by Russell Kelly, Ph. D.
Edited October 1, 2018
THE PERSEVERANCE AND ENDURANCE OF BELIEVERS
The doctrine of eternal security proclaims that believers who have by faith been called and elected to a state of grace and have been “born again,” or regenerated by the Holy Spirit can never fall away from that state of adoption and grace. A permanent irrevocable relationship with God has been established.
Yet, far from being a license to sin, the doctrine of eternal security has, as its necessary corollary, the doctrine of God’s severe discipline of His children. Disobedient believers can expect certain discipline, even to the point of being put to death by God in order to preserve the integrity of God’s name. “Professed” believers who habitually rebel without any evident discipline from God have never been truly regenerated as believers.
The following reasons scripturally support the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.
1. THE EXTENT OF REDEMPTION SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Heb 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:
Heb 9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;
Heb 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Jesus Christ died once for ALL sins of the “whole world (1 John 2:2).” Since all our sins were future when He died, this proves that He even died for sins which had not yet been committed. Although many of the believer’s sins are yet to be committed in the future, the guilt and eternal penalty for even future sins have also already been redeemed at Calvary – thus no sins in heaven.
The importance of Hebrews 9:24-28 as it relates to eternal security cannot be overemphasized. The key word is “once,” not “judgment.”
In Calvary’s one perfect sacrifice, Jesus reached backward to the first sin and forward to the last sin and died ONCE for ALL sins for ALL time. Verse 26 contains a very important Greek phrase, “sun-te-lei-a toon ai-oon-oon.” “Sun-tel-ei-a” is a compound word from “sun,” meaning “together,” as in “symphony,” and “tel-ei-a,” meaning “end, goal, purpose,” as in “telescope.” “Toon ai-oo-noon” is plural, meaning “of the ages.” The KJV translates this phrase as “the end of the world.” It is an assembly of the ends of all ages. Christ left no loose-ends of sin un-redeemed. His one sacrifice paid for ALL sins … past, present AND future!
Most Christians agree that all sins were paid for in the one redemptive act of Christ at Calvary. However, they differ concerning “how” and “when” the redemption is given to believers … whether all at once or piece-meal.
Those who believe that one can fall from grace are called “Arminians,” after a famous early theologian, Jacobus Arminius (d1609). Arminian Christians believe that, at the moment of conversion, God applies only the amount of redemption required to cover sins committed up to that point of time. Thus, sins committed after conversion require added redemptive “application” in order to maintain a saving “relationship” with God. This concept impels a skeptic to ask three questions. (1) Since God cannot allow even one unredeemed sin into His presence, should not even one sin committed after conversion cause a believer to immediately fall from grace? (2) If a believer dies with “un-confessed” sins, does God treat that sin differently and allow the person to remain in a state of grace? (3) If God forgives the un-confessed sin of the believer who dies an untimely death, then why cannot God forgive all un-confessed sins of the believer?
Arminians ask, if all sins have already been forgiven, then why is there a need to confess sins after one has been converted?
In reality, ALL sin has been redeemed (paid for), whether confessed or not. That is why the Father has committed judgment to the Son! (Jn 5:22) The question is, “How much redemption is given to the believer at the moment of the new birth?”
It is the purpose of this thesis to demonstrate that all sins of the believer committed AFTER the new birth have already been judged and redeemed in Christ. Both the judgment of ALL sins AND the redemption of ALL sins were undeservingly given (imputed by grace) to the believer at the moment of conversion. Therefore, those sins committed after conversion cannot cause a person to fall from grace! Although the carnal Christian may be severely punished and receive little or no rewards in heaven beyond salvation, he will still be saved “as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:14-15). This thesis will show that sins committed after conversion require confession in order to restore a right “fellowship” with God, but do not affect a right “relationship,” “position” or “standing.”
Heb 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
1 Peter 1:18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
1 Peter1:19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
The correct understanding of atonement makes it impossible to fall from a state of saving grace. At the moment of justification, God bestows all of the righteousness of Christ on the believer. This means that all the believer’s sins…past, present and future…have already been paid for, redeemed, and need no second redemption. Since the believer cannot remove Christ from the cross, the believer cannot “un-redeem” those sins!! The same sins cannot be judged a second time!
2. THE EXTENT OF FORGIVENESS SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
Eph 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Col 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
REDEMPTION = FORGIVENESS OFALL SINS!
“Redemption” IS “the forgiveness of sins.” The redemption price paid was for ALL sins. Therefore, redemption is for ALL sins.
Scripture is clear that forgiveness received at the time of regeneration includes ALL sins…past, present, and future … which were paid for at Calvary. That forgiveness assured the eternal “relationship” with God and should not be confused with the forgiveness which restores broken “fellowship” (such as in 1 John 1:3-9). If this were not true, then even one small un-forgiven sin committed after the new birth would cause an immediate fall from grace.
Complete and eternal redemption is currently the possession of the true believer. The price of future sins has already been paid. The question is not “Have your sins been redeemed,” but rather, “Have you believed in Christ for the forgiveness he provides?” (John 3:18; 16:8,9). From the believer’s perspective, redemption is the forgiveness of the condemnatory guilt of all sins.
3. THE PRESENT GOSPEL JUDGMENT SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:
Jn 16:9 Of sin, because they believe not on me.
Christ died and paid the redemption price for ALL sins. At the moment of conversion that total redemption price is imputed to the believer. Therefore “sin “is not the “issue” that will determine whether or not one is saved. The only question is “Have you believed in Christ?” This is the truth so clearly stated in John 16:9. The only un-pardonable and un-redeemed “sin” is failure to believe in Christ when one is lost.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Jn 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Jn 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.
Jn 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a judgment message for every generation. The importance of its judgment aspect cannot be overemphasized.
John 3:16 is a judgment declaration. Belief in Christ brings the last-judgment-verdict of “innocent” forward to the present time and bestows upon the believer “everlasting life” now – in the present time.
John 3:17 declares that Christ did not come to judge the world. Christ came to pay the penalty for all sins of the world. He would prefer that all believe in him and not require judging (2 Pet 3:9).
Jn 3:18 plainly says that believers will not face a judgment of their sins. Those who do not believe are being “judged already,” not because of their sins, but because they have “not believed” in his name. This truth of the “cause” of judgment must be correctly understood as teaching that forgiveness for all sins, including future ones, has already been given to believers.
The “judgment” verdict of John 3:19 is the judgment that most people believe is in the distant future! The judgment that determines whether or not one is to be saved occurs NOW, while we are living.
Again, because of Calvary, the verdict of that judgment has been brought forward in time and applied to those who believe in Christ. That is what John 3:16 is all about.
Jn 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
The Greek word for “drinks” in John 4:14 is in the aorist tense, which is a completed point-in-time-past event. The “initial” need for a “drink” is the need that all un-converted people feel to have the burden of guilt from their sins lifted. The initial “drink” which justifies and makes one a child of God does not need to be repeated!
After taking the initial drink, the believer will “never” thirst for that initial drink again because the Holy Spirit indwells and provides eternal or perpetual spiritual nourishment for the soul. The use of “never” supports the claim that no truly saved person can ever fall from grace – hence only “one baptism” is found in Scripture (Eph 4:5).
Jn 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
John 5:24 restates the truth of John3:16-19 that believers will not face a judgment after death which will determine whether or not they are saved. This again proves that sins committed after conversion, even un-confessed sins, cannot cause one to fall from grace.
John 5:24 is a very powerful verse concerning the eternal security of the believer. First, the believer already “has eternal life.” Second, like John 3:16, 19 and Romans 8:1, the believer is promised that he “shall not come into judgment.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says that the word for “judgment” basically means a “separation.” Third, the believer already “has passed” out of death into life (Greek perfected tense).
Rom 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Romans 8:1 is a very important text regarding the security of the believer. “Now” the believer does not have one single sin to condemn him. The Greek is ou-den, meaning “not one.” This does not mean the believer is living a sinless life. However, it does mean that the sins he commits after justification have already been paid for and they cannot be used to condemn him in any judgment designed to separate him from God.
“In Christ” refers to justification, not sanctification. Christ’s righteousness stands in place of the believer’s righteousness.
“Condemnation” here means “result of a judgment against” (Greek: ka-ta-kri-ma). “Now” the believer already stands before God perfectly innocent of the guilt of his sins. There is absolutely no contrary result of judgment to be charged against him.
Again, this does not mean that the believer has ceased to sin. It does mean that the believer’s legal position, or standing, is one of judicial sinlessness. Christ has set him from the power of death and he can live the victorious life in Christ (Rom.7:24).
The Bible does not say that God only promises a new spiritual life to believers. It specifically adds that this new life is “eternal,” or “everlasting.” The quality and quantity of the life given to believers is eternal, or everlasting. It is not “conditional” eternal life which God might remove because of later certain disobedience (1 Cor 15:54). Eternal life is an irrevocable gift from God (Romans 11:29). While possessing eternal life, the believer cannot fall from a state of grace.
Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Hebrews 9:27 is one of the most miss-used and miss-quoted verses in the entire Bible! It is miss-used because most preachers use it almost entirely as referring to an after-life judgment. It is miss-quoted because most leave out the first phrase. The Greek mimics a “men … de ….” construction means “in as much as,” or “just as” plus “even so.” Hebrews 9:27 is only half of a two-part statement! It is completed in verse 28.
As mentioned earlier, the key word of Hebrews 9:24-28 is “once,” not “judgment.” Jesus substituted our judgment appointment at God’s judgment (Greek kri-sis) with His own at Calvary. We had an appointment to account for our sins, but Jesus took our place. Jesus died for the believer! Failure to apply the judgment aspect of the gospel causes a failure to understand this very important truth of Hebrews 9.
According to Hebrews 9:28 Christ will not return to judge the sins of believers; instead He will return for the final redemption of the body (Rom 8:23; 1 Cor 15:51-54). This is when the soul is finally joined again to the immortal body.
4. THE MEANING OF JUSTIFICATION SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Rom 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
Rom 4:6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works,
Rom 4:7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered.
Rom 4:8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
Rom 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
Rom 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
“Justification,” especially as used by Paul, keeps the believer from falling out of the state of saving grace. Romans 3, verses 21-26 form a complete thought and a complete sentence-paragraph. The ones who have “all sinned” in verse 23 are the same ones in verse 22 who have exercised “faith” and “who believe.” Yet, while exercising faith, the Greek of verse 23 says that they “keep on falling short” — they keep on sinning. However, the continual “falling short” of verse 23 does not jeopardize justification because verse 24 continues the thought by saying that, at the same time they are falling short, they are also “being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.”
In our society, when a governor pardons a convicted guilty criminal, that criminal can then commit another crime and be returned to prison. This is because the new crime has not been pardoned and the criminal can “fall” again from the grace of society. However, this is NOT true of God’s forgiveness because His forgiveness includes the guilt of ALL sins, even those committed after the initial pardon has been received.
2 Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Scriptural justification means that a believer is “in Christ.” God has legally imputed (placed on his account) Christ’s righteousness and declared the true believer wholly innocent of the guilt of all sins — past, present and future.
Justification is an un-returnable gift from God (Rom.3:24; 11:29). The gift is the full redemption of sins in Christ. Justification places the believer judicially, legally and factually at peace with God.
Rom 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
Rom 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
1 Cor 6:11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Justification is complete pardon for all sin. “Having now been justified” and “having been reconciled” are past completed actions which are not in jeopardy of being lost. God delivers believers from the wrath of the second death (1 Thes 1:10; 5:9; Heb 2:9; 2 Tim 1:10).
“Shall be saved” is the future tense, referring to sanctification and glorification, not justification. It might also refer to the daily spiritual growth of those who are allowing the indwelling Christ to live out His life within (Gal 2:20).
Rom 5:16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
Rom 5:17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.)
“Justification” and “righteousness” are the same Greek word di-kai-o-su-ne. Justification is the legal term which gives the assurance that one will reign and persevere throughout life.
1 Cor 1:30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.
Judicially speaking, those who have already been justified are “in Christ,” and already possess the righteousness, sanctification and redemption necessary to assure eternal security.
5. THE PERFECTION OF JUSTIFICATION SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Many who think that believers can fall from grace do not understand the difference between “justification” and “sanctification.” Ephesians 2, verses 8 and 9 refer to justification which is solely by grace through faith. The Greek perfect passive verb tense in verse 8, means “have been saved,” and is identical to the verb tense of “has been written,” often worded as “is written.”
Justification is a completed perfect action in past time. Ephesians 2, verse 10 describes one of many results of justification which is sanctification. Good works produced after justification neither cause justification by grace through faith, nor do they cause justification to be sustained. Good works are an expected result of justification.
While justification is not determined by man’s works, sanctification involves man working in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.
Although sanctification is intended to change man more and more into the image of God, it will never complete its task apart from Christ’s return (1 Cor 15:54). Therefore, since sanctification cannot be depended upon to make man acceptable before God, neither can its lack be capable of making man unacceptable before God, that is, cause him to fall from grace.
Heb 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.
Hebrews 10:14 is another example of the roles of justification and sanctification in the believer’s life. The Greek has two verb tenses. Like Ephesians 2:8, “hath perfected” is a perfect completed past tense action that cannot be changed; it refers primarily to a believer’s justification, position and standing before God. On the other hand, “are sanctified” is a present passive continuous tense of that which is not yet complete and refers to sanctification, the everyday life and growth of the believer who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Again, since believers will never “attain” to a perfectly sinless life, one’s degree of sanctification (or lack of it) can only determine one’s fellowship with God and not one’ relationship with God (1 Cor 15:54).
Legally and judicially speaking, the moment one believes in Christ, he stands before God “having been saved” and “having been perfected forever (for all time).” This is justification plus much more. God then begins a process of sanctification which gradually changes him into what he has already been declared legally to be. Failure in sanctification does not negate justification or imputed righteousness.
Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Col 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
Col 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.
Col 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
Once again Paul used the Greek perfect tense which is so full of meaning; “is hid” means “has been fully hidden” (past, present and future) and never can become “un-hidden.” Justification by faith provides the believer with peace and a right standing, or position, before God. This standing must already be absolute sinlessness in order for the believer to be represented in the very presence of God in Christ.
Since entire sanctification is not complete until believers “put on incorruption” and “immortality” at the return of Christ for His bride (1 Cor 15:51-55), these texts must refer to the present status produced by justification. Spiritually speaking, the believer has already received from God’s blessings (by faith) and is already sitting with Him in heaven. It would be very improper for inspiration to use such terminology if God might eventually choose to unseat the believer in a fall from grace. The Apostle Paul does not hesitate when he states that “your life is hidden with Christ in God” and that “you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” None of these concepts are possible if even the slightest hint of sin remained un-forgiven.
6. THE NATURE OF BIRTH SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Jn 3:4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
Jn 3:5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
Jn 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
Physical birth is not determined by the free-will of the person being born. In fact, man’s free‑will does not determine many of the most necessary areas of life itself. For example, man cannot think to make his heart beat, to breathe, to digest food, to store memory or to grow. Normal man is unable to choose (or later “will” out of existence) himself, his parents, race or genetic code.
In the same manner, man cannot choose to be spiritually born because God does the birthing after man responds to His call. Neither can man think, or use willpower “to become “un-born” — erase his birth as if he had never been born!
The Bible does not contain any instance of one being born again, lost again and then being spiritually born a second or third time. It only records persons sinning, falling out of fellowship and requiring restoration to fellowship again. Neither does the Bible ever record a person requiring re-baptism which would certainly be necessary if he fell completely from grace and started his spiritual life all over again. In fact, just the opposite is true in its demands for “one baptism.”
Just as it is impossible to be physically born twice, even so it is impossible to be spiritually born twice. Only a single spiritual rebirth is mentioned in Scripture (John 3:3; Gal 4:29; 1 Pet. 1:3; 1:23; 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:4, 18).
All must admit that physical birth occurs at a fixed time of day, month, and year. Once born, a person may die physically, but he cannot become un-born physically. In the same manner the new birth, like physical birth, occurs at a fixed definite time in a person’s life. It is not gradually attained by works of righteousness or growth in faith.
Just as a person cannot remember the exact moment of physical birth, there certainly was one! Once spiritually reborn, a person may die physically, but he cannot become spiritually un-born. Why not?
1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.
Because the new birth is the result of “imperishable” seed which is the “living and abiding word of God.” In order to fall from a state of grace, God’s imperishable seed of the Holy Spirit would, of necessity, have to perish in such dissolution of the new birth status. Since it is impossible to dissolve the Holy Spirit, it is equally impossible for the born-again believer to cease being born again.
7. GOD’S IRREVOCABLE CALLING SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
Rom 4:21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
Rom 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.
Rom 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without r
This text is full of assurance. When God calls a sinner to salvation, He also justifies and glorifies that person. He provides all that is needed to assure eternity with Him. As a king, God cannot and will not “repent,” or change His mind and revoke His calling (Rom 8:30).
God made unconditional promises to Abraham and David concerning national Israel. He cannot revoke those promises and must keep them for His name’s sake. Once a decree had been spoken, an Old Testament king could not revoke it or annul it. That is the theme of Esther even for pagan kings. Neither could the prophets refuse to speak what God had given them; Balaam tried and failed (Num 22 to 24). And neither can those called to preach the gospel go against their divine calling (1 Cor 9:16).
Paul recognized that the “gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” He knew that God’s commitments made to the “promise” seed of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David would never be revoked — even if the nation itself fell into apostasy and rejected God’s Messiah! Although Israel would now have to receive the gospel from the Gentiles, all true spiritual Israelites within national Israel would be saved (Rom 11:25-33).
In the same manner, God calls and makes promises to every believer which are irrevocable. Salvation is both a gift and a calling and God cannot change His mind and revoke either per Romans 11:29. God calls every believer into son-ship and has no intention of ever changing His decision about His calling. A called and gifted preacher who does not preach is a miserable person.
8. THE MEANING OF ADOPTION SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
Rom 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Rom 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
Rom 8:16 The Spirit itself bearish witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
Rom 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Gal 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. (Also Rom. 8:19,23; 9:27; 2 Cor 6:18; Gal 4:5, 6; Eph 1:5; 1 Thess. 5:5; Heb. 12:5, 7, 8)
The Bible very often speaks of believers as those who are already “sons” and “daughters” of God. Although the final adoption of the body is yet future, the all-important legal adoption occurred at the moment of conversion.
Like most countries today, Roman law considered the adopted sons and daughters even ABOVE the same par legally as natural children. Once adopted, neither the parent nor the adopted child had the legal authority to un-adopt. This is a strong argument against one falling from grace after adoption by God.
9. THE WILL OF GOD SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
Most Christians agree that the will of God determines who is elected, born-again, justified, adopted and sealed as a child of God. However, there are two major differing approaches within Christianity which explain how this works. The Calvinistic view [Reformed, Presbyterian and many Baptists] teaches that God is the only factor involved and that God irresistibly impresses the believer’s will to respond. This is necessary (they teach), because of their doctrine of total depravity –man’s fall completely erased the image of God in man. Man cannot use free will to respond to God’s offer of grace.
The Arminian view [for example: Roman Catholics, Methodists, Charismatics and many Baptists] teaches that God takes the first step by sending grace to all men. Unredeemed man uses his freewill to choose to accept or reject God’s free offer of grace and become justified by faith.
There is further disagreement among Christians concerning whether or not the redeemed believer will endure and remain justified until death. This is the focus of this thesis.
The doctrine of Lutherans, Reformed, Presbyterians and many Baptists is wholly Calvinistic from beginning to end – from justification to sanctification to glorification. God’s irresistible will can never be revoked and the believer’s before-birth and eternal position before God are never in jeopardy. Thus, their approach to eternal security, or the perseverance of the saints, is imbedded in their view of the election and predestination of individuals before creation.
A second view of Charismatics Methodists, Roman Catholics, Freewill Baptists and many others is wholly Arminian from beginning to end. These believe that man must exercise free-will BOTH to accept God’s initial offer of justification AND also continue to exercise free-will to grow in grace through sanctification and endure until the end in order to be finally saved. Failure to grow in sanctification can result in one falling from grace. Again, man’s failure to continually choose to serve God can lead to a loss of justification and salvation. Therefore, believers are eternally secure only as long as the yet eternally persevere. While many believe it is quite easy to fall from justification, others believe that it is quite difficult.
A third mixture of Arminian and Calvinistic theology is taught by mostly Baptists and some Charismatics and is presented and defended in this article. These are Arminian until the initial justification and almost-Calvinistic after justification.
Like Arminians, we believe that God foreknows and predestinates, not specific individuals, but those who initially exercise free-will and choose to love Him (Rom 8:28-29).
Next, we become almost-Calvinistic only concerning endurance, or eternal security. We believe God’s promises given at the moment of justification are irrevocable. We are not kept saved by obedience to good works.
Having responded by faith, God (not man), perseveres by the operation of the Holy Spirit within the believer. God does not forsake His calling, but continues with and sustains the redeemed and adopted believer.
Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
Rom 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Rom 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.
God initiates the call; man chooses to “love God,” or not to love God. God foreknows “those who choose to love Him,” not because He forces His will, but because He is omniscient and is not limited by time. God has already predestined, called and justified the “category” of “those who would choose to love Him.”
From an eternal perspective, the believer has already been “justified” and “glorified.” This would not be true if the believer could fall from grace. Spiritually, for the believer Christ already “became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness [justification] and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor 1:30).
John 1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
John 1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Eph 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.
After man’s initial act of receiving the total imputed righteousness of God as it is in Christ, God gives the believer authority to become what He has already declared the believer to be legally (compare 1 John 3:2; 2 Cor. 5:21; and Heb.10:14). The new birth itself, is a total act of God’s will, apart from man’s will. It is a one-time miraculous and complete act of God.
Apart from grace, God is not compelled to save even believers. Man does not “will” to be saved and man cannot “will” to repudiate his son-ship.
10. GOD’S SAFE-KEEPING PROMISES SUPPORT ETERNAL SECURITY
John 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
John 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
First, Jesus said that true believers are “my sheep,” “hear my voice,” and “follow me.” There is no inference that true believers would even want to do otherwise.
Second, speaking for Himself as God, Jesus said that He gives His sheep “eternal life,” “they shall never perish,” and “no one shall snatch them out of his hand.”
Third, speaking for the Father, Jesus said “My Father has given them to me,” “He is greater than all,” and nobody will snatch them out of His hand” (John 17:9).
This is an unconditional “double-giving” and double promise against falling from grace! The term “never perish” must negate any possible chance of falling from grace. The sheep’s will is not even implied. The omnipotent greatness and power of God is called upon to solidify the promise to the believer concerning leaving God’s security.
This analogy is very strong indeed. The Father has entrusted our souls to the Son, and the Son has already given “eternal life” to us. One cannot imagine a situation in which Jesus has to tell the Father that He had lost one of the true sons of God who had been entrusted to his divine safekeeping!
This is an analogy of a sheep-den surrounded by walls with only one entrance or exit guarded by the good shepherd. Jesus, the good shepherd, omnipotently guards the only entrance to the sheep-den. None from without will pass to remove any true believer inside the den.
More important to our study, none who is truly within are allowed to leave the guarded sheep-den. These promises are founded on the superior greatness of God and not on the willpower of man.
John 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
“I will never cast out” is an unconditional promise. The Greek for “never” is the double-negative ou mee and says “I will never, never cast out.” There are no conditions here. Christ does not say that He will never cast out believers “unless they fall from grace.” Since Christ is both the Shepherd and the Door, a disobedient “sheep” would have to go through Him to get out of the justification state of salvation. Sheep are too stupid to outwit an Omniscient Shepherd and get out of his safekeeping.
John 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
Jn 17:10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
Jn 17:11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
Jn 17:12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
Jn 17:13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
Jn 17:14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Jn 17:15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
Jn 17:16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Jn17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Jn 17:18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.
Jn 17:19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
Jn 17:20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.
Ezek 36:21 But I had pity for mine holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the heathen, whither they went.
Ezek 36:22 Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name’s sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen, whither ye went.
In John 17 Jesus is addressing His high priestly intercessory prayer to the Father. The subject of His request is “those who believe in Me,” those whom “the Father has given” to Him. Jesus prays for unity. He tells the Father twice that believers are ALREADY citizens of heaven (not of this world). He tells the Father that He had not lost any true believer. In 17:11 He asks the Father to keep believers “through Thy own name.” The prophets used this wording to assure Israel of God’s unconditional promises (Dan 9:19; Ezek 36:21-22).
In John17:12 Jesus assured the Father that He had lost none of those whom the Father had given to Him. Jesus had kept, guarded, and preserved them. The “son of perdition” was never a real “son of God” but was only a pretender.
In Ezekiel 36:21-22, when God redeems, He promotes His own name, His reputation as a promise-keeper to the world. When God invokes His own name, then His own credibility and justification become the context, not man’s. God must keep His promises to national Israel, even though they have been disobedient, because of the promises made in His name. See Ezekiel 36:22, 23, Jeremiah 14:7, 20, 21 and Psalm 25:11.
For the same reason, God will preserve the believers, because His name was invoked by Jesus to keep them (“keep them in Thy name”). Christ’s high priestly intercessory prayer would certainly be answered.
Rom 8:31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
Rom 8:32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
Rom 8:33 Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
Rom 8:34 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.
Rom 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Rom 8:36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rom 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Rom 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Rom 8:39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In context of the elect from 8:28, 29, no person or thing can stand up against God to change His actions. This includes self.
No person or other created being (such as Satan) can produce any legal charge which will undo God’s justification and calling (Rom 11:29). This also includes self. No action, situation or thing can separate the believer from the love and justification of God. This also includes self. In Christ the believer overwhelmingly conquers.
11. THE ABILITY OF GOD SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
Phil 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
2 Tim 1:12 … for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
2 Tim 4:18 And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
Heb 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.
The ability which will persevere, or keep the believer in God’s hands is God’s, not man’s. Christ’s intercession reaches from Calvary to the consummation of the ages, which is forever. God, not man, will finish what He started concerning salvation.
From God’s perspective, the atonement has been made, redemption is complete, and all sins of the believer have already been forgiven.
12. GOD’S OWNERSSHIP OF THE BELIEVER SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
1 Cor 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
1 Cor 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
1 Cor 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Cor 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
“You are not your own.” Christ has found us and redeemed us from out of the market-place of sin where we were serving sin as its slaves. Christ has “bought” us for His own purposes. Our “freedom” is “in Him” as His “children.”
In 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 Scripture uses the analogy of a purchased slave changing hands from a bond-slave-to-sin to a bond-slave-to Christ. Doulos, Greek for “bond-slave,” is Paul’s favorite description of His service to Christ.
Relative to eternal security, the “bond-slave” had absolutely no authority, or will-power, to choose to be released from service to his master. The master may even choose to put him to death for disobedience. Similarly, the Christian has absolutely no authority or will-power to choose to release himself from Christ’s ownership. The believer has no basis, or legal authority, or prerogative, to withdraw himself from God’s imputed righteousness.
Again, when the Bible says that the believer is a “temple of God,” it means that God “owns” the believer as His purchased property and the Holy Spirit chooses to dwell inside His purchased temple. A building neither has the authority nor the ability to evict its owner.
Since God owns the believer and the Holy Spirit chooses to dwell within His owned-property, the Holy Spirit’s will-power also prevails over the will of man in determining spiritual gifts. It is also reasonable that the Holy Spirit can over-ride man’s will-power in persevering him.
13. THE HOLY SPIRIT’S INDWELLING SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
John 14:17 … but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
Rom 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
One of the most important differences between the Old and New Testaments is the permanent indwelling in all believers of the Holy Spirit from the moment of regeneration.
Acts 2:38 describes the moment of regeneration. When a sinner repents and is baptized because he has repented, as a new-born child of God. He , he immediately has the forgiveness of ALL sins (past, present and future). At that moment he also receives “the gift” which is “the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Spirit changes His position from outside the believer to His dwelling place inside the believer. The Holy Spirit then gives “gifts” for service and sanctification.
John 14:17 says that the believer knows Jesus “because He [the Holy Spirit] abides with you, and will be in you.” In reference to the Holy Spirit, the Bible contains terms such as “live by,” “led by,” “speak by,” “grieve,” “walk by,” “be filled with,“ “pray in” and “quench.” However, in contrast to the Old Testament times, there is not a single New Testament instance in which the Holy Spirit is described as departing from or ceasing its indwelling of a believer. On the contrary, in Matthew 28:20 Jesus promised his disciples “I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” The unbeliever does not belong to God, and never has belonged because the Holy Spirit has never indwelt him.
14. THE SEAL OF THE HOLY SPIRIT SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise,
Eph 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
This sealing is not conditional. The Holy Spirit is God’s permanent “seal,” pledge and surety that He will keep His promises to persevere His elect. Much better than Social Security which could go bankrupt, God’s security pledge is eternal and omnipotent.
The word “seal” means “to stamp for security or preservation; to prove, confirm, attest.” The word “pledge,” or “earnest” means “a guarantee that the balance will also be paid.” The seal is also called a “promise.” “For” (Greek: eis) means “into” or “for the purpose of.” The sealing lasts “unto” the day of redemption. This seal is God’s dowjn-payment and God is not short of funds to complete the transaction.
All four of these ideas emphasize that God performed the sealing, gave His pledge, or promise, in the person of the Holy Spirit and that He will keep His promise until the day of complete eternal redemption.
Man cannot un-seal or un-pledge God’s actions. Concerning justification, the assurance of eternal redemption is a completed fact (1 Cor 1:30). The redemption price has already been paid in full and has already been applied to the believer’s account. God already owns the believer. The Spirit is His reminder to the believer that He has not forgotten His purchased possession and will certainly eventually take it wholly to Himself. Remember again the words of Romans 11:29, “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.”
15. THE DIFFEENCE BETWEEN RELATIONSHIP AND FELLOWSHIP SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
1 Jn 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
1 Jn 1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
1 Jn 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
1 Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
1 Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1 Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 is one of the most often-quoted, yet most misunderstood verses in the entire Bible. The epistle is is not written to unbelievers; it is written to Christians who have already accepted Christ, have already been cleansed and have already had the guilt and penalty of their sins forgiven. They have already been redeemed and justified.
The context is sanctification, not justification. Sin committed after justification breaks “fellowship” with God and the church; it does not break “relationship.” “Fellowship” is mentioned four times in chapter one.
The forgiveness of the guilt and penalty of sin is not being discussed in these texts because that forgiveness has already been granted when one accepted Christ (Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; Rom 8:1).
Forgiveness in 1 John 1:9 is the forgiveness extended by a loving parent to a disobedient (sinning) child in order to re-establish broken fellowship. Loving parent do not dis-own their child when it disobeys. Even more so with, not only does God forgive the confessed known sins, but He goes beyond that and forgives the unconfessed unknown sins!
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
When the believer sins after accepting Christ, he is not to despair or fear of falling from grace because he ALREADY is legally represented before the Father through Jesus Christ!
Again, the issue is broken fellowship, not broken relationship. The good news is that the sinning saint’s closest Friend is also his Lawyer and Savior who has already paid the guilt price for his future sins and also for the future sins of all the world.
Children of God will definitely sin after regeneration. However, just as earthly parents do not dis-own their sinning children, neither does our heavenly Father dis-own his children when they sin, but He disciplines them. God does not “give” and “take back” his forgiveness. The guilt-aspect of sins was settled once and for all time at Calvary. Normal earthly parents do not continually threaten to dis-own their children for disobedience and neither does God.
16. THE EFFECT OF ONE UNFORGIVEN SIN SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.
There are two very different viewpoints of illustrating what Christ is doing now in heaven concerning the sins of believers.
The Arminian concept says that, at the moment of conversion, Christ only forgives the sins of the confessing believer up to that point. Sins committed after conversion must be confessed in order to maintain both a correct “fellowship” AND “relationship” with God. Some believe that it takes a lot of habitual sins before God disowns the believer. Roman Catholics unbiblically categorize sins as either mortal (soul-destroying) or venial (fellowship destroying); only the mortal sins cause the soul to fall from grace.
As mentioned earlier, the problem with the Arminian position concerns how much forgiveness is extended at the time of conversion and what Christ is doing in heaven now. If the “guilt” of all sins was forgiven at the time of conversion (which is true), then there is no possibility of falling from grace.
Adam’s first sin, although seemingly small, yielded up the rulership of planet Earth to Satanic influences. The moral and genetic decay which resulted affected all creation on earth.
Similarly, if God does not forgive every sin (past, present and future) at the moment of conversion, even the first “small” sin (even one of ignorance) after conversion would immediately cause a believer to fall from grace! Logic demands that it can be no other way! Since God is absolutely sinless and holy, no believer can enter heaven with un-forgiven sin!
Is Christ standing before a heavenly mercy seat sprinkling His blood before the Father each and every time a believer sins (whether confessed or not confessed) in order to keep the believer from falling from grace? Do believers who die with un-confessed or un-forsaken sins fall from grace? Does the believer have to enter some kind of Purgatory and pay for his own un-confessed sins before entering heaven? Is not this a sort-of “salvation by God’s grace plus our suffering” theology? Does not unapplied pardon for sin separate us from God? Christ was offered only ONCE and shed His blood only ONCE (Heb 9:25, 28; Rom 6:10; 1 Pet 3:18; 1 Jn 3:5).
A more Scriptural view depicts Christ firmly “seated” in heaven because of His completed work of grace. His perfect sacrifice and total forgiveness of all professed believers is completed (Luke 14:22; Acts 2:34; Heb 1:3, 13; Eph 1:20; 2:6; Col 3:1; Heb 8:1; 10:12; 12:2).
Christ is depicted as faithfully entering the names of believers once and for all into His Book of Life (individuals, not churches). Speaking metaphorically, He is not saying to the Father, “Forgive because I am presently sprinkling my blood,” but is saying, “The price was paid in full at Calvary and I forgave all their sins the moment they believed.” Jesus is hearing our prayers, interceding for us and disciplining us for failure to fully fellowship with Him.
In summary, after the new birth, the confession of sins relates to the restoration of lost “fellowship” with God and does not relate to a renewal of incurred guilt. This is where many get confused; many think that sins committed after the new birth must be confessed in order to be forgiven of new “guilt” in order to continue salvation itself.
If one sin committed after becoming a child of God caused God to re-impose guilt on the believer, then, of necessity the believer must immediately fall from grace.
17. THE DISPOSTION OF BAD WORKS AFTER JUSTIFICATION SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
1 Cor 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
1 Cor 3:13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
1 Cor 3:14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
1 Cor 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
These texts are very clear regarding eternal security. They are discussing the spiritual growth, or lack of spiritual growth of a believer who is “building on the foundation.” “Building on the foundation” means that the person already has the foundation laid in the justification relationship with Jesus Christ. By “building” the believer is performing works of witness (good and bad) and sanctification to grow spiritually and to promote God’s kingdom.
The “foundation” is laid in Christ at the moment of regeneration and justification. This foundational relationship is not at risk, nor is it being discussed. This is a discussion of the quality of the works produced by a believer after he has become a new creation in Christ. That is, it is a discussion of the quality of witnessing and Christian growth after justification.
It is important to note that these works were not produced in order to become justified, but followed justification (compare Eph 2:8-9 with 2:10). Good works neither produced the foundational status nor can bad works remove its existence through a fall from grace.
A weak Christian does not rest on God’s provisions and does not grow in grace. He does not witness and properly build on the foundation. His works are not beneficial to God and are like the wood, hay, and stubble. “He shall suffer loss” of rewards in heaven beyond being saved. He might even regret his failure to witness to loved ones.
“But he himself shall be saved” proves that failure to grow spiritually does not cause one to fall from grace. “Yet as through fire” means “barely saved” with nothing extra.
18. THE FACT THAT BELIEVERS KNOW THEY HAVE BEEN SAVED SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
1 John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
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.
True believers “know” that they “have eternal life” because the anointing of God abides (“remains”) within them. This means “eternal” life, everlasting” life, and not just a new spiritual life.
THE EXISTENCE OF DISCIPLINE AFTER JUSTIFICATION SUPPORTS ETERNAL SECURITY
Perhaps the most common accusation against those who believe in “once-saved-always-saved” (eternal security, perseverance) is that the doctrine encourages loose living. Scoffers say “You teach that you can get saved and then live like the devil”; “you cheapen the grace of God.”
In reality, a true born-again Christian who believes in once-saved-always-saved should expect severe discipline when he disobeys God and falls away from his loving fellowship (not relationship).
Much of the confusion about the perseverance of the saints can be clarified by an understanding of scriptural discipline. Key to this section is Hebrews 12:6-8.
Heb 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
Heb 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
Heb 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
The truth of Hebrews 12:6-8 should challenge every believer who is unsure about the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, or eternal security.
If God disowned believers for sins committed after justification, Hebrews 12:6-8 would not be in the Bible. Instead of causing His sinning children to fall from grace, He promises certain discipline (v6). When one sins after being justified by faith, every true regenerated believer will certainly be disciplined. “Professing” believers who do not experience disciplinary action from God exhibit evidence that they have never been truly saved.
The more one believes in eternal security, the more that person should also believe in the certain discipline of God His Father. It is noteworthy that, although God might discipline even to the point of death, there is no biblical mention of a true believer being disciplined by eternal death, or a fall from saving grace.
1 Cor 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
1 Cor 11:28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
1 Cor 11:29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
1 Cor 11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.
1 Cor 11:31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.
1 Cor 11:32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
God often severely disciplines His children. Ananias and Sapphira were physically killed by God as discipline (Acts 5). Others have been thus disciplined (1 Cor 11:30). God’s discipline is distinct from the world’s discipline (1 Cor 11:32). This does not mean that they fell from grace and lost their justification.
Gal 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
Gal 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Gal 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
Gal 3:4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.
Good works do not “keep” one saved; they are evidence that one had been truly saved.
Gal 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
Gal 5:2 Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.
Gal 5:3 For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.
Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Throughout Paul’s writings, he makes it clear that none can ever be justified by works of law (Phil 3:9, 10). Therefore, Galatians 5:4 must be sarcasm. The person who thinks he is good enough to be saved by works of law has fallen away from the true plan of salvation by grace through faith alone.
Gal 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
Gal 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Gal 5:7 Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?
Paul had led many to accept Christ by grace through faith alone in Galatia. After his departure ignorant Christian Jews told the new converts that they must also be circumcised and keep the whole law in order to be saved. Compare Acts 15:5. Some of these true believers had been deceived (bewitched) and became circumcised (3:1; 5:2-3). Physical circumcision accomplished absolutely nothing for those already truly saved (5:2).
If you think you need to be circumcised in order to remain saved, you really are saying that you must keep all of the law in order to remain saved (3:10; 5:3) and that is impossible (Gal 3:10). Once again, the context of Galatians, chapter 5, is sanctification, not justification.
NOT ALL WHO PROFESS CHRIST ARE TRUE CHRISTIANS
Unfortunately, every church and every denomination has many professing Christians within their congregations who have never truly accepted Christ. These include pastors, elders, deacons, choir leaders, teachers and other influential leaders — often with impeccable reputations.
Only God knows who the unbelievers are and why they merely “profess” a faith instead of “possess” a faith that is real. According to Romans 10:10, if a man does not “believe with the heart unto righteousness,” his profession is merely his own outward “work” to attain righteousness.
These do not, and will not, persevere because they have never surrendered themselves to God’s calling and accepted Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. These do not have eternal security because they never yielded their souls to the call of the Holy Spirit and never were sealed by Him.
2 Peter 2:1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
2 Pet 2:2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
2 Pet 2:3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
2 Pet 2:12 But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
2 Pet 2:13 And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
2 Pet 2:14 Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: a heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
2 Pet 2:15 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
2 Pet 2:17 These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
2 Pet 2:18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
2 Pet 2:19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
2 Pet 2:20 For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
2 Pet. 2:21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.
2 Pet 2:22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
In the context of 2:1-19 and 2:22, verses 20 and 21 do not describe falling from grace. First, “they” being discussed are “false teachers among you” (2:1) of whom “many shall follow their pernicious ways (2:2) because they use “deceptive feigned words” (2:3). Second, “these” false teachers “speak evil of the things that they understand not” (2:12) and “carouse in their own deceptions while they feast with you” (2:13). Third, like Balaam, they “have forsaken the right way and are gone astray” (2:15). Fourth, these are “wells without water” (2:17) – they have never been saved. Fifth, “they allure … those … who live in error” (2:18). Sixth, “while they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption” (2:19). Seventh, they, like a dog, have “turned to his own vomit again” (2:22).
Therefore, verses 20-21, in context, must be saying that “they,” the “false teachers” of 2:1-19, have only temporarily “escaped” by their associations with true believers. Like fallen angels, they had “knowledge of the Lord” but had never committed to Him and been saved. Since they will stand before God in the full knowledge of the plan of salvation, their punishment will be far greater in degrees of punishment in hell.
1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
Not all of those who claim to be Christians are really Christians.
Ezek 33:13 When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.
Generally, the Old Testament does not speak in terms of spiritual birth and death. Like most, this text speaks of physical, not spiritual death. If this were speaking of spiritual death, it would prove that Old Testament saints were saved by works (which is not true). Old Testament saints were saved, not because they trusted in their own righteousness, but because they had faith that they were God’s people who had been saved by blood atonement (Titus 2:11; Rom 3:24).
God often disciplined disobedient Old and New Testament saints with death (1 Cor.11:27-30). God punished the iniquity of Old Testament Judah and Israel with physical death.
Matt 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
The Wycliffe Commentary says “the distinguishing mark of the saved Jewish remnant will be their enduring in faith to the end.” In other words, the truly saved do and will endure. It is not the endurance which saves, but the saved will be known by their endurance.
The Adam Clarke Commentary, referring to 70 A.D. says, “The persecutions that shall come‑‑ unto the end; to the destruction of the Jewish polity, without growing cold or apostatizing‑‑ shall be saved, shall be delivered in all imminent dangers, and have his soul at last brought to an eternal glory. Itis very remarkable that not a single Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem.”
The New Bible Commentary, referring to eternal security says, “Note that endurance is an essential corollary to true conversion.” Again, endurance is a mark of the truly saved but endurance is not that which saves.
My explanation: Matthew 24 is a discussion of Israel during the last day tribulation period, and not the church. Those who endure the persecutions of Antichrist and endure to the end of the Great Tribulation will be physically saved by the second coming of Christ. However, according to the book of Revelation, many tribulation saints will be martyred and will not “endure to the end” of that period. The tribulation martyrs will not be saved physically but will be saved by resurrection per Matthew 24:31.
John 15:2 Every 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.
Non-fruit-bearing Christians may be “cut off” physically as severe discipline because they are giving Christianity a bad reputation. John 15 is not a discussion about eternal security and does not contradict texts like John 1:13; 3:16-19; 4:14; and 5:24 as discussed in section one. See 1 Cor 3:14-15.
1 Cor 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.
Pauli s figuratively using the terminology of athletic contests to discuss his gospel mission. While “competing” for souls as a preacher of the gospel, Paul needed to keep physically and spiritually fit. Otherwise he might become unfit to preach (9:16-27). If he had become physically “out of shape,” Paul could not continue the hard journeys and much physical abuse which he endured. After training others for the gospel ministry, Paul did not want to become an unfit disqualified castaway and have to stand aside.
Col 1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
Col 1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.
Colossians 1:21-23 are difficult texts to understand if taken outside of all of their surrounding texts and outside of the real meaning of “if.” The difficult phrase is, “If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (v23). A casual reading of this phrase appears to teach that one can fall from grace.
In the immediate context, the believer is no longer “alienated” (v21) and has already been “reconciled in his fleshly body through death” (v22). This refers to the point of salvation called justification, or even regeneration.
In the wider context, Paul takes for granted that his readers will persevere because they have already been redeemed. Colossians is addressed “to the saints and faithful brethren” (1:2). He says that the gospel in you “is constantly bearing fruit and increasing” “since the day you heard and understood” (1:6). Paul prays for even more growth (1:9-10). He assured believers that God has already delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (1:13). He said that, in Christ, we already have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (1:14). And he said that “Christ in you [is] the hope of glory” (1:27). In 1:28 Paul wants to add spiritual maturity to initial redemption “that we may present every man complete in Christ.
Concerning “justification,” Jesus has already presented believers before the Father as “holy and blameless and beyond reproach.” He has already done this through His own righteousness which he imputed to the believer. If this were not true, then Paul could not truthfully say that the believers have already been “delivered from the domain of darkness, and transferred to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (1:13), or that they already have “redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (1:14). Neither could he say that believers have already been “reconciled” and are no longer “alienated.”
However, concerning “sanctification,” Paul said in 1:23-29 that the gospel (being preached) among them is the “hope” of glory. The word, “hope,” is the key to understanding 1:23. Paul is not speaking of being moved away from their justification and standing before God, but he is speaking of being moved away from their “hope” of the gospel.
Believers who fail to grow in grace, who fail to remain “firmly established and steadfast” will become carnal, spiritually blind, and lose sight of their hope. Second Peter 1:10 says “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.”
From God’s perspective, believers are eternally secure, but, from man’s perspective, believers can lose sight of their hope, stumble and become unproductive.
Robertson’s Word Pictures reminds us that the Greek for “if” is “ei” which is a “condition of the first class (determined as fulfilled) with a touch of eagerness.” A first-class Greek condition is better translated as “since” and anticipates compliance.
The Wycliffe Commentary says, “And, while God’s election is not vacillating, it can be affirmed only in terms of profession, conduct and the witness of the Spirit.”
James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience [NAS: endurance] of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
What if Job had given up and died? Would he have fallen from grace? I seriously doubt it. The “endurance” of Job did not involve falling from grace. “Endurance” (Greek: hupo-menoo) means to abide and remain — even though things are not going well.
1 John 5:16 If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.
This text refers to fellow believers, “his brother.” It is discussing physical, not spiritual death. Again, God can, and does, punish disobedient believers with physical death. For example: Moses and David.
Rev 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith het hat hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
Rev 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
Rev 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Rev 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
Rev3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
As a body, the assembly of believers at Sardis had almost stopped serving God and producing good works. They were Christian in mane but not in works (3:1). Like a smoldering fire, they are warned to revive (3:2). They are commanded to remember how things were when first formed as an assembly and return to that state (3:3). Although the assembly’s name is dead (3:1), there are still a few true believers who will walk with Christ because they are worthy (3:4).
Verse 5 must be understood in the context of verses 1-4. While the name of the assembly itself (Sardis) will be blotted out (cut off and physically die), those who overcome (by the blood of the Lamb) will never be blotted out. The “white garments” represent Christ’s righteousness, which is imputed to the believer at the moment of conversion (7:14;12:11).
Since the book of Hebrews appears to contain several alleged references to falling from grace, it deserves special attention. Hebrews was written to believers in Jerusalem not long before the destruction of that city in 70 AD. They were still more “Jewish-Christians” than “Christian-Jews.” They still honored the Jewish high priesthood and the temple itself. They probably still offered sacrifices and monetarily supported the system. (Compare Acts 21:20-24.)
It is obvious that their physical “salvation” was in jeopardy. Jesus had warned them to escape quickly when they saw the Roman armies surround Jerusalem (Luke21:20-22). The continual aspect of “salvation” (sanctification) was also in jeopardy. First, these believers must be convinced to sever their obsession with the earthly high priest and accept the reality of Christ’s high priesthood. second, they were being asked to sever their hope of an earthly Jerusalem and look toward a heavenly city. Third, they were also being asked to accept the reality of a heavenly sanctuary which was eternal and to prepare for the eventual destruction of the earthly temple. The harsh warning of punishment for disobedience was very real.
An inability to accept these three enduring truths centered on their spiritual immaturity. Many of them had become satisfied with elementary level doctrines and their faith was too weak to endure the coming catastrophe (5:12 to 6:3). They were in danger of physical, not spiritual death from Rome.
Heb 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
Heb 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let
Since these texts discuss “drifting away” from “salvation,” many equate this drifting with falling away from “justification” and grace.
The simple English word, “will” or “shall” in verse 14 is actually a participle in Greek and “inherit” is an infinitive. The phrase literally translated reads “being about to inherit” or “being on the brink of inheriting” salvation. (Greek: mel-lon-tas klee-ro-no-mein). The KJV says “shall be heirs,” the RSV says “about to obtain,” and the TLB says “are to receive.”
“Mello” occurs over one hundred times in the New Testament, nine of which are in the book of Hebrews (1:14; 2:5; 6:5; 8:5; 10:1; 10:27; 11:8,20; 13:14). In almost every usage, these are not hypothetical subjective conditional actions that might or might not occur. Instead, they are clearly definite events which will certainly take place. Therefore, verse 14 clearly states that the angels are ministering to [eternally justified] believers who will definitely inherit salvation.
Itis inaccurate to think that “salvation” in Scripture always refers to the process of justification, sanctification and glorification as a sort of “take it all or leave it all.” “Salvation” can refer to all three or just one of the three without regard to the other two. Since in Hebrews 6:9 good works and love “accompany salvation,” the word must refer to “justification.” In 9:28 Christ will return for “salvation” which must refer to “glorification.” In 11:7 “salvation” refers to the physical deliverance of Noah’s family.
“For this reason,” since believers are the heirs of God’s salvation, they are also subject as heirs to His discipline if they “drift away” in disobedience. Discipline is the second major theme in the book of Hebrews!
Heb 2:2 For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
Heb 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.
Heb 2:18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
Most Christians never think of willful sin as being something handled by the judges in the Old Testament. Yet only minor sins of ignorance, forget-fullness and accident were handled by the priests (see all of Leviticus).
Even more so than national Israel, Christians who do not “give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard” and “slip” into willful transgression” can look forward to even more punishment than that imposed on Old Covenant transgressor (2:2-3). Rather than drifting away and falling from grace, they drift away and require discipline. They cannot escape God’s discipline of His children. The Jewish-Christians in Jerusalem were “neglecting” to grow in grace and required this letter of reprimand and assurance.
Heb 3:6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.
Chapter three begins with “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.” The author is speaking corporately, comparing the “house” of the church with the “house” of Moses, national Israel.
Moses’ house hardened their hearts and provoked and tested God in the wilderness. As God’s blood-bought nation who had experienced the Passover justification and the Red Sea baptism, God severely disciplined them by not allowing them into Canaan, His “rest” — this included Moses himself! The punishment to the “house” was physical, not spiritual death (3:5-11). Except for Joshua and Caleb everybody older than twenty (millions) literally died in the wilderness for their failure in obedience (sanctification).
Just because Moses (and up to a mullion more) died physically before entering Canaan does not mean that both he and they were not saved spiritually. All went through the Passover experience.
This text does not teach that we are saved by grace through faith and then kept saved by holding fast by confidence. This reminds us of the rebuke in Galatians 3:3 “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” The “house” can be punished corporately, just as a “church” can be punished corporately, without affecting the spiritual standing of individual members within it (as in Revelation 2 and 3).
Barnes Notes: “… the apostle here says, that the only evidence which they could have that they belonged to the family of Christ, would be that they held fast the confidence which they had unto the end. If they did not do that, it would demonstrate that they never belonged to his family, for evidence of having belonged to his household was to be furnished only by perseverance to the end.”
Heb 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief,
in departing from the living God.
Heb 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the begin beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.
Chapter two ends with, “He is able to succor [come to the aid of] those who are tempted” (2:18). Chapters 3 and 4 compare Old Testament Israel with those who grasp salvation through faith in Christ. Old Testament Israel had been redeemed by the Passover blood, baptized in the Red Sea experience and kept unto the faith by the Mosaic Law. However, they did not “hold fast” by faith and were physically killed before entering Canaan (chapters 3 and 4). After striking the rock (instead of speaking to it) God said to Moses and Aaron “Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.” See Num 20:8-12.
Being disobedient to the Law, they were useless to God if they did not “holdfast,” by continual spiritual growth until they reached Canaan. Again, of the original millions who experienced the Passover and Red Sea miracles, all except Joshua and Caleb received the discipline of physical death as God’s children. Again, that does not mean that they (including Moses) fell from grace. They fell away from the slow perfecting endurance of sanctification and died in the wilderness.
There is no indication, however, that they fell away from justification. Such a fall is not being discussed. It is enough for the writer of Hebrews to remind his readers of the physical death suffered in the wilderness and to compare that situation with the coming destruction of Jerusalem.
Heb 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
Heb 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
Heb 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
These are favorite texts for those who think that true believers can fall from grace. These verses are, admittedly, quite difficult to understand, and have been interpreted many different ways. If these texts refer to those who have actually “fallen away” from a state of grace, they prove too much! The texts would then teach that it is impossible for those who have fallen to be saved a second time! They would then teach “once saved, then lost, ALWAYS lost”!
One possible explanation is that “those” of 6:4 who “have fallen away” refers backwards to the baby Christians of 5:12, 13. In such case, the past tense verbs “have been enlightened,” “have tasted” and “have been made partakers,” refers to true believers. The present tense verbs, “crucifying” and “putting to shame,” indicate the real problem. As long as they are presently, continually, denying Christ, it really is impossible to “renew,” or restore them to fellowship, by repentance.
A second possible solution refers to believers who are stuck on the ABCs, the elementary teachings, of Christian doctrine, as indicated by their desire to return to repentance, the first principle (6:1, 2). The crisis of the Jewish-Christian church in Jerusalem required spiritually adult believers if the church were to survive. From the context of 5:11to 6:3, such maturity was lacking. It was too late, that is, impossible to “go back to basics,” i.e. repentance and the first principles, in order to renew the church now! It required adult spirituality. They must now grow up and mature extremely fast. They must accept and apply the truths of Christ’s high priesthood immediately.
A third of many explanations is that “those” of 6:4 who “have fallen away” refers forwards to the “thorns and thistles” of 6:7, 8. The past tense verbs refer to “blessing by association” only, and not to true regeneration. “Those” were only “professing” and not “true” believers. As long as their activities were present-tense continuing, it was, of course, impossible to renew them to original justification by means of repentance. One cannot gain forgiveness for sins which he is still habitually cherishing sin and has no intention of forsaking sin.
This view says that the key to verses 4‑6 is found in verses 7‑9. “Those” of verses 4‑6 is contrasted with “we” of verse 9. Many un-converted “church members” continually partake of the blessings of the corporate body merely by associating with the body. Although drawn by the Spirit, they have never experienced a real spiritual change, and merely go through the motions of being Christians. These will eventually “fall away.” “Faith” is the missing ingredient, not “repentance.” It is impossible for “repentance” alone (without faith) to convert the sinner. “Those” while drinking of God’s rain, only produce thorns and thistles, and deserve being burned (verse 8).
“We,” the “beloved,” who bring forth useful fruit and receive a blessing from God, “are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation” (verses 7 and 9). True believers shall endure. However, this view fails because pronouns refer backwards for precedent.
A fourth possible explanation of Hebrews 6:4-6 (my favorite) is more complicated and explains it in the context of the Old Covenant law. Under the Law, when a fully informed Israelites (justified, baptized and instructed per 6:4-5) “fell away” (6:6), it had to be the result of presumptuous willful sin. In such cases (and this is very important) it was never possible to renew, or restore, that person simply by repentance and by bringing a sacrifice. Instead the guilty person met the judges (not the priests) and was disciplined according to the judgments of the law. Therefore, it was truly literally “impossible to renew them again to repentance” for presumptuous sin; they must be disciplined! Also see the following discussion.
HEBREWS 9 AND 10
The Day of Atonement ritual at the end of Israel’s holy year symbolized the Day of Judgment (Lev 23:24-36). The Day of Atonement was preceded by 9 days of soul-searching and confessing of residual non-presumptive sins (Lev23:24-28). Those who refused to afflict their souls during this period were to be cut off (put to death) (Lev 23:29). It symbolized the final sacrifice and the last opportunity to restore fellowship with God before entering Canaan rest.
Heb 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Heb 9:27 And as itis appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
Heb 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.
Hebrews 9 explains Christ’s once-for-all-time death at Calvary in terms of the Old Covenant Day of Atonement. First, Christ died once at the end of the world [age] to put away sin (9:26). Second, Christ took man’s place at the judgment seat of God (9:27-28). Hebrews 10 continues the explanation from Hebrews 9.
Heb 10:1 For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.
Third, works of the Law and man’s good deeds never could perfect the believers (10:1).
Heb 10:9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.
Heb 10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Fourth, Christ took away the animal sacrifices of the first (old) covenant and established the new covenant (10:9). Fifth, believers’ sanctification follows Christ’s once-for-all time sacrifice (10:10).
Heb 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.
Sixth, as God sees it, true believers have already been perfected forever (spiritually justified, sanctified and glorified) while, in reality, they are still being sanctified (10:14). They are being literally changed into that which they have been already legally declared.
Heb 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;
Heb 10:17And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
Seventh, under the New Covenant God does not remember the sins of believers to condemn them (10:16-17). This must refer to the guilt of our sins. Eighth, since all sins of believers have already been remitted (paid in full), there is “no more” and offering required to atone for sin (10:18).
Heb 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
Heb 10:20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
Heb 10:21 And having an high priest over the house of God.
Ninth, like the Old Testament high priest on the Day of Atonement, all believers are already holy enough through Christ’s imputed righteousness to enter into the very presence of God (10:19). Tenth, the veil which separated the Old Testament holy place from the most holy place symbolized Christ (Heb 10:20). Because of His imputed righteousness all believers already enter God’s presence when they pray (10:21). Eleventh, true believers should already a) draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water (10:22), b) hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised) (10:23), c) consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works (10:24), d) not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another (10:25).
This is the context of Heb 10:26-31.
Heb 10:26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.
“We” refers to true New Covenant believers who have already been perfected (10:14) and God cannot remember (the guilt) of their sins (10:16-17). They are already qualified to enter into the very presence of God (10:22).
“Sin willfully” refers to deliberate high-handed presumptuous sins which were punished, not by confession and sacrifices to the priests, but by the judges.
“Remains no more sacrifice” reminds us that there never was a sacrifice provided for willful sins under the law and that is still true.
Heb 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
“But a certain fearful looking for of judgment” reminds us that, short of falling from grace, willful sin resulted in severe discipline for believers.
When Moses willfully sinned by striking the rock in Numbers 20:8-12, God severely disciplined him rather than prescribing a sacrifice. The same was true when Achan willfully sinned in Joshua 7:18-24 and King David willfully sinned by murdering Uriah the Hittite in 2 Samuel 11-12 and by numbering the people in 2 Samuel 24:10-24. There never was a sacrifice prescribed to cover willful sins and such is still true today. Believers who sin are at the mercy of God either to punish or forgive or any combination.
Heb 10:28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses.
Under the Old Covenant Law there were two methods of punishing sin. The most discussed is the holiness system of sacrificial offerings as descried in Leviticus. However, sacrifices were only for sins of ignorance, accidental sins, theft, vows and minor sins.
Again, presumptuous sins were judged and punished by the judges and not by the priests. Idolatry, flagrant disobedience and disrespect to parents, Sabbath breaking, murder, adultery and even flagrant disobedience to God were all punishable by cutting off, or physical death. This did not mean falling from grace. Moses and David were both severely disciplined this way.
Heb 10:29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
This is where the doctrine of eternal security makes sense. Baptists also believe that God will discipline New Covenant believers even more than He disciplined those under the Old Covenant. See Hebrews 12:8-11.
Heb 10:30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.
Rather than disown His people, God promises to severely discipline them.
Heb 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
This is addressed to the people of God.
Heb 10:32 But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
Heb 10:33 Partly, whilst ye were made a gazing stock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.
Heb 10:34 For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.
Those believers who have willfully sinned have been disciplined by God are commanded to remember the afflictions they suffered in the name of Christ following their conversion. Compare your sufferings FOR Christ with your discipline now BY Christ for disobedience.
Heb 10:35 Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.
Heb 10:36 For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.
Just because you have been disciplined for willful sin, do not give up because you still have the potential of receiving great reward. Note: this is still explaining 10:26-31.
Heb 10:37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
This may be a reference to the soon destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 when God came to punish Israel. The Temple system was about to be destroyed and believers must now shift their confidence to their heavenly high priest and heavenly temple. The is the context of Hebrews 8 and 9.
Heb 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
God is not happy with His children who fail to maintain faith in his ability, promises and provisions.
Heb 10:39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
Compare to Hebrews 2:2, 3; 1 Corinthians 11:30, or the fruitlessness of 1 Corinthians 3:35. The faith of true believers carries them safely through the hard times of verses 32-34. The preservation of eternal security is an act of God and is different from the preserving act of man.
According to 2 Peter 1:9,10, the believer who does not add to his faith “lacks these (qualities) is blind, having forgotten purification from his former sins” and should “be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.”
Although our calling and election are assured from God’s viewpoint, disobedient believers cannot grow through endurance without faith. They have already believed enough to become justified, to have the guilt of their sins forever forgotten and to enter as priests into the presence of God. In that respect they already believe to the saving of the soul. Now they are commanded to keep growing spiritually in sanctification. “Saving” is also “healing” of the soul.
THE THREE TENSES OF SALVATION
Those who believe that truly redeemed believers can backslide until they fall from a state of grace are usually confused about the meaning of “salvation.” This is understandable.
In reference to the believer, “salvation” has three tenses in Scripture: past, present, and future. It is crucial to understand the differences in the three tenses in order to understand what believers can, and cannot, lose through disobedience.
HAVE BEEN SAVED: JUSTIFICATION
Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved [have been saved] through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:(Greek Perfect Passive: se-soos-me-noi)
The first tense of salvation is “justification.” This removes the believer from the guilt of sin. The Bible says that a believer “has been saved,” or that God “has saved” the believer. In Ephesians 2:8 this is a complete past perfected act of God. It is a work of a moment and a legal declaration by God. It refers to a one-time pardon of all the guilt of sin and to the adoption and redemption of the eternal soul of mankind. Ephesians 2:5,8; Romans 8:24; Titus 3:5; 2 Tim. 1:9.
ARE BEING SAVED: SANCTIFICATION
1 Cor 15:1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
1 Cor 15:2 By which also ye are saved [are being saved], if ye keeping memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (Greek Passive: soo-ses-the).
Heb 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected [perfect tense] forever them that are [being] sanctified. (Greek present passive: ha-gi-a-zoo-me-nous)
The second tense of salvation is “sanctification.” It is salvation from the present power of sin. Usually, this refers to the daily lifelong spiritual growth accomplished by the will of the believer in cooperation with the Holy Spirit within. The believer has two natures at battle within until death or the return of Christ. 1st Corinthians 1:18; 15:2; Heb 10:14;1 Pet. 4:18.
WILL BE SAVED: GLORIFICAION
1 Cor 3:15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
Rom 5:9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
The third tense of salvation is “glorification.” This occurs at the resurrection of the body or at the return of Christ for those who are alive. Itis the culmination of salvation in the sense that the believer receives an immortal body and all of the rewards that follow faith, justification and sanctification. Romans 5:9; 1 Cor. 3:15; 5:5.
It is important to realize that a Christian has been saved in order to produce good works (Ephesians 2:10). Failure to do so results in severe discipline, but not rejection of the calling, re-generation and adoption as God’s children. Believers can only “fall” from a “fellowship” of “grace” that should control their lives, lose the joy of their salvation, and lose sight of how God has led them in the past. At such times God will discipline because of the fact that they are his children.
The concept of parent-to-child discipline cannot be over stressed. Far from giving “license” to sin, the doctrine of security assures the true believer that “discipline is sure and can be expected.” Those who are out of God’s will and are not receiving discipline should search themselves to determine if they were ever truly converted (1 John 5:13).
Although the material in sections two through four may confuse some readers, the texts in section one are both clear and overwhelmingly persuasive enough to understand that God will never forsake those who have been regenerated, born again, as His children. At this point it is helpful to read section one again. Once a person yields to the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and makes a sincere personal decision to accept Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior, then that person “has been saved” throughout all eternity. What a glorious assurance!
May God bless the reader of this material. Your prayers, comments and clarifications are appreciated.
Index of Bible References: Pages numbers depend on font size and are not accurate.
Ezek. 33:13 44
Ezek. 36:22 35
Mt. 24:13 44
John 1:12,13 22
John 3:3-6 16
John 3:16-19 6
John 4:14 7
John 5:24 8
John 6:37 34
John 10:27-29 23
John 14:17 29
John 15:2 45
John 16:8,9 6
John 17:9-20 25
Acts 2:38 29
Rom. 3:21-24 10
Rom. 4:5-8 10
Rom. 4:21 17
Rom. 5:1,2 11
Rom. 5:9,10 12, 64
Rom. 5:12 33
Rom. 5:16,17 12
Rom. 8:1 8
Rom. 8:9 29
Rom. 8:14-17 19
Rom. 8:28-30 21
Rom. 8:30 17
Rom. 8:31-39 36
Rom. 11:29 17
1 Cor. 1:30 13
1 Cor. 3:12-15 35, 64
1 Cor. 3:16 28
1 Cor. 6:11 12
1 Cor. 6:19,20 28
1 Cor. 9:27 45
1 Cor. 11:27-32 38
1 Cor. 12:11 28
2 Cor. 5:21 11
Gal. 3:1- 39
Gal. 3:26 19
Gal. 5:2-4 40
Eph. 1:5 22
Eph. 1:7 5
Eph. 1:13,14 30
Eph. 2:6 15
Eph. 2:8-10 13, 63
Phil. 1:6 27
Col. 1:14 5
Col. 1:21-23 46
Col. 2:13 5
Col. 3:1-4 15
2 Tim. 1:12 27
2 Tim. 4:18 27
Heb. 1:14 50
Heb. 2:1-3 50, 51
Heb. 3:6 52
Heb. 3:12-14 53
Heb. 6:4-6 54
Heb. 7:25 27
Heb. 9:12 4
Heb. 9:24-26 1, 58
Heb. 9:27,28 9, 58
Heb. 10:14 14, 58
Heb. 10:26-31 59, 60
Heb. 10:32-39 40, 41
Heb. 12:6-8 38, 48
James 5:11 34
1 Pet, 1:18,19 4
1 Pet. 1:23 17, 43
2 Pet. 2:1-21 41-43
1 John 1:3-9 32
1 John 2:1 32
1 John 2:2 1
1 John 2:19 3
1 John 2:27 37
1 John 5:13 37
1 John 5:16 48
Rev. 3:1-5 49
Rev. 3:5 34
THE PPERSEVERANCE AND ENDURANCE OF BELIEVERS
1. 1. The Extent of Redemption
Hebrews 9:12, 24-26; 1 Pet 1:18,19; 1 Jn 2:2
5. 2. The Extent of Forgiveness
Eph 1:7; Col 1:14; 2:13
5. 3. The Present Gospel Judgment
Jn 3:16-19; ohn 4:14; 5:24; 16:8, 9; Rom 8:1; Heb 9:27,28
4. 10. 4. The Meaning of Justification
Rom 3:21-24; 4:5-8; 5:1, 2, 9, 10, 16, 17; 1 Cor 1:30; 6:11; 2 Cor 5:21
13. 5. The Perfection of Justification and Sanctification
Eph 2:6, 8-10; Col 3:1-4; Heb 10:14
15. 6. The Nature of Birth
John 3:3-6; 1 Peter 1:23
17. 7. God’s Irrevocable Calling
Romans 4:21; 8:30; 11:29
18. 8. The Meaning of Adoption
Rom 8:15-17; Gal 3:26
19. 9. The Will of God
John 1:12,13; Rom 8:28-30; Eph 1:5
22. 10. God’s Safe-keeping Promises
Ezek 36:22; Jn 6:37; 10:27-29; 17:9-20; Rom 8:31-39
27. 11. The Ability of God
Phil 1:6; 2 Tim 1:12; 2 Tim 4::18
27. 12. God Owns the Believer
1 Cor 3:16; 6:19,20; 12:11
29. 13. The Holy Spirit’s Indwelling
Acts 2:38; Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9
30. 14. The Seal of the Holy Spirit
Ephesians 1:13,14; 4:30
31. 15. Relationship Verses Fellowship
1 John 1:3-9; 2:1
33. 16. The Effect of One Sin
35. 17. The Result of Bad Works
1 Corinthians 3:12-15
36. 18. Believers Know They Are Saved
1 John 2:27; 5:13
40. SECTION TWO
DISCIPLINE: RESTORATION TO FELLOWSHIP
1 Corinthians 11:27-32
43. SECTION THREE
NOT ALL WHO PROFESS CHRIST ARE TRUE CHRISTIANS
Gal 3:1-3; 5:2-4; 2 Pet 2:20,21; 1 Jn 2:19
43. SECTION FOUR
1 Corinthians 9:27
1 John 5:16
49. SECTION FIVE
Hebrews 1:14 – 2:1; 3:6, 12-14; 6:4-6; 10:26-31; 10:32-39
63. SECTION SIX
THE THREE TENSES OF SALVATION
Eph 2:8-10; 1 Cor 15:1-2; Heb 10:14; 1 Cor 3:15; Rom 5:9