PART 6 ETERNAL SECURITY
What Are Some of the Prominent Verses from the Four Gospels That Are Used to Address the Topic of Eternal Security?
Some might ask, “Why are we looking at this doctrine at all? Let’s just enjoy God’s presence and the gifts of the Spirit.” I would respond by saying that while we should do that, there are times when doctrinal topics need to be taught as well. In my 20-plus years of studying and teaching the Word of God, I have found that born-again believers have very succinct views on various Biblical topics; their beliefs of which are largely dependent upon the teachings of the church they have attended or are attending. Many churches consider their particular doctrinal platform as being the absolute and final word on any topic. Any deviation by a church member could be considered apostasy from the faith. If you don’t agree with every perspective, then you could be considered as being off, wrong, and someone that promotes false teaching.
In some cases, there seems to be, at best, very minimal if any attempt to engage in open dialogue regarding doctrine, and tolerance of those with an opposing view is, in most cases, non-existent. The idea behind engaging in this dialogue is the realization that many believers do not necessarily agree with every doctrinal view they’ve been taught at church, and a discussion could provide an opportunity to exchange conflicting thoughts. This might not change the doctrinal platform of the church itself, but hopefully will provide support for those who have a different belief system.
Before we proceed, I would like to tell you a story. In the early years of my Christian walk, I was involved with a church that had a worldwide ministry. There were not only many affiliate branch ministries located throughout the USA, but there were also many missionary teams stationed around the world. At this time, I was working on staff in a Christian day school for an affiliate branch ministry which was located in New England. One of the doctrines, which was espoused, was that a Christian should not drink alcohol for any reason. I never quite understood where this view came from although it seemed that whenever it was brought forth a verse would be taken from the Old Testament in order to justify the prohibition.
One evening after worship service, the head pastor and the assistant pastors went out to dinner. Apparently, some of the church members got together and decided they would also go out to dinner at the same restaurant. When they arrived, a hostess guided them to a table. While on their way, they passed by the pastors who were eating and yes, drinking alcohol. The church members didn’t say anything about the alcohol, but said hello and went on their way. On the following day, it seemed like everyone who was a member of this branch ministry found out about this. When I heard about it from many sources, I had to admit I was quite surprised. On the one hand, the members were told that alcohol consumption was off limits and on the other hand those who were presenting this prohibition didn’t abide by it.
As time went on, I understood that the president of the ministry whose headquarters was located in a different state was a non-dispensationalist meaning that a verse or verses could be taken from anywhere in the Bible in order to justify a doctrinal view. Another thing that I realized was, if you were the pastor of an affiliate branch ministry, it appeared that you had to teach on doctrinal views that lined up with the president’s view even if your own perspective on a topic differed. I have heard of many stories where a pastor from a branch ministry had a different view on a Biblical topic and decided to teach as such from the pulpit. Soon word would get back to the president of the ministry and this usually resulted in some kind of conversation with this pastor either by phone or in person in regard to this change of view. In some instances, depending on the doctrine in question, a pastor might be asked to leave the ministry, if they didn’t change their mind.
With that said, while there will always be doctrinal differences shouldn’t our focus be on growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Shouldn’t we be learning about who we are as new creations in Christ, developing his mind concerning every aspect of our life? For example, if I have a problem with jealousy, what is God’s mind concerning jealousy? Or, if I have a problem with adultery, what is God’s mind concerning adultery? Shouldn’t we be learning God’s Word, appropriating it, and meditating upon it, so we would be able to begin to experience the fruit of the Holy Spirit on a more consistent basis in our life?
The initial section of scripture is used by many churches as what they would say is a clear example of many followers of Jesus losing their salvation.
The Miracle of the 5000: “Many of His Disciples Went Back, and Walked No More with Him”Suggested Reading: John 6:1-66Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. (John 6:53-54, 59-64, 66)
The miracle of feeding 5000 people with five loaves and two small fishes had just occurred. Following this event, Jesus went to Capernaum where He was asked for a sign that many thought, if he provided it, would cause them to believe in Him. He responded to them by saying that the manna given by his Father to their ancestors was a type of the genuine manna, referring to Himself, who had come down from heaven, and was also given by God the Father. He stated further that any, who believed in Him, would never hunger or thirst, which caused the Jews to murmur against Him, because they reasoned how could he be both the bread of life that came from heaven and yet be born on earth as Joseph’s son?
The final straw came when Jesus said that their fathers or ancestors ate bread in the wilderness and died physically, but whoever eats of the bread that He gives (his flesh) would live forever. He followed this up by saying, “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” In other words, they would obtain these blessings which are available only through Him. Upon hearing this, even many of his disciples chose not to follow him any longer, because it appeared that what he said, they took literally. After which, Jesus clarified as to what he meant. He said that it is the Holy Spirit, who gives life, whereas the flesh (man’s power) profits nothing (is of no value), and that the words He spoke to them are spiritual and life.
With this incredible exchange of dialogue and many of His disciples deciding to follow Him no more how would this question be answered?
Did the Disciples Lose Their Salvation?
• These disciples followed Jesus, learning of him, and believing in Him as their Messiah, but changed their mind about Him after he made certain statements in the synagogue such being the bread that came down from heaven and eating His flesh and drinking his blood.• Jesus statement about those who eat his flesh and drink his blood was taken literally and they probably thought he was crazy.• Many of his disciples returned to their old lives, no longer following Jesus and forfeited their eternal destiny.
• These disciples followed Jesus and learned from Him. Some believed in what He taught, but not necessarily that He was their Messiah. • John 6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.• Others believed both what He taught and that He was their Messiah.• John 6:68-69 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.• Those disciples, who left, didn’t lose their salvation, because it was revealed that they didn’t believe in Him as the Messiah in the first place. You can’t lose something that you didn’t have.
This next section is one of the key proponents by those who say that a believer can’t lose their salvation.
The Sheep Hear His Voice and Follow Him: “And They Shall Never Perish”Suggested Reading: John 10:24-29My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 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.
The Jews asked Christ to tell them clearly, if He indeed was the Messiah. Jesus responded that He had already revealed proof of this through his actions and teachings, which should have left no doubt about his identity. And then he said to them how somebody would know if they were one of His sheep. His sheep are those, who hear His voice, whom He knows personally, and they follow Him. As a result, He will give unto them eternal life (freedom from spiritual death), and they shall never perish (be punished in hell), and neither will anyone be able to pluck (to snatch them out) from His Father’s hand.
The question we will attempt to answer in this context is, can the sheep lose their salvation?
• Those who “hear his voice,” believing in Him as the Messiah, and follow Him (yielding to his guidance, seeking to be led by him45), and for whatever reason decide to go back into sin will lose their salvation. • By not continuing to follow Jesus, they were no longer under divine protection and security. Therefore, they will perish for eternity.
• Those who hear his voice, giving assent (give recognition) of his supreme claims and subsequently follow (acknowledge; an active trust) Him, believing that He is the Christ, will receive eternal life. Eternal life is not based on our walk, but on our standing. • Some other examples of this idea about those who hear His voice and follow Him is found in Luke 9:52-60.
Jesus sent messengers to a village of the Samaritans to find a place to spend the night before proceeding on to Jerusalem, but the Samaritans did not provide lodging, because they became aware that He was on his way to Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Tabernacles and, while they claimed to fear Yahweh, they also served other gods and persecuted those who feared Yahweh only. The disciples asked Him, if they should command fire to come down and destroy them, but Jesus said no, because He came to save men’s lives, and not to destroy them. V. 52 Samaritans, … V. 53 And they did not receive him… Proceeding onward, he gave two more examples of people who were urged to “Follow Him” but, for one reason or another, none of them responded to His call for salvation. V. 57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. V. 59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. The words Follow me means to hear Christ’s voice, recognizing His supreme claims and to acknowledge Him, by believing that He is the Messiah.
• When we believe in Christ, we will never be punished in hell or perish for eternity. No man, demon, or power will be able to seize and take us away from Jesus or His Father.
There are so many more scripture sections to look at, but let’s examine one more, and then go forward to looking at new sections of scripture from the Church Age.
The idea of being cast forth as a branch and being cast into the fire is for some an analogy of a believer losing their salvation.
Jesus Is the True Vine: “If a Man Abide Not in Me, He Is Cast Forth as a Branch”Suggested Reading: John 15:1-8Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. (John 15:2, 4-6)
Judas, the brother of the apostle James and author of the book of Jude, asked Jesus how He would manifest Himself to His disciples and not to the world. Jesus responded by talking about His relationship with the Father and His relationship with those who believed in Him. He said that He is the true vine and his Father is the husbandman (gardener). Every branch (those who believed in Him), who does not bear fruit will be taken away as a branch that has dried up and is removed subsequently from a tree and destroyed by fire. But every productive (fruit bearing) branch will be pruned to produce even more fruit.
How would the following question by answered in respect to the analogy of a branch being cast into the fire?
Can a Believer in Christ Lose Their Salvation?
• Every person that believes in Him, but does not bear fruit is taken away.
⁓ He removes every branch which has been in Him by true faith - such as have given way to iniquity, and made shipwreck of their faith and of their good conscience.46
• Those believers who do not abide in Him will no longer have any right or title to him or his salvation47, being withered (deprived of all the influences of God’s grace and Spirit48).
~ They will be separated from God's people, from God himself, and from the glory of his power49 and be eternally tormented with the Devil and his angels, because they have lost their salvation.50
• Every person, who believes in Him, but does not bear fruit is taken away indicating that they are receiving none of the juices of the tree or in other words, they are not being impacted by the Holy Spirit. • These believers can be taken away in the further sense of being removed in the following ways:
By the discipline of God. By falling into temptation. By persecution and tribulation. By the deceitfulness of riches. By the cares of this world.(Matthew 13:21-22). By death, for God has power at any moment to remove unprofitable branches.51
• As a result, they will be purged (which can refer to the Word which convicts and cleanses). This could also be an analogy to born-again Christians, who by their communion with Christ through the Spirit makes possible the bearing of fruit.52 • The believer, who does not abide in Him, will be cast off, perhaps from the vineyard, as analogous both to being disciplined by the church and being removed from the proximity to the vine53 (Jesus Christ) having become withered (spiritually weak), as the commencement of strength is taken from him.54• The consequences of their choices will be that they will be cast into the fire, meaning misery of soul and discipline from God, which could include fiery trials, fierce temptations, and terrible judgments always overtaking the unfruitful and unfaithful servants55, and even physical death; losing rewards but not salvation at the judgment seat of Christ.56• If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (1 Corinthians 3:15)• These verses are similar to those found in 1 Corinthians 3:1-15, where the apostle Paul is addressing the Corinthian believers as those who are carnal, men of the flesh, who are under the influence of the old sin nature. He instructs them by saying that if their works are not built upon the foundation of Christ, they will be burned up in smoke and their reward will be lost, but not their salvation.
So, how are you doing? As you can see, certain words are used to mean one thing to they way someone chooses to believe and another way someone chooses to believe. I believe that with an understanding of both perspectives, we are more apt to be willing to dialogue with a fellow believer in regard to our differences of opinion on a topic rather than be condescending and ridiculing toward them. I have also come to believe that knowing why we believe what we believe is important, most Biblical topics are intellectually oriented. What I mean is, they increase our intellectual capacity, but not necessarily our reliance on the ministry of the Holy Spirit. I’m sure this statement has just raised some alarms. Let’s leave it at that for now.
In the scripture sections that follow, we will now examine this topic from the perspective of a New Testament believer, as one who has received the indwelling Holy Spirit as did the disciples of Jesus on the day of Pentecost. As such, we will look at scripture sections which are taken from the book of Acts, the Epistles (letters that were written to the churches), and the book of Revelation.
Endnotes45Barnes.46Adam Clarke.47Adam Clarke.48Adam Clarke.49Adam Clarke.50Adam Clarke.51Barnes.52Bible Exposition.53The Pulpit.54Barnes.55The Pulpit.56Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament, 2000, 15 September 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
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