INCARNATE – Can a Christian Stray and Be Lost?

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QUESTION:  “Do you believe that a Christian can so sin as to lose his soul?  Is there a passage in the Bible which teaches this can happen?”

ANSWER:  Actually, there are several passages which teach and illustrate this sad reality.  Here is but one example from James 5:

“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth…”  v. 19a

  • WHOM was James addressing when he said, “Brethren…?”
  • NOTE:  “Brethren, if anyone AMONG YOU…”  Among WHOM?
  • According to this one verse, is it possible for a brother in Christ to wander (“err” – KJV) from the truth?
  • WHAT does it mean to “wander?”
  • The Greek word translated “wander” is planao (pronounced pla-na-o) and means, “to go astray.”
  • STRONGS NT 4105 says, “to cause to stray, to lead astray, lead aside form the rigid way.”
  • HOW is it possible to wander or go astray from the rigid way of truth UNLESS a person has first been in and accepted the truth?
  • Is it possible to wander or stray from a position you have never attained or secured?
  • EXAMPLE:  Simon the Sorcerer believed and obeyed the gospel (cf. Acts 8:9-13).  Was it possible for him to wander/stray from the truth of God’s Word (vv. 20-23)?

“…and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way…”  v. 19b-20a

  • HOW is it possible to TURN BACK to the truth of God’s will if you’ve never wandered or strayed away from it in the first place?
  • If a brother who wanders from the truth is not in a lost condition, then WHY should spiritual brothers attempt to turn him back (cf. Gal. 6:1-2)?
  • WHY attempt to turn an erring/wayward brother BACK to the truth if his soul is not in jeopardy?
  • EXAMPLE:  The Prodigal was a SON (cf. Luke 15:11, 12, 13).  Was it possible for this son to wander/stray from his father and his will?
  • NOTE:  “And not many days after, the younger SON gathered all together, journeyed to a far country (Q – WHAT does the far country represent?), and there wasted his possessions on prodigal living” (v. 13)?
  • WHAT was this son’s condition while he was a) in the far country,  b) wasting his possessions, and c) feeding swine?  NOTE:  “For this MY SON was DEAD and is alive again; he WAS LOST and is found…” (v. 24).
  • WHOM does the father represent in this story?  WHOM does the prodigal son represent in this story?

“…will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”  v. 20b

  • According to this verse, WHAT is a brother’s spiritual condition BEFORE he turns from the error of his way (cf. Heb. 10:26-27)?
  • WHAT did James say about a brother’s spiritual condition AFTER he is turned from the error of his way?
  • If a brother who wanders/strays from the truth is not in spiritual peril, then HOW could James say that when he is turned from the error of his way (i.e., restored – Gal. 6:1) that his soul is SAVED from DEATH?
  • In the context of James 5:19-20, what KIND of death was James referring to – physical or spiritual?
  • HOW can an erring/wayward brother’s soul said to be saved from eternal death if it was never in danger of eternal death in the first place?
  • WHY would an erring brother’s sins need to be covered (cf. Rom. 4:6-8) if it is impossible for him to so sin as to be lost?
  • Is it POSSIBLE for a brother to LIVE in sin (cf. Col. 3:5-7).  “Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, IN WHICH YOU YOURSELVES ONCE WALKED WHEN YOU LIVED IN THEM.”
  • HOW does persistent, unrepentant sin affect a person’s relationship to his heavenly Father (cf. Isa. 59:1-2)?

Thank you for this important question.  Yes, it is possible for a Christian to sin and lose his soul (Mat. 16:26).  The good news is, when he does sin, he can return and be forgiven (1 John 1:1ff).

“God loves you and I love you and that’s the way it’s gonna be!” – Mike

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