Friday, January 11, 2013

Judas refutes Eternal Security (Calvinism)

One of the most powerful arguments to refute the Protestant doctrine of Eternal Security (also known as Once Saved, Always Saved) is the example of Judas. The typical objection these Protestants make is that if someone 'falls away' then they were never really saved in the first place, but this claim (aside from being unbiblical) doesn't work with Judas' example. Some will point to John 17:2 which says Judas was "lost," but this refers to his losing his salvation, as will be shown.  

The force of my argument rests in the fact that it is impossible to be an Apostle if one is not a true believer in the first place. (This causes problems for Reformed church leadership as well.) If the Protestant position were correct, the Bible could only have said Eleven were Apostles, despite the fact it plainly says Jesus chose Twelve (John 6:70). Further, the Bible is very clear that Judas was sent out by Jesus with the other Eleven to perform the same miracles (e.g. cast out demons) and preach the same Gospel (e.g. Mark 6:7-13; Matthew 10:1-4). If that wasn't enough, Acts 1:17 says Judas "was numbered among us and was allotted his share in this ministry," and Acts 1:24-25 records the replacing of Judas by Matthias, when Peter says they need a person to "take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside." Clearly, Judas was considered a genuine Apostle and thus was (originally) saved.

Nearly every time Judas is mentioned, his infamy traces to one thing: his future betrayal of Jesus, not some non-converted status he had the whole time (e.g. John 6:71). It is only in John 13 where we see Satan "entered Judas," indicating Judas consented to the betrayal, but up until then Judas was not possessed by Satan. Next, look what the Scriptures say that turns the heat up even more on the Protestant position. In John 13:18, Jesus quotes an OT prophecy in regards to Judas, "But the Scripture will be fulfilled, 'He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.'" To share bread with someone in the Hebrew mindset indicates an intimate relationship; something impossible if Judas was never a believer to begin with. But that's not all, most of us forget to look up the prophecy Jesus is quoting (hat tip to Joe for this), which happens to be Psalm 41:9, which says: "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me." What a new picture emerges after reading this! Indeed, the idea that Judas was so close to Jesus up until then shows just how serious and enormous the betrayal was, since the worst betrayals are those from the people closest to you. Jesus even calls him 'friend' at the moment of betrayal (Matthew 26:49-50)! This is unthinkable if Judas was never saved to begin with.


cwdlaw223 said...

Interesting article. Watch out for the claim that Judas wasn't a true believer even though he was an Apostle (which makes no sense whatsoever). Or some claim that the twelve was merely symbolic and Judas wasn't an original Apostle. Wacky interpretations about if one has a system that doesn't quite fit with scripture and history.

Nick said...

I suppose they could say that Judas was saved in the first place and "merely" fell into sin for a short period when he betrayed the Son of God, but he recovered after the betrayal.

Vocab Malone said...

Nick argues Judas was truly saved and then lost but when Jesus says he "chose" Judas in John 6:70, he means “selected to be one of the Twelve”.

We see this in John 13:18: “I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’” Here Jesus explicitly places Judas outside the number of the elect.

As Calvin noted, “Should any one confound the term election in the two passages, he will miserably entangle himself; whereas if he distinguish between them, nothing can be plainer (Institutes III, xxiv, 9).”

Nick said...

The problem with that is that Calvin and the Reformed do not distinguish between being Elect and being Saved. The two are not the same, so Calvin's charge does not apply to my argument.

What still stands, and I don't see any way around it, is that the Reformed position cannot explain how Judas was truly an Apostle.

Justin Boulmay said...

Interesting post! I've come around to thinking that true believers can fall away from Christ but hadn't considered it from this angle before.

I have a question related to this: can popes fall away from salvation, or are they protected somehow through the apostolic succession they received?

Nick said...

Hello Justin,

Thanks for your comments.

You asked if Popes can fall away from salvation and still be Pope. The answer is yes, and the reasoning is in the fact there is a distinction between Ecclesial Office and Salvation.

I will try to explain why this is so, but if you are not Catholic it might require you to think about things differently. When someone converts to Christianity, their soul is 'branded' with a permanent mark by God signifying they belong to God as adopted children. But it is not enough to be 'branded' as one of God's adopted children, you must be in relationship with God, by having God dwell in your soul. In Catholicism and Scripture, to be saved means you are currently in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. If you break that relationship through grave sin, you become unsaved but retain your mark of adopted child. This is why the Bible says it is worse to be a fallen away Christian than to have never been Christian to begin with.

A similar thing exists with Offices within the church, you can be 'branded' with the mark of a Bishop, for example. This Office is retained forever, but it is not what makes you saved: being saved still consists in remaining in a relationship with God. So a Bishop could commit grave sin and lose his salvation but not lose his Office. Judas proves this, which is why his successor was not appointed until after Judas was dead. But even Peter lost his salvation when he denied Jesus three times, but that did not mean Peter lost his office of Apostle.

One analogy you can use is that of branches on a tree: a branch is only alive (saved) as long as the tree trunk is providing it food, but if this stops, the branch dies (loses salvation), and yet the branch remains a branch. Thus there is a distinction between branches on the tree (Offices in the church) and being a living or dead branch (saved or spiritually dead Christian).

John said...

If this has already been pointed out forgive my oversight. But the article makes a claim off of a false pretense. The Apostles did not become Apostles until after Jesus' resurrection and ascension. During His earthly ministry they were called "disciples". A disciple does not equal being saved, because in John 6 we are shown that many "disciples" walked away because they were never true disciples to begin with.

Nick said...

I don't know where you got that idea, but I've never heard of it and never seen any proof for this in Scripture. The fact is, the Bible says Jesus appointed the twelve, whom Jesus called "Apostles" in places like Mk 3:14 and Lk 6:12.

Acts 1:25 says Judas threw away his "apostleship," and yet this took place prior to Pentecost.

Gary said...

Here is my story: I grew up fundamentalist Baptist. I repented of all my sins and accepted Jesus Christ into my heart to be my Lord and Savior at age nine…and again in my early teens…just to be sure. In my early 20’s my family moved to another state where we attended a non-denominational, evangelical mega-church (which taught Baptist doctrine) for several years. In my mid to late 20’s I stopped going to church because I didn’t “feel” God inside me and he didn’t seem to listen when I prayed.

I remained unchurched until I was married in my forties. I started attending liberal churches. When we had children, I started looking again at more conservative/fundamentalist churches, something closer to what I had believed as a child and teenager. We joined a conservative, orthodox Lutheran church. I became very involved in the church. I was happy and content in my orthodox Christian belief system. I read the Bible and prayed regularly.

One day I was surfing the internet and came across an atheist’s website. He was a former fundamentalist Baptist/evangelical pastor! I was shocked! I started to engage him in conversation, and also tried to bring him back to the Faith, to belief in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.

However, this man pointed out to me some very big assumptions in my Christian belief system which I had never thought of, such as:

1. Just because there is evidence for a Creator does not mean that the Creator is the Christian God, Yahweh.

2. Our current Bibles contain thousands of scribe alterations, most of them inconsequential, but a couple of them are shocking. Why did God allow scribes copying the original Scriptures to change, delete, add, or alter his inerrant, Holy, Word?

3. How do we know that the books of the New Testament are the Word of God? Is there a verse that tells us? Did Jesus give us a list? Did Paul?

4. Do we really have any verifiable eyewitness testimony for the Resurrection or is it all hearsay and legend?

5. Modern archaeology proves that the Captivity in Egypt, the Exodus, the forty years in the Sinai, the Conquest of Canaan, and the great kingdoms of David and Solomon are only ancient Hebrew fables.

At first I fought him tooth and nail. I fought him for four months. At the very end I had to admit that there are no verifiable eyewitness accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus in the Bible or anywhere else. All we have are four anonymous first century texts full of discrepancies and contradictions. The only thing I had left to attach my faith to was the testimony of the Apostle Paul: why would a devout Jewish rabbi convert to a religion he so hated unless he really saw a resurrected dead man on the Damascus Road?

But after studying the five Bible passages that discuss Paul’s conversion, I had to admit that Paul never says he saw a resurrected body. All Paul says is that he saw a light…and that this event occurred in a “heavenly vision”. Visions are not reality...not in the 21st century nor in the 1st.

And as for the improbability that a Jewish rabbi would convert to a hated religion, there is a Muslim cleric in Israel today who not too many years ago was an ardent Zionist Jewish settler and rabbi, intent on ridding the Muslims from Jewish land.

Strange conversions occur. They do not prove that the new religion is true and inerrant.

I was broken-hearted, but I saw my Christian Faith was nothing more than an ancient superstition that had been modified in the first century by Jesus, a good man, but a dead man. There is zero evidence that this first century Jew is alive and the Ruler of the Universe.