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Sunday, 1 July 2012

Yes, I Believe In Eternal Security!

Vera was an elderly lady who sat alone in a corner at a pub (bar) as she had for the last ten years. She was in her mid-sixties, lonely, with nobody ever approaching her to ask how she was. One evening, a young woman named Doreen approached and sat at her table. After handing out a tract to her, they engaged in conversation, with Doreen gently telling the senior citizen how much Jesus loves her.

"I sat here every evening since my husband died and nobody had ever spoken to me," was her response.

When Doreen offered to escort her home, Vera's eyes lit up and asked, "Will you? And stay to have a cup of tea with me?"

The two made their way to Vera's little house and over a cup of tea, Doreen introduced her to Jesus Christ. Both fell to their knees and Vera gave herself to Jesus that very night.

A few days later, Doreen returned to visit her elderly friend.
"I'll never need to go back to the pub again." Vera said as her face shone with joy. "Instead I'll get my comfort from the Bible you gave me. I'm now ready to meet my Maker."

True to her word, Vera was never seen in the pub again. A week later she died peacefully in her sleep and had gone to Glory.

(Adapted from Doreen Irvine, From Witchcraft to Christ, Concordia, 1973.)

The above is a true story. It took place in Bristol not long after the end of World War II. But it is also a story which has a lot of truth crammed into it. It tells how God loves sinners and his heart goes out for them to be saved. It also has no regard to the person's age. She recieved Christ within the last few days of her entire life. All her sins were forgiven. Neither was she baptised in water. Nor was she warned that she must stay faithful and not sin, or else she would lose her salvation. Instead we see Jesus, warmly embracing her the moment she gave herself to his redemption, and shortly afterward escorted her home to the glories of Heaven, with no particular works done other than to find comfort in the Bible. On top of this, her refusal to return to the pub had nothing to do with fear of punishment or losing her salvation. Instead it had everything to do with finding a greater source of personal joy and satisfaction in the Bible. That is the grace of God.

Vera's face was radiant with joy when Doreen returned to visit her. Does this mean that, because she was not baptised in water, that she went to Hell after her death? Just to ask such a question exposes the sheer foolishness of the theory! Yes, Jesus did say that he who believes and is baptised will be saved, and Peter endorses this with the exortation, "Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
(Mark 16:16 with Acts 2:38.) I do believe that every believer should be baptised in water after conversion. I was baptised myself, and I remember this as being an exhilerating experience. But to say that conversion without baptism is void and that salvation is forfeitable, looks to me as putting a limit to God's power to save as well as a serious flaw in God's character. God's grace is much greater than many churchmen would believe.

The heart of God is to save sinners, to give them eternal life which include everlasting fellowship with him in his presence. But we as Christians have imposed conditions over the centuries which had clouded God's love for us with the fact that God is so holy, that he cannot have anyone tainted with sin in his presence, and therefore the need to be shut out from his presence to a lost eternity - unless we believe in and do certain things.

The Bible teaches two attributes of God. The first one is that he is perfect, holy and totally repulsed by any sin, and anyone tainted with sin. The other attribute is that God is a loving being, that he loves us so much that his heart's desire is to have us - mankind - to share in the pure, glorious love that eternally existed between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  It is rather like what I call, The Impossible Object. Although it looks fine drawn on paper, it is impossible for it to be manufactured and exist as a solid. Simply because to two ends of the object are incompatable with each other.

That is how God is to us, and Christian believers have been wrestling with this for nearly two millennia. To get a clearer idea to what sin is really all about, we only need to look on what Jesus taught about it during his ministry.

In Matthew's Gospel, we have Jesus telling us that we only need to look at a woman with a lustful eye, and we have committed adultery with her in our hearts (5:28.) And he also said that to call someone a prat, so to speak, is guilty of murder (5:21-22.) And James adds that snobbery and favouritism is equated with murder as well (James 2:11.) So if thoughts and motives alienates us from God, indeed we have a problem. Only through the death and the resurrection of Jesus Christ can such an impossible object exist.

And that is the whole purpose of God's grace, accomplished through the Atonement made by Jesus Christ. I wonder on how intense the love of the Father and of the Spirit have for the Son, and the prospect of severance must have been like for the Godhead.  When Jesus hung on that cross, his body crushed with agonising pain, how did this look to the Father? And for the first time in eternity, had to look away, as the sin of the whole world was poured onto him.

The extent of the Father's grace was, and will always be, to reward his Son for laying down his life for us. In John 17, we see Jesus interceding with his Father for all believers. He emphasised his possession of all believers as a gift to him from his Father as a reward for laying down his life for them (John 17:6-7, 9-10. Also 10:27-30.) This is a fulfillment of what the prophet Isaiah wrote:

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great (or many), and he will divide the spoils with the strong (numerous), because he poured out his life unto death, and he was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53:12.

Eternal Security of the believer is an essential part of the Gospel, and believing in it makes an impact to the Christian life. One thing it does not do, and it is so important to realise, that I emphasise:
Believing in Eternal Security of the Believer does not encourage the Christian to sin willingly! Instead, accepting such doctrine would help and encourage victory over sin.

Christians who believe that one can lose his salvation by falling away from the faith or by committing a serious sin, or a number of serious sins, are often known as Arminians, because this idea was endorsed by James Arminius, a 16th Century Dutch theologian who insisted on human choice over Sovereignty of God.  Arminianism is taught widely in many Protestant churches, and it is really a cross between Roman Catholicism with its seven sacraments for salvation, and the Reformation with its emphasis on being saved by faith in Christ only. Arminian Christians believe that Eternal Security is "the doctrine of devils." But as one blogger on this site has put it, wrote that all religions embrace the "Arminian" view of a forfeit-able salvation, from John Wesley's Methodism to Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions. It is true that only a small section of the Protestant faith believe in Eternal Security, if so, then this does not bare well for the Devil, who, according to the Lord Jesus, is the ruler of the whole world.

But the real problem with Arminius's conditional salvation was unwittingly exposed by a British author, Methodist David Pawson, considered a modern-day prophet by many Christians due to his good schooling. He recommended keeping accounts of sins committed and making sure that they are remembered and confessed. This is little more than Roman Catholicism, except that the confession is made directly to God instead of to a priest inside a confessional box. And here is the crunch which reveals the flaws of Arminianism. Can you as a believer can really be true to yourself and declare that you never lusted after a woman? And if you did, did you immediately confess? Or did you just forget about it? And what about when that person winds you up the wrong way? You shouted, "Idiot!" or some other name. Or do you, as a university graduate, feel superior to your neighbour who holds a manual occupation? With this train of belief, little wonder that God is seen as implacable, and despite your belief in "faith only" - you really have to work hard to stay saved and to keep your salvation. It is just the right recipe for liberalism and eventually atheism.

The belief of Eternal Security has been the fruit of my experience. After a bad experience with Christians back in 1994, I too renounced Christ and the Christian faith. I was in Israel at the time, and I found myself lying on the bed at a backpackers hostel, empty of people, in the middle of the day, while the souk outside within the walls of Jerusalem Old City was alive and bustling. I felt wretched and miserable, a victim of poor evaluation by other Christians for not being well educated and not holding a profession. Some months later, an Arminian Christian named John asked me if the Lord was bidding me to return to him with a threatening attitude, or else suffer the consequence of eternal death. I told him not so, but I felt the Lord calling me very, very gently, and I felt his love. Gradually, I came round and began to rebuild my faith. Such as the belief in Eternal Security!

The character and the ways of God are like the Impossible Object. The truth is there is nothing we can do to "correct" the matter! Salvation is given as a free gift to all who believe. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplished it, and all we can do is to receive it. And because salvation is of God, and not of ourselves, there is nothing we can do to hold on to it, but to revel in it and bring honour to the One who gave it.

Glory to God, his ways are unsearchable!


  1. Brilliant post Frank; well written and concise as ever. We have all sinned and everyone of us has fallen far short of the glory of God. Every red-blooded male has certainly stared far too long at an attractive woman now and again, I certainly have and many times! I'm learning to see that sin is all-encompassing and without God's wonderful grace we would all be caught up in it, like the most powerful and intricate spider's web; yet, for all this, though God hates sin, He LOVES us so much that He is willing and able to forgive sin and allow us a new start and a better and more intimate relationship with Him.

    God is all-powerful and though humans are limited in their power, with God nothing is impossible; a being who can create a whole universe, and everything in it, from scratch is far more than we can really comprehend; we put Him in a box at our peril! At the very end of our understanding, God is at the beginning! We may never fully fathom Him out but He knows all about us.

  2. Yes Frank,
    that is right, salvation is given to all who believe, and what is it that we are required to believe on? It is Jesus, the word of God. We all have to work out our own salvation, receive our own 'daily bread', hearing that 'word of God' that the Holy Spirit speaks to us individually, and act on it. And no, there is no condemnation in going into a pub. If Doreen had not gone into the pub, then perhaps Vera would not have heard about, and felt the love of God and salvation through Jesus before she died.

  3. Great post, Frank.

    So many say they believe salvation is entirely by faith in Christ, yet it can only be retained by man's efforts. Whether one will finally be saved thus depends on man's effort, rather then Christ's sacrifice. Apparently they don't see the contradiction. I'm glad we kept by the power of God, rather than our efforts. It frees me to serve him fully instead of worrying about committing some sin.

  4. You are quite a thinker Frank! Thanks for sharing.

    Salvation truly has appeared to all mankind, and either faith receives what God has given or he/she rejects it. Christ does all the saving, and never our believing. If our stopping to believe could cause us to lose our salvation then believing was a work the entire time, but scripture states that we are saved by HIS faithfulness (faith OF Christ) that our faith beholds and rejoices in.

    Faith is merely the "thank you" for what He has already provided. Immortality and life was accomplished by the cross and not our believing or good works. I shared with someone the other day the truth of the gospel, by giving them a cup of coffee and saying, "It's yours!" Faith believing the coffee is theirs will drink, but if the person feels the coffee was not theirs would be to leave the cup right where it was at and they refused to enjoy what was already provided for them. One drink forever satisfies and quenches the thirst!

    Lord bless,


  5. Preach it, Frank! It is a blessing to read such a doctrinally sound, Scripturally based , well-written, clear statement of faith.
    God bless,

    1. Yes, I quite agree. Frank's posts are some of the most well-written and scholarly posts in the blogosphere!