Thursday, February 26, 2009

Eternal Security Pt. 23: Born Again, Once and for All

Believers are born again (regenerated) when they believe (John 3:3; Titus 3:5).  For a Christian to lose his salvation, he would have to be "un-regenerated."  The Bible gives no evidence that the new birth can be taken away.  The Holy Spirit indwells all believers in the present dispensation, the Church Age, (John 14:17; Romans 8:9) and baptizes all believers into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). For a believer to become unsaved, he would have to be "un-indwelt" and detached from the Body of Christ, and yet there is no provision, no description of this taking place. And it stands to reason, because look at all the verses we've seen which make Eternal Security so certain… if there was such a description, all of these verses would be in contradiction. The Bible is perfectly consistent. If we could become "amputated" somehow from the body of Christ, then how would that jive with Colossians 3:3? Or John 10:28? Or any of the verses we've looked at thus far? It wouldn't.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Another LDS Encounter

Last evening a little after 5:00, there was an unexpected knock on the front door. I answered, and there stood two clean-cut young men with white shirts and name tags, who said they wanted to talk to me about Jesus. Fine, I thought. When they finally got around to asking me if I had any particular religious beliefs and whether I'm familiar with the teachings of the LDS (Mormon) church, I said I do, and I am familiar with what LDS teaches and told them that I reject it as falsehood.

I mentioned in an earlier post… the Eternal Security "Pit Stop" that the trouble with Mormon "missionaries" generally is that it can be very difficult to get them to disagree with anything. They'll nod their heads in agreement on just about everything, but they're being very deceptive when they do because they know, even though they're unwilling to tell you this, that while they may be agreeing with some set of terms you have used, they defined those terms differently in the LDS church. You can say "Trinity" for example and they'll nod in agreement, claiming to believe in "The Trinity" but if you drill them long enough you'll eventually find out that they mean something very different when they use the word "trinity." Dishonest. Now that's just an example (though it is a real example) but the point is that tactically speaking, when the LDS boys come knockin', it's important right out of the gate to draw some very clear distinctions for them--even if it's only ONE--between Biblical Christianity and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

How do you make that distinction? Well of course there are several avenues to go down, but one of the most stark contrasts is the doctrine of Eternal Security. Now Mormons are tricky because in one sense they are universalists… everyone is "saved". Everyone ends up in the "First Heaven" unless they manage to make it into the Second Heaven or the Third Heaven, the latter being the pinnacle. This is what the missionaries have told me. So to the extent that you need to be "saved" from anything (that's what salvation means, after all) you need only be saved from, well, the First Heaven. The First Heaven, apparently, is still a good place to be… but the Second and Third Heavens are much, much better.

So here's their game: They'll agree that salvation is by grace and not by works. But… what they mean by salvation here is not what the Bible means by salvation. What they mean is that the First Heaven, since it is given to everyone, is by grace. We don't earn or deserve that. Now I was about to say that they don't believe in anything like Hell… but I just remembered that their doctrine does include something akin to Hell, but it's reserved only for those who were once Mormons, but then LEAVE the LDS church. They have a special name for this, but I don't recall it right now. At any rate, this is another illustration of their agreement-to-hide-disagreement tactic. Very disingenuous.

So since their idea of salvation is getting to, say, the Third Heaven and not getting stuck merely in the First Heaven, I try to frame my questions with that in mind. For example, I might ask them if they KNOW they are going to be in the Third Heaven, and if so, how? Well so far it's clear that Mormons lack any assurance of what they call "salvation." They don't know, they can't be sure. Why not? Because getting to the Third Heaven requires works and obedience and they are just honest enough to admit that they can't know that they will work enough or obey enough to make it to the Third Heaven.

You find something very similar when you talk with Jehovah's Witnesses. If you ask them whether or not they can be certain that they'll be resurrected, (their view of salvation) they'll tell you they don't. That'll require some pressing on your part, but that's where they come down. I asked this of a nice JW woman that came to my door one day and she said something very much like this: "Yes, if I work hard enough and if I obey, etc." Paraphrasing, of course. So her answer was "Yes, IF I do this." Do you see the circularity there? See, she doesn't know IF she will do those things, and since she doesn't know that, she cannot know that she will be resurrected. And it's the same with the LDS church. They cannot know that they will work enough or obey enough to make it to the Third Heaven, therefore, they have no assurance.

There's an important lesson here: Lack of assurance seems to be an indicator of a works-based view of salvation… even for someone who might claim that salvation is by grace. Why? If salvation is truly by grace, then it's nothing that I've earned or deserved. And if it's nothing that I've earned or deserved, then it's nothing that can be taken away. And if it's nothing that can be taken away, then I have no reason to doubt my salvation. I have absolute assurance. Once a person inserts their own works into the salvation equation, their assurance evaporates because now their salvation depends on them and not on Christ. When our salvation depends not on us but only on Christ, then we can have complete and total assurance of our salvation.

So back to the boys with the white shirts. I explained these things to them and predictably, they weren't able to go along with the idea of Eternal Security. And predictably, they demonstrated that they have no assurance. They claimed to believe that the Bible is the Word of God, and yet they disregard what it says so clearly. I asked them this question "In theory, is it possible to get to the Third Heaven without doing ANY works?" They answered with a deflection "Our works is evidence of our faith" but I pressed them further… they wouldn't answer me honestly. They stuck to this "works evidence of faith" line and so I said "Well, I'm taking that as a 'No.'" And then I offered up Romans 4:5 and clarified that the Biblical view of salvation, which they ought to believe since they claim to believe the Bible, is that works are not necessary for salvation. Even a man that does NOT work (read Romans 4:5 again) is justified before God if he has placed his trust in Christ.

Their response was, well, odd. The young man who was doing most of the talking said "Well that's just a difference in belief." Well of course it is!! I agreed and said that, yes, it was a difference in belief. I told them that the LDS church teaches salvation by works, and the Bible teaches salvation by grace. The LDS church tells you to trust in your works and obedience, and the Bible tells you to trust in Christ." A difference in belief? You bet.

Then the one missionary mentioned something about having freedom of religion, and I said "Yes, we certainly do have freedom of religion on a national level… and that's as it should be. But God doesn't give us freedom of religion individually. God has provided one way to salvation and that's Jesus Christ." And I was a little surprised (though I'm not sure why) to find that these boys wouldn't even go along with that. Acts 4:12. John 14:6. Matthew 7:13-14. There's one way. Again, they claim to believe the Bible, but when it comes right down to it, they don't believe the Bible.

By this time, dinner was on the table and I was freezing cold, standing on the front porch for twenty minutes. So, I shook the missionaries' hands and they went on their way.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Eternal Security Pt. 22: Unlimited Atonement

As I said in the post which introduced this topic, I am not a Calvinist. Calvinists believe that Christ only paid for the sins of those to whom God gave the gift of faith and became believers. I reject this completely. To see why, you can survey the following verses.

Luke 19:10, John 3:16, John 3:17, John 1:29, John 4:42, 1Tim. 4:10, Heb. 2:9, Rom. 5:6, Rom. 5:18, 1 John 2:2, Is. 53:6, 2 Pet. 2:1, Titus 2:11

All of these verses teach that Christ died for all of the sins of the entire world. That is, He paid the penalty for all of our sins… even for the sins of the unbeliever.

The unbeliever is not sent to Hell to pay for their sins. They go to Hell because they did not place their trust in Christ. Sins can never be an issue to God because He sent his Son to pay the penalty for sin at the cross. Punishing someone in Hell for sins that Christ was already punished for (as a substitute) is a simple case of double-jeopardy and violates God's absolute and perfect Justice. Either Christ died to pay the penalty of our sins, or He didn't. The Bible clearly says that He did, and that he paid the penalty for everyone's sins.

To reinforce this, consider John 3:18 and John 3:16, which read as follows:

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

As you consider these, recall that "believe" here is from the Greek "pisteuo" which means to trust in or rely on. So, In both verses, the person who places their trust in, or relies on Christ for their salvation is not condemned and has everlasting life. Again… how long does "everlasting life" last? It lasts forever. So while "pisteuo" may appear here in the present tense, the fact that trusting in Christ now (in the present) results in eternal life. There is no room here for having this eternal or everlasting life taken away, because once again, eternal life lasts forever.

But back to the main point of this post… the unbeliever is condemned not for their sin. Sin is never mentioned in these verses. The only thing mentioned is that the unbeliever does not trust in, does not believe in, Christ. That is the issue.

Now to reinforce that even further, consider this passage in Revelation 20:12-15 considering the final judgment:

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Notice that there is no book of sins here. Sins are not counted, tabulated nor even mentioned in this passage. God's 'database' of believers is the "book of life." People whose names have been blotted out of the book of life never placed their trust in Christ, and on that basis they are condemned. Sins are never mentioned at the final judgment, they are not an issue. The Greek word for sin is "hamartia" and it does not appear in this passage.

Remember Psalms 103:12:

As far as the east is from the west, So far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

But what about "works"? It says people are judged according to their works, right? Doesn't that mean sin?

I don't know why it would, considering all those verses which say clearly that Christ died for all sin. The Greek word for "works" is "ergon"… this does not encompass sin by any stretch. Sins are gone, dealt with. Paid in full. What's happening in this passage in Revelation is that unbelievers are being judged on their own righteousness. The works that the unbeliever did which were good are measured up against God's perfect righteousness and, unfortunately, the person won't measure up because, as Isaiah 64:6 says, all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags. And since the person doesn't wear Christ's righteousness, (not in the book of life) they are cast into the lake of fire.

The point is, sin is no longer an issue. This is not to say that we should sin or that we should not try to avoid sinning. But sins were paid for and are no longer an issue. Consider 1 John 2:1, which says:

My little children, these things write I unto you that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous

If we sin (and we will, in spite of our efforts to the contrary) Jesus Christ is our advocate. It doesn't say how many times we're allowed to sin, it doesn't say that after x number of sins Christ will no longer be our advocate. None of that. All sins were paid for and when you grab ahold of that and choose to believe it, eternal security becomes that much more obvious.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Eternal Security Pt. 21: In Good Hands

In John 10:28 and 29 we find two verses that make it clear that eternal life is just that; eternal. Those that Jesus gave eternal life will NEVER perish. And emphasis on "never" is appropriate as the Greek word there is "ou me" which is a double negative in the Greek… only trouble is, in Greek a double negative doesn't add up to a positive as it does in English… rather, it strengthens and emphasizes the negative. They will "never, never perish." And if that's not clear enough, Jesus also takes care to explain that no one will pluck them out of His hand OR His Father's hand. Note how well this triangulates with Colossians 3:3… we are "hidden with Christ."

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

If we could lose our salvation… or if we could give it back or willingly forfeit our salvation, then we would, in fact, be able to pluck ourselves out of the Father's hand. John doesn't seem too equivocal here when he says "no man is able." He doesn't say "most men, but you might be able to if you try hard enough." No. He says no man, and of course he means human here, so it's not as though women might be able to while men can't. He, he.

It's very, very difficult to imagine a way to escape such clear verses. What could Christ have meant other than to say "Folks, my grace is so complete and perfect that once you've placed your trust in me, you have eternal life right, then and there and you will be in Heaven with me someday and there is nothing you can do to change that."

We are saved by grace. It is a gift. That means it costs us nothing. And if we think we can lose our salvation, then we must also think that we are doing something to keep it. Christ tells us not to trust ourselves for our salvation. He says to trust in Him. He says not to trust in our obedience, because we will fail. Christ did it all and He keeps us secure whether we deserve it or not. (and that's certainly a "not") That's grace.

Eternal Security Pt. 20: Signed, Sealed, Delivered

In Ephesians 1:13 Paul writes this:

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.

The Holy Spirit is a pledge, a guarantee, a "down payment" for our inheritance. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit at salvation and permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This is akin to earnest money. Nowhere in the New Testament is the removal of the Holy Spirit provided for or described. If we could lose our salvation, then the Holy Spirit would have to accompany us to Hell and remain there with us. One of the reasons God gives us the Holy Spirit in this dispensation is to demonstrate that we are His and that nothing can ever change that. His Holy Spirit is the guarantee of that. Does God break His own guarantee? Not likely.

Eternal Security Pt. 19: Saved Forever

The author of Hebrews, in Hebrews 7:24-25 writes the following:

but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Christ saves those who believe in Him forever and will always live to make intercession for us. If our salvation could be lost, then at some point Christ would have to stop making intercession for us or stop being our advocate before God the Father. Once again, there can be no condemnation in Christ, if there was, or could be, then Christ would not be our advocate.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Eternal Security Pt. 18: The Barrier of Sin

Man's sin creates a barrier between man and God. Man is inherently corrupt and sinful. God's perfect righteousness cannot associate with sin. However, God's love and grace provided an escape hatch for all humans. That escape hatch is Jesus Christ. From God's perspective of perfect, absolute righteousness, even the most moral and righteous human is still corrupt and sinful. While some humans may be more righteous than others, no human, with the exception of Jesus, has perfect righteousness. A person may think they are a far cry from Jeffrey Dahmer, for example--and they may well be--but the fact is that regardless of how good a person is on a relative scale, they are still a lot more like Jeffrey Dahmer than Christ. The best we can do is relative righteousness. God's perfect righteousness demands perfect righteousness, and therefore from God's perspective, all men are sinners (Rom 3:23) and anything less than perfect righteousness falls short. By what distance it falls short on a case-by-case basis is irrelevant. The point is, it falls short. There is only one level of sin in God's eyes. No sin is worse than another sin, because all sin is sin. From our perspective of relative righteousness, we see degrees of sin. Some sins are more offensive than others, and that's completely reasonable from our perspective. But from God's perspective, it's all sin. When we put our trust in Jesus Christ, however, our faith (trust) in Christ is counted to us as righteousness.

Isaiah 64:6:
But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.

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

So, what does this have to do with Eternal Security? Well, some of the resistance to Eternal Security seems to be connected to an understanding that we can, as believers, get away with some sins and not others. Generally speaking, a believer who believes they can lose their salvation has a conflict. They know, and will admit, that they will continue to sin… at least occasionally. And yet they may believe that there is some sort of "sin threshold" hanging over their heads and if they surpass this threshold, then they will lose their salvation. Well, the big problem with this understanding is that if there would be any sin threshold at all past the point of salvation, it would only take one sin to break it! In God's eyes, all sin is equal.

Take a look at Galations 3:10:

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.

The law here is the Mosaic Law, given to the Jews. It doesn't matter which of these laws you break… even if it's just one. One is all it takes. If you haven't, and do not continue to uphold every single law, then you are cursed. End of story.

Now, of course we're not under the Law in the Church Age. But you see the point… if we're going to make sin the trigger for losing one's salvation, then it's only going to take one and it doesn't matter how insignificant it may seem to us. God's standards are perfect. Now if it only takes one sin to lose one's salvation, then nobody is saved. There isn't a single human on the face of the Earth who can meet that standard. Now if that seems unreasonable, that it might only take one sin, then somebody find for me where the threshold is defined in the Bible? Ten sins? Twenty? One hundred thirty eight thousand four hundred and seventy two? Where does it say this?

Oh, some would say… it's a "pattern" of sin. I'm sorry, but this doesn't solve the problem. Where is a "pattern of sin" defined in the Bible? How many sins and of what kind constitute a "pattern"? You see, we're right back into the same mess again.

All of this takes us back to the only reasonable conclusion, which is that sin is no longer the issue and salvation, because it is a grace gift, is permanent and irrevocable. I am convinced that any capitulation on this point is an attempt to insert works back into the salvation equation so that we can claim the credit. Paul says not to do this numerous times in the New Testament.

Eternal Security Pt. 17: Salvation or Rewards?

In 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, Paul writes this:

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

This verse makes an important distinction between rewards in Heaven and salvation. Keep in mind that a reward is something that you earn, while a gift is something you do not earn.

In this passage, Paul describes our savior as the foundation: Jesus Christ. Notice that there is no other foundation… He is it. (See Acts 4:12) Upon that foundation, one can build with precious stones or wood, hay and straw. The precious stones represent divine good works… works which God approves of in both content and motive. The wood, hay and straw is human good works… works which God does NOT approve of… the content might be good, but the motivation is evil. (pride, thinking that you're working your way to heaven, etc.). But at the judgement seat of Christ, these things are put to the test and the wood, hay and straw are burned up and are gone. But the gold, silver and precious stones pass the test. Rewards in heaven are distributed to those who are left with the precious stones, but those whose works are burned up suffer the loss of their rewards. But in the end, even the person who suffers loss is still saved!! The foundation remains untouched.

Eternal Security Pt. 16: Who can accuse God's elect

Here's another passage that is does an excellent job of triangulating with other passages I've already mentioned. Who will bring a charge against God's elect? With Christ as our advocate, who could? Who will condemn us? No one will, because Christ, the One who died for us, is the one who condemns… but again, there can be no condemnation in Christ. We have both the advocate and judge as our Savior and no one can bring a charge against us as believers.

See Romans 8:33-34:
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who 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.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Eternal Security Pt. 15: Never Thirst Again

In John 4:13-14, Jesus said to the woman at the well:

"Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."

In this passage, Jesus uses water as a metaphor for salvation, with special emphasis on the water of salvation being a gift, and even more emphasis that one drink is all that is necessary for everlasting life. Drinking water from another source will not ultimately satisfy your thirst… you will become thirsty once again. But whoever drinks of the water that Jesus provides will never again become thirsty, because this 'living water' is eternal life.

And once again, this only makes sense… because if you had to keep drinking over and over again in order to keep your 'eternal life', then you couldn't very well call that life "eternal."

Eternal Security Pt. 14: No Drop-outs

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.

This verse tells us that from the moment God chooses us, it is as if we are glorified in His presence in heaven already. Notice that Paul writes here in the past tense… so certain that these things will be done, he writes as though they have already been done. Also, note that every person that gets predestinated also gets called, and everyone who gets predestinated also gets justified, and everyone who gets justified also gets glorified. There are no 'drop-outs'; no one gets lost along the way.

This is very consistent with John 6:35-40. What's striking, actually, is that because there is such consistency regarding the eternal security of the believer, it really is rather easy to make the case. There is that much support for it, and from so many different angles.

Eternal Security Pt. 13: All That He Gives Me

In John 6:35-40 Jesus said to the Jewish leaders:

"I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. "But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe. "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

Jesus says that he will "certainly not cast out" those who come to Him. Everyone that the Father gives to Him, He will lose nothing. This is consistent with what Paul wrote in Romans 8:35-39.

Stay Tuned…

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Eternal Security Pt. 12: If We Are Faithless

2 Tim 2:11-13 reads as follows:

It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

This verse is used occasionally to argue against eternal security, with the focus being on "If we deny Him, He will also deny us." But first, notice that Paul hasn't specified what He will deny us. That part's a little ambiguous. And then notice what follows… "If we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot deny himself." Christ remains faithful to His promise to us even if we are faithless.

Another key to this is the various "ifs" in this passage. In the Greek language there are different words for "if" and the different words mean slightly different things. In this passage, every "if" is the Greek word "ei" which is known as a "first-class condition" which means essentially "If, and it's assumed to be true." There is also a second-class condition, which means "If and it's assumed to be false" and a third-class condition which means "if, maybe yes and maybe no." But this first-class condition is important because it reveals that Paul expects his audience to become faithless at some point or even to deny Christ. He's fairly certain that they will… and of course he's not advocating that they become faithless, he's just recognizing that they will at some point. Now if Paul is threatening believers with the loss of their salvation in the event that they lose their faith, then why would he use the first-class condition? If that's what Paul's talking about--losing salvation--then we will lose our salvation because we will deny Him at some point. And if this is so, then we may as well all give up, 'cuz our goose is already cooked.

A better way to understand this in light of these conditional "ifs" is that the thing which will be denied is rewards in Heaven. That is consistent with other writings of Paul also, and for Paul to say we could lose our salvation--under any circumstances--would be inconsistent with other things he wrote.

Another idea is that Paul is for a moment speaking about an unbeliever who denies Christ, in which case Christ denies the unbeliever. But this seems less likely because of the first-class condition "if", but I'm not quite sure that rules it out entirely. I think that the denial of rewards makes the most sense, because the book of 2 Timothy was written to people who were already saved… not unbelievers.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Obama's "Prayer Breakfast" Speech

On February 5th, at the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton, President Barack Obama gave a speech and in it, said some interesting things. Let's take a look.

There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same. We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. We subscribe to different accounts of how we came to be here and where we’re going next – and some subscribe to no faith at all.

This is typical post-modern bilge. President Obama believes that there is no right answer to questions about why we're here, where we're going and what we should do about it. He believes that all roads lead to Rome, as it were. He believes, apparently, that faith itself has power and that the object of your faith is irrelevant. If you have faith in something--anything--then it's all good. This is completely contrary to Biblical teaching, and yet he claims to be a Christian.

But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.

This is an incoherent statement. No matter what we choose to believe, no religion has as its central tenet, hate. Excuse me, Mr. President… but if we can believe whatever we want to believe, and if there are no right answers, and if all roads lead to Rome, then we can certainly choose to believe in a religion (even if we have to invent a new one, which we don't) whose central tenet is hate. Consider the following verses from the Quran:

Sura (2:191-193) - "And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]...and fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah."

Sura (2:216) - "Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

Sura (3:151) - "Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers, for that they joined companions with Allah, for which He had sent no authority".

Sura (4:89) - "They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks."

Sura (8:12) - "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"

Sura (8:39) - "And fight with them until there is no more persecution and religion should be only for Allah"

Sura (9:29) - "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

So not only is there clearly at least one religion whose central tenet appears to be hate, but it's even a religion that's part of President Obama's heritage! Here's more…

In this way, the particular faith that motivates each of us can promote a greater good for all of us. Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times. This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America, and it will be the purpose of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that I’m announcing later today.

The idea that varied beliefs can bring us together is also incoherent nonsense. People only work together when their beliefs about what should be done are synchronized. People of different religious beliefs, by definition, have different priorities. They have to.

The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another – or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state.

The founders drew no such line. Indeed, the founders wanted to provide religious freedom, (and did) but they clearly understood that freedom without Christianity (which produces a sort of self-governance) would ultimately be an unmitigated disaster. The founders recognized that their political views arose out of their world view; that world view and political views were not independent.

Gouverneur Morris, 1832:

Religion is the only solid basis of good morals; therefore education should teach the precepts of religion, and the duties of man towards God.

Samuel Adams, 1790:

Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age, but impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls, of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the Deity… in short of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system.

Benjamin Rush, 1796

In contemplating the political institutions of the United States, I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes, and take so little pains to prevent them. We profess to be republicans and yet we neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government, That is, the unversal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by the means of the Bible.

George Washington, 1790

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports… in vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens…

Alexis de Tocqueville

The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make them conceive one without the other.

John Adams, 1799

We have no government armed in power capable of contending in human passions unbridled by morality and religion… Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

I'm afraid that President Obama is badly mistaken about the facts of this issue. The founders of this great nation had no desire to separate Christianity from government. They certainly did seek to allow citizens to believe as their conscience dictates… but they fully recognized that without Christianity as the foundation, the nation would fail. Here's another quote

We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to "love thy neighbor as thyself." The Torah commands, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." In Islam, there is a hadith that reads "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule – the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.

What's interesting about this quote is that while President Obama is trying to play the part of someone who is open-minded and not committed to any particular idea of truth, he betrays this by saying that one law binds all religions together. Suddenly he makes a universal truth claim. It's a false truth claim, but it's a claim to truth nonetheless. He claims that this particular idea is true: that all religions have the "Golden Rule" as a common thread. But besides that, he's just factually incorrect, particularly with respect to Islam. Having cited several verses already, I assume this needs no further explanation. Other new age religions are completely and totally consumed with self. For followers of the so-called "Law of Attraction", the end game in life is nothing more than to accumulate whatever it is that YOU want. Hindus don't believe in God at all. Eastern religions are pantheistic… they believe that everything is god and that god is impersonal. A force, not a person. Humanists believe only in humans. They reject all notions of the supernatural. Eugenie Scott is the head of the National Center for Science Education. She won't "work together" with people who want the scientific weaknesses of Darwin's theory of evolution taught in public schools. She can't, because she would have to sacrifice her beliefs to do so. People with different beliefs have beliefs that necessarily point them in different directions. To state that different beliefs point toward a common point, in a common direction, is simply nonsense.

So let us pray together on this February morning, but let us also work together in all the days and months ahead. For it is only through common struggle and common effort, as brothers and sisters, that we fulfill our highest purpose as beloved children of God.

See, we can't even do this together, because, as I indicated before, world religions do not agree on who God is or even that God is. And not only that, but not all world views agree that prayer is of any value. When we don't even agree that prayer is a good thing (how could a humanist, for example, pray?) So who are we all going to pray to? Doesn't that matter?

I'm afraid that these quotes from our President reveal that he is divorced from reality. Christians should pray (to God, in case you're wondering) for the sake of this nation. And certainly we should pray (to God, in case you're wondering) for President Obama. But President Obama has been badly deceived.

Eternal Security Pt. 11: Justification by Faith, Not Works

Each of the following verses testify that "justification," which is a theological term referring to the imputation of Christ's righteousness to the believer, is "not of works" or is "apart from works."

Rom 3:20, Rom 3:27 & 28, Rom 4:3, Rom 4:5, Rom 4:6, Rom 9:32, Rom 11:6, Gal 2:16, Gal 3:6, Gal 3:11, 2 Tim 1:9, Titus 3:5.

Each of the following verses testify that justification is by faith:

John 3:16, Rom 3:22, Rom 3:24, Rom 3:26, Rom 3:28-30, Rom 4:3, Rom 4:5, Rom 4:11, Rom 4:16, Rom 5:1, Rom 5:9, Rom 9:30, Rom 9:33, Rom 10:4, Rom 10:9-10, Gal 2:16, Gal 2:21, Gal 3:5-6, Gal 3:8, Gal 3:14, Gal 3:22, Gal 3:24, Eph 1:13, Eph 2:8, Phil 3:9, 1 Tim 1:16

…and the following verses tell us that salvation is a gift (one does not earn a 'gift'):

Rom 6:23, Rom 1:8, Rom 4:5, Rom 4:16, 1 Cor 2:2, 1 Cor 15:6, 1 Cor 15:14, Eph 1:15, Phil 2:17, Col 1:4, Col 2:5, 1 Thess 1:8

Justification, which is the crediting of God's righteousness to the believer, is what produces the result of eternal life for the believer that Christ promises. If salvation could be lost by the failure to meet some standard of obedience or morality, then the justification that a person received upon placing their trust in Christ would have to be maintained by continually meeting that standard, whatever it may be. But this would mean that the fourteen passages above would have to be completely wrong.

Furthermore, note that Gal 3:10 states:

For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.

So, if we want to rely on a system of works to provide our justification, we've already lost. There are 613 laws in the Mosaic Law, and according to Gal 3:10, if you fail to obey just one of those laws in your lifetime, you are cursed. It's too late… with respect to obeying the Law, we're all done for.

And anyway, in Romans 6:14 Paul makes it very clear that we have been released from the law:

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

In addition to all of this, in Romans 11:6 Paul tells us that grace and works are mutually exclusive. They cannot be blended in any way. Thus, it cannot be said that justification is by grace plus a little works here or there.

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

So if we add just one "work" to grace, we've removed grace from the equation completely. There's no combining the two systems; they are incompatible.

But once again, this is not to be understood as any sort of command against works. The only point here is to emphasize once again that works is not part of the salvation equation. Once a person is saved, they are expected to behave themselves and do good things, etc. But, not all do… at least not right away, and whether they do or don't does not have any impact on whether they are saved. Remember Romans 4:5:

But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,

This verse demonstrates that even the person who does not work is justified and granted God's perfect righteousness. It also demonstrates that believing, or putting your trust in something, does not fall under the category of work. Works cannot be part of the salvation equation in any way, shape, matter or form. Salvation is a gift and it does not depend upon you.

Eternal Security: A Pit Stop

Okay, we're closing in on the halfway point… ten reasons down and 15 to go, as I've promised to log 25 reasons, or lines of argument, in support of Eternal Security as a Biblically supported truth.

Someone might ask why I seem to think there is such importance to this doctrine. The reason is simple: This is one thing (of many) that makes Christianity completely distinct from all other world religions. When Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons come to my door, they're not likely to get away without hearing about eternal security. Mormons and JWs have no assurance of anything under their respective systems… it's all works-based. They never know where they stand. This becomes a fantastic opportunity to catch their attention and give them a reason to question the false doctrines they've been taught. These two cults characteristically attempt to ride on the coattails of Christianity and the Bible and make you think that they're part of Christianity too; that they're not so different. It can be very difficult, while talking with them on the front porch, to tease out exactly where--and why--they are different. Mormons, in particular, will nod their head in agreement with you about everything… trying to make you feel comfortable, like as though the LDS church doesn't really teach much that's different from Christianity. Well, throw eternal security out there and the feigned agreement comes to an abrupt halt. These cults simply cannot fathom this doctrine and the reason they cannot is that their concept(s) of salvation depend upon them, and not God. That's how they think.

Christian apologetics is the study of presenting a defense of Christianity and giving a reason for the hope that is in us. (see 1 Peter 3:15) As someone who has a keen interest in apologetics, I think this doctrine has enormous apologetic value because it sets Christianity apart from world religions with such incredible force. We are not accustomed to getting things for free in this life. We aren't pre-disposed to understand what grace really is. We always think we have to work for something and much of that is bound up in our desire to take credit for things ourselves. Let's face it… we want the credit. We want to say that we deserve our salvation, that we earned it through our hard work and effort and discipline. This is our nature.

Christianity rejects this… at least it's supposed to. The Bible says that no matter how hard we work, no matter what good things we do, we do not meet God's standard of perfect righteousness. Our best attempts at righteousness (Isaiah 64:6) are like filthy rags in God's eyes. We have absolutely no hope of earning out way to Heaven. The Bible says there is one way to be saved, and that is by trusting in Christ. Christianity is ultimately all about what you believe and who you trust. Our works are not part of the package as far as our salvation goes. The Christian way of life is primarily internal and invisible… it's between you and God. I'm not denying that there will--or should--be outward evidences of your faith; good works, etc. But those would be the result and not the cause. The belief comes first, in other words, and through that belief, Christ Himself saves you.

Next up: Reason number 11

Friday, February 06, 2009

Eternal Security Pt. 10: An Incorruptible Inheritance

In 1 Peter 1:3-5 we have Peter describing our inheritance, and he uses some interesting language:

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.

Christ died and left us an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled and cannot fade away. The inheritance itself is bullet-proof…. It cannot be corrupted or damaged in any way. (remember, no condemnation in Christ!) And, it is reserved in Heaven for us. Why would something be "reserved" for us if there was some question as to whether or not we would remain saved? It's "reserved" for us because we are kept not by our own obedience or morality, but by the power of God. God reserves this inheritance for us precisely because He knows we will be there. God's omniscience again.

Eternal Security Pt. 9: Who Can Separate Us?

In Romans 8:38-39 Paul gives us another jewel:

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord

The list of things that cannot separate us from the Love of God is exhaustive here; Neither your life nor your death. And not even angels; and guess what… Satan is an angel, so not even Satan can separate you! But what about you? Can you not separate yourself from the love of Christ? Are you a "created thing?" Yes, you are… therefore not even you can separate yourself from the love of God. This list covers all the bases. Nothing can separate you.

Eternal Security Pt. 8: No Condemnation in Christ

Paul writes in Romans 8:1 that:

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

If there's no condemnation in Christ, then how could anyone ever get "out" of Christ, unless there really was some manner of condemnation, even in Christ? Why would the Holy Spirit inspire such a statement if there really was condemnation in Christ?

If salvation is something that can be lost, then there must be a potential for condemnation, even for those who are in Christ. This verse is so incredibly clear and powerful. No condemnation for those who are saved. This means that there's nothing you can do--nothing whatsoever--to lose your salvation. If it doesn't mean that, then what does it mean?

Eternal Security Pt. 7: Who Has Hidden You?

In Colossians 3:3 Paul says:

"For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God."

When someone hides something, the intent is to keep it secure. Many people hide their money, jewelry, etc. for that very reason. However, when we hide something there's always a risk that what we're hiding will be discovered in spite of our efforts. In part this is because we lack omniscience, among other things. But what about Christ? Is it not safe to assume that Christ can keep us hidden? Why would we doubt that He could?

If it was possible to lose your salvation, (be "found") why would the Holy Spirit have chosen this language?

Sounds to me like Paul wants believers to understand that they are secure, period.

Eternal Security Pt. 6: Absolute Assurance

Please take note of 1 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, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Here John tells us that eternal life was given to us (believers) and that we can know that we are saved, that we have eternal life. And notice the tense there… we "have" eternal life. Not we "will have", but we "have" eternal life. It's ours. Right now.

Question: How could anyone possibly know that they are saved if there's a possibility that they might lose their salvation?

We have (or ought to have) absolute 100% assurance of our salvation in Jesus Christ. There is no reason to have anything less than 100% assurance. Christ has promised eternal life for those who place their trust in Him. So, is Christ trustworthy or not? If you place your trust in Christ for your salvation, then you have eternal life. It's as simple as that. And once again… how long does eternal life last? Forever.

Since Christ is 100% trustworthy, since we can be absolutely certain that His promises will be kept, what reason could we possibly have to doubt our salvation apart from a reluctance to actually place our trust in Christ?

What about the person who believes that salvation is something that can be lost due to sin, etc. but is nevertheless certain that they will be in Heaven? Who is this person trusting? Themselves, or Christ?

Back to the skydiving illustration again. Essentially, the Bible says to jump out of the plane with no reserve 'chute. Christ is all you need. His parachute will save you. There is absolutely zero possibility that His parachute will fail to open properly, tear, get tangled during deployment or any other malfunction you can imagine. Don't pack the reserve, you don't need it and it won't do you a bit of good. Rely on Christ alone and know that you have eternal life.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Eternal Security Pt. 5: A Fortiori Logic

Read Romans 5:9-10:

"Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!"

This passage uses A fortiori logic to make an important argument. "A fortiori" logic is the concept that if you can do something greater, then you can do something lesser. A fortiori logic works like this: If your car has enough gasoline in its tank to travel 50 miles, then it also has enough gasoline to travel 5 miles. Paul is pointing out that God loved us enough to save us even when we were His enemies… so He must love us that much more once we become saved. And if He loves us more now that we're saved, and He loved us enough even when we were His enemies to make salvation available to us, why would He allow our sin to separate us from Him ever again? In other words, if our sin didn't stop God from providing salvation for us before we were saved, then why would our sin ever separate us from Him once we have been saved?

The same logic also applies to Romans 8:32, which says:

"He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?"

Paul is saying that God already did the greater thing… He sacrificed His only son who died to pay the penalty for all the sins of the world. So keeping us saved regardless of our failure is the easier, the lesser thing. If He already did the greater, then the lesser becomes a given.

Said another way, if our sins can cancel Christ's work on the cross once we're saved, then how did Christ's work on the cross ever cancel out any of our sins?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Eternal Security Pt. 4: God's Gifts Not Revocable

Ephesians 2:8 states that salvation is a gift from God. Romans 11:29 states that the gifts of God are not revocable.

To be fair, there are those who understand Eph 2:8 to mean that faith is a gift of God. Faith may well be a gift in a particular sense… that is, all humans are capable of faith and that capacity could be said to be a gift of God in the same sense that our ability to speak or walk are gifts from God. But notice that the gift spoken of in Ephesians 2 is a gift only given to believers, so that can't be what Paul means by this, because unbelievers can speak and walk just as well as believers can, and they have faith as well.

The question here concerns verse 8 where it says "that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God." Obviously, we have to know what the pronouns that and it refer to. Fortunately, some common sense and the rules of Greek grammar can help sort it all out.

The pronouns "that" and "it" must have an antecedent… something which precedes them and to which they refer. In the Greek, nouns have gender and the pronouns "that" and "it" are neuter and the noun "faith" is feminine. The rules of Greek grammar require a pronoun's gender to agree with the gender of its antecedent. Therefore "faith" cannot be the noun to which "that" refers. Besides which, it's clear that everyone has faith. Consider again the skydiving analogy in the earlier post. At any rate, Paul is talking broadly about the concept of salvation and describes that with three concepts he expresses in verses 4-6.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

This group of abstract concepts amounts to the antecedent, and in this case, this group of concepts would have a neuter gender and would agree with the gender of "that" and "it". Therefore, salvation is the gift spoken of here.

There are five other reasons to understand Ephesians 2:8 this way, but that's beyond the scope of this post. Suffice to say that Ephesians 2:8 says that salvation is a gift from God (not a reward) and according to Rom 11:29, God's gifts are irrevocable.

In other words, God's not an "Indian Giver." What God gives to you is yours to keep.

Eternal Security Pt. 3: Faith Alone Plus…?

Every one of the verses listed at the end of this post makes "believing" in Christ the sole condition for salvation; for eternal life. Unfortunately, there is much confusion about what it means to "believe" in Christ. Consulting the Greek ought to clear up the confusion… in each of these verses the word for "believe" is "pisteuo", which simply means to place trust in something or to rely on something. People place their trust in various things for various reasons every day of their lives. A skydiver, for example, places his trust in a parachute, literally, to save his life. Every time a skydiver jumps out of an airplane, he has the belief that his 'chute will function properly and that he will be delivered safely to the ground. And if the authors of the verses listed below would have written about a skydiver's reliance on his parachute, they'd have used exactly the same word… "pisteuo." There's nothing unique about "pisteuo" in the context of salvation… it means precisely the same thing. The skydiver has faith in his parachute in exactly the same way we are told to have faith in Christ. There's no value or merit in the faith at all… the value, or merit, is in the object of that faith. Is the thing you've placed your trust in actually capable of doing what you believe it will? What if the skydiver placed his trust in a ham sandwich? Would he hit the ground with a SPLAT, or would his faith overcome the fact that a ham sandwich cannot do the job of a parachute? Obviously, no matter how much faith the skydiver has in a ham sandwich, he's gonna die if he pulls the ripcord and a ham sandwich pops out. A wise skydiver places his trust in something that can actually save his life… therefore it's the parachute that saves him, not his faith.

There's only one problem with that analogy… but it turns out it's not a problem at all: No skydiver with any sanity jumps out of a plane without his reserve 'chute. And the reason for that is very, very pertinent to this discussion. Ultimately, skydivers do not trust their main chute. If they did, they wouldn't carry a reserve, right? The skydiver has added something to the main 'chute (in this case wisely) and by doing so, reveals his lack of trust in the main 'chute. Again, this is smart… for a skydiver. But with respect to Christ, do we need a "reserve 'chute"? Do we think Christ is likely to fail us in some way? Was His work sufficient or wasn't it? Is it possible that somehow He forgot about one or two of our sins? Should we rely also on our morality and good works as a sort of "reserve chute"? Do we need a "B-plan" for our salvation? Do we need to supplement Christ's work? And if we think we do, then doesn't that mean we don't really trust in Christ?

Is it possible to be saved if you do not trust in or rely on Christ? No, it's not. We are to trust in Him and Him alone… nothing added, no "B-plan". Christ is all that's necessary, He is absolutely trustworthy. Your own works and obedience is the wrong object to place your faith in; they are not capable of saving you.

Paul makes this point very clear in 1 Corinthians 15:13-14 when he says:

"But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain."

In other words, if the things which we believe are not true, then believing them is useless. Our "faith" is only as effective as the thing which we place that faith in. Our faith does not have the ability to change reality… if we believe in things that are false, or put out trust in things that cannot accomplish for us what we want them to accomplish, then we are fools and we are to be pitied.

To say that there's anything you can do to lose your salvation is to say that your salvation depends on more than Christ… it's to say that your salvation depends on you. It suggests that salvation requires Christ plus something, such as your good works or obedience or your "perseverance."

When Christ tells us to trust in Him, He's telling us to jump out of the plane with no reserve. He will save you. Period.

Some folks might understand me to be saying that you should not do good works, you should not be obedient, etc. But this doesn't follow from what I've said. I said not to rely on your good works, your obedience, for your salvation. That's not the same as saying don't do those things. What I'm saying is simply that your obedience and your good works contribute precisely nothing to your status as a born-again Christian.

Here's the string of verses promised earlier:

John 3:15, John 3:16, John 3:18, John 3:36, John 5:24, John 11:25, John 20:31, John 1:12, John 6:29, Mark 16:16, Acts 13:39, Rom 10:9, Rom 3:22, 1Cor 1:21, 1John 5:13, Acts 16:31, Rom 10-9, John 3:18

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Eternal Security Pt. 2: How Long Does "Eternal Life" Last?

The question that must be asked here is this: "How long does 'eternal life' last?" Well, by definition, "eternal life" lasts forever. On this basis alone one can confidently reject the notion that our salvation, our "eternal life", can be forfeited. If our "eternal life" can come to an end, then it is not "eternal life." If "eternal life" is anything but "eternal" and "everlasting" then Jesus has given false promises. Eternal life means eternal life.

Someone might avoid the above conflict by asserting that eternal life doesn't begin until we die physically. But is this true? Well, IF it's true, then your eternal life is conditioned not on your faith in Christ, but on what you do between the time you believe in Christ and the time you die. In other words, salvation becomes a product of your works and not a product of God's grace through faith in Christ.

John 3:3, John 3:7 and 1 Peter 1:23 all use the phrase "born again," referring to salvation. John 3:6 contrasts the birth of the body (flesh) against the birth of the spirit. Also, 2 Cor 5:17 and Gal 6:15 both say that you are a "new creature" in Christ. If our eternal life doesn't begin until we die, then why did the Holy Spirit use these descriptions?

Eternal life begins the moment you place your trust (faith alone) in Jesus Christ for salvation. This is when you become a "new creature" and are "born again." If eternal life begins at salvation, and if eternal life is truly "eternal", then there can be nothing we can do to lose our salvation.

The following verses all promise eternal life or everlasting life specifically, or "life" synonymously, conditioned on faith in Christ: John 3:15, John 3:16, John 3:36, John 5:24, John 11:25, John 20:31, 1John 5:13 And note that John 5:24 and John 11:25 both represent the words of Jesus Christ Himself.

Eternal Security Pt. 1: God's Omniscience

One of the many universally agreed-upon characteristics of God is that He is omniscient, which means that he knows literally everything, and this extends to past, present, and future. He even knows all the 'what ifs' of your life. He has foreknowledge, but His foreknowledge never violates our free-will. We are not predestined in the sense that we lack the ability to choose. God has foreknowledge of our decisions, and therefore those decisions contribute toward God's plan.

To deny the concept of Eternal Security, it would appear, is to deny God's omniscience. From God's perspective, he knows every decision we will ever make, sinful or otherwise. If there was ever to be a circumstance in a believer's life where he/she would surpass some threshold of sin or even deny Christ altogether, God knew it even as Christ hung on the cross. With this in mind, how could a perfectly Just and Holy God grant this person salvation to begin with? Why would He, when He knows that this believer is going to sin or even renounce their faith in the future and thus lose their salvation? To say that He wouldn't, and that this person isn't really saved (in spite of having placed their trust in Jesus Christ) is to deny, then, all the verses which promise eternal life on the condition of faith in Christ. God knows that a believer is going to fail in the future, he knows the time, the date, the circumstances. That God is omniscient is an absolute and is one of the most elementary Biblical truths, but denying eternal security requires an implicit denial of God's omniscience, or the denial of the promises of eternal life.

The following verses all promise eternal life or salvation conditioned on faith in Christ: John 3:15, John 3:16, John 3:18, John 3:36, John 5:24, John 11:25, John 20:31, John 1:12, John 6:29, Acts 13:39, Rom 10:9, Rom 3:22, 1Cor 1:21, 1John 5:13, Acts 16:31

Eternal Security: Does it Matter?

In an earlier post (Doctrine Divides?) I mentioned that not only were there disagreements about doctrine in the Christian Church, but there were even disagreements about which doctrines are important, or essential. Eternal security, which is the idea that once a person has been saved by God's grace through faith (trusting) in Christ, they are saved forever and that salvation can never be forfeited nor revoked, is one such doctrine.

Once again, in an effort to preserve unity within the church, Christians frequently capitulate on this doctrine, being reluctant to commit to either view, even thinking that there's something wrong with committing or politely taking a stand. At a home fellowship group we touched on the subject and it was immediately obvious that even within our group, all going to the same church, there were different views. Someone said that we can just agree to disagree, and that it was not a salvational issue.

Not a salvational issue? I beg your pardon? Let's suppose for the moment it's true that a person can lose their salvation, and that I do not believe it (and I don't). If I believe I cannot lose my salvation but the truth of the matter is that I can, then doesn't that necessarily mean that I'm at risk in losing my salvation? Isn't it incumbent on people who know the truth in this scenario to correct me for the sake of preserving my salvation? Isn't that important? I would think so. Not only is it a "salvational issue" because it pertains to the topic of salvation, but it's also a "salvational issue" because if I don't believe the right thing, I may be at risk of losing my salvation!

Now generally, the debate around the issue of Eternal Security revolves around a person's alignment with either a Calvinist theological view or an Arminian theological view. Calvinists will generally align with Eternal Security and Arminians will generally believe that salvation is something that can be lost. Now there's much more to both of those theological systems, but the important thing for me to do right now is to exclude myself from either group. I'm convinced that both theological systems are deeply flawed. I come from neither the Calvinist school nor the Arminian school. Maybe I'll get into why in a future post.

It certainly seems obvious to me that what you believe on this issue is important. I don't know how a person could conclude otherwise. So, the question is, what is the truth of the matter? Can your salvation be lost, or is it permanent and unrevokable?

Well, I thought I might give a defense for the position that I have taken. I'm convinced that Eternal Security represents the truth, as taught by scripture. The following posts will catalog no less than 25 reasons, or bases, for believing that your salvation cannot be lost under any circumstances.

But before I start posting those, I want to clarify one thing… there is a right answer to this question and there is a wrong answer. There's no post-modernism here… both ideas cannot be true. There is no grey area. Either it's true that you cannot lose your salvation, or it's true that you can. And if it's true that you can lose your salvation, then it the idea that you cannot is false. If it's true that you cannot lose your salvation, then the idea that you can is false.

The challenge for the reader here is to actually seriously and prayerfully consider the arguments which will follow and make a decision about whether the arguments are valid and supported by scripture or not, and if not, to have a clear idea (even if you don't wish to comment) as to why they are not valid.

Please stay tuned…