Arguments for Eternal Security

My last post – the one about not having excuses not to go to church – certainly stirred up some comments, didn’t it? When you have the time, why not peruse them for some additional pondering material.

This post, being written as I am recovering from a 24+ hour stomach virus, may prove to be even more comment stimulating.

By the way, did you know one can lose 7 pounds in just 24 hours?

My Outline

bibleThe following is the outline I took to with me to the pulpit Sunday morning. It starts off with some arguments against the “once-saved-always-saved” position. The next part lists six basic arguments in favor of the eternal security of the believer.

Of course, this is only an outline, not the sermon. But just looking at the outline, what are your thoughts?

“Eternal Security” 

Arguments Against “Once Saved, Always Saved”

  1. Observational – How people live that believe it.
  2. Free Will – We are created with a will; we’re not slaves.
  3. Scriptural (Hebrews 6; 1 John 3:9; 5:18)

Arguments FOR “Eternal Security”

  1. Creational Argument: We are New Creations (2 Cor. 5:17)
    1. It took a supernatural act to change us
    2. We can’t act supernaturally to change us back
  2. New Birth Argument: We are Born Again (John 3:7,16)
    1. By the Spirit – Jn 3:6
    2. By the Word of God – 1 Peter 1:23
    3. We are not God, so we must remain “born again”
  3. Children of God Argument
    1. Born that way – 1 John 5:1; 1 Peter 1:23
    2. Adopted – Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5
    3. Abba – Gal. 4:1-7
  4. The Possession Argument – We belong to Christ
    1. Purchased – 1 Cor. 6:19-20; 7:23 (Bought with a Price)
    2. Given by the Father – Jn. 6:37-40; 10:28-30
    3. Will never be separated – Rom. 8:35-39
    4. Romans 14:8 – For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s.
    5. He can keep what is His – 2 Tim. 1:12 “…for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” See also: 2 Timothy 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve [me] unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom [be] glory for ever and ever. Amen.
  5. The Marriage Argument
    1. Ephesians 5:25-28, 31-32 – Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church…This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
    2. He is faithful, even when we are not.
      1. 2 Timothy 2:11-13 “…if we believe not, yet he abideth faithful…”
      2. He is God, not man! – Hosea 11:7-9
  6. It’s a Gift
    1. 2:8-9 Gift of God, by grace
    2. Romans 11:29 KJV – For the gifts and calling of God [are] without repentance (irrevocable)

Click on the link below to listen to the audio. As you might be able to tell by the opening remarks, I believe it was a sermon we needed, but the devil was opposing. Nevertheless, hearts were encouraged.


Filed under Bible Study, Preaching, salvation

9 responses to “Arguments for Eternal Security

  1. I will throw my hat into the ring: Both are true. If praying a “salvation” prayer, and other things on the list… was merely a check-list item and nothing changed…there is no eternal security there. We can work the church system all we want but not God. (works)
    New Creation…literally “New Species” when the God of this Universe comes into someones life…Move aside because there is change.
    We are not called to judge but we can be Fruit Inspectors. We are quite secure in Christ. Can we of our own “Free will” walk out of his hand as nothing can take us away from him? I won’t even test those waters, but I have asked the Lord for a trout stream in back of the mansion (even promised catch and release).

  2. Since you asked for people’s thoughts, I don’t think that Rom 8:35-39 makes for a good text in support of eternal security. If you notice, sin is not included in that list and habitual sin can indeed separate the believer from God.

    • Thanks for the comment. Thoughts are welcome. But not any sin? Only habitual?

      • Thanks for your reply Anthony.That’s a good question and the Book of 1 John is helpful that regard. We know that we all sin for 1 Jn 1:8,10 make it abundantly clear that we all sin. When we do sin, v.9 promises that upon confession the blood of Jesus provides God’s forgiveness and cleansing from all unrighteousness. Notice v.7 however as that is the key to understanding this passage. It states – “IF we walk in the light….” This is a conditional statement indicated by the word “if.” If believers are walking in the light, then this verse states that Jesus’ blood cleanses from all sin. Notice that this promise is not directed to believers who are walking in darkness as it comes with a condition – walking in the light. Believers who instead choose to walk in darkness (habitual sin, practice sin) are not assured of God’s forgiveness and cleansing from sin. That would make sense as habitual sin demonstrates that one has not repented; therefore no forgiveness. Believers who walk in darkness do not even have fellowship with God (v.6). The apostle John later confirms this in 1 Jn 2:29 where he writes “everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.” On the other hand, “the one who PRACTICES sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning” (1 Jn 3:8).

        To sum up, we all sin but if our lifestyle can be characterized as walking in the light; i.e. obedience, following Christ etc., then when we do sin on occasion, we can receive God’s forgiveness. However, if believers walk in darkness as characterized by a lifestyle of disobedience, habitual sin etc., then no assurance of forgiveness is to be had. Someone once wisely said that the narrow road that leads to eternal life is marked by the ditch of legalism on one side of the road and the ditch of licentiousness on the other side of the narrow road. We do not wish to fall into either ditch but must remain on the narrow path.

      • One area where we differ on this is on the definition of “believer.” A true believer is one who has been transformed by the new birth; is in the process of becoming like Jesus (sanctification); and is sealed unto the day of redemption, the evidence being fruit of the Spirit. The unbeliever is the one “practices” sin, i.e., an unrepentant lifestyle uncharacteristic of a child of God.

  3. Yes we differ on that, as it is a commonly held belief that those who continue to sin, were never believers in the first place. On the face of it, . while it is true that some were never believers, does it logically and necessarily entail that all were never believers in the first place? After all, the scriptures reference those who apostatize from the faith. By definition one can apostatize from the faith only if one belonged to the faith in the first place. One cannot fall away from something he/she never genuinely belonged to, thus unbelievers cannot be said to apostatize.

    Even when we reexamine the text of 1 John 1 we notice that v.6 uses the word “we.” The use of the personal pronoun “we” by the apostle John indicates that he is referring to believers – not believers. Thus John is stating that if believers claim that they have fellowship with God but walk in darkness, they lie and do not practice the truth. Verses 7-9 all have the pronoun “we” further indicating that John is addressing the body of believers. In 1 Jn 2:1, John sums up the previous verses by writing: “My little children, (term of endearment reserved for believers only) these things I write to you, so that you may not sin.” From this short passage we can see that John is writing to believers, assuring them of forgiveness when they do occasionally sin and warning other believers who practice sin that they walk in darkness.

    The issue of being sealed in the Spirit is also another matter for discussion. I think the germane question is do the texts referring to “being sealed” imply an unbreakable or breakable seal? Those who believe in eternal security automatically assume that being sealed means an unbreakable seal but none of the texts imply that as that has to be eisegeted into the text. Eph 4:30 refers to believers being sealed: “And DO NOT GRIEVE the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Again, the question is are we automatically sealed no matter what? I think it is a fair question to ask what if a believer walks in darkness and grieves the Holy Spirit – is that believer still sealed? For the possible answer, let’s look at examine Eph 1:13-14: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him 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, to the praise of His glory.” The Greek word for “pledge” is arrabon, variously translated as guarantee, deposit, earnest, down payment. The meaning is similar to when one gives earnest money or makes a down payment toward purchasing a house. In such a business transaction does the down payment or deposit guarantee that the buyer of the house will faithfully complete all of the remaining mortgage payments? Of course the answer is no as people do fail to pay off their mortgages. In the same way, the Spirit is given as a down payment of our inheritance but it does not automatically entail that the believer will do his/her own part in being faithful to the Lord. Thus I would submit that being sealed does not imply eternally secure as a believer may become disobedient; fail to overcome and persevere. That is why Paul solemnly warned the brethren in Rome: “For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom 8:13).

    • I’m just waking up and beginning to prepare for church as I read and reply to this, so please forgive the brevity. I do respect the time you took to write your comments.

      We could spend a lot of time going back and forth on each individual point, such as when does one cross the sin-too-much line in the blood-stained sand? Or, to what lengths you want to take the “down payment” analogy, to include buyer’s remorse? Non-disclosure?

      The biggest thing is relationship. Are we born again, or not? Are we children of God, or not? Adopted, or not? Among other things, these do not change – they cannot change – based on the sinful whims of humanity. He is faithful to keep His promises and His own, even when we are unfaithful. My sins of omission alone, especially the ones I don’t realize, are enough to condemn me should my salvation be based on continual confession. I humbly depend on God’s grace because of Jesus. Otherwise, I have no hope.

      • Thank you for your comments as discussions like this despite its importance, often tragically become contentious and unbefitting for the brethren; lacking in love. It does not matter who is “right or wrong” but what is important is what do the scriptures teach. Thus I appreciate the graciousness demonstrated in your replies.

        We could indeed go back and forth. Actually, at one time I believed the same as you as my seminary professors (long time ago) were Reformed in their systematic theology and taught accordingly. As an impressionable student I believed what I was taught. But gradually over many years I began to question what I was inculcated to believe as I could not reconcile certain verses that appeared to plainly indicate otherwise. My experience has been that based on my own study of this subject over many years, I had to first “unlearn” what I was taught which is difficult to do.

        Realistically, one can only confess and repent of one’s sins that one is consciously aware of. God is merciful and his grace is sufficient to cover those sins that one is unaware of. As we grow in our knowledge and relationship with Him, the Holy Spirit is faithful in bringing to the light those sins of omission that we were previously unaware of as we grow in our sanctification. If we worry about our salvation being based on continual confession of those sins we aren’t even aware of then we quickly fall into the trap of legalism which both you and I agree is deadly to one’s faith. Fortunately, the scriptures provide us assurance as we need not worry needlessly: “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” (1 Jn 3:21). “If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of him” (1 Jn 2:29). The scriptures teach that we are in a right relationship with God when we abide in Him as branches abiding in the vine. “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14:21). Christians can proclaim that they are God’s adopted children and love God, but if their actions do not demonstrate that they love him, then their relationship with God should be called into question. If we claim to love God, then we are keeping his commandments. IF we do so, then this verse states that God will love us. It does not state that God will love us just because we are adopted.

        In my opinion, the modern gospel message has devolved where we place great emphasis upon verses such as Jn 3:16. While belief is indeed requisite to being saved, one needs to keep on believing. Salvation is not just a one-time moment of belief made in the past as the word “believes” in the Greek is a present tense verb. Thus a believer must continue to believe and trust. Those who cease to believe can no longer be said to be believers. And while we give great emphasis to belief in Jn 3:16 as necessary to our great salvation, we neglect to include Heb 5:9 in the gospel presentation: “and having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all those OBEYING Him.” Belief unaccompanied by obedience is no belief at all. We can take comfort in knowing that God’s grace is given to us so that we can obey Him in order to fight the good fight and finish the race that is before us. So you are correct in that the biggest thing is relationship. The question is what constitutes relationship? I hope some of the scriptures I have shared have shed some light on this. Thanks again.

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