An Idol 1: A representation or symbol of an object of worship: A false god... 4: An object of extreme devotion. 5: A false conception.( Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary, Merriam-Webster 1991)
Oh, great is the Diana of the Calvinists! If one genuine Christian can fall, slip away, apostatize, or be severed from Christ, not only will eternal security, the head of their idol, come toppling down, but so will the rest of her defiled body! Is it any wonder that, despite the fact that the whole of Scripture is decisively against them, they must at all costs save their precious license for sin? We could list many cases of certain individuals who have been made examples of in the apostolic record. We could list several clear and unambiguous passages that either speak directly about the possibility and danger of apostasy and falling away or give inference to this possibility through logical conclusion. Nevertheless, this will not do, for the high priests of this unholy deception have already cast a spell of Scriptural blindness with their twisting of the Word of God that is so pleasing to the tickled ears of their hearers. Their minds, eyes, and hearts have been dulled and darkened so that they cannot comprehend these truths.
The blatant and open sinning of those who have dishonored Christ by their profession of Christianity proves their salvation is highly questionable. When asked how they can claim to be saved while they live in sin, their explanation is always about their faith in the doctrine of eternal security . . . and never about their faith in Christ! Christ brings conviction while eternal security brings comfort. Between the two, they choose the idol.
Proving that eternal security is without Biblical support is the only way to knock out this false prop from under the eternal security proponent. This is not a difficult task to do if we examine their "proofs" anew and allow the Bible to speak for itself. We will not dodge the issues and "explain away" the texts that seem difficult as the eternal security folks do, but each of their pillars will be approached within its context and the Word of God as a whole.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. John 10:27-29.
With a small amount of scholarship, this verse can be cleared up. In the Greek text, the hearing and following are in the present tense. What does this mean? It means that only those who are hearing and following Christ right now are his sheep. Those that are living in a state of continual sin are not his sheep because they are neither hearing nor following Jesus. Who are secure? The sheep. Who cannot be snatched (taken away by force)? The sheep. Who is Jesus giving (present tense) eternal life? Those who are sheep. Who are the sheep? Who shall never perish? Who is Christ giving eternal life? Only those who are hearing and following right now! Whom do Jesus and the Father protect in their hands? Not the one who heard and followed, but only those who are actively believing now with an obedient faith. Is this not works? No! It is genuine faith! This is true biblical security.
The term "snatch" means to take by force. This promise guarantees that the devil cannot remove the believer (present tense) from the hand of God. This safety is only from forces outside the believer and God Himself. A backslider removes himself from the promises of safety and security. He is not removed against his own will.
Now, looking at this passage in its plain and obvious meaning, it renders no credence to the theory of unconditional eternal security. The chief pillar has fallen! The remaining seven groan under the weight to save this failed doctrine.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39
First, these verses do not say, "Who shall separate us from the salvation of God?" Secondly, nowhere in these verses is Paul saying that sin cannot separate the one who rebels against the true and holy God.
To read the doctrine of eternal security into these verses is not warranted, since the conditionality of God's love is asserted throughout the Scriptures as a whole. God has an unconditional love for the lost as we can see in John 3:16. Other passages, such as the account in Mark 10:21,22 of the rich young ruler, who Jesus "beholding him loved him," further show the unconditional love of God, yet the ruler went away lost and grieved.
Why does Jude 21 warn us to "keep yourselves in the love of God" if the possibility of separation from God's love is impossible? In John 14:21 the conditionality of God's love is expressed this way, "He that hath my commandments, and keeps them, is he that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and manifest myself to him." Notice the clear and unambiguous words of Jesus, "He that hath my commandments and keeps them . . . is loved of my Father, and I will love him." Only bias and prejudice could impel one to deny the obvious conclusion that sin and rebellion is not the keeping of Christ's commandments, and that rebellious sinners are not in the love of God. In John 15:10 Jesus makes the same point again by inference, "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."
Clearly, there is a general love of God that goes out to all mankind regardless of their lost condition, and a specific and intimate love that God has only for those that are in fellowship with him through the atoning work of Jesus Christ. It is plain to see that this passage in Romans is this latter type of love.
Who shall separate us? Paul is addressing two elements here, one being "us." It is only those who are "in Christ" that are concerned with here, and not humanity overall. Notice that the designation "who" is not the believer himself, but that influence or circumstance that is outside the believer. The entire listing of Paul is consistent with this context! Death, life, angels, principalities, powers, et cetera, are all elements that do not include the moral choice of the individual who is now a believer. God's love is present in those who are in Christ, regardless if their circumstances in this life seem to give the impression that his love and protection is being withheld from them.
"Doesn't this passage say that 'any other creature cannot separate us from the love of God?' We are creatures and therefore we cannot separate ourselves!" Oh, what pathetic lengths will one go to save this precious Diana! The context demands that these "other creatures" are not us! Common usage of words denies this strange manner of interpretation. It makes no sense to say "who shall separate us . . . death, life . . . height, depth, nor we disobedient believers ourselves shall be able to separate us."
To get eternal security from these Scriptures, one has to assume that this is the meaning of the texts before reading them. By using this approach, they start it with theory, and they end it with theory, and that all they have! THEORY, and not TRUTH!
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. Philippians 1:6
Notice that the eternal security advocate cannot produce even one unambiguous and clear passage for the rotten doctrine! If this pivotal doctrine runs throughout the Scriptures, as is claimed, why aren't there passages that say, "No matter what sin a saved person commits, he will still go to heaven," "Believers cannot utterly fall away from the faith," and "Once a Son, always a Son." As much as they preach this from the popular pulpit, one would think that "eternal security" was a term that was found in the Bible! Yet the truth is that it will only be found in their theology books.
How they derive unconditional eternal security from Philippians 1:6 is a mystery. Paul had his confidence that God would continue his justifying and sanctifying work in them all the way to the end. Yet what was Paul's confidence in? Was it that he believed they were eternally secure and he wanted them to know it? This is what the eternal security proponents want us to believe.
Paul was confident of their perseverence only because they had "fellowship in the gospel from... THE FIRST DAY UNTIL NOW." Paul tells what his confidence is based on, and that is what we should believe. If there was a group of believers who showed nothing but good fruit from the day of their conversion until now, then there would be no other choice but to have confidence in the grace of God for them.
Please take note that the Scriptures never state this kind of confidence for those who are lukewarm or "sinning saints." This promise is only for genuine, obedient believers! Paul himself thought that was "meet" or "just" for him to think this way about them (verse 7). They had given Paul absolutely no reason to doubt that they were genuine Christians! Would he say the same thing of you?
Who are kept by the power of God through faith . . . I Peter 1:5
Notice the condition to this security. It is through faith. Sin is not faith. It is unbelief, or anti-faith. As long as believers are constantly abiding in the faith, the power of God keeps them. Since they have their faith in Jesus Christ, they have the security that is promised.
If eternal security were true, why is it never stated in the Bible that, "It is impossible for a believer to lose his salvation?" It is because the doctrine of eternal security is nothing but a lie!
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Romans 11:29
The individual's salvation is not the intent of the context here. It is the love of God for the nation of Israel. If one wishes to argue that "salvation is a gift, and therefore cannot be taken back by God" one would be inclined to agree with that. God does not take salvation away from us. We throw it away! It is our act of unbelief that brings separation and forces us to be broken off from the life of God. Look! In the preceding verses God tells us that many in Israel were "broken off" because of unbelief! We are also warned that we too can also be broken off unless we continue to "stand by faith (Romans 11:20-21)."
Why violate the context of this verse to "prove" eternal security, when we can be faithful to the Word of God and have the truth?
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. John 6:37
Again, notice that nothing is said about this fictional eternal security.
Who are given to Christ? Those who come by faith. Those that receive the gracious offer of the Father are guaranteed acceptance by Christ. What is promised is nothing more than that anyone who casts his faith upon the Christ will not be turned away! Believers do not have to fear that the availability of salvation is limited in any way.
And this is the Father's will who hath sent me, that all of which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again on the last day. John 6:39
Many confuse God's will with God's decree. It is also God's will that none should perish, and that all would come to repentance (2Peter 3:9). It is the Father's will (desire) that Jesus should not "lose" any, but this is an ideal, and not a proof of the inability of falling away. For in John 17:12 Jesus said, "those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost except the son of perdition," direct proof that in spite of the desire of God that "none shall be lost," there was at least one of the chosen twelve that was! The will of God never violates the free will he has given us to exercise!
The final pillar remaining is starting to crumble into dust, since without the support of any verses positing this fallacious teaching, Ephesians 1:13-14 will render no support on its own.
In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
The only way that this can be perceived as a proof for eternal security is to have the support of some verse where the doctrine has already been proven. Standing alone as it does, it renders nothing that teachers of carnal security can use. The verse does not say whether believers can break this seal or not, but the whole of Scripture proves that they can. Observe that the Holy Spirit is only a down payment on our inheritance and that we do not possess the fullness of this gift until the Lord returns. The fullness of this promise is only to those who endure to the end. The Scriptures tell us to "Be faithful until death and I will give you a crown of life (Rev. 3:5,21)." The Lord preserves the faithful (Psalms 31:23), not the unfaithful. This is the true perseverence of the Saints!
"Now they sin more, and have made them molten images of silver, and idols according to their own understanding." Hosea 13:2 "What profiteth the graven image that its maker hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Woe to him who saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach!" Hab. 2:18-19 "He heweth down cedars for himself . . . He burneth part of it in the fire . . . and the residue of it he maketh a god, even his graven image: he falleth down to it and worshipeth it, and prayeth to it, and saith, deliver me; for thou art my god." Isaiah 44:14-17
Nothing is more senseless that to create a god with one's own hands, only to bow down to worship it as mighty and powerful! Christians' assurance can only be based on a vital, living and trusting faith in the one true God, Jesus Christ. If there is a break in this relationship, there cannot be any hope of assurance. To claim assurance while one does not have a relationship with God is equal to worshiping something other than God, whether it be a doctrine or a piece of wood. Some will claim that fellowship with God can be severed but not the relationship to God. This statement is the same as calling God a liar! For it is written "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 (I John 1:7)." Notice that cleansing for sin is conditioned upon fellowship with God, and that fellowship is conditioned upon walking in the light. If the blood of Christ is not cleansing us from all sin, it is impossible to be in a relationship with God! Fellowship and relationship are inseparable from the saving work of Christ. Being "out of fellowship with God" is the same as being out of the grace and relationship with God.
My friend, cast away the false god of assurance that has been fashioned with the hands of men! Do not trust in lofty and eloquent pleas to trust in a false eternal security, but put all of your trust in Him who keeps us through a genuine, trusting, and abiding faith, that we may one day hear those wonderful words "well done, good and faithful servant."
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.