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Friday, June 12, 2009


J. Grant Swank, Jr.

The popular Calvinistic teaching of eternal security is colloquially referred to as "once saved, always saved." That is, one cannot lose one's salvation once being saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.

In other words, once one becomes saved, he cannot be "unsaved." He is locked into salvation / heaven forever, even if he should so decide at some point that he does not wish to go to heaven.

Further, once one is saved, free will ceases for one then becomes automatically locked into salvation regardless of one's daily free will choices.

The above teaching is biblically false.

Scripture does not teach a "lock in" of salvation / heaven. Scripture does not teach that free will ceases at the moment of the born again experience. Scripture does not teach that on-going salvation is automatic.

(Those who oppose Calvinism are referred to as Arminians / Wesleyans in that Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius (l560-l609) countered Protestant reformer John Calvin (l509-l564) on this point and English evangelist John Wesley (l703-l79l) popularly furthered the Arminian position in a significant way.)

Eternal security, so-called, is usually supported with corollaries such as "All believers sin in word, thought and deed every day". . ."Once born into the family of God, one cannot be unborn out of the family of God". . ."Nothing can separate a believer from the love of God, even one's own sinning lifestyle after being born again".

The favorite verse of the eternal security proponents is "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand" (John l0:28).

Eternal security, so understood by Calvin and propagated by Calvinists, is not according to Scripture; further, it is very dangerous to eternal destinies in that scores of souls have believed it and gone to hell because they continued in a sinning lifestyle while believing they were going to heaven.

First, eternal security proponents do not understand Scripture's definition of sin: James 4:l7 states that to know good and not do it is sin. Further, I John 3:4, 7-9 states that sin is breaking the laws of God. In addition, this latter passage states that "he who commits sin is of the devil. . ." Therefore, to "sin in word, thought and deed every day" is not of God but of the devil.

Understanding the biblical definition of sin, then human foibles, lapses of memory, rough edges of one's personality, the need for growth in character and refinement are not sins. They are evidences of our fragile, spiritually fallen mortality--clay, dust, smoke vapors--to use biblical imagery.

To sin, therefore, is a conscious disobedience of God's way of life: "to KNOW to do good and to do it not is sin". Sin is knowable when committed. Conscience flags the mind immediately upon temptation in hopes of warding off the committing of sin. Free will then concludes at that point whether to disobey or obey the Spirit's move upon
the conscience. To choose disobedience is to sin; to choose obedience is not to sin.

In other words, sin is NOT UNknowable. It is NOT UNconscious. It is NOT vague in that we simply slide into it throughout the day without being aware of sinning.

Therefore, one can be tempted all day long and still not yield to sin. Temptation in itself is not sin; yielding is sin. Jesus was tempted but did not sin. One can, by an act of free will, maintain the obedient lifestyle toward God. When one does do that, one is living out the holiness lifestyle provided by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

On another point: being born into the family of God is an act of one's free will. Being born into a biological family is not an act of one's free will. Therefore, one can activate one's free will out of the family of God. Being born into the family of God is spiritual, not biological; therefore, the analogy of biological to spiritual at this juncture does not hold up. What is true of biological family is not necessarily true of spiritual family.

Further, one can activate free not to be separated from the love God; however, one can also activate one's free will to be separated from the love of God.

About no one taking the believer out of the Father's hand, that is true as long as the believer activates free will to remain in the Father's hand. Countless persons have withstood unbelievable torture and yet remained true to God. However, one's own free will can remove one from the Father's hand. "No man" can take me from the Father's hand, but I myself can take myself out of the Father's hand.

Countless Scriptures point to the possibility of losing one's salvation if one so chooses: Ezekiel l8:24-26; Matthew 24:l3; Luke 8:ll-l5; l2:42-46; John 8:5l; l5:l-6; Acts l:25; l4:2l-22; Romans l:l8-23, 28, 32; 2:6-8; 6:l2, l5-l6, 23; 8:6, l2-l4; ll:20-22; I Corinthians 9:24; l0:12; l5:1-2; Ephesians 6:l3; Colossians l:2l-23; Galatians l:6; 5:l, 4; I Thessalonians 3:8; I Timothy l:l8-l9; 4:l; 5:ll-l5; 6:l0-l2; Hebrews 2:l-3; 4:ll, l4-l6; 5:8-9; 6:4-6, ll-l4; 8:9; l0: 23, 26-29, 35-39; James l:l2, l4-l6; Il Peter l:l0; 2:l5, l7, 20-22; 3:l7-l8; I John 2:3-4, 24-25; 3:6-9; 5:ll-l2; II John 9; Jude 5; Revelation 2:7; 3:5; l6:l5; 2l:7-8.

Why does eternal security fill churches? Because it allows one to be saved and sin at the same time; therefore, this preaching is popular, though it is not biblical.

Why does holiness teaching not fill churches? Because the holiness lifestyle is the most unpopular concept known to spiritually fallen human beings; therefore, this preaching is not popular and never will be, though it is biblical.

What are the dangerous results of eternal security teaching?

(l) Persons continue to sin while professing to be believers, thereby endangering their own eternal destinies because a sinning lifestyle is of the devil and not of God.

(2) Persons besmirch the clear biblical gospel message.

(3) God's call to holiness is negated for one cannot live in the Spirit's provision of holiness while at the same time sin in "word, thought and deed every day."

(4) Scripture becomes distorted. The biblical passages revealing the falsity of eternal security as popularly taught are not researched, taught and preached.

(5) Scores of persons live with a false doctrine which they themselves cannot accept in their inner thoughts but must not publicly refute for fear of being ostracized by eternal security proponents.

Eternal security proponents fault Arminians by stating that Arminians are forever fearful of their state before God, that is, Arminians cannot be sure of their salvation.

The truth is that Arminians are quite sure of their salvation in knowing that as long as they obey God they are assuredly saved by heaven's grace. Furthermore, If they do lapse--sin--they have an Advocate, Jesus, who is ready to forgive that sin once that believer repents, confesses and then endeavors to go on with life apart from sin.

In other words, a believer is eternally secure as long as he is obedient to the heart of God. Such is the true biblical understanding of eternal security. Obedience is the key; obedience flows from free will. Free will then is the major component in deciding one's eternal destiny as well as one's present state before God.

Salvation is not automatic, locked in.

Salvation is received by faith as God's gift and then is maintained by activating one's free will in obedience to the commandments of God.

"Work out your own salvation in fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:l2) does not point to an automatic, once-saved-always-saved, free-will-ceasing lifestyle. Instead, it underlines one's active, alive, accountable daily walk with God.