Eternal Security?

jesus-the-shepherdOnce saved, always saved? Or are we responsible for maintaining our connection with God and a basic standard of Christian behavior? If we don’t, what happens? What if I were to lose heart completely, come to despair over some sin in my life or become so angry at God over my pain and loss that I gave up and quit trying?

I have no intention of doing this, mind you. Even when I have felt these things and run away from God for a time, I have never been able to escape the conviction that it’s all true, every bit of it, God’s Word, the crucifixion, the resurrection, every unfathomable part of the Gospel story. And that leaves me with the responsibility to choose how I will respond and to work it all out (Phil. 2:12-13). Because the Scriptures are true, I’m not just a highly-evolved monkey on a random course that will some day die and never be heard from again. I am a creature of Almighty God with an eternal spirit. The conviction I have about the truth of the Gospel is something I must persevere in practically. But what if I didn’t?

Part of me wants to be freed from this burden, to rest in the assurance that God is holding me in His hand and will never let go of me, no matter what. And there is some truth to this picture. Jesus told us that “No one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 27-28). But is it possible for me to “walk” out of His hand? 

I’m afraid that if I ever conclude that salvation is forever, there won’t be enough motivation left for me to be obedient to God. I have trouble enough obeying Him as things stand. It frightens me how I have abused God’s grace at times. What is to stop me going over the top if I should ever discover that all is forgiven—past, present and future?

Could it be true that God’s love is so great that all He wants is for me to be with Him no matter what? But how can I be with Him if I’m strung out on sin’s hamster wheel? And what kind of son will I make in Eternity if I arrive as some unprincipled ragamuffin?

But I don’t believe that will happen. The thought is repugnant. In spite of Scripture’s more terrifying declarations about sin and its consequences, my experience with God tells me that He is incredibly patient and kind. He has often sent hardship and turbulence into my life to help me get back on track. I find great comfort in Hebrews 12:7-8: “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.”

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About Douglas Abbott

I am a freelance writer by trade, philosopher and comedian by accident of birth. I am an assiduous observer of humanity and endlessly fascinated with people, the common elements that make us human, what motivates people and the fingerprint of God in all of us. I enjoy exploring the universe in my search for meaning, beauty and friendship. My writing is an extension of all these things and something I did for fun long before I ever got paid. My hope is that the reader will find in this portfolio a pleasing and inspiring literary hodgepodge. Good reading!
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3 Responses to Eternal Security?

  1. Sarah Willems says:

    Not only is he incredibly patient and kind (his love endures forever, the psalmist loves to chant) but in his word he leads us to see that a spiritual birth takes place upon our faith in the finsihed work of Christ. Born into the family of God, we become sons (and daughters) of the Most High God, Yahweh. If by birth we become children, how can that ever be altered? In earthly terms has your son ever disappointed you? He is still your son; he cannot be “unborn.” Even if he disowns you he is still your child. There is no such thing as reversing a birth. How clear can God be that he ordains our relationship with him to be permanent — and that is a permanence that he will see to according to Philippines 1:6.

  2. Don says:

    Hey Doug, deep thoughts once again. Can I shine some Son on your rainy parade? 🙂 I tend to agree with Sarah. I used to be sure one could blow it and miss heaven after becoming a son, but have been studying this out for years now, (why I have so much to say on the subject, sorry in advance) and have turned a 180. My newfound joy over this reality is unspeakable and full of glory! Hallelujah! I no longer feel any insecurity over my relationship with God or his love for me or his ability to keep me and finish what he started in me. “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6. Grace to you –

    The debate over whether we can lose or salvation has raged on for centuries, but I wonder if it was even debated in the early church, before the church became political and started using fear to make and keep converts and to get offerings, turning Christianity into a works based religion, denying God’s love and power and putting men in control. Thus the dark ages…

    The new covenant in His blood is different than the old one, and is a covenant of grace. Once the covenant is enacted on your behalf it cannot be broken by you or an angel, or the devil, or even God. The amazing thing is that you did not make this covenant, it was between the the second Adam, Jesus, who represents all of mankind as a man without sin, and his Father. Only a sinless man could mediate this new covenant, so that leaves you and me out. We are the beneficiaries of this testament in his blood, not the mediators, and since neither God the Father nor Jesus will ever break it or go back on their promise, it literally cannot be broken once enacted on your behalf by your choice. Whosever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Jn 3:16. Eternal life started the moment you believed. How can eternal life be stopped somewhere along this life’s road this side of heaven? Your new life that came from believing would not be eternal if someone had the power to circumvent it after you received it. And God would be a liar if he took it away after promising it and giving it to you after you believed. And we know that He is cannot lie, so it is true. His promises are yes and so be it to them that believe.

    You took the cup, you let the blood cleanse you, you partook of this covenant once and for all. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified (set apart for God).” (Hebrews 10) amazing chapter. Read Hebews with the new covenant in mind and it will blow you away.

    The concept of becoming unsaved after getting saved is not Biblical, and most scriptures cited to support that view do not pertain to eternal salvation but to consequences of sowing bad seed and reaping bad fruit this side of heaven. Hebrews 6 has been used to attempt to make a case for losing salvation. It mentions falling from grace after partaking of the heavenly gift. But read it in context. It is written to Hebrews who are having a difficult time with the concept of one sacrifice fits all. They are told that to try to earn salvation by works after they have trusted in the blood of Jesus is what falling from grace is all about, and it is impossible to renew them again to repentence. The reason it is impossible is because they do not need to repent and get saved again, that is impossible, because they are already saved. Falling from grace does not mean they went into the world and started sinning, it means they were going back to the old covenant of law and works when it was null and void and stopped trusting in the new covenant of grace which they were now under. It is impossible to crucify Jesus again and not necessary. It is impossible to repent and get saved again because it is not necessary. Just trust in the one time sacrifice, that is all. That was Hebrew’s message to the Jews.

    Do not frustrate the grace of God, for if righteousness could be attained by the law, then Christ died needlessly. Galatians 2:21. By the works of the law shall no man be justified. Rom 3:20.

    So why do we keep trying to be justified by our good behavior, our works? Our good behavior does not save us and it does not keep us saved. If our good works come out of a redeemed heart, then they are good works, but if our motivation is to earn God’s favor, then we are on the wrong path. For without faith in his finished work it is impossible to please God.

    For by grace are you saved, by faith, not of works lest any man should boast. If I did not gain salvation by good works, how can I lose it by bad works? My salvation would be based upon my ability, will power, opportunities, choices, labors, and then I could present myself before God and say that once airborne (saved) by his grace, I then kept myself aloft (saved) by my own power. That is boasting. His power saved me and his power keeps me saved. See how fast a jet falls from the sky when it runs out of fuel. No matter how skilled the pilot is, he cannot save the plane without the same power that got it off the ground. The secret is in the fuel. The power of the Holy Spirit, the blood of Christ, and the love of the Father makes a powerful cocktail and that fuel never runs out, it is from an eternal source.

    Hebrews tells us that we ceased from our own labors when we came to Christ. He has become our Sabbath rest. Not believing and depending upon the finished work of the cross is how we “fall from grace” and sadden God. Falling from grace (mentioned in Hebrews 6) means getting under the law again and depending on our works to be saved and ignores the truth that we are already saved. He saved us, so stop trying to impress God by your efforts or accomplish by your efforts what has already been done. Jesus said it is finished. He meant there was nothing left to do but for you to accept his substitutionary sacrifice, to accept his perfect sinless life in your stead. You were unworthy, you could not do it, you could not keep the law or measure up then and you can only measure up now by how much you let Christ be formed in you. He is doing the forming. It is Christ in me, the hope of glory. Col 1:27.

    It is like trying to pay your debt of a zillion dollars that has already been paid, by sending the previous creditor a dollar a week thinking that you are being noble and pridefully mistaken that you cannot let someone else pay your debts, although it was paid and you never had a chance of paying it so what makes you think that you can now by sending in a piddly dollar a week. He does not need or want you to attempt this. Your own righteousness is considered filthy rags,it falls short. It is His righteousness now that God values in you. I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. II Cor. 5:21. He wants you to be humble and accept his free gift. He wants and gets the glory, the credit for paying your debt, why are you trying to take credit for it or add to it? It is a deception and we miss out on appreciating him properly, we actually offend our benefactor – insult him by suggesting that Jesus’ huge sacrifice was not enough to do the job and keep us saved.

    This mentality tries to add something to what Jesus did, so we can boast. It means not trusting completely in the grace, the free gift. Means we believe mistakenly that we have to try harder to be better, and it is usually only an external thing, God knows what is really in our hearts anyway. Pray that he changes our hearts and then be brutally honest with ourself and others – humbling ourselves in admitting our continuing need for his grace and power to make and keep us free. We need to feel his love motivating us, transforming us, or our religion is just behavioralism. Be filled with the Spirit. Eph 5:18.

    Salvation is attained by what Jesus did, he earned it for us and all we do is say yes, let his substitutional sacrifice count for me. What pleased God is our faith in Christ. Salvation is not attained by Jesus plus my good looks. Bible says I am sealed until Jesus returns. What good would a seal placed there by God be if it can be broken by us? The analogy and type that the seal represents would be meaningless if that seal does not keep until we are delivered safely into his hands, meaning our final destination, our new home, heaven. God paid too great a price to ever give up on us. He now has ownership, we belong to him, forever, whether we are good stewards or bad. He will reconcile with our failures on judgment day, but judgment day for us does not include the kind of judgment that will fall on those who never accepted Christ. We have our ticket to gain entrance.

    I do not believe that we get to choose not to be saved once we used our choice to say yes to Jesus. That is it. Done deal. The born again experience was also our death experience. We died to sin and were made alive to God in Christ. It is appointed unto man once to die. Hebrews 9:27. We died to sin already. Oh, our bodies will wear out eventually, but our spirits are alive to God and nothing can change that -that is what Christ accomplished once and for all. What we need is to be restored to the joy of His salvation. Psalm 51:12. David sinned miserably and prayed to be returned to the joy of God’s salvation, not to be saved again.

    The desire to follow God is placed there by God. We love him after we first assimilate his love for us, and that seems to be where the struggle lies. My soul, like an old, disgarded piece of rare furniture, has been purchased off of the junk heap, now the master sets about restoring me to my original beauty and making me ready for him. I can resist that process and make life miserable for myself, but in the end, I am still his – and heaven is my home. The scriptures teach that there will be people with various degrees of perfection and spirituality who will have different places in heaven, and a Christian who lives carnally all his life will be rewarded based on how much or little he allowed God to fill him and change him through relationship, which may not be much if he is always resistant. But he will be happy to be there in heaven even if saved as if by fire. 1 Corinthians 3:15. But remember, salvation is a gift, not a wage. Heaven is guaranteed, but spiritual rewards are gained as we enjoy our salvation and let the Holy Spirit have his way in our lives. I think the rewards and how we get them is different than we think. God’s ways are so different than ours that we get it wrong because we judge by human judgment. People reject us when we fail them, God does not. But remember, you did not reject him, you accepted Jesus, the only prerequisite to his favor.

    We might be ashamed when we see Him if we lived a carnal life on earth, but he will dry all our tears and invite us in nevertheless. The prodigal son story is about a son who felt unworthy but was received with love and favor. It is not about a lost person who was never a son in the first place getting saved. Sinners who never knew the Lord cannot be prodigals. A prodigal is a son who left and returned, but he was always a son and the father watched for his return to fellowship. We can interrupt the good fellowship with God, but never the legal relationship of father to son.

    God is all about changing our hearts, he wants truth on the inward parts, he is transforming the inner man, yet we try to change our behavior without our hearts getting changed. God looks on the heart. He owns my heart now, but I still have a choice to allow him more access or to keep locked doors in there. His restoration process is to woo us with his love until we trust him enough to unlock those doors and allow him to clean house. Remember he stands at the door and knocks (this is written to already saved people) and it is our choice to let him in and he will dine with us.

    You mentioned the thought that if there were no eternal consequences to sin, then people might abuse the grace and live like the devil. Well, that is a choice and yes there are consequences, but the purchaser still holds the deed to your soul. A born again person is a child of God and has been given the new nature. To live opposite to that new nature is to invite a disasterous and unhappy life. If one sows to the flesh he will of the flesh reap destruction. Again, this is not about eternal life but about physical destruction, of a ruined life on earth when the potential was there for an abundant and joyful existance. (Annanias and Saphira will be in heaven, but a little embarrassed). It is like having a Lambrogini in the garage but choosing to ride a broken down bicycle and then complaining about the journey. Foolish, but does not take your name out of the Lamb’s book of life. My experience since being convinced that I am forever secure is more joy, more freedom, more worship. I feel such a knee jerk reaction of praise that I never had when I was unsure if I could offend him too much and he would turn me away. What kind of a relationship would that be? It would be based on my walking on eggshells around a potential abusive parent who has an end to patience and on a whim, or because I crossed a poorly defined boundary, disowns me and hatefully condemns me to the worst nightmare imaginable, all after I accepted Jesus. He would not be a just, or a loving, good, or a faithful God if that were true.

    Can joy and insecurity really coexist? How realistic is it to rejoice over a relationship that is only as secure as our behavior is consistant?

    Does it make any sense to say that salvation is offered as a solution for our sin and then to turn around and teach that salvation can be taken away because of our sin as well?

    If according to Hebrews there is no longer any sacrifice for sins, (Jesus paid for them all once and for all at Calvary), then for which of your sins was sacrifice not made?

    A man does not drift into salvation. Does it make sense that he can drift out of it?

    A great resource is Charles Stanley’s book, Eternal Security.
    Another is Mark Drake’s teachings on the New Covenant.
    Also, the book of Hebrews.

    http://www.puritansermons.com/sermons/traill03.htm

  3. Don says:

    Oh, one more thing. I personally do not believe that man is born with an eternal spirit or soul. Adam ate the fruit in the garden and was promised death. God in his grace and wisdom kept Adam from eating of the tree of life so he would not exist forever in his fallen condition . Death means death or absence of life. Everyone dies physically. The second death will fall on those who rejected Christ. They will be thrown into the lake of fire which consumes completely. There is no Biblical evidence that a person will suffer for eternity, only that the fires will not be quenched. Fire destroys and consumes, and that is what will happen to the lost. They will be gone. Their pain will be in realizing too late what they could have had in Jesus. Eternal life or existance is only granted to the believer in Jesus Christ. Believe and you will have everlasting life. Not to believe means everlasting death. They will be dead for ever, never to be seen or heard from again. People have skewed the Bible to support something different, or claimed divine revelation, but the Bible does not support eternal suffering or existance for the unbeliever. There is a scripture that suggests that when a non believer dies physically he goes to a holding place called hell and he is aware for a time, but hell along with the unbeliever will be thrown into the lake of fire to ultimately be destroyed.

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