This blog features eight simple points in defense of the Bible’s teaching on the eternal security of believers in Jesus. It’s not just a theological exercise. Or a platform for sparring with opposing views.
So we begin by asking some simple questions.
If the Christian faith cannot provide security, where can we go to find it? If Jesus Christ can’t give us security, who can? Is our hope in ourselves? Or is it in God? Or both?
Eternal security is the simple reality of our hope in Jesus. We know that what we have is waiting for us in heaven. And that it will be ours one day. In fact. We know it is ours now. Without eternal security we can never be certain of that. Until we cross over in death.
But what consolation is that? There is still time for us to mess up. We don’t even know what a day from now will be like.
Hope is not something you wish for. It is something you know you will see. But you cannot know this without eternal security.
No eternal security. No certain hope.
Jesus prayed that we would be with Him to see His glory. That must count for something. (Just threw that in to see if you’re still awake.)
So let’s roll out the eight points, as we would a red carpet, to the Savior we love in the land where we are going!
Years ago I gave these points to a Christian brother who does not share my belief in eternal security. A dear friend. He was our pastor for many years. We were honored when he spoke at Dad’s funeral.
We love our brothers and sisters who do not share our view.
But I’m sure my friend feels differently about it. Now that he read my letter. (A little hopeful humor.)
Having said that. Here are the eight points.
1. Those who believe have eternal life
The Bible teaches that those who believe have eternal life. Is it possible to have eternal life for a while, then lose it? Think about it. If you don’t have it forever, you never had it. Eternal life is forever.
The issue is not how long we are secure once we believe. It is whether or not we have truly believed (see I Cor. 15:1,2; II Cor. 13:5; Acts 8:13,18-23; II Pet. 2:12-22; I John 2:18,19; John 6:64; II Tim. 2:16-19; Tit. 1:16; Matt. 24:50,51; Heb. 6:7-9; 10:38,39). For, if we believe, eternal life is what we receive.
In fact. Jesus said plainly. “I give [my sheep] eternal life, and there is no way [an emphatic double negative] they will perish forever” (John 10:28)!
What value do we put on His words? Jesus told Pilate, “For this purpose I am come into the world, to be a witness to the truth” (John 18:37). You would think questions related to eternal security would end at John 10:28. But they don”t.
Some, like Pilate, still wonder what is true.
2. We become a Christian through spiritual birth
We enter this world through physical birth. After we are born, we will die, but we cannot be unborn. We will carry with us, the rest of our lives, the humanity we received at birth.
In a similar way, we become a Christian through a spiritual birth. This is the birth of something new. A new creation (II Cor. 5:17). We are given a birth from heaven by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3-8). We are begotten of God. An act which, according to the Greek tense in I John 3:9, will have a transforming effect on the rest of our lives. So we will never be the same again. We obtain a spiritual nature. We have a new awareness. It is the mind of Christ.
We cannot be spiritually unborn anymore than we can be unborn physically. The spiritual seed we receive at the new birth always remains in us (I John 3:9). As for the future, it is totally and irreversibly transformed by both our physical and spiritual birth.
3. Jesus promises He will never leave us
Jesus said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Someone will say, “But what if you leave Him?” Let me ask you this. How often is “never”? Could “never” mean “under certain conditions”? Is “never,” “If you leave, I leave”?
If I go, does Jesus stay behind? No. It’s simpler than that. “Never” means, if I go, He comes too and faithfully draws me back to Himself. Shall we take Him at His word? If He will never leave or forsake me, it must be true (see John 10:11-15).
Sure. We know our own hearts. “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.” But why doubt the faithfulness of Christ?
I am eternally secure in His promise. Say I did end up in hell. He would be with me there. (And He would tell Peter he made a terrible mistake!) 🙂
4. Salvation is of God
Though they are unaware of it, many Christians worship at the throne of man’s will and not at the throne of God as they would like to think.
Free will has become a form of idolatry. But not intentionally. We often teach that it is by our free will that we are born again. Many Christians believe this. And that it is by our own will that we determine whether or not we are ultimately saved. It is commonly taught that God is subject to man’s will. Is He? Or do we just like to think He is (see James 1:18; Rom. 9:15-19; Dan. 4:34,35; Eph. 1:11)?
We seem to have a problem deciding who is God. And who is subject to who.
If salvation is in our hands, we have a good reason to fear the loss of it. Is salvation of God? Or is it ultimately an accomplishment of our own, through free will? Who are we to thank when we get to heaven: God or ourselves? Or both?
Salvation is of God. We will thank Him alone (I Cor. 1:26-31).
God is the one who keeps us through enabling faith (I Pet. 1:3-5). Which He, by His Spirit, cultivates in the new man. He makes us willing in the day of His power (Ps. 110:3). So our lives are characterized by a willingness to please and a desire to walk with Him. This is because of the presence of His power in us (Eph. 1:19,20; 3:20). We make personal efforts to live as we ought and grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus as He works in us to will and to do His good pleasure (Phil. 1:6; 2:12,13; Heb. 13:20,21).
We will make it safely to heaven’s shore. And our thanks will be to Him.
5. The relationship of justification and election to eternal security
Eternal security is directly related to the Biblical doctrines of justification and election.
Justification is an objective act of God (Rom. 8:33) based solely upon the work of Christ in our behalf (I Cor. 1:30,31) and received by us at the time we believe (Rom. 5:1; 3:26). Through it God declares us righteous. He gives us the righteousness of Christ. As long as Christ has paid the price, this cannot be reversed. A denial of eternal security is a denial of the fundamental nature of justification (Rom. 5:9,17,21).
The Bible also teaches that there was an election of God to salvation from before the foundation of the world (see II Tim. 1:9; Eph. 1:3-12; Rom. 8:28-30; 9:23,24; 11:5; II Tim. 2:10; John 10:16; 6:44,45,65; 3:25-27; Heb. 2:10-13; Acts 13:48: 18:27; Phil. 1:28,29; Eph. 2:8; James 2:5; I Cor. 2:7; II Thess. 2:13,14; Rev. 17:8). The implications are obvious. God predetermined that the elect would be eternally saved. Jesus was aware of this when He said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me” (John 6:37) and “This is the will of Him who has sent me, that of all He has given me, I should lose nothing” (John 6:39).
To deny eternal security is to deny that there ever was an election of God that would assure the eternal salvation of the elect. And if an election of God before time does not assure the future salvation of the elect, what purpose does it have? God’s sovereignty, power, and infinite wisdom in such a predetermining act are meaningless. Some claim that God has no right to predetermine such things. And many Christians like it that way. They prefer that man remain at the center of all things. Who wants a God who acts like He is God?
6. The power of Jesus Christ
Jesus came to save (Luke 19:10; Matt. 1:21; Luke 2:11; I Tim. 1:15). Why do we doubt His ability to do this? He has shown us that He keeps His own. According to His own testimony, while He was here He kept those that were His and none were lost (John 17:12) except the one who was actually “a devil” (John 6:64,70). Why would He be any less likely to do this after He left the earth and was victorious over sin, death, and the devil? Our eternal salvation is more secure than ever, now that Jesus forever lives and reigns and makes intercession for us at the right hand of God (Heb. 7:25; Rom. 5:10).
Let’s be honest. We have very little confidence in His ability and the likelihood that He will actually save all those who believe. The reason for this? Once again. It is because our eyes are on man and man’s will. We have turned them from Christ. Even though He is exalted as a Savior at the right hand of God (Acts 5:31).
In John 17 Jesus revealed the saving power His Father gave Him, when He prayed, “Father. . .glorify your Son. . .as you have given Him power over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as you have given Him” (John 17:1,2). Jesus is the giver of eternal life. And He will give it to all those the Father has given Him. However much we like to think that it is in our hands, the eternal salvation of the elect is actually in the hand of Jesus Christ. And no one will ever take them out of His or His Father’s hand. The two hands are one (John 10:27-30). We are forever secure in them.
7. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ
Paul was personally persuaded that the saved are eternally secure. In Romans 8 he develops a case for the eternal security of believers.
He begins building the case for security on God Himself. You can’t improve on that. He asks, “Who can bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (v. 33). “Who can condemn us? Christ has died, risen, and is at the right hand of God interceding for us” (v. 34). Is there anyone greater than God and His Son? Then who can separate us from the love of Christ (v. 35)?
After this, every eventuality in life is covered.
Tribulation, distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, sword.
What if I am distressed to the point of breaking under the pressure? What if I am persecuted to the point of possibly denying my Lord? Christ will still love me. And I will still be His.
Nor does anyone know how they will die. But death, in whatever form it may take, will not separate us from Christ’s love.
Not even life itself, in its totality, in all its uncertainties, contingencies, and possibilities can separate us. If life itself cannot separate us from God’s love in Christ, what else is there to fear?
There is no fear of angels, rulers, or powers.
Nor will anything in the present or the future separate us. How does Paul know that? He doesn’t know you or me. Or our future.
Nothing above or below. Nor any other being, no matter who or what. Not even you or me. Do you think after all this that someone is going to say, “Hey, I can separate myself from God’s love in Christ”?
No. You can’t. Nor would you want to. Nor could you if you could and you wanted to (Rom. 9:3).
8. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit
The seal of the Holy Spirit is further proof for the eternal security of the believer. According to the Bible, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit unto the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13,14; 4:30; II Cor. 1:21,22). And Jesus said that the Spirit, once given, would be with us forever (John 14:16).
So “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
“We are more than victorious through [Christ] who loved us.” We exceed victorious!
What else is there to say?
Well. There is one more thing. Thank you Jesus.
© James Unruh, 2018 and beyond