The Early Church and Calvinism

, posted by Ben Henshaw

[Please remember that SEA does not necessarily agree with all of the author’s views. But the article is important in showing that Calvinistic doctrine was virtually absent from the early church.]

This is a detailed study of Calvinism in light of the earliest Christian writers (Ante-Nicene Church Fathers). It demonstrates that the primary features of Calvinism were not taught by the Ante-Nicene Fathers but were actually considered heretical by these early Christian writers (often connected to various forms of gnosticism). Numerous quotes from these Ante-Nicene writers are provided for the reader to carefully consider.

Introduction

Have you ever wondered what the early Church during the first few centuries believed and taught? Do you think that those who lived during and immediately after the lives, ministries, and teachings of the Apostles could have all gone wrong in their teachings? Or would you think that those who lived during those times must certainly have known the truths of the Bible, and must be correct in their teachings? How do you think your doctrine and the doctrines of today line up with what they believed then? Should we assume that we have truth that they didn’t, or should we accept that they may have had more truth than we do?

These are some good and important questions that every Christian should ask their selves as they begin to read this book and to study in their search for Bible truths. There is absolutely no indication in early Church history (the first three centuries) that the true Church ever had major disagreements on Bible doctrines. They were commended in writings, such as the Shepherd of Hermas, for having such unity in their doctrines. It was only those heresies that were considered outside of the true Church that were confronted so often. It is evident in early Church writings that the early Church never swayed from the truth until the time of Constantine and the formation of the Catholic Church in 325 A.D. Although there were some disagreements in the understanding of certain things starting at the end of the second century, such as the nature of Christ; whether He had one divine nature or two natures, human and divine (known as the Monophysite doctrine); this was not a major issue until the fourth and fifth centuries when it was finally marked as heresy by the Catholic Church. Man has always struggled with this understanding. Even today many people are not sure about that question. But with the basic doctrines of the Bible, such as salvation, baptisms, sin and holiness; there was unity in the Church. With such unity, which was passed on to them by the Apostles, this should give us great reason to accept what they taught as a good tool in interpreting what the Apostles teach in the scriptures.

Once we can establish in our minds that the early Church understood Bible doctrines correctly; then we can go on to see exactly what they taught, to see how it lines up with the scriptures. Although we must understand and maintain that the Holy Scriptures (The Bible) is the ultimate authority, above all other writings; these other writings can help us to determine what exactly it is that the Bible teaches.

With so many variations of teachings taken from the Bible today, I believe that many of these difficulties can be solved by looking at what the early Church taught and believed. I have not found any Church writings to contradict the Bible at all, as long as they are understood correctly by the reader. But most writings are very clear in what they are saying. As we get into some of these writings, we will see how they compare to the scriptures, and how they can be helpful in clarifying some of the teachings of the Bible; many of which have been misinterpreted by men, or even taught incorrectly, to mean something other than what they are really saying. After all, this is why we have so many different doctrines and teachings, is it not? A clear misunderstanding of what the scriptures are really saying. There is no doubt that the Bible by itself contains the truth in every doctrine, and can be correctly understood without the help of these early Church writings; but it is because of confusion that has set into the minds of so many people through false teachings that I have used these early Church writings to help us understand the truth that has already been revealed in the scriptures. The early Church fathers said many of the same things in their writings that the Apostles said in their writings; giving us a slightly clearer picture. They did not teach anything different; but only said it in a way that gives us better understanding and proof of what the Bible really does teach. This makes it harder to twist and turn the scriptures to mean something other than what there are really saying; since the early Church takes the same sayings and uses them in their proper context and use; which exposes the false teachings.

Bible doctrines have been argued for centuries, within the Church; ever since the fourth century. Before that time the Church was in unity. The Church of the early centuries fought against heresies that were outside of the Church of Jesus Christ. Today the fight is within the Church. We deal with an endless number of arguments concerning subjects starting with salvation, then going on into the deity of Christ, the Trinity/Oneness debate, the proper way to baptize, the Sabbath day, and of course the many theories of the Rapture of the Church. Although I have not purposed to get into all of these subjects, I do believe that clarity is given to us concerning many of them in the early Church writings, as we will soon see.

It is my purpose in this book to show the history of the teachings that are today known as the five points of Calvinism, and especially of the fifth point – the perseverance of the saints or Eternal Security; the history and roots of the Oneness doctrine of the Godhead; the teachings of the purpose and methods of water baptism; and a few other teachings of the early Church.

The Apostolic Fathers

Christian writers of the first and second centuries who are known, or are considered, to have had personal relations with some of the Apostles, or to have been so influenced by them that their writings may be held as echoes of genuine Apostolic teaching. Though restricted by some to those who were actually disciples of the Apostles, the term applies by extension to certain writers who were previously believed to have been such, and virtually embraces all the remains of primitive Christian literature antedating the great apologies of the second century, and forming the link of tradition that binds these latter writings to those of the New Testament.

It was in 325 A.D. that many changes were made with the Church. This was the establishment of the rule of the Catholic Church over all other teachings. Most all heresy would soon be done away with, along with anything that disagreed with the Catholic Church of the 4th century. The council of Nicea was called by the Emperor Constantine (who had received a vision from God), desiring to have a unified Church. In His vision he saw the sign of the cross emblazoned across the sky and the words In hoc signo vinces, “In this sign you will win.” The church began to senjoy the first sweet taste of secular power. Constantine patronized the church with favors it had never known before. He moved toward making Christianity the official religion of the empire. A dramatic new course had been set. Christianity had prevailed! It became the authorized faith of the Roman Empire by the end of the fourth century. The Roman empire covered about half of Europe, much of the Middle East, and the north coast of Africa. The empire then began to crumble, partly because it was too big for Rome to govern. The more the political power of the empire decreased, the more the church became the stabilizing and unifying source for the Roman society, outlasting the empire itself, which ended in 476 A.D., and in a sense eventually replacing the empire.

In Constantine’s forming of the Catholic Church, the truth had been pushed out with the heresies, and some paganism was brought into the Church. No Church history after 325 A.D. can be trusted as the teachings of the Apostles without comparing them with the scriptures and the teachings of the early Church. While the early Church agreed doctrinally, and did not sway from the truth (As it has been recorded), the Catholic Church certainly did!

The council of Nicene was originally called to determine whether Jesus was of the same substance as the Father; different; or similar. Was He God or Man, or somewhere in between? It was at Nicea that the Church had written the Nicene Creed, when they decided that Jesus was God, and was one substance with the Father. All Church Fathers existing before this time are called Ante-Nicene fathers, meaning “before” the council of Nicea; while those during this council are called Nicene fathers; and those after are called Post-Nicene fathers. We will be discussing mostly just the views of the ante-Nicene fathers. It is in their writings that we find the agreement of most doctrines, as taught from the time of the Apostles.

There is a significant difference between the writings of the ante-Nicene fathers and those of the Nicene and post-Nicene fathers. Although there is agreement concerning the deity of Christ, as agreed at the council; doctrines of salvation and holiness did differ. It is evident that the post-Nicene fathers taught something different than the early fathers, beginning to teach predestination and election. It is especially under the authority of Jerome and Augustine that these teachings came in strong in the Church. It is also evident that it was after this council in Nicene (even though their motives may have been pure), that when they began to disallow teachings that differed, they also began to accept teachings that were not supported by those before them. Many of the teachings in the Church today can be traced back to these times, but not before. The Catholic Church began to do great damage to the truth, allowing pagan rituals, relics, and doctrines to creep into the Church; mixing them with Christianity. This had not happened to the true Church that was ante-Nicene. It is for this reason that I want to take time to see what the early Ante-Nicene Church taught. What the Nicene and post-Nicene Church taught and believed is only relevant in the tracing of certain teachings; but not in the determining of truth; since it disagrees with what those before them taught and believed, including the Apostles themselves.

Who would you rather trust? Those who were discipled by the Apostles and spent time with them; and those following who taught the same? Or would you rather trust and believe those who disagreed with their teachings and became famous even to this day for their own teachings? Doctrines that were formed by Augustine that disagree with the Apostles and the early Church are some of the most popular doctrines within the Church today. These doctrines should be questioned!
In the teachings of John Calvin (much of which was drawn from the teachings of Augustine), there are 5 points given. None of these are supported by the early Church! For centuries men have argued different sides of these doctrines, both sides using scriptures to support their beliefs. Many hours have been spent by men “proof-texting” (Scripture battles). They toss scriptures back and forth while arguing their own views as to what is truth and what is not. Neither side ever moves from their position, insisting that the other is wrong. Many people, being caught in a place where they are dependant upon those who teach them doctrine do not know how to determine truth; so they simply trust what they are taught. Although scripture is the only true way of finally determining truth; since there are so many scriptures tossed around, many become confused. It is in light of this fact that the use of early Church writings becomes useful to us. Although they may not be scripture, they are a collection of very good historical facts about what the early Church taught and believe. If we can know without a doubt which side of these different views the early Church supported; and we could link these doctrines all the way back to the writings to the Apostles; and we could show that the opposite teaching was rejected by the Church; then this should prove the point of which doctrines are correct, and which are not.

Someone might ask, “Can we trust the teachings of the early Church?” The answer is, “Only if they agree with the scriptures”. We will soon see that they do agree, without a shadow of difference. The truth was very clear to the early Church, who carried on what the Apostles had taught them. These teachings, which disagree with many later teachings of the Church (post-Nicene), were the only truth known to the true Church of Christ during these first few centuries. It is up to you and I to determine through the facts of history, as they line up with the scriptures, who we will believe. Will we believe the teachers of today, the Nicene and post-Nicene teachers, or will we believe the writers of the Bible and the agreeable writings of the early Church?

Calvinism

Calvinism can only be traced back within the Church as far as Augustine and Jerome, shortly after the council of Nicea. Predestination was not taught in the same way before this time. Many people trust in these doctrines today, which cannot be found before this time.

Calvinism teaches a popular system of doctrines taught in many Churches today. Many Christians are not even aware of what it is or where it came from. They ignorantly receive the teachings of pastors and well meaning people and begin to believe the doctrines as taught by John Calvin and others. Calvin’s doctrines were systematized into five points known as TULIP by the synod of Dort. These five points are Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, and Perseverance of the saints (AKA “Eternal Security”). A brief and basic definition of these is as follows:

Total depravity – Man is incapable of choosing to come to Christ to be saved. Salvation is therefore a complete work of God, and God alone!

Unconditional Election – Those who are saved are saved unconditionally. They have been elected by God for salvation (The select few), in which nothing at all can change. Not even their free will to return to sin.

Limited Atonement – God selected certain people for salvation, according to His own choice, and rejects all others. Christ died only for those elect, and nobody else.

Irresistible Grace – Because we are His elect, His grace is irresistible. We cannot resist His call, since we cannot make the choice to begin with. It is all the working of God. When God calls, His elect “will” answer!

Perseverance of the Saints – The elect of God will persevere through every trial and circumstance unto the end. Nothing can keep them out of heaven or cause them to fall away from salvation, and to be condemned in the end.

A large amount of people have come to believe these doctrines, most not even knowing where they originated. It is especially the fifth point that so many believe today; which is alone a very dangerous doctrine. We will begin to see that not only does the Bible teach against such, but the early Church saw this as heresy. All five of these points are spoken against by the early Church; while not a single one of them can receive any support from these writings. This should send a message to the Church concerning the truth!

There have been attempts made by Calvinists, Baptists, and other Eternal Security proponents to show that the roots of their Church and doctrines go back to the Apostles and continued through the early Church to the present. In one particular writing (called “The Trail of Blood” by J.M. Carroll), the writer attempts to prove such, but in reality proves nothing at all for his case. Good comments are made to show the history of faithful Christians, such as some of the Ana-Baptists (in the attempt to show that they were the Baptists of today), but no historical connection can be made with the true early Church at all. The Ana-Baptists (re-baptizers) were persecuted for their stance against the Catholic Church in the 15th century, and their form of baptism by sprinkling, and therefore “re-baptized” people using the method of immersion. There stance against false teaching, their willingness to stand in the midst of persecution, and their love for the truth (at least with the doctrine of water baptism) can represent true Christianity, but in no way do they prove to be today’s Baptists. Carrol attempts to trace this group all the way back to the early Church with assumptions that cannot be proven. And the doctrine of Eternal Security certainly cannot be traced with it; at least not to the first four centuries; and not within the teachings of the true Church. The attempts to prove their roots within the true Church have failed!

Although the roots of Calvinism and Eternal Security cannot at all be traced back to the Early Church and the teachings of the early Church fathers, they can be traced back to the same time in which the early Church existed. This teaching was not found in the true Church at all. But as I will show in this book, they can be found being taught as heresy, as the Early Church fathers confronted the heretics of their days. Eternal Security is never found being taught by any of the early Church fathers (Ante-Nicene fathers – before 325 A.D.), but it is confronted as heresy; while the truth is declared by them continuously. What they had taught as truth is clearly what is nowadays known as Arminianism. There is no variance between the two teachings (with the doctrine of salvation), but rather complete unity between what the early Church taught and believed, and what modern day Wesleyan Arminians teach and believe. What today is known as Calvinism on the other hand, came into the Church with men such as Augustine and those after him; and eventually to John Calvin, and on from their to our modern day Calvinists. Although traces of their teachings are found in many heresies during the first centuries, it was with the Nicene fathers (After 325 A.D.), under the authority of the Catholic Church, and with men such as Augustine that we find these teachings beginning to be formed into teachings within the Church of Christ. At this time there were many pagan symbols, methods, and even doctrines (Gnosticism) that were mixed together with true Christianity. The true Church was then polluted with lying doctrines of devils and many other things that are far from true Christianity. Most of these issues still remain in the Catholic Churches of today. But some have even been passed down to many protestant Churches; all who claim to have come out from the pagan ways of the Church. But what they do not realize, is that even though they let go of the pagan rituals and relics of the Church, they held onto those doctrines that were influenced by paganism and Gnosticism. These doctrines are what had become the five points of Calvinism, as I will soon show.

So, if the teachings of Augustine, Calvin, and today’s popular Eternal Security teachers cannot be found anywhere in early Church history, as being taught by the early Church; then where can it be found? Only with the teachings of the heretics! But in reality, it goes back much further than that.

In My book “Faith without Works” Volume One, I had explain how the lie of the serpent, concerning the death of man, began in the Garden of Eden when the serpent told Eve, “.Ye shall not surely die”. Did God lie? It would appear as if Adam and Eve did not die as God said, living on for many, many years. But we know that they did die: first spiritually, and then eventually physically as well. When God told them that they would die, He meant exactly what He said.
Satan has always been out to destroy that which God has established. Certainly we would not be so ignorant to believe that he would not do the same with the Church of Jesus Christ! “For we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinth. 2:11). But, this same lie has been carried down through the centuries of the past, while so many people seem to ignorantly accept it. We can see it in every part of Church history, just presented in different ways. In the first century, there were many who had fallen away from the true faith in Christ, and began to teach heresies. These false teachers would begin to teach various beliefs about the deities, about grace, love, and eternal judgment. They would teach that God was one who would no longer judge sin, as the early Church fathers had consistently taught. They would make a different God in the Old Testament than what we have in the New Testament; they would teach that all law was done away with, including the moral law; and they would lead many astray just as it was prophesied by Jesus and the Apostles. In these very heresies we can find the roots of Calvinism and Eternal Security, which go all the way back to the original lie in the Garden of Eden. And the question still remains today, “If a man sins, will he or will he not die?” Many will say, “the blood of Jesus forgives all sins: past, present, and future”. But as we will soon see, both the Bible and the early Church writings make it clear that this statement cannot be true without continued repentance. It is also made clear the true power of the blood of Christ removes sins, so that we will no longer sin. If we do sin, then we must repent. Those who continue in or return to sinning do not understand the true power of the blood of Christ, nor do they understand what grace really is. Grace is not forgiveness while sinning; but is power to overcome sin through God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. There is therefore no excuse for sin. So, if we do sin, we must repent in order to be forgiven; lest we be judged for our rebellion to God’s commands, and our refusal to walk in the newness of life that He provided through the giving of His Holy Spirit. If we do not do this, then what makes our lives any different from the sinners who do not know God? Since there is no longer any excuse for sin in our lives as Christians, present and future sins are not “covered”, but rather require repentance. These issues are addressed by the early Church fathers all throughout their writings.

These early heretics were guilty of teaching what is known as Antinomianism. This is the belief that Christians are not obligated to keep the moral law in order to be saved. It is the belief that Christ made a separation between law and grace. Therefore, if a Christian is under grace, there is no need to be too concerned about keeping God’s laws. This was a common teaching of the Gnostics, who were the heretics of those days. Gnosticism is the doctrine of salvation by knowledge. It was a pagan belief system that many Christians were led astray with; mixing their Christian beliefs with it. It is defined as follows: the thought and practice especially of various cults of late pre-Christian and early Christian centuries distinguished by the conviction that matter is evil and that emancipation comes through gnosis (knowledge).

To them, freedom from control of the enemy of our souls came through knowledge that was given to only a specific group of people. Gnostics were “people who knew”, and their knowledge established them as superior class of beings (elect of God), who’s present and future status was essentially different from that of those who, for whatever reason, did not “know”. This was a belief in predestination, as being God’s elect, given special knowledge, while others were rejected from salvation. With Gnosticism, there was no requirement of holiness or even putting asunder the old life. As long as you accept Jesus as the Messiah, believe that He died for your sins, and accept the doctrine they taught it; then you are saved for eternity – unconditionally! This knowledge of these things alone saved them. All the points of Calvinism lie within the teachings of these groups, all of whom were completely rejected by the early Church, along with their heretical doctrines.

Calvinists and the Eternal Security proponents, like these Gnostics, will argue that we are now under grace. To them, as long as you have the knowledge of this grace and accept it, there are no other requirements for salvation. Holiness is not required as long as we can say that we have faith. But they misunderstand completely what grace really is. Grace is not a license to sin, nor is it the ability to be saved in our sins, but it is the God given ability through the gift of His Holy Spirit to overcome sin completely. As we cover the quotes from the early church fathers we will see clearly that sin is to no longer have any part in the life of the Christian, and if a Christian does sin then they must repent in order to remain saved. We are saved from sin; never in our sins. Unless there is repentance, there cannot be salvation! This is the ever so often message given to us by all the early Church fathers. Pay close attention to the quotes of the early Church fathers as they mention these Gnostic/Antinomian beliefs, and how they compare to the often taught Calvinistic teachings of today. Anyone who have listened to the popular radio teachers of today have heard these heretical doctrines dogmatically taught, while the truth is spoken harshly against. After examining these writings, each Christian must decide what the truth is, and what doctrines are lies. With so much information given to us, first in the scriptures, and then confirmed by the early Church; there should be no question in the heart of those who truly hunger for the truth.

Let’s start with some quotes from the earliest of the Church fathers to the latest. We will not be covering all the quotes in topical order, but in order of the writings.

The Almost Canonical Writings

The first four writings I want to talk about are writings that much of the early Church had accepted as scripture. Tertullian, Origen, and others had quoted from a few of these writings.

Didache (Di-da-kay)

The manuscript bears the heading “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles,” followed by the fuller title “Teaching of the Lord by the Twelve Apostles to the Gentiles.”

The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles frequently called also by the shorter name of Didache, was not entirely unknown when the complete text was first discovered. The Epistle of Pseudo-Barnabas, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, the author of the Apostolic Constitutions, and others had quoted it or embodied fragments of it in their works. St. Athanasius had even mentioned it expressly by its title, the “Doctrine of the Apostles.” The treatise was very popular in the early Church; some looked upon it as an inspired book. But the complete original text was discovered only in 1873, by Philotheos Bryennios in the Codex Hierosolymitanus, which dates from 1056.

The Didache is an anonymous writing and its author is unknown. The work was probably composed between 80 and 110 A.D. The basis for such a conclusion is the fact that the liturgy and hierarchy which the author describes, are quite primitive; there is no trace in the work of a creed or a canon of the Scriptures, and no allusion is made to pagan persecution or Gnosticism. On the other hand, the writer is acquainted with the gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke and entertains an obvious mistrust towards wandering Christian teachers who visit the communities. This state of affairs is characteristic of the end of the first century.

“Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come. But come together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver as Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but those who endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth: first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven, then the sign of the sound of the trumpet. And third, the resurrection of the dead — yet not of all, but as it is said: “The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him.” Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.”

The concern of the writer is for the souls of the Christians. He says that “the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you are not made perfect in the last time”. To be made perfect has to do with holy living through faith in Christ. If we do not do this, then our whole time of past faith will not profit us. What is it that faith did profit us from the beginning, other than “eternal life”? If we do not continue in the faith and do the “things which are befitting to your souls”, then their can be no profiting. For many who fall away, even though they were at one time the sheep of Christ, they “shall be turned into wolves”. Many Christians today have no problem believing that a person can “become” one of Christ’s sheep when they are born again. The question rises as to what they were before they became a sheep? They will argue that once a person becomes a sheep that they cannot afterwards become a wolf. The Apostles did differ from such a view. If a person can change natures by coming to Christ; why is it so hard to believe that they can also change natures by falling away from Christ? They will attempt to use scriptures such as John 10:28-29 “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” This scripture clearly speaks of God’s protection of the Christian; but does not speak against man’s free will and ability to willingly walk away from Christ. If apostasy from the truth, after once knowing it, is not possible, then Christ and the Apostles wasted a lot of time talking about it for nothing.

“Many shall be made to stumble and shall perish”. It is their own sin that makes them stumble, and there unwillingness to repent that causes them to perish. Christ is always faithful to protect, guide, and strengthen those who seek Him and hunger for Him. It is true that there is great security for the person who is in Christ. Every person who willing gives in to sin and the ways apart from Christ will certainly perish. “But those who endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself”. The conditions are clear!

EPISTLE OF BARNABAS (written A.D. 80-120)

Kirsopp Lake in The Apostolic Fathers (published London 1912), v. I, pp. 337-339, said the following about the Epistle of Barnabas, 1 Clement, and the Shepherd of Hermas:

“The document which is always known as the Epistle of Barnabas is, like 1 Clement, really anonymous, and it is generally regarded as impossible to accept the tradition which ascribes it to the Barnabas who was a companion of S. Paul, though it is convenient to continue to use the title.”

“Barnabas, like 1 Clement and Hermas, became canonical in some circles: it is quoted by Clement of Alexandria as Scripture, and is referred to by Origen as a Catholic Epistle.without any suggestion that it belonged to a different category of books.”

Although it is difficult to determine who exactly wrote these books, it is clear that each was accepted as scripture by some of the early Church. Most other early Church writings were not accepted as scripture, even though they do hold great truths as they were taught by the early Church. But because these three books cannot be traced to the exact writer (not being written by Apostles of Christ), these were rejected by certain men as canonical scripture. But even if we cannot accept these writings as scripture, they are evidence of what the early Church believed and taught.

The Epistle of Barnabas

Some believe that this epistle was written by the Barnabas in the Bible, while others do not. Who exactly this Barnabas is, is not clear. But it is clear that this writing was first century writing, and it was accepted at first as scripture. Although it was later rejected, the following quotes agree with the writings of the Holy Scriptures.

Translated by J.B. Lightfoot

Barnabas 4:6 
Ye ought therefore to understand. Moreover I ask you this one thing besides, as being one of yourselves and loving you all in particular more than my own soul, to give heed to yourselves now, and not to liken yourselves to certain persons who pile up sin upon sin, saying that our covenant remains to them also.

Barnabas 4:7 
Ours it is; but they lost it in this way for ever, when Moses had just received it. For the scripture saith; “And Moses was in the mountain fasting forty days and forty nights, and he received the covenant from the Lord, even tablets of stone written with the finger of the hand of the Lord”.

Barnabas 4:8 
But they lost it by turning unto idols. For thus saith the Lord; “Moses, Moses, come down quickly; for thy people whom thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt hath done unlawfully”. And Moses understood, and threw the two tables from his hands; and their covenant was broken in pieces, that the covenant of the beloved Jesus might be sealed unto our hearts in the hope which springeth from faith in Him.

Barnabas 4:9 
But though I would fain write many things, not as a teacher, but as becometh one who loveth you not to fall short of that which we possess, I was anxious to write to you, being your devoted slave. Wherefore let us take heed in these last days. For the whole time of our faith shall profit us nothing, unless we now, in the season of lawlessness and in the offenses that shall be, as becometh sons of God, offer resistance, that the Black One may not effect an entrance.

Barnabas 4:10 
Let us flee from all vanity, let us entirely hate the works of the evil way. Do not enter in privily stand apart by yourselves, as if ye were already justified, but assemble yourselves together and consult concerning the common welfare.

Barnabas 4:11 
For the scripture saith; “Woe unto them that are wise for themselves, and understanding in their own sight”. Let us become spiritual, let us become a temple perfect unto God. As far as in us lies, let us exercise ourselves in the fear of God, [and] let us strive to keep His commandments, that we may rejoice in His ordinances.
Barnabas 4:12 
The Lord judgeth the world without respect of persons; each man shall receive according to his deeds. If he be good, his righteousness shall go before him in the way; if he be evil, the recompense of his evil-doing is before him; lest perchance,

Barnabas 4:13 
if we relax as men that are called, we should slumber over our sins, and the prince of evil receive power against us and thrust us out from the kingdom of the Lord.

Barnabas 4:14 
Moreover understand this also, my brothers. When ye see that after so many signs and wonders wrought in Israel, even then they were abandoned, let us give heed, lest haply we be found, as the scripture saith, “many are called but few are chosen”.

Commentary on Epistle of Barnabas

“…and not to liken yourselves to certain persons who pile up sin upon sin, saying that our covenant remains to them also.”
 Barnabas said that some pile up sins in their lives, assuming that the covenant of God remains to them (just as it does with the righteous), while they keep from sinning. We can see from the beginning of Church writings that they had been dealing with Gnostics, who believed that that could continue in or return to sin and still be saved. Barnabas makes it clear here that this will not be the case; and that God will judge sin. Sin can only be “dealt with in our lives through the work of Christ on the cross” as we repent of them. They cannot be removed, washed away, or forgiven until we repent. Without repentance we are still in our sins and will be judged accordingly. Unless sin is removed from us, just like with the Israelites – all will be lost. 
“Wherefore let us take heed in these last days. For the whole time of our faith shall profit us nothing, unless we now, in the season of lawlessness and in the offenses that shall be, as becometh sons of God, offer resistance.”
 He couldn’t be much clearer than this. If we do dot resist temptation to sin, then the whole time of our faith in Christ shall profit us nothing. This is far from Eternal Security teaching! Those who were once saved will lose all that they had done previously in receiving the gift of salvation, having thrown it aside through their sinning. 
”…if we relax as men that are called, we should slumber over our sins, and the prince of evil receive power against us and thrust us out from the kingdom of the Lord.”
 Many Christians have relaxed in their calling. They have become careless, feeling overconfident in their salvation. Because of their carelessness, they will be thrust out. Where will those who slumber over their sins be thrust to? Out from the kingdom of the Lord! This is far from a Once Saved, Always Saved teaching. 
”…let us give heed, lest haply we be found, as the scripture saith, many are called but few are chosen.” 
Most people know when they are really saved. They bear the fruit and they have had the burdens of sin lifted from them. They know at this time in their life that they have been called by God to salvation. But it is possible to be called in the beginning of our walk with Christ, but not be chosen in the end. He quotes the scripture here, saying give heed (beware), lest haply (by chance) “we” be found, as the scripture saith, “many are called but few are chosen”. There is not doubt that if we have been saved that we have been called to salvation. I don’t think anyone would disagree with this fact. But once we have been called, how is it that we are chosen? It is by continuing in the faith and abiding in Christ. Those who turn back, even though they had been called and even saved at one time, will not be chosen in the end, unless they repent of their sin. This is a warning given to Christians.
This scripture quoted by Barnabas is given in Matthew 22:14, where Jesus is telling a parable about a king who invited quests to a wedding. The wedding refers to Christ and the Jews. But as he sent out His servants (the Angels) to invite the guests (Jews), they did not come. So the King told His servants to go out into the highways (the gentile world) and to invite all who would come to be a part of the wedding. Many people then “chose” to come to the wedding. But one particular man came who did not have on a wedding garment (holiness). It is at this point in the parable that Jesus said the following: Matthew:13-14 “Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen.” 
This man was cast out because he came unprepared, not clothed in righteousness. The man was called by God, but he was not chosen. The man made the choice to come to the wedding; and he also made the choice not to come in the acceptable garment. As Barnabas points out; many think that they will still be accepted by Christ even while remaining in or returning to their sins. But even though they have been called; unless they change their garments quickly, they will not be chosen. Being chosen is not something done through predestination, but by the free will of man, as God calls.

The First Epistle of Clement

It would appear that this letter was actually written by the Church of Rome, rather than by Clement himself. But Clement was the Bishop of Rome at this time in history, when this letter was written. It was received by many as scripture during the first few centuries. Being one of the closest writings to the days of the Apostles, as well as Clement being so close to the Apostle Peter and other Apostles, there is no reason to question the doctrine written in 1 Clement; since it lines up perfectly with the writings of the Bible. Clement was a famous man in his own time. Tradition has naturally identified him with the Clement who is mentioned in Philippians 4.3.

In his third book against heresies, Irenaeus wrote: “The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles”.

1 CLEMENT (written A.D. 80-140)

1 Clement 7:4 ”
Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ and understand how precious it is unto His Father, because being shed for our salvation it won for the whole world the grace of repentance.”

1 Clement 7:5 
“Let us review all the generations in turn, and learn how from generation to generation the Master hath given a place for repentance unto them that desire to turn to Him.”

1 Clement 8:6 “
Seeing then that He desireth all His beloved to be partakers of repentance, He confirmed it by an act of His almighty will.”

1 Clement 11:1 
“For his hospitality and godliness Lot was saved from Sodom, when all the country round about was judged by fire and brimstone; the Master having thus fore shown that He forsaketh not them which set their hope on Him, but appointeth unto punishment and torment them which swerve aside.“

1 Clement 11:2 “
For when his wife had gone forth with him, being otherwise minded and not in accord, she was appointed for a sign hereunto, so that she became a pillar of salt unto this day, that it might be known unto all men that they which are double-minded and they which doubt concerning the power of God are set for a judgment and for a token unto all the generations.”

1 Clement 16:1 
”For Christ is with them that are lowly of mind, not with them that exalt themselves over the flock.”

1 Clement 21:1 
“Look ye, brethren, lest His benefits, which are many, turn unto judgment to all of us, if we walk not worthily of Him, and do those things which are good and well pleasing in His sight with concord.”

1 Clement 22:6 
“The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are turned to their prayers. But the face of the Lord is upon them that do evil, to destroy their memorial from the earth.”

1 Clement 26:1 
“Do we then think it to be a great and marvelous thing, if the Creator of the universe shall bring about the resurrection of them that have served Him with holiness in the assurance of a good faith?”

1 Clement 28:1 
”Since therefore all things are seen and heard, let us fear Him and forsake the abominable lusts of evil works, that we maybe shielded by His mercy from the coming judgments.”

1 Clement 28:2 
For where can any of us escape from His strong hand? And what world will receive any of them that desert from His service?

1 Clement 28:3 
“For the holy writing saith in a certain place Where shall I go, and where shall I be hidden from Thy face? If I ascend into the heaven, Thou art there; if I depart into the farthest parts of the earth, there is Thy right hand; if I make my bed in the depths, there is Thy Spirit.“

1 Clement 28:4 “
Whither then shall one depart, or where shall one flee, from Him that embraceth the universe?”

1 Clement 29:1 
“Let us therefore approach Him in holiness of soul, lifting up pure and undefiled hands unto Him, with love towards our gentle and compassionate Father who made us an elect portion unto Himself.”

1 Clement 41:3 
“They therefore who do any thing contrary to the seemly ordinance of His will receive death as the penalty.”

1 Clement 41:4 
“Ye see, brethren, in proportion as greater knowledge hath been vouchsafed unto us, so much the more are we exposed to danger.“

1 Clement 51:1 
“For all our transgressions which we have committed through any of the wiles of the adversary, let us entreat that we may obtain forgiveness. Yea and they also, who set themselves up as leaders of faction and division, ought to look to the common ground of hope.”

1 Clement 51:2 
”For such as walk in fear and love desire that they themselves should fall into suffering rather than their neighbors; and they pronounce condemnation against themselves rather than against the harmony which hath been handed down to us nobly and righteously.”

1 Clement 51:3 
“For it is good for a man to make confession of his trespasses rather than to harden his heart, as the heart of those was hardened who made sedition against Moses the servant of God; whose condemnation was clearly manifest,“

1 Clement 51:4 
“for they went down to hades alive, and Death shall be their shepherd.”

1 Clement 57:2 
“Learn to submit yourselves, laying aside the arrogant and proud stubbornness of your tongue. For it is better for you to be found little in the flock of Christ and to have your name on God’s roll, than to be had in exceeding honor and yet be cast out from the hope of Him.“

1 Clement 59:1 
“But if certain persons should be disobedient unto the words spoken by Him through us, let them understand that they will entangle themselves in no slight transgression and danger;”

Commentary on 1 Clement

Clement explains that repentance is given to the “whole world”. There is no mention of it being only for those predestined to salvation, the elect. In 7:5 he said “from generation to generation the Master hath given a place for repentance unto them that desire to turn to Him.” A place of repentance is given to those who “desire” to turn to Him, not only to those who are the elect. We become “elect” by coming to Him in repentance. Clement, like all the other early Church fathers, did not teach any single point of Calvinism as Calvinists do today. Salvation is offered to whosoever will choose to receive it.
 Several times he mentions the penalty of death for those who live in sin, or to those who swerve aside. It is obvious that he is not speaking to the unsaved, but to Christians. For those who sin, they are in great danger of being cast out, and will spend eternity in hell, unless they repent. In 11:1 & 11:2 this is made clear; telling us that those who swerve aside, after having come to the truth; they become double minded and begin to doubt the power of God; are set for judgment. Then in 21:1 he says the benefits Christians have received can turn into judgment, if they do not walk worthily of Him. Our walking worthily of Him is nothing that we can merit anything from. This is the grace of God! If we do not walk in His grace so that we may be victorious over sin; not only will we miss out on His benefits, but we will be judged. This is not just a loss of blessings in this life or a loss of rewards in heaven; while salvation is still valid! This is made clear in 22:6 when he says of those who sin in such a way, that their memorial shall be destroyed from the earth. And according to 26:1 it will only be those who “served Him in Holiness in the assurance of good faith” that will be resurrected in the first resurrection, of the righteous. He says again in 28:1 “let us fear Him and forsake the abominable lusts of evil works, that we maybe shielded by His mercy from the coming judgments”. We will only be shielded from the coming judgments if we live holy lives before God. Those who do not live in holiness have no protection. They can claim to be saved and to know Christ all they want. But without holiness no man shall see God! (Hebrews 12:14).
 In 41:3 it is made clear that anyone who does not lives according to God’s command will not be saved. “They therefore who do any thing contrary to the seemly ordinance of His will receive death as the penalty.” When the Apostle Paul said in Romans 6:23 that “the wages of sin is death”, that is exactly what it means. Although we know the second part of this verse says “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”, this in no way proves that sin does not still have a penalty. What it proves is that if we are in Christ we do have forgiveness of sins and eternal life. But if we are in our sins, the wages of the sins is still death. Christ’s death on the cross did not change this penalty at all. The Bible clearly states that He takes away the sins. If they are taken away, so that the believer will no longer sin, they there can be no penalty for sins. But if sin is present within us, we must pay the penalty, which is death. The grace of God is shown through the taking away of sins. This is a power that many people do not understand, as they continue in their sins and call themselves Christians.
 It is said in 57:2 that if we do not humble ourselves before God and submit ourselves to His ways, then we can “yet be cast out from the hope of Him”. Jesus is our only hope of salvation. If we are cast out of the hope of Him, then there is no hope at all. This is why we have the repeated warnings throughout the Bible to abide in Him, continue in Him and His love, and the many conditions of keeping eternal life unto the end. As mentioned in 59:1, any man who is disobedient to God’s commands, “let them understand that they will entangle themselves in no slight transgression and danger”. It is a serious thing to disregard His commands! The danger is not just a loss of rewards as the Eternal Security proponents want us to believe. How could a loss of rewards or any judgment in this life be so serious, if it does not affect our souls eternally? To most sinners, to make it to heaven without rewards, and to keep from eternity in hell is only a slight judgment compared to the alternative. But the judgment receive will not be slight! The context of the chapter and the whole epistle prove that this is speak of the destiny of the eternal souls of Christians, and that they may still be lost eternally if they sin.

THE SHEPHERD OF HERMAS (written A.D. 139-155)

The Shepherd of Hermas is a very fascinating writing and strongly recommended for reading. It is full of visions, commandments, and parables given to a man called Hermas. Many believe this to be the Hermas that the Apostle Paul referred to in Romans 16:14. He was a servant who had earned his freedom, whom also had received many visions, commandments, and parables from heavenly beings. The time of his birth and death are unknown. Early Church fathers have quoted this book and accepted it as scripture. The whole writing is about repentance and keeping the moral laws of God. It clearly describes the true Church (the body of Christ) as being only those who keep these laws, while all others are outside of the Church; and cannot be made part of it unless they are first purified. Even many who were made part of the Church, who later had become corrupted, were cast out. This is unlikely to be a writing that Calvinists and Eternal Security proponents will accept as being of God. If they would accept it, they would, after having read it, have to accept that their doctrines are certainly erroneous. The message of holiness is very clear.

Although those who adhere to the Calvinist doctrines today might have a hard time accepting this writing, since it contradicts their teachings, the early Church had no problems with it at all. Even those of the Church who in later times did not receive this writing as canonical, they still accepted its teachings as being doctrinally correct. Although the whole writing is best read in completion in order to get the whole message, I will use a few quotes from it in order to show what this well received writing teaches.

2[6]:5 “For the Master sware by His own glory, as concerning His elect; that if, now that this day has been set as a limit, sin shall hereafter be committed, they shall not find salvation.“

2[6]:6 “Thou shalt therefore say unto the elders of the Church, that they direct their paths in righteousness, that they may receive in full the promises with abundant glory.”

3[7]:2 ”But herein is thy salvation, in that thou didst not depart from the living God, and in thy simplicity and thy great continence. These have saved thee, if thou abidest therein; and they save all who do such things, and walk in guilelessness and simplicity. These men prevail over all wickedness, and continue unto life eternal.“

3[7]:3 “Blessed are all they that work righteousness. They shall never be destroyed.”

Sin is to cease in the life of the Christian. Many people have a hard time receiving this message. They cannot comprehend this. If so, it is because they do not understand the power of the Holy Spirit, the grace of God. Our salvation is received and kept by our continuing in Christ, His commandments, and holiness, and never departing from them. God has enabled us by giving us His Holy Spirit so that this can be possible. Through this we “continue unto life eternal”. And because of this we will never be destroyed by the enemy, but kept by His keeping power and love. It is because of righteousness, through the Holy Spirit, that we have the promises of God. This is the grace of God poured out upon us! We can continue unto eternal life because of His grace through the giving of His Holy Spirit. If we do not continue, we will lose it! 1 Timothy 4:16 “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee”.”

9[17]:1 “Hear me, my children. I brought you up in much simplicity and guilelessness and reverence, through the mercy of the Lord, Who instilled righteousness into you, that ye might be justified and sanctified from all wickedness and all crookedness. But ye will not to cease from your wickedness.”

It is interesting to notice that it is said here that God instilled righteousness, but yet they would not cease from their wickedness. God gave His spirit to men so that they can overcome all sin, but men still choose to do evil. God did His part and is always faithful to do so; but man must be responsible in doing his part by choosing to do what is right. Total Depravity cannot be used as an excuse to sin, as many have done. Even though we may have been born in sin, and in our sinful nature could not help but to sin; Christ changed that old nature; and we buried it when we gave our lives to Him. We now have a new nature, if we indeed abide in Christ. If we will choose to walk in newness of life, He has already given us the power to overcome, if we will just use it.

Calvinists and Eternal Security proponents will attempt to say that this verse supports imputation of righteousness. This verse does show that God’s righteousness is imparted to men, but not that sin is covered by it, as they teach. If this were so, then the presence of sin would not even be an issue with God; since it would appear that covering sin is God’s method of dealing with sin. But the Bible teaches that sins are taken away, not covered. Therefore, if sins are not taken away and are still present, then there must be judgment of those sins.

2[23]:6 ”Trust ye in the Lord, ye men of doubtful mind, for He can do all things, yea, He both turneth away His wrath from you, and again He sendeth forth His plagues upon you that are of doubtful mind. Woe to them that hear these words and are disobedient; it were better for them that they had not been born.“

How could it be worse for a disobedient Christian (of whom this book is written to), unless they could be condemned to hell after having once been saved? To say that it would be better for them to have never been born is saying that they are now in the worst spiritual condition possible. The message of this book is “repentance”, from beginning to end. It is said over and over again that if men will repent they will “live unto God” or be saved. If they do not repent, the message is very clear that they will not be saved. The message is without a doubt to the Church of Christ, not to sinners, Jews, or any other group of people.

5[25]:6 ”So I wrote down the commandments and parables, as he commanded me.”

5[25]:7 “If then, when ye hear them, ye keep them and walk in them, and do them with a pure heart, ye shall receive from the Lord all things that He promised you; but if, when ye hear them, ye do not repent, but still add to your sins, ye shall receive from the Lord the opposite. All these the shepherd, the angel of repentance. commanded me to write.”
Here we see the message given in a very clear way. Put in simple words, “If’ we will live holy lives we will have the promises of God; and if we do not live holy lives we will not have the promises of God. This includes eternal life. Although God may promise us these things, they are not without conditions.

1[29]:3 ”Look to it therefore. Abstain from this desire; for, where holiness dwelleth, there lawlessness ought not to enter into the heart of a righteous man.”

3[46]:5 ”He answered and said unto me; ‘If thou set it before thyself that they can be kept, thou wilt easily keep them, and they will not be hard; but if it once enter into thy heart that they cannot be kept by a man, thou wilt not keep them’.“

3[46]:6 ”But now I say unto thee; if thou keep them not, but neglect them, thou shalt not have salvation, neither thy children nor thy household, since thou hast already pronounced judgment against thyself that these commandments cannot be kept by a man.“

Many people feel that it is too difficult to be holy, if not impossible in this life. They therefore easily accept the doctrine that teaches that we are all sinners and cannot help but to sin daily. This is the farthest thing from the teachings of the scriptures. It is said here that if we will determine in our heart that these laws can be kept, then we will keep them easily. On the other hand, if we convince ourselves that they cannot be kept then we will not keep them. Sounds so basic; but it is so true. We must believe that it is possible, and by faith, walk in the power of the Spirit. If we will say that it cannot be done, then we are pronouncing judgment against ourselves. If we believe that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Phil. 4:13), then we will do as God commanded us and be holy as He is holy (Lev. 20:7, 1 Peter 1:15 & 16). The Shepherd of Hermas makes it clear (as the Bible does), that if God’s commandments are not kept, then salvation will be lost; saying, “if thou keep them not, but neglect them, thou shalt not have salvation”. Even though he may presently have salvation, as all Christians do, nobody who does not keep the commandments of God will be saved in the end. Such a person is not holy because they are not walking in the Spirit; and therefore have fallen from grace.

4[47]:4 But they that have the Lord on their lips, while their heart is hardened, and are far from the Lord, to them these commandments are hard and inaccessible.

Many people profess Christ and received Him as Lord at some time in their lives. But when it came down to overcoming sin and living holy lives they failed. The Lord is on their lips, but their heart is hardened by sin. To them the commandments are too hard to be kept. Therefore, they turn to an easy doctrine that allows them to sin and still be saved (according to false teachings). They can then feel better about their sinfulness, while professing to be Christians. But this simply is not possible!

1[50]:4 “Thou, therefore who hast fields and dwellings and many other possessions, when thou art cast out by him, what wilt thou do with thy field and thy house and all the other things that thou preparedst for thyself? For the lord of this country saith to thee justly, “Either conform to my laws, or depart from my country.“

1[50]:7 “Take heed therefore, ye that serve God and have Him in your heart: work the “works of God being mindful of His commandments and of the promises which He made, and believe Him that He will perform them, if His commandments be kept.”

[61]:3 “These commandments are suitable for those who meditate repentance; for if they walk not in them, their repentance is in vain.“

God is very serious about keeping His commandments. A Christian who does not keep them is not just in danger of losing rewards, as many teach. They must even keep His commands or depart from His country. His promise of salvation and every other promise are given to those who keep His commandments. If they do not keep His commandments, then their repentance is vain; not being true repentance at all. Repentance is the very thing that brought us into the saving grace of God. We had to confess our sins before salvation could ever take place. If this is vain, then we clearly are not saved, but abide in our sins, which will all be judged. The only hope is to return to repentance, and to walk in holiness and purity of life.

1[61]:4 “Ye then that repent, cast away the evil doings of this world which crush you; and, by putting on every excellence of righteousness, ye shall be able to observe these commandments, and to add no more to your sins. If then ye add no further sin at all, ye will depart from your former sins. Walk then in these my commandments, and ye shall live unto God. These things have [all] been told you from me.”

This could easily be taken wrong, to infer that we overcome sin on our own doing. This is only partially true. Our part in overcoming is simply obeying God by faith. It is the choice to receive from God all that we need, by our own free will. Then, if we will do as He commands, we will overcome sin and will have no problem being holy as He commanded. If we obey Him, the Holy Spirit will empower us to be holy. It is then that we will “live unto God” – be saved.

6[72]:3 “I say unto him, ‘Sir, now then show me concerning those that have given up their rods, what manner of man each of them is, and their abode, that when they hear this, they that believed and have received the seal and have broken it and did not keep it sound may fully understand what they are doing, and repent, receiving from thee a seal, and may glorify the Lord, that He had compassion upon them and sent thee to renew their spirits’.”

Here we have the sealed Christians again who had “broken” their seal. The promise to them is not of salvation unconditionally, but that if they will repent, they can once again receive the seal and be saved.

18[95]:2 “If then he that ought to do good committeth wickedness, does he not seem to do greater wickedness than the man that knoweth not God? Therefore they that have not known God, and commit wickedness, are condemned to death; but they that have known God and seen His mighty works, and yet commit wickedness, shall receive a double punishment, and shall die eternally. In this way therefore shall the Church of God be purified.”

The man who does wickedness after being saved does greater wickedness that the man that has never been saved at all. This is without a doubt, like every other quote in this writing, speaking of “sinning Christians”. Those who have seen His mighty works, who have returned to sin, will receive double punishment, and shall die eternally! Can it be any more clear than that?

2[112]:3 “I too, Sir,” I say, “declare to every man the mighty works of the Lord; for I hope that all who have sinned in the past, if they hear these things, will gladly repent and recover life.”

2[112]:4 “Continue therefore,” said he, “in this ministry, and complete it unto the end. For whosoever fulfill his commandments shall have life; yea such a man (shall have) great honor with the Lord. But whosoever keep not his commandments, fly from their life, and oppose him, and follow not his commandments, but deliver themselves over to death; and each one becometh guilty of his own blood. But I bid thee obey these commandments, and thou shalt have a remedy for thy sins.“

It is unquestionably mentioned all through this writing that sin will cause the loss of salvation, unless there is repentance. Repentance is the key to our “living unto God”. He says that those who repent will recover life. But those who do not will fly from it, or lose it. Those who lose life and are delivered over to death do so by their own doing; being guilty of their own blood.

3[113]:2 “Only do thou purify thy house; for in a clean house they (the Holy Spirit) will gladly dwell. For they are clean and chaste and industrious, and have favor in the sight of the Lord. If, therefore, they shall find thy house pure, they will continue with thee; but if the slightest pollution arise, they will depart from thy house at once. For these virgins love not pollution in any form.”

In this parable virgins are used to represent the Holy Spirit. If our house is not kept clean, then the Holy Spirit will not remain with us. The Holy Spirit will not dwell in even the slightest presence of sin in our lives. He will remain where there is immediate repentance of sin, after having dealt with us about it. But if we refuse, He will depart from us. The key always lies in our willingness to repent.

4[114]:4 ”Do therefore good works, whoever of you have received (benefits) from the Lord, lest, while ye delay to do them, the building of the tower be completed. For it is on your account that the work of the building has been interrupted. Unless then ye hasten to do right, the tower will be completed, and ye shut out.”

There are far too many details to this writing to explain it all in this book. But the tower is the Church (Body of Christ), He is saying that if men do not repent and begin to live holy lives, before the tower is completed (the time of the first resurrection), then they will be shut out, no longer having the opportunity to be saved. If men die in their sins, they also will be shut out, not being fit for the building of the tower.

More writings of Apostolic Fathers

IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH (Written A.D. 105-115)

Ignatius was the third bishop of Antioch in Syria, and was martyred in Rome around 108 A.D. The time of his birth is unknown. But we do know that he was well acquainted with the ministry of the Apostles, and followed their teachings. He was known to have been a disciple of the Apostle John. The epistles or letters of Ignatius are among the most famous documents of early Christianity. Being another man that lived during the latter part of the first century, his writings were well received by the Church. Ignatius had written several letters to different Churches, and one letter to Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna. We will look at only a few of these letters.

The following quote is the Second Epistle of Ignatius to Saint John. This shows that Ignatius not only lived during the later years of the Apostles and the mother of Jesus, but he also knew them. If he knew them, certainly he knew their doctrines and followed them. It was for this reason that he was known as the father of the Church, carrying on the teachings of the Apostle with boldness and great zeal.

“If thou wilt give me leave, I desire to go up to Jerusalem, and see the faithful saints who are there, especially Mary the mother, whom they report to be an object of admiration and of affection to all. For who would not rejoice to behold and to address her who bore the true God from her own womb, provided he is a friend of our faith and religion? And in like manner [I desire to see] the venerable James, who is surnamed Just, whom they relate to be very like Christ Jesus in appearance, in life, and in method of conduct, as if he were a twin-brother of the same womb. They say that, if I see him, I see also Jesus Himself, as to all the features and aspect of His body. Moreover, [I desire to see] the other saints, both male and female. Alas! Why do I delay? Why am I kept back? Kind teacher, bid me hasten [to fulfill my wish], and fare thou well. Amen.”

To the Ephesians

Translation by J.B. Lightfoot

10:1 “And pray ye also without ceasing for the rest of mankind (for there is in them a hope of repentance), that they may find God. Therefore permit them to take lessons at least from your works.”

14:2 ”No man professing faith sinneth, and no man possessing love hateth. The tree is manifest from its fruit; so they that profess to be Christ’s shall be seen through their actions. For the Work is not a thing of profession now, but is seen then when one is found in the power of faith unto the end.”

16:1 “Be not deceived, my brethren. Corrupters of houses shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

16:2 ”If then they which do these things after the flesh are put to death, how much more if a man through evil doctrine corrupt the faith of God for which Jesus Christ was crucified. Such a man, having defiled himself, shall go into the unquenchable fire; and in like manner also shall he that hearkeneth unto him.”

17:1 “For this cause the Lord received ointment on His head, that He might breathe incorruption upon the Church. Be not anointed with the ill odour of the teaching of the prince of this world, lest he lead you captive and rob you of the life which is set before you.“

17:2 “And wherefore do we not all walk prudently, receiving the knowledge of God, which is Jesus Christ? Why perish we in our folly, not knowing the gift of grace which the Lord hath truly sent?“

In this letter Ignatius speaks of the same hope of repentance for the world that Clement spoke of. This hope was not just for an elect few, but for “the rest of mankind” as well.

Verse 14:2 sounds a lot like what we read in 1 John 3:6 “Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” And in 1 John 5:18 “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.” Ignatius says that our faith is not just a profession, but is seen through our works. As James said in James 2:20, “Faith without works is dead”; and in Hebrews 11:6, “without faith it is impossible to please Him (God)”. According to Ignatius, if we do not live holy and pure lives, then we do not understand the grace of God at all, saying, “Why perish we in our folly (foolish actions), not knowing the gift of grace which the Lord hath truly sent?”

To the Magnesians

Translation by C.H. Hoole

5:1 “Since, therefore, things have an end, the choice of two things, death and life, is placed at once before us, and each is about to depart to his own place.”

5:2 “For as there are two kinds of coins, the one of God, the other of the world, and each hath its own impression, the unbelieving the impress of the world, the believers in love the impress of God the Father through Jesus Christ, through whom unless we attain voluntarily to die unto his passion, his life is not in us.”

Many claim to have the life of Christ within them, but have never died to themselves. Others gave it all up at one time, but were pulled back in by lusts and cares of this world. When we give our lives to Jesus, we must give it all up to Him, putting our complete faith in Him. Jesus said in John 12:25, “He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.”

In his letter to the Magnesians Ignatius explains that death and life is set before us. Now remember that he is writing this letter to a Church. He is not confronting sin, sinners, or any problem in the Church; but is explaining that even though we are presently saved, both death and life are still set before us. Each one of us will depart to our own place when we die. If we have chosen to return to sin then will go with all others who do the same. But if we continue in faith and holiness, then we have the promise of eternal life. We must “attain voluntarily to die unto his passion”.

Ignatius to Polycarp

Chapter 1:2 “.exhort all men that they may be saved.”

2nd Epistle to the Ephesians

Chapter 10 “Pray for all men; for there is hope of repentance for them.”

Chapter 14 “The work is not of promise, unless a man be found in the power of faith, even to the end.”

The Epistle of Ignatius to Hero, a Deacon of Antioch

Chapter 2 “Every one that teaches anything beyond what is commanded, though he be [deemed] worthy of credit, though he be in the habit of fasting, though he live in continence, though he work miracles, though he have the gift of prophecy, let him be in thy sight as a wolf in sheep’s clothing, labouring for the destruction of the sheep. If any one denies the cross, and is ashamed of the passion, let him be to thee as the adversary himself. “Though he gives all his goods to feed the poor, though he remove mountains, though he give his body to be burned,” let him be regarded by thee as abominable. If any one makes light of the law or the prophets, which Christ fulfilled at His coming, let him be to thee as antichrist.”

THE EPISTLE OF POLYCARP (Written A.D. 110-140)

Polycarp was the Bishop of Smyrna in the first half of the second century, and was martyred, in all probability, on February 23rd, 155 A.D., at the age of eighty-six. He had been a disciple of John, and opinions differ as to whether this John was the son of Zebedee, or John the Presbyter.

According to Irenaeus, Polycarp wrote several epistles, but only one exists. This is the epistle sent to the Philippians in connection with Ignatius.

The object of the epistle is apparently partly to warn the Philippians against certain disorders in the Church at Philippi, and especially against apostasy. If apostasy were not possible, then no warning would ever need to be given. If the saints will persevere, because they are unconditionally elected and drawn by an irresistible grace; then why concern ourselves with warning Christians of spiritual “death”? The answer to this question should be obvious through the reading of the Bible alone. The early Church writings amplify what Jesus and the Apostles taught concerning the possibility of apostasy.

Irenaeus speaks of Polycarp in his third book on all heresies saying, “But Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic Churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time”.

Irenaeus again says of Polycarp, “He it was who, coming to Rome in the time of Anicetus caused many to turn away from the aforesaid heretics to the Church of God, proclaiming that he had received this one and sole truth from the apostles,-that, namely, which is handed down by the Church. There are also those who heard from him that John, the disciple of the Lord, going to bathe at Ephesus, and perceiving Cerinthus within, rushed out of the bath-house without bathing, exclaiming, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is within.” And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, “Dost thou know me?I do know thee, the first-born of Satan.” Such was the horror which the apostles and their disciples had against holding even verbal communication with any corrupters of the truth; as Paul also says, “A man that is an heretic, after the first and second admonition, reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.” There is also a very powerful Epistle of Polycarp written to the Philippians, from which those who choose to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his faith, and the preaching of the truth. Then, again, the Church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the times of Trajan, is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles.”

Polycarp: To the Philippians

Polycarp 2:1 “Wherefore gird up your loins and serve God in fear and truth, forsaking the vain and empty talking and the error of the many, for that ye have believed on Him that raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead and gave unto him glory and a throne on His right hand; unto whom all things were made subject that are in heaven and that are on the earth; to whom every creature that hath breath doeth service; who cometh as judge of quick and dead; whose blood God will require of them that are disobedient unto Him.”

Polycarp 2:2 “Now He that raised Him from the dead will raise us also; if we do His will and walk in His commandments and love the things which He loved, abstaining from all unrighteousness, covetousness, love of money, evil speaking, false witness; not rendering evil for evil or railing for railing or blow for blow or cursing for cursing;”

Polycarp 3:3 “For if any man be occupied with these, he hath fulfilled the commandment of righteousness; for he that hath love is far from all sin.”

Polycarp 5:1 “Knowing then that God is not mocked, we ought to walk worthily of His commandment and His glory.”

Polycarp 5:2 “…and that if we conduct ourselves worthily of Him we shall also reign with Him, if indeed we have faith.”

Polycarp 10:2 “When ye are able to do good, defer it not, for Pitifulness delivereth from death. Be ye all subject one to another, having your conversation unblamable among the gentiles, that your good works both ye may receive praise and the Lord may not be blasphemed in you.“
Polycarp 10:3 “But woe to him through whom the name of the Lord be blasphemed. Therefore teach all men soberness, in which ye yourselves also walk.”

Polycarp 11:1 “I was exceedingly grieved for Valens, who aforetime was a presbyter among you, because he is so ignorant of the office which was given unto him. I warn you therefore that ye refrain from covetousness, and that ye be pure and truthful. Refrain from all evil.”

Polycarp 11:4 “Therefore I am exceedingly grieved for him and for his wife, unto whom may the Lord grant true repentance. Be ye therefore yourselves also sober herein, and hold not such as enemies but restore them as frail and erring members, that ye may save the whole body of you. For so doing, ye do edify one another.”

As you read these quotes, you may be like many others who can hear the many echo’s of Bible scriptures. These same warnings are given all through the New Testament. We must serve God, having a holy fear, or be judged for disobedience. The conditions of salvation are clear both in the scriptures and in these writings. Woe unto those who blaspheme His name through their sins!

2 CLEMENT (A.D. 130-160)

This writing is referred to as the “so-called” second Epistle of Clement, because it is believed that this writing was written too late to have been written by Clement of Rome. The author of this writing is therefore unknown. Like the first Epistle of Clement, this letter is also written to the Corinthians. But because the title of the manuscript had been mutilated, the name of the author is not present. Although this epistle did not hold the same authority with the Church as the first epistle did, it was recognized by some as second epistle of Clement, and never rejected as holding incorrect doctrine. Even if its authenticity or authorship may have been questioned, its doctrine was not. It agrees with what all the early Church fathers had written.

2 Clement 3:2 “Yea, He Himself saith, Whoso confesseth Me, Him will I confess before the Father.”

2 Clement 3:3 “This then is our reward, if verily we shall confess Him through whom we were saved.”

2 Clement 3:4 “But wherein do we confess Him? When we do that which He saith and are not disobedient unto His commandments, and not only honor Him with our lips, but with our whole heart and with our whole mind.”

2 Clement 3:5 “Now He saith also in Isaiah, This people honoreth me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.”

2 Clement 4:1 “Let us therefore not only call Him Lord, for this will not save us:”

2 Clement 4:2 “for He saith, Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, shall be saved, but he that doeth righteousness.”

2 Clement 4:3 “So then, brethren, let us confess Him in our works, by loving one another, by not committing adultery nor speaking evil one against another nor envying, but being temperate, merciful, kindly. And we ought to have fellow-feeling one with another and not to be covetous. By these works let us confess Him, and not by the contrary.”
2 Clement 4:4 “And we ought not rather to fear men but God.”

2 Clement 4:5 “For this cause, if ye do these things, the Lord said, Though ye be gathered together with Me in My bosom, and do not My commandments, I will cast you away and will say unto you, Depart from Me, I know you not whence ye are, ye workers of iniquity.”

2 Clement 5:5 “And ye know, brethren, that the sojourn of this flesh in this world is mean and for a short time, but the promise of Christ is great and marvelous, even the rest of the kingdom that shall be and of life eternal.”

2 Clement 5:6 “What then can we do to obtain them, but walk in holiness and righteousness, and consider these worldly things as alien to us, and not desire them?”

2 Clement 5:7 “For when we desire to obtain these things we fall away from the righteous path.”

2 Clement 6:1 “But the Lord saith, No servant can serve two masters. If we desire to serve both God and mammon, it is unprofitable for us:”

2 Clement 6:2 “For what advantage is it, if a man gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”

2 Clement 6:3 “Now this age and the future are two enemies.”

2 Clement 6:4 “The one speaketh of adultery and defilement and avarice and deceit, but the other biddeth farewell to these.”

2 Clement 6:5 “We cannot therefore be friends of the two, but must bid farewell to the one and hold companionship with the other.”

2 Clement 6:6 “Let us consider that it is better to hate the things which are here, because they are mean and for a short time and perishable, and to love the things which are there, for they are good and imperishable.”

2 Clement 6:7 “For, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; but if otherwise, then nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we should disobey His commandments.”

2 Clement 6:8 “And the scripture also saith in Ezekiel, `Though Noah and Job and Daniel should rise up, they shall not deliver their children in the captivity’.”

2 Clement 6:9 “But if even such righteous men as these cannot by their righteous deeds deliver their children, with what confidence shall we, if we keep not our baptism pure and undefiled, enter into the kingdom of God? Or who shall be our advocate, unless we be found having holy and righteous works?”

2 Clement 7:1 “So then, my brethren, let us contend, knowing that the contest is nigh at hand, and that, while many resort to the corruptible contests, yet not all are crowned, but only they that have toiled hard and contended bravely.”

2 Clement 7:2 “Let us then contend that we all may be crowned.”

2 Clement 7:3 “Wherefore let us run in the straight course, the incorruptible contest. And let us resort to it in throngs and contend, that we may also be crowned. And if we cannot all be crowned, let us at least come near to the crown.”

2 Clement 7:4 “We ought to know that he which contendeth in the corruptible contest, if he be found dealing corruptly with it, is first flogged. and then removed and driven out of the race course.”

2 Clement 7:5 “What think ye? What shall be done to him that hath dealt corruptly with the contest of incorruption?”

2 Clement 7:6 “For as concerning them that have not kept the seal, He saith, `Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be for a spectacle unto all flesh’.”

2 Clement 8:1 “While we are on earth then, let us repent: for we are clay under the craftsman’s hand.”

2 Clement 8:2 “For in like manner as the potter, if he be making a vessel, and it get twisted or crushed in his hands, reshapeth it again; but if he have once put it into the fiery oven, he shall no longer mend it: so also let us, while we are in this world, repent with our whole heart of the evil things which we have done in the flesh, that we may be saved by the Lord, while we have yet time for repentance.”

2 Clement 8:3 “For after that we have departed out of the world, we can no more make confession there, or repent any more.”

2 Clement 8:4 “Wherefore, brethren, if we shall have done the will of the Father and kept the flesh pure and guarded the commandments of the Lord, we shall receive life eternal.”

2 Clement 8:5 “For the Lord saith in the Gospel, `If ye kept not that which is little, who shall give unto you that which is great? For I say unto you that he which is faithful in the least, is also faithful in much’.”

2 Clement 8:6 “So then He meaneth this, Keep the flesh pure and the seal unstained, to the end that we may receive life.”

2 Clement 11:5 “Wherefore, my brethren, let us not be double-minded but endure patiently in hope, that we may also obtain our reward.”

2 Clement 11:6 “For faithful is He that promised to pay to each man the recompense of his works.”

2 Clement 11:7 “If therefore we shalt have wrought righteousness in the sight of God, we shalt enter into His kingdom and shall receive the promises which ear hath not heard nor eye seen, nor eye seen, neither hath it entered into the heart of man.”

2 Clement 14:1 “Wherefore, brethren, if we do the will of God our Father, we shall be of the first Church, which is spiritual, which was created before the sun and the moon; but if we do not the will of the Lord, we shall be of the scripture that saith, My house was made a den of robbers. So therefore let us choose rather to be of the Church of life, that we may be saved.”

2 Clement 17:1 “Let us therefore repent with our whole heart, lest any of us perish by the way. For if we have received commands, that we should make this our business, to tear men away from idols and to instruct them, how much more is it wrong that a soul which knoweth God already should perish!”

2 Clement 17:2 “Therefore let us assist one another, that we may also lead the weak upward as touching that which is good, to the end that we all may be saved: and let us convert and admonish one another.”

2 Clement 17:3 “And let us not think to give heed and believe now only, while we have departed home, let us remember the commandments of the Lord, and not suffer ourselves to be dragged off the other way by our worldly lusts; but coming hither more frequently, let us strive to go forward in the commandments of the Lord, that we all having the same mind may be gathered together unto life.”

2 Clement 17:7 “But the righteous, having done good and endured torments and hated pleasures of the soul, when they shall behold them that have done amiss and denied Jesus by their words or by their deeds, how that they are punished with grievous torments in unquenchable fire, shall give glory to God, saying, There will be hope for him that hath served God with his whole heart.”

2 Clement 18:1 “Therefore let us also be found among those that give thanks, among those that have served God, and not among the ungodly that are judged.”

2 Clement 19:3 “Let us therefore practice righteousness that we may be saved unto the end. Blessed are they that obey these ordinances. Though they may endure affliction for a short time in the world, they will gather the immortal fruit of the resurrection.”

Many people confess to be Christians, and confess that Jesus is Lord with their mouth. But as mentioned by the writer of 2 Clement, their confession is vain and useless, unless they have works of righteousness. A true confession of Christ is evident when we live our lives in obedience to His commands. If we do no live our lives as He commanded us to, then we by our actions deny Him. In 2 Clement 4:5 the writer said “For this cause, if ye do these things, the Lord said, Though ye be gathered together with Me in My bosom, and do not My commandments, I will cast you away and will say unto you, Depart from Me, I know you not whence ye are, ye workers of iniquity.” Even though a Christian may be gathered unto His bosom, in which a person cannot get any closer to Christ than this; if that Christian does not do His commandments, they will be cast away and called a worker of iniquity. The disobedient, sinful Christian who once had a close relationship with Christ will be cast out, losing salvation, if they return to sin and disobedience.
Notice how the following verses line up with the Bible.

2 Clement 5:6 “What then can we do to obtain them, but walk in holiness and righteousness, and consider these worldly things as alien to us, and not desire them?” 
2 Clement 5:7 “For when we desire to obtain these things we fall away from the righteous path.”

2 Clement 6:1 “But the Lord saith, `No servant can serve two masters’. If we desire to serve both God and mammon, it is unprofitable for us:” 
2 Clement 6:2 “For what advantage is it, if a man gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
We have two paths set before us. We have the choice of two masters that we can serve. Our choice is between righteousness of unrighteousness; the righteous path or the sinful; Jesus or Satan. We cannot have both God and sin! Many call themselves Christians because they know they had a true salvation experience at some point in their life. They trust in the one time experience and believe the Eternal Security doctrine that teaches “once you are saved, you are saved for eternity, unconditionally”. But this is neither the doctrine of the Bible nor the doctrine of the early Church. This is heresy!

Look at the further comments in this writing.

2 Clement 6:7 “For, if we do the will of Christ, we shall find rest; but if otherwise, then nothing shall deliver us from eternal punishment, if we should disobey His commandments.” 
2 Clement 6:9 “…with what confidence shall we, if we keep not our baptism pure and undefiled, enter into the kingdom of God? Or who shall be our advocate, unless we be found having holy and righteous works?”

“If we do the will of Christ” we will be saved, not “Once Saved, Always Saved”! Those who do not live right will be faced with eternal punishment. Wherein is our confidence? Many say that it is in Jesus, while they yet live in their sins. But if our commitment to Christ is not kept pure, how can we then say that He will be our advocate? As mentioned here, Christ will only be the advocate for those who have holy and righteous works. And these holy and righteous works are not to our own merit, but are given to us by the grace of God through His Holy Spirit, so that we cannot boast. There will be no excuse for sin on judgment day. There will be no excuse for not living holy and righteous lives, when Christ provided all that we need to do so through the gift of His Holy Spirit. Christ is our advocate because through His Spirit He made us holy and righteous in deeds. He will not be an advocate for a sinning “Christian”!

The end for those who have returned to sin and fallen from grace is as follows:

2 Clement 7:6 “For as concerning them that have not kept the seal, He saith, Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be for a spectacle unto all flesh.”

The Eternal Security proponents will all say that we have been sealed by God’s Spirit, and that a person sealed with the seal of God cannot be unsealed. Seals are never “unsealed”; but they can be broken. It was the understanding of this early Church father that the seal of God could be given to a Christian, but that the Christian has the responsibility to keep that seal. If the seal is not kept, then it may be broken open. This being the case, they will be face with eternal punishment, possessing here the description of the eternal hell that all sinners that do not know God will go to.

2 Clement 8:6 “So then He meaneth this, Keep the flesh pure and the seal unstained, to the end that we may receive life.”

Eternal Life is given to all who receive Christ. It is our inheritance, if we meet the conditions set before us. We must keep the flesh pure and the seal unstained to the end of this life. It is then that we actually receive the inheritance. We have the benefits of eternal life right now, and the guarantee of receiving it if were remain faithful to the end. But we must endure faith to the end in order to receive it. A seal does not guarantee anything, unless it is kept pure.

2 Clement 8:4 “Wherefore, brethren, if we shall have done the will of the Father and kept the flesh pure and guarded the commandments of the Lord, we shall receive life eternal.”

We haven’t received it yet. It will be given to all who receive Christ and remain faithful. The promise is ours! But not without conditions!

2 Clement 14:1 “Wherefore, brethren, if we do the will of God our Father, we shall be of the first Church, which is spiritual, which was created before the sun and the moon; but if we do not the will of the Lord, we shall be of the scripture that saith, My house was made a den of robbers. So therefore let us choose rather to be of the Church of life, that we may be saved.”

Even though we have been saved at some point in our lives, being saved in the end is NOT without conditions. We must “choose” to be of the Church of life, that we may be saved in the end.

2 Clement 17:1 “Let us therefore repent with our whole heart, lest any of us perish by the way. For if we have received commands, that we should make this our business, to tear men away from idols and to instruct them, how much more is it wrong that a soul which knoweth God already should perish!”

If we do not repent after we have sinned, they we will perish. A soul which knows God in the present can still perish, if they do not obey His commands.

2 Clement 19:3 “Let us therefore practice righteousness that we may be saved unto the end. Blessed are they that obey these ordinances. Though they may endure affliction for a short time in the world, they will gather the immortal fruit of the resurrection.”

It is only those who practice righteousness that will be saved in the end. A person can claim to be saved by grace all they want. They can claim to have faith, believing that Jesus is their savior. But if they do not live right, and they allow sin to reign in their lives; they cannot be saved in the end.

EPISTULA APOSTOLORUM (A.D. 140-150)

This writing is known as the Epistle of the Apostles, and was written as a disputation to the Gnostic teachings of the second century. Although this writing was never received as scripture, it was a writing that was accepted by the Church as holding biblical truth, in which much of it contains words spoken by Jesus to the Apostles. It gives us the further understanding of what the early Church taught and believed, and what they had learned and had been taught by Jesus.
The Epistula Apostolorum mentions John, Thomas, Peter, Andrew, James, Philip, Batholomew, Matthew, Nathanael, Judas Zelotes, and Cephas as well as Joseph and Mary.

“We, John, Thomas, Peter, Andrew, James, Philip, Batholomew, Matthew, Nathanael, Judas Zelotes, and Cephas, write unto the churches of the east and the west, of the north and the south, the declaring and imparting unto you that which concerneth our Lord Jesus Christ: we do write according as we have seen and heard and touched him, after that he was risen from the dead: and how that he revealed unto us things mighty and wonderful and true.”

Although this writing is believed to have been written around 140-150 A.D., it is not known when exactly these writings may have originated, and by whom they were written. It appears that at least one of the Apostles had written it originally, and it may have been passed on to those after them, and then later published for others to read at a later date. It is all of these unknowns that kept this writing from being canonized. But nevertheless, we have the writings of what was never really rejected as being the words of Christ; that do not disagree with scripture in any way at all; and gives us further conformation regarding the truth of the scriptures. Not in any way as an addition to the Bible, but as proof of what the Bible really teaches.

Translated by M.R. James

27 “For to that end went I down unto the place of Lazarus, and preached unto the righteous and the prophets, that they might come out of the rest which is below and come up into that which is above; and I poured out upon them with my right hand the water (?) (baptism, Eth.) of life and forgiveness and salvation from all evil, as I have done unto you and unto them that believe on me. But if any man believe on me and do not my commandments, although he have confessed my name, he hath no profit therefrom but runneth a vain race: for such will find themselves in perdition and destruction, because they have despised my commandments.”

28 …Then said he unto us: Verily I say unto you, all that have believed on me and that believe in him that sent me will I take up into the heaven, unto the place which my Father hath prepared for the elect, and I will give you the kingdom, the chosen kingdom, in rest, and everlasting life.

29 But all they that have offended against my commandments and have taught other doctrine, (perverting) the Scripture and adding thereto, striving after their own glory, and that teach with other words them that believe on me in uprightness, if they make them fall thereby, shall receive everlasting punishment. We said unto him: Lord, shall there then be teaching by others, diverse from that which thou hast spoken unto us ? He said unto us: It must needs be, that the evil and the good may be made manifest; and the judgment shall be manifest upon them that do these things, and according to their works shall they be judged and shall be delivered unto death.

And we said unto him: Lord, will they that believe be treated like the unbelievers, and wilt thou punish them that have escaped from the pestilence? And he said unto us: If they that believe in my name deal like the sinners, then have they done as though they had not believed. And we said again to him: Lord, have they on whom this lot hath fallen no life? He answered and said unto us: Whoso hath accomplished the praise of my Father, he shall abide in the resting-place of my Father.

37 Then said we unto him: Lord, teach us what shall come to pass thereafter? And he answered us: In those years and days shall war be kindled upon war; the four ends of the earth shall be in commotion and fight against each other. Thereafter shall be quakings of clouds (or, clouds of locusts), darkness, and dearth, and persecutions of them that believe on me and against the elect. Thereupon shall come doubt and strife and transgressions against one another. And there shall be many that believe on my name and yet follow after evil and spread vain doctrine. And men shall follow after them and their riches, and be subject unto their pride, and lust for drink, and bribery, and there shall be respect of persons among them.

47 But if any man fall under the load of sin that he hath committed, then shall his neighbour correct him because of the good that he hath done unto his neighbour. And if his neighbour correct him and he return, he shall be saved, and he that corrected him shall receive a reward and live for ever. For a needy man, if he see him that hath done him good sin, and correct him not, shall be judged with severe judgment.

And he said unto us: There shall come forth another doctrine, and a confusion, and because they shall strive after their own advancement, they shall bring forth an unprofitable doctrine. And therein shall be a deadly corruption (of uncleanness), and they shall teach it, and shall turn away them that believe on me from my commandments and cut them off from eternal life. But woe unto them that falsify this my word and commandment, and draw away them that hearken to them from the life of the doctrine and separate themselves from the commandment of life: for together with them they shall come into everlasting judgment.

Even though a person has confessed the name of Jesus, has believed on His name; if they do not do as He commanded, they cannot be saved. “He hath no profit therefrom but runneth a vain race”. It is said here that “If they that believe in my name deal like the sinners, then have they done as though they had not believed. And we said again to him: Lord, have they on whom this lot hath fallen no life?” It is made clear here that if a Christian will act like a sinner, then it will be “as though” he never believed at all. But it is “as though” they never believed, since they did actually believe at one time. The disciples of Jesus asked Him if these people would be saved. Jesus answered indirectly by saying that “Whoso hath accomplished the praise of my Father, he shall abide in the resting-place of my Father.” Those who have not done so will therefore not abide in the resting place of His Father, not being saved.

The following statement: “And there shall be many that believe on my name and yet follow after evil and spread vain doctrine”, agrees with the Bible when Peter warned of the heresies to come. These are men who agreed with the doctrine taught to them, but then afterward fell into heresies, spreading vain doctrines that cannot save anyone. People can believe that God is a God of love and grace (which He is), but take it to the extreme of teaching heresy by teaching that sin will no longer condemn the Christian. To those who live according to such a doctrine, their doctrine is vain.
Then finally, one of the best statements of this writing tells us the following: “There shall come forth another doctrine, and a confusion, and because they shall strive after their own advancement, they shall bring forth an unprofitable doctrine. And therein shall be a deadly corruption of uncleanness, and they shall teach it, and shall turn away them that believe on me from my commandments and cut them off from eternal life. But woe unto them that falsify this my word and commandment, and draw away them that hearken to them from the life of the doctrine and separate themselves from the commandment of life: for together with them they shall come into everlasting judgment.”

This statement fits the Calvinist and the Eternal Security proponent doctrines very well. They teach “another doctrine” or as the Apostle Paul put it, “Another gospel”; it cause great “confusion” amongst Christians who really do want truth; it is an “unprofitable doctrine”, since it deceives so many into believing they are saved, when they are not; it teaches “a deadly corruption of uncleanness”; but yet “they shall teach it” anyway; shall “turn away them that believe and cut them off from eternal life”; and they “separate themselves” by following such heresies.

There is no doubt when looking deep into the Calvinist and Eternal Security proponents “doctrines of salvation” that they teach a different doctrine, and a different type of grace than the early Church did. The doctrines known by many today would have clearly been judged as heretical by the early Church. This should give reason to any Christian who has believed these doctrines to examine very closely those things that they have been taught.

The Ante-Nicene Church and Fathers

The Second Century Church Fathers

The Ante-Nicene fathers are those who lived before the council of Nicene in 325 A.D.; “Ante” meaning “before”. These men lived and wrote many writings between the times of the Apostolic fathers and the fourth century. All Church Fathers before Nicene are Ante-Nicene fathers. Although these men did not know the Apostles personally, they did receive their knowledge from the disciples of the Apostles, as the truth was passed down, without corruption; until the third century and later.

The Apostolic fathers lived and taught during the first 150 years after Christ, while following Church fathers lived and taught after this time and mostly in the third century. Justin Martyr and Irenaeus are both men who lived during the lives of the Apostolic fathers, and are sometimes included in Church history with the Apostolic fathers. But they did not personal know the Apostles, and therefore are listed here with the Ante-Nicene fathers that followed after the Apostolic fathers.

JUSTIN MARTYR (Written 150 – 160 A.D.)

Justin was born in 100 A.D. and was martyred around 165 A.D. He was at one time a disciple of the teachings of Plato, but was converted to Christianity around 130 A.D. He was a strong witness for Christ and had confronted the heretics of his time in his writings. He was a Gentile, but born in Samaria, near Jacob’s well. His writings show the same persuasion of earlier Church fathers.

Chapter 8 “For, impelled by the desire of the eternal and pure life, we seek the abode that is with God, the Father and Creator of all, and hasten to confess our faith, persuaded and convinced as we are that they who have proved to God by their works that they followed Him, and loved to abide with Him where there is no sin to cause disturbance, can obtain these things. This, then, to speak shortly, is what we expect and have learned from Christ, and teach.”

There has never been an argument (as accused by the Eternal Security proponents) that works can save a man. Works certainly cannot save! But works have always been the evidence of true and continuing saving faith. Works do prove that we follow Him, whereas the absence of works, or evil works prove that we do not follow Him. Works are the natural act of obedience that comes from every true believer in Christ. If sin is present in our lives then there will be a disturbance, which will keep us from obtaining salvation. This is what we should have learned from Christ from the beginning of our salvation. According to Justin, the place where we now abide, in Christ, is a place where there is no sin.

Chapter 14 “For we forewarn you to be on your guard, lest those demons whom we have been accusing should deceive you, and quite diver you from reading and understanding what we say. For they strive to hold you their slaves and servants; and sometimes by appearances in dreams, and sometimes by magical impositions, they subdue all who make no strong opposing effort for their own salvation.”

In this chapter Justin is telling his readers that they need to be on their guard against demons who desire to deceive them. If they can make a Christian their slave and servant, then they cannot remain a servant of Christ, since no man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). These demons will overtake all who do not oppose them in the effort to hold on strong to their own salvation. Those who do not fight will lose what they had been given. The warning is given here in order to keep Christians from losing salvation.

Chapter 26 “And let those who are not found living as He taught, be understood to be no Christians, even though they profess with the lip the precepts of Christ; for not those who make profession, but those who do the works, shall be saved, according to His word: “Not every one who saith to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven. For whosoever heareth Me, and doeth My sayings, heareth Him that sent Me. And many will say unto Me, Lord, Lord, have we not eaten and drunk in Thy name, and done wonders? And then will I say unto them, Depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity. Then shall there be wailing and gnashing of teeth, when the righteous shall shine as the sun, and the wicked are sent into everlasting fire. For many shall come in My name, clothed outwardly in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly being ravening wolves. By their works ye shall know them. And every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down and cast into the fire.” And as to those who are not living pursuant to these His teachings, and are Christians only in name, we demand that all such be punished by you.”
This is a very clear statement that needs not to be explained. Those who do not live right are not Christians. It makes no difference whether or not they have said a prayer at some time in their life or not. They may have even done so, meant it with all their heart, but fell away from holy living, while all the time confessing to be a Christian. They profess it with their lips only, and “are Christians only in name”. Only “those who do the works, shall be saved”. This is NOT works salvation! This is the natural result of one who is really saved, as they walk in obedience to His commands.

Chapter 28 “For He fore-knows that some are to be saved by repentance, some even that are perhaps not yet born. In the beginning He made the human race with the power of thought and of choosing the truth and doing right, so that all men are without excuse before God; for they have been born rational and contemplative.”

This speaks of the foreknowledge of God, and how men have been given the ability to choose right and wrong from the beginning. Men have been born rational and contemplative. This means that men have the ability to reason in their minds and to understand spiritual things. For this reason it is said that men are without excuse before God. The choice has been set before them to choose between right and wrong. Those who have the gospel message are especially without excuse. If they live in sin, they will be judged!

Calvinists will argue that men are totally depraved and that God predestinates men to salvation or damnation. The scriptures speak contrary to this teaching, showing only that God has the foreknowledge, but give the choice to men, whether they will live according to His commands or rebel. Since men do have the ability to choose, there is no excuse for them when they stand before God on judgment day. Any Christian who falls from true faith, returning to sin will have even harsher judgment, not being covered by grace as so many people assume.

Chapter 58 “And this man(Marcion) many have believed, as if he alone knew the truth, and laugh at us, though they have no proof of what they say, but are carried away irrationally as lambs by a wolf, and become the prey of atheistical doctrines, and of devils.”

It is amazing how many people will believe what they are taught without any proof of what they believe in. Then they attack those who hold the truth, as if it is we who are the ones being deceived. This is important to notice that the ones being deceived mock and laugh at the doctrine of those who live holy and pure lives before God. It is also important that if we are going to judge doctrines that we do so based upon God’s standards, not human logic. When we hear the holiness message all throughout the Bible, and we see how sin is still condemned in the life of the Christian even after Christ died for sin; this should give us a clear message of how God fells about these things. Many Calvinists and Eternal Security proponents have followed right in the footsteps of these Marcionites, mooching the truth of God’s Word.

Chapter 65 “.that we may be counted worthy, now that we have learned the truth, by our works also to be found good citizens and keepers of the commandments, so that we may be saved with an everlasting salvation.”
The never ending message of the Bible and of these writings is that we must keep the commandments of God in order to be saved. The conditions are clear all throughout every Christian writing of the first three centuries.

IRENAEUS OF LYONS (Written A.D. 175-185)

Irenaeus lived from 120-203 A.D., and was the Bishop of Lyons. He had encountered many heresies of the 2nd century; a few of which some friends or acquaintances had fallen into. Therefore he had written his 5 books “against heresies”. All those who had left the truth to follow after these heresies were known as apostates, having fallen from the grace of salvation, losing all.

Book 1
Chapter 1 “These men falsify the oracles of God, and prove themselves evil interpreters of the good word of revelation. They also overthrow the faith of many, by drawing them away, under a pretence of superior knowledge, from Him who rounded and adorned the universe;”

“Error, indeed, is never set forth in its naked deformity, lest, being thus exposed, it should at once be detected. But it is craftily decked out in an attractive dress, so as, by its outward form, to make it appear to the inexperienced (ridiculous as the expression may seem) more true than the truth itself.”

Just as it was with the heresies of the first centuries, Calvinism is a collection of false doctrines adorned in an attractive dress. It teaches doctrines that people love to hear; satisfying their itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3,4). Although Calvinism does not have the same deep roots as these heresies did in their denial of the deity of Christ, their doctrines do deceive many into believing they are saved, when in fact they are not. By teaching that men cannot lose salvation no matter what they do, many fall into sin without fear of condemnation. Therefore, Calvinism is guilty of leading astray many, drawing them away from truth, and overthrowing their faith.

Chapter 6 “Others of them yield themselves up to the lusts of the flesh with the utmost greediness, maintaining that carnal things should be allowed to the carnal nature, while spiritual things are provided for the spiritual.”
The natural conclusion of the teaching of “Once Saved, Always Saved” is that men can give into all the lusts of the flesh and still be saved in the end. Many people follow into the same understanding of the early Gnostics; that the things that please the flesh were made for the flesh, and should be allowed. They totally miss the purpose of Christ’s coming and dying for sin; which was to take it was, and cast it as far as the east is from the west. It certainly was not so we could remain in our sins, and still be saved. They have fallen from grace!

“And committing many other abominations and impieties, they run us down (who from the fear of God guard against sinning even in thought or word) as utterly contemptible and ignorant persons, while they highly exalt themselves, and claim to be perfect, and the elect seed. For they declare that we simply receive grace for use, wherefore also it will again be taken away from us; but that they themselves have grace as their own special possession, which has descended from above by means of an unspeakable and indescribable conjunction; and on this account more will be given them.”

I cannot count how many Calvinists and Eternal Security proponents I have had discussions with who have ran me down for my beliefs about holiness and God’s judging of sin even in the life of the Christian. They call people like myself ignorant (to say the least), refusing to accept the “truth”. They claim that they are the “elect seed” of God, and that no sin can separate them from their “eternal salvation”. Grace is “their own special possession”. Since they have such grace, they can continue in sin and still be saved, since they possess grace for forgiveness. Even though there may be many people under these teachings that are ignorant of the truth, who do love and fear God, there are also many who use these teachings for their own satisfaction and convenience.

Chapter 10 “For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shineth everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master); nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it.”

Even with all the heresies in the first centuries, it is noted more than once, as it is here, that the early Church was in agreement on doctrinal issues. There were a few disagreements that came into the Church in the late 3rd century, and in the 4th century; but in the first two centuries the Church agreed on doctrines, and also agreed on their feelings of these heresies. Eternal Security and every other point of Calvinism would have clearly been seen as heresy!

Chapter 13 “They also maintain that they have attained to a height above all power, and that therefore they are free in every respect to act as they please, having no one to fear in anything. For they affirm, that because of the “Redemption” it has come to pass that they can neither be apprehended, nor even seen by the judge. so that they may invisibly escape the judge.”

If being “once saved” means that we are “always saved”, then there is no sin that can condemn us after coming to Christ. So in this the Calvinist would have to agree with these heretics that because of the “redemption” it has come to pass that they cannot be judged, because their sins are “covered” by the blood and righteousness of Christ. In other words, it is as if their sins are “invisible”. If sins are invisible, and God cannot see them, then they cannot be judged. This is far from scriptural, and is heresy!

Chapter 27 “At present, however, I have simply been led to mention him, that thou mightest know that all those who in any way corrupt the truth, and injuriously affect the preaching of the Church, are the disciples and successors of Simon Magus of Samaria. Although they do not confess the name of their master, in order all the more to seduce others, yet they do teach his doctrines. They set forth, indeed, the name of Christ Jesus as a sort of lure, but in various ways they introduce the impieties of Simon; and thus they destroy multitudes, wickedly disseminating their own doctrines by the use of a good name, and, through means of its sweetness and beauty, extending to their hearers the bitter and malignant poison of the serpent, the great author of apostasy.”

Again, this is speaking of the deeper heresies, such as the cults of today; like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormon’s. They use the name of Christ, but yet destroy many. Although Calvinist’s are not guilty of the same depth of heresy, their doctrines have their roots in this heresy; having the same end for those who think they can live in sin and remain saved. They carry the name of Christ, while they are being destroyed through their beliefs. The deception of these doctrines is that they are received “through means of its sweetness and beauty”, while having the effect of a poisonous snake. The doctrines are a deception that sounds so good to people that they just want to believe them, even if they are not true. Once convince of them, they cannot imagine letting them go, even if proven wrong through the scriptures.

It was the common belief of the early Church fathers that all of the heresies of the days had their beginnings with one man, Simon Magus of Samaria. This is the Simon the Sorcerer of Acts 8. It is also mentioned many times that these heresies are of the school of Valentinus. Valentinus was the one who put all of the heresies into the most commonly received heresies, drawn from paganism; which those after him took and formed their own doctrines. So heresies were known as beginning with Simon Magus, and of the school of Valentinus. It is said here that all who teach heresies, even those who have a small hint of them, are guilty of teaching the doctrines of Simon, even though they do not confess him. These are the roots of Calvinism. Even though many Christians truly love and fear God today, they do not see or understand that the Eternal Security doctrine has such roots. Not only does t have such roots, but it has the same end for those who live in sin, thinking that they will still be saved.

Chapter 28 “A certain man named Tatian first introduced the blasphemy. He was a hearer of Justin’s, and as long as he continued with him he expressed no such views; but after his martyrdom he separated from the Church, and, excited and puffed up by the thought of being a teacher, as if he were superior to others, he composed his own peculiar type of doctrine.”

Taitian, who was a follower of Justin, fell away from the truth, after having once having complete knowledge of the truth. Like the other heretics, these men are described in Hebrews 6:4-6. Spiritual pride will do amazing and horrible things to a Christian. If they cannot seem to humble themselves and repent, a fall may be shortly to come. For some, the fall is unfortunately into heresies of different sorts. Some of these heresies will cause loss of salvation, because of refusing to deal with their pride. Others are simply being deceived by heretics or heresies taught by ignorant people.

Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”

…a multitude of Gnostics have sprung up, and have been manifested like mushrooms growing out of the ground. have fallen away from the truth. those who are of the school of Valentinus.

Many Gnostic groups had arisen in the first few centuries of the Church, and most of these heresies were known for causing many to be led astray from the truth; as well as the leaders themselves having fallen away from the truth that they had once known. They were of the school of Valentinus, and also of the origination of Simon Magus. These had received salvation at first, but lost it through the teaching of heresies. Salvation can indeed be lost to those who reject Christ through sinful living!

Book 2

Preface

“In the first book, which immediately precedes this, exposing “knowledge falsely so called,” I showed thee, my very dear friend, that the whole system devised, in many and opposite ways, by those who are of the school of Valentinus, was false and baseless.”

Chapter 14 “These men (the heretics), adopting this fable as their own, have ranged their opinions round it, as if by a sort of natural process, changing only the names of the things referred to, and setting forth the very same beginning of the generation of all things, and their production.”

These men referred to here are all those who followed after the teachings of Valentinus, branching off into many heresies. The teachings of Basilides and Macion came through the previous teachings of Valentinus; which also came from the teachings of Simon the sorcerer in the book of Acts. All of these heresies came from paganism. Gnosticism itself originated in paganism, which came into the Church with certain men; who all later fell from the truth into the heresies refuted by the early Church fathers. They all believed that they had a greater knowledge than even the Apostles themselves.

Although it has never been inferred that Calvinists of today have taken things to the same extremes that these Gnostics did; these things are shared to show the roots of today’s doctrines. In the 4th century the Catholic Church held to only a small portion of these heresies, while holding to a good majority of the truth as taught by the early Church. During the protestant reformation, believers had come out of the some of these heresies into a much closer truth based theology, but yet holding on to a few unrecognized heresies. The protestant Churches rejected the obvious heresies, but held on strong to those that had much deeper roots within them. Since reformation was taking place under men like Martin Luther and John Calvin, men like Jacobus Arminius also rose up to confront further heresies in the Church. Although his views were rejected, as Calvinists still reject today; the proof of the roots of these heresies are evident, as shown in this book. The teaching of the 5 points of Calvinism, which includes Eternal Security, can all be traced back to Gnosticism and paganism. Many Calvinists and Eternal Security proponents pride themselves in their knowledge of unconditional eternal salvation. The “knowledge” of these doctrines alone give them comfort, and a false sense of security.

Chapter 26 “It is therefore better and more profitable to belong to the simple and unlettered class, and by means of love to attain to nearness to God, than, by imagining ourselves learned and skilful, to be found among those who are blasphemous against their own God… And for this reason Paul exclaimed, “Knowledge puffeth up, but love edifieth: ” not that he meant to inveigh against a true knowledge of God, for in that case he would have accused himself; but, because he knew that some, puffed up by the pretence of knowledge, fall away from the love of God, and imagine that they themselves are perfect. It is therefore better, as I have said, that one should have no knowledge whatever of any one reason why a single thing in creation has been made, but should believe in God, and continue in His love, than that, puffed up through knowledge of this kind, he should fall away from that love which is the life of man; and that he should search after no other knowledge except the knowledge of Jesus Christ the Son of God, who was crucified for us, than that by subtle questions and hair-splitting expressions he should fall into impiety.”

Knowledge can be a very beneficial thing for every Christian, as well as necessary. Jesus said that His people were destroyed for a “lack of knowledge”. When Paul was saying that “knowledge puffeth up”, he was speaking of the Gnostics of his day, who felt that they were saved by their knowledge; and thus becoming “puffed up” to the point that nothing you say to them could change them, because they already have all knowledge necessary. Rather than being strengthened by knowledge, they were hindered greatly by it. And because they were “puffed up”, they were led astray, while believing all the time that they were saved. They fell away from the love of God. Calvinists will argue that nothing can separate us from His love. But Jesus said in John 15:10 that we must “abide in” His love. Although according to Romans 8 nothing can separate us from His love; we can leave it behind, falling from it through our “puffed up” knowledge of false doctrines. As the early heretics, many people today deceive themselves into believing that they are saved in their sins, since Christ “paid the price”, and all future sins are forgiven. They believe presumptuously in a false teaching that they are okay, through a “knowledge” not given by the Bible, but only through false teachings. To them, the knowledge of grace, and the acceptance of the eternal security doctrine is enough to save them eternally. But like the Gnostics, their doctrine of grace is not biblical. These things are covered in detail in volume one of “Faith without Works”.

Chapter 27 “According to this course of procedure, therefore, man would always be inquiring but never finding, because he has rejected the very method of discovery. And when the Bridegroom comes, he who has his lamp untrimmed, and not burning with the brightness of a steady light, is classed among those who obscure the interpretations of the parables, forsaking Him who by His plain announcements freely imparts gifts to all who come to Him, and is excluded from His marriage-chamber.”

The 10 virgins mentioned in Matthew 25 refer to ten of God’s Children. Sinners would not obtain a lamp and be waiting for the return of the bridegroom. The five foolish did once have oil in their lamps, and they were burning fine. But they ran out of oil, which represents that they fell from the place they once were, losing the communion with God and His Spirit; therefore being emptied of the Holy Spirit. It is said here that these five will be excluded from the marriage chamber, and that they will be classed with those who forsook Him. Then as Jesus told about the unfaithful servant in the previous chapter, in Matthew 24:51; “And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth”; so shall it be also with the five foolish, and whoever it is like them.

Book 3

Chapter 2 “Where-fore they must be opposed at all points, if per-chance, by cutting off their retreat, we may succeed in turning them back to the truth. For, though it is not an easy thing for a soul under the influence of error to repent, yet, on the other hand, it is not altogether impossible to escape from error when the truth is brought alongside it.”

The hope here is that the heretics might possibly be turned back to the truth, after having walked away from it. Although it is a very difficult thing for many, it is not all together impossible.

Chapter 3 “To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Sorer having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.”

According to Irenaeus, the teachings of the truth, as given by the Apostles was preserved through the first few centuries; at least up to his time, which was during the end of the second century. To him this was “most abundant proof” that there was only one truth, which was never defiled by heresies. Although we do know that heresies did come into Churches at different times; we also can see in history that these same heresies were eventually put out of those Churches, in which they afterwards returned to the truth. The truth that all of these Church fathers have taught and agreed upon thus far in history is one that is in direct opposition to Calvinism and Unconditional Eternal Security! Therefore, if the truth is as the Apostles and the early Church taught and believed, then Calvinism and Unconditional Eternal Security is heresy!

Chapter 4 “Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient Churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary, in that case, to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the Churches?”

We should be very grateful as Christians that we have the New Testament writings of the Apostles. What Irenaeus is bringing out here is that although these writings of the Apostles are wonderful to have, even without them in these first two centuries, the truth had been passed down without damage. Today, we would be in a lot worse shape without them, since the Church was later corrupted by heresies in the Roman Catholic Church, and much would have been lost in the dark ages. The New Testament writings made it possible for men to return to the truth that had been lost during this time period. But in the first centuries nothing had ever been lost. Truth was passed down without corruption; and the Church fathers continued the same work that the Apostles had handed down to them.

HIPPOLYTUS (170 to 236AD)

Hippolytus was a Bishop in Rome, who provides us with the same understanding of other Church fathers, that there was no doctrine of eternal security known to the fathers of the church. In one of his writings he discussed how many of the Jewish priests would go to the disciples of Christ in secret, confessing Christ as the Son of God, but were afraid of the Jews and so they didn’t profess Christ openly. He went on in this writing:

“And the apostles received them affectionately, saying to them, ‘Do not by reason of the shame and fear of men, forfeit your salvation before God, nor have the blood of Christ required of you, even as your fathers, who took it upon them. For it is not acceptable before God, that, while you are in secret with His worshippers, ye should go and be associated with the murderers of His Addorable Son. How do ye expect that your faith should be accepted with those that are true, whilst ye are with those that are false? But it becomes you, as men who believe in Christ, to confess openly this faith which we preach.’ “And, when they heard these things from the disciples, those sons of the priests, all of them alike, cried out before the whole company of the apostles: ‘We confess and believe in Christ who was crucified, and we confess that He is from everlasting the Son of God, and those who dared to crucify Him do we renounce.’”

The initial salvation of these men was not in question. It was the continued salvation that was in question, telling them that if you do not cut ties with the Jewish leaders who reject Jesus as Christ then you will, ” forfeit your salvation before God”, and “…have the blood of Christ required of you”. Salvation cannot be forfeited if it is not first received and gained.

Chapter 10 “For, although the languages of the world are dissimilar, yet the import of the tradition is one and the same. For the Churches which have been planted in Germany do not believe or hand down anything different, nor do those in Spain, nor those in Gaul, nor those in the East, nor those in Egypt, nor those in Libya, nor those which have been established in the central regions of the world. But as the sun, that creature of God, is one and the same throughout the whole world, so also the preaching of the truth shineth everywhere, and enlightens all men that are willing to come to a knowledge of the truth. Nor will any one of the rulers in the Churches, however highly gifted he may be in point of eloquence, teach doctrines different from these (for no one is greater than the Master); nor, on the other hand, will he who is deficient in power of expression inflict injury on the tradition. For the faith being ever one and the same, neither does one who is able at great length to discourse regarding it, make any addition to it, nor does one, who can say but little diminish it.”

Chapter 36
 Hoodwinking therefore multitudes, he led on into enormities many dupes of this description who had become his disciples, by teaching them that they were prone, no doubt, to sin, but beyond the reach of danger, from the fact of their belonging to the perfect power, and of their being participators in the inconceivable potency.
This quote is describing some of the ways of Marcus the Heretic, who was a magician. Part of this heresy was teaching people that their sins cannot affect them in any way because they belong to “the perfect power”. Although Calvinists teach the truth about the deity of Christ as our savior, they teach the same heresy of eternal security; teaching that once we are saved sin no longer has power over us, even if we continue to sin.

Chapter 23 
But Nicolaus has been a cause of the wide-spread combination of these wicked men. He, as one of the seven (that were chosen) for the diaconate, was appointed by the Apostles. (But Nicolaus) departed from correct doctrine, and was in the habit of inculcating indifferency of both life and food. And when the disciples (of Nicolaus) continued to offer insult to the Holy Spirit, John reproved them in the Apocalypse as fornicators and eaters of things offered unto idols.

THEOPHILUS OF ANTIOCH (A.D. 180-185)

Theophilus to Autolycus

Chapter 8 
”But you do not believe that the dead are raised. When the resurrection shall take place, then you will believe, whether you will or no; and your faith shall be reckoned for unbelief, unless you believe now. And why do you not believe? Do you not know that faith is the leading principle in all matters?”

Faith is the leading principle in our salvation. By faith we not only believe in Jesus, but also live in obedience to His commands. If we do not bears the fruits of faith, then our faith will be reckoned as unbelief, not be true faith at all.

BOOK 2

Chapter 28 “For God made man free, and with power over himself. That, then, which man brought upon himself through carelessness and disobedience, this God now vouchsafes to him as a gift through His own philanthropy and pity, when men obey Him. For as man, disobeying, drew death upon himself; so, obeying the will of God, he who desires is able to procure for himself life everlasting. For God has given us a law and holy commandments; and every one who keeps these can be saved, and, obtaining the resurrection, can inherit incorruption.”

Chapter 34 “And they also taught us (prophets) to refrain from unlawful idolatry, and adultery, and murder, fornication, theft, avarice, false swearing, wrath, and every incontinence and uncleanness; and that whatever a man would not wish to be done to himself, he should not do to another; and thus he who acts righteously shall escape the eternal punishments, and be thought worthy of the eternal life from God.”

Chapter 11 “Many therefore, yea rather, countless are the sayings in the Holy Scriptures regarding repentance, God being always desirous that the race of men turn from all their sins.”

Like other writings, this may appear to say that men save themselves. But this is not at all what Theophilus is saying. He is arguing that man has a free will to choose to do what is right and to obey God. Because man has the power over himself, he is therefore responsible for his own actions. If a man will choose to live righteously then he will be saved and escape eternal judgment. But if he chooses to live in disobedience to God, he will then bring upon himself death and eternal punishment. He says “countless are the Holy Scriptures regarding repentance”. Yet isn’t it amazing how many, such as the Calvinists, seem to ignore them or treat them as unrelated to salvation. They choose to attach them to the loss of rewards teaching, holding to the Once Saved, Always Saved teaching. But this is far from what the Apostles or early Church fathers taught and believed. Without repentance of sin, no man can be saved! And true repentance will purge all sin.

TERTULLIAN (A.D 197-220)

Tertullian lived from around 145-220 A.D. He was an ecclesiastical writer, and was an elder in the church at Carthage, North Africa. He wrote extensively on the subject of repentance, baptism, and the early heresies; especially of Marcion. Although he did write about all heresies in some detail, he wrote 5 books alone about Marcion. Marcion was considered one of the biggest heretics of those days, having the greatest influence. Although his heretical teachings go deep into paganism as did Valentinus and others, the chief confrontations in Tertullians writings has to do with the idea that Marcion taught a belief in two god’s and against the need of repentance after once being saved. The Calvinist doctrines, although traced back into all heresies, are found most prevalent in the teachings of Marcion. These Calvinistic teachings confronted in the teachings of Marcion are clear heresy, showing that men have been given a free will to choose, and that man is responsible to live a holy life, keeping God’s commands continuously. If man refuses, then salvation can in no way remain valid without repentance. The message is indisputably clear throughout these writings!

ON REPENTENCE

Repentance was always a very important subject with the early Church. Tertullian, who lived during the second half of the second century, wrote on several doctrinal issues, as well as against the heresies of his day. It is in these heresies that we will begin to see the roots of the Calvinist doctrines working their beginnings, which did eventually creep into the Church.

No other doctrinal issue has taken such a platform of importance as the subject of repentance has with the early Church fathers. Repentance was always taught as being necessary for salvation, even after a person has come to Christ. It was taught hand in hand with the keeping of the laws and commands of God. If they might be broken, their must be repentance! The results are just as clear; telling us (as the Bible does) that salvation will be lost. It is for this reason that the subject of repentance took such an important position in their teachings. If salvation was not the issue at hand, and the very thing that might be lost; then repentance would never have taken the position that it did with the early Church. Today, repentance does not have such a position of importance in many Churches; simply because they do not see “continued” repentance as important and critical to “continued” salvation, as the early Church did.
Chapter 2 “But where there is no fear, in like manner there is no amendment; where there is no amendment, repentance is of necessity vain, for it lacks the fruit for which God sowed it; that is, man’s salvation.”

If there is not change in a person’s lifestyle, then there is no evidence of salvation. Even if they changed at first, but later returned to their old lifestyle, there is not salvation. Their repentance is vain, since they do not have the fruit to prove that they truly repented. Or if they returned to their sin their repentance becomes vain afterward. If a man was to have an affair with another woman and his wife were to forgive him, and then later he was to have another affair; could he rightly assume that he is forgiven because of his wife’s first act of forgiveness? How ridiculous to assume such a thing! A man’s present spiritual condition is in the same way based upon his present lifestyle; and not because of an earlier repentance. If he returns to sin, his previous repentance becomes vain!

Chapter 5 “For what I say is this, that the repentance which, being shown us and commanded us through God’s grace, recalls us to grace with the Lord, when once learned and undertaken by us ought never afterward to be cancelled by repetition of sin. No pretext of ignorance now remains to plead on your behalf; in that, after acknowledging the Lord, and accepting His precepts–in short, after engaging in repentance of (past) sins–you again betake your self to sins. Thus, in as far as you are removed from ignorance, in so far are you cemented to contumacy.”

Now, that man does despise Him, who, after attaining by His help to an understanding of things good and evil, often an affront to his own understanding–that is, to God’s gift–by resuming what he understands ought to be shunned, and what he has already shunned: he rejects the Giver in abandoning the gift; he denies the Benefactor in not honoring the benefit.

How can he be pleasing to Him, whose gift is displeasing to himself? Thus he is shown to be not only contumacious toward the Lord, but likewise ungrateful.

Besides, that man commits no light sin against the Lord, who, after he had by repentance renounced His rival the devil, and had under this appellation subjected him to the Lord, again upraises him by his own return (to the enemy), and makes himself a ground of exultation to him; so that the Evil One, with his prey recovered, rejoices anew against the Lord. Does he not–what is perilous even to say, but must be put forward with a view to edification–place the devil before the Lord? For he seems to have made the comparison who has known each; and to have judicially pronounced him to be the better whose (servant) he has preferred again to be. Thus he who, through repentance for sins, had begun to make satisfaction to the Lord, will, through another repentance of his repentance, make satisfaction to the devil, and will be the more hateful to God in proportion as he will be the more acceptable to His rival. But some say that “God is satisfied if He be looked up to with the heart and the mind, even if this be not done in outward act, and that thus they sin without damage to their fear and their faith:” that is, that they violate wedlock without damage to their chastity; they mingle poison for their parent without damage to their filial duty! Thus, then, they will themselves withal be thrust down into hell without damage to their pardon, while they sin without damage to their fear! Here is a primary example of perversity: they sin, because they fear! I suppose, if they feared not, they would not sin! Let him, therefore, who would not have God offended not revere Him at all, if fear is the plea for offending But these dispositions have been wont to sprout from the seed of hypocrites, whose friendship with the devil is indivisible, whose repentance never faithful.”

It is the grace of God that led us to salvation through repentance in the first place. In order to receive the benefits of His grace we had to repent of our sins. Most all Christian sects will accept this fact. But where they disagree is concerning those sins committed after having been saved through our first repentance. Calvinists and Eternal Security proponents want us to believe that all present sins are covered through this first repentance; the one moment of faith. This is simply not what the Bible teaches us. The very strong message of the Bible and of the early Church is quite the opposite. Tertullian agrees with all the other early Church fathers when speaking of the grace of God, by saying “when once learned and undertaken by us ought never afterward to be cancelled by repetition of sin” The Apostle Paul addressed the Galatians in Galatians 5:4 by saying “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” They had fallen from grace and the Christ had become of no effect unto them, because they had cancelled the grace of God through the repetition of sin. Their sin was “works salvation” under the law, which could never save men. Because they trusted works, grace was then cancelled for them. Any kind of sin does the same thing to men, whether it is “works salvation” or sinful living. All men must maintain a holy fear of God and a true faith. They think that they can sin every day without damage to their salvation; but they only deceive themselves!

Chapter 6 “Moreover, a presumptuous confidence in baptism introduces all kind of vicious delay and tergiversation with regard to repentance; for, feeling sure of undoubted pardon of their sins, men meanwhile steal the intervening time, and make it for themselves into a holiday-time for sinning, rather than a time for learning not to sin. Further, how inconsistent is it to expect pardon of sins (to be granted) to a repentance which they have not fulfilled! This is to hold out your hand for merchandise, but not produce the price. For repentance is the price at which the Lord has determined to award pardon: He proposes the redemption of release from penalty at this compensating exchange of repentance. If, then, sellers first examine the coin with which they make their bargains, to see whether it be cut, or scraped, or adulterated, we believe likewise that the Lord, when about to make us the grant of so costly merchandise, even of eternal life, first institutes a probation of our repentance.”

“For do not many afterward fall out of grace? Is not this gift taken away from many?” These, no doubt, are they who do steal a march upon (the treasure), who, after approaching to the faith of repentance, set up on the sands a house doomed to ruin. Let no one, then, flatter himself on the ground of being assigned to the “recruit-classes” of learners, as if on that account he have a licence even now to sin. As soon as you “know the Lord, you should fear Him; as soon as you have gazed on Him, you should reverence Him. But what difference does your “knowing” Him make, while you rest in the same practises as in days bygone, when you knew Him not? What, moreover, is it which distinguishes you from a perfected servant of God? Is there one Christ for the baptized, another for the learners? Have they some different hope or reward? some different dread of judgment? some different necessity for repentance? That baptismal washing is a sealing of faith, which faith is begun and is commended by the faith of repentance. We are not washed in order that we may cease sinning, but because we have ceased, since in heart we have been bathed already. For the first baptism of a learner is this, a perfect fear; thenceforward, in so far as you have understanding of the Lord faith is sound, the conscience having once for all embraced repentance. Otherwise, if it is (only) after the baptismal waters that we cease sinning, it is of necessity, not of free-will, that we put on innocence.”

The first paragraph listed from this chapter gives us an important view of what many of the Eternal Security teachings fall into. So many of them have a “presumptuous Confidence” “feeling sure of undoubted pardon of their sins”! They claim that what they have is faith in Christ for eternal salvation. But their faith is nothing more than presumption. They have convinced themselves that they have been pardoned of all their sins; past, present, and future, while they continue in their sinful lifestyles. But what they prove is that they even did not have true repentance or they did not keep their repentance true, holding to their commitment to God. Therefore Tertullian’s response is, “how inconsistent is it to expect pardon of sins (to be granted) to a repentance which they have not fulfilled!” He goes on to say that repentance is the price in which the Lord has required in order for man to be saved from his sins. If it is even not true repentance, or the repentance of a man is not kept, then there is no salvation. Calvinists and the Eternal Security proponents will argue that we are covered by the blood of Christ and have eternal salvation through Him. But this can only be true through repentance!

The following statement is saying that God will grant us eternal life upon the examination of our repentance through time, which refers to our life on this earth. “If, then, sellers first examine the coin with which they make their bargains, to see whether it be cut, or scraped, or adulterated, we believe likewise that the Lord, when about to make us the grant of so costly merchandise, even of eternal life, first institutes a probation of our repentance.” Although have the promise of eternal life, we must abide in Christ and in repentance. It is upon this thought that Tertullian asks, “For do not many afterward fall out of grace? Is not this gift taken away from many?” The gift of grace abides only among those of true repentance. This is in no way what many accuse as teaching “works salvation”. If so, then we are saved by works when we first come to Christ. Repentance is a gift of grace given by God, in which we cannot boast. Repentance is an act of humility through a holy fear of God. It is the most necessary part in coming to and abiding in Christ that we must respond to as the Holy Spirit deals with us. Without repentance no man can walk in grace. Those who do not truly repent have fallen from grace, losing their salvation. If God will judge a sinner and condemn them to an eternal hell for their sins, who do not know God; then how much more will he judge those who have learned of and walked in the grace of God, but continue in or returned to their old sins?

Chapter 7 
Let no one be less good because God is more so, by repeating his sin as often as he is forgiven. Otherwise be sure he will find an end of escaping, when he shall not find one of sinning. We have escaped once: thus far and no farther let us commit ourselves to perils, even if we seem likely to escape a second time.

In the vestibule He has stationed the second repentance for opening to such as knock: .You have what you now deserved not, for you had lost what you had received. If the Lord’s indulgence grants you the means of restoring what you had lost, be thankful for the benefit renewed, not to say amplified; for restoring is a greater thing than giving, inasmuch as having lost is more miserable than never having received at all. However, if any do incur the debt of a second repentance, his spirit is not to be forthwith cut down and undermined by despair. Let it by all means be irksome to sin again, but let not to repent again be irksome: irksome to imperil one’s self again, but not to be again set free. Let none be ashamed. Repeated sickness must have repeated medicine. You will show your gratitude to the Lord by not refusing what the Lord offers you. You have offended, but can still be reconciled. You have one whom you may satisfy, and Him willing.

There are many people who claim to be Christians that return to their sins as often as they repent. But they will eventually “find an end to their escaping”. These Christians have lost what they had received at one time. There is no doubt that God will restore that which was lost, if only they will repent and never return to those sins. Those who have lost what they once had in Christ are usually more miserable than they would be if they have never received grace to begin with. The loss here is not just a few benefits. If this were so we would see it as so in the writings. The loss is the very thing that our first repentance got for us; the grace of God which brought salvation. If grace is lost, all is lost! There can be salvation no other way, except by His grace!

Chapter 9 
This act, which is more usually expressed and commonly spoken of under a Greek name, is exomologhsis, whereby we confess our sins to the Lord, not indeed as if He were ignorant of them, but inasmuch as by confession satisfaction is settled, of confession repentance is born; by repentance God is appeased.

All this exomologesis (does), that it may enhance repentance; may honour God by its fear of the (incurred) danger; may, by itself pronouncing against the sinner, stand in the stead of God’s indignation, and by temporal mortification (I will not say frustrate, but) expunge eternal punishments. Therefore, while it abases the man, it raises him; while it covers him with squalor, it renders him more clean; while it accuses, it excuses; while it condemns, it absolves. The less quarter you give yourself, the more (believe me) will God give you.

Chapter 11 
let him say, “I have sinned against God, and am in peril of eternally perishing: and so now I am drooping, and wasting and torturing myself, that I may reconcile God to myself, whom by sinning I have offended.”

Do we hesitate, when eternity is at stake, to endure what the competitor for consulship or praetorship puts up with? and shall we be tardy in offering to the offended Lord a self-chastisement in food and raiment.

Chapter 12 
”If you shrink back from exomologesis, consider in your heart the hell, which exomologesis will extinguish for you; and imagine first the magnitude of the penalty, that you may not hesitate about the adoption of the remedy.
Therefore, since you know that after the first bulwarks of the Lord’s baptism there still remains for you, in exomologesis a second reserve of aid against hell, why do you desert your own salvation? Why are you tardy to approach what you know heals you?”

Exomologesis means “full acknowledgment” or “confession.” It was, first and foremost, a confession of faith, but exomologesis was also used to name the public ritual manifestation of repentance.

Exomologesis requires that … you prostrate yourself at the feet of the priests and kneel before the beloved of God, making all the brethren commissioned ambassadors of your prayer of pardon (Tertullian 9).

Accordingly exomologesis is a discipline for man’s prostration and humiliation, enjoining a demeanour calculated to move mercy. With regard also to the very dress and food, it commands (the penitent) to lie in sackcloth and ashes.to know no food and drink but such as is plain,-to feed prayers on fastings, to groan, to weep and roar (mugire) unto the Lord God; to roll before the feet of the presbyters, and kneel to God’s dear ones, to enjoin on all the brethren embassies of intercession on his behalf. All this exomologesis does, that it may enhance repentance.

According to Tertullian, God’s anger is appeased by our repentance, not by the crucifixion of Christ. Christ’s death on the cross provided for us forgiveness of sins; but not through the punishment of Christ; but through willing the sacrifice of Christ. Punishment is not a teaching of scripture as so many teachers have taught within the Church. This doctrine has been made up my men who want to prove their doctrines to be correct. But it is not in the scriptures as many have thought. If true, this would eliminate the need for our repentance, since Christ took the punishment, and “paid for” our sins. But punishment and payment are lies that have formed and held together the Eternal Security doctrine. What Christ did for us was provision, not payment; sacrifice, not punishment.

It is evidently possible to “shrink back” from our confession and full acknowledgment of our sins. The conviction of sins that caused many Christians to confess and repent is not as strong as it once was. Many people have justified in their own minds the sins that they commit. They even claim that “we all sin every day”, we cannot help but to sin”, or “all sins are cover by Jesus; past, present, and future”. Because they do not have the same conviction of sin, they do not repent of sin. They will therefore be judged for their sins. Their conscience is in great danger of being seared, as mentioned in 1 Timothy 4:1-2 “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” Then the writer of Hebrews wrote, “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” Hebrews 10:38-39

As Tertullian said, “If you shrink back from exomologesis, consider in your heart the hell, which exomologesis will extinguish for you;” If we shrink back, or draw back, our heart is already in hell, in which our soul will follow, unless we repent. He then asks the question, “Why do you desert your own salvation? Tertullian obvious saw that it was possible to desert salvation and be eternally lost, after having once been saved.

THE FIVE BOOKS AGAINST MARCION

It is in this writing to Marcion that we will begin to see the roots of Calvinism and Eternal Security in the teachings of this well known heretic and Gnostic of the 2nd century.

BOOK 1

CHAPTER 1 
”…by the fraud of a person who was then a brother, but became afterwards an apostate.”

“whereas Marcion has quenched the light of his faith, and so lost the God whom he had found. His disciples will not deny that his first faith he held along with ourselves; a letter of his own proves this; so that for the future a heretic may from his case be designated as one who, forsaking that which was prior, afterwards chose out for himself that which was not in times past. For in as far as what was delivered in times past and from the beginning will be held as truth, in so far will that be accounted heresy which is brought in later.”

Tertullian starts this book by writing about a brother in Christ who had purposely changed what he had written in his book, to misrepresent him. It was like sending a book you write to a “Christian” printer, and the printer decides to change your views to fit his own before printing it. This brother had become an apostate after having been saved, falling from grace.

It is then said that even Marcion was once saved, but lost what he had in Christ. Marcion had received and believed the truth at one time, but afterward had fallen through apostasy. But what is it that he fell to? What did he actually teach and believe? We will soon see!

CHAPTER 19 
”Marcion’s special and principal work is the separation of the law and the gospel; and his disciples will not deny that in this point they have their very best pretext for initiating and confirming themselves in his heresy. He therefore could not have been revealed by Christ, who came before the separation, but must have been devised by Marcion, the author of the breach of peace between the gospel and the law.”

It is said that Marcion’s special and principal work is the separation of the law and the gospel. This is what was early explained and known as Antinomianism; a well accepted teaching of the Gnostics such as Marcion and many others of this time. They did not believe that the law was any longer important for salvation. Even the moral law was not necessary to be kept, as long as you had the “knowledge” of who Jesus is, accepted at some point in your life, and confess faith in His work on the cross. Today’s Eternal Security proponents confess the same thing! It is a Gnostic teaching of antinomianism that says that a “knowledge” of Jesus and faith alone is all that is necessary for eternal salvation. These same Gnostics believe that they had been given this special knowledge, as a chosen people for salvation. They felt that they were God’s elect, and nothing at all could change that! This is the roots of Calvinism’s teaching of unconditional election and limited atonement. It carries also the strong implication of the 5th point, the perseverance of the saints, which is Eternal Security, and commonly taught as “Once Saved, Always Saved”.

Marcion separated the law and the gospel in the same way that he separated God the Father and God the Son. He taught that the God of the Old Testament was the angry God of Judgment of against all sin; but Jesus is the new God of the New Testament, who is a God of love, grace, compassion, mercy, and unconditional eternal salvation. Marcion formed two separate God’s in his teachings. Today, Calvinists and Eternal security proponents do not claim that there at two God’s at all; but do in a sense make two different God’s. They do this through what is known as dispensationalism; teaching that God dealt differently with man in different times, and thus we are now under grace in which God will not judge sin in the lives of those who once come to Him. This is just a different method of doing the same thing that Marcion did. There is no doubt that through their teachings the God in the New Testament is different than the God of the Old Testament. But the Bible says that God never changes; and of Jesus that he is the same yesterday, today and forever. But yet these men have successfully changed them in their doctrines and teachings.

Although God’s methods of dealing with man may have changed, His view of sin and holiness have not. Nothing is hidden from God so that He cannot see it. If we have sin in us, the Holy Spirit will not dwell in an unclean vessel, and we will be judged for our sin. Law and grace cannot be separated! The Shepherd of Hermas and all the early Church writings, and especially the Bible all make this very clear.

CHAPTER 26 
”For how is it possible that he should issue commands, if he does not mean to execute them; or forbid sins, if he intends not to punish them, but rather to decline the functions of the judge, as being a stranger to all notions of severity and judicial chastisement? For why does he forbid the commission of that which he punishes not when perpetrated? It would have been far more right, if he had not forbidden what he meant not to punish, than that he should punish what he had not forbidden.”

Why would God command us to not sin if He had no intentions of punishing sin? It has been made clear both in the scriptures and in these writings that the punishment spoken of refers to eternal punishment in hell; and not the loss of rewards. There is never any mention of rewards at all. Punishment was well known as being eternal, not the same as chastisement or loss of rewards. If God says those who sin will die and be eternally punished with the unrighteous, then that is exactly what He means.

CHAPTER 27 
”Again, he plainly judges evil by not willing it, and condemns it by prohibiting it; while, on the other hand, he acquits it by not avenging it, and lets it go free by not punishing it. What a prevaricator of truth is such a god! What a dissembler with his own decision! Afraid to condemn what he really condemns, afraid to hate what he does not love, permitting that to be done which he does not allow, choosing to indicate what he dislikes rather than deeply examine it! This will turn out an imaginary goodness, a phantom of discipline, perfunctory in duty, careless in sin. Listen, ye sinners; and ye who have not yet come to this, hear, that you may attain to such a pass! A better god has been discovered, who never takes offence, is never angry, never inflicts punishment, who has prepared no fire in hell, no gnashing of teeth in the outer darkness! He is purely and simply good. He indeed forbids all delinquency, but only in word. He is in you, if you are willing to pay him homage, for the sake of appearances, that you may seem to honour God; for your fear he does not want. And so satisfied are the Marcionites with such pretences, that they have no fear of their god at all.”

“And what can be more direct flattery than not to punish sins? Come, then, if you do not fear God as being good, why do you not boil over into every kind of lust, and so realize that which is, I believe, the main enjoyment of life to all who fear not God? Why do you not frequent the customary pleasures of the maddening circus, the bloodthirsty arena, and the lascivious theatre? Why in persecutions also do you not, when the censer is presented, at once redeem your life by the denial of your faith? God forbid, you say with redoubted emphasis. So you do fear sin, and by your fear prove that He is an object of fear Who forbids the sin. This is quite a different matter from that obsequious homage you pay to the god whom you do not fear, which is identical in perversity indeed to is own conduct, in prohibiting a thing without annexing the sanction of punishment. Still more vainly do they act, who when asked, What is to become of every sinner in that great day? reply, that he is to be cast away out of sight. Is not even this a question of judicial determination? He is adjudged to deserve rejection, and that by a sentence of condemnation; unless the sinner is cast away forsooth for his salvation, that even a leniency like this may fall in consistently with the character of your most good and excellent god! And what will it be to be cast away, but to lose that which a man was in the way of obtaining, were it not for his rejection–that is, his salvation? Therefore his being cast away will involve the forfeiture of salvation; and this sentence cannot possibly be passed upon him, except by an angry and offended authority, who is also the punisher of sin–that is, by a judge.”

It is this same “imaginary goodness” that today’s Eternal Security proponents have created. They claim a goodness of God in that He will not condemn the sinning Christian, in which the Bible never describes at all. This “imaginary goodness: is taken to the farthest extremes by teachings such as Universalism, the belief that all men will be saved in the end, because of the goodness and love of God for the world. But this is not at all what the Bible teaches; and neither is the imaginary goodness of Eternal Security. God is so very good without us attempting to add to it. His grace is sufficient! His grace is not salvation in sin, but salvation from sin! Men have changed the grace of God into a license to sin. This imaginary goodness will be judged!

The underlined portion above describes the doctrine of salvation and god of Marcion. This describes almost exactly the “Calvinist & Eternal Security” god. How convenient it is for a person who does not want to give up their sin; or for those who do not have faith. Judgment is not a pleasant thought at all! It is much easier to accept this lying doctrine of devils that avoids all conviction of sin, calling it condemnation instead. Such people have no fear of God and eternal judgment; while all the time they are hanging over the very edge of hell.

Even the Marcionites had enough in them that they would die a martyrs death for what they believed. But what good was their death if they remained in their sins? No different than the death of a Muslim or cultist who would die for their beliefs. They will all be cast away! The bold underlined portion above tells us exactly what it means to be cast away. Calvinists will attempt to say that it means anything but losing salvation. But here it is plainly explained as total loss of everything that we once had in Christ. It is the forfeiture of salvation, which is due to judgment given by an angry God; not a new God created by men, where grace covers all! Grace removes sin so that we cannot be judged. If sin is present and is not repented of, then it will be judged.

Book 2

Chapter 5 
”For a law would not be imposed upon one who had it not in his power to render that obedience which is due to law; nor again, would the penalty of death be threatened against sin, if a contempt of the law were impossible to man in the liberty of his will. So in the Creator’s subsequent laws also you will find, when He sets before man good and evil, life and death, that the entire course of discipline is arranged in precepts by God’s calling men from sin, and threatening and exhorting them; and this on no other ground than that man is free, with a will either for obedience or resistance.”

God never had any intensions at all of removing the moral law. He empowered us with the ability to keep them! He would not command us to be holy if it were not possible to do so. He would not threaten men with eternal judgment for sin if it were not even possible to keep from sinning. Through the Holy Spirit men have been given all that they need in order to overcome completely. Man has been given a free will to choose which way he will go. The Calvinist doctrine of Total Depravity does not work here! The Holy Spirit changes man’s inabilities. From the time we are drawn by the Spirit to salvation, all the way to the end of this life, we are without excuse. Jesus conquered Total Depravity on the cross! Now He draws all men, so that they may choose to receive Him or reject Him; to be holy or to allow sin to reign in them; to walk in obedience or resist Him.

Chapter 6 
”But although we shall be understood, from our argument, to be only so affirming man’s unshackled power over his will, that what happens to him should be laid to his own charge, and not to God’s, yet that you may not object, even now, that he ought not to have been so constituted, since his liberty and power of will might turn out to be injurious…Therefore it was proper that (he who is) the image and likeness of God should be formed with a free will and a mastery of him self;… At present, let God’s goodness alone occupy our attention, that which gave so large a gift to man, even the liberty of his will.”

“But the reward neither of good nor of evil could be paid to the man who should be found to have been either good or evil through necessity and not choice. In this really lay the law which did not exclude, but rather prove, human liberty by a spontaneous rendering of obedience, or a spontaneous commission of iniquity; so patent was the liberty of man’s will for either issue.It is, no doubt, an easy process for persons who take offence at the fall of man, before they have looked into the facts of his creation, to impute the blame of what happened to the Creator, without any examination of His purpose. To conclude: the goodness of God, then fully considered from the beginning of His works, will be enough to convince us that nothing evil could possibly have come forth from God; and the liberty of man will, after a second thought, show us that it alone is chargeable with the fault which itself committed.”

Calvinists will dogmatically assert that men are predestined to either salvation or eternal damnation through God’s sovereign will. The Bible consistently disagrees with this view, showing us that we must choose, follow, obey, seek, ask, confess, repent, abide, etc., etc. The fact that man has been given “by the sovereignty of God’s will” a free will to choose, is all throughout the pages of the Bible, and obviously written by the early Church fathers.

Man will be held responsible and judged according to his own choices in life. For God to judge man when man could not help but to sin does not fit the character of God as seen in the Bible. Man’s choice is always a part of every situation and the cause of eternal punishment or eternal life. This is because of His sovereign will that whosoever shall call upon His name could be saved. He is no respecter of persons. If man is judged and condemned to hell for eternity, it will be all upon his own shoulders, and not the doing of God! The fact that man has a free will does great damage to Calvinist doctrines. If this is true, then the 5 points of Calvinism fall very quickly.

1. If man has free will, then Total Depravity must be removed in order for him to make choices properly;

2. Unconditional Election falls immediately since man’s eternal judgment is based upon his choice, not God’s. It was God’s sovereign will for it to be this way. Therefore there are conditions!

3. Limited Atonement makes no sense, since again, it is not by God’s choice, but the choices of “all” men everywhere. There is no limit to salvation; except to those who choose to receive Him.

4. Irresistible Grace cannot be true if salvation is based on free will. To the Calvinist, grace is irresistible because God is drawing, they are predestined, and it is God’s sovereign will for them to be saved, in which they have no choice. Free will changes all of this, making grace resistible through man’s choices in life.

5. Then finally, perseverance of the Saints or Eternal Security cannot stand either. If man can choose to be saved through choosing to receive Christ and walk in obedience to His commands; then he can also choose to continue in sin, forfeiting his salvation through a breech of contract, not keeping his first repentance.

Man alone will be responsible for his actions, lack of faith, and choices in life. God cannot be blamed for our sin!

Chapter 7 
”Now, if He had interposed, He would have rescinded the liberty of man’s will, which He had permitted with set purpose, and in goodness. But, suppose God had interposed; suppose Him to have abrogated man’s liberty, by warning him from the tree, and keeping off the subtle serpent from his interview with the woman; would not Marcion then exclaim, What a frivolous, unstable, and faithless Lord, cancelling the gifts He had bestowed! Why did He allow any liberty of will, if He afterwards withdrew it? Why withdraw it after allowing it?… Man must see, if he failed to make the most of the good gift he had received, how that he was himself guilty in respect of the law which he did not choose to keep, and not that the Lawgiver was committing a fraud against His own law, by not permitting its injunctions to be fulfilled. Whenever you are inclined to indulge in such censure (and it is the most becoming for you) against the Creator, recall gently to your mind in His behalf His earnestness, and endurance, and truth, in having given completeness to His creatures both as rational and good.”

God gave man the gift of free will from the beginning; in which He never took it away. Man suffers in this life and unless he repents, eternally, because of his own choices. God will not take away this gift of free will. If there was no free will, then there would never have been a fall of man. And there would never be judgment of any men at all. Our lives begin and end with free will; and we will be judged according to our choices. Calvinists, like Marcion, would cancel the gift of free will through their teachings; placing the destiny of men and judgment of all on God, through His sovereign choice. Some saved and others condemned. There is no righteous judgment in this theology!

Chapter 8 
”…nor would He have put the burden of law upon him, if he had been incapable of sustaining so great a weight; nor, again, would He have threatened with the penalty of death a creature whom He knew to be guiltless on the score of his helplessness: in short, if He had made him infirm, it would not have been by liberty and independence of will, but rather by the withholding from him these endowments. And thus it comes to pass, that even now also, the same human being, the same substance of his soul, the same condition as Adam’s, is made conqueror over the same devil by the self-same liberty and power of his will, when it moves in obedience to the laws of God.”

The ability to overcome the devil in our lives, to live holy lives in obedience to His will; are all accomplished first through our free will. Not by our free will alone! But our free will simply chooses to have faith in Christ and to receive His Holy Spirit, so that we can follow through with our decision to follow Him and walk by faith in holiness of life.

Chapter 12 “Since, therefore, there is this union and agreement between goodness and justice, you cannot prescribe their separation. With what face will you determine the separation of your two Gods, regarding in their separate condition one as distinctively the good God, and the other as distinctively the just God? Where the just is, there also exists the good. in short, from the very first the Creator was both good and also just. And both His attributes advanced together. His goodness created, His justice arranged, the world;”

In order to separate God’s attributes, you really would have to separate “Him” into two god’s as Marcion did. The Calvinists and Eternal Security proponents did this by the use of dispensationalism, making God different in the New Testament under a new grace. Although they do not teach a new god, they do teach a new grace through Jesus Christ, which has the same end result as Marcion’s teaching; which is that we are no longer bound to keep the laws of God, we are eternally, unconditionally saved, and nothing can change our eternal status, not even willful, rebellious sin. But if God never changes, he will still judge sin. Although the Calvinists claim that Christ took our punishment, such cannot be proven in scripture. What is proven is that Christ died for our sins, was the sacrifice for us, providing forgiveness of our sins. This forgiveness is received through repentance. And it is maintained as we keep our repentance through holy living, by the grace of His indwelling Spirit within us. Tertullian is bringing out that God still judges sin in the believer. If this were not so, then Marion would have a good point to be acknowledged. But they are only disputed! God did not change! There is not a new God of grace in the person of Jesus Christ. God still judges sin! He has always been full of grace towards His people! The only difference being that grace is available to all who will live in repentance, walking in the grace of His Holy Spirit to overcome sin completely.

Chapter 14 
”God hardens the heart of Pharaoh. He deserved, however, to be influenced to his destruction, who had already denied God, already in his pride so often rejected His ambassadors, accumulated heavy burdens on His people, and (to sum up all) as an Egyptian, had long been guilty before God of Gentile idolatry, worshipping the ibis and the crocodile in preference to the living God. Even His own people did God visit in their ingratitude.”

Romans chapter 9 is commonly disputed between Calvinists and Arminians. Calvinists use it to attempt proving that God saves and condemns whomever He chooses, by His sovereign choice. They believe that God simply choice to harden and condemn men like Pharaoh just because He wanted to, having nothing to do with free will. But what they miss is the fact that Pharaoh already had a hard heart before God hard hardened him even further. As Tertullian says, he had “already denied God”. But so Pharaoh would not get saved in light of the miracles performed through Moses, and not of faith and love for God, God hardened his heart. Even the worst sinners would get saved if they were able to see great miracles, as proof that God is alive and in control of this world; and that He will judge men. But God would not allow men to be saved through anything other than faith, so He hardens the hearts of those who are already hard.

Chapter 23 
”What must the Creator do, in order to escape the censure of the Marcionites? Must He prematurely condemn men, who are thus far correct in their conduct, because of future delinquencies? But it is not the mark of a good God to condemn beforehand persons who have not yet deserved condemnation. Must He then refuse to eject sinners, on account of their previous good deeds? But it is not the characteristic of a just judge to forgive sins in consideration of former virtues which are no longer practiced.

Now, who is so faultless among men, that God could always have him in His choice, and never be able to reject him? Or who, on the other hand, is so void of any good work, that God could reject him forever, and never be able to choose him? Show me, then, the man who is always good, and he will not be rejected; show me, too, him who is always evil, and he will never be chosen.

Should, however, the same man, being found on different occasions in the pursuit of both good and evil be recompensed in both directions by God, who is both a good and judicial Being, He does not change His judgments through inconstancy or want of foresight, but dispenses reward according to the deserts of each case with a most unwavering and provident decision.”

This chapter confronts the doctrine of predestination, which was later taught by Augustine, then by Calvin and today’s Calvinists and Eternal Security proponents. It directly speaks against such teaching as taught by this Gnostic teacher of Antinomianism. Predestination teaches against free will, in which the early Church stood for strongly. If God is to be just, as we know He is, then He would never predestinate individuals. Any scripture that teaches predestination speaks of corporate predestination, not individual. God predestinated His plan of salvation for the world, and His purpose for the Church; not for individuals without the use of their free will!

Book 4

Chapter 29 
”That steward who should treat his fellow-servants well in his Lord’s absence, would on his return be set as ruler over all his property; but he who should act otherwise should be severed, and have his portion with the unbelievers, when his lord should return on the day when he looked not for him, at the hour when he was not aware–even that Son of man, the Creator’s Christ, not a thief, but a Judge. He accordingly, in this passage, either presents to us the Lord as a Judge, and instructs us in His character, or else as the simply good god; if the latter, he now also affirms his judicial attribute, although the heretic refuses to admit it. For an attempt is made to modify this sense when it is applied to his god,–as if it were an act of serenity and mildness simply to sever the man off, and to assign him a portion with the unbelievers, under the idea that he was not summoned (before the judge), but only returned to his own state! As if this very process did not imply a judicial act! What folly! What will be the end of the severed ones? Will it not be the for feiture of salvation, since their separation will be from those who shall attain salvation? What, again, will be the condition of the unbelievers? Will it not be damnation? Else, if these severed and unfaithful ones shall have nothing to suffer, there will, on the other hand, be nothing for the accepted and the believers to obtain. If, however, the accepted and the believers shall attain salvation, it must needs be that the rejected and the unbelieving should incur the opposite issue, even the loss of salvation…Your Christ proclaims, “I am come to send fire on the earth.” That most lenient being, the lord who has no hell, not long before had restrained his disciples from demanding fire on the churlish village. Whereas He burnt up Sodom and Gomorrah with a tempest of fire.”
In this chapter Tertullian uses the parable Jesus told in Luke 12 about the faithful and unfaithful stewards. He makes it very clear that that stewards are children of God, and that the unfaithful steward (Christian) will have his portion with the unbelievers. In other words, this steward is one who did believe, but afterwards will go to be with the unbelievers in eternal punishment. His present condition was with believers, until he was found to be unfaithful by the Lord.

Now, Tertullian is a specific as can be here, so that there can be no questioning, and not twist around of what he is actually saying. He asks the questions, “What will be the end of the severed ones? Will it not be the for feiture of salvation, since their separation will be from those who shall attain salvation? What, again, will be the condition of the unbelievers? Will it not be damnation?” Those who are found to be unfaithful, even though they are called Children of God; they will forfeit their salvation, since they are found to be in the same condition as unbelievers. If a person does not live any different than an unbeliever, then they will be damned eternally with the unbelievers. Tertullian is very sure to mention that these unfaithful Christians will not just have a loss of rewards, but without a doubt will lose salvation.

Those who have a hard time understanding how a loving God can allow backslidden Christians to go to hell, really do not understand God at all. He is so very loving and compassionate, in that He has made the way for all men to be saved, if they so choose. If men choose to live in sin and to refuse His gift and power through the Holy Spirit to overcome sin, then they will be judged accordingly. Eternal judgment is righteous judgment; and God cannot be blamed as if He is unjust! It is men who are unjust! And if they refuse the provision God has offered so the sin can be conquered, then they will have their portion with the unbelievers; since they prove to not have faith in what He provided. Salvation can be lost! Do not be deceived by these lying spirits that have been around from the beginning of this earth, and were evident at the time of the early Church with men like Marcion and many others like him. We will soon see others who like Marcion carried on these same lies, as the true Church refutes them with the truth; that sin still condemns even the Christian, and how we are saved eternally only as we are willing to repent and to keep our repentance pure, through holy living. This message is carried on for centuries, until corrupted in the 4th century, even within what was once the true Church. We can see these heretical, Gnostic beliefs, and antinomianism work themselves into the Church, being carried from those times even unto the present. These beliefs have spread out into many sects, doctrines, and beliefs; but are very evident in the teachings of 5 points of Calvinism. The most damaging of these is the teaching of Eternal Security, also known as “Once Saved, Always Saved”.

Chapter 35 
Why does He bid us “remember Lot’s wife,” who despised the Creator’s command, and was punished for her contempt, if He does not come with judgment to avenge the infraction of His precepts?

God would not give us commands and laws if He did not intend for them to be kept, and He would not remind of the end of Lots wife if He did not intend for us to believe that we could come to an end in the same way. God does not give empty threats; and these threats are not given to sinners, but to Christians. And these threats are not warnings that rewards may be lost, but that salvation may be lost.

Chapter 37 
The parable also of the (ten) servants, who received their several recompenses according to the manner in which they had increased their lord’s money by trading proves Him to be a God of judgment–even a God who, in strict account, not only bestows honour, but also takes away what a man seems to have.

This parable is given in Luke 19:12-26. What is it that is taken away from those who did not do well with what had been given to them? What had been given to them is taken away! This parable explains the just judgment of God upon all His servants. It compares the natural to the physical, in which the money given to these servants represents spiritual things given to us by God. What spiritual things have we received from Him? We have received the Holy Spirit! If we allow the Spirit to reign in our lives and we will walk in the Spirit, and by it prospering, bearing fruit, and living holy, obedient lives before all, then we will have multiplied greatly. But if we neglect the gift of God and do nothing at all to change, are not fruitful, and do not become prosperous in spirit, but rather die spiritually, then we will have what remains taken away from us. If the Spirit and all His benefits are removed, then there cannot possibly be salvation. If all that we received from Him is taken away, then this would include salvation. Salvation does not abide in the careless, sinful servants, but will flee from them, unless they repent quickly.

TERTULLIAN

On modesty

Chapter 2 “We agree that the causes of repentance are sins. These we divide into two issues: some will be remissible, some irremissible: in accordance wherewith it will be doubtful to no one that some deserve chastisement, some condemnation. Every sin is dischargeable either by pardon or else by penalty: by pardon as the result of chastisement, by penalty as the result of condemnation. Touching this difference, we have not only already premised certain antithetical passages of the Scriptures, on one hand retaining, on the other remitting, sins; but John, too, will teach us: “If any knoweth his brother to be sinning a sin not unto death, he shall request, and life shall be given to him;” because he is not “sinning unto death,” this will be remissible. ” (There) is a sin unto death; not for this do I say that any is to request”–this will be irremissible. So, where there is the efficacious power of “making request,” there likewise is that of remission: where there is no (efficacious power) of “making request,” there equally is none of remission either. According to this difference of sins, the condition of repentance also is discriminated. There will be a condition which may possibly obtain pardon,–in the case, namely, of a remissible sin: there will be a condition which can by no means obtain it,–in the case, namely, of an irremissible sin. And it remains to examine specially, with regard to the position of adultery and fornication, to which class of sins they ought to be assigned.”

It can be understood that Tertullian and other Church Fathers had their opinions about what sins might or might not be forgiven. But regardless of what their opinion may have been on this matter, the one thing that is made clear is that they believed that the sins that may be forgiven are those which a person can truly repent of. If they truly repent and turn away from their sins (no matter what they may be) then this proves that they have obtained the “efficacious power of “making request”. Their understanding and teach of repentance was that repentance was granted by God to the sinner. They believed that God may not grant repentance for certain sins, and therefore there would not be forgiveness. But even so, if such a person could find the place of repentance and prove through a changed life that they truly repented of their sin, then forgiveness is also evident. But the fact was, they had seen many who had fallen into sins, never to return to repentance. In their eyes repentance had not been granted to these people by the power to make request for forgiveness. Many people have crossed the fine line between sin not unto death and sin unto death. It is through sins unto death that so many have difficulty ever returning to a healthy relationship with Christ. The fact is, it has always been understood by the early Church that sins do still separate even the Christian from salvation. It is only through repentance that forgiveness can be granted. Otherwise, salvation will be lost!

Clement of Alexandria
The Stromada

I have quoted these remarks to prove in error those Basilidians who do not live purely, supposing either that they have the power even to commit sin because of their perfection, or indeed that they will be saved by nature even if they sin in this life because they possess an innate election. For the original teachers of their doctrines do not allow one to do the same as they are now doing. They ought not, therefore, to take as a covering cloak the name of Christ and, by living lewder lives than the most uncontrolled heathen, bring blasphemy upon his name. “For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers” as far as the words “whose end shall be like their works.”

Basilides, another well known heretic like Marcion, had many followers who all believed that because they were the “elect” of God that their salvation could not be lost no matter what they might do. Nothing could separate them from salvation! This of course, is exactly what our Calvinists and Eternal Security proponents claim today. These Gnostic groups had rejected the need of keeping the laws of God, through their Antinomian beliefs; and because they felt that they were so special in God’s eyes – being His elect, they believed that He would never let them perish, no matter what they might do. They had an imaginary grace and love they placed upon God, that would cover all the sins they ever might commit. They made the same exact error that people make today with their views of God, not seeing His righteous judgment against “all” who sin. They have put on the blinders of Eternal Security, and cannot see that they are heading down a path straight to hell, unless they repent or that they are leading so many people astray. Like the Bible, these writings confirm what has always been written concerning those who sin. Even though a person had at one time in their life confessed Christ as their Lord and savior; unless they walk in holiness and purity, they will not be saved in the end. All these teachings about the grace and love of God that will not allow Christians to lose salvation are demonic, and do not teach the truth. They are misrepresentations of the true grace and love of God, which are both far greater than what the Calvinists claim. True grace and love according to the scriptures takes away sin, and never just cover them.

Those who live sinful lives and call themselves Christians do blaspheme His Holy name. They do so in that they “take as a covering cloak the name of Christ and, by living lewder lives than the most uncontrolled heathen” they crucify the Son of God afresh! Sin cannot be covered! It must be taken away! People did the same in the first centuries as they do today, convincing themselves that they are saved and that nothing at all can change that, while living sinful lives. They claim they are “covered” by the blood of Christ. They wear His name in blasphemy! But their end will be with the heathen, except worse; since they knew what was right and did not do it!

Clement of Alexandria against the Perseverance of the Saints

 – “…nor be ashamed when he sees the Saviour approaching in His glory and with His army. He fears not the fire. But if one chooses to continue and to sin perpetually in pleasures, and values indulgence here above eternal life, and turns away from the Saviour, who gives forgiveness; let him no more blame either God, or riches, or his having fallen, but his own soul, which voluntarily perishes.”

Third Century Church Fathers

Origen (Written 203-250)

Origen lived from 185 – 254 A.D.

…it follows that, since the nature of this reason which is in man has within itself the power of distinguishing between good and evil… 

If any one now were to say that those things which happen to us from an external cause, and call forth our movements, are of such a nature that it is impossible to resist them, whether they incite us to good or evil, let the holder of this opinion turn his attention for a little upon himself 

…For this is to say that we are like pieces of wood, or stones, which have no motion in themselves, but receive the causes of their motion from without. Now such an assertion is neither true nor becoming, and is invented only that the freedom of the will may be denied;

VOL IV
 Origen Book III

Translated from Latin of Rufinus.
 Chapter I.—On the Freedom of the Will

Cyprian (Written 248-257)

Little is known of the early history of Thascius Cyprian (born probably about 200 A.D.) until the period of his intimacy with the Carthaginian presbyter Caecilius, which led to his conversion A.D. 246. That he was born of respectable parentage, and highly educated for the profession of a rhetorician is all that can be said with any degree of certainty. At his baptism he assumed the name of his friend Caeilius, and devoted himself, with all the energies of an ardent and vigorous mind, to the study and practice of Christianity. His ordination and his elevation to the episcopate rapidly followed his conversion. With some resistance on his own part, and not without great objections on the part of older presbyters, who saw themselves superseded by his promotion, the popular urgency constrained him to accept the office of Bishop of Carthage (A.D. 248), which he held until his martyrdom (A.D. 258).

Tatian

“Our free-will has destroyed us; we who were free have become slaves; we have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God; we ourselves have manifested wickedness; but we, who have manifested it, are able again to reject it.”

ADDRESS OF TATIAN TO THE GREEKS.

CHAPTER XI.—THE SIN OF MEN DUE NOT TO FATE, BUT TO FREE-WILL.

The Inadequate Historical Precedent for 
“Once Saved, Always Saved”

Steve Witzki

John Jefferson Davis wrote an article titled: “The Perseverance of the Saints: A History of the Doctrine” [Journal of Evangelical Theological Society 34:2 (June 1991)]. Three things make this article of great value. First, it was written by a well-known and highly respected Calvinist theologian. Second, it covers the key people and church groups on the topic. Third, it demonstrates that “once saved, always saved” or unconditional eternal security was not a doctrine that was taught by the ancient church, nor for that manner, by any well-known theologian before John Calvin. This doctrine is, in fact, completely foreign in the history of Christianity. 

While the first extensive discussion of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is found in Augustine’s Treatise on the Gift of Perseverance, written around A. D. 429, Augustine believed it was possible to experience the justifying grace of God and yet not persevere to the end. Augustine did believe God’s elect would certainly persevere to the end, but he denied that a person could know they were in the elect and he also warned it was possible to be justified but not among the elect. Not until Calvin was unconditional election, permanent regeneration, and certitude of final perseverance all connected.

James Akin, a Catholic theologian, said in a debate with Calvinist theologian James White that no one before Calvin taught that predestination to grace automatically entails predestination to glory.

You can check that out for yourself. I did. I searched multiple books and called half a dozen Calvinist seminaries, talking to their systematic theology and church history professors, and no one could name a person before Calvin who taught this thesis. They all said Calvin was the first. I even called John Jefferson Davis, a scholar who published an article in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society on the history of this doctrine, a man who is himself a Calvinist, but who has researched the history of this doctrine thoroughly, and he said Calvin was the first to teach it.

This poses a problem even for those who claim that they take their teachings exclusively from Scripture, namely, “How could a doctrine this important–if true–remain completely undiscovered for the first 1500 years of Church history and, if Jesus comes back any time soon, for three quearters of all of Church history?”

Other important doctrines have been known all through Christian history. Christians always knew, even when heretics denied it,that Jesus Christ was God. Christians always knew, even when heretics denied it, that Jesus Christ is fully man as well as fully God. And Christians always knew, even when heretics denied it, that they were saved purely by God’s grace. 

So when it turns out that Christians never knew that true Christians can never fall away, and then suddenly 1500 years later someone starts claiming it, one has to ask who is conveying the true teaching of the apostles and who is teaching the heresy “Are All True Christians Predestined to Persevere?”

Akin’s remarks are accurate and problematic for Calvinist scholars. Furthermore, the Calvinist does not fare any better when one looks even more deeply into what the early Christians believed about this issue. In 1998, Hendrickson Publishers printed A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs: A Reference Guide to More than 700 Topics Discussed by the Early Church Fathers. Under the topic heading of “Salvation,” we find the question, “Can those who are saved ever be lost?” After several Scriptural passages are quoted [2 Chron 15:2; Ezek 33:12; Matt 10:22; Luke 9:62; 2 Tim 2:12; Heb 10:26; 2 Pet 2:20-21], five pages of quotes are given from the writings of early Christian leaders. These quotes give evidence that the early church did not believe in “once saved, always saved.” They taught that it was possible for a genuine believer to reject God and wind up eternally separated from God in hell [pp. 586-591]. 

David Bercot, editor of this dictionary, also wrote a provocative book called, Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up? It takes today’s Evangelical Church, both its lifestyle and teaching, and looks at it in the light of early Christian teaching. It is an interesting book that comes from someone who has read through the entire works of the Ante-Nicene Fathers more than once. He writes,

“Since the early Christians believed that our continued faith and obedience are necessary for salvation, it naturally follows that they believed that a “saved” person could still end up being lost. For example, Irenaeus, the pupil of Polycarp, wrote, “Christ will not die again on behalf of those who now commit sin because death shall no more have dominion over Him…. Therefore we should not be puffed up…. But we should beware lest somehow, after [we have come to] the knowledge of Christ, if we do things displeasing to God, we obtain no further forgiveness of sins but rather be shut out from His kingdom” (Heb. 6:4-6) [p. 65].”

What the Christian Church historically believed about the security of the believer is not the ultimate test for determining our stance on this issue today, but the lack of historical precedent should serve as a warning. Before John Calvin, the teaching of unconditional eternal security was not a doctrine that was taught by the universal church through the centuries. Therefore, while the Scriptures are the ultimate test for truth on this issue, “once saved, always saved” teachers need to acknowledge that their doctrine is historically an anomaly. Furthermore, the brand of “once saved, always saved” teaching that tells people that they can stop believing and still be on their way to heaven (but with less rewards) is nowhere to be found in historic Christianity prior to the twentieth century.

[This post was taken from http://eternaltruth.us/the-early-church-verses-calvinism, though the link is now dead.]