Four Mental Steps toward Eternal Security
As we look at the topic of Eternal Security we are going to spend the majority of our time looking at the truth according to the Word of God.
However, there is something to be said about answering the concerned questions of those who oppose Eternal Security.
Along the way we will look at a little bit of the history behind the opposing view of Eternal Security.
Historically, the view associate with this theology is called Arminian.
Jacobus Arminius was a Dutch Reformed theologian who lived during the late sixteenth century.
As a theologian, he found himself at odds with the Calvinist teachings of his church.
In particular, he took issue over the teachings on predestination, sovereignty and eternal security.
Arminius believed that election was determined by man’s response to God’s universal offer of salvation.
In other words, God looked through time and saw which of us would trust in His Son for salvation.
He then elected the ones He knew would eventually choose Him.
Since election hinged on man’s response to God’s offer, the problem is he took it too far and concluded that one could lose his elect status by later rejecting that offer.
Consequently, there was no assurance of ultimate salvation.
Since the days of Arminius, many revered theologians and preachers, not the least of which was John Wesley, have held his views.
Today the basic tenets of Arminianism are taught in the Cumberland Presbyterian, Methodist, Free Will Baptist, Missionary Baptist, General Association of General Baptist, Assembly of God, Most Pentecostal, Foursquare Church, Nazarene Church, the Wesleyan Church, many churches comprising the Christian Holiness Association as well as the Mennonites.
Modern Arminianism falls in the realm of evangelical churches.
That is, generally speaking, Armenians defend the deity of Christ, the virgin birth of Christ, the bodily resurrection of Christ, and the infallibility of Scripture.
As is the case with most doctrinal systems, there are differences among the persons who would be considered Arminian in their theology.
There seems to be two schools of thought among those who believe salvation can be lost.
1. Abandoning the Faith
Simply stated, a genuine born-again believer can lose his or her salvation by turning away from the Christian faith (for example by no longer believing or trusting in Christ).
The classic passage used to defend this view is found in the sixth chapter of Hebrews.
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
The proponents of this view the issue as a matter of faith, rather than faithfulness.
They believe there is room for a temporary moral or ethical failure.
Sin does not necessarily a sign of a loss of salvation.
But if they deliberately turn away from the church, or Christ, then he steps out of the kingdom of God and back into condemnation.
The potential for losing salvation lies not only with those who have a rebellious heart toward God but with those who are innocently led astray by false doctrines as well.
Like those in Galatia
6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. 6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love. 7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
They didn’t fall into sin, but fell into a false gospel.
This is the first view of Armenianism.
2. Every Day Falling Away
Most of the people I talk to that does not believe in eternal security are unclear about exactly how and when one loses salvation.
By that I mean, they are not sure what it takes to lose it – they are just sure that you can!
As one fellow put it, “I know God is merciful, but He is not a fool.”
In other words, there must come a point when God says, “Enough is enough!”
For most, if not all, proponents of this view, that point is very illusive and undefined.
Whereas the first group would reserve the loss of salvation for those who have clearly turned their backs on the Christian faith as a whole.
The focus of this second group is the lifestyle or behavior of believers.
They say things like, “Eternal Security just doesn’t make sense.”
His line of reasoning went something like this:
1. God is a holy God and demands holiness from His children.
14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.
2. God is merciful and forgiving God.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
3. At some point in the life of a disobedient Christian God’s mercy runs out, and His holiness takes over.
1 O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: For his mercy endureth for ever.
4. At that point God deals with His child totally from the standpoint of His demand for holiness and obedience.
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
5. This may result in placing a person back outside the circle of acceptance.
37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
6. After all, God cannot accept what is contrary to His holy nature.
7 Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.
6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
The idea of eternal security just did not make any sense to this person.
Or they say, “It Doesn’t Seem Fair!”
Is it fair to allow “Christians” who went the way of the world to share in the same eternal blessing as those who followed Christ throughout their lives?
But did we earn those blessings by being faithful?
The Biggest argument I have heard is that Eternal Security opens to License to Sin.
If Christians think they can do anything they want and still go to heaven, they will do just that!
And there are some that are like that, but just because they misunderstand the Grace of God, it doesn’t mean eternal security is wrong.
20 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
So there are some arguments that are given, but let’s look at the Bible has to say!
Turn in your Bibles to Galatians 4:4-5
When a judge pronounces a man “not guilty,” that certainly does not mean there is a change in relationship with the defendant.
In most cases the judge is hostile or, at best, doesn’t really care about the whole thing!
Ideally, there is nothing personal gained or lost from the judge’s perspective.
The concept of acquittal and forgiveness are similar, but there are some important differences as well.
To be acquitted of a crime is to be released from obligation concerning any debts or liabilities.
Forgiveness includes that idea, but goes even further.
To forgive someone is to accept the individual back into the realm of fellowship.
Forgiveness implies the restoration of a relationship.
When men and women place their trust in Christ as their Savior, they are not simply acquitted of their sin; they are forgiven.
The New Testament writers understood this as well!
To overlook the relational element would bring an unbalanced picture.
Today I want to look at four things someone who believes they can lose their salvation needs to do:
I. Realize Your Adoption
I. Realize Your Adoption
Before we look at Galatians, I’m going to read from Romans 8:15-16
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Paul emphasizes the relationship of adoption.
And a close relationship as well, Abba — Daddy.
God desires an deep and personal relationship with his children.
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
Paul here makes a connection between adoption and justification.
Justification, in fact, was not the goal, it was a means to the goal.
The goal was a relationship made available through adoption.
Being declared “not guilty” was simply a necessary step in that direction.
Realize we are adopted is the first step toward our Eternal Security.
The next thing we need to do is...
II. Get Away from the Courtroom
II. Get Away from the Courtroom
Far too many Christians view God as a stern judge ready to accuse and condemn.
Although He is the Judge...
He is also our Father!
For some reason many Christians never get out of the courtroom and into the family room.
God is always a judge, and never a Father.
So many Christians live in fear just waiting for the gavel to strike.
But the truth is God, the Judge, has already declared his verdict!
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 condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
You will never be judged for your sins, because your sins are forgiven!
It is so settled in the mind of God that at the moment of your salvation, knowing full well all the sins you were yet to commit, God adopted you into His family.
Again, adopting us into His family was not simply a courtesy.
It was his goal from the beginning.
Not just from our very beginning, but from the beginning of time, as Ephesians make clear!
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
God chose to adopt you as His child before the foundation of the world.
Why? For one reason and one reason only: He wanted to!
I have heard of many unwanted pregnancies, I have never heard of an unwanted adoption!
Couples choose to adopt that child.
God adopted you for the same reason!
And because of that you are...
III. Realize that We Are Always His
III. Realize that We Are Always His
Paul’s reliance on the concept of adoption is a strong argument for eternal security.
To lose one’s salvation, one would have to be unadopted!
Could you ever really put your total trust in a heavenly Father who may unadopt you?
Persons holding to a view that allows for one to be unadopted must confront another major theological hurdle.
Why would God choose before the foundation of the world to adopt someone He knew He would eventually have to unadopt?
To believe we can be unadopted is to believe that man is able to thwart the predestined will of God!
If there are certain sins that force God to unadopt His children, our salvation is contingent on our faith and our willingness not to commit particular sins.
Therefore, we would be actually saved by faith and works!
Furthermore, it means Christ did not take every sin with Him to the cross.
As you can see, the very foundation of Christianity begins to crumble once we begin tampering with the eternal security of the believer.
There is no scriptural support of the notion that the adoption process can be reversed.
8 For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
Jesus gave us a few wonderful illustrations to show how much God loves us and will keep us.
He says we are...
IV. Realize That We Are Anxiously Chased
IV. Realize That We Are Anxiously Chased
Turn with me to Luke 15
The Pharisees of Jesus day did not believe in Eternal Security either.
They believed you needed to follow the Law in order to be accepted.
They lived their life with the threat of being unadopted.
On one occasion Jesus was being swamped by tax-collectors and sinners.
His interactions with them really got to them!
They couldn’t figure out how a Teacher who claimed to be from God could fellowship with those whom they believed God hated.
They began to complain one to another.
2 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
Sharing a meal was a sign of acceptance and fellowship.
Jesus knew their thoughts and took the opportunity to draw their attention to their error through parables.
In each parable something precious was lost.
In each parable the owner put aside everything else and focused attention on finding it.
In the first parable a man lost a sheep (Luke 15:4-6)
When he realized it was gone, he left the rest of the flock and searched until he found the one lost sheep.
Jesus applied the parable in verse 7
7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
The point of the parable is clear.
And it flew right in the face of the Pharisees’ twisted thinking.
God (the Shepherd) was concerned about the sinner more than He was the righteous man!
Before they had time to think about it too much, Jesus presented the second scenario. Vs.8
8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?
9 And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.
10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
A woman lost a valuable coin, and she put aside all her other chores until she found it.
Even at risk of appearing irresponsible, she searched until she discovered her prize.
Again Christ applied the parable to God the Father’s attitude toward sinners.
In spite of what the religious leaders thought and taught, God’s concern at that time was not the righteous, but unrighteous.
The Pharisees had no comprehension of God’s true view of sinners.
They were so caught up in their own fake righteousness that they had come to believe their good works were actually good enough.
To drive the point home even farther Christ gave one more vivid illustration
11 And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
With those words Jesus had their undivided attention
No son with any respect at all would demand his share of his inheritance.
What he did was unthinkable!
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
Not only did he demand his share, but the younger son left town with it.
He had no concern with his father’s welfare.
He was concerned only about himself.
No doubt the listeners were rehearsing in their minds what they thought the brat deserved!
How dare he! He should be stoned!
But the story took a surprising turn!
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
The crowd must have become almost nauseous as Jesus described the condition of the boy now.
The Pharisees wouldn’t even come near swine, much less feed them.
The young man was hopelessly ceremonially unclean!
He would never be clean enough to enter the temple and offer sacrifices!
And to eat with the pigs! This is over the edge!
But! Many standing there that day should have been able to relate to the story of the prodigal son.
They had abandoned their heavenly Father.
They were in situations that caused them to be alienated from the religious community! They listened carefully!
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father....
I’m sure everyone had an opinion of what the father would say or do when the boy began his speech.
But the one who knew the Father better than anyone was going to end it quite different than anyone else in the room!
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
The Pharisees must have cringed at the thought of embracing someone who had spent time feeding swine, then Jesus added,
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
Culturally speaking, what Jesus described in the parable was a worst-case scenario!
The boy could not have been more disrespectful, insensitive, nor a greater embarrassment to the family!
No one would have blamed the father if he had refused to allow the boy to join up as one of his hired men.
He didn’t deserve a second chance!
Even the son recognized he had forfeited all rights to sonship!
His father however did not see it that way!
Once a son always a son!
His father’s emotion when he saw him was not anger, or disappointment, it was compassion!
This young man was his son!
He said: “this my son was dead, and is alive again.” Not “This was my son and now he is my son again.”
There is no hint that the relationship was ever broken, only the fellowship.
He was lost, literally lost…he didn’t know where he was!
If ever there was a son that deserved to be disowned, it was this one! Yet the father is not portrayed as battling in his heart over what to do with him!
Tell me, what good works maintained the relationship between the father and the son in the parable?
He left as a son; otherwise he would have received no inheritance.
He returned as a son, without a word, the father ran to him, embraced him, and restored to him the visible signs of sonship.
What maintained the son’s relationship with the father?
He wasn’t acting like a son!
He didn’t manifest any signs of sonship!
He didn’t perform good works.
Yet his relationship with his father never changed.
He loved the son because he was a son.
The shepherd didn’t kick the wandering sheep out of the flock.
The woman didn’t just forget about her lost coin.
The father didn’t disown his rebellious son.
God is not looking for people he can throw out of His family.
He is looking for people who are willing to be included.
Once they are included, He continually looks after them through all their ups and downs.
He is the Good Shepherd, the compassionate Father, He is love!
Acting like God’s child didn’t get you into the family!
Not acting like one won’t get you tossed out!
Salvation is forever!
But were there consequences?
While he was separated from the father he did not enjoy the fellowship (or the perks that came with that).
Instead he lived in squaller.
He was abandoned by all his “friends”
His inheritance was wasted.
He was alone, until he came back to the Father!
Walking away from God and the Bible will not make you any less a child of God.
That is not in your power!
But because we are His child, we ought to act like it!
The prodigal son was the bad guy because he didn’t do what was expected of him as a son of a loving father.
When we backslide, we are not doing right, because we are not doing what is expected of the child of the King!