Doctrine of Eternal Security
The Eternal Security Debate
Doctrine of Eternal security has been a contentious topic in theology for a long time. Many theologians contend that you cannot lose your salvation, but others disagree.
One of the names for the notion of eternal security is “the perseverance of the saints” or “once saved, always saved.” Many people today think a Christian can renounce his salvation. Such a person is seen as having reverted to old habits and turned away from Christ.
Salvation becomes conditional under the doctrine that says someone can lose their salvation. It means that because God has rescued us, we will keep being saved as long as we keep living up to God’s standards. But we lose it if we falter at any time. That viewpoint is one of “works-righteousness.”
Eternal Security’s Defense
In Romans 5, the apostle Paul discusses the topic of eternal security. Romans 5 is frequently left out of discussions of this topic, despite the fact that it is likely the most authoritative book ever written on the certainty of our salvation.
The gospel is affirmed by Paul in the Romans epistle. His point in chapters three and four is that salvation is a gift of grace via faith.
The doctrine of eternal security, usually referred to as “once saved, always saved,” holds that anybody who becomes a Christian is immediately rescued from hell and will never lose their salvation.
Nothing on earth or in heaven “shall be able to separate (them) from the love of God” (Romans 8:39) and so nothing can undo the state of having become a Christian once a person is truly “born of God” or “regenerated” by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Due to the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints, eternal security is particularly important among Reformed Christians (Continental Reformed, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Reformed Anglicans, and Reformed Baptists). However, the Plymouth Brethren and Free Grace Theology, which is held by many independent fundamental Baptists, also affirm eternal security. Catholicism, Lutheranism, Orthodoxy, Anabaptism, Pentecostalism, and Methodism, in contrast, teach conditional security.
Theological discussion of whether those who had denied Christ had lost their Salvation
1. Others came to the conclusion that although the renouncers were once truly saved, they were no longer saved since they had repudiated their faith, while some thought that people who had abandoned their faith were still justified in God’s eyes. In part, this prompted the following query: “What about anyone who sinned? Could you lose your salvation if you sinned after becoming a Christian?
2. The word believer, which is a crucial term that the reader must comprehend, appears in the article’s title. A person who has truly come to trust Christ as his Saviour and accept His substitutionary death, burial, and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins is said to be a true believer.
The person who just professes to believe in Jesus Christ but has not demonstrated their faith by bearing fruit in the spiritual realm is not discussed in this study. Only a real believer in the Lord is discussed and referred to in this study.
One must understand that this issue of eternal security is of the utmost significance because it pertains to the believer’s perspective of Jesus Christ’s atoning work on the cross and the work of the Holy Spirit who is inside the believer.
This study is not intended to address the biblical passages that seem to support the idea that a believer can lose his salvation or to provide a scriptural refutation of those who do not believe in the eternal security of the believer.
The goal of this study is to explain the significance of the notion of eternal security, to offer the four opposing viewpoints on the subject, and to provide scriptural evidence for the writer’s preferred viewpoint.
This research will make reference to a number of writers and works, but neither the author nor the Fundamental Evangelistic Association endorses them or their entire body of work.
Some people are just mentioned or their works are quoted in order to give the reader access to more material that may be useful for his own research. Regarding the notion of eternal security, some men may hold biblical principles, yet their ministries and fellowships may compromise or reject biblical separation.
The issue of the believer’s eternal security must be discussed for a number of reasons.
The idea that a believer can lose his or her salvation has been openly embraced by a sizable number of professing believers, even fundamental, Bible-believing Christians.
These people frequently adopt this viewpoint without ever carefully studying the Scriptures themselves, simply because they were once exposed to such a notion.
Others who have truly studied the Bible have reached their views after failing to see God’s obvious message and relying instead on the less obvious verses that seem to support their beliefs.
3. Second, discussing the subject of eternal security is essential because it has important implications for a believer’s walk with Christ and ability to witness to others.
Anyone who rejects the idea of salvation by grace by faith alone and thinks that he can lose it and then regain it has come to the conclusion that his good deeds now play a significant role in his salvation or lack of it.
Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure? is his book. Charles Stanley, a well-known pastor and author who once believed that a person could lose their salvation, elaborates on six concepts or Christian virtues that are at risk if the everlasting security doctrine is abandoned.
First, he claims that one’s assurance of salvation is in jeopardy since someone who doesn’t believe he is eternally secure will never be 100 percent certain that he is saved for the rest of his life. Second, forgiveness is in jeopardy because, whether he knows it or not, the person who rejects eternal security thinks that Jesus Christ only died for the sins he committed before to being saved. Christ did not therefore atone for all of man’s sins.
Third, the idea of salvation via faith alone is in jeopardy because the person who rejects the idea of eternal security thinks that his own acts could lead him to lose his salvation and then regain it later on.
Since he believes that his salvation is maintained by deeds, salvation is thereby attained through faith and works. Fourth, the denial of eternal security calls into question Christ’s love. Only an individual’s deeds can make Christ’s love conditional.
Fifth, denying the believer’s everlasting security puts the mission of evangelism at risk because the one preaching the gospel cannot be sure that he is constantly saved.
Finally, a clear emphasis on God is in jeopardy because the person who thinks he can lose his salvation must put more of his attention on himself and his own deeds to save it rather than on God as the “author and finisher” of his faith.
4. The notion of eternal security, or “perseverance of the saints” as some refer to it, is extremely important, and other Christian leaders of diverse doctrinal and denominational persuasions are aware of this.
The issue is crucial because it appears to threaten the authority of both the Bible and Jesus Christ, in addition to the specific teachings or aspects of Christianity that are at question as indicated above. The security of the believer cannot be interpreted in all possible ways, yet Bible-believing Christians maintain that the Bible does not contradict itself.
As a result, all interpretations other than one must necessarily be false owing to a poor interpretation of the Bible, whereas the other must be true because it is what the Bible says.
The issue the believer must ask when endeavoring to examine the theology of the security of the believer is, “What does God’s Word clearly teach, and how can one properly harmonize the more obscure passages that seem to contradict the more clear passages?”
The credibility of Jesus Christ, who frequently and explicitly stated in the Gospel of John that He came to earth to fulfill the will of the Father so that man might have eternal, everlasting life as a result of His [Jesus Christ’s] sacrificial work on the cross, is indirectly called into question by a false conclusion regarding the eternal security of the believer.
Diverse Viewpoints on the Security of the Believer
Regarding the believer’s security, there are four main points of view. Dr. Myron Houghton featured them in the Faith Pulpit’s February 1992 issue, and they are mentioned below. In the pages that follow, each perspective on this crucial doctrine will be addressed in more detail on its own. The four viewpoints, according to Houghton, are as follows:
Genuinely saved people can reclaim their salvation by repentance after losing it through sin.
Only those who have truly attained salvation can lose it by rejecting Christ; if this happens, it is impossible for them to atone for their sins.
God predestines and chooses some persons to be rescued apart from any anticipated acts or faith. Christ only died to save and keep these people from being saved. If a person is truly one of God’s elect, they will continue to persist even after professing their faith.
God’s protective plan ensures the eternal security of true believers in Christ. Through the promises of God contained in the Gospel, they can have complete assurance of their own present and future salvation.
5. Sin may result in the loss of salvation.
This viewpoint is shared by Alexander Campbell and Virgil Warren, two people. In The Christian System: In Reference to the Union of Christians and a Restoration of Primitive Christianity, As Plead in the Current Reformation, Campbell makes plain his position. Warren writes about his opinions in Salvation.
The Campbellite movement, which emphasized the value of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins among other ideas, was founded by Alexander Campbell and his father Thomas Campbell.
Religious organizations and denominations like the Church of Christ, the Disciples of Christ, and the Christian Church still adhere to his beliefs today.
6. Campbell taught that a person could lose their salvation by failing to perform some deeds, and most, if not all, of the aforementioned Christian sects still hold to this doctrine.
Only those who believe and obey God are promised the Spirit of God, Campbell writes on page 48 of his book. “It [the Holy Spirit] actually and powerfully assists in the mighty struggle for eternal life,” the speaker says.
7. Thus, Campbell makes a distinction between possessing the Holy Spirit and being assured of eternal life. Notice the following portion of a paragraph that highlights Campbell’s belief in the difficulty of the struggle for eternal life:
The commands to “believe,” “repent,” and “be baptized” are never accompanied by any hint of unusual difficulty, but the commands to “use the means of spiritual health and life,” “form the Christian character,” “attain the resurrection of the just,” “lay hold on eternal life,” and “make our calling and election sure” are accompanied by such exhortations, admonitions, and cautions as to make it a challenging and critical matter requiring all the aids.
The Loss of Salvation May Result from Faith Renunciation
I. Howard Marshall popularized the second viewpoint on eternal security. In his book Kept By the Power of God, Marshall made it perfectly obvious that a believer can lose their salvation—not by sinning, but by abandoning their faith in God.
It is interesting to note that this renunciation need not be an outright, conscious rejection of trust in God on the part of the believer, but could instead be the result of a sin, which, in Marshall’s opinion, presumes a rejection of faith.
The world’s heightened pressure and the general hostility that Christians encounter from people in the world are the initial temptations. According to Marshall, believers are frequently tempted to abandon their faith due to the challenges of doing so in the face of ferocious opposition.
Accepting incorrect theology is the second temptation, according to Marshall, and it “threatens to blunt the edge of faith in Jesus Christ and ultimately to destroy it altogether.”
The third temptation is to engage in immoral behavior and other sins. According to Marshall, “Sin is frequently an act or attitude that is inconsistent with the obedience of faith, and hence constitutes a denial of faith.
Finally, Marshall adds that, whether one recognizes it or not, general “weariness in the faith” is the last temptation that might lead one to lose his or her salvation by abandoning their faith.
Only if he is one of the Elect would a professing Christian remain faithful
A person who has been chosen for salvation cannot lose it and become lost, which makes this third view initially appear to be fairly difficult to distinguish from the fourth view.
However, it is impossible to be certain of one’s own salvation because assurance of salvation is based more on an individual’s efforts, i.e., persistence, than on God’s promise.
Therefore, one must distinguish between “theory” and “practicality,” to use a metaphor. Although it is theoretically impossible for someone who has been saved to lose their salvation in practice, works are what determine whether someone is saved or not.
The noted Reformed theologian Louis Berkhof is a proponent of this view. In his Manual of Christian Doctrine, Berkhof makes a distinction between the external calling of God, which comes to “all those who hear the word,” and the internal calling which “comes only to the elect.
He mentions that the internal calling only to the elect is “a calling without repentance, one that is not subject to change and is never withdrawn.”The elect, those who receive the internal calling, will certainly be saved.
The Believer Is Always Safe Because of God’s Providing Plan
Carroll Sperry Chafer is a leading advocate for this fourth perspective. According to Chafer, salvation is “a work of God for man, not a work of man for God”; as a result, a person’s eternal security is a result of God’s work for the believer.
The believer’s salvation is assured not only by the merits of Christ, but also by the fact that no power other than God is able to sever the believer from the love of the Savior.
Chafer places a strong emphasis on the idea that only God’s work—not man’s—can provide complete redemption and stability.
According to Chafer, if salvation rested on something man could achieve for himself, it would be unstable and uncertain in people’s lives. However, because redemption is wholly a work of God, it cannot be reversed by anyone.
As for salvation, according to Chafer, “The extensive character of the salvation of a believer in Christ is such that it is an irreversible work of God which cannot be changed by human decision or failure.”
Any person who comes to Jesus Christ and trusts in Him will be rescued and secure because of the work of God, regardless of whether he is called by a “external” or “internal” calling.
This fourth point of view is also promoted by Charles Ryrie. Eternal security is described by Ryrie in his book So Great Salvation as that work of God which guarantees that the gift of salvation, once received, is possessed forever and cannot be lost.
Support from the Bible for a Believer’s Eternal Security
The writer believes that because the four views conflict, it is only logical that one view is correct in light of Scripture and that the other views have erred from the clear teaching of Scripture. This is true even though each person who supports one of the aforementioned views regarding the security of the believer claims to have scriptural support for his or her position.
As was indicated earlier, rather of relying on the numerous plain passages that contradict their perspective, many people who hold the concept that a person can lose his or her status in Christ for whatever cause base their beliefs on a few cryptic verses that appear to support it.
Under a cursory reading, numerous Scriptures appear to contradict the idea of perpetual security, as noticed by Louis Sperry Chafer.
However, the numerous passages of Scripture that guarantee a believer’s eternal security are so unmistakable that their witness exceeds any potential challenges.
As was also previously indicated, Ironside made reference to this same issue and cautioned the believer not to rely his theology on the numerous unambiguous texts that promote eternal security rather than the less numerous obscure sections.
The author concurs with Chafer and Ironside and is steadfastly convinced that God the Father has provided a perfect, total salvation through His Son and that the believer’s security rests in Christ’s finished work on the cross, the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ’s intercession for the believer.
The goal of this section of the study is not to exegetically disprove the biblical texts that are alleged to contradict the believer’s eternal assurance.
The wayward saint, the sincere believer who sins, will be rebuked and lose recompense, according to God’s Word (2 Corinthians 5:10). In addition, he claims that many people who claim to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are actually fooling both themselves and other people (Matthew 7:21–23).
When he strays from God’s company, a sincere believer will produce fruit in his life and exhibit a sincere attitude of repentance and regret.
The Christian has eternal life, which is based on the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, not on the labor of the individual believer, according to God’s Word, which makes this abundantly evident.
The human assumption that one will live irresponsibly and unrighteously unless his salvation is in jeopardy is the foundation for those who think a person can lose his salvation.
From a human standpoint, this approach might appear reasonable, yet Scripture says nothing about it. In reality, if a believer’s salvation could be lost after he had truly believed, God’s Word would include a lot of detailed information about what it takes to forfeit salvation and what it would take to gain it.
For instance, it makes sense that the Bible would detail how a person loses their salvation since God wants the believer to be sure of his salvation (1 John 5:13).
It ought to outline the number and kinds of sins that must be committed in addition to how a believer can be certain whether or not he has forfeited his salvation.
God’s Word, on the other hand, does not provide this knowledge and instead reassures the believer that his security is found in Christ.
The eternal security doctrine is crucially essential. Anyone who doubts the perfection and finished nature of Christ’s work is not fully trusting in his or her salvation. To maintain his salvation, he is putting his faith in Christ as well as in himself or in as well as in a religious organization.
However, the Bible teaches that only by personal trust in Jesus Christ can one be saved. A person has determined that his own actions—or lack thereof—are a crucial component of his salvation if he believes that his everlasting life can be ended by something he does or does not do.
The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have worked together to create a flawless salvation that is totally secure for the true believer. Declare to the world this magnificent truth!