In the Eight Pillars of Eternal Security, I thought that the main pillars had eroded and that the idol of unconditional eternal security had lost sufficient support through the disintegration of it's main pillars. We should not be surprised to see that the worshipers of this doctrinal goddess have rushed in to prop up this idol once again. New pillars have been erected in their place because the old has worn away. There is little hope that we will see the disappearance of this doctrine because of it's popularity, and for one to abandon it, one loses all hope of living in carnal security. All excuses for sin would be lost, and the dulled conscience would be livened again to the vast holiness of the living God. They would be faced with conviction or compliance.
In the second part of this article I will peer underneath these pillars and will examine the substrata which they use to support the weight of these doctrines. Once there is no Biblical support in sight, they routinely fall back on unproven theological presuppositions to justify their conclusions. This tactic is their last refuge. Do not let their slight of hand distract you from the truth! The only thing of importance is, what the Bible proves, not what their theory proves!
"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
Since the writing of the Eight Pillars of Eternal Security, this passage has been quoted as the Goliath that must be overcome. The emphasis is made on - "hath eternal life.....shall not come into condemnation.....is passed from death unto life."
This is the same perpetuated error that eternal security proponents make in their interpretation of John 10:27-29. The English does not clearly exhibit the present tense of the Greek. The hearing and believing are in the present tense. The condition of having everlasting life is that we are hearing and believing now. This is not some past act of a moment that secures these promises. One who ceases to continue in the required hearing and believing no longer has the promises connected to it.
The substrata: The conclusions derived from the Greek are definite and unavoidable. To salvage this text for their cause they deviate from the prior condition and argue the word "eternal." They say " If eternal life is "eternal," how can it be lost? The believer hath everlasting life, and that cannot end! If the everlasting life you receive from God ever ceases for any reason, it was not "everlasting."
This assumes that eternal life exists as a possession apart from faith. If someone possessed an eternal pearl of great price and later they cast the pearl off in favor of something else, that does not make the pearl any less "eternal." It does however cease to be the possession of the one who cast it off. "Eternal life" itself does not lose its quality because of one's unbelief. However, the possession of this quality of life is no longer owned by the one who no longer meets the Scriptural conditions stated. The fact that they now possess everlasting life is because they are hearing and believing now.
This is not salvation by merit, as some will charge, but it is the consistent definition of saving faith throughout the Scriptures. The one who clings to a lifeguard for rescue from drowning does not claim their "clinging," or absence of resistance as the cause of their deliverance. The lifeguard gets the deserved credit, but cannot save the one who fights or refuses his help. It would also be foolish to assume that since one was saved from drowning that it would be impossible for them to become careless and fall in the water and drown in the future. Such is the logic of eternal security.
They shall not come into condemnation. The same condition applies. If they continue to hear and believe, they have no fear of condemnation. But is passed (perfect tense) from death to life. This is truly the state of the one who presently hears and believes. He was dead, and was made alive, and continues to live today as the perfect tense implies. This is the abiding, continuing, and enduring that the Bible exhorts believers to do. It is important to note that the verse says nothing whatsoever about those who cease hearing and believing. In fact, the Scriptures have no promises of blessings for those who trample under foot the blood of Christ! Based upon the conclusions already given, it would be sound advice to follow Paul and Barnabas who are in agreement with our Lord's statement by "speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God." Acts 13:43.
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Romans 10:9
Although this is not used on a regular basis by eternal security proponents, it is included since it deserves an answer to the allegation that it posits unconditional eternal security.
The emphasis on this verse is usually given as "God says that if you confess with your mouth, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, thou shalt be saved." PERIOD! The argument says that the condition of confession and belief have been met at an alter of prayer, then the promise is sure....thou shalt be saved. The conditions are met and the promise guaranteed. God cannot lie.
There is a lot of merit in their words, but the context of the verse is not talking of final salvation. It is dealing with the reception of salvation now. The context is talking about justification, receiving righteousness by faith. We would associate this with the popular term "getting saved."
Nothing within the context would give us any warrant to force an unconditional eternal security upon "thou shalt be saved."
Some have argued that the Greek word used here is in the aorist tense, that is, an act of the moment. A singular act of belief that brings about salvation. It is true that the moment we believe, God saves us. The context of the passage leaves us there. It is important to know that the Scripture is consistent in the use of the present tense wherever the conditions of final salvation are stated. This passage is no exception since it does not consider anything other than the believers initial passing from death unto life.
The substrata: Although the theological underpinning that I am about to use is not related to this verse, it is commonly used by eternal security proponents when they fail to find Biblical support.
"We must be eternally secure because Jesus paid for our sins past, present, and future." It is an interesting challenge if you ask them to prove this supposition. They are assuming that you will be logically defeated by buying into this reasoning. They can search the Scriptures forever and they will never find any proof of this statement. In fact, the Scriptures lead us to another conclusion. We are told that if we sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, that is, a Lawyer. Now if all your future violations of the law were already paid for, then you would never need an Advocate. The Judge is already satisfied. The fact that Jesus is the Advocate for the believer (1 Jn. 2:1) is evidence enough that future sin is not already covered.
Paul makes a direct reference concerning the forgiveness of sins in Romans 3:24, 25. "Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God."
It is only if we confess our sins that He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.1 Jn.1:9 No promise of forgiveness can be found for those that are unrepentant.
Some people will base their eternal salvation on unproven assumptions that allow them safety in their sin. Anything concerning salvation that cannot be proven from the Scriptures is nothing more than a baseless theory. Theories are alright if they are used to support that which is clearly defined in Scripture. They are dangerous if they are used as a foundation for any doctrine. This past, present, and future theory was developed to support and bolster their theory of final perseverance. Without any Scriptural evidence to support this teaching, their theory of future payment is nothing more than a gargantuan assumption! This approach is prime breading ground for idols, and not for truth.
In a lot of ways this is the same as Pillar Eight. Much ado is made of the word "seal" within both of these passages as proof that the carnal "christian" is secure. Also, much emphasis is put upon the statement "unto the day of redemption." Because of the inordinate stress that the advocates of this theory put upon these words, I find it necessary to give more attention than what was already given.
Once again I want to underscore my previous statement that the word "seal" in itself makes no allusion to a doctrine of unconditional security whatsoever. It does speak of security which cannot be denied, but nowhere does the word itself define the extent of that security. Many will charge that this is clarified by the clause "unto the day of redemption." They read "unto," the Greek "eis" as till, or all the way to the day of redemption. They see the seal as guaranteed through to the day of His coming. This stems from their interpretation of the ambiguous "unto" of the King James version and not the Greek. All versions of the Scriptures since the KJV, and the unanimous consensus of the Greek scholarship of our day goes against this interpretation. Most translate as "for the day of redemption." The idea of the passage being that we were sealed with a view to the day of redemption. The passage does not say that we are guaranteed this sealing all the way to the day of redemption, or are sure of our arrival at this designated end. The possibility of grieving the Holy Spirit implies otherwise.
The substrata: Many allude to the ancient custom of using a wax seal as a mark of ownership. There is also the idea of preserving an item in a container, such as jelly or preserves. These references are not complete ideas in which we can take every idea and force them upon Scripture.
For example: A wax seal of ownership is independent of the object which is sealed. Thus, many say that from this image, we cannot break this seal ourselves. As for the jar of preserves; the item inside remains uncontaminated as long as the seal is not broken, or the seal remains unbroken if the contents remain uncontaminated and do not fester. It would be wrong to force any idea too far in either direction. This would be reading too much into these verses.
Another substrata that the eternal security crowd falls back upon is the use of anthropomorphisms, I.E. human images used to describe God's relationship to us. Images such as Father, Good Shepard, son, Judge, etc... are anthropomorphisms. The fact that God is our Father is sometimes used in a way that goes beyond the plain words of Scripture. For an example, here is an actual quote from an eternal security advocate:
The problem with arguments like these, besides that they go against the clear words of Scripture, is that they sometimes prove too much! We were all born children of the devil; according to the above argument, we cannot lose our son-ship because genetics cannot be changed. All this proves is that no one can ever become a child of God! Besides, we are adopted into the family of God aren't we? Look at what foolish lengths this logic will take us if we apply these images too far! There is nothing Biblical about the above quotation, but people buy into these arguments every day, even the absurdity of being "sexed" into salvation! We must be careful not to get carried away in the application of these thoughts. They were never intended to be used to build extensive theories and systems of theology.
If old pillars are defeated we can be sure that new ones will always be put in their place. We must be forever vigilant in what we accept as truth, or otherwise, we will build one pillar of error that will someday become a temple. I pray that we will all be willing to tear down those false pillars as they become evident to us. Our assurance is not in a doctrine but in a vital union with our Savior Jesus Christ. "We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God." Acts 14:15
This article was written by Mr. Jeff Paton. Mr. Paton has read and studied many of the classic Methodist and Wesleyan theological writings. He is a supporter of Bible Believing Methodism and IMARC. We thank God for his insight and ministry. If you would like to contact Mr. Paton, you may feel free to do so.