10 Problems with
Definition of Terms:
Eternal security is understood in more than one way among Protestants. Reformed Calvinist traditions such as Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Reformed Anglicans, and Reformed Baptists frequently use the phrase “perseverance of the saints” to describe their understanding of the teaching. According to this view, God will cause authentic Christians to persevere in faith and good works until they die, and thus they are eternally secure. If a person does lose faith or fall into grievous sin, it means one of two things: either the person was never an authentic Christian to begin with, or he will return to an authentically Christian life before he dies.
Most historic Baptist traditions and advocates of free grace theology, on the other hand, understand eternal security as “once saved, always saved.” This view holds that Christians can lose faith or fall permanently into grievous sin and not lose their salvation. A single moment of saving faith, at any point in one’s life, is sufficient to permanently cancel all of one’s sins, even those not yet committed.
Lutherans, Methodist, Wesleyan, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Catholic, Arminian, and Free-Will Baptists hold conditional security. They acknowledge that it is possible for a believer to commit grievous sin and fall from grace. Thus, believers are kept safe by God in their saving relationship with him upon the condition of a persevering faith in Christ. There are several reasons for the rejection of eternal security, a few of which are;
- It’s not Biblical. Verses like 1 John 5:13 & Romans 8:39 do NOT teach that it is IMPOSSIBLE to lose one’s salvation. I John 5:13 says: “you may know you have eternal life”. The Greek word here for knowledge (the verb oida) does not indicate absolute certainty, but rather a confidence in God’s promises IF we keep His commands (1 John 5:2-3, Col 1:22-23, I Cor 15:1-2). Likewise, Rom 8:39 states that nothing can separate us from the grace of God or has power over our salvation, but it does not say that we cannot choose of our own free will to turn from God’s grace to a life of sin & thus forsake our own salvation (Gal 5:19-21, Rom 1:28-32, Eph 5:3-5, Col 3:5-8).
- It’s not Historical. Church Fathers were unanimous that salvation could be lost. NO Christian prior to the 16th century taught that salvation could NOT be lost. Even Protestants disagree on the subject. Methodist, Arminian, and Pentecostal groups acknowledge that it is possible for a believer to commit grievous sin and fall from grace. Martin Luther taught that one could not lose salvation due to sin,
but if one commits apostasy, they lose their salvation with no way to regain it. Calvinists ascribe to “perseverance of the saints” or that God will CAUSE authentic Christians to NECESSARILY persevere in faith and good works until they die, and thus they are eternally secure (effectively eliminating free will). In contrast, some non-Calvinist Protestants ascribe to “once saved, always saved” or that Christians can lose faith & fall permanently into grievous sin, and still not lose their salvation.
- It confuses Redemption and Salvation. Christ redeemed the entire world, offering Himself as a ransom for all and expiating the sins of the whole world (1 Tim. 2:6, 4:10; 1 John 2:2, Mark 2:17). Although the entire world is redeemed, the entire world is not saved. If there was no need to apply the redemptive work of the cross to individuals, then we would have been saved and justified from the beginning with no need to repent or have faith or anything else. We would have been born “saved,” with no need to be born again.
- It confuses initial salvation with final salvation. Our initial salvation is a gift of God’s grace (Eph. 2:8-8), which transforms us so that we are “born again” into a life with God. Nothing we do, neither faith nor works, can earn us the gift of God’s grace. However, due to our own free will, we can always turn away from God and reject His grace and instead choose a life of sin.
- The Bible speaks of salvation in past tense, but ALSO present and future tense as well; (2 Tim. 4:7-8, Rom. 13:11; cf. 1 Cor. 3:15; 5:5, Mt 19:29; Mk 9:43-47; Ti 1:2; 3:7; Phil. 1:6, Jude 21) indicating that salvation is an ON-GOING PROCESS.
- Although assurance IS possible if we love of God & keep His commands, (1 John
5:2-3, 13), Christ also warns us that we can be deceived by having false assurance. Jesus said: ‘Not everyone who calls me, “Lord, Lord” shall enter the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 7:21).” These people even claimed to prophesy in His name, therefore they had faith, but were turned away because they were “EVIL-DOERS”.
- It’s contrary to Christ’s teachings. Christ says only “He who endures to the end will be saved” and if we do not continue to abide in Him, we’ll be thrown into the fire (Matt 24:13; cf. 25:31-46, John 15:6).
- Paul warns that, unless we continue in Christ’s kindness, a Christian can “believe in vain” and lose their salvation (1 Cor 15:1–2 , Rom 11:22, Gal 5:4, 1 Cor 9:27) due to sin (1 Cor. 6:9–10) and that we should “work out our salvation in fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12).
- The fact that we do nothing to merit grace does not mean that there is nothing we can do to DEmerit grace. Adam & Eve demerited the grace of salvation. The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11–32), who initially lived with his father (representing God), chose to leave and live a life of sin and had to later repent (cf. Rom. 11:17-24).
- It confuses mortal & venial sin (1 John 5:16-18). Salvation can be lost through mortal sin (Eph 5:3-7, Col 3:5-6, Gal 5:19-21, and I Cor 6:9-11), but such sins are by nature grave ones, and not the kind that a person living the Christian life is going to accidentally commit. Mortal sin, however, can be forgiven through Confession (1 John 1:9, John 20:21-23, 2 Cor. 2:10, 2 Cor. 5:15, James 5:14-17).
Gospel of John 15:6
cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned
1 Corinthians 15:1–2
Now I would remind you, brethren, in what terms I preached to you the gospel, which you received, in which you stand, by which you are saved, if you hold it fast—unless you believed in vain.”
“Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off.”
“You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”
1 Corinthians 9:27,
“I pummel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
Church Father Quotes:
“Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord comes. But you shall assemble together often, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you be not made complete in the last time” (Didache 16 [A.D. 70]).
Irenaeus of Lyons
“To Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, ‘every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess’ [Phil. 2:10–11] to him, and that he should execute just judgment towards all. . . . The ungodly and unrighteous and wicked and profane among men [shall go] into everlasting fire; but [he] may, in the exercise of his grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept his commandments, and have persevered in his love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their penance, and may surround them with everlasting glory” (Against Heresies 1:10:1 [A.D. 189]).