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Saturday, 1 August 2015

A Common Issue Over Salvation.

Some weeks ago, when I listened to a preach in London endorsing the truth of Once Saved Always Saved, I wanted to stand up and allow my praises and thanksgiving for God's mercy to explode out of my spirit. Rather than allowing a licence to sin, the opposite was true - why would I want to sin, or even just to live for myself, if I had such an awesome, merciful Saviour, to live for, who suffered and died for me, so that I can enjoy his presence for ever? So here I type in an article in response to some who objects to this concept, preferring to believe that I could still end up lost if I were to walk away from the faith. This idea is held by not a few people, some who are members of the church I attend, among others who I know personally from elsewhere.

Such a concept of Once Saved Always Saved seems to be embraced by a very small minority of all who holds the Christian faith, while at the same time, it is totally rejected by Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Roman Catholicism, and by many other Christians, even by Atheists. Even within Christendom, (including Catholic countries) the idea of Eternal Security of the Believer is held by only a few by comparison, while it's totally unknown in many other lands. So much of the teaching of Once Saved Always Saved being "the Devil's doctrine" - as claimed by some. If such an adversary, also known as the Prince of this World, has full control of the minds of the religious - (John 14:30) - then how ironic that he wasn't at all successful in deceiving the world that Once Saved Always Saved is a doctrine to be universally accepted and believed. 

Therefore anyone can ask: How did I become such a firm believer and advocate of this doctrine of Eternal Security? Perhaps that I grew up as a Roman Catholic played a major role in this, not by agreeing with it, but in strongly denying it. After conversion to Jesus Christ as Saviour in 1972, I began to see a discrepancy between the Catholic faith and my new faith. This puzzled me for quite a while.

Then one Saturday afternoon in 1974, I was browsing at a Christian bookstore which was located close to St. Paul's Cathedral in London. I have discovered that shop by chance, and nearly every week I can be seen browsing and buying literature. On the shelf I came across one book, False Doctrines Answered from the Scriptures by Dr. John R. Rice, D.D., litt. D. I picked it up, and it fell open on the first section, Errors of Romanism. After a brief read, I bought the book. However, to see such a book on sale here in the UK was very unusual, and I have not come across any other book written by this author, despite that he wrote quite a few other titles. Dr. Rice was once a professor at the Dallas Theological Seminary, known for its toughness in selection of its students. Later he became the founder of the Sword of The Lord Publishers, a para-church organisation in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, of which literature was produced for the American market. So for such a book to be sold here seemed out of the ordinary.

But as I studied the book, I have come to learn why I don't worship God in a Catholic Church. The discrepancy between the Catholic and biblical faith became clear, and I knew which side I was on. John Rice was also a strong advocate of Eternal Security of the Believer, or Once Saved Always Saved,* and he explained why, and where and how it's taught in the Bible. Such study began to change my outlook of the faith, and gradually began to undo what I have been taught as a boy. But this was far from easy. It had taken many years for the reality of God's love to sink in, and to dispel such an image of the Deity having a look of discontent for every misdemeanour I was unfortunate enough to commit. Over time, Dr. Rice became something of a mentor, even if I had never met him personally. By reading his book with a mind open for serious study, he became my home tutor in the faith. 

Some years later, while sitting in a pub with some friends, a Christian I met for the first time offered me three books for nothing, as he was not interested in them. I decided to accept them. One was The Cup of Trembling, another was Global Peace, and the third, How Close are we? All three were written by Dave Hunt, founder member of The Berean Society, Hunt, like Dr. Rice, was also an advocate of Eternal Security, and in his book, How Close Are We? he had given me a wonderful insight of the accuracy of Biblical prophecy, even though my fondness of the subject had already made me rather familiar with it. His other book, The Cup of Trembling, opened up a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the Muslim faith, its relationship with Israel, the Jews, and in particular, the city of Jerusalem, at present, a bone of contention between the Arabs and Israel, and its future fate. With such intrigued reading, I eventually bought two more books by the same author, Occult Invasion, with a wonderful insight of the impossibility of Darwinian Evolution, with the genome given special attention, and finally, A Woman Rides The Beast, giving a thorough history of the Roman Catholic Church as compared to Revelation chapter 17.

As accepting these two well-learnt men as mentors, no doubt had brought wonderful benefits, increased my knowledge, and certainly helped with my understanding of the Bible, including my acceptance of Once Saved Always Saved. But I have also became aware of a small but still a potential danger, the dependency on these two scholars in expense of reading the Bible unaided for myself. So I began to set aside times for Bible reading, and I have found that early in the morning, before getting up to face the day, to be a very suitable time-slot for daily Scriptural devotion. In it, there are very assuring chapters - not just an isolated verse or two - strongly implying Eternal Security. For example, how could I disregard the truth of John 10? After all, those were the words spoken by the Lord himself. Double safe in his own hand and in his Father's hand. Held tight, secure!

Then there is John 17, Jesus' prayer to his Father for the safekeeping of his immediate disciples, their converts, and to all believers worldwide throughout the ages to come. In this prayer there is a statement declaring that it was the Father himself who had given these believers to the Son, verses 2 and 6. This in itself makes the idea of being lost again rather ridiculous, as this not only denies his omniscience, but also weakens his omnipotent power, and makes God less than what he claims to be.

And this brings us to Paul's letter to the Ephesians. In the first two chapters, the apostle emphasises several stages of an individual's conversion, beginning from eternity past, when God foreknew the decision the person will one day make. Then he predestined him to to be adopted forever into God's family, and to receive the Holy Spirit, and finally to enter glory. This is further backed up by the apostle's letter to the Romans, particularly chapter eight. Here he writes of his conviction that neither death nor life, angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any 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 (Romans 8:38-39).

That is wonderful! It coincides with what Jesus had spoken about his hand, and the hand of his Father. It is impossible to walk away, because it is God himself who keeps him. But I wish that those who deny this truth begin to think for themselves instead of latching onto a public speaker on stage or at a pulpit, wearing a suit and tie, and therefore looking well educated. Think for a moment. If you are walking away from God's hand, does this not mean that you are going somewhere, in a particular direction? And don't you have eyes to see? You are walking towards something or to a location that looks appealing. And I let you work out who it was who drew your attention to that which you find appealing, thus walking out of God's hand and losing your salvation.

Echoes of Adam and Eve in the garden. They too were drawn to a delicious fruit hanging from the branch of a certain tree. But it wasn't God who drew them there, it was the serpent. And under persuasion, they took of the fruit and they died spiritually. Now if this is all true with us today, then all the above quoted Scripture comes to nothing. And that annoys me. We live in a culture where whoever dresses smartly and claims to have been educated at Oxford or Cambridge, then stands on a speaker's platform, whatever he says will be taken as gospel-truth, even if what he says contradicts a long-standing belief. People will follow him with unswerving trust - I have seen this in my own church, and I have seen this happen to other Christians too. The fact that it is easier to latch on to someone rather than take the trouble to check out the Scriptures for himself is endorsed by my own attachment to Dr. Rice and John Hunt as home mentors, and whatever they have said, goes.

Then there is one other chapter that prove the validity of Once Saved Always Saved as a valid truth, this is the twelfth chapter of the letter to the Hebrews. Here the writer instructs that God disciplines his children, and this discipline is not bullying or to get even, as may be the case of many earthly fathers, but it is done so the wayward believer will partake in God's holiness. In other words, God punishes for our good, because we are his adopted children and together with being secure in him and never to be lost again, he also wants the best for us. To partake in his holiness on a day to day basis is the best we can have, and to do so brings out the best in fulfillment in our lives. And God wants us to have it, not only for ourselves, but also as bearing a testimony for outsiders to see our holiness and to want it for themselves.

And it was from this letter that I received this quote:
If we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice of sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who had trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the spirit of grace?
Hebrews 10:26-29.

Now I do not believe that the Bible is inconsistent, neither does it contradict itself. If this applies to a believer who carried on willfully sinning, and somewhere along the line he had lost his salvation, and had become a recipient of raging fire, then this would contradict every Scripture I have quoted above. Since I don't believe that the Bible is inconsistent, neither are there bits of Small Print to be found in God's plan of salvation for helpless sinners, those verses must call for a different interpretation.

First is the title of the letter, Pros Ebraious - To Hebrews. It looks to me as if the title could have read, To all Jews everywhere. It has always been us Christians who have added in the word believers, or Christians into the title. Then the letter opens anonymously, without the normal greetings to a particular church or individual, as was the case of all Paul's letters. Could the writer have been addressing a universal letter to all Jews everywhere? However, its the theme of the letter which really holds the key to its meaning and intent. It is about how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ had superseded all the Temple ordinances and animal sacrifices imposed by Moses. The Covenant of the death of Jesus is a better one than the old, making the old one obsolete. Therefore the Old Covenant no longer has the power to cover sins, as it did before.

However, there were many Jews who had heard and understood the Gospel, but had rejected it in favour of the now-defunct Temple ordinances. These rejections did not come from honest or unsure doubting, but from a hostile reaction to what they knew to be true. Such classic examples of this hostile rejection of the Gospel of Christ can be found in Acts chapter five, and particularly the reaction of the Jews towards Stephen in Acts chapter seven. By their rejection, they have trampled the blood of Jesus Christ under their feet. That does not describe a wayward believer who has drifted into sin. But what about their sanctifying, found in verse 29? Does this prove that they were at first believers?

No, it does not. In the Gospel of John 1:4, Jesus shines a light to all men. So everyone who was ever born is aware of the existence of God. Then in John 16:8, Jesus assures his listeners that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgement. So the Holy Spirit will be at work among men, and what more than those already called by the Father, that is, the Jews. This is especially when a Jew in particular, enters a church of true believers, and tastes the goodness of the Word of God. Despite the conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit, he rejects the Gospel altogether, and returns to the Temple. His heart will harden against any knowledge of Jesus Christ being their Messiah, making him impossible to come to repentance.

There are many other Scripture quotes which at first appear to contradict Once Saved Always Saved, but to quote them all would make this blog far too long. But a quick word about Matthew 7:21, were a group stand outside the door of heaven and cry out, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name, and in your name cast out devils, and in your name done many wonderful works?"

These guys were not believers, but had trusted in their own works to earn their way into heaven, and had nothing to do with the saving power of Christ. The very words the Lord uses to answer speak for themselves, I never knew you. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity. I never knew you. That does not describe a fallen believer, or else Jesus wouldn't have been honest here. If any of them had been believers, then they would have been known by the Lord at that time of believing.

There is a good Scriptural backing for believing in Eternal Security. And no advocate of this concept would think that it would result in a license to sin. My own testimony bear this out. All I wanted to do was to praise and give thanksgiving to God who loved me so much as to take the trouble to save me.


I have spoken to various people who, although accepting of Eternal Security, tend to feel queasy with the phrase, "Once saved always saved." This kind of differentiation looks to me that the latter phrase opens up a license to sin, not giving any consideration for the consequences. But I believe that the two phrases mean exactly the same thing, to be eternally adopted into God's family through faith in Jesus Christ, and as such, experience a rebirth of the spirit, and actually become a new creation which is fit for heavenly residence.


  1. Dear Frank,
    Thanks for this excellent exposition of the doctrine of eternal security. Praise God that we are held firmly in the double grip of Jesus Christ and God the Father and sealed with the holy Spirit, so that no one can pluck us out of His hand. We did nothing to earn salvation, so we cannot do anything to lose it. If we could, it would negate God's omniscience and remove His ability to chastise us as His children when we need it.
    God bless,

  2. Hi Frank,
    It is good that you find the truth in the Bible itself, although it is also good to build one another up. I was shown long ago to 'eat' only unleavened bread. Leaven is something which is added to bread, and when Jesus referred to the leaven of the Pharisees He was referring to their doctrine. So it is always good to check what anyone says against scripture. I love where Jesus refers to Himself as the good Shepherd and where, in John ch. 10 v. 27 He says 'My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.'
    So as long as we follow Him, then we are His sheep.
    God bless you as you follow Jesus.

  3. Great post, Frank. As you pointed out, too often our doctrine is based on a person's reputation rather than God's word. Even men Like John R Rice or others can make serious mistakes, and like you, we need to check out what they say for ourselves. The idea that Eternal security will result in an acceptance of sin exposes a serious lack of understanding of the Holy Spirit and his power and leadership. .