October 23, 2013

Eternal Security - Truth or Myth?

What is “eternal security” you ask? It is the belief where it is believed that “once saved always saved.” In plain words, it is the belief that once you become a Christian that there is nothing that can alter that fact, and that there is nothing that can keep you out of Heaven.
A lot has been written on this subject, both for and against. There has been the writing of many technical books and articles. These authors use words like Calvinism and Arminianism to categorize people. Personally I’m not very interested in what these systems teach or don’t teach. I don’t believe in being put in a box in this manner. What I’m interested in is in what God has told us in the Holy Bible, that which He has given to us. Indeed, it is always a dangerous thing to be a follower of a person. It is much better to be taught of the Holy Spirit with an open Bible in your hands.
This article will not so much delve into the solving of every verse and argument that is so commonly given when it comes to this subject. Rather it will focus on the heart of the issue at hand. The real matter is not pitted between Christians who believe in “eternal security” and Christians who argue that you can “lose your salvation.” No. The issue is much more serious than that. Instead it boils down to who actually believes the gospel message as God has presented it in the Bible, and those who don’t believe that message as true.
The term “eternal security” is a cleverly disguised term, and I’m sure Satan is the master planner behind it. What we’re actually talking about is “everlasting life” or “eternal life” depending on the translation. The argument really comes down to whether one can lose “everlasting life” or not. It is a lot easier to reject “eternal security” than it is to reject “everlasting life”, yet they are in reality referring to one and the same thing. Because the term “eternal security” is not a biblical term, a person can say, “I don’t believe it!” However, if we use the proper term, “eternal life,” then it becomes much harder to say, “I don’t believe in “eternal life!”” Why would it be harder? Because it would be an outright rejection of the plainest of Scripture texts! Indeed “the serpent [is] more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made”! (Genesis 3:1)
So why does one so often feel frustrated when we are trying to convince someone that we can be eternally secure and they argue that we can lose our salvation? It is because they are in unbelief as regards to the gospel itself. No wonder we can’t convince them – they haven’t even believed the gospel in the first place!
You say, “Really, isn’t that a little extreme?” No, I don’t. The remainder of this article will explain why I believe this way.
The Gospel
This whole argument really breaks down to those who actually believe the gospel and those who don’t. There must be a poor understanding of the gospel when one does not believe in “eternal life”, or else an outright rejection of the gospel.  Now I don’t like the term “eternal security”, so I’m dropping the term for the most part from here on in and will use the biblical term “eternal life” instead. So why do people reject the teaching of “eternal life”?
The problem is that someplace along the line people have not understood that they are indeed sinners. A sinner is someone who is a slave to sin and Satan. They fall far short of God’s holiness as described in the 10 commandments. A person on their own has no hope of ever being as holy as God, which is necessary to have a relationship with God. So the question is, “How can we be as perfect as God so that we can have this relationship?”
Before we answer that important question, one needs to understand what the “wage” of sin is, that is, we need to know what the consequence of sin is. The Bible is very clear that “the wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23)  This death refers to all its three aspects: friendship-wise with God, physically, and eternally in the Lake of Fire.
We’ve already seen that it is impossible for us to live up to the 10 commandments to become as perfect as God. (Not to mention that it can’t pay for our sins.) Instead the commandments act like a mirror, revealing that we are sin-stained sinners. We also know that a mirror makes a pretty lousy washcloth! In fact it will only make matters much worse if we try using it to clean ourselves up.
The truth be told, this is why Jesus died. Jesus died, to pay the wage or consequence of our sin, instead of us. All our sins on Him were laid and He bore the wrath of God for them. That is why God turned His back on His Son while He hung upon the cursed tree. Then He said, “It is finished”. (John 19:30) Or, the payment for sin is complete.
We also know that Jesus paid the penalty for every person that has ever lived. So why are not all people saved, you ask, if all have had their debt of sin paid for? Ephesians 2:8-9 gives us the answer – we must believe it. It is written, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.”
God has offered us everlasting life. We must believe that Jesus, who is the God-man, bore this debt for us; that He was my personal Substitute. God promised us everlasting life if we believe the gospel. Therefore those who do not believe in “eternal security”, which is “eternal life”, don’t believe the gospel that Jesus paid their debt of sin in full. Therefore they don’t have everlasting life. Therefore they don’t believe in “eternal security”.
The person who believes we can “lose our salvation” is not trusting in Jesus as their Savior. Instead they are still trusting in themselves. They believe that they can lose their salvation when they commit an act of sin.
Some believe that any act of sin damns you and you must immediately confess that sin in order to stay saved, or in reality to get saved again. Others believe it is only when you commit a “mortal” sin that you lose your salvation. This doctrine has its roots in the Catholic Church and is a teaching of Satan. Who, I ask, is the judge in whether a sin is bad enough to damn you? When has a person walked too far in sin? What is clear is that these people don’t believe their sins are forgiven. They don’t think Jesus’ statement, “It is finished!” is true. They have made Jesus into a liar.
Further, these people think that you remain “in Adam”, that is, not regenerated. For if one has been “born again”, how can one be unborn? How can a butterfly return to being a caterpillar once it’s gone through metamorphosis? Impossible! Neither do they realize that sin is no longer one’s master. We read, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old HAS passed away; behold, the new HAS come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Galatians 5:24 and 25 must also be understood: “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. [Therefore] we [can]…also walk by the Spirit.” Look, there has taken place a great change in the true believer. For it is written, “Giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:12-14) It is the “Father, who has qualified” the believer “to share in the inheritance” – not we by keeping our lives holy. It is “the Father” who “HAS delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” – not us! (Colossians 1:13) We are NOT our own savior! It is Jesus Christ who is the one and only Savior! All glory be to Him!
Again, Jesus offers “everlasting life”. These people think that “everlasting” has an end. Again, this makes a mockery of what Jesus promised. Thus they join the crowd at the foot of the cross who mocked the Lord Jesus Christ as He hung there in His death-throes.
These people argue that those who believe in “eternal life” will then go on living in sin because it won’t matter. I ask those who would have the gall to promote such gibberish, do you really think that a person who is set free from slavery with all its brutality would want to go and live under that system again? I think not! Even Paul the apostle anticipates this response, and writes, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! HOW can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1-2)
Why do you think Paul the apostle had to address this very question in Romans? Is it not because he argued that we are permanently under grace and not law? Therefore some mockingly said, “Well, then can’t we sin as much as we want?” To this stupidity Paul answered, “The condemnation of those who think such is deserved!” (A paraphrase of Romans 3:8 and 6:1-2)
There are many false teachers today. Some of these false teachers are promoting the belief that one can lose their salvation. This is damnable heresy. If we can lose our salvation, then Christ’s work on the cross was insufficient and we must earn our way to Heaven. If Christ’s work is insufficient then our trust is not in Christ Jesus but ourselves. The responsibility becomes ours to live a 100% perfect life in order to be saved or stay saved – this is a lie. We can in no way save ourselves. It is utterly impossible! In no way can we contribute to our salvation. If we think we can keep ourselves from sinning, then we have not understood just how sinful one is, and are still dependent on law-keeping. Romans 3:20 says, “For by works of law no human being will be justified [made perfectly innocent] in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”
Those who believe we can, of our own selves, keep our salvation, do not understand that this is impossible. These people do not understand just how far short of the glory of God they fall. That is, they don’t understand how far short they come from God’s perfection. You cannot be as perfect as God by your own doing – you will always fail. It is only by Jesus taking our sin and imparting His perfection to us that we can stand before the perfectly holy God. It is Jesus who gives us the victory in our lives – not me.
The Pharisees
Amazingly the Pharisees themselves had a motto that they could lose their salvation. They believed they were saved by doing good and by continuing to do good once saved in order to stay saved. That is why they snubbed their noses at those who weren’t doing so well spiritually! What’s changed?!
If we have to keep from sinning, then we are not saved by faith alone. Then we are saved by faith + works. Again, we find another Catholic doctrine!
Let me ask, did God come to earth to save us because we lived such good lives, or did He come because we were sinners? It then stands that God came to save us not because we were worthy but because He loved us. If then we can lose our salvation, it shows that God’s love is conditional. But we know that God’s love is unconditional.
If Christ’s shed blood is not adequate to save us, then we have put Jesus Christ on the same value scale as the goats of the Old Testament – sacrifices that couldn’t take away our sins! Now think about that!
What then is the requirement for salvation? It is simply believing in Jesus as our Savior. We cannot add anything to His finished work. If we think we have to keep from sin in order to not lose our salvation, then we have become our own savior. We have then become a god and are worthy of worship. Now that is blasphemy!
The Galatians
These Jewish Christians had left the system of the Law. They had placed their trust in Jesus Christ to save them. People argue that these people had now become lost again. However, these Jewish Christians thought they could add law-keeping to their new belief and still be under God’s grace. Paul was saying, “You’re wrong!” If you go back to the Law, you have given up grace – you can’t have both! It was not a matter of being lost, but a matter of making it clear that Law has nothing to do with grace. The falling was from grace to law, not falling from saved to lost.
In reality Paul the apostle was saying, “Hey look, those Pharisees who believe that you can lose your salvation by not keeping from sin are wrong. Keep away from the false teaching of ‘staying away from sin and doing good’ in order to maintain your salvation.” For it is written, “Yet because of false brothers [Pharisees] secretly brought in – who slipped in to spy out your freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring you into slavery – to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.” (Galatians 2:4-5)
This is the same lie Satan told Adam and Eve. He said, “Yeah, go ahead and eat from the tree of knowing the right and the wrong; it won’t do any harm.” What a lie, and it is still a favourite tool of the Devil today. Satan told them that they could gain “eternal life” by avoiding the wrong and doing the right. How, I ask, is that different than the teaching that you can keep being saved when you “avoid the wrong and do the right”? It is precisely the same lie the Deceiver spoke to Adam and Eve so long ago.
Now, when a person is saved, they may begin to believe the very lie that the Serpent tried to entice Eve with. This will bring the Christian into a time of defeat, depression, and failure. It does not make them lost. The penalty for sin has already been paid. However, we also should be experiencing victory in our Christian lives once we’re saved. If we’re not, it shows that we have reverted back to trying to better ourselves by law-keeping. This will bring sin and defeat into our practical Christian walk. Only in this will there be a “falling away.” There will be a “falling away” into law which will in turn bring a lack of victory in our Christian lives. This does not affect our sin-debt having been paid. That happened in the past and can’t be undone. Neither can it affect the third and final stage of our salvation when we are once and for all taken out of the very presence of sin, when we’re ushered into our eternal dwellings. We are told that we have a “guaranteed inheritance.” The only part in question is whether we, in a practical sense, have victory through Christ in our daily walk, or defeat because we’ve reverted back to self and the law.
The Single Sacrifice
Hebrews says we have been perfected by a single sacrifice for sins. It is never to be repeated. If then we can lose our salvation, we would be lost forever without possibility of being saved again. For it would be necessary for Christ to come and die again. This, once again, would make a liar out of God! We read, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:12) Jesus said, “It is finished!” and it is just what He meant.
You may interject with a comment, “But it says we can “drift away”.” Drift away from what? We must remember who is being addressed and why. Well these were people who had been Jewish law-keepers and had since gotten saved, who were now slowly “drifting” back to their old law-keeping ways. They were not “drifting” into sin as some suppose. Besides, even if it should refer to “drifting” into sin, God would chastise the person to bring them back into obedience. The writer of Hebrews is very clear on that point, “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Hebrews 12:6) This is really a very similar situation as to what we found with the Galatians.
The Arguments
We could go on with all kinds of rebuttals from those who are in unbelief, but the Scriptures also say this, “There are some things in them [Scriptures] that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” Don’t think that those who don’t believe the gospel that gives us eternal life will stop there. No, they will also “twist” the rest of the Bible “to their own destruction” and those of their hearers. (2 Peter 3:16)
Remember, when studying the Bible, never use an obscure verse(s) to interpret the obvious verses of the Bible. 
The Certainty of Salvation
Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” (John 10:28) If we can lose our salvation then Jesus is yet again a liar! We also read in John 5:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and BELIEVES me HAS eternal life. He does NOT come into judgment, but HAS passed from death to life.” Once again, if we can lose our salvation, then Jesus is a pathological liar by now!
Again, in 1 John 5:13 we read, “I write these things to you who BELIEVE in the name of the Son of God that you may KNOW that you HAVE eternal life.” It is becoming ever clearer that those who believe you can lose your salvation don’t believe the gospel. They don’t believe Jesus is capable of saving them on His own. No, they believe that Jesus requires our help!
Looking now to 2 Corinthians 1:21-22. We read, “And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” If we can lose our salvation, then God has not done His job to establish us. If we can lose our salvation, then God’s guarantee is no good. What kind of a God is this? He would be a negligent liar! Do you not see how blasphemous this false teaching is?!
Then what about Ephesians 4:30? It says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” How can one grieve the Holy Spirit? Is it not by sin? Yet, we are only told not to, not that we will lose our salvation. To the contrary – that we are “sealed for the day of redemption.” If that seal can be broken by us, then God has put on a faulty seal. Not only that, we have made ourselves stronger than God if we think we can remove His seal. And by the way, that seal is the Holy Spirit Himself.
Again, John 3:18 says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned.” God attaches no strings. If we believe, we are not condemned. If we can lose our salvation, then this statement by Jesus is – you guessed it, a lie!
Listen to these words carefully that John pens, “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son HAS life [eternal]; whoever does not have the Son of God DOES NOT have life [eternal].” 1 John 5:10-12
You tell me, who is the liar, is it actually God, or is it you who don’t believe? In Revelation 21:8, it is written, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” If you are teaching that one can lose “eternal life”, then you are a liar.
Adam and Eve only got the boot from the garden when they decided to believe Satan and call God a liar, but for those who don’t believe that there is “eternal life…in his Son”, “their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur.”
“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place in in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in the book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life [eternal] in his name.” (John 20:27-31)
You see, it is either God’s word, or it is man’s word. Whom will you believe? Will you believe that God gives you eternal life, or do you believe that you give yourself eternal life? Understand that when you say that you can do something to keep yourself saved, that in reality you are saying that ‘I give myself eternal life’. And that is just the lie that Satan has been convincing the world of for thousands of years. Either you will believe Satan or God. Whom will you choose this day?
The Facts
I want to make the point that doubt is different than not believing we have eternal life. Of course Satan is going to whisper into our ears from time to time with a message of doubt. We then turn back to the Scriptures as did Christ Jesus when tempted, and refute Satan with the FACTS!
You see, when we look to self, doubt creeps in. Then when we look to Jesus Christ, we are assured of our salvation. When we look to ourselves, we begin to wonder, Have I done so and so? However, when we look to Jesus Christ, we realize that He’s done it all and we can “REST” in HIS “Finished” work.
As we mature in the faith, we will grow ever more confident in our Savior. As we study God’s Word the Holy Spirit will show us the things of Jesus Christ and our trust in Him will multiply. We will also with time see how God is at work in our own lives and realize that it is by the grace of God alone.

The Joy of Liberty
The purpose of this testimony is to show the false teachings that kept me in bondage all those years and how I now enjoy the liberty I have.
 Just for context’s sake, I attended a typical evangelical church.
Now of course there is always a foundation that one has to start with, and it is the foundation that is most critical. Jesus taught this in the parable of the “house builder.” There was one fellow who built on the sand and another who dug down deep and laid the foundation on the rock. Of course the rock represents Jesus Christ as our Savior. The sand typifies false ways to be saved, which ultimately is self-effort.
This church’s practical teaching says that there are scores of different ways to be saved. I personally had invited Jesus into my heart. This was good enough for them. The truth is that I was not saved at all; I just thought I was. I continued to think for the next 20 or so years of my life that I could lose my salvation if I didn’t confess my sins and do good. In fact, even under that meticulous burden, I had no assurance that I was saved, and for good reason – I wasn’t!
The truth is that the Bible teaches that there is only 1 way to be saved. All other ways are false. Jesus said, “I am the way…no man comes to the Father but by me.” (John 14:6) Paul the apostle in Galatians says that whoever preaches a different way is accursed. Pretty strong words! You see, either you trust Jesus as your Savior, or you trust in your own ingenuities to save you. This is what Cain tried; he brought fruit and veggies and God did not accept Cain’s way. Cain was building his house on the sand. Abel in turn was building on the rock. Abel demonstrated, by bringing an animal to sacrifice, that he believed that Jesus would come one day as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world”, including his sin. No, there is only 1 way to be saved.
When I came to realize what Jesus did for me, I placed my trust in Him alone as my Savior, believing that He paid my debt of sin in full – past, present, and future. Then being truly saved, I had full assurance of being saved and having eternal life. Yes, Satan tried to whisper a little doubt in my ear from time to time, but I just kept going back to the Scriptures to refute his lies. Indeed Jesus does offer “rest” for those who come to Him on His terms. I have received that “rest” He spoke of and it is wonderful!
Not only have I been delivered from the consequences of sin, God has also in His mercy liberated me from the power of sin. What a life of rest it is! Now to await the Savior’s return to deliver every believer from the very presence of sin! All three aspects of salvation are entered by faith. We cannot of ourselves get rid of the consequences of our sin, we cannot of our own effort have power over sin once saved, and neither can we enter Heaven and be free from the presence of sin by our own doing! All is by faith in God. The instant we look to ourselves instead of Jesus Christ there will be failure, defeat, discouragement, depression and problems of all kinds. In Christ is the joy of liberty!
I fully believe that what the proponents of the “you can lose your salvation” crowd needs, is NOT assurance but SALVATION! Then when they are truly saved, and not just religious, then they will have the assurance that they’re saved and will believe in “eternal life!” 

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