The Eternal Security of Saints

A Brief Introduction
Before I can begin to undertake the exegesis of any part (verse, a collection of verses, a chapter or collection of chapters) of the Holy Scriptures, I believe it is pertinent to establish a few ground rules; such as I have tagged “foundational presuppositions” outside of which any meaningful communication of biblical truths would be futile.

I would be the first to admit that no one goes to Scripture without their prior conceptions and this is by no means wrong; however, one must be careful to examine these preconceptions and to ensure that they do not run contrary to what the Scriptures teach about God.

As G.H. Clark said,

“It must forever be kept in mind that a theologian’s (or any inquirer’s) epistemology controls his interpretation of the Bible. If his epistemology is not Christian, his exegesis will be systematically distorted.”

Put in simple English,

“What we accept and believe as true, affects how we interpret the Bible”

For your benefit, and the benefit of those who will get to read this, these are my presuppositions:

  • The Bible alone is the word of God who cannot lie
  • The Bible is infallible, inerrant in the original manuscripts, and sufficient for all matters of Christian doctrine
  • ALL TRUTH is either expressly stated in the Bible; or can, by good and necessary consequence, be deduced from it.

From these presuppositions, I am able to deduce the following corollaries that

  • No part of Scripture can contradict another part
  • Although there are immediate historical, cultural and grammatical contexts for every text in Scriptures, the ultimate context for the texts in the Bible itself
  • This means that any apparent contradiction is a function of scholarly limitations, and such contradiction can be resolved without a distortion of Scriptural truth.
  • God is Absolutely Sovereign. He is sovereign over all things and in all things.

These constitute the starting point for all that I believe in God’s word and defend.

I believe that the Scriptures can be understood, and that God gave us the gift of the Scriptures so that we may understand it. The Scriptures do not furnish us with all the truth about God such that we have an exhaustive knowledge of truth; but it certainly reveals all that we must know about God to be fully persuaded and be saved!

“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”- John 20:30-31

I have painstakingly attempted to establish my presuppositions so that you can examine them for yourself and scrutinize this write-up by them.

Why this note?
On 13th March 2011, you asked me if I believed in the Eternal Security of Believers (although I do not think that is exactly how you put it) and I said yes, then you asked me if this means that nobody who is truly saved will fall away, unfortunately, I said, “Yes”.

The reason I said unfortunately, is because I did not ask you whether or not by your question you meant, “Can a person who is truly saved fall away for a season?”, or that you meant “Can a person who is truly saved fall away forever and be damned”?

The obvious answer to the first situation would be “Of course!” sheep stray; in fact they stray again and again! That is the point of God’s relentless pursuit of his people: it is the point of God’s discipline and chastisements.

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. AND WHEN YOU HAVE TURNED AGAIN, strengthen your brothers.” –Lk 22:31-32

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. -1 Jn 1:7-11

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.- 1Jn 2:1

What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of my Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.- Mat 18:12:17

Now if anyone has caused pain, he has caused it not to me, but in some measure–not to put it too severely–to all of you. For such a one, this punishment by the majority is enough, so you should rather turn to forgive and comfort him, or he may be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. So I beg you to reaffirm your love for him. For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. -2Co 2:5-11

As for the second situation, my answer is “Never! A person who is truly saved, cannot fall away so as to be damned!” and this is what I set out to show in this note and from the Scriptures.

What is it all about?
What is all this talk on the eternal security of saints about? The best and only place to start is the bible. I will state my position, which is no different from the reformed position, with relevant scriptural references:

There are three very popular positions on the Eternal Security of Saints as follows:

  1. Some teach that, “All who believe and are truly saved can lose their salvation.” This position suggests that True Christians can lose their salvation by failing to keep up their faith, by falling into a state of serious sin, etc.
  2. Some teach that, “All who make a profession of faith are eternally secure, whether or not they keep up their faith.” (This position is described by opponents as “Easy Believism” Or “Once Saved Always Saved”)
  3. Some teach that, “All who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in Faith by the Power of Almighty God and therefore continue to persevere in faith.” This is clearly my position and I am convinced of this by the plethora of Scriptural support for this position. I will share a few with you but will be more than willing to furnish you with more.

Scriptural Support
The person who truly believes in Jesus Christ HAS new Life that is ETERNAL.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Jn.3:16

“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” Jn.3:36

“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. Jn.5:24

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in me has everlasting life. Jn.6:47

“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” Jn.6:51

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. 1Jn.5:13

Notice how the Scriptures mention the life the believer gets; it is “Eternal” and it is “Forever”. The question any inquirer would ask is that. “How can such a life, that is eternal and forever be lost?”

All those who come to GENUINE SAVING FAITH in Christ ARE KEPT SECURE IN HIM FOR ETERNITY BY THE POWER OF GOD.

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. “But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.”All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. “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. “And this is the will of Him who sent me that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John.6:35 – 40

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone 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 My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” Jn.10:27 – 30

“Now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you. Holy Father, KEEP THROUGH YOUR NAME THOSE WHOM YOU HAVE GIVEN ME that they may be one as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name. Those whom you gave me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. Jn.17:11 – 12

“I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but THAT YOU SHOULD KEEP THEM FROM THE EVIL ONE” Jn.17:15

…who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1Cor.1:8

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, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. Eph.1:13-14

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, BY WHOM YOU WERE SEALED FOR THE DAY OF REDEMPTION. Eph.4:30

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; Phil.1:6

True believers WILL persevere (meaning, they will remain faithful, and abide in Christ) to the end in faith and obedience by the Power of the Holy Spirit.

“He who has my commandments and keeps them, it is he 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

“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples. “As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. Jn.15:1 – 11

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph.2:10

But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. 1Peter.5:10

Therefore, brethren, BE EVEN MORE DILIGENT to make your call, and election sure, for if you do these things you WILL NEVER STUMBLE; 2Peter.1:10

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Phil.2:12-13

But, what about Hebrews 6:4-6?
What about it? Does it teach that those who are truly saved can fall away and be lost?

For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. – Heb 6:4-6

I believe a verse by verse explanation will be helpful. It is also important to note that we must not ignore the overwhelming evidence in scripture to support the position that people who are truly saved will endure to the end and since the scriptures cannot contradict itself, Hebrews 6:4-6 must mean something else entirely.

Interpretative Challenges
A proper interpretation of Hebrews requires the recognition that it addresses three distinct groups of Jews as follows:
i. Believers (Hebrews. 10:32-34)
ii. Unbelievers who were intellectually convinced of the gospel. (Hebrews 2:1-3, 6:4-6, 10:26-29; and 12:15-17)
iii. Unbelievers who were attracted by the gospel and the person of Christ but who had reached no final conviction about him (Hebrews 9:11, 14-15, 27-28)

By far the most interpretative challenge is found in Hebrews 6:4-6. The phrase “once been enlightened” is often taken to refer to Christians, and the accompanying warning taken to indicate the danger of losing their salvation if they “have fallen away” and “are crucifying once again the Son of God”. But there is no mention of their being saved and they are not described with any term that apply only to believers (holy, born again, righteous, or saints).

This interpretative problem arises from inaccurately identifying the spiritual condition of the ones that are being addressed. In this case they were unbelievers who had been exposed to God’s redemptive truth and perhaps made a profession of faith, but had not exercised genuine saving faith

Hebrews 6:4: For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit

Enlightened: They have received instruction in biblical truth, which was accompanied by intellectual perception. Understanding the gospel is not the equivalent of regeneration. John 1:9 makes it clear that enlightenment is not the equivalent of salvation.

Tasted the heavenly gift: Tasting in the figurative sense refers to consciously experiencing the something (Christ tasted death on our behalf- Hebrews 2:9). The experience might be momentary or continuing. Christ’s tasting death was obviously momentary not permanent. All men experience the goodness of God, but that doesn’t mean they are saved (Matthew 5:45; Acts 17:25). Many Jews, during the Lord’s earthly ministry, experienced the blessings he brought from heaven. Whether the gift refers to Christ (John 6:51) or the Holy Spirit (John 16:8; Acts 7:51), experiencing either one is not the equivalent of salvation.

Shared in the Holy Spirit: Even though the concept of partaking is used in Heb 3:1, 14 and Heb 12:8 of a relationship that believers have, the context must be the final determining factor; the context seems to preclude a reference to true believers, it could be a reference to their participation in the ministry of Jesus who was empowered by the Holy Spirit; or in the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit which obviously can be resisted without experiencing salvation.

Heb 6:5, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,

Tasted: This corresponds to what was described in Heb 2:1-4. Like Simon Magus (Acts 8:9-24), these Hebrews had not yet been regenerated in spite of all they had heard and seen. They were repeating the sins of those who died in the wilderness after seeing the miracles performed through Moses and Aaron and hearing the voice of God at Sinai.

Heb 6:6, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt

Fall away: This is equivalent to the apostasy in Heb. 3:12. The seriousness of this unfaithfulness is seen in the severe description of rejection within this verse: they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. Those who sinned against Christ in such a way have no hope of restoration or forgiveness (Heb 2:2-3; Heb 10:26-27; Heb. 12:25). The reason is that they had rejected him with full knowledge and conscious experience. With full revelation they rejected the truth, concluding the opposite of the truth about Christ, and thus had no hope of being saved. They can never have more knowledge than they had when they rejected it. They have concluded that Jesus should have been crucified, and they stand with His enemies.

There is no possibility of these verses referring to losing salvation. Those who want to make this verse mean believers can lose their salvation have to admit that it would then also say that one could never get it back again!

I hope this helps. God keep you by his truth always- Olamide Falase

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