Eternal Security
Tim Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to the gospel of John, chapter 10. We will read beginning with verse 27. Jesus is speaking:

John 10:

27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

All through the history of Christianity, one of the hottest areas of disagreement has been the doctrine of eternal security. In fact, it is one, although it is only one, of several areas of disagreement between the two basic schools of thought in Christianity, Calvinism and Arminianism. There are a number of areas in which those two areas of thought differ, but this is certainly one of those areas. A person is eternally secure or can he lose his salvation?

We should always keep in mind that there are genuine believers on both sides of the issue. There are people who are truly born again, trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior, who will be in Heaven just as quickly as any of the rest of us, who believe they could possibly lose their salvation. So this disagreement on this doctrine should never be the basis for breaking of fellowship. We should never choose to not fellowship with someone just because they do not agree with us on this particular doctrine, yet it is one that I believe the Bible speaks to very clearly. As in any area of disagreement, the only solution is to look at the Word of God and see what the Word of God has to say on the issue.

As we are going to see before we are through, eternal security has to do not in any way with what you and I do, and I think that this is one of the problems that causes a misunderstanding of the doctrine of eternal security. We do not base our claim to eternal security on anything that we do or anything that we are, but rather on Who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for us and what He continues to do for us.

One of the the problems in this particular doctrine has been the matter of human logic and human reasoning. It is very logical; it makes every kind of sense that we could lose our salvation. It is a very logical conclusion to which to come, but the problem is that the Scripture is not logical from a human standpoint in many areas. There are many things about the Word of God that are totally illogical from the standpoint of human reasoning. In fact, our very salvation is very illogical from the standpoint of human reasoning. What human being would imagine that God Himself, the One Who is sinned against, Who is offended by sin, would turn around and pay for sin and forgive it on the basis of the fact that He himself paid for it. That is not logical. That is not how human beings do things, but that is exactly what the Word of God reveals to us, and those of us who know Jesus Christ as Savior don't disagree about that. We may disagree about a lot of things, but we don't disagree about the fact that God Himself has paid for and forgiven our sins. So we need to be very careful as we think about the doctrine of eternal security, or any doctrine for that matter, that we do not base our reasoning on human logic alone. Rather, we look at the Scripture and even if what the Scripture tells us does not line up with what we would logically conclude, we accept what the Scripture says rather than what our logic dictates.

I want us to think about the doctrine of eternal security from two standpoints: First, God's promise to believers; then secondly, God's promises to His Son. I think as we look at these two aspects of the doctrine of eternal security, it will show us that our salvation is eternally secure. Those of us who have accepted Jesus Christ as Savior do not need to be concerned that something may go wrong and we will not after all wind up in Heaven.

God's Promises to Believers

The first thing that we want to look at is the matter of God's promises to believers. I want us to look at some of the promises themselves, and the first one is the passage that we have already read—John, chapter 10, verses 27-29. For purposes of emphasis, let's look at those again:

John 10:

27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

Notice very carefully the specific terms of this promise: “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” Those are definite, inarguable terms. Now, a human being could be wavering in a statement like this and we could say something like, “I give unto them eternal life,” but we could mean, just beneath the surface of our words, “I give unto them eternal life if they are faithful;” but God always means exactly what He says and says exactly what He means. Therefore, if God meant something like that, He would have written, “I give unto them the potential for eternal life,” or He would have said, “Those who are faithful will never perish.” In fact, if you look back at the things God promised to Israel in the Old Testament, many of God's promises to Israel were conditional promises. Many of them were unconditional promises; but a conditional promise, of course, is one that says, “I will do this for you if you do that,” or “I will do this for you as long as you keep doing that.” God is very clear about that.

In the Old Testament when He makes conditional promises, there is no question about what is a conditional promise and what is not, and the same thing is true in the New Testament. The difference is that most of the promises in the New Testament are unconditional promises, whereas in the Old Testament there are many promises that are conditional promises. All of the promises related to Israel's prosperity and Israel's military power and those kinds of things are conditional promises. God said, “As long as you are faithful to Me, as long as you keep My law, your enemies will not prevail against you,” and history shows that that was true. There are other conditional promises, but my point is that God clearly says what He means and when He means “I will do this for you if you are faithful,” that is what He says.

In John, chapter 10, verses 27-29, we have no conditions attached. “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” Notice also in these verses the clear and specific statement of verse 29: “Neither shall anyone pluck them out of my Father's hand. I give them eternal life. They shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck them out of my Father's hand.” This is what we think of as a double indemnity promise . Jesus is saying, first person, “I give them eternal life,” but as if that were not enough, “God the Father backs Me up on that. I give you eternal life, but also you are not only in My hand, you are in the Father's hand. No one will pluck them out of My Father's hand. Even if there was some way that My promise of eternal life could get messed up, the Father protects you.”

Of course, often people say, “Well, yes that is true. No one could pluck you out of the Father's hand, but you could jump out. You could take yourself out.” To make a statement like that is actually egotistical and arrogant because if we were to look at this verse in the Greek text, we would see that the word man is not in the original text. The assumption might be read there, but actually what the Greek text says is, “None shall pluck them out of My Father's hand,” so what He is saying is, “There is no man, including yourself or anyone else, who can take you out of the Father's hand.”

A second unequivocal promise that is very similar to that is over in Romans, chapter 8, beginning in verse 35:

Romans 8:

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39Nor 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.

Notice particularly verse 39. It ties in so clearly with John, chapter 10, verse 29: “Nor height, nor depth nor any created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.” Notice again how specific these statements are. They are unequivocal statements. In fact, they really are even more inclusive than Jesus' statements back in John, chapter 10. Sometimes people object when we use this passage. “Well, He is really not talking about salvation; he is talking about the love of God. He is saying that nothing can separate us from the love of God.” The problem with that objection is that the context of this whole chapter is salvation. In the chapter, He is talking about salvation. Also, salvation is inextricably linked with God's love throughout the Scripture. There is a sense in which those two words are synonymous, and Paul is using them synonymously here in chapter eight. For example, in I John, chapter 4, verse 10, God says:

I John 4:

10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

That is God's definition of love—the fact that He sent His Son to be the satisfaction for our sins, or perhaps the best known verse in the Bible that says:

John 3:

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Why will we have eternal life? Because God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. So love and salvation are always linked in the Scripture. Galatians, chapter 2, verse 20, says:

Galatians 2:

20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, [now notice this] who loved me, and gave himself for me.

When you talk about the love of God, you are talking about salvation whether you realize it or not. If you don't have salvation, you don't have the love of God. Those two are synonymous. Paul is saying in Romans, chapter 8, “Nothing can separate us from the the love of God, therefore nothing can separate us from salvation.” If He loved us enough to save us, then nothing can separate us from that. Part and parcel of our salvation is His great love which saved us while we were yet sinners.

In verse 38 of Romans, chapter 8, notice that he refers to principalities and powers . >From our study of the book of Ephesians, we known that that is one of the descriptive terms of Satan's kingdom. So what he is saying here in verse 38 is, “Death cannot separate us from salvation. Nothing that comes up in life can separate us from salvation. God's angels cannot separate us from salvation and even Satan with all of his organization cannot separate us from salvation.” Then in verse 39, he says: “There is nothing in the future that can separate us from salvation.” The New King James Version , in the middle of verse 39, says:

Romans 8:

39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

We could say, any other creation . Times have really changed since the Apostle Paul wrote this. A lot of things have become very commonplace to us that Paul never even dreamed of, but the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write, “There is nothing that will be developed any time in the future that will threaten our salvation. Nothing can separate us from the love of God”—nothing that was created by God and is only now being discovered.

Principles of God's Work in the Believer

These are some of the specific promises that God makes to us concerning eternal security, but in addition to those promises, there are some principles that also guarantee our security. First, there is the principle of God's work in the believer, which is mentioned in several passages. I said in the beginning that our salvation is not based on anything that we do. I think a big misunderstanding of those who believe in eternal security is that we think there is something special about us that we can arrogantly say, “I know that I am going to Heaven.” It is not anything in us and this principle that we want to look at now explains that. Our hope of eternal security is based on God's promises, but also on the principle of God's work in the believer.

The first place where this principle is mentioned is Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 30, where we read:

Ephesians 4:

30And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Salvation is not the specific topic of this verse or even of this chapter. He is really talking about the Christian life and some principles of walking with the Lord, living the way the Lord wants us to live; but in the course of instructing us about that, he mentions something that does have a direct bearing on our eternal security. He says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God,” and that is an important principle of our Christian life and something that is a study within itself. It is really beyond the scope of this particular study, but in saying that, just in passing, he says, “Don't grieve the Holy Spirit, by whom you are sealed until the day of redemption.” This is really what has a bearing on eternal security, this phrase, “By whom you are sealed unto the day of redemption.”

Even though from the human standpoint it would seem logical that we could lose our salvation, as I have already pointed out, this verse says that we who have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior have a stamp on us. We have a seal on us. It is like the seal on official documents. If you have ever applied for a passport, you know that you have to show a birth certificate that has some kind of official seal to be able to get that passport. We are familiar with those kinds of documents. That is what this verse is talking about. The Holy Spirit serves as a seal on believers and even though you and I can't see that seal, God sees that seal just like the people at the passport office look at that birth certificate and see that seal that is stamped on there. The Holy Spirit is our seal. It is something that God sees that marks the believer. Notice what he says in verse 30: “…unto the day of redemption,” or “for the day of redemption.”

We hear all of these jokes about getting to the gates of Heaven and explaining to Peter why we should be allowed to get into Heaven, and those jokes are totally unbiblical, but there may be a hint of biblical validity to those. If we have to show God anything, and I don't think we are going to have to pull back our lapel and show it to Him, He sees the seal; we don't. What He will see is that stamp, that seal of the Holy Spirit. In God's sight, that validates our entry into Heaven.

The part that that plays in eternal security is that in John, chapter 14, verse 16, Jesus was telling His disciples that the Holy Spirit was going to come. He was going to go away, but He was going to send another Comforter. He was talking about the Holy Spirit, and in verse 16, one of the several things that He told His disciples about the new Comforter Who was going to take His place was, “He will abide with you forever.” Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 30, says that we have the seal of the Holy Spirit. John, chapter 14, says that the Holy Spirit does not go away. One of the several things that the Holy Spirit does is to mark us in God's sight as God's children. In II Timothy, it tells us that the foundation of God standeth sure having this seal and that the Lord knows those who are His. I believe that, technically speaking, it is referring to this seal of Ephesians, chapter 4, verse 30. How does God know that we are His? He knows everything because He is God, but technically speaking, He knows because of the seal of the Holy Spirit. That is how God knows who we are and the Holy Spirit will abide with us forever. So you see, our eternal security is based on this principle of the work of the Holy Spirit, not on any egotistical confidence that we have, but just the fact of the way God has set things up. He has given us the Holy Spirit Who will abide with us forever, and one of the things that the Holy Spirit does is mark us as God's possession.

Now, a little different aspect of God's work in the believer. Remember we are talking about the principle of God's work in the believer, and another aspect of God's work in the believer is mentioned in I Peter, chapter 1, verse 5. This is a familiar passage. We will begin with verse 3 in order to get this verse in its context:

I Peter 1:

3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,[now notice verse 5]
5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Verse 5 approaches eternal security from two standpoints. First, it is built on the statement of verse 4, that God has an inheritance reserved in Heaven for us. Then in verse 5, it tells us that we are being kept for the inheritance—again, kind of a double indemnity thing. The inheritance is reserved for us in Heaven. We are not going to get to Heaven and discover that the inheritance is not there, that state taxes have eaten it all up or somebody misappropriated funds or any of the things that can happen to earthly inheritances. It is reserved in Heaven for us, but also we are being kept by the power of God ready to be revealed in the last days. So you see, the issue is not our faith or even our lifestyle. The issue is God's power to promise and to keep that which He has promised. That is the principle of God's work in the believer. God is working in our hearts. There are other verses that tells us this, too, but we have just looked at these. We know that we have eternal security because of what God is doing in us.

Principle of God's Work for the Believer

There is a second principle that we want to think about and that is the principle of God's work for the believer. That may seem like a minor distinction to make, but it is a separate principle. God is working in us, but He is also working for us. The first verse that mentions this principle is Philippians, chapter 1, verse 6. Notice as we read:

Philippians 1:

6Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Here is God working in us, which we have just been talking about. He has begun a good work in us, and obviously that good thing is salvation. But the promise is that he will keep working for us. He will keep us saved until the return of Christ—God's work for us. Then there is another verse, and it ties in with the resurrection. Turn to Hebrews, chapter 7. This chapter is about the priesthood of Jesus Christ, the fact that He represents us before the Father. Earthly priests died and you had to get acquainted with a new priest, but Jesus Christ is never going to die. Because of the resurrection, He lives forever and verse 25 says:

Hebrews 7:

25Wherefore 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.

Here is a wonderful truth. We are talking about God's work for the believer and one of the works for the believer is that Christ makes intercession for us. Jesus Christ our Savior prays for us. That is mind-boggling if you really soberly think about that. What an amazing thing! He paid for our salvation and now He sits at the right hand of the Father and He prays for us. As long as He lives, He will continue to do that. That is what the first part of the verse says. He is able to save to the uttermost. Sometimes evangelists have taken that verse to say, “He is able to save, no matter how sinful you may be. If you are the uttermost sinner, He is able to save you,” and that is true, but that is really not the thrust of this particular verse. This verse is saying, “He is able to save us, no matter what may come into our lives. He is able to save us, no matter how long it may take us to get to Heaven because He ever lives. He triumphed over death. He rose from the dead, and He ever lives; and as long as He lives, He will make intercession for us.” That is why we know that we can be saved, no matter what might happen. If the uttermost possibility took place, Jesus Christ can still save us because He lives to make intercession for us.

Basically, what that means is that although the Father doesn't need any reminder of the price that Jesus paid, to put it simply, that is what Jesus is doing. Jesus isn't begging God the Father to forgive us for our sins; but every time you and I sin, Jesus Christ reminds the Father, “Now, Father, I paid for that,” and when we confess that sin, Jesus Christ says, “He is agreeing with Me about the sin, and remember, it is under My blood and I have paid for that.” I am sure that falls far short of all that is involved in Christ's intercession, but in human terms that is what it means. Jesus Christ is there—as if the Father would ever forget it—reminding Him of what He has done for us and the fact that because of what Jesus has done, we are qualified to be forgiven. He is going to do that as long as He lives, and He is going to live forever. You see, none of these things have anything to do with what we do.

A third verse dealing with God's work for us is found here in Hebrews, chapter 10, verses 12-14. Notice as we read:

Hebrews 10:

12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

Now notice verse 14:

Hebrews 10:

14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

You know, we are still in the process of being set apart from sin and most of us wish we were a lot farther along in the process than we are, but we are being sanctified. God is working in us, and part of what He is doing is making us more and more free from sin as we walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit, but He is also working for us because of His presence with the Father in Heaven and because of His offering on the Cross. By that offering, He has set us apart forever in God's sight. We are perfected forever. So God is working in us which makes possible eternal security; and God is working for us, which makes possible eternal security. Notice again: Neither of those two principles have anything to do with what we do. Both of those deal with what God does, and that is why we can say that we have eternal security.

God's Promises to His Son

Those are the verses that deal with eternal security from the standpoint of God's promises to believers, but there is another approach to the doctrine of eternal security. It is equally important, and that is the approach of God's promises to His Son. Not only did God make promises to believers, and I think the things that we have discussed already would validate the doctrine of eternal security, but something that is extremely important is that even if we somehow could set aside those things that I have talked about, there is also the matter of God's promises to His Son. The passages that we have been talking about so far are somewhat debatable, at least from a human standpoint. I think they are perfectly clear, but people debate about them all of the time so there must be some basis for debating them, but these verses that we are about to look at are not as often considered and they are definitely not debatable. This is because they present eternal security not from the standpoint of what you and I do or do not deserve, but from the standpoint of what Jesus Christ deserves.

One of the basic arguments against eternal security is that a person who denounces Jesus Christ does not deserve to be saved. It is just not right. Well, that is perfectly logical. He doesn't deserve to, but listen, our eternal security is not based on what we deserve. Our salvation is not based on what we deserve. None of us deserves to be saved in the first place, so how can we talk about not deserving to keep it. Regardless of that line of reasoning, God's Son deserves what God has promised Him and the source of the promise is Christ's relinquishment of His right as described in Philippians, chapter 2. This is a very familiar passage of Scripture. Paul is writing to the Philippians about their Christian lifestyle and He says in verses 5-11:

Philippians 2:

5Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

In verses 5-8, we read about His relinquishment of His place in Heaven. Let there be no question whatsoever that it was the death of Jesus Christ that paid for our sins. I want to make that absolutely clear before I say what I am about to say. Jesus Christ's death on the Cross is what satisfied God for our sins, and God signified that by raising Him from the dead. However, there was a sacrifice that Jesus Christ made that in a way was even more important than His death in that without that sacrifice, His death would never have taken place, and that was His sacrifice of His rightful place in Heaven. That is what Paul is talking about when He says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” Listen! Where would we be if Jesus Christ had approached our sin problem like we approach the needs of other people sometimes? Jesus would have had every right, on the basis of Philippians, chapter 2, verses 5-7, to say, “Listen, they don't have any right to expect Me to help them. They are the ones who sinned. They got themselves into that problem and they have done it over and over again. Their grandfathers were just like them and the whole bunch are sinners. Why should they expect Me to do anything about it?”

Does that sound familiar? Jesus had every right to talk that way. He was God and it was not something that He had grabbed and held onto for Himself. He was there because He was God. He had every right to be there. Philippians, chapter 2, verse 7, says:

Philippians 2:

7But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

It goes on to His death on the Cross. The reason Jesus Christ is highly exalted is that He was willing to go to the Cross. The reason we are saved is that He did go to the Cross. But if He had never been willing to go to the Cross, if He had never been willing to relinquish His rights and go to the Cross, we wouldn't be saved. Again, I say that it was the death of Christ that paid for our sins, but an extremely important aspect of that is His willingness to go, His relinquishment of His rights.

The substance of the promise of the Father to the Son is His reward in verses 9-11:

Philippians 2:

9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The reason God made the promise, the source of the promise, was that Christ was willing to leave Heaven where He had every right to be and come and die for our sins. The substance of the promise is that God would give Him an exalted name at which name every knee should bow. Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 18, gets more specific. Paul is praying for the believers in Ephesus and he says, among other things:

Ephesians 1:

18The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his [notice now] inheritance in the saints,

The Scripture talks a lot about our inheritance, but notice very carefully that this verse is talking about His inheritance . And what is that inheritance? The saints, and not only the saints, but all that God can produce in the lives of the saints, all the things that are involved with our sanctification. You are I and all other Christians are Jesus Christ's inheritance.

That is a sobering thought. It ought to have some bearing on the way we live, the things we allow in our lives. There are other passages that say the same thing. II Thessalonians, chapter 1, verse 10, speaks of the second coming of Christ as the time when He shall come to be glorified in His saints. He will be glorified by His saints, but He will be glorified in His saints. That is His inheritance. John, chapter 6, verse 37, quotes Jesus as saying, “All that the Father giveth Me shall come unto Me…” We are Christ's inheritance and the Father gives us to Christ, so you see a wonderful thing is that our eternal security is based upon the fact that we are Christ's inheritance. This means that if anyone lost his salvation, Jesus Christ would be losing a part of His inheritance.

We have already said and we all know that every Christian deserves to lose his salvation; and if you don't think that is true, then you need to get to know the Lord a lot better and look at yourself a lot more closely. Every believer deserves to lose his salvation, but listen, Jesus Christ does not deserve to lose His inheritance.

That is what it is all about. Let's not talk about what we do or do not deserve. That is a sad subject, but Jesus Christ does not deserve to lose His inheritance and God the Father gave you and me to Jesus Christ as His inheritance, so if loss of salvation were possible, Jesus Christ would have no inheritance. Someone may say, “Oh, so what if a few Christians here and there lose their salvation.” Well, we have already said that none of us deserve to keep our salvation. We don't deserve to have it in the first place, and if you have been saved more than twenty-four hours, you already know that you don't deserve to keep it either. If loss of salvation were possible, then Jesus Christ would lose His whole inheritance if it depended on what we deserve. So the fact that we are His inheritance is the basis for our eternal security.

Conclusion

As we conclude our study, I want to say again what I have already mentioned so many times before, and that is that we can confidently talk about eternal security and not be afraid of being arrogant or egotistical. In fact, if we have the opportunity to talk to people about our eternal security, one of the things that we ought to try to make clear is that we don't mean to be arrogant or egotistical because our eternal security depends in no way on what we do or do not do. When we say that we have the assurance that we are going to go to Heaven, the reason we say that is because of God's promises to us and the principles which are at work—God's working in us and God's working for us. But I think probably the most important of all is God's promises to His Son. You see, eternal security rests not on anything that we do or do not do, but purely on the honor and glory and exaltation of Jesus Christ. Praise Him for that.


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