There’s the beginning of a really interesting, not to mention civilized and intelligent, conversation about Once Saved, Always Saved (OSAS) going on between DJ AMDG (who believes in it) and Kerath25 (who doesn’t) in the comments section to yesterday’s post. In the post, I argued that Simon the Magi disproves OSAS, because every version of Acts 8:13 says that “Simon himself believed and was baptized” (the two conditions laid out by Christ to become saved in), and yet both Simon and Peter question his salvation in Acts 8:20-24. We don’t know whether Simon the Magi was ultimately saved or not, but it doesn’t matter: the very fact that both St. Peter and Simon himself act as if he might not be disproves OSAS, which bars that possibility a priori.
In response to this, DJAMDG raises a number of points worthy of response, and while I think that Kerath25 did a great job of answering them, they’re worth mentioning in the main part of the blog here, for those of you who may have missed the comments. DJAMDG’s questions will be in red, and my own responses I’ll keep in black. Scripture will be in purple.
- The crux of DJAMDG’s argument is that Acts 8:15-16 signal that Simon the Magi’s Baptism was non-Trinitarian, because we’re told that Peter and John went to Samaria after Phillip, that the Samaritans “might receive the holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Kerath25 succinctly noted what it took me most of this morning’s post to say: Baptism in the name of Jesus (which, as he noted, is perhaps better translated “Baptism into the name of Jesus“) is a reference to Trinitarian water Baptisms, as Acts 2:38 signals. So the problem wasn’t that the Baptism was invalid (it’s exactly as Peter prescribes in 2:38), it’s that they haven’t recieved the separate sacrament of Baptism of the Spirit, which we now call Confirmation. This morning’s post clarifies that distinction. Specifically, Section D (why have both?) answers the question, “why was the laying on of hands required?“
- DJAMDG also says:
I think the point of this text requiring exploration doesn’t have so much to do with a set point for salvation on a time-line but instead the nature and relationship of belief/faith/baptism/heart transformation/rebirth. I think the preponderance of scripture is clear that for rebirth to occur it’s a change of heart that is required. Nothing about the text leads us to believe that Simon’s heart had a trajectory change toward God. On the contrary, everything we’re told from beginning to end about Simon is that his heart desired only power.
I don’t think that’s quite accurate. We’re also told that he believed and was Baptized. The exact same pair of terms (believe and be baptized) are used in Mark 16:16 and Acts 8:13. I don’t see any reason to believe that it means different things in one place than the other. After all, Luke, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, penned these words knowing full well how the story ends. It’s not as though he’s just duped by Simon’s apparent conversion. He knows what happens post-Baptism to Simon, and still explictly affirms that he believed and was Baptized.
Myself, I’m inclined to think he lusted for the power precisely because it was his old ways beckoning him. 2 Peter 2 refers to just such a thing: those who deny “the Master who ransomed them” (2 Peter 2:1), and who turn away from righteousness to go back to the exact same filth they came out of (2 Peter 2:21-22). Even after we’re saved, old sins still tempt us. Simon simply had a relapse: as a magician, seeing an actual miracle would have been amazing. But he was lusting in a sinful way after the grace of God, for all the wrong reasons.
- Next, he writes: “Lastly, I’m starting to like the terms ‘saved’ and ‘salvation’ less and less for what we’re actually talking about…but that’s for a different conversation.” I’m interested in what he’s got to say here. I think that there’s a good chance I agree — “saved” means a specific thing to different people (particularly Evangelicals), and that thing is often distinct from what the New Testament writers meant. There’s always the risk that a word will take on a new meaning distinct from what the Biblical writers meant. An amusing example: in the KJV version of James 2:3, St. James accuses his readers of giving undue “respect to him that weareth the gay clothing.”
That said, Mark 16:16 is the reason “saved” is in this conversation, because this is one of those times when Jesus uses the word. I do think that we should start with the way it’s being used textually, and ask, “If it’s possible to believe and be baptized (Acts 8:13), and then later do something which separates us from a right relationship with God (Acts 8:21), what does Jesus mean when He says that those who believe and are Baptized are saved (Mark 16:16)?“
- In a follow-up comment, DJAMDG raises a great point I’d never thought of. Any Protestant who reads Mark 16:7 and John 21:15-19 to say that ‘Peter was a Disciple, then wasn’t, but then was reinstated’ is in a strange place to argue OSAS. As it is, I deny both OSAS and the myth that Peter lost his Discipleship, and explain why here. But it’ll be interesting to see how those who attempt to affirm both manage to do so. “Perserverance of the Saints” doesn’t stand up as well when you’ve got Peter denying Christ, and the other Ten (excluding Judas, of course) fleeing. In previous conversations, I’ve asked Calvinists, “would you lose your salvation if you denied Christ?” To which I’ve repeatedly been told, “if you’re saved, that would never happen.” Except that it did for St. Peter. So really, whether he lost his office as a result or not, real life belies OSAS throughout the New Testament.
Finally, to both DJAMDG and Kerath25: Thanks to both of you. This has been, in my opinion, a great conversation, and you’ve both been extremely charitable to one another and to me: you’re showing Christ really well, even as we dispute some of the finer points!