The doctrine of eternal security was first taught by Augustine of Hippo 354-430 AD and was not readily accepted by the church at large; prior to him it is not found in any of the early writings of the church fathers. The next prominent one to teach it was John Calvin 1509-1564 AD.
In my thinking, the doctrine of eternal security is a “me” doctrine and human-centered. It is irrelative to the person who intends to continue with Christ and obey him. One of its roots is the lack of faith in the forgiveness we received by Christ and reflects anxiety over one’s salvation. It is a stumbling block for many because it destroys the tension between sanctification and justification, which is necessary for a balanced Christian walk. By its very nature, it inhibits growth and a striving for maturity and holiness in Christ. By this, I am not inferring that we can make ourselves mature nor earn our salvation by growing, but just like in the natural world where a child is expected to grow up, a believer is expected to grow up in their faith. We must continue to do those things that contribute to our growth. Things like fellowship, prayer, meditation and the reading of scripture. To neglect these is like a man that refuses to eat and yet expects to live.
 Here are some typical quotations from their writings: We ought, therefore, brethren, carefully to inquire concerning our salvation. Otherwise, the wicked one, having made his entrance by deceit, may hurl us forth from our life. Barnabas (c. 70-130).
Those who do not obey Him, being disinherited by Him, have ceased to be His sons. Irenaeus (c. 180).
It is neither the faith, nor the love, nor the hope, nor the endurance of one day; rather, “he that endures to the end will be saved.” Clement of Alexandria (c. 195). God gives forgiveness of past sins. However, as to future sins, each one procures this for himself. He does this by repenting, by condemning the past deeds, and by begging the Father to blot them out. For only the Father is the one who is able to undo what is done. …So even in the case of one who has done the greatest good deeds in his life, but at the end has run headlong into wickedness, all his former pains are profitless to him. For at the climax of the drama, he has given up his part. Clement of Alexandria (c. 195).
Because the section of scripture we about to study is so larger you should get your Bibles out and follow our study along in your own Bible. This section of scripture if not written by the apostle Paul can surely be traced to his thinking and is therefore, like many of his writings can be hard to understand and is subject to misunderstand. One of the things that will help us to avoid an erroneous interpretation is to keep the immediate context of this section in view, which is the book in which is found and the overall context of the Bible.
The book of Hebrew was a lengthy letter sent to a group of Hebrew Christians who were contemplating going back to Judaism or at the very least bring Judaism into the Christian Faith. In the letter, the writer warns them that to do so would mean the loss of their salvation which salvation he refers to in chapters 3 and 4 as the Sabbath-rest. This problem of bring the law or Judaism into the church was no new problem. The apostle Paul addresses it in many of his writings. For example, we see it in the book of Galatians when he says to that church “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Gal 5:4-5). In the book of Ephesians, he calls the law the dividing wall of hostility, which separates believers. ” For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations (Eph 2:14-15). From this, we can gather that the overall context of the book is a warning against apostasy and arguments demonstrating that Christ and the gospel are superior to Judaism and the law. Keep this in mind as we study together.
First let me point out that this section of Scripture is not talking about the Sabbath day per say[i]. Its focus is on the consequence of disobedience and reward of obedience. It is about what the writer calls “Today.” The expression “Today is used in 3:7, 3:13, 3:15, and twice in 4:7. It seems to be an expression that the writer uses to denote the Christian dispensation, i.e. the time between the resurrection and the second coming of Christ. He refers to this dispensation in verse 3: 8 as a time of testing and compares it to the 40 years that the Israelites were tested in the wilderness. He continuously admonishes these Hebrew Christians not to follow the example of their forefathers in unbelief and disobedience.
His line of thought runs like this, the Israelites were tested for 40 years on their journey from the land of Egypt to the promise land, which was the land of rest from their trials and temptations. However, the major did not enter the land of rest[ii], because their faith failed the test and they were found to be unbelievers, who did not trust God. Christian are to take heed to their example and persist in faith, or they too will miss the eternal rest of God.
In this section of Scripture, the writer uses the Old Testament story of the wilderness wanderings of the Jews as an allegory that points to the last day or the Christian dispensation and lays down a basic rule for interpreting the Old Testament. He says in 10:1 “The law[iii] is only a shadow of the good things that are coming-not the realities themselves.” We can gather from this that much of the Old Testament is a preview of what is going to happen in “Today” or the Christian dispensation. To take the old as the reality is to miss the wholly point of the narrative in the Old Testament.
With this rule of interpretation, we can look at text and see how the writer speaks of two separate rest and uses them both to point to the eternal salvation that we have in Christ. He speaks of the rest that God entered into at the end of creating the earth 4: 4. He also talks about the Canaan land rest, which was promised to the Hebrews that obeyed God in the wilderness; that number was two Caleb and Joshua. All the rest fell in the wilderness and never entered the land of rest.
In verse 4:8, we find a key verse, which confirms our interpretation. “For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day” Here the writer is saying that Joshua leading the Israelites into the promised land did not fulfill the promise of a rest for the people of God. It would take a different leader, Jesus the Christ, and would have to be a different rest, which he calls the Sabbath-rest. The expression Sabbath-rest is the author’s way and the Holy Spirit way of pointing out that the new rest is the ultimate and final rest. In this, we have a better Leader, a better covenant and a better rest. I can hear the writer saying to these Hebrews who were contemplating going back Judaism, why in the world would you what to go back to Moses and the law, and to observing the shadows when the reality is here in Christ ” Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” (Col 2:16-17). LD
[i] The word Sabbath means rest. The Hebrews were command by God under the Old covenant to rest on the seventh day and to do no work. The Sabbath day was a memorial of God delivering them from the land of Egypt (Deut 5:12-15). It was a day of rest and not worship in the tradition sense of worship. The lack of working was the worship. The Hebrews worshipped in the tradition sense in the tabernacle and Temple, and then later in the synagogue. That is, if they were within a Sabbath day’s journey from these place of worship.
[ii] Deut 12:9 “For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.KJV
[iii] What is the law referred to here? The Jews in the first century view the entire Old Testament scripture as the Law. The law was the covenant made exclusively with the nation of Israel and was never given to the whole world (Deut 5:1-5, Rom 7:4-8, 1Cor 14:21).
Questions To Ask Yourself Thanks to Charles Stanley
My Answer and questions to Mr. Stanley.
I found these question by Charles Stanly on the net. My responds to Mr. Stanly is based on the simple belief that we are saved in Christ. To be in Christ is to be in a loving relationship with Christ and His Father. This relationship is entered through faith and is maintained by faith. However, I believe a person can lose their faith and fall out of this loving relationship with Jesus and be lost.
If Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost, and yet we can somehow become unsaved – and therefore undo what Christ came to do – would it not be wise for God to take us on to heaven the moment we are saved in order to insure we make it? Isn’t it unnecessarily risky to force us to stay here?
Satan and Man have been undoing the things of God since the fall. If this was not the case, we would have no free will. If we have no free will, we are simply a part of a comic rerun where everything has all ready been determined.
I personally have not reached the point where I can judge what is wise for God to do, or not to do. I guess Mr. Stanley has.
It seems that Mr. Stanley’s questions come from the presumption that Gods eternal purpose is to save mankind. Really? Is mankind the center of Gods purpose? I was under the impression that God and Christ were the center and their purpose is, and was, to restore Gods rule or the kingdom of God? Could it be that God only wants the tried and the true to serve him in his kingdom?
If a person cannot be unsaved who was saved before, how can a small child who is saved or at least safe become unsaved? If people are elected in eternity to be saved how then did they become lost or unelected requiring Jesus to die for them?Why did Jesus come, to seek and to save the lost, if saved people cannot become lost people and the unsaved people could not respond to his preaching because they were not elected in eternity? Is the coming of Christ just a cosmic deception or joke?
If our salvation is not secure, how could Jesus say about those to whom He gives eternal life, “and they shall never perish” (John 10:28)? If even one man or woman receives eternal life and then forfeits it through sin or apostasy, will they not perish? And by doing so, do they not make Jesus’ words a lie? Is Christ a liar???
The gift of eternal life is given to those that hear and follow Christ, which means that the promise of eternal life is conditional. In verse 10:27 of the book of John, He tells us who his sheep are. They are those that hear his voice and follow him which are two conditions. In this section of scripture Jesus says nothing about the gift being free or coming without conditions, or by some prior election by God. These ideas are read into the passage by Mr. Stanley. In actuality, the text has nothing to do with whether a person can fall away from Christ (stop hearing his voice and following Christ). This section of Scripture is not talking about the sheep falling away, but rather them being force or captured against their will by Satan. It is very similar to the thoughts of Paul when he says that no temptation is to great to overcome thebeliever (1 Cor 10:13). The real question is can a people lose their faith in Christ and stop listening and following Christ? Does a person lose their free will when they become a Christian?
When Christ gives a gift, he surely guards the gift so that no one can take it from the one receiving it. However, he does not force one to accept or keep the gift. If that was the case we would not have free will, something I wonder if Mr. Stanley believes in. Where in the Bible does it teach that a person loses their free will when they become a Christian? Can something be rightly call a gift if it is forced on someone?
Moreover, from the context it is very doubtful that Jesus is talking about people losing their salvation through personal sin. Rather, he seems to be talking about Satan pulling the Lord’s sheep out relationship with the Father. “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” (John 10:29). Jesus is simply saying that God will never let Satan tempt usbeyond our ability to endure. He is not talking about eternal security. In Christ we enter the protective care of God, similar to the relationship that Adam had with God in the garden. He was protected from the power of Satan (Satan powers were limited), but Adam had the free will to succumb to temptation and walk away from his relationship with God. It was Satan who told Adam “you will not die”. Do not let anyone tell you, you will not die. Satan is still saying you shall not die and God is still saying, “The wages sin is death”.
Why should God let you into heaven? If your answer includes words such as try, my best, church, believe in God, Sunday School, teach or give, chances are that you still haven’t come to grips with the simple truth that salvation is by faith alone.
The Bible teaches us that we are saved by grace through faith. Why does Mr. Stanley add the word “alone”. Could you please give me a passage in the Bible where the phase “by faith alone or by grace alone” is used? Can real faith be separated from obedience? What is real faith? Is true faith simply mental assent?
Let me ask the question another way: What are you trusting in, to get you into heaven? Is it Christ plus something? Or can you say with confidence that your hope and your trust are in Christ and Christ alone
Mr. Stanley is right if you are a person who trusts in their own effort and goodness to get themselves into heaven. No human being can obligate God to save them by being good enough. Questions like those above are appropriate when talking to a people who are self righteous. However, their presumption really doesn’t have much to do with the question of unconditional salvation, for that question hinges on the definition of faith. What is saving faith and what does it do, i.e. what does faith look like?
If salvation wasn’t permanent, why introduce the concept of adoption? Wouldn’t it have been better just to describe salvation in terms of a conditional legal contract between man and God?
The Bible teaches that our adoption is finalized at the resurrection, not at the point of faith (Rom 8:23). After one has put their faith in Christ they enter a time of testing and growth just like the first Adam, Israel and Christ himself. Unfortunately, like the Israelites in the wilderness some will not pass the test. Was the promise of entering the Promised Land conditional or unconditional? If unconditional then why did so few make it in?
The authors of the New Testament left us with detailed explanations of how one becomes a child of God. If that process could be reversed doesn’t it make sense that at least one of them would have gone into equal detail explaining that as well?
In the letter of 1John the apostle John go into great detail about who is a Christian and how they can have the security of knowing that they have eternal life. His letter rules out the majority of people that claim to be Christian, and his criteria for knowing that you have eternal life would limit that knowledge to very few (Matt 7:13-14). By the way, he does not list believing in unconditional security as one of the proofs of salvation or even being a Christian.
What is the significance of a seal that can be continually removed and reapplied? What does it really seal?
The seal is not a seal like the one you put on a jar of canned goods. It was the mark or seal of the king. Yes, we are sealed or marked by the Holy Spirit. The mark of the Holy Spirit is a life lived in holiness and love. If one continues to live in sin after believing in Jesus he probably was not saved to begin with and therefore never received the seal of the Spirit (living like Jesus). Then you have those who become Christians and begin to live like Jesus which is the seal of the Spirit and then they fall into sin. At that point they simply no longer have the mark or seal of the Spirit, which is living like Jesus. “We know that we have come to know him if we keep hiscommands. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” 1 John 2:3-6
The seal of the Spirit is not some mystical mark or seal. It is simply living like Jesus. This is too simple for those who want to live like the devil and at the same time have the good feeling that they are eternally secure in Christ by accepted Jesus into their heart sometime in the past which the Bible nowhere tells people to do for salvation.
If a man or a woman ends up in hell, who has at some point in life put his or her trust in Christ, doesn’t that make what Jesus said to Nicodemus a lie? Or at best only half true?
In his discussion with Nicodemus, Jesus was not talking about a person losing their salvation. Again as in many places, Mr. Stanley uses the silence of the Scriptures to argue his point.
If my faith maintains my salvation, I must ask myself, “What must I do to maintain my faith?” For, to neglect the cultivation of my faith is to run the risk of weakening or losing my faith and thus my salvation. I have discovered that my faith is maintained and strengthened by activities such as the following: Prayer, Bible Study, Christian Fellowship, Church Attendance and Evangelism. If these and similar activities are necessary to maintain my faith – and the maintenance of my faith is necessary for salvation – how can I avoid the conclusion that I am saved by my good works?
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall. “ Peter 1:5-11 Howdoes Mr. Stanley’s ideas square with what Peter says?
Here Mr. Stanley shows his real colors in making faith, a good work. He misunderstands Paul’s understanding of good works and in doing so, embraces the totality of the teaching of Calvinism, which one would have to do to be logical and consistent in accepting unconditional security. It appears that Mr. Stanley believes that faith is a gift from God and is given to those that God elected in eternity. In this Mr. Stanley demonstrates himself as a true Calvinist. I respect Mr. Stanley’s consistency, but totally reject his Calvinism.
In Ephesians 2:8 the apostle Paul says, “For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith – and this not of yourselves for it is the gift of God”. Calvinists misunderstand this passage and interpret the gift as faith. However a close reading of the passage seems to indicate that God’s gift is salvation, not grace or faith. The gift comes out of God’s grace and is accepted by faith. The gift is salvation or eternal life. The wages sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 6:23).
If our salvation hinges on the consistency of our faith, by what standard are we to judge our consistency?
Can we have doubts at all? How long can we doubt? To what degree can we doubt? Is there a divine quota we dare not exceed?
Mr. Stanley is great at asking questions. Questions that are similar to the faulty and loaded questions, such as “When did you stop beating your wife?” or “Who created God?” However, I do not find them helping his position on unconditional security. Here are a few realistic questions. Can you find one plain passage of Scripture that teaches that a Christian has unconditional security? Is the term unconditional security or any of its equivalent phrases such as, “once saved always saved” or even “eternal security”, ever been found in the Bible? Why has the doctrine of unconditional security not been found in the early Christian fathers manuscriptswhich record the historical faith for first 400 years of the Christian movement, right up to the time of Augustine? What about the hundreds of warnings in the Bible that teach that a person must have faith to be saved and the fruit of faith to know that they are saved?
To answer Mr. Stanley’s questions about faith and doubt, Jesus said that if we had the faith the size of a mustard seed we could move mountains. It does not take a lot of real faith to be saved. The question is, do we have any? Moreover, true faith does not spend its’ time introspectively looking at itself. It is too concerned with doing the will of the Father. It is the faith of the Gnostic who would look inward for confirmation. True faith looks outward at its fruit. The fruit does not make the tree, but it sure tells you what kind of tree it is.
Watch the following video to see what the early Christians believed about this subject
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”Acts 2:38
The question I want us to focus on is, Does “to repent” in Acts 2:38 mean moral reform or something else? I have heard it taught as moral reform or as simply a turning to God. However, there are some problems with both interpretations. First, it would seem unlikely that the Apostle Peter would tell devout Jews that they needed to reform morally or turn to God. In the context of Acts 2:38, repentance or turning would seem to mean turning to Christ or to believing on Christ. In essence, Peter was telling his audience simply to believe in Jesus. This would echo the words of Jesus to His disciples in John 14:1, “You believe in God believe also in me.”
However, the text seems to indicate that a necessary part of this turning to God includes baptism or what we might call a bodily and public expression of this turning or repentance. Baptism then would be viewed as the initiation act that puts a person into Christ where His blood cleanses from sin and where one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit (Rom 6:1-3, Gal 3:26,27).
It is also important to note that Peter’s statement is a commandment not a request. Man left God by breaking a commandment, and he must returns by keeping a commandment. Therefore, he is commanded to believe on Jesus or believe the gospel (1 Thess. 1:8). Adam’s sin began in his heart and was consummated in his outward disobedience. In like manner, man returns to God by believing and acting out his faith in baptism and a life that bears the fruit of repentance (Acts 26:20). This is why Paul uses faith and baptism as synonymous. “For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ (Gal 3:26-27 ASV).
We can summarize the teaching of Acts 2:38 by saying that God commands two things: faith in Christ and baptism into Christ. These two acts constitute turning toward God (Acts 3:19). To those who turn to God by belief and baptism, God promises two things: the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It would be fair to ask the question, Does faith and baptism in themselves remit sin? Absolutely not; nothing but the free action of a forgiving God can do that. Faith-baptism simply puts a person into Christ where one has access to the blood of Christ and the forgiveness of sins, both of which are in Christ (Eph 1:7, Rom 6:3).
“That is the devil getting at us. He always sends errors into the world in pairs – pairs of opposites. And he always encourages us to spend a lot of time thinking which is the worse. You see why, of course? He relies on your extra dislike of the one error to draw you gradually into the opposite one. But do not let us be fooled. We have to keep our eyes on the goal and go straight through between both errors. We have no other concern than that with either of them.” C.S. Lewis
Recently it has been brought to my attention, that there is a new war raging among the evangelicals in the religious world of America. The two parties in this debate are those that call their teaching “radical grace” and the other is referred to as “Lordship salvation”. After making a quick survey of this debate, I think the whole thing falls into the area of wrangling about words and lining up behind men instead of Christ. To this writer, it sounds like the Corinthian church of America is fighting over who is most spiritual and who is the greatest in the kingdom of God.
What does the Bible say about this question? Well, here’s the rub; the Bible does not make any distinction nor does it contrast salvation by grace or salvation by accepting the Lordship of Jesus. However, if we go to Paul’s definition of a Christian, he seems to put the emphasis on accepting the Lordship of Jesus.
“If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” (Rom 10:9-10). If you were to make a survey of the sermons in the book of Acts, this emphasis seems to be supported (Acts 2:22-38, 10:34-43).
Why would anyone believe that Jesus died for their sin unless they had already accepted that he was the living (resurrected) Son of God and Lord of heaven and earth? Accepting his Lordship always comes before accepting him as Savior. However, let us not try to separate the inside of the skin from the outside of it, lest we kill the patient.
The part of this debate that both sides fail to take into consideration, is the audience that Paul and the other biblical writers are speaking to and the needs of the audience.
In his epistles, Paul is often addressing problems in the local church. He is not writing a doctrinal dissertation on theological issues. It seems that biblical writers would often emphasize a certain aspect of the gospel that would meet the needs of their audience; or the author would address a problem in the local churches. They surely would not have pitted one aspect of the gospel against another, which to me is pure madness.
For example, in the book of Romans Paul is trying to explain to Jewish believers that no one can be justified before God by the works of the Mosaic Law. At that time, Jewish believers thought that you had to believe in Christ and keep certain aspects of the Law of Moses. Paul’s whole letter was written in great detail to show the Jewish Christians that salvation was absolutely through Christ and had nothing to do with Judaism. Therefore the book of Romans (or for that matter any of the writings of Paul) had nothing to do with the controversy between the radical grace movement and the so-called Lordship salvation response.
The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace through faith. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so no man can boast” (Eph 2:8-9). The question is what is the faith that saves? It is obvious, that not all who believe are saved, for the devil believes there is a God and is not saved. So, what exactly is saving faith? I personally believe that it is a faith that accepts Jesus the Christ as Savior and Lord. It is a faith that trusts in His grace and submits to His Lordship. How can the two be separated? In scripture, faith is a dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ that encompasses trusting God’s promises and obeying his word.
What kind of ‘works’ is Paul referring to in the above passage “not by works”? They are the works that go along with adherence to the Mosaic Law or more specifically the works of religion, rituals plainly performed in order to earn salvation. Surely, the Apostle Paul does not mean the commandments and teachings of Jesus Christ. Failure to strive to keep the commandments of Christ would seem to indicate a lack of true faith.
In Romans 1:5 the apostle Paul speaks of an obedience of faith or the obedience that comes from faith. The book of Romans is a book that talks about two kinds of obedience, one that comes through hand me down tradition with the pressure of religious conformity and second, the obedience that comes from trusting in Christ. Whether or not an action will fall into the category of good works done for salvation totally depends on the attitude of the person performing them. If you do something thinking you are going to earn your salvation or in some way obligate God to save you through doing it, you are doing good works to be saved. These actions are worthless in regards to salvation, though they may be beneficial in helping others. If you do good works because you believe it is the will of God for you in Christ, or out love for Christ, God will reward you for it (Heb 11:6).
“Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.” (Rev 14:13).
Brothers we can have confidence that He will reward our labors of love and our works of faith. “We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 1: 3).