FAQ 4: “Eternal Security?”

FAQ 4: “Eternal Security?”

ETERNAL SECURITY -“Can I lose my salvation?

Brochure #4 Revised 2-23-2004. (Frequent terms Christians use.)

Today, so many Christians lack assurance of their salvation.  They lack confidence that their sins are truly forgiven and their places in heaven are forever secured.  Unfortunately, not every Christian enjoys the promises that are theirs in Jesus Christ.  Not to live in assurance is to live in doubt, fear, and a unique form of misery and spiritual insecurity. 

Can people be deceived about their own salvation? 

Unfortunately, there are believers that are saved and do not sense their own security.  Because of erroneous teaching, many are robbed of their hope and misled about their security in Jesus Christ.  They are plagued with insecure feelings about whether or not they will go to heaven.  However, Scripture is the foundation of all our assurance.  God wants desperately for believers to know that they are eternally secure.  Consider carefully what 1 Jn. 5:13 says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life.”

What about those who claim to be saved but are not?

Even though some believers may not be confident of their destinies, others who profess to be saved have no right to claim so.  In the past decade, the church has been plagued by a new evangelical philosophy called easy-believism.  If one simply makes a profession of faith, then it is assumed they have received eternal life, even if they experience absolutely no change.  In a startling way, Jesus Himself warned his hearers about the terrible deception of counterfeit conversions.  Jesus told His hearers, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’” (Matt. 7:21, 22) Jesus told us that it is not what we say but what we do that authenticates our profession.  He finished with a sobering statement in verse 23, “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness,’” (Matt. 7:21-23).  That passage should be sobering to all professing Christians.  It brings us face to face with reality that many people will be deceived about their own salvation. 

Is it wrong to question salvation? 

Because of this impending deception, Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!  Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).  This passage tells us that we should examine our own lives carefully to see if they meet the biblical standards of eternal life. 

We also have another obligation.  Even though we are not the final judge of others, we should be careful not to falsely assure them that they are saved apart from an untested profession.  The apostle James told us in James 2:17, “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”  In other words, a profession of faith that does not produce fruit is not a genuine faith.  True assurance is the reward of tested and proven faith (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-9).  If they bear no fruit, it is our obligation to challenge their profession. 

Can believers know for sure if they are saved?

There are some who claim that no one can have real assurance – not even a true Christian.  At the root of this error is the denial of God’s sovereignty.  To resist God’s sovereign control over salvation is to destroy the basis for everlasting life.  Many denominations state that believers can never know if they are truly saved.  They claim that to remain saved one must live a life that meets some acceptable standard of holiness.  Under this type of ministry, the professing believer must perform some level of good works or avoid committing certain sins that have been determined to be deadly.  If these standards are met, they pass the test and remain saved.  But there is a fatal flaw in this line of reasoning–it is sustained by human effort, and provides no true security and assurance because human beings will sin (1 Jn. 1:8, Ecc. 7:20).  Historical biblical Christianity stands on the rock solid truth that salvation is entirely the work of God. 

What does Scripture teach about eternal security?  

One of the most important claims regarding eternal life is found in John 5:24.  Jesus declared, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.”  Clearly salvation comes by faith (not by works).  Upon belief, we receive eternal life and consequently will NOT be condemned (Rom. 8:1).  This is an important statement because the Bible never makes any claim referring to a believer passing out of life back into death. 

What is the Father’s will towards His children?  

In John 3:16-18, Jesus told us in a positive way that belief in Jesus Christ saves us from perishing:  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”  In a negative way, He told us that those who believe will never come into judgment:  “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  Note that the determining factor for eternal life is belief, not some level of performance.  In addition Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me shall come to Me” (John 6:37).  All whom God sovereignly chooses will come to Christ believing that He is the Savior.  Jesus continued to state His Father’s will regarding the security of the believer:  “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day (John 6:38-39).  Jesus promises that all who are chosen to salvation—all who come to Jesus Christ in belief—will be raised up at the great resurrection preceding His return to earth.  Jesus, therefore, declared as a promise that NOT one will be lost.  The idea of being lost or of losing salvation is not left up to human desire, work, or any kind of merit, but the sovereign desire of God Himself. 

Jesus proclaimed, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give eternal life to them; and they shall NEVER perish, and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).  Jesus gives us a comforting picture of the believer resting in God’s sovereign hands.  Think about this:  If anything or anyone could cause the loss of salvation, would not that person or thing be greater than the Father?

One of the most profound Scriptures describing God’s desire to secure our salvation can be found in the Old Testament (1 Samuel 12:20-22).  Samuel, the last judge of Israel, had to rebuke God’s people by saying, “Do not fear.  You have committed all this evil.”  After calling them to repentance, he reassured them with these comforting words, “For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself,” (1 Samuel 12:22).  The security of the believer rests ultimately in the hands of God who will not let us go.  Not because we perform to a standard, but because of who God is. 

Does the work of Jesus have anything to do with eternal security?

Beyond the promises of the Father, Jesus, as our great High Priest, serves as the anchor of our souls, Who keeps us from losing our salvation.  Hebrews 6:19-20 reads, “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”  As believers, our relationship with Christ anchors us to God. We can be confident because it is “within the veil” (v. 19).  The most sacred place in the Jewish temple was the holy of holies, which was veiled from the rest of the temple.  Inside the holy of holies rested the ark of the covenant, which signified the glory of God.  Only once a year, on the Day of Atonement, could the high priest of Israel enter beyond the veil and make atonement for the sins of his people.  But under the new covenant, Christ made atonement once for all time and for all people by His sacrifice on the cross.  The believer’s soul is, in God’s mind, already secured (Eph 2:6-7) within the veil–His eternal sanctuary in heaven. 

Once Jesus entered the heavenly holy of holies, He did not leave, as did the Jewish high priests.  Rather, “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” (Heb. 1:3).  And Jesus remains there forever as the Guardian of our souls.  Such absolute security is almost incomprehensible.  Not only are our souls anchored within the impregnable heavenly sanctuary, but our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, stands guard over them as well.  How can the Christian’s life be described as anything but eternally secure. 

Can the Father refuse to answer Jesus’ prayer? 

While Jesus was on earth anticipating His high-priestly work, He prayed for His disciples, saying, “I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to Thee.  Holy Father, keep them in thy name” (John 17:11).  Jesus extended that prayer of protection beyond His apostles to us, who would come to believe in Christ through the apostles’ teaching (v.20).  Since our Savior always prayed in perfect harmony with the will of the Father, we can be assured that it has been answered and that we are kept in His name. 

We can see that we are secure because of the Father’s will, the Son’s work, and lastly, the work of the Holy Spirit.  Paul told us in Ephesians 1:13-14 that upon belief, we are sealed in Christ “with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession.”  As a means of guaranteeing His promises, God seals us (upon hearing and believing the gospel) with the presence of the Third Person of the Trinity.  He has been given to us as a pledge [Gk., arrabon] of our inheritance (Eph. 1:14).  This Greek word originally referred to a down-payment or earnest money given to secure a purchase.  Later it came to represent any sort of pledge.  This means that we have received God’s first installment guaranteeing the redemption of our bodies when Christ returns (Romans 8:23). 

With the Father’s sovereign promises, the Son’s intercessory ministry, and the Spirit’s seal, we are absolutely secure in our salvation.  It is by faith alone that we stand in absolute assurance of eternal life.  This is not presumption, but confidence in a sovereign, loving God.  We can rest in our security because of God’s faithfulness to Himself. 

One last thought to ponder:  “How can eternal life be temporary?”