SECURITY OF THE BELIEVER
When I arrived at Bible college, I was very young in the Lord and had very little training in the Word. I had one misconception of the Christian life which lead me to doubt in other areas of life.
I felt that as the believer matured, it was similar to the mountain climber's experience. As the believer goes through their maturing process, I felt that they had many problems, and trials which lead them to the maturity that they were seeking. As the mountain climber climbs, and works, and struggles up the mountain they are under heavy trials, but once they reach the summit, they can lay down and relax and enjoy the view. My feeling was that as the believer reaches maturity, the trials and problems disappeared, so that we can enjoy the Lord and His life for us.
This misconception lead me after a year or two of hard work, trials and many problems to wonder, whether I was really saved. I did not have the peace of knowing that I was eternally secure. Many are the quiet times and drives to work that were spent in wondering if I were really saved.
As my Bible training progressed, I was taught that we are maturing throughout this life, and there was no summit, where we have no more trials. I also learned that my salvation was not based on what I felt, nor on what I could do for God. I found that my Salvation was God's idea, and that it's ultimate completion in the next life was up to Him, not me.
I spent way to much time in spiritual turmoil, because of my lack of knowledge.
I trust that the study will bring you to the same knowledge. The knowledge that our salvation is not up to us, but it is up to God.
This doctrine may be hard to find in the theology books because of the diversity of terms by which it is called.
Some list it as "security," some as "eternal security," while some use the term "assurance" and yet others have used "perseverance".
Briefly, we might put it this way. It is the place of salvation with in God's realm of authority in which the believer stands forever. Since the position is "in" God, and "in" Christ there is nothing from without, which can harm the believer's position, nor is there anything from within which would want to harm the believer's position.
Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer quotes, and agrees with the Westminister Confession of Faith. "They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved" (17.1)
In words that I can understand, I believe that he is stating that once you are born into the family of God, you are stuck - you can't get out, you can't fall out, you can't get thrown out, you can't get enticed out, you can't get yanked out, and you can't think yourself out.
I would like to make two introductory statements concerning this doctrine.
1. I do not believe that this issue is one that can ever hinder or assist your salvation, nor standing before God. You are in the family of God whether you believe the doctrine or not. I base this on the Word of God, and will show this to you shortly.
2. The belief in eternal security can and should be of great benefit to the believer. Not only in facing their own death, but the death of others in their family.
It is not license to sin. Just because you're in, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't live a Godly life.
The lack of belief in eternal security can lead to a great lack of peace and unsureness in the persons personal life. It on the other hand tends to be a good motivator to Godly living!
There are basically two views to the doctrine. The Armenian and the Calvinist. The Armenian believes that you can loose your salvation, and the Calvinist believes that you cannot loose your salvation.
Let us consider these views this.
THE ARMENIAN VIEW as we have mentioned, is that the saved can be lost. We won't attempt to consider all of the passages that these people present. We want to concentrate on what the Bible tells us concerning our salvation.
Thiessen lists several objections to security which the non-security person would raise.
1. "That it induces laxness and indolence." To which the security person would reply - yes, you may well be correct on that point, yet it is God that set the doctrine to words in His Message to man and He is responsible for the consequences of His Word.
2. "That it robs man of his freedom." Once saved from eternal punishment and separation from God, it is hard to see anyone worrying about the fact that they can no longer go to hell by there own free will.
3. "That the Scriptures teach the contrary." Very emphatically this statement would have to be refuted!
4. "That there are many warnings." Warnings of lost reward, lost peace etc. yes, however none of lost salvation.
In considering verses which are presented by the non-security people there are some things which need to be considered. These thoughts are condensed from Chafer's Major Bible Themes. (Mr. Chafer continues with a very nice presentation of evidence for the eternal security of the believer.)
1. One holding to security usually realizes that a person can, from outward appearances, accept Christ, but that in reality at times this is an acceptance in the mind and not in the heart. After awhile there can be a falling away which the non-security person will point to as someone losing their salvation, which is in reality the falling away of a professor.
2. At other times it is admitted that "Christians" act like the world. Paul is very clear in his thinking on these "Carnal Christians" that are saved yet live like the lost. The lost that live like the saved can return to living like the lost and appear to be people that have lost their salvation as well. This situation can confuse the issue.
3. Some texts set forth by the insecure deal with rewards which may be won or lost, yet this has nothing to do with salvation.
4. A Christian that is out of fellowship is not the picture of Christ either.
5. The wayward Christian may be chastised and appear to be on God's black list yet God is trying to draw him back.
6. Gal. 5:1-4 mentions that the believer can fall from grace, however this is speaking of way of life not position before the Lord. In the early church there seemed to be the thought of encouraging the believers with the fact of their eternal salvation, yet needing to encourage them in keeping their spiritual life in proper working order.
7. Both the misinterpretation, and the interpretation out of context problems, mislead people into the thought of losing their salvation.
8. The crux of the matter is the one, or the person if you will, that brings salvation to pass. If it is man, then yes I would assume that we could walk in and out of anything that we could dream up, yet we know that the Lord God is the author and finisher of this work and it is a bewilderment to me how anyone could believe that God could not devise a better plan than one that I could slip from.
9. A point which I am surprised Mr. Chafer did not bring up is the fact that there is an overabundance of teaching which shows that the believer is eternally secure.
10. The person needs to understand that trials, troubles, and problems, are normal in the Christian life. These are not problems that are caused because we are not believers.
11. Feelings are irrelevant when we are dealing with God and His work in us.
THE CALVINIST VIEW
The view of the Calvinist is held to and defended quite extensively in Chafer Vol. III beginning at page 267. This view is based on four items of which one is the security of the believer.
1. "Depravity, by which term is meant that there is nothing in fallen man that could commend him to God. He is an object of divine grace."
The Wesleys believed in the depravity of man, indeed they agreed with most of what the Calvinists held, including grace to bring man to God, and election by a sovereign God. They did differ when it came to the security of the believer. They felt that piety and good works, were those tools given to man by which he might retain the salvation that had been given to him.
2. "Efficacious grace, by which term is meant that fallen man, in being saved, is wrought upon wholly by god - even the faith which he exercises in his salvation is a "gift of God"
3. "Sovereign and eternal election, by which term is meant that those who are saved by efficacious grace from the estate of depravity have been chosen of God for that blessedness from before the foundation of the world ( Eph. 1:4; Rom. 8:30)."
4. "Eternal security, by which term it is meant that those chosen of God and saved by grace are, of necessity, preserved unto the realization of the design of God. Since sovereign election purposes this and sovereign grace accomplishes it, the Scriptures could not - being infinitely true - do other than to declare the Christian's security without reservation or complication."
Jo. 1:12 "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:"
This passage states that we are children of God - we can't be unborn thus we must be eternally secure. We have three children. Laurie, Stanley and Timothy. They were born unto the couple, Faith and Stanley Derickson. They are our children. They may deny it, they may dislike it, they may hate it, but these things do not change the parentage, nor the linage.
We as believers, are of our Father, Almighty God. We cannot change that relationship no matter how we try. I have to wonder why anyone would feel that we could, or would want to change that relationship.
Jo. 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." We have eternal life. It is wrong to say we can loose our eternal life because if we can loose it then it wasn't eternal (I only had it for a very short time).
The phrase "shall never perish" is a double negative in the Greek language. A good translation would be "by no means perish."
Jo. 5:24 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life." Now, if a person can loose his or her salvation, how can Christ promise that the believer will never come into judgment? Impossible.
Jo. 6:37 "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." We come to Christ for our salvation, and He will not, indeed cannot cast us out.
John 10:27-30 "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." Some say yes but they can jump out. How foolish to use such an argument. Never perish. Never plucked out. How much plainer can the Word be?
Jo. 14:13,14 "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it]."
Christ used a contrast in tenses that is very important here. The well water - you drink continually - this a present tense, while the water from Christ, you drink only once - this an aorist - one time act of drinking. If salvation can be lost, then once lost always lost, because you cannot redrink.
Jo. 17:12 "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled." Christ lost none of the disciples except Judas. Judas was not one of His, he was a professor in the following for the money.
Rom. 5:8-10 "being now justified" is an aorist tense - one time occurrence. There is no indication that it can be repeated.
Rom. 6:3-5 We are in Christ so that if we can loose our salvation then He also can slip from the hand of the Father. NOT SO!! IMPOSSIBLE!
Romans 8:30 shows that we are already glorified in God's eyes. This is impossible, if we can ruin our salvation.
Rom. 8:35-37 lists a number of things that can't separate us from Christ. Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, nor the sword.
Rom. 8:38,39 lists things which can't separate us from the love of God. If we are in His love, we are in Him. Death, life, angels, principalities, powers, things present, things to come, height, depth, nor any creature.
I Cor. 1:8,9 We are to be kept blameless till the day of the Lord. (This blameless means blameless in God's eyes - not sinless. This blamelessness is due to Christ's work. We are justified in God's eyes, even though this action is not in its completed state as yet.)
Gal. 4:5-7 Vs 5 states, "receive full rights of sons". An aorist tense - one time occurrence. Once received, it would no longer be available.
Eph. 2:8,9 show that salvation is by grace not of works - thus if salvation is based on what we do or don't do, as they believe, then the Scriptures are wrong in stating that it isn't of works!
I Thess. 5:23,24 Our spirit, soul and body will be kept until Christ's coming.
Titus 3:3ff Our righteous works have nothing to do with our salvation.
Heb. 1:3 Christ is upholding all things. He is maintaining the heavens and the earth. He is maintaining governments in the world. Can't He hang on to me if I sin? I THINK SO!
Heb. 7:25 God is able to save completely.
And many many more verses if you only will think about them.
Salvation is seen in Scripture as being totally God's responsibility. When we accept Christ, THEN God is responsible to carry it through. What we feel, or think, or do, has nothing to do with it.
Good works and a holy life are the normal response of the Christian. If a person claims to be a Christian, but continues in a life of sin, then one might wonder if that person was really saved. Even seeing Christians turn to lives of sin. They may not have been saved either.
We must remember that unsaved people can lead a "good life" without God. Our job is to witness and leave the judging to God.
There are many other texts and logical arguments to this doctrine.
DOES IT MATTER THAT WE BELIEVE IN SECURITY?
1. It gives us confidence to share an everlasting gospel.
2. It will lead to Holy living - He's done so much - we will want to live His way, to please Him!
3. It will determine how we interpret some texts. Every promise to the New Testament believer will be dependant on me, rather than the one that makes it - God. In the family situation, if a father promises to take the child for ice cream, it is not the child's responsibility to drive the car, take the parent, and pay for the treat. The father promised it, and it is his responsibility to carry it forth to completion.
4. It will shape our view of God. Is He an ogre watching for a slip, or is He gracious and wanting to do things for us?
5. It will give us a peaceful life - confident in our destination. If we aren't secure our life will always be up in the air.
6. Security is a tremendous comfort in time of trials. We can know that the trials are for a time and for a purpose, and that one day we will reap the reward in our after life.
7. If we don't believe in security then we will be doing works for the wrong reasons. (We will be working to stay on the road to heaven, rather than for Christ and His glory.)
8. It is proper doctrine taught by the inspired Word of God, so we should very definitely believe it.
From the daily bread.
"An aged woman who had accepted the Lord Jesus Christ was still plagued with doubts about her eternal destiny. So my father and another elder were delegated to counsel with her concerning her fears. After quoting several texts on assurance, my dad said, "Grandma, if you saw one group of people drinking, cursing, and singing worldly songs, and right next door a gathering of joyful believers were singing gospel hymns and testifying of God's saving grace, which company would attract you?" Without hesitation she exclaimed, "Oh, I'd only feel at home with the saints of God. I love to fellowship with them!" Then he showed her" the following text. "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren...." I Jo 3:14a (Used by permission of Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan.)
VERSES PRESENTED BY THOSE THAT BELIEVE THAT A BELIEVER CAN LOOSE THEIR SALVATION:
I have listed all that I have run into. I will comment on some of them, but usually a long look at the context will explain what the verse is really talking about. This is usually true in all doctrinal questions. The context normally clears the fog raised.
Mark 13:22 This verse is very specifically speaking of leading astray and has nothing to do with eternal life.
Luke 8:13 supposedly pictures a believer that fell away. Seems more like an intellectual belief.
Acts 5:32 The Holy Spirit is given to "them that obey him." The context looks like Peter may have been slamming them and they didn't realize it. Peter in verse 29 states they "obey God rather than men." Then in 32 again mentions obey as though - we obey God, not man - and the indication - YOU OBEY MAN IN YOUR RELIGION AND NOT GOD!
Another possible interpretation is that Peter is speaking of those that obey in the realm of salvation. He was speaking to those that were rejecting the message that God had been giving. Chafer holds to this in Vol. VI, p 131 and lists II Thess. 1:8 as reference. "In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL of our Lord Jesus Christ."
This seems to speak of the Gospel when Acts mentions obeying "Him" yet may shed light on the meaning of the passage. Another verse which may help is Heb. 5:9 "And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him,"
(Another possibility is seen in the fact that they had been told to stop speaking - they hadn't and now are trying to explain the situation. Vs. 32 fully states, "And we are HIS WITNESSES of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to THEM THAT OBEY HIM." IN THE WITNESS. The text seems to be speaking of only those involved.)
Acts 11:21-23 "exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord." I would imagine the insecure believe that you need to hang on, or the Lord is going to shake you off.
This means nothing more than is encouraged today! "Hang in there baby!" This common expression is indicative of maintaining what is there. This text is not speaking of salvation. Hanging onto the Lord is not salvation, but is keeping Him close for help and encouragement.
Acts 13:43 "persuaded them to continue in the grace of God." I would assume that this is speaking of the general walk of the believers. We would urge the same thing in our circles today. Encouraging one another to continue in the grace that God has been giving to you in your daily lives.
Acts 14:21,22 "exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." "in the faith" in scripture is used of the Christian beliefs. "The Faith" has nothing to do with continuing in salvation. The idea of tribulation is the fact that they were going through hard times and it was through much tribulation they would go before they entered into the kingdom.
Rom. 6:11-23 I see nothing here to comment on. This is a discussion of the old way of life and the new way of life in Christ.
Rom. 8:12-17 Again this is a discussion of the way of life. It does mention "ye shall die" however this is the context of living and being taken home not eternal living.
Rom. 11:20-22 This text is speaking of two groups of people and is contrasting Jews and Gentiles, not individual believers and non believers.
Rom. 14:15-23 Again this text is speaking of personal living and has nothing to do with salvation or eternal things.
I Cor. 9:23-27 If this text is placed in a salvation - eternal things context, then verse 24 states that there will only be one person in heaven. "but one receiveth the prize" It would seem that this is speaking of rewards rather than salvation.
I Cor. 10:1-21 I'm not sure what could be built from this text.
I Cor. 11:29-32 The context is the misuse of the Lord's table. Some evidently had died because of it. The exhortation "that we should not be condemned with the world." evidently is used to show that believers can be condemned with the world. True, they can, for it says it, however what is meant by it is the question. The text is clear that it is physical death. If that person were left on earth his sin would cause him to be condemned before the other Christians. Judged would have the idea that the Christians were weighing Christian conduct and finding some of it was similar to the worlds conduct. Might this be the condemnation that is in view? I think so.
I Cor. 15:1,2 "believed in vain" would indicate a belief that failed. I would say he is calling into question the people's belief. Was it really valid? If it was then you stand in it. If it was a false belief then you do not stand in it.
II Cor. 11:2-4 Paul is simply stating that he is concerned about them, and those that might come teaching falsely. He is concerned that he present them to the Lord in good shape. Not that they can fall and not be at the presentation, but that they be less than Paul desires at the presentation.
II Cor. 12:21 Concern over sin yet there is nothing of an eternal nature in view.
II Cor. 13:5 It would seem that faith is used in the thought of beliefs and walk here. Nothing eternal here either.
It seems to me thus far that people that would use these verses to show a loss of salvation must also believe that sinless perfection is also the alternative to loss of salvation. If this indeed is the case then they must have an awfully frustrating life trying to stay perfect and "in" without sinning and falling "out"!!
Gal. 5:1-4 This is speaking of falling from life of faith into a life under the law.
Phil 2:12,12 "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." If you work it out yourself then you'd better do it with fear and trembling yet if you allow God to work it out you will have complete confidence.
Col. 1:21-23 The context is Christian walk not salvation. The "if" in verse 23, by the way is a 3rd class condition which means "if, and assumed so," Paul was assured in his mind that this would be the case. Again in the faith is speaking of living and beliefs.
Col. 2:4-8,18,19 Again there is nothing eternal in these verses. They are speaking of being misled by false teachers.
I Thes. 3:5
I Tim. 1:3-7,18-20
I Tim. 2:11-15
I Tim. 4:1-16
I Tim. 5:5-15
I Tim. 6:9-12,17-21
II Tim. 2:11-18,22-26
II Tim. 3:13-15
Heb. 6:4-20 It should be remembered that this passage is to be interpreted in light of all of scripture. There are multitudes of verses to show the security of the believer.
Hebrews 10:14 "FOR BY ONE OFFERING HE HATH PERFECTED FOREVER THEM THAT ARE SANCTIFIED." Remember this verse is coming up in the book when you interpret the one we are dealing with!
Three main views are presented to thwart the Armenian view of this passage.
1. That these people are non-Christians. Chafer Vol. 3, p 302 states that Scofield holds to this position. Chafer goes on to defend that position himself.
2. That this is a hypothetical warning given by the writer. This warning was given to believers.
3. Thiessen holds that these are Jews that had nominally accepted Christianity [they were saved people], but had returned to Judaism. This position, though slightly different, would fit into the thinking of number four.
4. That these are carnal Christians.
If these are saved people then you can't resave them for they are still saved no matter what. Thus pick them up (get their lives straight before God) and continue from this point on. You cannot bring them again unto saving repentance. That is an impossibility.
A return to 5:1 to read the whole text helps see a flow around the passage.
Actually, it seems that Paul was trying to show the same thing we are. He was dealing with people that didn't understand that they couldn't resave people. If they are going to go through saving repentance again then Christ will have to be crucified again. Indeed, that is one of the teachings in this book that the author sets forth. That is that Christ offered once for all and there is no need to offer, and offer, and offer, as they did in the Old Testament.
Ryrie states in his Basic Theology, "I personally understand the passage to be describing born again people. The phrases in verses 4 and 5 clearly refer to a conversion experience (cf. "enlightened" in 10:32, "taste" in 2:9, and "partakers" in 12:8), but they are willfully immature believers (cf. 5:11-14). Now, the writer warns, since it is impossible to go back in the Christian life to start it over (but if one could it would be necessary to fall away first in order to go back to the beginning), there are only two remaining options: stay where you are in this state of immaturity, or move forward to maturity (6:1). Since their present state was undesirable, this passage was a strong warning to go on in the Christian life. This warning is similar to that which a teacher might give a class: "It is impossible for you students, once enrolled in this course, turning the clock back (which cannot be done, but which would have to be done if one could go back to the beginning) to start this course over. Therefor, go on to further knowledge." (Reprinted by permission: Ryrie, Charles C.; "BASIC THEOLOGY"; Wheaton: Victor Books, 1986, p 333, 324)
Heb. 12:1-17, 25-29
I Pet. 5:9,13
II Pet. 1:5-11
II Pet. 2:1-22 vs. 22 "a dog returns to its vomit" Prov. 26:11 Septuagint: "As a dog becometh odius when he returneth to his vomit; so is a fool for his wickedness, when he returneth to his sin."
King James "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly"
This text is speaking of false teachers. The quote from the Old Testament indicates that it was a matter of them returning to their old ways rather than turning from a good walk to a fleshly walk. Either way the reference is not speaking of eternal things - only way of walk.
II Pet. 3:16-17
I Jo. 1:5
I Jo. 3:11
I Jo. 5:4-16
II John 6-9
Jude 5-12, 20, 21
To sum up:
Salvation is from a life of sin to a live of holiness.
Salvation is from the sin nature to a new nature.
Salvation is from hell to heaven.
Salvation is from death to life.
It is hard to believe that a logical, systematic God would design a system of salvation that intricate, and then have to reverse His decision or reinstitute His work at the whim of the one that He had given His Son on the cross to save.
We are saved by the substitutionary atonement of Christ. To not be saved after the atonement has been applied to us would be an affront to the work that Christ did on the cross.
It boils down to which you believe. Once saved, always saved. OR Once saved, always worried. Since God promises us peace, it would seem that the former would be the plan of salvation that He would have designed.