Doug sent in this interesting comment in which he is essentially suggesting that Adam and Eve lost everlasting life:
Adam and Eve did nothing to get or deserve the blessed state and paradise God put them in. It was God’s free gift of grace. But that does not mean that they couldn’t do anything to ruin it. When a believer stops believing, he becomes an unbeliever.
I believe that there is a lot of confusion in this question.
Those first two sentences are all unmistakably true. Adam and Eve were gifted being in the Garden (Greek, paradeisos, paradise) of Eden. Yet they did do something that resulted in their being expelled from the Garden. Of course, by the words ruin it, Doug evidently does not mean that they were expelled from the Garden. He appears to mean that they stopped being believers and lost everlasting life.
But if a believer stops believing, he does not become an unbeliever.
Doug does not indicate what he thinks Adam and Eve believed and then stopped believing. He seems to think that they believed the saving message before the fall and then stopped believing it. But there is no indication in Genesis or anywhere in the Bible that they believed the saving message before they fell or that they stopped believing it once they did come to believe it.
Like the angels, Adam and Eve were created in a state of innocence. They had a relationship with God that was potentially eternal. However, as in the case with the angels, it was possible to break that relationship.
Before the fall, our first parents could not believe the saving message because it was not yet in place. The promise of everlasting life only came into being after the need arose.
In the case of the angels, once they fell, that was it. There is no redemption for fallen angels. Christ did not die for them.
In the case of Adam and Eve, when they fell, God made provision for them (Gen 3:15). He promised that by faith in the coming Messiah they would have everlasting life and that they would be forever in His kingdom (Gen 3:15; cf. Gen 15:6).
Adam and Eve most likely believed in the Lord for justification/everlasting life the moment they heard the promise of Gen 3:15.
Before they fell, they did not need the Lord Jesus to die for them, and they did not need (or have) everlasting life. After they fell, they needed His death to make them savable, and they needed to believe in Him in order to be saved. And they did believe in Him.
Did they ever stop believing in Him? I see no evidence of that in Scripture. They appear not only to have persevered in faith, but also in good works.
But let’s consider Doug’s general question: Does a believer who stops believing cease to be a believer? The answer is no. And the reason is simple. In the Bible, a believer is anyone who has ever believed in Jesus for everlasting life (John 3:16; 11:26). Once a person believes, he is eternally secure and is forever in the category of “believer.”
I realize that it does not make sense to many that a person who stops believing could still be called a believer. Isn’t that contrary to logic?
No. In Greek, a participle with the definite article functions as a noun. So, the words ho pisteuōn, “the one who believes,” equals the believer. Jesus said that the believer will never perish and has everlasting life (John 3:16). That is true the moment one believes. One does not become a believer only after a lifetime of persevering in faith until death. If that were true, then no living human being would be a believer. We’d all hope to become believers if we persevered in faith until death.
I heard an excellent illustration from John Niemelä at our 2022 conference. He said that in the Greek OT the expression the manslayer, ho phoneuōn in Greek (Num 35:12, 21 in the LXX), is a present articular participle, just like the believer (ho pisteuōn). The manslayer was a person who accidentally killed someone. He did not have to kill more than one person to be a manslayer. In fact, almost always the manslayer was one who accidentally killed one person and then had to flee to a city of refuge to avoid being put to death.
Let’s say someone accidentally killed someone yesterday. Would he still be a manslayer today? Of course. A month from now? Yes. A year? Yes. A decade? Yes. One need not keep killing people to remain a manslayer.
The same is true in the NT regarding John the Baptist (ho baptizōn, Mark 6:14). He was still called the Baptist long after he had died and had stopped baptizing. Some might say that title no longer applied to him. But Scripture says he is still John the Baptist, John the one who baptizes.
I expect to see Adam and Eve, our first parents, in the Millennium. And I expect to see all who, like them, have believed in Him for everlasting life, whether they persevered in that faith or not. Once a person is saved, he is always saved.