Eternal Security Objection #2

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ETERNAL SECURITY – PART FIVE
Other Objections

In the first three segments of this study I shared the strongest biblical proofs for Eternal Security.  In segment four I tried to take a fair and honest look at the main argument used by those who do not believe in Eternal Security.  In this final segment, I want to look at some additional Scripture passages often used to discredit the security of the believer. 

Regardless of which side we stand on this or any other biblical issue, we must honestly and openly consider what the Bible has to say.  There is always a danger of allowing our emotions, persuasions and even pride to color our understanding of the Scripture.  For this reason we must always allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves by approaching them from a literal, grammatical and contextual understanding.  We must also be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Let us approach these passages in this manner.

1) Matthew 24:9-14 speaks of a “great falling away” from the faith.  If we look at the context of Matt. 24-25 we discover these chapters have to do with the future 7 year Tribulation Period spoken of by Daniel (Dan. 9:27).   Paul ties this “falling away” with the time in which the Antichrist  during the Tribulation.

2 Thes. 2:3-12, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,” NKJV

Likewise, Paul indicates that those who fall away are those who pretend to be believers.  When persecution comes, they abandon anything that has to do with Christianity. 

2 Ti 3:1-6, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” NKJV

It is therefore clear from the context of this passage that it has nothing to do with the security of the believer.

2) Luke 12:8, "Also I say to you, whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God.  But he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God” NKJV.  The argument would be that if a believer denies Jesus he will be denied by the Lord (aka lose his salvation).  However, it does not say that those who deny Him were ever believers.  The fact that they deny Him is evidence they were never genuine believers as John points out in his first epistle.

1 Jn 2:22-23,  Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.  Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.” NKJV

However, in some cases there will be some believers who, under great persecution, will cave in and deny their Lord.  If a genuine believer does deny the Lord it  does not change the eternal nature of his salvation.  In 2 Tim. 2:11-13, Paul points our 4 hypothetical conditions in which the believer may be found.

2 Ti 2:11-13, “This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him.  If we endure, We shall also reign with Him.  If we deny Him, He also will deny us.  If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”  NKJV

Paul lays out two positive actions on the part of the believer and two negative actions.  However he points out that whether the believer is faithful or faithless, the Lord remains always faithful.  To do anything else would be the same to deny Himself.  In other words the genuine believer’s salvation rests always in the “faithfulness of the Lord” not in the faithfulness of the believer.  A great example of this is the disciple Peter who denied the Lord 3 times.  Peter was not lost by his faithless act of denial as Jesus indicates nor did Jesus call upon Peter to be resaved after the denials. 

Jn 17:12-13, “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.” NKJV

3) Acts 8:13-22.  Simon who believed, was baptized, and given the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, later covets the miraculous gifts of the Spirit worked by John and Peter and offers to pay money to get these gifts.  Simon’s need of forgiveness does not necessarily mean he lost his salvation.  It could speak that he never truly believed or more likely he needed to be forgiven of this particular sin to prevent the chastening hand of the Lord.  Simon’s quick repentance shows evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit convicting his heart of his wrong.

4) 1 Tim 1 18-20.  Hymenaeus and Alexander, two believers who turned from following the faith and a good conscience and made shipwreck of the faith.  One might understand the term “shipwreck” an indication of the end of their saving faith.  However, this cannot be a correct understanding in light of the context of the passage.  Paul goes on to say that he turned them over to Satan that they might “learn” not to blaspheme.  This is not the only reference of Paul where he calls for such action to deal with sin in a believer’s life (1 Cor. 5:5).  Note two things here.  First of all, if these individuals have lost their salvation why would Satan want to attack them if it would bring about repentance and salvation?  That makes no sense.  What does make sense is that Satan is given the opportunity to have his way in the lives of these believers and God uses these attacks to chasten His Saints to repent of their sin.  Secondly, Paul’s goal is not to bring these men back to salvation but rather that they might “learn” to turn from their sin of blaspheme.  Therefore, “shipwreck” means to fall into a backslidden condition not the loss of one’s salvation. 

5) 1 Tim. 4:1ff – to walk away from the faith does not necessarily mean they were true believers.  The faith speaks of the gospel and the teachings of the apostles.  There will always be some who will pretend to be genuine believers but who are in reality still unbelievers.  These are the ones in mind by Paul.  Take note of the words of John in his epistle.

I Jn. 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.“ NKJV

6) 2 Tim. 2:16-18, “It says they strayed from the truth.”  It does not say they lost their salvation.  James 5:19 talks about a brother straying from the truth and being turned back from his error, was saved from a premature death (chastisement) and had a multitude of sins covered.

7) Col. 1:21-23 – this passage in the English translations makes it appear that the completion of our salvation is dependent of the believers “continuing in the faith” (v.23).  The English translation has not rendered the Greek correctly.  The term “if” should be translated “since”,  thus speaking of the ongoing activity of God’s work in the life of these believers.  Paul sees this activity not as a condition necessary to salvation but rather as the proof that what he has spoken of in verses 21-22 will transpire.  For further support on this corrected translation check out the following sources on Col. 1:23.  Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament, Copyright 1940-55 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. and Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.

8) Phil 2:12 speaks of the believer working out his own salvation.  This would seem to indicate that the believer must do his part if God is to do His.

Phil 2:12-13, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;  for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”

A couple of things need to be taken into consideration here.  First of all, salvation as it is used here is not a momentary event.  “Salvation” is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit through which He continually transforms the believer’s life to conform to the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  This is commonly known as sanctification.   Therefore to “work out” our salvation involves our ever increasing surrender of our lives to the control and work of the Holy Spirit.  This verse is not about us holding on to our salvation through godly living and effort but rather involves our yielding to God’s progressive work of sanctification.    Secondly, Paul makes it clear that this is really not the work of the believer but the work of God.  Please note that it is “God who works in us both to will (desire to yield) and to do (power or ability) His good pleasure.”  As in many other references, salvation is always the work of God not the work of men (Eph. 2:8-10, Titus 33-7).  Thirdly, nowhere in this verse does it say that our salvation is dependent upon how successful we are in “working it out“.  Paul never says workout your salvation lest you lose your salvation.

There are other verses that are given to show that man must work to hold on to his salvation.  However, like these examples, these verses when viewed in their literal contextual and grammatical understanding do not undermine the truth of the security of the believer.  I thank God that my salvation does not rest in my hands but in the hands of a perfect omnipotent God!