(445) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: ETERNAL SECURITY
SAVED & SECURE
I can’t say that this topic is in hunt with the various other topics covered on this blog. Fifteen, twenty years ago, topics like ETERNAL SECURITY, PREDESTINATION, GIFT OF TONGUES, THE RAPTURE….etc., were some of the main discussion (debate) topics I grappled with in my personal understanding of Scripture as well as in discussion with other believers. Today, the church (in general) has seemingly moved on to other topics such as MYSTICISM, SPIRITUAL FORMATION, CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER, HOMOSEXUALITY, as well as more defined topics such as – some would question of absolute truth?; can/should Christians swear?; becoming missional; becoming more ecumenical – focusing on similarities between Christianity and Roman Catholicism and even other religions….etc.
I can’t say that topics today present a biblical image of Christians walking closer to God than maybe a decade or two ago? But just looking at this sampling of the topics, in my mind, one set is more rooted in Scripture while the other is more rooted in society and other beliefs. Maybe it is just me?
That said, most Christians will still have to grabble, at some point in their walk, with the question of Eternal Security – also identified in a similar fashion by phrases such as “once saved, always saved”, “perseverance of the saints”..…etc. While there are good people on both sides of the debate on this topic, church history has shown this topic to be a defining issue for some Christian groups. None-the-less, it is an important topic to understand in our individual walk. I believe, from several perspectives, it can be a very positive topic that encourages to go out in life to be used by God in all that we do. Let’s start the discussion –
ETERNAL SECURITY =is the biblical doctrine that God guarantees our eternal salvation from beginning to end. Therefore, a saved person—someone who has trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for eternal salvation—can never lose that salvation. (i.e. “Once saved always saved).
Many Christians question that definition and don’t see or agree with the idea that they can know for sure that once they become believers, they can know that they are saved. The line most will hear goes something like this – “If I can’t lose my salvation, what does it matter how I live?”
It is a logical question to ask. If you think about it, this question really indicates a belief that salvation is somehow achieved or maintained by the saved person rather than given and guaranteed by the Savior.
The Bible talks about rewards and fellowship in our relationship with God.
Although it’s possible to abuse His grace (Rom 6:1)
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
God doesn’t disown His children (John 6:35-40). Take note of the language used – it is dogmatic, strong, to the point. Words used such as “never”, “by no means”, “nothing”, “everlasting”, “I will”….etc.
35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”
Still, there are consequences for disobeying God. Even as Christians, we can experience His discipline and lose potential rewards (1 Cor. 3:10-15). Yet, we are still saved.
10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Those are very powerful verses and very encouraging!
We can experience His discipline (Heb 12:3-11). We can lose potential rewards (1 Cor 3:10-15). We can be ashamed when He appears (1 John 2:28). And we can even be taken home “early” (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor 11:27-30). But these are different than saying we can lose our salvation. Simply stated, these verses don’t say we can lose our salvation.
Moreover, the greater the understanding and appreciation of God’s grace the greater the incentive to live faithfully for Him (Titus 2:11-14).
Church history shows that several passages have been debated on for hundreds of years. In many cases, like I said previously, there are good people on both sides of the debate. And both sides of the debate can point to Scripture to base their conclusions on. I think that is important and I respect that aspect of the debate. Instead of pride or argument, it should lead many of us to search the Scriptures even further to let God reveal His truth.
While I can’t say that I always believed in eternal security, I do think that the Bible clearly teaches it. Scripture talks about salvation as follows:
- accomplished for us by Christ (John 1:29; 1 Cor 15:3; 1 John 2:2)
- a gift (Rom 5:15-18; 6:23)
- by means of God’s grace (Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-7)
- conditioned on faith in Christ (John 3:16, 36; 6:47; Rom 4:5; 1 Tim 1:16)
- not of our works (Rom 4:5; Gal 2:16; Eph 2:8-9)
- a present possession (John 5:24; 6:47)
- eternal (John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 10:27-30; 11:26; Rom 8:31-39; 2 Tim 2:13)
It’s not a one time occurance but is woven throughout the Bible. Ultimately the focus is not on us but on Christ and His provision for our sins.
I read this logic perspective from an article by Stan Nelson and thought there are some good points to extract –
Consider the following questions:
Does God know who will enter heaven? The answer is obviously, yes.
Is it possible that any of those He knows are going to enter heaven might not enter? No, that’s not possible. If He knows they’re going to enter, they must and will enter heaven.
If it’s certain they’re going to enter heaven, are they eternally secure? Yes.
Who are these eternally secure people? They’re believers—those who have trusted Christ as their Savior.
Are all believers eternally secure? Yes.
Nelson goes on to state that:
Someone might answer that the believers whom God knows are going to enter heaven are eternally secure but maybe there are other believers who aren’t eternally secure.
But the Bible doesn’t classify believers into some who are eternally secure and some who aren’t (2 Tim 2:19). Salvation isn’t probation. If it were, the word saved couldn’t really be applied to someone until the probation was successfully completed (Acts 16:31; Eph 2:8-9). Neither is the giving of eternal salvation delayed until the end of earthly life. Everlasting life (which lasts forever) is a possession received as a gift at the time of faith in Christ (John 6:47). Those who don’t enter heaven simply never believed.
I like the phrase – SALVATION ISN’T PROBATION! In His atoning sacrifice on the cross, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all our sins—past, present, and future. (All sins committed after His crucifixion are future from it.) The Bible doesn’t list only those sins before salvation or only those sins after salvation which are covered. They are all covered. While we must come to Him by faith, He alone does the saving and He alone must get the glory (Rom 5:8-9; 1 Pet 2:24; Eph 2:8-9).
All who have trusted in Christ for salvation are eternally secure. If you’ve trusted Him to save you, He has and you’re saved, safe, and one of His forever! To deny this truth would be to say that it’s possible to have believed in Christ for eternal life and not received it (John 3:36). And that would be to disbelieve Him.
What is the GOOD NEWS? Eternal security fits the fact that the gospel of salvation by grace through faith is good news (Rom 5:10-11). Conditional security—the belief that I can lose my salvation because of something I do or don’t do—is depressing and inconsistent with the good news of the gospel.
If YOU are responsible for keeping yourself saved, in essence, you have added a WORK to the condition of salvation. You have entered works along with faith which Paul says can’t be the case in Eph. 2:8-9. If I must keep myself saved, can I ever be sure I’m safe? Can I ever know if I’m going to “make it”? No. In fact, under that system it’s certain that I can’t. How discouraging or prideful if one thinks his personal behavior is (and will remain) good enough to save him.
This is GOOD NEWS. Christ has paid the price, God gives us and seals us with the Holy Spirit. Our ability to be good enough to stay saved is NOT up to us. It is up to God! God has already gave us His promise as stated in His word. That is reassuring.
That is what should produce gratitude, humility and encourage us to go out and do good works according to God’s will. Eternal Security is a wonderful gift of God!