STRAIGHT TALK ON ETERNAL SECURITY
(Part 2 of 3)
by Rev. Jeff Hagan, (ThD), MA, MCC
The first reason to believe in eternal security is because Salvation is of the Lord. We looked at that in the previous article and, with an open mind, discussed asking God to change our thinking on the issue if needed. The goal for any teacher, or preacher, should not be trying to make sure they’ve always been right, but instead to make sure they presently are right. So, again, I ask you to hear me out before you pass judgment on me or this doctrine. Don’t be like a programmed machine, investigate Scripture and decide for yourself.
A second reason to believe in eternal security is the language found in the following passage:
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they
follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of
my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them
out of my Father’s hand (John 10:27-29, NIV).
“Never” and “no one” (“no one” used twice). “Never perish…,” and “no one” can snatch us out of Jesus’ or the Father’s hand. I don’t know about you, but these are a few words I’m thankful are in this passage.
If language means anything at all, and if God does not have a vocabulary problem, you can’t come away from this passage without saying, “I’m not only saved, I’m secure in that salvation.” The English is clear, but if we were Greek, and spoke the language that the New Testament was originally written in, it would be even clearer. Greek is much more complex and specific than English. That’s why I always use study tools and study helps when I’m tackling the Greek meaning of things in Scripture. So, in the Greek John 10:28-29 becomes even clearer.
“Give” means freely bestowed, impossible to earn. When God saved you He gave you the gift of eternal life. If you have to work for something then it’s not a gift.
Look at it like this: Let’s say I have a friend named Larry and Larry’s air-conditioner breaks down (let’s put Larry in Tucson, Arizona to make it more dramatic). So, I hear about the situation and find a new one that is top of the line. It’s got all the latest features. I order it and have it shipped by delivery truck to Larry’s house. He writes me a thank you note and is very happy. A couple weeks later Larry checks his mail and a thick package has arrived in his mailbox. He opens it up and it’s from a finance company and it’s a payment book for the air-conditioner. So, Larry calls me, “Hello, Jeff. The payment book for the air-conditioner was accidentally sent to my address.” And I respond, “That wasn’t a mistake, I made the down payment, now it’s up to you to make the monthly payments.”
Now, would that be a gift? Of course not.
When it comes to the gift of salvation, Jesus not only made the down payment, or the earnest payment, He also makes all of the monthly payments. To think anything else insults the high price He paid on the cross.
Let’s switch it around now. Larry suddenly comes into a lot of money, he wins the lottery or something, and he goes out and buys me a Ferrari. He says to me, “Jeff, you really mean a lot to me. I want you to have this, it’s yours.” And I say, “That’s beautiful, it’s so sleek, I love it, but it’s too much.” He responds, “No, nothings too much for you.” I reply back, “What do you want for it?” He states that there is no catch, he swears there are no strings attached. I can’t help but to ask, “How much did you pay for this?” “$325,00.00” he says. “Wow, I can’t accept this” automatically emits from my mouth. But Larry demands, “No, Jeff, really, it’s yours.” So then I say, “Let me do something to go towards it, I just don’t feel right” and I reach into my pocket and bull out a dollar bill and give it to him. Then, I see you at the gas station and you say, “Looking good. Nice wheels. Where did you get that sweet ride?” And I reply, “Oh, Larry and I bought it.”
What an absolute and complete insult to Larry! And to think there’s anything you can do to keep your salvation after God gave it to you as a gift, that is an absolute and complete insult to God!
Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace…it is the gift of God,” and Romans 6:23, “For the wages…but the gift of God…” Are you getting the picture?
“Eternal” life. Eternal means eternal, it’s that simple. Is God in need of a vocabulary lesson? Did He choose the wrong word? No, of course not. In the Greek it means, “without end, never to cease, everlasting.”
The Bible nowhere says you will receive eternal life only when you die, instead, it says that you have it right now. “He who believes…has eternal/everlasting life.” Salvation here is in the present tense.
Ephesians 2, “we are sitting with God in the heavens” – present tense. God doesn’t have a sense of time, he doesn’t need it. Time is a human concept. Remember, He is called the great I AM. We are already there in God’s mindset.
It’s not 30 day life, it’s not 20 year life, or until you sin life, it’s eternal life…and if it doesn’t last forever, it wasn’t eternal then, was it? And if it doesn’t last forever, then God is a liar, or has a very poor grasp on vocabulary, and with no disrespect intended, I could plop these verses down in front of God if I were to lose my salvation and have a solid case against Him. “Why did you lie to me God? I didn’t see any fine print.”
By the way, the word eternal here is the exact same Greek word used to describe our “eternal” God. Think about that for a minute. Your salvation is as eternal as God is. Your salvation will stop it’s existence when God stops His existence…IMPOSSIBLE!
Let’s move on to, “Never”perish. In the Greek “never” is actually a combination of words which we condensed into one word. In Greek it means, “absolutely not, not at all, by no means, under no circumstances” can one lose their salvation.
Some might be thinking, “Yeah, but we can take ourselves out of His (God and/or Jesus) hand.” I disagree. It means “under no circumstances” will they (we) perish.
This reminds me of Romans 8. Let’s look at that passage for a minute:
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present
or the future, nor all powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be
able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:38-39, NIV).
I think that pretty much clears it up. We, ourselves, would surely be included in this description from Paul.
The second “no one,” found in verse 28, actually reads “neither shall any pluck them out…” in the Greek. Any devil, demon, sin, beast, man, circumstance…we are safe from all of these and more.
“Snatch” or “pluck” means to seize or capture. If someone is trying to take it, then the question comes up, “who is guarding it?”
I use to work up on Capitol Hill in Seattle. It was in a very shady neighborhood, I could share some stories… but I won’t. I worked as security for a large, fancy retirement complex. Every once in a while I would check the parking lot to make sure my car was still there. Each time I’d check the lot and everything was okay I felt a sense of relief, because in this neighborhood if you left your car unattended long enough they’d steal your paint job. I was security there, I was the one guarding there.
But, when it comes to salvation, who’s guarding it? It’s not me, and it’s not you.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion
until the day of Christ Jesus (NIV).
2 Timothy 1:12b:
…because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he [not us] is able to guard
what I have entrusted to him for that day (NIV).
…has given them [us] to me [Jesus]…(NIV).
God commissioned Jesus to finish the job. Jesus Christ is perfectly capable of finishing what He starts. In fact, “It is finished” is what Christ said as He died on the cross.
Let’s move on to another word, “Grace.” It’s an incredible word that is closely related to “give” and “gift.” Grace is a gift God gives to those who are undeserving, not those who are somehow good enough. Grace is often times misunderstood.
Many of those who reject eternal security cling to one small phrase in Galatians:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be
burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Mark my word! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves
be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all…You who are trying to be justified by law
have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace (Gal. 5:1-2, 4, NIV).
What exactly does it mean to fall from grace? Well, I’ll tell you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean losing your salvation. In the context of this passage it means to miss the point of grace by trying to fulfill the law instead of walking in freedom.
There are only two possibilities for those who appear to have “fallen”:
First, they were never saved in the first place. Some refer to this as “Profession without possession.” Anyone can walk down an isle and “say” they are saved, or that they believe. Anyone can get baptized, go to church, sing worship songs, appear to live for God, but God knows their heart, and eventually their true colors will show.
1 John 2:19:
They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they
would have remained with us; but their going showed none of them belonged to us (NIV).
Some would say they had it and lost it, but the Bible seems to make the point that they never had it.
Remember the parable of the wheat and the tares? Tares are worthless weeds, at times they are even poisonous. In the parable, the “farmhands” said, “Lord, shall we separate the wheat from the tares?” He replied, “No, let them grow together.” God will do the separating of the “tares” on judgment day.
Many are complacent and don’t get out beyond the church walls. Maybe they’ve been deceived into believing they are saved. Satan doesn’t mind you believing in eternal security, if you’re not saved.
The second possibility is that they are saved, and God will deal with them in His own time in His own way. This is a dangerous place to be, you don’t want to be the one who is testing God’s patience. Although He is long-suffering and patient, the meter will run out, eventually God will read your meter.
1 Timothy 5:24:
The sins of some men are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of
others trail behind them (NIV).
To say one can lose, or forfeit, their salvation is really just a cop-out. It ignores one of the cardinal doctrines of the New Testament found in Hebrews 12:6-8:
…because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as sons.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined
by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are
illegitimate children and not true sons (NIV).
Remember, God doesn’t spank (discipline) the devil’s children, God spanks His own children.
Well, moving right along, here’s the hypothetical illustration that people seem to always want to use: “Do you mean I can be saved and then go out and kill someone and still go to heaven.” Well, the short answer is “yes.” We don’t have to make a guess here, there’s examples in the Bible: David and Moses. Let’s take a look at David.
Was David saved? Let’s look at 1 Samuel 13:14 and find out:
…the LORD has sought a man after his own heart [referring to David] and appointed him leader
of his people (NIV).
In the Psalms David refers to himself as the apple of God’s eye, and later he committed adultery and murder. When he was confronted by the prophet Nathan with an illustration of someone in the kingdom who had done something horribly wrong, David pronounced his own judgment (without realizing it at first) when he said, “whoever did this shall pay four-fold.”
David’s judgment was four-fould:
First, his baby died. First Samuel 12:14 makes this very clear:
But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt,
the son born to you will die (NIV).
Now, don’t go putting words in my mouth at this point. I’m not saying that every time a baby dies the parents are being punished for something, don’t misunderstand the point. I’m not saying that and the Bible doesn’t say that. But in this particular case, it was the reason. And despite David’s heartfelt prayers and tears of anguish, the baby died. Sin always brings loss. And some people end up throwing away a lifetime of work, and a good marriage and family, all for one night of pleasure. David is an example of the pattern: lust, sin and death.
Second, his son Amnon became an immoral man who regularly had sex with prostitutes. He picked up on his father’s immorality, to the point he actually raped his own half-sister, Tamar. Just imagine the shame, anger and guilt David must have felt having raised such a sinful pervert.
Third, David’s son Amnon died a premature death in disgrace.
When one of David’s other sons, Absalom, heard what Amnon had done, he was furious. In fact, he took vengeance into his own hands and hired hit men to kill Amnon.
For the second time now, David is making his way to the cemetery.
Fourth, Absalom ended up rebelling and also died prematurely. His rebellion even resulted in war. He also died in disgrace, he hung by his own hair being caught in the branches of a tree.
Again, David heads for the cemetery.
Wouldn’t you agree that David ended up paying a high price for his sin?
Here’s the point: In spite of all of this, David never lost his salvation. In Psalm 51:12 David prays that the joy of his salvation be restored. He didn’t lose his salvation, but he did lose his joy.
There is a difference between relationship and fellowship. Refer back to the first article, especially the example I used of the Prodigal Son.
Here’s a couple of questions for us to look at:
First, does God punish sin in believers? Absolutely. Grace is anything BUT a license to sin. We just saw an example of this when we looked at the example of David and his punishment.
God knows your address, email, phone number, facebook account, and it doesn’t matter if you have caller I.D. or call blocking, it doesn’t matter because God is big enough to “ring your bell” regardless. “Your sin will find you out.” Your sin will catch up with you and be revealed, it will cause discipline to come upon you.
Second question, does God take back the salvation He gave us if we sin horrifically? No, he does not. Again, we also saw this in the example of David. Do we pay for it though? You better believe it. You’ll pay and pay dearly. But, you can’t get away from the fact that the Bible tells us that nothing can ever separate us from His love and grace.
It is certainly possible for me (you, us) to do something so stupid that I lose my family, my friends, my ministry, but nothing can separate me from His protection, love and grace.
One last comment. It’s interesting to note that if you ask someone what it is you have to do to lose your salvation, they can never tell you. Wouldn’t you think God would be clear on that if it were possible? And if, as we have seen, adultery and murder aren’t enough, what’s worse than that? Besides, who of us hasn’t committed the sins of both lust (a sin in the family of adultery) and hate (a sin in the family of murder)?
Copyright 2013 by Jeffrey D. Hagan. All rights reserved.