I have been studying the topic of Eternal Security, or Once Saved Always Saved, for the past few months. It has been brought to my attention many times this year, so I wanted to study this topic more deeply. I have always believed in Conditional Security, but I opened my mind to the possibility that I may have been wrong in my belief, and studied the doctrine with fresh eyes. Truthfully, I set out to believe Eternal Security, and find out where I went wrong in my past studies.
I know there is a widespread and distinct division of Believers on both sides of this issue, even within my own congregation; although the supporters of this doctrine worldwide are in the minority. Mostly, supporters of this doctrine have their roots in Calvinist teaching.
The doctrine of Eternal Security began in the 1530’s with the teachings of John Calvin during the Reformist Movement. Before then it was most widely accepted that God requires certain conditions to grant us salvation. Conditional Security is still by far the most accepted interpretation of Scripture among the thousands of Christian denominations today.
II Timothy 2:12 – If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us
Probably the most quoted Scripture on both sides of this doctrine is Hebrews 6:4-6…
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come to fall away and to lose that heavenly gift that is everlasting life.
Wow! Pretty straightforward, huh? No doubt about what that passage is saying! Too bad for Eternal Security believers that this is NOT what Scripture says! The actual Scripture from the New King James (NKJV) Bible is as follows…
Hebrews 6: 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
I have also heard verse 6 quoted as, “if they could fall away…” Adding that one word “could” totally changes the intent of the verse. But the word “could” is not there.
In a sermon about the Root and the branches, I heard that when we are born again we are grafted into the Root, and cannot be ungrafted. We are forever heirs of God’s Kingdom. The wild olive represents Gentiles; the cultivated olive tree represents Jews.
Romans 11:17 …and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree…
This really made me stop and think! The impossibility of being ungrafted made so much sense… until I took up my Bible and read the entire passage myself. One only has to keep reading to get the context of verse 17, again from the NKJV, Romans Chapter 11…
17 And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18 do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” 20 Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. 22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. 23 And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24 For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
Read carefully the Scriptures above which I have underlined for you. This is the kind of straightforward, unambiguous, not-open-to-interpretation Scripture that I was looking for to prove Eternal Security. But the only unambiguous Scriptures I found in my search for truth were ones that support Conditional Security. Note the underlined portion of verse 22 above: the words IF and OTHERWISE are definitely conditions for God’s goodness toward us!
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
If our salvation is irrevocable, why does Apostle Paul make such a plea for us Believers to hold firm in our profession of faith, and assemble together with other Believers, to exhort (comfort, build up, strengthen in faith) one another. If our salvation were secure, why would we need to hold fast to it?
John 10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.
In the Greek, the verbs hear and follow are in present tense, things that are actively happening now or continually. Those who are actively/continually hearing and following Jesus are His sheep, and His sheep cannot be plucked from His hand. The definition of plucked is “taken by force.” No one can steal us (sheep) while we are actively following Jesus. By continuing in faith, we are His. No outside force can take us away. This is our true Biblical security. Salvation by Grace through faith, a continuing attitude of faith. An apostate chooses to remove himself from God’s promise of security by discontinuing his attitude of faith. It’s all about perseverance.
Here Jesus tells the Apostles about the end of days…
Matthew 24: 9″Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
Note verses 12 and 13 — “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end will be saved.” Jesus himself tells us to be saved we must persevere to the end! Abide in His love. A continual attitude of faith.
Considering the sinful nature of mankind, I believe Eternal Security, for many, is a license to sin. The idea that one can recite a “Sinners’ Prayer,” then get dunked in some water, then go right back to their usual way of life, believing that they are saved once and for all is like a get-out-jail-free-card. I have personally heard people say, “I was saved years ago. All my sins past present and future were forgiven that day, so I don’t have to worry if I’m living right or not.” The doctrine of Eternal Security makes them feel safe. They see no need to walk in faith, to strive for sinless perfection, to pray without ceasing, to ask forgiveness each day. Why would they? They believe they are sealed in salvation because they made a profession of faith at some point in time in the past. One could also make the argument that there are proponents of Conditional Security who follow God’s commands simply out of a fear of going to hell, which is also wrong.
So, the result of my study of Eternal Security: I believe it is a false doctrine.
- Is everyone who believes it headed for hell? I doubt it.
- Is it a dangerous doctrine that gives people a false sense of security? I believe so.
- Are there churches today that are teaching people that they can take twenty minutes out of their lives to recite The Sinners’ Prayer, get Baptized, and have their salvation guaranteed and sealed forever, no matter how much they sin in the future? Absolutely.
- Do I believe these are the apostate churches spoken of in Scripture? Perhaps.
No matter what denomination or doctrines you follow, this should be the motivation for all Christians in their daily lives:
Obey Jesus because you love Him and want to please Him. This is the only way to the saving Grace of God, through faith in Jesus Christ.
John 14: 23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.”