FORGIVEN FOREVER (Part 3 of 3)
by Jeff Hagan
(Tacoma, WA, USA)
Responding to the Opposition:
Those who rally against eternal security usually bring up these arguments to try and make their case against the eternal security of our salvation. The most frequent are:
1) Eternal Security allows people to sin freely.
Response: Neither God's grace nor the security of salvation provides the believer with permission to sin (See Romans 6:1-2 & 1 John 2:1). If a person has the impression that eternal security gives him or her a license to sin, then the real question would be whether or not they are truly saved, since one who is saved will not willfully make a practice of sinning (See 1 John 3:9). And even if a person is a Christian and tries living in sin since they cannot lose their salvation, God will bring about guilt and discipline upon the sinning believer up to, and including, physical death in order to restore them to right fellowship (1 Cor 11:31-32; Heb 12:5-11; 1 John 5:16-17 with examples in Acts 5:1-11; 1 Cor 5:1-5; 11:27-32; & 1 John 5:16-17).
2) Eternal Security takes away any motivation for Christian living and serving others.
Response: The Bible instructs Christians to live their lives for Christ and to serve Him and others, not to gain or to keep salvation. This is because salvation is a promise, a guarantee. It is an assured possession for the believer and is secured for eternity (Psalm 37:28; John 10:27-29; 1 John 5:13). The true hindrance to Christian living and serving others and serving God is if the Christian were to have to continually worry about keeping or losing their salvation.
3) Eternal Security is contradicted by experiences we find regarding certain people in Scripture.
Response: Oh no, they trapped us. Well, actually they didn't. One such case they point to is King Saul. Scripture appears to infer that King Saul was saved (1Sam 10:7, 9-10). However, instead of losing his salvation, it appears instead that Saul was chastened or punished by God in the severest form, that being his physical death due to his repeated disobedience to God (1 Sam 28:18-19; 31:3-4).
Another example they often point to is that of Judas Iscariot. But in actuality, it is far more likely that he is an example of a person who was lost and never truly had experienced salvation in the first place. (John 6:64; 70-71; 13:10-11; 17:11-12; Psalm 41:9; Matt 11:19; 26:50).
4) The Bible contradicts the doctrine of Eternal Security in certain passages.
Response: “1) 1 Cor 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Rev 22:15--These verses refer to lost persons who are habitually characterized by the attitudes and/or actions expressed by these sins rather than referring to saved people who supposedly lost their salvation by committing one or more of these sins as an incident uncharacteristic of their general tenor of life. Otherwise, Abraham (lying), Moses (murder), and David (adultery and murder) would not inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Cor 6:9-10)” ( the same source cited above).
Hebrews 6:4-6 is another passage they attempt to use in showing a contradiction. However, the persons referred to in this passage are unbelievers, not believers. Pay particular attention to the context by also reading Hebrews 6:7-9; & 10:26-39.
Another passage they try to connect to their view is Matthew 24:13, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (ESV). However, it's not our endurance that saves us, endurance is evidence showing the fruit of a genuine salvation. It is not us who “brings it to completion” through endurance, it is God. Philippians 1:6 tells us, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (ESV). I also point you to 1 John 2:19.
Some more passages they attempt to use as ammunition are found in Ezekiel. Ezekiel 3:20; 18:24, 26; & 33:12-13, 18. It is quite possible that the righteous in this context may be referring only to self-righteousness. It is also possible, even likely, that within this context the death mentioned refers to physical death rather than spiritual death.
Still another passage they tend to use is John 15:2a, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away...” (ESV), along with verse 6 of the same chapter, “And if anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into fire, and burned” (ESV). But these verses refer to people who might profess to be saved but are not actually truly born again. You see, all true believers will bear some sort of fruit (Matt 7:20; 13:23). Now, it's true that the degree of fruit-bearing may vary from one believer to another, but they will bear fruit. The "branch in me" (verse 2) is clearly used in a figurative illustration. An example of this type of branch would be Judas who was in the group of Christ's disciples and yet he was not a true believer. Others interpret John 15:2,6 as believers who experience severe discipline of some kind, but not an actual loss of salvation.
The last passage we will look at that the opposition uses is 2 Peter 2:20-22. But, if one reads this passage it is very clear that the context, in this case, is speaking of false
teachers, not true believers.
Eternal security is a reality for all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. When Jesus died on the cross He became the sacrifice for all of our sins. He was our substitute sacrifice. When we received His saving grace as a free gift we received total forgiveness of all our sins whether they be past, present or future. From the vantage point of the cross, all of our sins were future. As we walk through our Christian life we are going to sin. 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (ESV). And Romans 3:23 tells us, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (ESV). But as we grow, as we mature spiritually we will do so less and have the desire to do so less. When we do sin will it affect our joy and communion with God? Yes, it will. When we sin are there consequences? Absolutely. Might we be chastised for our sins in life in the here and now? That's very possible. Will it have an influence on the final judgment when we receive our rewards?
Yes, it will play a part then as well. When we sin we need to admit it, confess it to the Lord, and repent. When we do so it restores our fellowship with God and brings back any joy we may have temporarily forfeited. But God has, by His sovereign will, declared some to be His forever, for all eternity. He chose those of us who are saved out of His great love and mercy, not because of any goodness He found in us and not because of any action we did or did not do. The maintaining of that salvation is also completely up to Him and neither our sins nor our good works have any affect on that security. However, and this is of vital importance, to purposely continue in sin after receiving the great and wonderful gift of salvation is
“stepping” on the blood of Christ. It is the utmost disrespect and can often bring about swift and heavy discipline from our gracious Creator and loving Lord, but never will He remove our salvation. Never will He undo what Christ has done for us.*
John 6:37, “ALL that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will NEVER cast out” (ESV, emphasis added).
Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and the calling of God are IRREVOCABLE” (ESV, emphasis added).
2 Corinthians 1:22, “And who also has put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a GUARANTEE” (ESV, emphasis added).
Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you HAVE BEEN saved through faith. And this is NOT of your own doing; it is the GIFT OF GOD, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (ESV, emphasis added).
Romans 8:38-39, For I am SURE that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height or depth, NOR ANYTHING ELSE IN ALL CREATION, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (ESV, emphasis added).
*Article inspired by, and adapted from, “Eternal Security” by Tony Capoccia, Bible Bulletin Board.