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Some disagree on whether a Christian in this life may fall utterly and lose or forfeit eternal life. However, most Christians do agree that after death, the Christian is eternally secure in heaven (or the new earth). And this seems to be well supported in Scripture:

John 10:28 (ESV)
28  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

Revelation 21:4 (ESV)
He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

So it seems clear that Christians could not be susceptible to another Fall. My question is, Why? What is the fundamental reason why Christians would not be susceptible to another Fall or rebellion against God?

Please answer from a Protestant, non-Calvinist perspective.

Possible responses I have considered

There will be no law, and thus no concept of sin

But wouldn't rebellion against God would be considered sin, even apart from a "law"?

After death we no longer have a sin nature, and are thus incapable of sin

But weren't Adam and Eve created without a sin nature, and yet sinned?

Satan will be vanquished, unable to tempt us

But didn't Lucifer rebel without being externally tempted? If we are unable to rebel without a tempter, that implies that we will have less free will than Lucifer and the angels had.

We will be unable to sin, either through lack of free will, or prevention by God

The argument that I usually use and hear for the existence of free will is that God would rather have willful obedience than robotic obedience. Is God then hedging on this preference for the sake of our eternal souls?

We have already been atoned for by Christ, so if we were to sin, it could not be counted against us

This allows for sin in heaven, which I can't buy. It contradicts Revelation 21:4 for one thing, and makes heaven imperfect

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You'd have to justify the assertion that someone tempted Satan/Lucifer. Rebellion is an individualistic choice. It does not necessarily need a catalyst/tempter. –  mojo Feb 3 '14 at 23:11
@mojo, I'm not actually making that assertion. I agree with you, which was my point. I was using Lucifer's untempted rebellion to argue against the assertion that we would be sinless because we lack a tempter. The implication would be that the angels (and Lucifer) had more free will than us, if they were able to rebel on their own accord without an external tempter. –  Eric Feb 4 '14 at 0:33

4 Answers 4

When I was a Protestant, the most frequent answer that I received from authorities, and one I often used myself, was that the entire purpose of the church (the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth) was to prepare ourselves for our future glory. We, as the bride prior to the wedding, must make ourselves ready for the wedding day. In other words, we are constantly being perfected (shaped and trained to know, understand, and live what is good), so that when this age ends and the age to come is fulfilled we will be perfect at being good--no fall will occur because we will not desire to do it.

Basically, this is different than being created merely without a sin nature, as Adam and Eve were. It is being shaped into a heavenly nature. It is the free will alternative to forcing the "robotic" creation of a heavenly nature in the first place. A being merely without a sin nature does not desire sin because it is not aware of it, but upon being made aware of it can fall (taking on a sin nature). A being with a heavenly nature is aware of both good and evil, but desires only good.

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Side note: The usual Protestant answer to the Satan dilemma that I have heard is that for some reason God decided to do things differently with angels. He made them aware of good and evil from the start and allowed them choice, with the caveat that once they chose evil they were fallen forever--irredeemable. This view appears to align with Jude. –  called2voyage Feb 4 '14 at 22:11
This is a sensible answer and, I believe, lines up well with the story of the prodigal son. Presumably the Father loved both sons, but the older seems to have never known it because he never tested it. Travel far enough down this path of reasoning and you'll end up at felix culpa or somthing very like it. –  Jon Ericson Feb 6 '14 at 23:04

"If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation." Saved human beings have an old nature and a new nature. At death, the old nature is removed entirely, and only the new nature remains. (This is the "glorification" in the salvation trio of justification, sanctification, and glorification.) You should not think that this new nature is a return to the nature that Adam and Eve had before the Fall. Whatever that nature was like, it is gone forever. "Behold, I make all things new."

One other point: angels have another nature altogether, so making comparisons between humans and angels is problematic. For example, we are told (Hebrews?) that angels don't understand salvation. They long to look into salvation (so they can understand and worship God better, I suppose), but it escapes them. We don't know why. Some hypothesize that they are incapable of repentance, which explains why (apparently) God never redeemed any fallen angels and why (apparently) angels don't fall from time to time. Once angels choose (goes the theory), they have chosen, and they will never choose otherwise. It is not a lack of free will; changing their minds is simply not in their nature.

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Good answer... we really don't know enough about angels to read too much into it. –  Eric Feb 16 '14 at 5:18

Why are my questions unanswered?

In the passages you quoted, it seems clear that after the resurrection, we can expect that sin will have no more hold over us because the consequences of sin are conspicuously absent. Why? The Scriptures don't attempt to answer that question directly. We could infer two possibilities:

  • We are not capable of understanding.
  • We do not need to know right now.

What we are told that we can have assurance that our problems (as we see them) will all end after we die (and are judged). For people seeking to finish this race correctly, that is far more important than details about what happens afterward. The fact that the question is not really addressed by the Biblical authors suggests its lack of urgency and perhaps this decision has been made in order to keep us from being distracted from focusing on things that are crucial to this life.

Perhaps the answer to this question is important to composing a comprehensive understanding of how things work, but the best anyone can ever come up with is a story that fits the (known) facts, and it's likely that there could be more than one! No more than one would be true, but in this life we probably won't ever know which one.

Full Knowledge

I suspect that the possibility of sin will be vanquished because we will not be limited in the same way we are now. We will have a substantially more complete understanding of God (he will be our light, Re 22:5). We will see his face and his name will be on our foreheads (Re 22:4). We will be as close to God as he always wanted us to be. Perhaps this is part of what Paul is speaking of in 1 Corinthans 13:

1 Corinthians 13:12 (NASB)
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.

An Illustration

I'm not tempted (much) to call people names when I get angry. When I was a child, I was, but having seen how destructive it is and how it fails to do any good at all, I've come to understand that it will not help me in any way. I've gotten out of the habit of doing so, and since I see it as foolish and useless, the urge/temptation to do it has (almost) no power over me.

I suspect that Heaven will be somewhat like this. We will probably still have free will, but nobody will want to sin because sin will have no hold on us. We will know better (better than we ever did in this life) and we will have everything we'd ever need. There might be no desire for anything that God isn't already providing. We won't have a limited understanding, like Adam and Eve did in the Garden, because we will (in all likelihood) remember the great story of this life and will have learned our lessons.

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@V.Rollins, Nahum 1 starts out with "An oracle of Ninevah," and uses the same kind of language you'd find in any other prophesy to humans about God's wrath (in this life, I presume) for their continued sins. If you want to assert that Nahum 1 is speaking of final judgment, the burden is on you to justify the claim. –  mojo Apr 13 '14 at 3:26
2Peter 3;13 Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Revellation 21;4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall ther be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. –  V. Rollins Apr 13 '14 at 5:14
@V.Rollins, is this filling in something missing in my answer or in contradiction to something I've said? I said that there will be no more sin. Most of my answer is about why this could be, because (I assert) the scriptures do not provide a simple answer to why. –  mojo Apr 13 '14 at 19:13
I believe I posted my comments to this question in error, I apologize. I'll post an answer to this question soon. –  V. Rollins Apr 13 '14 at 23:39
  1. The fundamental reason why christians would not be susceptable to another fall or rebellion is:

    a. 1 John 3;9 Whosoever is born of God doth commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

    b. 1 Peter 1;22,23 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptable seed, but of incorruptable, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

    c. Isaiah 55;11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth, it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

  2. Some Observations

    a. Those christians who believe that after death, they are eternally secure in heaven(or the new earth) are in error.

    1. They will remain in their graves until Jesus comes.

    2. John 5;28,29 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life, and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

    b. There will be no law, and thus no concept of sin.

    1. God's law existed prior to Lucifer's rebellion. God's law is immutable.

    2. Ezekiel 28;15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. Sin originated with Lucifer, rebellion is sin.

    3. 1 Samuel 23;15 For rebellion is as the sin of wichcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.

    c. After death we no longer have a sin nature, and are thus incapable of sin.

    1. Our sin nature is not removed by death, but by being born again.

      a. John 3;5 Jesus answered, verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God

      b. Acts 13;52 And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Ghost.

    d. But weren't Adam and Eve created without a sin nature, and yet sinned?

    1. Genesis 2;31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And the evening anmd morning was the sixth day. Adam and Eve were without sin at creation. After disobeying God, they became sinful. This is the nature we inherit.

    e.Satan will be vanquished, unable to tempt us.

    1. Revelation 20;9-10 And they went upon the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

    f. But didn't Lucifer rebel without being externally tempted? If we are unable to rebel without a tempter, that implies that we will have less free will than Lucifer and the angels had.

    1. Lucifer's rebellion remains a mystery. In actuality, when we yield to the Holy Spirit, our will is replaced with that of God's.

    2. Ezekiel 36;27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgements, and do them.

    3. John 14;16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

    g.The arguement that I usually use and hear for the existence of free will is that God would rather have willful obedience than robotic obedience. Is God then hedging on this preference for the sake of our eternal souls? No.

    1. Unbelievers have free will. Believers cooperate with the Holy Spirit to accomplish the will of God.

    h. We have already been atoned for by Christ, so if we sin, it could not be counted against us.

    1. You cannot sin and be in heaven! Remenber Lucifer was cast out. All have ben atoned for by Jesus Christ, only those who accept his sacrifice and endure unto the end, will have eternal life.
  3. We are not given insight into all of God's plans and decisions. However, if we believe the bible, it must be in total.

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