1. Introduction | 2. God's Preservation of Believers | 3. Sealed for Redemption |
4. Forgiven Completely | 5. A License to Sin? |
6. Common Objections to Eternal Security | 7. Conclusion
6. Common Objections to Eternal Security
While this section is not meant to be exhaustive, it will deal with some of the common passages used by those who object to the doctrine of eternal security. The passage will be listed along with its relation to eternal security.
1 Samuel 16:14
This verse reveals to us that the Spirit of God was taken away from Saul and seems to dispute the orthodox teaching of the Spirit being the very earnest (pledge) which guarantees God will finish our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14; Philippians 1:6). However, the seal of the Holy Spirit is only a New Covenant blessing that was graciously extended to the Gentiles to provoke the Jews to jealously (Romans 10:19-20). The outpouring of the Spirit of the New Covenant as described in Ezekiel 36:25-27 was originally just a covenant given to the Jews. Our death and marriage to Christ (Romans 7:1-4) has made us heirs of the promise and broken down the walls between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:14). The body of Christ now takes the place of the torn vail of the temple (Matthew 27:51) that we ourselves might become the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19) and worship Him there (Hebrews 10:19-20). Since we are vailed by Christ, there is no chance that the Holy Spirit will ever be taken from us who are under the New Covenant. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit could leave a person because of sin and return to the temple behind the vail since the body of Christ could not yet vail them. This in no way nullified Saul's justification as 1 Samuel 28:19 seems to indicate.
We should confess our sins and repent of them lest we are chastised by our Father (Hebrews 12:5-11). Chastisement's purpose is to correct us, if we repent and turn from the sin there is no need for chastisement. 1 Corinthians 11:29-32 where we are exhorted to judge ourselves lest God judge us, notice it is said that some sleep because of their sin. Sleep refers to a believer who has died (John 11:11-12; Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15), they were not sent to Hell, but there life was taken from them. Stern rebukes do not necessitate eternal condemnation."
If we consider the Old Testament covenant, it becomes apparent that our salvation is not dependent upon our continual confession of sins. In the Old Testament covenant, the Holy Spirit stayed with Israel through the tabernacle or temple. God was not willing to treat individuals as temples because they committed sins every day. The Israelites were daily offering sacrifices in order to make atonement for those sins. The question is why the Spirit does not leave us (Ephesians 1:13-14 says were sealed with the Spirit) when we sin and come back when we confess our sins. The key lies in how God dealt with our sin. In the Old Testament, the lamb died in the place of the person offering the sacrifice. In the New Testament we died (Galatians 2:20) with the lamb (Jesus) so our sin is dealt with in one stroke. In God's eyes were all dead, and no longer commit sins (1 John 3:9). We live through Jesus, who is completely righteous, so God may give us His Spirit. Christ simply testifies that we are dead in Him, that is why he is able to save us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). The reason we repent today is to restore fellowship with the Spirit whom we have grieved (Ephesians 4:30). Otherwise, we will be disciplined as mentioned above. So as God the Father we still commit sins that need to be disciplined, but as God the Judge we are dead in Christ and commit no sins. If this was not the case, the Holy Ghost would not be able to tabernacle with us.
The ability to forgive is a sign of a true believer (Ephesians 4:32; John 2:10-11).
The "sons of the kingdom" here are the Jews in the nation Israel. One of the key teachings of the Gospels is the rejection of Jesus Christ by His own people, the Jews. Time and again Christ warns and rebukes the Jews and their leaders, but most of them reject him. The first half of Matthew, in particular, documents this fearful situation.
This verse as well as Matthew 24:13 re-affirms the perseverance of Christians during tribulation (also see Romans 8:35). Note also that the day's are shortened for the elect's sake (Matthew 24:22) and that it is not even possible to deceive the elect (Matthew 24:24).
Certainly those who do not confess Jesus as Lord are not saved since it is necessary for our salvation (Romans 10:9).
The parables of the ten virgins and of the talents are given in the context of Christ's coming and of the establishment of the kingdom of God in Israel (Matthew 25:31-34). The foolish virgins do not have to picture true believers. One has to read this into the parable. Likewise, the wicked and lazy servant of the parable of the talents does not have to picture a true believer. Again, one must read this into the parable. I believe, in light of everything the New Testament promises to the child of God, that the foolish virgins must be those who are unsaved. As I have said before, to interpret this otherwise is to throw multitudes of clear Scriptures into confusion. The wicked and lazy servant is not a true believer. First, he did not know the Lord. He considered the Lord "a hard man." It is obvious that he did not know the blessed Lord Jesus Christ! The fact that he is called a servant does not mean necessarily that he is saved. The Jews are called the Lord's servants, but they were not all saved (Isaiah 43:10). It is not wise to establish doctrine upon parables. Parables have one central point, and if one tries to push every detail of the parable one can have all sorts of doctrinal problems.
Applying theological terminology to a parable is very difficult. Many parables do not lend themselves to this kind of exegesis. It should be kept in mind that parables are generally taught with one message in mind. In the very next chapter of Luke we read about the parable of the unjust steward. Some try to say the king in the parable is God as in other parables, but this king actually commends the servant for his wickedness (Luke 16:8). And certainly Christ is not saying we should behave as the unjust steward and cheat those above us. The parable seems to just teach we should use our money wisely. A similar way of understanding the parable of Luke 15 can be used. The parable simply reveals that God is willing to forgive sinners and backslidden sons despite their actions. The fact that the Pharisees are portrayed as sons does not mean they were saved either (Matthew 23:33). Also notice that the sudden famine (Luke 15:14) could be God's chastisement (Hebrews 12:5-12) to insure that the son would indeed return.
If we feel absolutely compelled to treat this passage theologically, perhaps it is best to see the two sons as representing Israel (the first being the common man and the second representing the priest). Several times the Old Testament (especially the book of Judges) tells us that the next generation did not hold on to the faith of their forefathers and became spiritually dead. Later Israel would remember God and seek Him during their time of tribulation because foreign enemies would oppress them. This corresponds exactly to the parable and teaching of Jesus, that He came to seek that which was lost (Luke 19:10). This interpretation also has the advantage of not equating sonship with salvation since the Pharisees (represented by the older son) were Jewish but not necessarily saved.
The context here is the Great Tribulation and the coming of Christ. Some would say that this passage teaches that we must prove ourselves in order to be worthy to escape the judgments to come. But such an interpretation contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture on the matter of personal salvation. It is therefore an impossible interpretation. Those who are overtaken by the Day of the Lord are contrasted repeatedly with the believers, who are not destined to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10).
This passage teaches that the evidence of true faith in Christ is the bearing fruit for His glory. The vine gives the life to the branches. If the branch bears no fruit, then it is not given "life" by the vine. It shows that that branch wasn't given "life". It is Jesus who gives the life that bears fruit. If one is not given life, he will not bear fruit. Many will experience God's grace, but not all will experience His saving grace.
Whether Simon was saved or not is questionable, regardless the rebuke Peter gave was appropriate to make sure the man was saved."
Paul simple warns the church that believers are not after the flesh but in the Spirit (verses 8-9). Who we serve, sin or God, reveals whether we have been regenerated or not (Romans 6).
This whole chapter talks, in a general sense, about the Jewish people losing their position as God's chosen people because of unbelief, and God opening salvation up to the Gentiles (although it actually always was open to them). This passage does not refer to individuals falling away, but the entire Jewish people. Today God has temporarily turned away from the Jews and is calling a people for His name from among the Gentile nations. The day will come when God will again turn to the Jewish nation to fulfill His promises to them. Verses 24-26 make this plain. Paul is speaking in a general sense, not in a personal sense. A careful reading of this chapter illustrates this.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
These passages do not teach that a believer can lose his salvation, unless salvation is by works. These two passages list several sins and then says at the end that those who do such sins will not inherit the kingdom of God. Most scholars agree that Paul is describing someone who has not escaped from the bondage of sin through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:10, 14; 2 Peter 1:4). The whole epistle to the Galatians is an apologetic against works-based salvation and repeatedly states that the law can in no way justify us before God (Galatians 2:16, 3:3, 5:4). Note especially in Galatians 3:3, which asks, "If after starting in the Spirit, are we made perfect through the flesh?" Salvation through works is complete and utter heresy and the apostle says let those be accursed who would pervert the gospel to preach another Galatians 1:6-9. They in effect have made Christ dead in vain, according Galatians 2:21. This applies specifically to the legalist, since faith plus works happened to be the same false doctrine being preached at Galatia.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2
This passage discusses the resurrection and the condemnation of those who do not hold to this truth. Paul uses the chapter to show why Christ's resurrection was essential for our salvation and simply questions the salvation of those who do not believe in it (verse 2). This is brought out more clearly in verse 17 where Paul says, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins." Believing in the resurrection is essential for our salvation as Romans 10:9 indicates.
Note that this verse does not say they had fallen out of grace, but from grace. To lose one's salvation, one would have to move out of grace, which is God's unmerited favor directed towards people. Those being spoken here have returned to the law for their justification. The phrase "fallen from grace" refers to those who tried to mix faith and works. Grace simply is not grace if works is mixed in with it (Romans 11:6). They were never justified because they failed to understand what grace means and instead trusted in the deeds of the law for their salvation. This being the case, they were still under the curse of the law (Galatians 3:10). Once God has established a relationship with a person that is based on His grace, that person cannot undo it, for he did nothing to merit it in the first place.
Another view way of looking at this text is this. To fall from grace is to fall from favor. While some extend this fall from favor to loss of salvation, it is not at all necessary from the context. The severing is simply the disruption of fellowship and the nullifying of the power of Christ in their lives. To return to the law is to return to a system of righteous requirements with no power to meet them. When Paul says that "Christ shall profit you nothing" he is again speaking not of salvation, but of the assistance we receive when we rely on Him. This may be a variation on the theme of walking after the Spirit vs. walking after the flesh. To return to works is to rely on the flesh which is doomed to failure, since there is no way to please God when we operate in the flesh.
Regardless of which of the two views above one considers, the attempt to get loss of salvation from this passage is to force a meaning on it that contradicts the very words of Jesus regarding the security of those whom God has given to Him (John 6:39). It also makes Paul contradict his own inspired declaration that nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:37-39)
1 Timothy 5:15
This verse should give stern warning to women to root their salvation in Christ rather than men. The passage seems to say that certain women were marrying men to make them the focus of their life instead of Christ.
2 Timothy 2:12
The issue is rejecting Christ, not committing certain sins. Paul is probably using "we" in the widest sense of the word -- all people. Those who believe in Jesus receive certain benefits. Those who deny him will be denied by him, as Jesus warned in Luke 12:8-9 (to a mixed audience).
Is the writer teaching what a person must do to remain in the House and in Christ; or is he declaring what the mark of a genuine believer is? Following the latter interpretation, if the recipients return to Judaism as they are considering, it will demonstrate they were never really in the House and in Christ to begin with. So a mark of one who has been genuinely saved is perseverance to the end (1 John 2:19).
In order to have a proper understanding of the teaching of Hebrews 6:4-6, it is necessary to study the context. In Hebrews 5:10, the Lord Jesus is referred to as "a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek." Continuing on in verses 11-14 it says, "Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."
Then comes the exhortation of the opening verse of the sixth chapter, in which the writer calls upon his Hebrew brethren, who have not yet received Christ although they have come to a knowledge of Him, to declare themselves openly for Christ. The Old Testament was their elementary school, their kindergarten, the place of first things or principles. The time had now come for them to graduate. The law was their schoolmaster to lead them to Christ that they might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24). He writes now to them saying, "Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity [the same Greek word as is in the proceeding verse is translated "full age"], not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment." (Hebrews 6:1-2) All these are Old Testament doctrines. The apostle is exhorting the Hebrews to move forward to Christ, to whom all these doctrines pointed. "And this we will do, if God permits. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened [as the Hebrews had been] and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of [literally, companions, those who go along with] the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God [this had come to them through the ages by the prophets] and the powers of the age to come [these were the miracles they had witnessed], and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame." (Hebrews 6:3-6)
The Hebrew recipients of this letter were probably convicted of the truth of the gospel message without actually fully accepting it. So in that case they would not be genuine believers. The writer of Hebrew's warning in this passage is similar to that of Hebrews 4:11. Hypocrites among the recipients of the gospel have heard the truth repeatedly without an appropriate response. If they proceeded in their plans to return to Judaism, it would be "impossible" for them to genuinely repent since their hearts would have become hardened.
There is nothing in this passage which speaks of a born-again person losing his salvation. This passage teaches there is no salvation for anyone unless they are found under the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. If this passage was teaching that a true believer could loose his salvation, then it also would be teaching that once someone has been saved, then lost, he cannot be re-saved. This would counter the idea some Christians hold that one could fall away, and repent later and return to Christ to be saved.
Those who "fall away" are like the people the apostle John spoke about in 1 John 2:19:
"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."
One can come to the presence of God in apparent repentance without ever having a genuine fellowship with Him. (Luke 8:13, 13:27) Even Pharaoh repented for a season. But his returning to rebellion against God showed that his repentance was not genuine. (Exodus 9:27, 10:16-17) But of those who truly come to Christ in faith and are born again, Peter says:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1:3-5)
"After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." (1 Peter 5:10)
Finally, the author of Hebrews indicates the impossibilty of true believers losing their salvation. Hebrews 6:9 says, "But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way." One of the "things that accompany salvation" is perseverance (Romans 15:5).
The language of this paragraph is powerful (it continues through verse 31). But remember, this epistle is being written to people who have been involved in a Christian community but who are now thinking about returning to Judaism. During this time, they would have heard and made a profession of faith in the gospel. This could qualify as having "receiving a knowledge of the truth." But the important question is, "Was this a genuine profession?" The author is sternly warning them of the disastrous results if it was not (2 Corinthians 13:5).
When this passage is compared with 1 Corinthians 11:30, "death" here can be understood to refer to physical death. But another view is that those who stray from the truth are unregenerate persons, in spite of their profession of faith (1 John 2:19), and the believer who helps such people come to a saving faith in Christ save them from eternal death. Either way, this passage does not teach that a regenerate person can be lost.
2 Peter 2:20-22
Though this passage is often used to prove that eternal security is not true, it actually says nothing about losing ones salvation. The context is false teachers who promote damnable heresies and deny the Lord (verse 1). It is not saved men who are the focus on this passage, but hypocrites and deceivers. The fact that "the last state has become worse for them than the first" and "it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness" does not imply that they were saved and now are lost. They were dogs and pigs who were unchanged (verse 22). The fact that they return to their wickedness proves that they were never regenerate.
This passage describes people who have heard about Jesus and recognize that His way is the way to go. But notice that they were never actually saved. They heard the gospel, recognized it as truth, but it never took hold in their life. They turn over a new leaf, but they never receive a new life. They become entangled in the world. The word entangled literally means to weave something into a pattern. Their way of life is woven into the pattern of the world. Even though they know the truth, they do not allow the truth to change them. They are in bondage to sin, and while exposure to the gospel may bring them an occasional sweet glimpse of truth, as soon as church is over they immediately head back into the morass of sin. They never live out what they know to be true. They live with failures and regrets, saddened by the fact that they will never really turn to Christ. That's why Peter says it would have been better for them if they had never heard the gospel.
1 John 5:16
Here John does not say that the sin here leads to loss of salvation. And this would be a reasonable view since any sin leads to eternal death (Romans 6:23). John is referring to physical death rather than spiritual death.
Christ promises that a truly saved person will not be erased out of the book of life. Those who overcome are simply those who are truly born again and who therefore follow Jesus Christ because they have true faith (John 10:27; Hebrews 6:9; Revelation 12:11). To say that this verse teaches that a believer can be blotted out of the book of life if he does not maintain a certain level of obedience is to commit two serious errors. First, such an interpretation is contrary to the method of salvation, which is by grace through faith apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 3:24, 4:1-8, 11:6; Titus 3:5-7). Second, such an interpretation is contrary to the promise of salvation. John 3:16 and hundreds of other verses promise "that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."
This passage contrasts the saved with the lost. The saved are overcomers (verse 7). The lost continue in their sin (verse 8). A twin doctrine to that of eternal security is the perseverance of the saints. The Bible plainly teaches that those who are truly born again will evidence their salvation and will continue on with the Lord (John 10:27-28; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Colossians 1:21-23; Hebrews 6:4-9, 10:38; 1 John 3:3). The one who permanently falls away demonstrates that he did not belong to the Lord in the first place (Hebrews 12:5-8; 1 John 2:19). This passage is not talking about an act of sin but a way of life of sin. If this is referring to an act of sin, then no one can be saved, since even one sin can condemn someone to hell. It is clear from other passages that it is possible for a Christian to commit any act of sin, including idolatry and adultery (1 John 1:8-10). This is why believers are often warned not to commit these evils (1 Corinthians 6:18, 10:6, 14; 1 John 5:21).
Salvation requires perfection, and the only perfection a believer can ever have is that which is receive from Jesus Christ because of the propitiation He purchased on Calvary. Even one sin will keep a person out of Heaven, but believers do not have any sin in Christ. He has taken it all away forever.
This is certainly a severe warning to the higher critics and modernist that seek to cast doubt on the Bible or particular passages of the Bible. True sons of God will not tamper with His divine revelation.
1. Introduction |
2. God's Preservation of Believers | 3.
Sealed for Redemption |
4. Forgiven Completely | 5. A License to Sin? |
6. Common Objections to Eternal Security | 7. Conclusion