Monday, September 12, 2011

Eternal Security Of The True Believer

     From time to time someone will ask me, “Can a Christian lose their salvation?”  What they want to know is if a Christian can sin in some way after they are saved whereby they lose their eternal life in Christ?  The answer is no.  A person who has been genuinely saved by faith in Jesus Christ cannot lose their salvation.  There are many passages in the Bible that deal with a true believer’s eternal security, however, we will limit our thoughts today to a couple that more than seal the deal on the issue.

   The first is found in the Gospel of John.  In John 10.27-28, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”  Jesus made this tremendous statement in the context of His discussion with some religious leaders of His day who were not saved.  In other words, Jesus was drawing a contrast for them by showing they did not hear His teaching because they were not His sheep.  However, all those who are truly saved by faith in Jesus Christ do hear His Words.  We who are truly saved are receptive to what He has to say because He is our Lord, our Shepherd.  Not only do truly saved people hear His Word, we are responsive to it.  We who are truly saved actively follow our Lord, our Shepherd.  So, up to this point we see two evidences of true salvation, we hear God’s Word and it has a direct effect on the way we live. 
   Now, notice what Jesus does for those who are truly saved.  First, he gives unto us eternal life.  The plain truth of the matter is, it would not be eternal life if it were conditional on our conduct after we are saved.  It is true that Christians stray from time to time, but if we are truly sheep in the first place, we will not like it when we are away from fellowship (not relationship) with Jesus.  Even when we are out of fellowship with Jesus because of our disobedience, He is still our Shepherd.  The pig likes it in the pig pen, however, sheep will not like it in the pig pen for long.  The bottom line here is this, eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ is a gift.  We could not earn eternal life by good works and we cannot keep or secure our eternal life by our own efforts.  Just as Jesus saved us by grace, so He keeps us saved by grace. 
   After telling us of His gift of eternal life, Jesus reinforced the security of our eternal life in Him by saying we will never perish.  The Greek word for perish is “apollumi” which means to be sentenced to death, to be marked out for destruction, or in this context to be turned over to eternal misery.  Jesus said that will never happen to anyone who is truly saved and belongs to Him.  This passage alone is enough to convince us that we are eternally saved in Christ.  However, let’s consider one more.
   In chapter 7 of the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul lamented the ongoing battle Christians have with their fallen human nature.  We have been set free from sin in Jesus Christ, however, the presence of sin in our fallen human nature is still here.  It is by the power of the Holy Spirit that we are able to live in victory over sin in our daily lives.  The question would then be, in those times when I sin, when I do not rely on the Holy Spirit for victory, what about my salvation?  Am I still saved in those moments when I have a sinful thought?  Am I still saved in those moments when I lose my temper or say something inappropriate?  The answer is yes, we are still saved, even in the times of our weakness when we give in to the flesh.  Look at what the Apostle Paul said, “There is therefore, now, no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8.1).  What wonderful news is this!  There is no “condemnation” for those who are in Christ Jesus.  The word “condemnation” means judgment against, punishment pronounced, or a damnatory sentence.  For those who are truly saved by faith in Jesus Christ, there is none of this.  There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
   The only question left to answer is, are you in Jesus Christ by faith?  If you are truly saved by faith in Jesus Christ you are in fact eternally secure.  Jesus has promised as much and He cannot and will not go back on His Word.  Praise God for His wonderful gift of eternal life in His Son Jesus Christ.  

9 comments:

  1. Don't you think that it is a problem that there is no evidence in the Early Christian Church of the belief that "once saved, always saved"? In fact, quite the opposite. There are plenty of early Christian pastors and theologians in the first three to four centuries AD who warn Christians not to be complacent in their faith and live a life of willful sin...lest they perish to eternal damnation.

    I grew up evangelical. I witnessed many persons pray the Sinner's Prayer or go forward during an Altar Call and make what seemed to be very genuine professions of faith. These people then went on to witness to others about salvation through faith in Christ, attend Church and prayer meetings, etc. for a number of years.

    They NOW never darken a church door or read a Bible. One person has converted to be a Muslim to marry her Arab husband, completely abandoning the Christian faith. I know of others who became murderers and child molesters and are unrepentant. I know others who are now living lives of sexual immorality and believe that there is nothing wrong with their behavior.

    Do you really believe that if one of these former believers dies...he or she will go to heaven???

    I know one Lutheran mother who's daughter became an evangelical and had a "born again" experience. A short time later the daughter started living with her boyfriend. Her mother warned her that what she was doing is sin, and that ongoing willful sin against God places her salvation in jeopardy. The daughter replied, "Don't worry, Mom. I'm covered. I was born again, and if you are born again there is no way you can lose your salvation no matter what you do. Lutherans are wrong."

    Neither infant baptism nor an adult "born again" experience is a "Get-into-heaven-free" card! Salvation only occurs by the grace of God, received through faith. No faith, no salvation.

    The Christian whose faith and trust is in the Lord need never worry about his eternal security/his salvation. Our salvation is not dependent on how many good works we do. But, the believer who takes his salvation for granted, turns his back on God and lives a life of sin is endangering his soul and very well may wake up one day in hell!

    The doctrine of Eternal Security is an invention of the Calvinists, codified at the Synod of Dort. It is false teaching. It did not exist in the Early Church. It is a license to sin! The Doctrine of Eternal Security is not scriptural!

    I encourage evangelicals to read this Lutheran statement on this issue:

    http://www.hopelcms.org/default.aspx?pg=87ac4963-1ad2-499c-8a26-0304068bf63c

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  2. Gary,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts concerning the eternal security of the believer. We need to keep in mind that eternal security is only applicable to those who have been genuinely saved by faith in Jesus. Sometimes it is difficult to tell if a person was genuinely saved, especially in view of the fact that genuine Christians can be carnal and look like lost people. Paul said to the believers at Corinth (he called them brethren throughout) “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as babes in Christ” (1 Cor. 3.1). These people were saved, just living in the flesh instead of by the power of the Spirit. Those who are genuinely saved, those who have become a new creation in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 5.17), can never lose their salvation and therefore never be lost again. Jesus said, (and He has the final word), “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10.27-29).

    I believe the cases you have set forth as examples of people losing their salvation are in fact examples of people who were never truly saved in the first place. The New Testament is replete with warnings concerning those who make false professions and then turn their backs on the Lord. John said, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2.19). Those who walk away from Jesus were never saved in the first place, their walking away is the final evidence of their continued lostness in sin. Furthermore there are stern warnings against becoming an apostate, a person who has heard the truth, maybe embraced the truth, and then walks away. See our Lord’s parable of the sower and the seed as the four different types of soil represent the various human heart responses to the Gospel (Matthew 13). Some of the soil, hearts, appeared very promising initially, but later proved to be bad soil after all. Only in the good soil where the seed takes root and produced fruit is there genuine salvation. I would encourage you to rethink your position on this matter and make sure you distinguish between false professions and those who are genuinely saved.

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  3. Many Christians have said the following to themselves during a very difficult period in their life: “Am I really saved?” Here are the thought processes on this issue for an Evangelical and a Lutheran:

    The Evangelical's Assurance of Salvation:

    1. At age ___ I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. At that moment I asked Jesus to come into my heart to be my Lord and Savior and to forgive me of my sins.

    2. But since I am currently questioning my salvation, maybe I didn't "do it" correctly. Maybe I didn't fully understand what I was doing. Maybe I didn't fully repent. Maybe I didn't really have complete faith. Maybe I did it just because my friends were doing it. Maybe...

    3. I don't know...maybe I should "do it" again, just to be 100% sure.

    The Lutheran's Assurance of Salvation:

    1. Have I been baptized into the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, thereby receiving God's promise of the forgiveness of my sins, salvation of my soul, faith, and eternal life?
    Answer: Yes.

    2. Have I outright rejected Christ as my Lord and Savior?
    Answer: No.

    3. Am I living a life of ongoing sin in willful disobedience and defiance of my Lord?
    Answer: No.

    Therefore, I KNOW I am saved!

    When your assurance of salvation is based on what GOD did and not what you did, it makes all the difference in the world!

    http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2013/10/salvation-is-much-simpler-than.html

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    Replies
    1. Gary,
      Your last statement is the key, our salvation is based on what God did for us, not on anything we have done. Salvation is by grace through faith (Eph. 2.8). Faith does not stand alone, faith has to be in something. Saving faith is in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary, His resurrection, and His promise to save all who come to Him and call upon His name (Romans 10.13). Saving faith means we believe who God is and we believe what He has said and done on our behalf (Hebrews 11.1-3).

      Blessings

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  4. THE INHERITANCE

    All Christians are promised an inheritance, however, the inheritance can only be collected in heaven.

    1 Peter 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,

    Peter said the inheritance is reserved in heaven, Christians need to go to heaven to collect their inheritance.

    Galatians 5:19-21 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    The apostle Paul was addressing the Galatian Christians when he said, "You will not inherit the kingdom of God."

    CAN CHRISTIANS GO TO HEAVEN AND CLAIM THEIR INHERITANCE WITHOUT REPENTING?

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    Replies
    1. Steve,

      You are correct concerning the Christian inheritance being realized in heaven. Every genuine born again believer in Christ is the recipient of every promise of God at the moment of salvation. The apostle Paul said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1.3). That means the saved man is a heavenly creature living as a pilgrim in this world (see Hebrews 3.1 & 1 Peter 2.11). As a stranger or pilgrim here, we do not fully enjoy all that is rightfully ours in Christ until we receive our resurrection bodies and dwell with Him. The saved man’s home is in heaven. Concerning the Galatians 5.19-21 text you referenced, the context of the passage is Paul’s exhortation to live a sanctified life or live in practical victory over sin by the power of the Holy Spirit. The list of sins in this passage is given in contrast to the fruit of the Spirit that follows in verses 22-26. Paul’s point with the list of sins where he says, “they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5.21), is to say those whose lives are marked by these habitual sins give proof they are not saved in the first place. Understand this, a true born again child of God still has the potential for every sin in the book within his unregenerate flesh. However, the true child of God will not be able to live a life of habitual rebellion and sin against God because the Holy Spirit will bring conviction and rebuke. A person who can live in sin with no evidence of conviction gives evidence thereby that they are not saved. My point here is this, true saints of God have to confess sin every day in accordance with 1 John 1.8-10. There is no Christian who lives perfectly in this life, no Christian that never sins. When a Christian sins they do not lose their salvation. Fellowship, testimony, walk with God, and peace may all be hindered, but salvation is always sure because it is a gift of God by grace through faith, unearned and unmerited. The true born again child of God can never lose their salvation, never be lost again after they are saved.

      Pax et Bonum

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  5. Here is my story: I grew up fundamentalist Baptist. I repented of all my sins and accepted Jesus Christ into my heart to be my Lord and Savior at age nine…and again in my early teens…just to be sure. In my early 20’s my family moved to another state where we attended a non-denominational, evangelical mega-church (which taught Baptist doctrine) for several years. In my mid to late 20’s I stopped going to church because I didn’t “feel” God inside me and he didn’t seem to listen when I prayed.

    I remained unchurched until I was married in my forties. I started attending liberal churches. When we had children, I started looking again at more conservative/fundamentalist churches, something closer to what I had believed as a child and teenager. We joined a conservative, orthodox Lutheran church. I became very involved in the church. I was happy and content in my orthodox Christian belief system. I read the Bible and prayed regularly.
    One day I was surfing the internet and came across an atheist’s website. He was a former fundamentalist Baptist/evangelical pastor! I was shocked! I started to engage him in conversation, and also tried to bring him back to the Faith, to belief in Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.
    However, this man pointed out to me some very big assumptions in my Christian belief system which I had never thought of, such as:

    1. Just because there is evidence for a Creator does not mean that the Creator is the Christian God, Yahweh.

    2. Our current Bibles contain thousands of scribe alterations, most of them inconsequential, but a couple of them are shocking. Why did God allow scribes copying the original Scriptures to change, delete, add, or alter his inerrant, Holy, Word?

    3. How do we know that the books of the New Testament are the Word of God? Is there a verse that tells us? Did Jesus give us a list? Did Paul?

    4. Do we really have any verifiable eyewitness testimony for the Resurrection or is it all hearsay and legend?

    5. Modern archaeology proves that the Captivity in Egypt, the Exodus, the forty years in the Sinai, the Conquest of Canaan, and the great kingdoms of David and Solomon are only ancient Hebrew fables.

    At first I fought him tooth and nail. I fought him for four months. At the very end I had to admit that there are no verifiable eyewitness accounts of the Resurrection of Jesus in the Bible or anywhere else. All we have are four anonymous first century texts full of discrepancies and contradictions. The only thing I had left to attach my faith to was the testimony of the Apostle Paul: why would a devout Jewish rabbi convert to a religion he so hated unless he really saw a resurrected dead man on the Damascus Road?
    But after studying the five Bible passages that discuss Paul’s conversion, I had to admit that Paul never says he saw a resurrected body. All Paul says is that he saw a light…and that this event occurred in a “heavenly vision”. Visions are not reality...not in the 21st century nor in the 1st.

    And as for the improbability that a Jewish rabbi would convert to a hated religion, there is a Muslim cleric in Israel today who not too many years ago was an ardent Zionist Jewish settler and rabbi, intent on ridding the Muslims from Jewish land.

    Strange conversions occur. They do not prove that the new religion is true and inerrant.

    I was broken-hearted, but I saw my Christian Faith was nothing more than an ancient superstition that had been modified in the first century by Jesus, a good man, but a dead man. There is zero evidence that this first century Jew is alive and the Ruler of the Universe.

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  6. Gary,

    What a story! Let’s take a step back and consider a bigger picture for just a moment. If a person desires to disbelieve God, there is no limit to the arguments one can contrive or manufacture to support that unbelief. Here are some intuitive proofs as to the validity of God’s creative work and His accurate revelation of Himself to us in creation (general revelation) and in His Word, the Bible (special revelation).

    First, consider the human race for just a moment. God as creator is the only valid way to understand how the human race came into existence. To postulate that protein gathered in a pool of water in the exact correct arrangement in some distant past so as to bring about a single celled organism from which everything else evolved cannot be substantiated scientifically nor given a reasonable mathematical likelihood of ever happening. Man is indeed created in the image of God, verifiable today by three distinct measurable traits,
    1. Man is inherently a religious being, human civilizations have always worshipped something, even if it was a tree. No other creature on the planet has an inherent desire to worship. Animals have no inherent recognition of God, human beings in every generation have expressed that realization.
    2. Man is a free moral agent, the animals are not. Man possess imagination, creative ability, intellectual calculation, deductive reasoning, and the ability to appreciate beauty, art, and music. Man can make choices in life that animals cannot make. The level of man’s intellect is so much higher than the rest of creation so as to demonstrate the image of God in us.
    3. Man dominates the rest of creation by the determined purpose of God. Man is not the strongest creature on the planet, nor is he the biggest or fastest. Yet we are the smartest and therefore the rest of creation serves us. God’s design was for man to have stewardship of His creation.

    Secondly, a few thoughts concerning the validity of the Bible, as we have it today. The validity of the Bible is actually easier to verify than one might think. The Old Testament is beyond dispute because the record and keeping of it are air tight. New Testament validity is actually almost as impressive as the old. There are over 6,000 extant copies of various parts of the early Greek New Testament in existence today. If one includes the Latin Vulgate and some other early versions, the number of copies skyrockets to over 24,000. By comparison, the Odyssey and the Iliad are considered among the oldest ancient Greek text and the copies of these number only in the hundreds. The point here is simple, the greater the number of copies, the greater the degree of accuracy from the original by reason of comparison. The more copies there are, the more true one can be to the original. Therefore, the Bible’s New Testament is as accurate as any written document in existence in the world today. Actually, the Bible we have today is the most verifiable document in the world. The Bible is indeed God’s revelation to man, He wants us to know about Him. God has had no problem preserving His Word for us today and every generation until Jesus comes back.

    Thirdly, concerning truth. It was Aristotle who gave us one of the basic laws of philosophy, the law of non-contradiction. The law of non-contradiction says that two opposing views concerning the same matter cannot both be true at the same time. Therefore, all religions in the world which set forth different methods whereby we can be forgiven of sin and accepted by God cannot all be true at the same time. By default there can be only one true way. Jesus said, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14.6). Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty for the sin of mankind. It is by faith in Jesus and Him alone that we can be forgiven of our sin and receive eternal life in Him.

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