared no better. Yet, the fact that we humans fall short of sinless perfection does not excuse our sins (Romans 6:1-2). Jesus died that those who conform to his Gospel can be saved from their sins (Matthew 26:28; 1 John 2:2; Romans 6:17-18; Hebrews 9:15; Romans 1:16).
Is the perseverance of the saints a biblical doctrine? In other words, are those once saved always saved? In still other words, is it possible for a Christian to sin so as to be lost? A major tenet of Calvinism is the perseverance of the saints, but is that doctrine taught in the Bible?
Somehow it is imagined the context of Hebrews 6:1-6 teaches the perseverance of the saints or what one might style the impossibility of apostasy. However, with little more than surface reading it is evident to the thoughtful Bible reader that this context actually announces: (1) the possibility of apostatizing, and (2) the difficulty of restoring the apostate (who continues in his sinfulness).
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. 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. (Hebrews 6:1-6 KJV)
The American Standard Version in part renders verse six, "and (then) fell away"; it is not a question whether it is possible for a child of God to sin so as to be lost in this context, but the text plainly supposes an instance in which a child of God already has apostatized (past tense). In part, the New King James Version renders verse six, "since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame"; the instance under consideration portrays a fallen child of God who is still committing the sins by which he apostatized. The present tense in Greek includes the idea of continuing action; therefore, the fallen child of God in the biblical example here fell or apostatized in the past and was continuing to crucify Jesus again essentially by his continuing to sin, and he was continuing thereby to put Jesus to an open shame. Under those circumstances, while an erring child of God is still actively pursuing sin, he cannot be restored. However, God freely forgives any erring child of God who penitently returns to him (1 John 1:9), "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness," KJV.
Acts 8 presents an example of a child of God named Simon who sinned, and by that sin he was in danger of hellfire (Acts 8:20-21). However, to avoid biblical contradiction with the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, proponents of perseverance of the saints claim that Simon was not a Christian. Yet, it is abundantly clear to the honest Bible reader that Simon did exactly what the rest of the Samaritans who were saved did and was in the same spiritual state they enjoyed. I know of no one who denies that the rest of the Samaritans were Christians. Therefore, when it is observed that whatever state the rest of the Samaritans mentioned in Acts 8 enjoyed and Simon responded the same way to the same preaching, then Simon also was a Christian before he sinned on that occasion. Hence, when Simon sinned on that occasion and was in danger of being lost, it was because he, as a child of God had apostatized. Fortunately, an erring child of God can repent and pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:22).
Philip preached the Gospel to the Samaritans (Acts 8:5). The result was: "But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women" (Acts 8:12). The very next verse says: "Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done." Whatever was true spiritually regarding the Samaritans of Acts 8:12 was equally true respecting Simon of Acts 8:13! Scripture does not construe Simon's response to the Gospel differently than the response of the others who believed and were baptized. Therefore, it is possible for a child of God to apostatize and the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is not biblically correct.
Further, some have estimated that there are about 1,500 warnings in the New Testament to Christians to be care lest they fall away or apostatize. One is 1 Corinthians 10:12, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." There is absolutely no reason for God to have his Spirit place those warnings in the Holy Bible if it is impossible to fall. I have heard the shallow defense of perseverance of the saints respecting these innumerable warnings as some sort of divine encouragement though it is actually impossible to fall. The Bible throughout teaches the possibility of humanity once redeemed can sin so as to be lost, and God does not deal in nonsensical instruction such as some may want to attribute to him in a feeble effort to rescue a denominational doctrine.
Doubtless those who hold to the theory of the perseverance of the saints are sincere, howbeit sincerely wrong. Instead of offering a false sense of security to children of God, making them think they could not fall if they wanted to, we need to take God's Word seriously as it is written and do our best to persevere because we know we can err so as to be lost. It is especially a horrible thought to imagine a wayward child of God falling into the hands of an angry God (Hebrews 10:26-31).