Is It Possible for a Child of God to Fall From Grace?

Fifteen hundred years ago, a famous writer named Augustine taught that it is impossible for a Christian to fall from God’s grace. Four hundred years ago, John Calvin, a Protestant leader, taught the same doctrine. Calvin called his doctrine “the perseverance of the saints.” This means that if one is saved from his past sins, he can never commit a sin in the future which will cause him to be lost in Hell.

Several years ago, Sam Morris, a preacher for the Baptist Church, wrote a tract entitled, “Do a Christian’s Sins Damn His Soul?” Mr. Morris said: “All the prayers a man may pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the sermons he may practice, all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all he laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform, will not make his soul one whit safer; and all the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger.”

Is it true that a child of God cannot sin and be lost? What does the Bible say? Paul answers this question in I Corinthians 10:1-13. He has just stated, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (9:27). In chapter 10, Paul warns of the danger of Christians’ falling away and being lost.

Paul proves that a child of God can be lost by the example of Israel. Israel was God’s chosen nation in the Old Testament. God delivered Israel from slavery in Egypt. When the Egyptian Army came after them, God opened the waters of the Red Sea. Israel crossed on dry land. Then the waters closed on the Egyptians and they were all drowned.

Israel was “baptized” in the Red Sea. Baptism is a burial in water (Romans 6:3-4; Colossians 2:12). It is a submersion, a complete covering over. The waters of the Red Sea stood like walls on each side of Israel as they crossed. The cloud of God was over them. Therefore, they were baptized (submerged) in the cloud and in the sea (Exodus 14).

God gave His redeemed people many blessing. He fed them in the desert with manna (food from Heaven, Exodus 16). He provided drink for them in the desert by telling Moses to strike a rock and water came out (Exodus 17). These blessings were provided by Jesus Christ, One of the Godhead, who was with Israel. Even though Israel was “baptized” and God showed His great love for them by giving them food and drink, still Israel sinned and fell from God’s grace.

Paul points out that God was not pleased with Israel. They were destroyed in the desert. Some worshipped idols. Aaron made a golden calf even while Moses was on Mount Sinai with God (Exodus 32). In Moab, the people of Israel joined the Moabites in worshipping Baal, a false god (Numbers 25). Baal was worshipped by fornication (Revelation 2:14). Because of his, God was angry. He killed 23,000 Israelites in only one day (I Corinthians 10:8), but in all he punished a total of 24,000 by death (Numbers 25:9).

On another occasion, God’s people complained. They spoke against God and against Moses, God’s chosen leader (Numbers 21:4-9). God punished them by sending fiery serpents (snakes) who bit many people and caused them to die. All of these examples in the Old Testament prove that God’s children can sin, fall from grace, and be lost. In fact, this is the very point Paul makes: “Wherefore, let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (I Corinthians 10:12). Why would Paul warn Christians of the danger of falling unless it is possible for Christians to sin and be lost? Many other Scriptures also warn of the danger of falling. Please read Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 4:1; 11:6; II Peter 2:20-22.

If a Christian sins, he can receive God’s forgiveness for his sin if he will truly repent, confess his sins to God, and pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:22; I John 1:9).