Eternal Security

Courtesy: NowTheEndBegins.com
Courtesy: NowTheEndBegins.com

One of the utmost spiritual battles–if not the utmost–a believer will ever fight is the battle for assurance of salvation. The devil plies his trade well. His modus operandi has not changed. He is a deceiver, accuser and liar ( John. 8:44, Rev. 12:9-11, 1 Tim 4:1). He sows doubts into our minds, and incites us to doubt and disobey God. He asked Eve, “Did God actually say…?”(Genesis 3:1) He made a request of Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…?”(Matthew 4:3).

His line of questioning was to get Eve to doubt what God has said and consequently disobey God’s command. Disobeying God was the agenda. Prior to Matt 4:4 also, Jesus has just been declared the Son of God–“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”(Matt 3:17). Again, doubt and disobeying God was the agenda.

Faith pleases God (Heb. 11:6) and your faith and trust in God is the devil’s primary target. If he gets you to doubt God, His word and His promises, he has gained a foothold–an entry point in your life from where all attacks against you will be launched. Do you have doubts? Are you trapped in the ebbs of the accuser’s onslaught of doubt about your salvation? The remedy is to look up in faith to the Saviour; our redeemer and sin Bearer. Look to His finished work on Calvary. Attend to His promises: “We have …. a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”(Hebrews 6:19-20).

No Christian; born again, regenerated by the spirit of God will lose their salvation. The Christian is secure: “… sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance…” (Ephesians 1:14). “Once Saved Always Saved”. I believe that.

Eternal security or Perseverance of The Saints(Preservation of The Saints) is a comforting doctrine believers must delight in, but unfortunately this is not the case. There are believers who fiercely contest the eternal security of the Christian and do in fact assert that, a Christian can lose their salvation.

Now, if salvation can be lost, then God is not faithful to His promises. Truly, there are warnings in the Bible, but these warnings are there to ensure we don’t presume on the grace of God. In all instances I have discussed this doctrine, I have always made one observation; and it is that people always jump to the conclusion they could live their lives any how they please when they hear “Once Saved Always Saved”. As if by default, I am always asked, “so I can live my life anyhow and still go to heaven?” With a grin on my face, I respond, “of course, that’s not what I am saying.”

Salvation is a gift of God and Scripture tells us the calling and gifts of God are irrevocable (Eph. 2:8-9, Rom 11:29). A believer’s eternal security, is founded on the character and faithfulness of God first, not how good we perform or not. God is faithful to His promise because of His character, not our performance. “…when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.”(Hebrews 6:17-18).

It is bizarre how when you say “Once Saved Always Saved”, people tend to hear “live in sin, it makes no difference, you are saved.” The doctrine of eternal security however, is not a license for a cavalier attitude towards sin. The dangers of sin are real and no true believer, who has a grasp of grace will live in sin and flaunt grace. (See Rom 6:1).

There are indeed many imperatives in the Bible. Nonetheless, the faithfulness and love of God remains. Following are a few examples:

In Jer 31:3 God gives us an indication of the nature of His love: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” In 1 Cor 1:8-9, Paul writes, [God will] sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. In John 6:39 Jesus said, “…this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day”. Paul tells us in Romans 8:39 that nothing shall separate us from the love of God. In Phil. 1:6, we are told [God] who began a good work in [us] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Jude in his doxology points us to the faithfulness of God in the believer’s eternal security: “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy…” These and many other texts point us to the eternal security of the believer.

What “Once Saved Always Saved” simply means is that God is faithful to His promises. If He saves a person, that person is saved with an eternal salvation. Not a salvation that vacillates on our performance. Christians, just like all fallen humans, sin. But our sins do not cut us from the love of God. Our Salvation doesn’t depreciate with our sinful human nature. Christ’s atoning sacrifice atoned for sins of our past, present and all sins we will possibly commit in future. Our sins are paid for and they will not tamper with our eternal security. That however, does not give us justification to indulge in sin. We are told that anyone who has the seed of God in him doesn’t make a practice of sinning.

There are many imperatives in the Bible warning against ungodliness. However, these do not repudiate the truth of God’s faithfulness towards the eternal security of His elect. Those who call themselves Christians and live in sin without repentance and justify their sins may not truly be saved. But if they are saved, we can count on the faithfulness of God to bring them to repentance. God will not let go of any of His own that go astray. He pursues us to restore us back to fellowship. He pursues us with discipline and correction till we are restored. This is love:

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives…. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.(Hebrews 12:6-11).

We are secured. Nothing can undo our salvation:

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.(John 10:27-29)

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7 thoughts on “Eternal Security

  1. Notice that in proper context, the promise of eternal life and not being snatched out of the Father’s hand is conditionally promised to those sheep who “hear” and “follow” the shepherd. No such assurance is given to those sheep who do not hear and follow; those whose lives are marked by disobedience. You rightly point out that Rom 8:39 states that nothing will separate us from the love of God. Again in context, Paul has just finished referring to trials, tribulation, persecution, famine etc. in v.35. These things will not cause the faithful believer to be separated from God. The question though is – does sin cause us to be separated from God as it is not mentioned in v.35. Paul has already addressed this in v.14. ” For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Habitual sin in the life of the Christian results in spiritual death.

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    • In the proper context of John 10, there is no such thing as  “those sheep who do not hear and follow”. “Hearing” and “following” is a consequent result of been his sheep. Those who do not hear and follow are not Christ’s. Look carefully at vs 24-26. Take particular note of vs 26. “So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep.”

      In Romans 8, Paul clearly was making a distinction between the spiritually alive and spiritually dead. Vs 1 must be paid attention to: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Concerning habitual sins, Christians don’t make a practice of sin. Hence ‘habitual sin’ is incongruous with true repentance. This doesn’t however mean christians live in sinless perfection. “Anyone who makes a practice of sin has not the seed of God in him. They are not saved! They are not believers! No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.”(1 John 3:6).

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      • Sheep in the Bible are always and without exception described as followers of Christ – those who belong to him. Therefore, it is questionable to claim that the sheep who don’t hear and follow in v.27 “are not Christ’s” as you assert. I would claim that they are Christ’s but if they do not hear and follow and instead continue in disobedience then they are not assured of eternal life. Of course the Pharisee’s do not qualify as the sheep as they do not even believe in the first place according to Jesus’ own words in vs. 25-26. Plainly one is incapable of hearing and following unless one first believes as regeneration must first take place. Indeed I agree with you that the sheep who hear and follow are those who are promised eternal life. Where I disagree is where you presumably believe that those sheep who do not hear and obey were never sheep/believers in the first place. As I said earlier, sheep in the Bible always refers to the saved; not the unsaved. To make the distinction in our arguments even more clearer, let’s look at Luke 15 where Jesus searches for his one lost sheep. Can a sheep/believer be so lost as to become unsaved? Or was this lone lost sheep never a believer in the first place? Notice that the lost sheep was originally a part of 100 sheep who belonged to the shepherd. This would indicate that the lost sheep was part of the other 99 “just persons who need no repentance” v.7 (NKJV) – in other words – believers. Notice also that this lost sheep is also described as a “sinner” in v.7- a term usually reserved for the unsaved. When this lost sinner repents, he/she is found by the Lord, returned home to the flock and heaven rejoices. Thus I believe this parable which Jesus teaches describes a believer who strays away; is lost spiritually, but then repents and is brought back into the fold and a saving relationship with the Lord.

        Yes, Rom 8 makes a distinction between the spiritually alive and the spiritually dead. Depending on which Bible translation is used, there is a second clause at the end of v.1 which reads: “who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (NKJV). This clause is conditional and qualifies those who have no condemnation. Irrespective of the translation used, the same thing is repeated again in v.4 – “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Therefore no condemnation applies only to those believers who walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh. Therefore it makes perfect sense that Paul would issue a stern warning to the brethren in Rome (v.12) that if they live according to the flesh, they will die but if they put to death the deeds of the body, they will live. Your claim that Christians don’t make a practice of sin is negated by v.13 where the Greek word for “live” (zete) is a present tense verb better translated as “living” – “if you are “living” according to the flesh you will die.” This denotes continuous action – in other words – habitual.

        Reformed theology, has a fatal flaw. Reformed theologians make a simple error in reasoning known as a hasty generalization. They claim that all the passages in Scripture where it appears that believers can lose their salvation are not really so; but rather applies to individuals who were never saved in the first place. That indeed is true – but only partially true and hence a hasty generalization. Scripture does refer to those who were never part of us (1 Jn 2:19) but that in itself does not preclude the other logical possibility that there are others who were once truly saved but lost their salvation. Just because the former is true, it does not necessarily follow that the later is untrue. So while 1 Jn 3:6 can refer to those who are not saved as you point out, do not neglect the verses which immediately follow in vs.7-8: “Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil…” John is addressing Christians who have a choice – they can choose to practice righteousness or they can choose to practice sin. If they choose to practice sin, a little child of God becomes a child of the devil (v.8). John’s warning is consistent with Paul’s warning in Rom 8:13, the result of which is spiritual death. We must allow scripture to interpret scripture.

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      • //Luke 15 where Jesus searches for his one lost sheep//. Christians do sin and stray away. But they don’t fall to the extent they are no more redemable. I believe your parable in Luke 15 gives credence to eternal security. God will always go after a strayed believer to restore them. Eternal security right there in Luke 15. Please look again. It is Jesus who goes looking for the lost sheep. He seeks till He restores to fellowship.

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      • Thank you for your reply Enoch; it shows that you are studying the scriptures as we all should do. Yes Christians can stray away like the lost sheep. It appears we agree that the lost sheep was a believer, but observe that Jesus described the sheep as a “sinner who repents” (v.7). The sheep was found only upon his/her repentance. Conversely, if he/she does not repent then there is no assurance of eternal security. In order to hold on to your view, you would have to maintain that the sheep was found by Jesus even if the lost sheep did not repent which clearly contradicts the text. Thus believers who habitually continue in sin without repenting do not have eternal security.

        The problem is most have been taught to memorize John 3:16 where one must first believe to have eternal life and that is indeed true as belief is necessary. However no where in the Bible is eternal life promised to Christians who are habitually disobedient. Such a Christian may proclaim – “I am saved because I believe in Jesus and since Jesus always forgives me, I have eternal life.” To such a presumptuous Christian I would warn that eternal life is only promised to those believers who lives are marked by obedience (not sinless) for it is written: “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who OBEY him, (Heb 5:9). Belief and obedience are necessary for eternal life. Belief without obedience is worthless.

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      • Evan thanks also for making the time to read and comment on my blog. I think you will agree that Reform Theology belief about eternal security doesn’t advocate a cavelier attitude towards sin in the Christian life.So to your last comment I agree totally and that is where I think those against eternal security must be patient to hear us out. Most often when people hear eternal security, they are also hearing something we are not saying “It doesn’t matter, live your life anyhow”. That is the hinge on which the whole disagreement on eternal security rests. If that hinge is pulled down, it will be clear Reform Theology doesn’t presume on grace.

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      • Indeed Enoch, Reformed Theology does not presume upon grace but believes that those who are regenerated are the ones who persevere which I agree with. My difference though as I pointed out earlier is that Calvinists believe that one who is truly regenerated can never lose their salvation. They would say those who appear to do so were never believers in the first place. They would say that salvation is an unbreakable chain since God is the one who predestines us and he ultimately glorifies us. “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified (Rom 8:30). Reading this verse in isolation would lead one to believe that what God initiates, he will finish. That is true but only partially true as God is always faithful but humans are not always faithful. Just because God has called us, it does not guarantee that we will not turn away or apostatize. Paul’s own witness bears this out in his own words: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel” (Gal 1:6).

        Notice in verse 6 that Paul is referring to believers – Paul writes that you (Christians) are “quickly deserting him.” Only believers can desert Christ; it does not make sense for unbelievers to desert Christ. Also notice that Paul states that God has “called” them. A Calvinist would say that the term “called” refers to the elect as God only calls and chooses those who are his elect – those who belong to him. Yet despite being called, Paul writes that they are deserting God and turning to a different gospel.

        Reformed theology believes that those who are truly reconciled in Christ can never lose their salvation yet Paul writes this: “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now RECONCILED in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, IF indeed you CONTINUE in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Col 1:21-23).
        Paul is placing a condition upon the believer – one who has been reconciled (past tense), must continue in the faith (present tense) in order to secure his salvation (future tense). The word “if” indicates that it is possible for this condition not to be met in the life of a believer. If a believer does not continue in the faith then it is possible to lose one’s salvation.

        These are just a couple of examples why I disagree with Calvinists who claim a believer cannot lose their salvation as these passages explicitly identify believers who are being warned. May the Spirit continue to guide and teach you all truth especially in these last days.

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