The Eternal Security of the Believer
Is it possible for Christians to lose their salvation? To answer that, let’s stop focusing on the loss and start focusing on the gain — because that’s a more direct path to understanding eternal security. When we realize that we are eternally secure in our salvation, we are then free to serve the Father with the purest of motives — love. The salvation that God offers in Jesus Christ (the one described in his word) cannot be lost. Therefore, any salvation which is presented as losable must be counterfeit.
We’ll proceed by examining true salvation here — we’ll act like Treasury agents who train to spot a phony bill by studying the real thing — our genuine currency. Once proficient in the true they are better equipped to identify the false. So let’s have a look at that true salvation.
Salvation is a gift. (Rom. 5:15, 6:23; Eph. 2:8)
To be considered a gift, an asset must pass into the control of the receiver with no contingencies. If the asset could — and even just theoretically — be pulled back by the giver, then the asset was not truly transferred, and it was not truly a gift. Also, if the giver reserves any degree of ownership or control over the asset, then the asset was not a gift; it was part of a contingency agreement. If you want to learn more about what is or is not a gift, I recommend searching out "gift" or "giving" in the state or federal tax codes.
Salvation is eternal life. (Jn. 3:15; Jn. 10:8; Rom. 6:23; 1 Jn. 2:25; 1 Jn. 5:11)
We Christians possess eternal life — and right where we stand on earth! (Jn. 5:24). Eternal life is God’s very kind of life. Our former lives were not lives at all — they were defined by death (Rom. 6:23). Born-again believers partake of God’s very kind of life — eternal life.
Eternal means eternal. (1 Jn. 5:11)
Eternity never stops — and any entities which have an eternal aspect can never stop… this, by definition. Therefore, eternal life is life that can never stop. 1 John 5:11 begins, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life…” John did not say, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us temporary life…” or “And this is the record, that God hath given to us intermittent life…” Eternal life is, by simple definition, a non-stopping life.
You should know that you have eternal life. (1 Jn. 5:13)
Why would God want us to know that we have eternal life? If we know that we have (and in current possession) a life that cannot stop, then we would not waste our God-apportioned time worrying about that which cannot happen: losing the non-losable.
Salvation is everlasting life. (Jn. 3:16; Jn. 3:36; Jn. 5:24; Jn. 6:47; Gal. 6:8; 1 Ti. 1:16)
Is there anything in the words everlasting life that even hints at a possibly of such life ending? Would God keep repeating a promise only to renege?
Eternal life begins now — and not later in heaven. (John 5:24)
John 5:24 teaches that at the moment of salvation a believer passes from death unto life. That is, a believer takes a current (and by its nature, an abiding) possession of eternal life… I mean, just read the passage. It is a clear and simple description of a believer passing from death unto life — and you will never find the opposite in scripture; nowhere does God’s word show a believer passing from life unto death.
Salvation is the new birth. (Jn. 1:12-13; Jn. 3:3-8; 2 Co. 5:17; 1 Pe. 1:23)
“Ye must be born again.” said Jesus to the quintessential earnest seeker, Nicodemus. Salvation is all about being born into God’s family. This was brand new information to Nicodemus — and good news for all people.
Salvation is familial. (Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6)
When we receive Christ as Savior, Jesus becomes our brother (Heb. 2:11) and God becomes our Father (Jn. 1:12-13; Gal. 4:6) — and, as in an earthly family, our disobedience does not affect our DNA. The prodigal son’s father welcomed the son home (Lk. 15:11-32) — and so will God welcome his children home… and no matter where they’ve been! True — God retains the right to administer punishment when and where it is needed (Heb. 12:6-7), but that never affects the homecoming. Family is family.
Condemnation cannot affect believers… but it does indeed affect all others! (Jn. 3:18; Jn. 5:24; Rom. 5:18, 8:1)
God reserves condemnation for the unregenerate. His children remain secure, free from any threat of condemnation since they are free from any possibility of becoming non-children. Any ostensive loss of salvation in a believer would have to involve the condemnation or re-condemnation of God’s child — and such things can never be! (Rom. 8:1)
Jesus is eternally competent, therefore we remain eternally secure. (Heb. 7:25; 10:14)
Look what Jesus did: by his one sacrifice he has made us perfect forever (Heb. 10:14) — and look what Jesus is doing: He is making intercession (Heb. 7:25) for our sins. So let me ask, were you so bad that Jesus made everyone else perfect but you? Or do you have a sin so dark that it shows Jesus incompetent as an intercessor?
Salvation is by God’s grace. (Eph. 2:8; 1 Pe 1:10)
Grace is God’s best stuff! Can sin — your worst stuff — somehow triumph over grace, his best stuff? That’s as silly as it sounds.
Salvation is the application of God’s mercy. (Tit. 3:5)
Mercy is the single best fix for the single worst problem — sin. People who insist that salvation must be somehow maintained by us do not understand the nature of mercy — nor do they understand how God views and deals with sin. It is by God’s mercy that we draw our next breath, let alone reach heaven! But mercy is not a hand-up, a gap-filler or a complement to other efforts; mercy is the total fix for an otherwise non-fixable condition — and indeed, it has no gradient. If you have yours, you have it forever. It’s a yes or no type of thing.
Salvation contains no deservedness component. (Isa. 64:6; Rom. 6:23; Tit. 3:5)
No human being deserves anything good. We have all labored in sin, and we shall collect its wages — death (Rom. 6:23). Salvation does not come by any innate goodness in humankind, nor is God impressed with even the most earnest good deeds. He saves us by his grace which belies any goodness in its objects. And, just as we could in no way earn our salvation, we can in no way maintain it. Jesus does that for us, too! (Tit. 3:5) If we were required to either earn or maintain our salvation, we’d all be lost… and we’d all stay lost (Isa. 64:6).
You do not have to be baptized to be saved. (Lk. 23:42-43)
Don’t get me wrong — you should be baptized… but as matter of obedience — not as a step towards salvation. The believer’s water-baptism is a public statement of what has already occurred — salvation. It in no way contributes to salvation as some would assume of a sacrament. Therefore, baptism is only appropriated for those who can assess their salvation — but more importantly, by those who can have it assessed by others.
Saved people cannot commit the unpardonable sin. (Mk. 3:28-29)
Jesus said that every sin can be forgiven!... well… except one: “Blaspheme against the Holy Spirit” is an unpardonable sin. What is this sin? Relax... if you are reading this, you haven’t done it. This blaspheme is the ongoing rejection the Holy Spirit’s testimony that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, Savior and Messiah. Therefore, any persons who have received salvation (true salvation. through the biblically revealed Jesus Christ) can no longer commit this sin. Why not? That sin is salvation’s logical negation — not receiving Christ! (1 Jn. 5:12) Believers may occasionally look like they are “rejecting” Christ, but that is a matter for family discipline (Heb. 12:6); that is never a picture of someone actually undoing that which cannot be undone.
More thoughts on eternal security.
The notion that salvation can indeed be lost persists in the Christian dialogue, and I find myself asking why. So the following comments are directed toward possible reasons for this anomaly and not to the doctrinal constraints of the issue.
Is it possible for Christians to lose their salvation? No… and let me qualify that: under no circumstances, in no degree, in no corner of heaven, hell or earth, and at no moment in time can born-again believers in Jesus Christ lose their salvation. Why then does this notion persist in the culture?
Even after carefully examining the scriptural mechanics of eternal security we cannot ignore the data. For if we say that believers cannot lose their salvation (which I aver is a slam-dunk) why is there so much doctrine and dialogue to the opposite?
First of all, truth is independent of quantity or volume. One day they shall track the same, but for now God speaks in that still small voice (1 Ki. 19:12). The Christian life necessitates overcoming currents and culture to find and stand for God’s truth. So let us look at three reasons why people may believe that a Christian can lose his salvation.
First, not everyone who speaks to the topic is saved — that is, they are not born-again believers in Jesus Christ… so consider the source. Such people have no spiritual checks and no internal witness of the Holy Spirit. These are disinclined to pray, study or investigate, and since these people do not understand what salvation is, they cannot understand what salvation is not — or what losing it might entail.
These propagate a cultural, not a biblical notion of salvation — that cobbling-together of good-deeds, superstition, birth-right and liturgy that usually defines a nominal Christian’s feelings toward God and the universe. Why do I even bring the non-regenerate into this discussion? These represent such a large population segment, and their skewed doctrine cannot help but permeate the culture… and it has. When you ask the person-on-the-street how they think someone might get to heaven, what do you get? Some version of “works, then judgment” — right? All that comes from the culture. But now let us look at those who name the name of Christ.
Few Christians pray enough, (1 Th. 5:17) and few Christians study enough (2 Ti. 2:15). Prayer is the key to protection from doctrinal error, and earnest bible study is God’s method for a Christian worker’s learning and growth. Too many of us attack the scriptures mentally without first appealing to God for guidance and protection during our studies. Too many of us rely on pastors and teachers to dictate to us what we believe. Too many of us abandon communication: God wants to hear from us. God wants to talk to us.
Finally, the imperative for salvation itself stings and clings. We are all — to the last and to the best of us —sinners, deserving nothing of God or his goodness (Rom. 3:23). That stings… but if you’ve never been stung, you’ve never been saved. That feeling of unworthiness — that necessary first step toward salvation— never quite goes away as a feeling. It clings! And although Christ’s righteousness makes us… and yes, I dare say worthy… while we wear this flesh we shall frequently feel unsaved. The gravity of Paul’s "old man" (Eph. 4:22; Col. 3:9) is such that we constantly try to justify our feelings, even in the face of plain logic and evidences — and in so doing we rob ourselves of rest… and we insult God in the bargain!
Believers must present an earnest seeker with salvation through faith in Christ alone… and such a one must take heed to avoid even the smell of salvation maintenance. Because all systems which say that a believer can lose his salvation fall under the works-salvation category… whether or not they say that the gaining of salvation was by faith! For if a believer is maintaining salvation, then faith is no longer faith, eternity is no longer eternity, Jesus and the Father are both liars… the list goes on.
One must know the true Christ — the Savior who is competent to both save and to keep all who come to him. Jesus is not some guy who lends you a hand when the going gets tough; he is the total and proactive provision of God for the salvation of every soul. Those who do not subscribe to eternal security postulate a too-small God… this guy who sent a too-small Savior.