By Jack Kinsella
I received an email recently in which the writer,
arguing against the doctrine of eternal security, noted that some Scriptures
seem to support it and others seem to contradict it.
He lamented that nobody can know for sure, and therefore, nobody should teach
eternal security as a doctrine.
Any Scripture taken out of context can be made to prove anything. Within various
chapters and verses, one finds specific contexts.
But then there is the whole body of Scripture, which, when taken in its entire
context, DOES reveal the truth. The central theme of Scripture centers around
three main points;
1) Man is a sinner constitutionally incapable of keeping the law.
2) Nobody is qualified to enter into the Presence of God based on his own merits
3) For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Remove any of those key points from the equation and the theme of salvation
makes no sense. If point 1 were not true, then it would negate point 2, which
would then eliminate the necessity for point 3. Do you see it?
If eternal security is a false doctrine, that means we each play a role, through
our works, (either sinful or righteous)in maintaining our salvation.
In that case, maintaining one's salvation would require working at it by
maintaining our personal righteousness.
But the Scripture says that "all our righteousness is as filthy rags" (Isaiah
Remember, our native unrighteousness is the central theme of Scripture -- and it
demands the necessity of a Savior.
Therefore, if maintaining one's personal righteousness is a condition of
salvation, then point 1 is not true, point 2 is partially untrue and point 3 is
unnecessary. That would defy the central theme and context of the revealed Word.
In witnessing to the lost, one generalizes the whole context of Scripture,
telling the sinner;
"You are lost, and cannot stand before a Righteous Judge clothed in your own
righteousness. But Jesus has paid the penalty for your sins at the Cross. Repent
(change your mind) and trust in His shed Blood as full payment for your sins."
Then one turns to Scripture to lead the sinner down what is often referred to as
Is that not the central theme of Scripture as generally presented by pretty much
EVERYBODY, regardless of their position on eternal security?
Is that not the altar call that YOU responded to?
One can dig and dig and find Scriptures that appear to say the opposite -- yet
those who focus on those seemingly contradictory Scriptures find no conflict in
giving the same synopsis of salvation to a lost sinner that I just gave.
It isn't until AFTER someone surrenders to Christ that they begin to doubt, and
Satan is more than able to direct the doubters to this Scripture, or that, until
the free gift of salvation morphs into a joint effort between the Lord and the
Pretty soon, the believer starts to put sins into various categories, according
to his own human understanding.
But the Scriptures are abundantly clear that ALL sin is equally sinful in God's
view, and ONLY that view is in harmony with the central context of Scripture as
summarized as points 1, 2, and 3.
In the Garden of Eden, the serpent deceived Eve by promising her that, in
disobeying God, three things would happen.
"For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be
opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." (Genesis 3:5)
Let's break it down into its component elements.
1) "Your eyes shall be opened."
The serpent begins by hinting that God is deliberately withholding beneficial
information from them. The argument that some Scriptures seem to require
salvation by faith plus works, while others seem to support eternal security
stems from that seminal deception -- that God's Word is ambiguous when examined
2) "Ye shall be as gods."
It goes against the grain of human pride to believe that the only role we play
in our own salvation is to accept a free gift of unearned pardon. Most human
religions -- and many Christian denominations -- insist that mankind play some
role in his redemption.
In this view, the sacrifice of the Cross is not enough -- it is just a
kick-start that gets us going. We must then perform at a certain level or that
sacrifice is negated by our own failed efforts.
3) "Knowing good from evil."
This goes back to the belief that we humans can know which sins are sufficient
to disqualify us from heaven and which ones God will let slide because they
weren't as evil -- which is the ONLY rationale for rejecting the doctrine of
(Unless one is prepared to accept as fact that there are saved believers who
never sin again after being saved. I've never met one, personally. But let's
examine the possibility that I missed him.)
Ever get angry after being saved? Ever say something hurtful? Ever roll through
a stop sign? (Did you hunt down a cop to tell him you deserve a ticket?) Ever
eat something you knew was unhealthy? Ever think something bad about somebody at
church? Ever get mad at your parents? Ever think, 'you idiot!' when somebody
cuts you off?
(". . . whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." --
"Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for
wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest
doest the same things. . . " (Romans 2:1)
Humans know right from wrong because right and wrong are relative to actions.
One can do right, or one can do wrong. Saving a person from being hit by a
streetcar is a right thing. Pushing him in front of one is wrong -- one might
even say, 'evil'.
But good and evil are outcomes -- and the outcome of our actions is known only
to God. Allow me to illustrate.
You are in Vienna, Austria, and the year is 1905. A man is painting a landscape
portrait of downtown Vienna and doesn't realize he has stepped back into the
path of a street car. You see him, and push him to safety.
You did the right thing, right? It was a 'good' thing that you did, and not
If you knew what the outcome of your good deed in 1905 would be -- that is, if
you knew at the time that you had just saved the life of Adolph Hitler and knew
what he would become -- did doing 'the right thing' result in a 'good', or
The first lie of the Garden of Evil was that man should trust in himself and on
his own understanding. The Scriptures teach the precise opposite.
"Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own
understanding." (Proverbs 3:5)
The doctrine of eternal security flies in the face of that first lie by removing
man from the equation altogether. Eternal security says that human righteousness
is as 'filthy rags' before the Lord, therefore, Jesus paid the FULL penalty for
It teaches that man plays no greater role in his salvation than that of
accepting the gift of Pardon offered him by repenting (which means to change
one's mind) about his sin and trusting in the shed Blood of Christ as a
The Scriptures teach us we can be, "confident of this very thing, that He which
hath BEGUN a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phillipians
One doctrine, that of salvation plus works, teaches that once He hath begun a
good work in me, it is up to ME to perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
The other, that of eternal security, teaches that, once He hath begun a good
work in me, HE will continue to perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Which doctrine lines up best with the main theme of the revealed Word of God?
We return to the message of salvation, but presented WITHOUT the implicit
promise of eternal security for the believer.
"You are lost and deserve to go to hell. But Jesus has made a way for you to be
saved. All you have to do is believe in Him and not sin again. Go to church,
learn the Bible, quit smoking, drinking, swearing, having lustful thoughts,
avoid all your old sinful friends, do good and don't sin, and you shall be
saved. But if you continue in sin after trusting Jesus, you will go to hell
If one discounts the doctrine of eternal security as some kind of Satanic lie,
then giving the Gospel in any manner differently that the one above is deceptive
But the Scriptures teach, "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any
thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Galatians 6:15)
"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed
away; behold, all things are become new." (2nd Corinthians 5:17)
If one is turned into a 'new creature' through God's extension of Sovereign
grace accepted through faith, how then does one turn ONESELF back to the old
creature by an act of human will (sin)?
Finally, there is the logic argument, as further advanced the Apostle Paul in
his letter to the Galatians.
"I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then
Christ is dead in vain." (Galatians 2:21)
"Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the
By Chuck Smith
We believe in the security of the believer but we also believe in the
'perseverance of the saints.' We don't believe that because you are a saint you
will necessarily persevere, but that you need to persevere because you're a
saint. Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;"
(John 8:31), and "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is
withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it
shall be done unto you." (John 15:6-7). Jesus Himself is the One that brought up
the possibility of a person not abiding in Him. So we seek to take a balanced
position rather than getting on one side and pressing the 'Five Points of
Calvinism.' When you take hard stands on these non-foundational issues, you'll
just empty your church of all of those who have Methodist, Nazarene, and other
Arminian-infiuenced backgrounds. Why would you want to do that?
The eternal security of the believer is a debatable issue at best. There are
Scriptures on both sides. You have John 3:16. What does "Whosoever believeth in
Him" mean? Does that mean that anybody can be saved? It appears to me to mean
that, and so we don't take the hard-line Calvinistic position of limited
atonement that says Jesus didn't die for everybody, only those who would believe
in Him. We do not accept that believing in Him has nothing to do with human
responsibility, but is totally the sovereign choice of God. This position states
that God has ordained some to be saved and some to be lost. If God has ordained
you to be lost, tough luck, buddy. There's nothing we can do. This is a denial
of the free moral agency. Instead, we believe that God has given us the capacity
of choice. The reason He gave us a capacity of choice is so that the love we
express toward Him might be meaningful and real. That's the balanced position
that we take.
There are people who are always trying to pigeon-hole Calvary Chapel. Do you
believe in eternal security? I say, "Yes, of course I believe in eternal
security. As long as I abide in Christ, I'm eternally secure." Now, dispute
that. If you don't abide in Christ, are you secure? Can you have security
outside of Jesus Christ? I don't know of any security outside of Jesus Christ.
But I believe as long as I abide in Him, He's going to keep me from falling,
He's going to present me faultless before the presence of His glory with
exceeding joy. And no man can pluck me out of His hand. I believe that, and I
experience God's security.
So often these issues come down to a matter of semantics. People end up dividing
over the interpretation of a few words. We had a staff member here at Calvary
who was very much committed to support groups. During his time with us he led
many to faith in Christ. Unfortunately, we had a parting of the ways that left
this man so bitter that he now belongs to a group called "Fundamentalists
Anonymous." He is now actively encouraging people to abandon a biblically based
faith in Jesus Christ.
Is he saved? In reality, he's an enemy of Christ. If I were an Arminian, I'd say
he's backslidden. If I were describing him from a Calvinist position, I would
say he was never saved. Now we're both describing the same man, but the terms by
which we describe him create the division.
We recognize this fact. The man has turned his back on Jesus Christ. It's
obvious. Is he backslidden, or was he ever saved? The problem is if I say he was
never saved, then where's my security? How do I know I'm saved? He had the
earmarks of being saved. He had a desire to serve the Lord. He was seeking to
lead others to Jesus Christ. I desire to serve the Lord and I desire to lead
others to Jesus Christ. So maybe I'm not saved. Now, that isn't security to me.
So, you see, it's a matter of semantics. How can we describe what we observe in
a person's relationship with the Lord? The whole division is over whether I
describe him as backslidden, or whether I just say he was never saved. If we
divide, we naturally create a division. We drive half the people out of the
church because I'm going to say he's backslidden and the next guy is going to
say he was never saved. When we allow this kind of debate we divide the church.
That's why I don't take a dogmatic position on this because I believe that the
Scripture teaches both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. If
you take either of these positions to an extreme, to the denying of the other,
then you've got a real problem because the Scriptures teach both. But then you
might ask, How can we reconcile them?" I don't. I don't have to. God didn't ask
me to. God just asked me to believe.
When I come across a person living in fornication, in adultery, or walking after
the flesh and he says, "Don't worry about me, man! I accepted Christ at a Billy
Graham crusade when I was a kid." Yet the person is a drunkard and fornicator.
But he says, "Once I've been saved I'm always saved! So don't worry about me."
Believe me, I'm going to rattle that guy's cage as best I can. I'm going to take
him to Galatians 5 where the Bible talks about the works of the flesh. At the
end of that listing the Bible declares, "As I have also told you in time past,
that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." (Galatians
5:21). I'll take him to Corinthians and to Ephesians. I'll show him where those
who are living after the flesh and devoted to living after the fallen nature's
desires, are not going to inherit the kingdom of God.
Yet, on the other hand, if I'm speaking to saints with an oversensitive
conscience who, every time they mess up and do something wrong, feel that
they've lost their salvation, I'm going to take them to the Scriptures that give
us the assurance of God's love. I'll show them how Christ is holding them and
that no man can pluck them out of the Father's hand. I'm going to take them to
the passages that will give them assurance.
So the position I take on the issue all depends on the condition of the person
I'm talking to. I can take either side and argue it ad infinitum. I can trade
Scriptures with people on both sides of the issue. I can let you choose what
side you want, and I'll take the other side. I can produce as many Scriptures
and make as good an argument as you can.
So the very fact that it is an argumentative issue demonstrates that there are
two sides. If there was a clear definitive teaching, then there would be no
argument. If we didn't have Scriptures that declare, "Come! And let him that is
athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely,"
(Revelation 22:17), then you'd have no argument. But the fact is that there is
the clear teaching of choice given to us by God. He expects us to make that
choice. "Choose you this day whom ye will serve," (Joshua 24:15). "How long halt
ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then
follow him." (I Kings 18:21). But yet Jesus said to His disciples, "Ye have not
chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring
forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain:" (John 15:16). There are two
sides to this issue, and it's important that we not get caught in a hard-line
position on one side to the exclusion of the other, because then you've
effectively divided your congregation.
I, like every other student in Bible college, wrestled with this issue. I was
reading Arthur W. Pink's The Sovereignty of God. I got so confused because Pink
states that man has no choice in the issue of salvation. It is all up to God.
There's no human responsibility. As I was reading the book, I got so confused
that I finally stood up, took the paperback, and threw it across the room. I
felt like Martin Luther throwing an ink well at the devil. I said, "God, I can't
understand it." I was frustrated mentally. It was then that the Lord spoke to my
heart and said, "I didn't ask you to understand it, I only asked you to believe
I rested from that point on. I still cannot in my mind rationalize the two
positions. I can't bring the two together, which is the problem that we so often
have. It's like a railroad track. The two rails are running parallel and if they
come together you're in trouble. So I believe them both, even though I'm not
able to reconcile them in my mind. But I don't have to anymore. I can be
satisfied just to believe them without having to reduce them to the narrow
limits of my intellect.
Trying to bring God within the confines of my intellect is a real lesson in
frustration. Try to understand eternity! Try to understand infinity! Try to
understand the limitlessness of space! Try to imagine where the edge of space
is. How far do you have to go out before you see the sign that says, "Dead end.
No exit. Nothing beyond this point"? We need to recognize that God is greater
than what can be confined or understood in our mind. He said, "For my thoughts
are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the
heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my
thoughts than your thoughts." (Isaiah 55:8-9). Now if God says that His ways are
beyond our finding out, then it's an exercise in futility to try to find out.
It's beyond our finding out.
We need to just accept the limitlessness of God. When I come to these crisis
points now, those places where my intellect starts to hit a dead end, I simply
stand there and worship the God Who is so awesome that I can't reduce Him to my
As you begin to minister, as you go through the Word, you will come across those
Scriptures that speak of the sovereignty of God. When you do, teach it. When you
come across those Scriptures that teach the responsibility of man, then teach
that. In this way, you can be sure that the people are getting a well-balanced
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