The Elders Perspective on Eternal Security

The Big Debate on Eternal Security

This has been a popular topic that Christians have debated for hundreds of years, even since the earliest days of Christianity. There seems to be a growing trend in various churches that casts doubt about whether a person who has trusted Christ for salvation will remain saved until they die. When a Christian is uncertain about this subject, doubts and fears can hinder that person from peace and contentment about the future. This topic is known by different titles: “Eternal Security,” “Once Saved, Always Saved,” “Once in Christ, in Christ Forever,” “Unconditional Security,” “Perseverance of the Saints,” or the “Final Endurance of Believers.” All of these titles are legitimate and each one emphasizes certain truths about this teaching. The Elders of The Master’s Church believe that the Bible is clear that a true born-again believer in Christ will persevere in their faith until they go to heaven.

Spiritual Evidence About Eternal Salvation

If you could lose your salvation, then it would make no sense that Christ saves forever.

There is so much Scripture that could be referred to, but a concise position paper like this cannot cover it all. What we want to do is give a sample of what Scripture says on this subject so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13). To begin with Hebrews 7:25 assures believers that, [Christ] is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him. If you could lose your salvation, then it would make no sense that Christ saves forever. The word “forever” finalizes the destiny of those who Christ saves. If you could lose your salvation the word forever would be inappropriate. This verse is not saying, “Christ is able…if we do certain things to keep ourselves saved.” That kind of eisegesis is typical with people who reject this doctrine. This passage is talking about Christ’s power to save to the uttermost those who are drawn to God in Christ, and His power is infinite. 

In 1 Peter 1:5 we read that true Christians are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation. The power of God is what keeps believers saved (2 Timothy 1:12; 4:18). God is omnipotent. If salvation was in our own hands we would easily lose it, but it is not, it is in the hands of God. John 10:27-29 speaks to this issue. Jesus, talking about those who believe in Him, said, 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. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I have heard some people say that a person may take himself out of God’s hand? However, this passage says nothing about a believer holding on to the Father’s hand; it is the Father holding securely onto believers. If fact, this is the Father’s will according to John 6:39, This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. This is an airtight case for eternal preservation. If it is the Father’s will that Christ lose none of His people and if one of those persons were lost, then it would mean that God’s will can be thwarted. But this leaves us with the dreaded thought that God is either not powerful enough to keep His people saved or people have sovereignty over God’s will. Either way you cut it, God’s power and sovereignty are reduced, which means God is not God.

God is omnipotent. If salvation was in our own hands we would easily lose it, but it is not, it is in the hands of God.

Eternal Security Is Only Through The Gift of Christ Jesus

When God grants to us saving faith and eternal life, He never takes them back. He can never reneges on what He gives. Those gifts are permanent.

The origins of faith is also a powerful evidence for eternal security. Faith in the Bible is spoken of as a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). Philippians 1:29 tells us that our belief is granted to us. Hebrews 12:2 tells us that Jesus is the actual author or our faith. 2 Peter 1:1 tells us that we have obtained like precious faith. If this is true and it is, then it must correspond with Romans 11:29, which states, The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. As I said faith is one of those gifts, but eternal life is a gift as well: Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Eternal life is a gift and God says that His gifts are irrevocable. In other words, when God grants to us saving faith and eternal life, He never takes them back. He can never reneges on what He gives. Those gifts are permanent. Jesus stated in John 5:24: Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. Eternal life would not be eternal if you could lose it. Jesus isn’t saying “you have passed from death into life, but you can pass back to death again.” He says clearly that those who believe will never be in jeopardy of dying! Eternal life starts at the moment you believe. If you could lose your salvation then the Bible would have called it something else like “Conditional Life,” but it doesn’t, it calls it eternal life.

Romans 8:30 declares, Whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. This passage is called the “Golden Chain of Redemption.” That is to say there are no breaks in the links of salvation from beginning to end. This is air tight; there is an unbreakable connection from the start to finish. Who the Lord predestined in eternity past will be glorified in heaven in eternity future. Therefore, those who are saved by God, will absolutely be in heaven. This is one of the most powerful verses on the truthfulness of eternal security in the Bible. Romans 8 continues to teach how nothing can ever separate believers from the love of Christ. The Apostle Paul expounds this in verses 38-39, 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Bible uses the term “sealed” in at least two passages, both which are relevant to this subject. Ephesians 1:13-14 explains what happens to believers in salvation, 13 In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Notice that once a person trusts in the Gospel they are sealed with the Holy Spirit. To be sealed means to be secured; it means to be locked in; it means the salvation of those believers is impenetrable. The Holy Spirit wraps us up and intertwines us with Himself, so to speak, so that there is no possible way He will let us go. He is a permanent dwelling within us. In chapter 4 and verse 30 we read, Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Here it is clear that this sealing of the Holy Spirit will continue until the day in which God redeems our bodies in the resurrection. The simply conclusion is that the Holy Spirit indwells us from the moment of belief until the moment of our resurrection. Thus, there is no possibility of losing our salvation.

Challenging Verses: Conditional Salvation is False

Like any school of thought in Christian theology there are always opposing views that use Scripture to base their position on. The Eternal Security position is challenged by dozens of passages that are purported to say that believers can lose their salvation. Most of these passages are easily dismissed by sound Bible interpretation, but there are a few verses that are more difficult to reconcile. However, we believe even the most challenging verses to our position can be overcome by the grammar, immediate context, logic and comparing Scripture with Scripture. We will attempt to briefly refute the two most challenging passages, in our opinion, used in this debate. The book of Hebrews is the go-to book for the proponents of conditional salvation. They use several of the “warning” passages to try and substantiate their claim that you can lose your salvation.

The book of Hebrews is the go-to book for the proponents of conditional salvation. They use several of the “warning” passages to try and substantiate their claim that you can lose your salvation.

Conditional Salvationists use Scripture to rationalize their false doctrine.

Here are two of the common passages they use they use most often:

Hebrews 6:4-6

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.

There are more interpretations of this passage than any other passage in the Bible. Those who believe this passage teaches you can lose your salvation will hone in on verse 6 where it says “they fall away,” and take that to mean a person can fall away from the salvation they possessed and be lost. We will cut to the chase and tell you what our view is. We believe the writer to the Hebrews gives these kinds of warning passages in his letter to wake up those congregants who were wavering in their walk with Christ. Apathy had set in and many were leaving church and mingling back into their old lifestyles. The writer addresses the whole gathered church, both true and false believers (within every church this is a possibility). Many who claim to believe in Christ are really still lost (Matthew 7:21-23). The writer of Hebrews has these “professing” believers in mind. Their actions are incompatible with true belief. So he gives a hypothetical situation to teach that true believers will persevere in the faith and those who fall away are not true believers. Those who fall away were actually unbelievers to start, never truly possessing salvation (1 John 2:19). He emphasizes that a real believer cannot lose their salvation, because if they could then they can never gain it back. So the author gives this hypothetical scenario to make that kind of thinking absurd, because if anyone could lose their salvation and gain it back, then they would be crucifying Jesus all over again. Therefore, it is not possible for a true believer to fall away in the first place. The writer himself was confident that most of the people he was writing to were truly saved when he wrote in Hebrews 6:9, But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation.

Hebrews 10:26-29

26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

There is a lot in this passage, but for the purpose of this article we will keep our remarks to the subject at hand. The conditional salvationists say this passage teaches that true Christians who habitually sin in a willful manner will forfeit their salvation and face eternal fire. We reject that interpretation. Instead, we see this as a sharp warning to the gathered church to spark them to holy living. This is intended to be applied to professing believers who are imposters, and their lifestyle of sin demonstrates who they are. They are not genuine believers even though they claim to be saved. The writer distinguishes genuine believers in verse 39, But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. So the people in this passage are in the church, but not born again, and this warning serves to spark them to truly repent from their wickedness and trust in Christ. In verse 26 when it says, they received the knowledge of the truth, that does not mean they were saved. Anyone sitting in a church service where the Gospel is preached is receiving the knowledge of the truth, but many receive it superficially or emotionally. Receiving the knowledge of the truth does not have to mean it penetrated down into their hearts (Matthew 13:20-21). Verse 29 is also used to say this person was “sanctified” by the blood of Christ, meaning they were saved, but then lost their salvation. However, in light of what we already established, it is prudent to explore another possible meaning. While sanctified does equate to salvation in many passages, it can also be understood in a different sense. For example, the Bible speaks of a unbeliever being “sanctified” by believer in a non-salvation way in 1 Corinthians 7:14. This passages speaks of this occurring in a marriage situation, For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. Here we see that the word “sanctified” can be used in an external sense. The unbelieving spouse was sanctified from the outside. They witnessed up close a real believer filled with the Holy Spirit and it put them in a special place. To be exposed day after day to a holy person can sanctify an unbeliever from the outside, giving them earthly blessings. God’s grace and favor will come upon the Christian spouse in a marriage and will by association spill over to the other spouse and even the children. When we import this understanding of “sanctified” and bring it to bear on Hebrews 10:29, we understand the passage to mean the unbeliever in that church is sanctified by the believers around them week in and week out. The unbeliever, who ultimately rejects the blood of Christ and treats it will scorn, was for their time in the church set apart and exposed to God’s grace at work. Being this close to believers put the unbeliever in a place of spiritual privilege and they were sanctified in an external sense. But the key fact is, they spit in the face of that privilege by their sinful lifestyle, proving to everyone that they were never true believers in the first place.

Concluding Thoughts on the Warnings of False Teaching

Unfortunately, the truth of Eternal Security has been misconstrued within certain Christian circles. Some teachers claim that a person can, in a moment of sincere emotion, pray a prayer and supposedly be saved, then deny Christ the rest of their life but still be saved. We reject that kind of easy believism as false teaching. Our position on Eternal Security does not in any way promote a license to sin (Romans 6:6-7). Any charge against Eternal Security that states, “You can live any way you want and still go to heaven,” is a total mischaracterization of the true teaching of the Bible. True Christians would never think that way. That is why the phrase, “Perseverance of the Saints” is a preferable title since it takes seriously the fact that the “saints” persevere in their faith. While life will be a struggle against sin and there will be times of failure, believers will continue to endure through those tough times and continue to grow in their faith (2 Timothy 2:3; 2 Peter 3:18). The phrase, “Perseverance of the Saints” does not mean Christians are saved by enduring, but that if they are truly saved they will endure to the end ( 2 Timothy 4:7). But perhaps the best title we could use is, “Preservation in Christ.” This puts the focus on Christ’s work in and through us in keeping us saved (Philippians 1:6). He is the One that will always remain faithful to the very end and He will make sure that we stay faithful to Him as well. If you believe that you can lose the salvation God gave you, then what does that say about the saving work of Christ? If you can lose your salvation, then Christ’s “saving work” didn’t really save you at all! It is like being saved from drowning only to be thrown back in the sea; or like being saved from a car wreck only to be stuck back in the driver’s seat looking head on at a Mac truck. If the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ didn’t secure your salvation when you were born-again, then that means it is up to you to keep yourself saved. Sadly, many churches readily admit this. They teach that your salvation depends on you. You have to continue to prove your good works. You have to continue to keep yourself saved. At best this is a misinterpretation and misapplication of Scripture, at worst it is subset of a works righteousness system, which is condemned in the Bible. The Elders of The Master’s Church will stay with the teaching of Scripture where God says, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).

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