Why do so many people believe in eternal security and then also just as many belivers don’t believe this. Your thoughts would be appreciated!
Why do so many people believe in eternal security and then also just as many belivers don’t believe this?
Could you clarify a little what you mean by “eternal security”? What is it about this that some believe and others don’t?
@Dannyd That is a great question. Where I grew up, people call the doctrine of eternal security ‘once saved, always saved’ because it means that once you’re saved you’re always saved no matter what you do. And people can get in very heated debates about it. Part of the reason is that eternal security tends to be linked with predestination. People who believe in free will / Arminianism reject eternal security. People who believe in predestination / Calvinism hold to eternal security. Of course, that may not always be the case. But where I grew up these two camps were not always nice to each other, which is very sad given that Jesus died for both camps.
Both groups base their beliefs on Scripture and they both claim their view promotes the holiness of man and glory of God more than the other. For example:
an Arminian may say that if ‘once saved, always saved’ is true people will just go around sinning because they don’t need to worry about their salvation. Of course the Calvinist counters that if they were truly saved they would not behave that way.
a Calvinist may argue that if a person can lose their salvation that implies they were saved by their own effort in the first place - lessening God’s glory and grace. The Arminian of course replies that accepting a free gift from God does not lessen His glory or grace in any way.
an Arminian may argue that if ‘once saved always saved is true’ that means some people were born destined for hell with no chance to be saved. And that would be cruel - like God creating a bird with no wings. The Calvinist would respond that what God does is always good and just and if His glory were our main concern we could accept His will.
they both claim Scriptural support
I once had a Pastor who gave me a psychological explanation - people who feel anxious about their salvation gravitate towards eternal security. People who are more self-motivated and confident may drift towards free will and the possibility of losing salvation. So there may be an element of personality at play here… In fact, I once had a young man tell me that he believed in eternal security because if he did not he would always be afraid and I could see by his face that he meant it.
What Do the Scriptures Say?
It’s debatable So here is a debate between two guys that seemed fairly level headed.
Here is an article I posted that provides resources for understanding Romans 9, which I feel is often completely misunderstood.
This is a view that is neither Arminian or Calvinist, supported by William Lane Craig.
I believe eternal security or ‘once saved, always saved’ is an issue that should not divide believers. We all have one Lord and one Master Jesus - who died for us all. And we know that we should live a holy life and give God the glory and neither view of eternal security prevents us from doing either of those things.
So, my advice, be holy as He is holy, give God the glory and come to your own conclusion as you study the Scriptures on these matters. The Gospel is the main thing - not eternal security. And it is important to keep the main thing the main thing.
I hope those thoughts are helpful. May you walk in the fullness of the Spirit of Christ and have peace in your heart through our Lord and Savior.
When has a Church Placed Unhealthy Emphasis on the Free Will Debate? How to respond?
Is predestination a both/and concept?
Does Romans 9:14-23 suggest that we are predestined?
Does God know what my decisions will be before I do?
CS Lewis - A Problem with Petitionary Prayer
Why evangelize if no one can come unless drawn by the Father? (John 6:44)
Personally, I see this as a false dilemma, like Euthyphro. We’re presented with two choices that are assumed to be the only two available, hence the term “dilemma”. We see this in the political world too. Are you Republican or Democrat? There are no other options. The only thing they seem to agree on is that there are no other options. And yet when you really analyze these examples, there actually are other rational options. You can vote Independent; you can resolve Euthyphro’s Dilemma by understanding that God doesn’t create “good” and isn’t bound by “good”, but is good in Himself; and, in my view, you can maintain the free will element in the salvation process while still being “once saved, always saved”. Hence, the false dilemma.
All that being said, Sean is correct. The fundamental doctrines of the faith are the most important. We can argue about Calvinism vs. Arminianism, young earth vs. old earth, or varying views of eschatology; but at the end of the day, it’s about the Gospel. Jesus saves, we do not. I also think it’s vital not to get in these discussions with unbelievers. We can talk about them here and share our perspectives, but it will only confuse the lost. The worst thing we can do is chase them away from the Savior through pointless debate.
I believe that the point at issue is not whether salvation is guaranteed or not, but rather, what your current status demands in judgment. As sure as GOD’s love is; if death finds me before I have repented for personal sin, than sin can separate me from GOD. Just as it did when Christ bore our sins on the cross. Somethings are too low for the presence of GOD. Sin is one of those things.
The sacrifice of the cross does not remove the corrosive effect of the presence of sin. Sin is not passive. Without repentance and a return to Grace, death can trap us into a judgment that will not allow for any unrighteousness. Sin is sin when sinning. No matter if it occurs in a life of unbelief or sitting on a church pew. If it is present, it separates us from GOD.
Salvation is assured but only if you ask.
@cer7, thanks for sharing your thoughts. As I read your post, I see that you have a high view of holiness of God which is so needed in today’s culture. If I am interpreting you correctly, you also seem to be saying that repentance of all personal acts of sin is necessary for a believer in Christ to have the status necessary for salvation.
The problem with this interpretation is we are never truly aware of the depth of our sin in order to repent of it. All sin big or small separates man from the presence of God if not for the humble desire of man to trust the atonement of Christ. Our salvation is dependent on the ‘confession of Christ’ not on the ‘confession of specific sins’. (Rom 10:4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes).We are called to stand firm in faith in Christ till the end and clearly we will all be a different levels in our ability to recognize sin in our lives. If salvation were based on our ability to recognize and confess sins, how is it by grace? As believers if we do sin, we have Christ who can advocate for us. (1 John 2:1). We dont have to live in anxiety if we have confessed all sin or not.
I am not advocating that we take sin lightly. As a true believer we may be tempted to sin but we can’t be comfortable in sin if we have made Jesus our Lord and our hearts are sealed by the Holy Spirit. We experience a struggle when we do sin as we know how much our Lord hates sin and we want to be transformed into His image. 1John5:16-17 we read about sin that does not lead to death and sin that does lead to death. I think the sin that convicts us and makes us uncomfortable to continue in sin is the sin that does not lead to death. Our discomfort in sin indicates we still want Jesus as our Lord and Jesus promises to intercede for the sins of His children. However, if we take pleasure in sin by violating commandments given by God in defiance, we can question if we truly believe in our heart what we confess with our mouth. If we love Jesus we will want to obey His commandments. (John 14:15). So someone who willingly embraces a life of sin without questions of conscience is committing a sin that leads to death as they have rejected Jesus willingly in their actions.
I have seen in my own life how the Lord has patience when we go through seasons of disobedience and draws us back to Him. However, if we disregard every opportunity He brings to draw us closer to Him, we run the risk of being so hardened in our heart that we reject Jesus and commit the sin that leads to death as we reject our intercessor, our high priest! What is in our heart is what reflects in our actions. If Jesus was Lord of our hearts, we would not enjoy sinful actions.
I haven’t read all the posts above thoroughly but I hope I am not being too redundant. @cer7, look forward to your thoughts, I hope I haven’t misunderstood you.
Morning @Lakshmismehta. No, Mam, it was not my intent to speak to the awareness of all possible personal sins. When we operate in unawareness it is not sinning. I believe that’s just human nature. In time the Lord will bring further exposure within us, that asked that we self-adjust our hearts and our walk to be more like Him. I consider that the natural evolution of walking with the Lord. It is ongoing in my life. It is also an assurance of His presence and investment in my ultimate goal. To see His face in peace.
It has been my experience that many Christians reference the “once saved always save” like it is a get out of jail card. It feels like the Christian version of “don’t judge me, GOD knows my heart.” That is key since it is the intent of our hearts that may or may not condemn us. The things GOD has already told us are sin require a deliberate decision to violate GOD’s Word. Which is what I mean when I write sin is not passive if it is housed it creates a snowball effect of destruction. We are warned when we read about the clean house that is reinvaded by its old spirit which returns with seven more spirits worse than the original spirit. (Matthew 12:43-45, Luke 11:25-27, 2 Peter 2:19-22.)
Whenever we find ourselves on the wrong side of prayer, it is imperative that we rush towards repentance. It is the same way in natural relationships. No marriage will survive the invasion of unfaithfulness. No husband or wife could ever hope for restoration just because their mate loved them. To ensure the continuation of the marriage, repentance sends the relationship back towards wholeness. The forgiveness may be there, but the offending party must seek the forgiveness in order for it to heal the marriage.
It happened to Sapphira and Ananias and many other believers in the early church. It can happen to me. (Acts 5)
We will probably find that we are actually saying the same thing. My access to grace and mercy is assured. But the decision to accept restoration whether before or after redemption is my decision alone. It is not guaranteed if I do not accept such Grace, but choose to languish in the sin GOD has revealed in me. Simply saying my Salvation is not a lay-away plan for my sin. But I don’t believe it is sinning until the Lord identifies it for me. Either in His known Word or in His administrations to my soul.
Thank you, Lakshmi, for a willingness to engage with me on points in which we may appear to disagree. I cherish that willingness and admire you walk that allows for differences within our fellowship. That is both affirming from you and precious I believe to the heart of GOD.
@cer7, thanks for the kind response. We are all learning from each other. Your response made me think more about two questions, 1) Can we not sin without knowing? 2) What’s more important- self-awareness of sin or our sinful nature? I completely agree with the destructive nature of sin, the urgency to repent so that we don’t hold the cross in contempt, our need to depend on God for us to overcome sin on a daily basis and the possible judgement for our sin as Ananias and Saphhira experienced. You are absolutely right, it is easy for people to justify sin by saying “God knows my heart” and be dishonest even to themselves.
After a brief search to answer my question 1, I came across Lev 5:17-18. “If anyone sins and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord’s commands, even though they do not know it, they are guilty and will be held responsible. 18 They are to bring to the priest as a guilt offering a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. In this way the priest will make atonement for them for the wrong they have committed unintentionally, and they will be forgiven". Even in NT times since God is the same always, I think the principle that we will be guilty for unintentional sins still stands. While awareness doesn’t alter the definition of sin, we can grow in holiness only to the extent we are aware. So we thank God in gladness for the Cross as it covers all sins - not only our intentional sins but also unintentional sins (Col 2:13). I also thank God that He is gentle and doesn’t convict us of all our particular sins all at once but allows us to develop a distaste for it as we grow closer to Him. This allows us to willingly be transformed toward obedience while resting on Christ’s sacrifice for the areas we haven’t yet dealt with.
This brings me to my question 2 - sin versus sin nature. The reason I bring up question 2 is because its common for Christians to focus on the external , just the visible sins but fail to contemplate on the poverty of our sinful nature and so lose the dependency on God. Psalm 51 has an example of King David moving from a confession of sin leading to confession of his sinful nature and is well explained here. Confession of sin brings the light of Jesus to shine and reveals the void of our sinful nature. The more we realize our sinful nature, the greater our thirst for God, and closer is our walk with God. The awareness of sinful nature as opposed to just sin is an exclusive aspect of Christianity that differentiates it from other religions.
Finally about Ananias and Saphhira, what I understand is that their death happened as a warning against hypocrisy to the early church . God may bring physical judgement for our sins if we continue in rebellion but physical judgement doesn’t always mean eternal judgment.
Hope this is helpful in reflecting on this topic. Just sharing what I learned as a result of your reply.
@cer7 I see that you guys are having a great conversation. I just wanted to jump in and ask one question for clarification: Are you suggesting that every single unrepented sin can separate us from God eternally? Or are you saying that habitual sin can separate us from God eternally? Or are you saying something else?
I think one helpful way to think of salvation is that we become part of God’s family. God will not kick his children out every time they sin or mess up. What is really dangerous is when we decide to set our heart against God and leave home - when we refuse to submit to His discipline. When we rebel against His Word and Spirit, then we are in danger of damnation. But so long as we are walking within his household, underneath his discipline, we are not in danger of losing salvation.
You can find support for this idea in Hebrews, which references Proverbs. God disciplines His children - He does not kick them out of the house unless they return to their old way of life and refuse to obey / be guided by His discipline.
Hebrews 12:4-11 - In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
If we look at Scripture, King David and Paul the apostle say that sin is still sin even if we do not recognize it.
Psalms 19:12 - But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults.
I Corinthians 4:4 - My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
The Lord Jesus grant us wisdom as we study.
@SeanO. Sorry about that “clear as mud” clarity. I guess what I call sin is habitual. I think I get many things wrong because that is what humanity means. But when GOD has made it clear and I still insist on indulging then that is what I call sin. I hasten to add that even when I find myself in sin, GOD does not walk away from me. I find sin comes with its own rewards, and the cost is painful. GOD uses even that misery to pull me back from my sin. I think my conclusion regarding the penalty that death can usher in, occurs when death occurs while I am still invested in my deliberate wrong or sin. As long as death does not find me, the opportunity to return to the peace giver remains mines.
@cer7 No worries - part of what makes discussions on Connect so wonderful is the opportunity to clarify our thoughts and terminology. In the future, you may consider differentiating between habitual sin and sin, since sin simply means missing the mark or falling short of perfection and habitual sin involves a heart set against God.
Praise God for His work in you life and your desire to know and honor Christ! Yes, God is merciful to all who repent from a sincere heart. He gives grace to the humble, no matter the journey that brought them to that point.