Photo by Ryan Vaarsi “Hudson Rail Yards” ; CC 2.0
Let’s pretend for a minute that all of us have just boarded an airplane for a non-stop trip overseas. All of us get on the airplane, take our seats, and fasten our seat belts. Then, we go to reach for a magazine and when we do we notice something near our feet that concerns us…it’s a set of bicycle pedals. Connected to those pedals is a large sprocket with a chain going down through the floor and to the engines.
So, you call for a flight attendant, and you ask, “What’s going on with these bicycle pedals?” She says, “Look all around.” You look and notice that everybody has them. “Why do we all have these pedals?” you ask. “Well, the pilot has agreed to get us in the air, but it’s up to us to keep it in the air. He’ll get us up to 30,000 feet, but then all of you will have to pedal really hard to keep it up there.”
I’m telling you, I don’t care how hard we pedal, how long, or how fast, we are going to go down. And your chances of keeping that airplane in the air by pedaling is the same as your chances of obtaining and keeping salvation by your own efforts (or works). If the “pilot” of our souls doesn’t get us there and keep us there, we have no hope.
Charles Stanley, a well-known Southern Baptist pastor, and author, was raised in a church where he was taught all his life that one could lose their salvation (in fact, so was I). He did not believe in eternal security or, “once saved, always saved,” as some people call it.
In Bible college he started to struggle with the issue. Here’s a quote from Charles Stanley:
“It was my intense study of the scripture that caused me to begin doubting my position, that you could lose your salvation. Verse by verse, I picked my way through the passages used to support each view. Through this process, 2 things became apparent. I was guilty of ignoring the context of many verses that I had quoted to defend my view. When I began to dig deeper into the text,they took on different meanings. Secondly, I discovered through my study that the belief in salvation by grace cannot be reconciled with the belief that one can lose his salvation. If I must do or not do something in order to keep from losing it, then salvation would not be by faith, but by works. I specifically remember the day that this truth dawned on me, I found myself at a theological fork in the road. To maintain my position, I realized that I would have to abandon my belief in salvation by grace alone. It was like a light came on. Suddenly, I saw it, I wanted to shout. I felt like a man just freed from prison. I began to thank God that for all those years I was wrong, and then I was struck with the most awesome thought of all: I had been eternally secure since the day I got saved as a 12 year old boy.”
I urge you, if you don’t believe in eternal security, have patience over the next few articles. Do what Charles Stanley did. Search the Scriptures with an open mind, set aside your biases. Reserve any judgment, if you’d be so kind, until the end of the series.
Some of you are thinking, “I already believe in eternal security.” But why do you? What’s your proof, chapter and verse? “Be ready to give an answer to any man who asks of you of the hope that lies in you.” This will strengthen your position. And it will deepen your appreciation for what it is you have in Christ, and it will cause you to want to live a Christ-like life because of that appreciation.
But many are confused over this issue and need to get this information solidified in their thinking. This is a huge issue. It’s about whether salvation is by grace or by works.
Critics of eternal security often say, “If I believed that way I’d get saved and just live however I want to live and do whatever I want to do, that’s just a license to sin.” First, you can’t get saved with that kind of attitude. In order to be saved you need faith and repentance (a change of mind and of heart).
Second, remember God disciplines His children when they need it. His discipline is always right, so it will point you back in the direction of pursuing holiness. Just because God loves His children unconditionally doesn’t mean you can live however, and do whatever, you want. We’ll look at that more in the following articles in this three part series.
Here is one reason to believe in eternal security:
Salvation is of the Lord, it comes from Him. If you believe one can lose their salvation, chances are you do not understand just how great and complete it is ,how deep it is, and how far reaching it is.
Everything one needs to know about salvation can be found in Ephesians chapter two, it is a remarkable chapter. The first thing it shows is our condition before we are saved:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Ephesians 2:1, NIV).
“Dead? But I’m breathing.” Yes, but you are dead. Dead man walking. Like, “The Walking Dead,” “Dawn of the Dead,” or “Night of the Living Dead.” When it comes to the lost world out there, wherever they are, it’s where the dead people live…spiritually dead people.
The Bible tells us we are created in God’s image, a tri-unity – body, soul, and spirit. And sinful man is born incomplete, born with a dead spirit, “As in Adam, all die” the Bible says, and remember, when Adam sinned, it says he died that day, even though he lived another 900 or so years physically, he died that day, spiritually.
When you get saved, God does something special, something wonderful, He sends the Holy Spirit to quicken, to make alive, your spirit. Your spirit is resurrected, raised from the dead, born again. And the Holy Spirit takes up permanent residence in your heart. So, our condition before salvation is dead and we were dominated by sin.
Ephesians 2:2: “followed the ways of the world” (NIV). Picture in your mind a dead fish floating down a stream; when the stream turns to the left, so does the fish, when it turns to the right, so does the fish, etc. It’s just floating along, dead, in the way of the stream. That’s us, floating along dead, in the ways of the world.
“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and
following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (Ephesians
Verse 3b, “we were by nature,” we were born depraved. Doing wrong comes naturally to us. Doing right only happens when we are taught, nurtured, and disciplined. You don’t have to teach your children to do wrong, they do that naturally. They are selfish and tell fibs all on their own without being taught how to do so. Why does a cat meow? It’s in their nature. Why does a dog chew on bones? It’s in their nature. Why do birds fly south for the winter? It’s in their nature. Why do politicians lie? Wait, let’s leave that one alone.
The Bible tells us our nature is sinful (the sin nature). Remember this, you are not a sinner because you sin, you sin because you’re a sinner. Because, in our initial state our spirit is dead, we’re dominated and depraved, if we die that way we are doomed.
“We were by nature objects of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3b, NIV).
If all that we read were verses 1-3, and then we just stopped, it would be an extremely depressing message. It would seem hopeless and helpless. However, the two most important words in the entire chapter are found in verse 4, let’s look at those two words: “But…God.” Praise the Lord for those two words. Only God could take this dark and dismal situation described above and do something about it:
even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved” (Ephesians
Isn’t that absolutely awesome! And it’s all possible because of that quickening spirit, God’s Holy Spirit, which comes to live inside of us.
Here’s what this has been leading up to: In order for you to be able to lose your salvation, your spirit would have to die again. You will not go to hell with a spirit that has the Holy Spirit within it. To lose your salvation, your spirit would have to die after God raised it from the dead. However, when God raises something from the dead, He does a perfect job. When God raised His Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead, He did it in a permanent way, never to die again. That’s why Hebrews 6 says that “if” it were possible to lose your salvation (implying that it isn’t possible) you could never be saved again, because Jesus would have to be crucified again, put to death again, and that’s not going to happen.
Ephesians 1:13-14 says:
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your
salvation. Having believed, your were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s
possession –to the praise of his glory” (NIV).
“Deposit” here is also translated as “earnest.” It carries with it the idea of putting a down payment on a house, if one does so and defaults, the owner keeps that money. God is saying, “I’m sure this one is going to make it, I’ll make the down payment right now. If this one ends upin hell, you can keep the deposit” (but then the Holy Spirit would have to be in hell as well).
Some people claim to get saved over and over whenever there is a guest speaker, a revival service, or an altar call, but then they go out and slip back into old habits and then feel they need to be saved again. It goes like this, “I got wasted (or some other sin) and lost my salvation”…but did they? Did they really? Did your resurrected spirit really die again?
Or, “Saved again?” Really? Okay, so your spirit was quickened again, it was made alive again? I don’t think so. Once it is alive, it’s alive. How about, “Oh man, I went out and shot a dear out of season, my spirit must be dead again.” It doesn’t work that way. All of these sound ridiculous don’t they?
So, you might be thinking, “does that mean I can go out and do whatever I want?” Sure, if you don’t mind being disciplined by a righteous God. Hebrews 12 tells us God disciplines His children.
Have you ever been out shopping, or to a restaurant, and witnessed some bratty, spoiled kid that needed a good spanking? The kid needed it but why didn’t you do it? Because the kid is not yours. It’s the same reason God doesn’t spank the devil’s children, they’re not his.
You might say, “But I know they were saved, I saw them at the altar, they were crying, and they drifted away, and it’s been 30 years, and God hasn’t “spanked” them.” If this is the case how do you know for a fact they were truly saved? Are you basing it on that one day? Jesus said in Matthew that some seed looks like it’s going to make it for a day, but it had no depth of earth, and didn’t make it, but for one day it looked good. And really, how do you know God hasn’t “spanked” (disciplined) them? How do you know they’re not living a life of mental torture? The fact is, you don’t know, you can’t know.
But, if you need a biblical explanation for those who appear to have been saved and supposedly lost it, then look at 1 John 2:19:
“They went out from us, but did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they
would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (NIV).
They were never saved in the first place.
Now, can a person slip back into sin and old habits? Absolutely. Remember when you first got saved, it was like you were “on fire” for God, but, when you sin, it’s like you’re throwing water on that fire, quenching the spirit if you will, and you can do that until it’s just a tiny little spark. However, the one thing you can’t do is put it out completely. Why? Because you are not the one who lit it in the first place. God did. Salvation is of the Lord. Salvation is not about you holding out, it’s about God holding on.
Part of the problem is many people confuse their relationship with God with their fellowship with God. They are two different things. God is your Father, you are His child, that’s why we’re brothers and sisters in Christ. Now, that’s family, that’s a relationship.
An example of what I am saying can be seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son. The son took everything his father had to give and went his own way and did his own thing. During all that time their fellowship was definitely broken, however, their relationship was not. Regardless of all that happened they were still father and son.
If you are not saved, you’re missing out on amazing fellowship with God, because you don’t have a relationship with Him. You’re incomplete and I bet you can feel it inside. Your spirit is dead. I urge you to let God bring it to life, permanently.
If you are saved and you know it, awesome! If you gained some knowledge about the incredible salvation you have, awesome! If you’re thankful for it, for unconditional love, for eternal security, for peace of mind, then give God the glory and credit He deserves.
Be Sure to Check Out The Other Posts In The Series
This was a guest post from Dr. Jeff Hagan.
Jeff is an ordained Christian minister with over 23 years of ministry experience. He has attended Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Luther Rice Seminary, Tyndale Seminary and a handful of other institutes as well. He has earned several degrees including the Doctor of Christian Education and the Doctor of Theology.