Does Ignorance Prove Lack of Salvation?

The case of Simon the Sorcerer illustrates that a Christian can sin so as to be lost. The Bible says Simon believed and was baptized (Acts 8:13), paralleling the response of others in the city of Samaria (v. 12). Later, following his outbreak of greed, Peter told him his heart was not right before God; he needed to repent of his wickedness, for he was in “the gall of bitterness and bondage of iniquity” (vv. 20-23).

People who teach “once saved, always saved” try to tell us that Simon was never saved to begin with; he was only pretending to be a Christian. I heard one preacher argue it this way: the Holy Spirit promised to guide Jesus’ followers into all the truth (John 16:13); Simon’s ignorance of the truth (about miraculous gifts) demonstrates, therefore, that he was not yet a disciple, that he was not saved.

Hmm. Using that logic, one could argue that the Corinthian saints were never saved: they, too, were ignorant about miraculous gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14). Or how about the Thessalonians, who were uninformed about Jesus’ second coming (1 Thessalonians 4:13ff)? For that matter, Peter himself, at the time of the events of Acts 8, was still ignorant about the inclusion of Gentiles in the church (see Acts 10). Had he, therefore, never been saved?

The promise in John 16:13 was made to the apostles. It pertained to their work. It does not extend personally to every believer. While ignorance about some things might disprove one’s salvation, the preacher’s argument from this verse is fallacious.

Read the account in Acts 8 carefully. Referring to Simon’s effort to buy the power to impart miraculous gifts (v. 20), Peter told Simon to “repent of this wickedness of yours” (v. 22). Peter said nothing about Simon having only pretended to be converted.

Beware of the temptation to read something into a passage to make it say what you want it to say or to keep it from contradicting your prejudice.

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