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The Eternal Security of the Believer

Is the true believer granted everlasting life at salvation?

Can a Christian lose his salvation?

What about those who say they’re saved, but who apostatize?

The Eternal Security of the Believer

And the Heresy of the Temporary Salvation Position

By Sam Adams, Pastor

The doctrine of Eternal Security is one of the most glorious truths of the Bible.  It is one of the essential doctrines that distinguishes true Christianity from every false works-based religion in the world.  No Muslim, Hindu, Roman Catholic or adherent to any pseudo-Christian cult that denies this doctrine has any assurance whatsoever of eternal life.  The Bible says we are to have assurance of our salvation, that we are to KNOW that we have eternal life: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (I John 5:13).  Every truly born-again believer can and should have full assurance that as an adopted child of God he has been redeemed from all of his sin by the precious blood of Jesus; that he has already been irreversibly raised from spiritual death to eternal life; that through the miracle of regeneration and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit he has been given a new nature and is thereby being kept by the power of God to an inheritance “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:1-5).  

However because of a few scriptures which seem on the surface to indicate salvation can be lost or forfeited, controversy has continued for centuries with many deceived into belief in a salvation that is tenuous and transitory.  Many Christians are held in spiritual bondage and fear by the false teaching that they have inherited temporary rather than eternal life; that their salvation depends on their faithfulness to keep themselves saved rather than on the atoning power of Jesus’ blood and on God’s faithfulness to keep them saved as He has promised.  This results in a perverted view of God himself and of the believer’s standing before Him, which produces undue torment and fear for oneself or for loved ones.

One issue central to the subject involves the question, if I can lose salvation, what must I do to keep it?  The advocates of the “temporary salvation” position (herein abbreviated “TS”) typically see the believer’s obedience and holiness as a requirement enabling continued salvation rather than a fruit resulting from it, ultimately teaching a works-based salvation while denying they are doing so.  To their shame they ignore the many scriptures that clearly show that every believer’s salvation is an act of God’s will not ours, that our salvation is secured by God’s faithfulness, not by ours, and that God has promised to complete the work that He alone initiated in us! TS promoters also have a low view of the miraculous transformation that is wrought in a truly born-again child of God, whereby he is supernaturally resurrected from spiritual death to a new life, empowered to persevere in the faith from which he will never walk away (1 Pet. 1:1-5).  

One such promoter of the TS position sent me a book written by a Dr. Cathy Burns, deceptively entitled Secure In Christ, [1] which should have been titled Secure in Self, as the only security found in the book is reliance upon the faithfulness of the believer. The book is filled with absurd statements and gross contradictions such as: “Do you want to be secure in Christ? If so, then you must do God’s will and follow His commands. AS LONG AS you do so, you have perfect security” [p.14]. Unfortunately the book is all too typical of the beliefs of the many adherents of the TS persuasion. Dr. Burns presents salvation as a tenuous, transient condition we can pass in and out of every time we sin, like a table lamp on a “clap-on, clap-off” light switch!  Consider just some of Dr. Burns many hideous statements: …”if this status can be changed one time, then it can be changed again” [p.5] …”while we are in a sinful condition, we are no longer God’s child” [p.6] …”When you were born again, you received Christ as a free gift through faith, but if you commit sin, you will lose your eternal life” [p.9].

The purpose for this treatise is to “rightly divide” and harmonize the scriptures on both sides of the issue to present a balanced perspective of the truth, thereby refuting the temporary salvation position which the author sees as heresy.  Part I of the treatise will present the arguments and scriptures that prove the essential doctrine of Eternal Security.  Part II will rightly interpret the scriptures cited by its opponents to teach that true salvation can be lost.

 

Part I – Scriptural Proofs of Eternal Security

1.  We are kept by God’s power (not our own), to an incorruptible inheritance that cannot fade away and that is already reserved in heaven for us. Those are the Apostle Peter’s words, not this author’s:

1 Peter 1:1-5 – Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,  2  Elect according to the fore-knowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.  3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  4  To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,  5  Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

How could Peter have stated this any stronger?! Our eternally secured position is based on God’s calling, His promise, His power and His performance, not ours!  WHY do you suppose DR. Cathy Burns made no mention of this most important scripture ANYWHERE in her 67-page book Secure In Christ (hereinafter “SIC”) on this subject?  Perhaps it was so she could make self-trusting, self-saving statements such as this: “we are secure in Christ AS LONG AS we remain in Him. Observe that it is up to the individual to do the abiding.” (SIC, p.15).  As for me, I’d rather trust the “power of God” (1 Pet 1:5) to do the keeping!  God initiates every believer’s salvation (see pt. I.8 below), and He promises to preserve it as well:

Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ

John 6:37-39 – All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.   38  For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.  39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

Romans 14:4 – …Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.

1 Corinthians 1:7-9 – So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:  8  Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  9  God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

1 Corinthians 10:13 – There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

1Thessalonians 5:23-24 – And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.   24  Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

Our salvation is secured by God’s faithfulness, not by our own!

2.  Salvation is by grace through faith alone in the shed blood of Jesus to atone for all sin, and is not based on, nor maintained by, our own works, obedience or performance.

Romans 3:24-28 – Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:    25  Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past [“in the past” – “done away with” – see pt. I.5 below], through the forbearance of God;  26  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  27  Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  28  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.  

Romans 4:5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.

Any doctrine that adds man’s works, religious ritual, or obedient performance to faith alone in the shed blood of Jesus as a requirement to either achieve or maintain salvation is a denial of Christ’s finished work on the cross and of the sufficiency of Christ’s blood to eternally atone for our sin, and is therefore a false gospel.   If we are “saved by grace but kept by works” we are ultimately trying to be saved by works. 

As much as temporary salvation advocates try to deny it, they do ultimately teach salvation by works. The premise of Cathy Burns’ book in a nutshell is that Christ’s death atoned for sins to the point of conversion but after that we are on our own, and if we sin we can lose salvation, so it is our job to maintain salvation by obedience and confession. Speaking with a rather forked tongue, Dr. Burns claims not to teach salvation by works:  “I want to state that I fully agree that Christ has accomplished 100% of our salvation. I, in no way, believe in or teach a “works” doctrine for salvation. There is absolutely NOTHING we can add to Christ’s infinite atonement. There is NOTHING we can DO to merit eternal life. We are saved by faith, and faith ALONE” [SIC, p.17].  That sounds doctrinally correct, but in other places DR. Burns completely blows her cover:

“...we need a holy life to be able to please Him and to get to heaven [p.7].  “God promised eternal life only to those who OBEY Him and if we stop obeying Him, He must be faithful to His promise, by letting us lose our eternal life” [p.11]. If we don’t bring forth fruit…we lose our connection to Him, we have lost our eternal life and will be cast into the fire (unless we repent)…Our works are our fruits” [p.15].  “we do have security in Christ — but it is based on our obedience to Him” [p.33]. “I don’t live in fear of losing my salvation. I am secure within the Father’s hand. On the other hand [whose hand Cathy?], I know that if I were to go out and steal, commit adultery, murder, etc., I would no longer be saved…AS LONG AS we are doing the will of God we have NO WORRY about salvation and we are secure in Christ” [p.57].  “He has paid the price for our sins up to the point of our conversion but if we sin after that, the new sin must be confessed so that the blood of Christ can be applied to our heart again”  [p.37].

Quite contrary to her claim, Dr. Cathy Burns teaches salvation NOT by grace through faith alone – but by works; by continued obedience the believer’s faithfulness rather than God’s. The Bible teaches that works will result from salvation (Eph. 2:8-10) but cannot be held to facilitate it:

Titus 3:5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.

Exactly as did the Pharisees, to justify her claims to personal holiness (or to make her method of salvation more do-able) Dr. Burns conveniently redefines sin to suit her purpose:

“We do, however, need to have a proper definition of sin. I John 3:4 gives it: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for SIN IS THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE LAW.” John is not talking here about a mistake but a willful and conscious sin…Human frailties, weaknesses, and mistakes are not sins...Living without sin, however, does not mean living without mistakes, but there is a BIG DIFFERENCE between a willful sin and a mistake.   [SIC, p.45-46] 

In her list of sins that condemn to hell as opposed to “mistakes” that do not, Dr. Burns says: “The Bible clearly enumerates the sins that will keep one out of heaven in a number of places. She then quotes the various lists of fatal sins in Eph. 5:36, Gal 5:19-21, and Rev.  22:14-15, 21:8. But Cathy missed a passage.  Just as the Pharisees did, she focuses on outward sin and avoids sins of the heart and mind, which are not mere “mistakes”:

Colossians 3:5-6 – Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence [evil desires], and covetousness, which is idolatry:  6  For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience

The minimizing of sin to enable one to think he can outwardly keep the law to maintain salvation is a miserable and blasphemous form of heresy in that it replaces trust in Christ with trust in self, a heresy with which Cathy Burns’ book is riddled.  It is indeed the “leaven of the Pharisees,” one of the things that Jesus hated most. The point of the Saviour in His sermon on the mount is that man cannot keep the law.  If he could, he would not need the Saviour.  As the Apostle Paul stated clearly:

Galatians 2:16-21 – Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.   17  But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid….20  I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.   21  I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Yes, James said faith without works is dead, but James did not contradict the Apostle Paul; our works justify us before men, but not before God (James 2:18, cf. Romans 3:28 & 4:2). Attempting to retain salvation by performance and obedience is ultimately trying to earn salvation by works.  Sin is transgression of the law, but man cannot be justified before God by ceasing from sin; “for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Romans 11:6And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Again: any doctrine that adds man’s works, religious ritual, or obedient performance to faith alone in the blood of Jesus as a requirement to either achieve or maintain salvation is a denial of Christ’s finished work on the cross and is therefore a false gospel.  It is exactly what Jude (v.11) refers to as the “way of Cain,” as Cain rejected the blood sacrifice God had prescribed. Works result from salvation (Eph. 2:8-10) but cannot be held to facilitate it.

Romans 4:5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

John 6:28-29 – Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?  29  Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.

 3.  When we receive Christ as Savior and are truly “born-again” we become the immediate recipients and possessors of eternal life; we have already “passed from death unto life.”

John 5:24 – “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”    

That says, “hath everlasting life” – already has – past tense – it is already a done deal.

Ephesians 2:1-10And you hath he quickened [(i.e., resurrected)], who were dead in trespasses and sins…But God…even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus…

We werealready – raised from spiritual death to spiritual life; that life is eternal, not temporary:

John 6:47 – Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.

I John 5:13 – These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…

We are to know – to have a secured assurance – of a salvation that is already ours!  In Romans 8:30 the salvation process is again seen in the past tense:  

Romans 8:30 – Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

God sees our salvation as a done deal, as already decreed and accomplished.  Note at this verse: our eternal security is inseparably tied to the doctrine of sovereign election (see pt. I.8(a-c) below & 1 Pet. 1:2-5 above).

4.  Jesus died on the cross to atone for all our sin.

I John 1:7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, [in the truth] we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

As far as eternal salvation is concerned, ALL of our sins are atoned for. Yes Dorothy, that means in toto; that includes past, present and future sins!  The infinitely redeeming power of Christ’s blood is the reason the author despises the Calvinist term “limited atonement.”  To their shame TS advocates take a heretical view of Christ’s blood atonement that is similar to Roman Catholic dogma, in that they teach the atonement was limited and temporal rather than infinite and eternal. As Dr. Cathy says: “He has paid the price for our sins up to the point of our conversion but if we sin after that, the new sin must be confessed so that the blood of Christ can be applied to our heart again”  [SIC, p.37]. Dr. Cathy says she’s read her Bible 23 times and there is not one verse to support the notion that Christ’s death atoned even for future sin, but Ms. Burns again chose to ignore (or avoid) some more very important scriptures:

Hebrews 9:12-15 – Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us….  15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

We have obtained eternal redemption that transcends the boundaries of time. Christ’s eternal redemption (v. 12) secures our eternal inheritance (v. 15).  Note: from the point in time 2,000 years ago when Jesus died for our sins, ALL of our sins were in the future!  Furthermore:

Hebrews 10:9-17 – Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God…  [(Notice: compare this verse to John 6:38-39!)]  10  By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all….12  But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God…14   For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified…   17  And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

Notice:  By Jesus’ one-time sacrifice we are perfected forever (v. 14)We are sanctified (set apart) by God’s will (v. 10), not by our own obedience.  Notice in v. 17 that our sins are in the past, which is the meaning in Rom. 3:25:

Romans 3:25Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past

sins that are past” – means sins that have been done away with.  All our sins have been done away with and in that sense are in the past. Christ’s atonement looked back to O.T. saints as well as forward to saints to come (John 17:20); it was an eternal propitiation (satisfaction) for the sins of all who would “put their trust in Him” (Heb. 9-10; Psalm 2:12). Those that foolishly say this interpretation would give us license to sin are unstable and unbalanced, failing to take into account the whole counsel of God (Romans 6, 1 John 3, Gal. 5:21, 1 Cor. 6:9, etc.).  Those that attempt to justify unrepentant sin have neither seen Him nor known Him (1 John 3:6).  The atonement of Christ purchased our redemption for life eternal (Eph. 4:30), but we do still reap temporary consequences or the Father’s chastening in this world for unrepentant sin. When we are chastened God deals with us as with sons (Heb. 12:6-8), not as with servants or strangers (see pt. 7 below).

5.  Salvation goes beyond positional justification to practical regeneration; it is a miraculous act of God that transforms each child of God into a new creature indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Contrary to the low view of salvation held by TS adherents, true Biblical salvation goes well beyond the positional declaration of forgiveness of sin and imputation of Christ’s righteousness, as marvelous as that is in itself; our salvation is not only positional but it is in power as well!  EVERY truly born-again believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9, Ac. 2:39) and is thereby a “new creature” with a new nature, enabled to live new life:

2 Corinthians 5:17Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

A truly born-again child of God is irreversibly resurrected from spiritual death to spiritual life:

Ephesians 2:1-7 – And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;   2  Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world…and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.   4  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,   5  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)   6  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:   7  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

Promoters of temporary salvation ignorantly deny the regenerating act of God in conversion and would have us believe old things are NOT passed away, and that we can by an act of our will go back to being the former creature, and that we can translate ourselves back into the kingdom from which we were translated not by a mere decision on our part but by the miraculous act of God the Father:

Colossians 1:11-14 – Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;  12  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:  13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:  14  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins

By a miraculous act of God we have been translated into his kingdom; this world is no longer our home and Jesus says in John 17:14-16 that we are no more of this world than He is!  We are given new spiritual eyesight (1 Cor. 2:14-16, 2 Cor. 4:3-4) and a new nature (2 Pet. 1:3-4).  A truly born-again child of God will bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit dwelling within him, including a love of Jesus (John 8:42), submission to His word (John 8:31-32, 17:14-19), love of fellow Christians (John 13:34-35, 1 John 3:14-16), and hatred of sin (1 John 3:1-9).  We are not glorified yet, and we do still continue to battle the old nature (Rom. 7:15-25), but as a new creature by the power of the indwelling Spirit a truly born-again child of God will never abandon the faith (1 John 2:19)!  This is exactly what Peter meant when he said we are “kept by the power of God” to an incorruptible salvation (1 Pet. 1:1-5). 

6.  We Are Sealed by the Holy Spirit as a promise that God will complete what he started.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God;   22  Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

Ephesians 1:13-14 – In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,    14   Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 4:30And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

The seal of the Holy Spirit is presented as an earnest, which is a term still in use today for a non-refundable deposit or down-payment, which Paul applied to the gift of the Holy Spirit as a non-refundable deposit or guarantee that God will complete what He started when He saved us (Philippians 1:6).  We are sealed forever, unto the day of our redemption.  What a wonderful truth!

Again however, it is a truth the TS advocates deny. Speaking of blasphemy, DR. Cathy Burns does this by getting her seals crossed and by literally changing the seal of the Holy Spirit to the seal of good works!  She says:

We do receive eternal life when we get saved, but this is just an earnest Payment which can be forfeited….What is the seal of God? “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are His. And, Let EVERY ONE that nameth the name of Christ DEPART FROM INIQUITY” (II Timothy 2:19). The seal of God is that we DEPART FROM INIQUITY. If we turn again to iniquity, the seal is broken. (SIC, p.55). 

Having converted the seal of the Holy Spirit to the seal of our own departure from iniquity, she continues: 

“This seal (according to Ephesians 1:13) is just the earnest payment. When you go to purchase a home, you give a down payment (earnest or security) on it. You now own that home for the time being. It’s yours. You live in it and enjoy it and keep the payments up-to-date. However, if you fail to pay your 30 year mortgage payments after 28 years of trustworthiness, your home will be repossessed. It doesn’t matter that you have paid faithfully all those years. All that counts is that you are not now fulfilling your part of the bargain. The home is then forfeited due to your lack of faithfulness to the commitment.” (SIC, p.56). 

Did you read that?  “DR.” Cathy Burns has turned the truth of God’s word upside-down, changing the obligation secured in Eph. 1:13-14 from God’s performance to ours, to say if we do not keep up the payments we lose salvation!  Hey Cathy: The earnest is the Holy Spirit!  We are the purchased possession! If God fails to close the deal He looses His earnest payment!  God will not let that happen Cathy.   Hopefully it is clear by now to the reader that Dr. Cathy Burns is a flaming heretic. This is without doubt some of the worst twisting of scripture and theological buffoonery ever encountered by this author, bordering dangerously on blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s point: God gives us His Holy Spirit as a down-payment, guaranteeing His many promises to lose none of those whom he draws to Christ (John 6:37-39; 1 Cor. 1:7-9, etc.).

7.  Our adoption as the children of God is an irreversible act of God’s will.

Ephesians 1:5-6 – Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,    6         To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.

I John 3:1-2 – Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.  2  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him

Galatians 4:6-7 – And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.   7  Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

One of the great truths of the gospel is that when we receive Christ as Savior and are born again, we are adopted into God’s family, being formerly the children of the devil and God’s enemies (Rom. 5:10, Eph. 2:2).   It is very significant that after our adoption into God’s family He deals with us as sons and not as bastards. God chastens his children; he never casts them off:

Romans 11:29 – For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

Hebrews 12:6-8 – For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.   7  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  8  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

As in the parable of the prodigal son, sin separates us from our Father in the sense that we lose fellowship with Him for a time but we never cease to be sons or lose eternal salvation.  God deals with us as sons; He brings conviction to drive us to repentance; if we continue in sin He works through various means to chasten us to restore us to fellowship. The chastening hand of God can be severe, and in some instances may result in God striking a believer down and taking them home early, but will never result in loss of salvation. (Note: See part II.A below for additional notes on chastening vs. loss of salvation) 

8.  It is God who intervenes in every believer’s life to bring him to repentance and draw him to salvation, and God has promised to complete the work that He alone initiated.

An unavoidable issue central to this discussion is whether a man’s salvation is determined by his own “choice” or free will, or is instead the result of a sovereign act of God; i.e., do we choose God or does He choose us?  Those that conclude salvation can be lost ignore and avoid the many scriptures showing that a man’s salvation is not the result of a man’s mere choice or decision, but by God’s sovereign will, His intervention and His grace of divine enablement.  

a.  Man does not seek God to be saved; God seeks man to save him. No man comes to God on his own initiative; it is God that draws us to salvation:

John 6:44 – No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:65 – And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.                                             

God is the seeker, not man (Rom. 3:11).  Since he sought us out and saved us while we were yet sinners, when we were his enemies and still at war with Him, how much more will he endeavor to keep us saved! (Rom. 5:10)

b.  Salvation is more a matter of God’s will than of man’s will. While many Christians refuse to accept this doctrine, we did not choose God; He chose us:

John 15:16 – 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: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

John 1:13 – …Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Ephesians 1:4-11 – According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world… 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, ….9  Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself  …11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will

Romans 8:29-31 – For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  
30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.  [its a done deal]
[see also Rom. 9:6-25, 2 Thes. 2:13-14, Phillip. 2:13, etc.]

This is an area of doctrine that requires balance and willingness to simply believe what God has declared. Due to the fall of Adam men are spiritually dead, unable to come to Christ or to repentance on their own (John 6:44, Eph. 2:1).  Left to his own choice man will always choose sin and death (Rom. 3:10 &f). Therefore God intervenes to quicken and save his “elect,” which means His “chosen.” Those of the TS persuasion completely ignore and avoid this entire area of wonderful doctrine to their utter shame and embarrassment. Rather than resisting this great truth, Christians should rest and rejoice in it!

c.  What God started, God promises to complete

Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ

God has promised to complete the work that He alone initiated.  (See again the scriptures cited in pt. 1 on p. 2). What a wonderful truth!  The doctrine that true salvation can be lost or abandoned is a denial of the faithfulness of God to keep His promises by keeping those whom He has saved by His grace and in that sense is an attack on God’s character itself. 

9.  Jesus’ ongoing ministry as our faithful High Priest further guarantees our eternal security. Not only did Jesus die for all our sins, but now as our High Priest he continues to intercede for us before the Father as our advocate:

Romans 5:9-10 – Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Romans 8:34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Hebrews 7:25 – Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 10:19-22 – Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,   20  By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;   21  And having an high priest over the house of God;   22  Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23     Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised)  [amen!]

CONCLUSION:  The Lord Jesus shed His blood and died to save us, lives to keep us saved, has promised to lose none, and is currently operating as our faithful high priest to intercede for us when we fall.  We were chosen by God, called by God, born-again and sealed by God and are “kept by the power of God” unto a salvation and an inheritance “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-5).  How can a believer who understands these wonderful truths not have absolute assurance of an eternally secure salvation? 

 

Part II – Dealing With Problem Passages

There are some scriptures that TS promoters misinterpret to teach that true salvation can be lost, in ignorance of (and contradiction to) those cited above that clearly teach the opposite. There are no contradictions in scripture.  Apparent contradictions always result from failing to “rightly divide” the word of truth.  One aspect of rightly dividing the word is walking in balance, taking the whole counsel of God into account.  Too many Christians (like Dr. Cathy Burns for vivid example) focus only on the scriptures that seem to support their agenda to the exclusion of those that disprove what they prefer to believe, which leads to gross misinterpretation of scriptures cited.  In addition to its immediate context, a scripture passage must be interpreted in the context of the entire Bible, in light of the whole counsel of God and clearly established doctrines, which an isolated passage cannot be held to contradict.  The obscure must be interpreted in light of the obvious.  Some of the scriptures cited to teach that salvation can be lost may be explained as follows.

A.  Consequences for Believers’ Disobedience – Chastening vs. Loss of Eternal Life

TS promoters cite passages such as John 15:1-6, Matthew 6:14-15, Matthew 18:35 and James 2:13 (if we do not forgive others God will not forgive us) to support their erroneous conclusion that true salvation can be lost.  In light of the foregoing arguments and understanding that there are no contradictions in scripture, all such scriptures warning of consequences for believers continuing in sin (if indeed they apply to true believers), can only be clear warnings of God’s chastening of His children, but never of casting them off in denial of eternal salvation.  If I fail or refuse to forgive my brother of some grievance when I have been forgiven of so much, I may well have the chastening hand of my Father to look forward to.

Hebrews 12:6-8For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.   7  If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?   8  But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

As mentioned in Pt. I.7 above, God’s chastening may at times include the suffering of severe consequences in this life, and may carry over into the millennial kingdom age as well. Chastening may initially involve the immediate, temporary loss of (1) God’s Presence – Isaiah 59:1-2 & 1 Pet. 3:7; (2) God’s Provision – Matt. 6:33,  Mal. 3:8, 2 Cor. 9:6-7; and (3) God’s Protection – Prov. 16:7.  God may well turn us over to our enemies or to sickness to chasten us as He did to Israel throughout the Old Testament. The chastening hand of God can sometimes be very severe, and in some instances may actually result in God striking a believer down and taking them home early.  The account of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5 is a “striking” example. Another example is Paul’s warning to the believers at Corinth who failed to properly discern the Lord’s body (the local church), and who wrongly thought they could enjoy fellowship with the Lord Jesus while being divisive in His local body the church:

1 Corinthians 11:30-31 – For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.   31  For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

Consider also the example of the man at Corinth who was caught up in a heinous, unrepentant sin of incest, for which Paul commanded the church to take drastic action:
1 Corinthians 5:3-5 – For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,   4  In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,   5  To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

This example serves as a rather serious warning of severe consequences for one who refuses to “hear the church” as the Lord Jesus commanded in Matt. 18:17.  [Side-note from both of the above examples: a Christian cannot be in fellowship with the Lord Jesus while he is out of fellowship with Christ’s body, the local church.  Putting the man out of the church equated with turning him over to Satan (notice, this was NOT to loss of salvation). Remaining under the authority of a local church offers protection from the enemy not afforded to “lone-ranger” Christians who foolishly refuse to affiliate with and place themselves under that authority (Matt. 16:18).]

God’s chastening of believers may as well carry over into the millennial kingdom age, not only to loss of kingdom rewards (1 Cor. 3:13-15) but also to possible chastisement as well.  It seems clear that Matt. 25:30 and Luke 12:47-48 apply to believers.  Some carry this concept to excess, but notice that Paul’s statement in 2 Cor. 5:11, “knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” was in reference to the judgment seat of Christ (of believers), not final judgment of the lost (Rev. 20:11-15).  It is the author’s opinion that for some unrepentant Christians the judgment seat of Christ will be a far more humbling experience than they thought it would be.

Every good father trains his children to fear the rod; even so, every child of God ought to fear God’s chastening hand and any loss of intimate closeness with Him, while knowing that when we are chastened it is restore us to fellowship, not to restore lost salvation or sonship. Chastening may be severe, but will never include eternal condemnation (John 5:24).  All passages that warn of consequences for believers’ sins must be seen in this light.  Each passage cited must be carefully interpreted as in many instances it is not believers in view but false disciples and make-believers (Matt. 7:22-23, etc.).

B.  Scriptures commonly misinterpreted to teach that true salvation can be lost

There are some scripture passages which, if one fails to rightly divide God’s word, can be misinterpreted to teach that a person who was once saved can turn from the faith and either lose or “walk away” from salvation. Again, there are no contradictions in scripture.   The teaching of scripture is clear that anyone who appears or professes to have been saved and later “abandons the faith” was never truly “born again” or saved to begin with:

I John 2:19They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Following are the scriptures most often cited and misinterpreted to teach true salvation can be lost, and the proper interpretation of each to the contrary:

1.  Hebrews 6:4-6 – For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,    5   And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,  6  If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

Most TS advocates quickly cite this passage to support their position, but they do so to their shame since it actually shows it is impossible to lose salvation. Notice: verse 6 teaches that it is impossible for those in view to be restored or renewed to repentance.  There are three main views of this much-debated passage, views a & b being incorrect:

a.  The passage refers to false disciples who were never truly saved. According to this view the experiences in v. 4-5 are not those of true conversion. This interpretation is incorrect because the passage would teach the impossibility of those in view to repent, receive Christ and be saved to begin with, contrary to 2 Pet. 3:9, 1 Tim 3:4, et. al. Also, verses 4-5 do clearly describe evidence of true conversion (“tasted” – same word used in 2:9 of Christ’s death).

b.  The passage refers to the loss of salvation of once-saved believers. This interpretation is incorrect as the passage would not only contradict all scriptures cited above teaching the exact opposite, but would also then teach the impossibility of backsliders being restored, which no TS advocate is even willing to accept. Perhaps that is why this is another passage Dr. Cathy Burns chose to completely ignore, making no mention of whatsoever in her book!  Dr. Cathy needs to study this passage!  Here’s why:

c.  The passage refers to immature Christians who need to grow up, recognize the infinite sufficiency of Christ’s one-time sacrifice, and move on to maturity. This is the correct interpretation as is clear from the context in 5:11 and following. Verse 6 says a person cannot lose salvation and then be restored.  The passage actually teaches the impossibility of losing salvation because of the impossibility of restoration!  The writer to the Hebrews is making a hypothetical argument; i.e., If it was possible to lose salvation it would be then be impossible to be restored to repentance, because Christ would have to be crucified afreshNotice that this passage affirms the eternal nature of the atonement of Christ which was done once for all time, destroying the TS and Catholic position that Christ’s atonement was only for sins of the past!  The belief that one can lose salvation and then get “re-saved” is an abominable belief that crucifies the son of God afresh.

The point of this passage is that backsliders cannot lose salvation and later be restored. They do not need to be continually re-baptized as some want to do (v.1-2).  Those who fall back into sin after salvation need to repent, move on to maturity & begin to produce some lasting fruit (v. 7-10)What a great passage of scripture this is!

2.  1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This passage is cited by some to propagate the heresy that if we die in unconfessed sin we are lost. As Cathy Burns argues in her book: “Christ’s forgiveness for our sins is attained through our confession. If we do not confess, we are not forgiven. [p.6]  ….He has paid the price for our sins up to the point of our conversion but if we sin after that, the new sin must be confessed so that the blood of Christ can be applied to our heart again.”  [p.37]

As discussed earlier (see pt. I.4 above) Christ’s death atoned for ALL sin; past, present and future!  “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14)Dr. Cathy’s formula for expiation of sins after conversion is closely akin to the Catholic belief of transubstantiation; wherein Christ must be offered over and over and is purportedly re-sacrificed each time the mass is said!  Cathy has a slightly different formula but the concept is the same.  She again treads on thin ice here as well, in that Hebrews 6:4-6 discussed above warns of this abominable belief in attempting to limit the infinite power of the atonement of Christ, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”  Again, from Hebrews 6: the belief that one can lose salvation and get resaved is an abominable belief that crucifies the son of God afresh.  While Dr. Cathy says, “You will not find ONE VERSE that says that all past, present, and future sins are forgiven when we get saved.” (SIC, p. 36), and while she quoted 1 John 1:9 in full four times in her book, NOT ONE TIME did she quote the verse in context

I John 1:7-9 – But if we walk .in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.  
8  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 
9  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Notice that verse 8 undoes DR. Burns’ claim to sinlessness via her redefinition of sin.  Verse 7 says ALL SIN is cleansed Dr. Burns!  That means past, present and future sins. That is IF we are walking in the light (of Christ’s unlimited atonement). “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).             Unconfessed sin does not condemn a Christian to hell.  The fact is that all God’s children have unconfessed sin in their lives, both sins of commission that the believer justifies or denies to be sin, and sins of omission as well:  

James 4:17 – to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin

If unconfessed sin condemned believers to hell, none would be saved.  A believer’s unrepentant sin is another matter, but even that leads to chastisement rather than loss of salvation, and if it is not dealt with prior to a believer’s death it may lead to loss of reward and possible millennial kingdom chastisement (see Pt. II.A above), but not to loss of eternal salvation.  The author continues on an ongoing basis to confess his sins to the Lord, NOT to retain salvation, but to avoid the misery of the loss of one moment of fellowship with his Lord. But he also enjoys the blessed assurance of knowing if there are some sins he missed, those sins are under the blood of Jesus as well, hallelujah. 

3.  Galatians 5:4 – Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

“[Y]e are fallen from grace” – not that individual believers had fallen from the salvation they once possessed, but that the church had fallen from sound doctrine and was allowing the false doctrines of the Judaizers to be taught. As a result some who attempted to be saved by the deeds of the law fell short of the doctrine of grace and could not be saved by Christ (see context).  The two systems of grace and works cannot be united:

Romans 11:6 – And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Galatians 5:4 does not prove that any of the Galatians had been saved and then “fell from grace” to lose salvation, but that some were trying to mix grace with works for salvation, which is impossible.  There are many confused Christians today as well (like Dr. Cathy Burns) who do the same thing, who because they are trusting in their own works rather than in Christ are either not truly saved, or who may be saved but due to bad teaching do not understand how truly secure they are in Christ, who may also be said to have “fallen from grace” – thinking they have to keep themselves saved rather than trusting in the faithfulness of Christ to keep them in his hand. 

4.  2 Peter 2:20-22 – For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.  21  For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.  22  But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

These verses cannot be properly interpreted apart from their context. DR. Cathy Burns cites this passage in her book (SIC) but completely ignores this context and fails to point out that the “they” Peter refers to in v. 20 are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are false teachers teaching damnable heresy (v.1) giving true believers a bad name (v.2) making merchandise of true believers through deceit (v.3), are unsaved (“unjust” v.9), cannot cease from sin (v.14) and as “wells without water” never evidenced true salvation to begin with! To whatever extent they might have “escaped the pollutions of the world,” they knew the facts of the gospel as they’d been taught but fell short of receiving the truth that they might be saved (2 Thes. 2:12). They are as the “many” make-believers Jesus described in Matt. 7:22-23 who claim to be saved and who knew about Jesus, but who never truly knew the Saviour personally, who were never truly born-again and who never possessed true salvation.  A pig may be bathed and perhaps even nicely dressed, but it still remains a pig. 

5.  John 15:1-6 – I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  2  Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.   3  Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.  4  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.   5  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.   6  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.

v. 2 – “taketh away” – not to loss of salvation, but to severe chastening even to physical death of fruitless Christians. See 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 & 11:30-32, & pt. II.A above.

v. 6 – “If a man abide not in me… they are burned” – This refers to the burning judgment of the worthless works of ill-motivated Christians at the judgment seat of Christ:

1 Corinthians 3:15 – If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

An alternative interpretation of v.6 is that it refers to make-believers who professed to be in the faith but were never truly born-again or in Christ to begin with:

Matthew 7:22-23 – Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  23  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The Lord Jesus did not contradict himself in this passage (compare with John 15:16 and 6:37-39).  On that basis alone the passage cannot refer to loss of eternal salvation.  

6.  Romans 11:21-22 – Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.  20  Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:   21  For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.   22  Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

Paul is not addressing the salvation of individual Christians in this passage.  The context of the entire section of Romans including chapters 10-11 shows that Paul is addressing the state of Gentiles in general in relation to national Israel.  Individual salvation or loss thereof is not the subject.  Individual Jews were still being saved then and still are today.  If Paul was addressing individual salvation, being “cut off” (v. 22) could only be a reference to extreme chastening, not to loss of salvation. But that is not Paul’s point; he is warning against Gentile pride and racism, and the tendency to judge Israel since their house was left unto them desolate (Matt. 23;38) and God’s focus had turned aside from national Israel to offering salvation to the Gentiles.  Paul makes it very clear, contrary to the errant beliefs of today’s Amillennial and Postmil preterists, that at some future day that will again be reversed (see v. 25, Luke 21:24).  Much to the chagrin of the preterists, God still has a plan for restoration of national Israel.   

7.  1 Timothy 4:1 – Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.

This scripture and other similar passages such as Matt. 24:10, 24 and 2 Thes. 2:3 are cited to prove that some who were once saved will depart from the faith to the loss of salvation, saying a person cannot “depart” from a faith he never had.  This is a misuse of this passage, as the type of departure Paul is warning of in this verse and following is not of individual Christians abandoning the faith altogether, but of general apostasy and false doctrines creeping into the church such as the heresies brought in by pagan Rome.  Any acceptance of false doctrine is a departure from the true faith, not necessarily to loss of individual salvation. We are living in a day of flagrant, blatant apostasy when many churches themselves have abandoned the true faith and the teaching of doctrinal truth in favor of entertainment programs, and are filled with psuedo-Christian make-believers who claim to be saved but have never even heard the true gospel.  This is the type of departure Paul is warning of, not of individual Christians departing from the faith to loss of salvation.

8.  Hebrews 10:26-29 – For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,   27  But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.  28  He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:  29  Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

Though this passage appears on the surface to say that all willful sin committed after conversion condemns a believer to hell, that cannot be the case, because as with Heb. 6:4-6, restoration is not an option here: “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.”  The only sin one can commit whereby there is “no more sacrifice for sins” is to reject Christ’s sacrifice.  The ultimate willful sin which is clearly the sin in view in this passage is the sin of unbelief  to the point of ultimate rejection of the gospel.  This is in perfect harmony with the context of the entire book of Hebrews (see also 3:12, 3:19, 4:6, 4:11).  To whatever extent the “he” in v. 29 was sanctified, it did not include conversion to true salvation. Perhaps a feigned profession of faith was accepted by the church, he was baptized, participated in the Lord’s Supper and sat under the teaching of the word of God.  To that extent and in that sense he may have been sanctified, but he never truly knew the Saviour or believed “to the saving of the soul” (see v. 39).  The point of the passage is that if one willfully refuses to believe the gospel and truly receive Christ after hearing the truth, their only option is damnation.    

9.  Revelation 3:5 – He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

While some cite this verse to say born-again believers’ names can be blotted out of the book of life, it is noteworthy and significant that the promise is in this verse is NOT to be blotted out. Contrary to DR. Burns false statement that Names are written into the Lamb’s book of life when a person accepts Christ as his or her personal Savior” (SIC p.17), the Bible says they were written therein “from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8, 17:8). Nowhere does the New Testament teach that the names of true believers in Christ or those who were once saved will be blotted out from The Book of Life. Note also that God has several books (Dan. 7:10, Rev. 20:12); in Exodus 32:32-33 Moses did not volunteer to go to eternal torment in hell; in his frustration he asked to be blotted out of the “Book of the Living” (Psalm 69:28) or to be removed from the earth by physical death.  Revelation 22:19 is a very stern warning not to attempt to deceive God’s people by publishing perverted, incomplete versions of God’s word, something no true child of God would do.  No one who would do such a thing ever had a part either in the Book of Life nor to the tree of life. 

C.  Exhortations to Continue in the Faith

There are many scriptures in the New Testament where believers are exhorted to “continue” in the faith, to “stand fast,” and to “faint not,” etc. which are cited by TS promoters to teach salvation may be lost.  All such exhortations to continue in the faith, if directed to believers, are exhortations to be fruitful Christians and to be careful not to succumb to Satan’s temptations; not to retain salvation, but so as not to lose reward or suffer chastening:

Acts 13:43Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.

Acts 14:22Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 16:13Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

Galatians 6:9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

1 Thes. 3:8For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.

1 Timothy 4:16Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.    [save from chastening or loss of reward, not from hell]

2 Timothy 3:14But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them

None of the above scriptures teach true believers can lose salvation; they are great exhortations to continued fruitful Christian living, as all good preachers should exhort their congregations at every meeting. On the other hand, many warnings in the New Testament are of false professors and make-believers who did not believe to the point of true conversion. For instance Paul’s oft-repeated fear that he had run in vain was that there were some professors in the churches who were not truly converted, as the only belief “in vain” is feigned or faked belief:

1 Corinthians 15:2 – By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

2 Corinthians 6:1We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

Galatians 4:11 – I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

1Thes. 3:5For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.

Philippians 2:16Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

Colossians 1:21-23 – And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled   22  In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:  23  If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.

These scriptures do not teach true salvation can be lost. Again, the Lord Jesus warned of “many” (Matt. 7:22-23) who will stand before Him one day thinking they were saved but whom do not possess true salvation and who were never truly born-again.  Any professing believer who fails to continue in the faith to the end will reveal himself to have been a make-believer, or one who did not believe “to the saving of the soul.”  The Bible clearly teaches that truly born-again believers in Christ are eternally secure in Him, but offers NO security to the make-believer:

I John 2:19 – They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

Hebrews 10:38-39 – Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.  39  But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

 

Conclusion

The Bible clearly teaches the glorious doctrine of the eternal security of the believer. God is faithful and has promised to complete the work that He alone initiated.  Any doctrine that true salvation can be lost or abandoned is a denial of the faithfulness of God to keep His promises to keep those whom He has saved, and any doctrine that adds man’s works, obedience or religious ritual to faith alone in the blood of Jesus as a requirement to either achieve or maintain salvation is a denial of Christ’s finished work on the cross, is a denial of the sufficiency of His blood to atone for our sin, and is therefore a false gospel of salvation by works. Obedience accompanies salvation without enabling it (Eph. 2:8-10).

On the other hand the Bible offers no security to the make-believer. A person who views Christ’s atonement as a license to sin “hath not seen him, neither known him.” No truly born-again believer will take the doctrine of Eternal Security as a license to sin; we have been delivered from the power of sin and we never sin without choosing to do so. Yet on the other hand perfection has not yet come, and until future glorification every believer continues to sin, even including Dr. Cathy Burns (even if its just lying to cover up her sins).  However, one who believes that sin in the life of a born-again believer causes loss of salvation and condemns him to hell understands neither the power of the blood of Christ nor the faithfulness of our wonderful Saviour who promises to lose none of His own.

1 Peter 1:3-5 – Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

John 6:39 – And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.

1Thessalonians 5:23-24 – And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

Hallelujah, & Amen.

[1] Dr. Cathy Burns, SECURE IN CHRIST  (Sharing, 1998)
Digital Edition by: The Voice of the Nazarene, Inc., D.E. © 2000

 

Bro. Sam Adams •  Pastor, Independence Baptist Church •  Ocala, Florida

Document (PDF)

The Eternal Security of the Believer
By Sam Adams, Pastor

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