41 Comments

“Conditional” Eternal Security


This topic is similar to last day prophecy views, in that its “sticky”.

In every case where I’ve seen it discussed, it’s ended with those on both sides (of the issue) staying firmly planted where they began, with no change.

One thing we can all agree with…one belief is correct and one is wrong. And this is where it differs with last day prophecy; for if one is wrong concerning salvation, the results may be eternal.

My reason for putting this up is because I saw another post/topic which appears to be heading into a discussion of OSAS.  I believe its best it has its own post in order to give those who want to discuss it, an opportunity to do so.

My belief is we are eternally secure in Christ…ONLY as long as we continue to abide in Him. If we depart from the faith, we are no longer abiding in truth–in Christ:

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;” (I Tim. 4:1).

“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (I Tim. 4:16).

Two words in these passages are especially important “depart” and “continue”.

Clearly we cannot depart from something we never had, nor can we “continue” something not begun. Therefore, we can be sure Paul was speaking to Timothy about converted people.


Below is something I posted at a discussion board some years back concerning this topic,  “Is There a Possibility of Falling From Grace”-

In the last days, there will be believers who will be convinced to turn away from Christ and return to sin. There will also be those who grow impatient for Christ’s return. They will be deceived and will try to convince others that the promises God made about Christ’s return to claim his bride, the Church, are false. “…there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of his coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (II Pet. 3:3-4).

We must patiently continue to “hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown’ (Rev. 3:11).

In the Book of Revelation, John wrote about those who at one time had placed the Lord first in their lives but had allowed themselves to grow careless and were very much in danger of losing their place in God’s favor.

“Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy candlestick out of his place…” (Rev. 2:4-5).

We take great comfort in the promise that

“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life,…” (Rev. 3:5).

This would certainly indicate that the faithful, the overcomers, will retain their place in the Book of Life.

The importance of this is emphasized when John wrote

“…and another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books,…” (Rev. 20:12).

Jesus explained to His disciples of the dangers and deceit that His followers would face before the end times.

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matt. 24:11-12).

The only way for love to wax cold is for it to exist.

Again, clearly Christ was speaking of those who once loved the Lord but allowed sin to intervene and their love for Christ grew cold.

Jesus Christ did not leave His disciples without hope. He promised them

“But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13).

This beautiful promise would not have been needed unless there was a danger of falling away.

Not only do we need to be careful that we are not deceived by others, we must be careful that self-confidence does not cause us to grow careless.

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (I Cor. 10:12).

“First it startles him, then it becomes pleasing, then delightful, then frequent, then habitual, then confirmed; then the man is impenitent, then obstinate, then resolved never to repent, then damned” (Jeremy Taylor (1613-67) – description of the downward progress of the apostate: Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 651).

What security is promised to God’s children?

John, chapter 10:

“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.”

What do these verses teach us?

That God is greater than any adversary of our souls, and therefore we are safe while we remain in His care.

In other words, does it mean once we become God’s children, we are then eternally secure?

Only if we meet the conditions. We must give heed to the Good Shepherd’s voice and follow him.

What of those who claim to be Christians, yet do not follow Christ in their daily lives?

If they do not obey His commandments, we must conclude they are not Christ’s sheep. (John 14:15, 23; 1 John 2:4; Luke 6:46, etc.) Therefore, those who do not follow him are not secure.

If Jesus said no man is able to pluck His sheep out of His hand, or out of his Father’s hand, how is it possible to fall away from God?

By refusing to meet God’s conditions, or by backsliding into unrepented of sin.

We can liken this to a man caught in a storm. God has provided a shelter, and if man by the drawing of God’s Spirit is willing to enter that shelter and remain there, the rain and wind can do him no harm. But as a creature of free will, he can choose to leave the shelter and walk out into the storm.

Are there any examples in the New Testament of believers who fell away from the true faith, or voluntarily turned back to a sinful life?

There are. We will list several here:

(1) “For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (II Tim. 4:10).

(2) “Holding faith, and a good conscience, which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme” (I Tim. 1:19, 20).

(3) “But now, after that ye [Galatians] have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?. . .I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain” (Gal. 4:9, 11).

What things are not able to separate us from the love of God?

“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” (Rom. 8:38, 39).

What however can and will separate us from God?

“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have made him hide his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2).

“He that committeth sin is of the devil” (I John 3:8).

“Any man see his brother sin . . . . There is a sin unto death” (I John 5:16).

What warnings are given us to beware of apostasy?

Here are a few:

(1) “No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).

(2) “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12).

(3) “Remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32).

(4) “Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Heb. 4:11).

(5) “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (I Cor. 10:12).

(6) “Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness” (II Pet. 3:17).

What emphasis did Jesus place on abiding in Him?

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me . . . If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned . . . If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love” (John 15:4, 6, 10).

Others insist that a child of God cannot fall from God’s favor, no matter what kind of life he leads. They say that “Once born, it is impossible to be unborn.” Are they right?

This is a dangerous teaching. Even the analogy is distorted — the opposite of birth is not unbirth, but death.

A child may die, and it is likewise possible for a child of God to fall away from God and die a spiritual death.

“For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13).

What does the writer to the Hebrews declare is impossible?

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (Heb.6:4-6).

What is even worse than to never have known the way of righteousness?

To have known it, and then turn away from it. (See II Pet. 2:20, 21).

What did Paul write to Timothy on this subject?

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (I Tim. 4:1, 2).

It is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (II Pet. 3:9), yet He will not force His will upon anyone. Man is given a free will to choose whom he will serve, and therefore he has his part to do to avail himself of God’s free gift of salvation.

Our eternal destiny is conditional not only on our becoming a child of God, but on remaining one –persevering in the faith unto death.

“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God (II Cor. 7:1).

“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 1:10, 11).

“..because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” – Romans 11

apostate definition

One who has abandoned one’s religious faith, a political party, one’s principles, or a cause.

apostate synonyms

A person who has defected: defector, deserter, recreant, renegade, runagate, tergiversator, turncoat. Informal: rat.

apostate etymology

[Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin apostata, from Greek apostats, from aphistanai, to revolt; see apostasy.]

Apostasy: Definition: – Turning or falling away from true gospel teachings as individuals or as a people.

41 comments on ““Conditional” Eternal Security

  1. yes, this is a sticky subject but there do seem to be scriptures that bear out that we can lose our salvation – Hebrews 1- 26 to 32 talks about trampling the Son of God under foot and ends with the words – it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God – it is very sobering.
    Anyway here’s a video shown at my church this morning – with God all things are possible:

    • PRAISE THE LORD!!!

      Jan, i LOVED this clip… thank you, thank you for posting it!

      I’m going to add it to my vodpod right now.

      This had me laughing out-loud with joy:

      “you can’t impeach him and he ain’t going to resign”

      🙂 Ahaha…amen, amen!

    • so glad you were blessed pj
      so was I
      actually they played a more up beat rap version at church but trawling through youtube I liked the pictures on this one.

    • yep

      my King too!

      “That’s My King”! yahoo!!!

  2. With what you have posted, which is well received by me as I tremble thinking about how slack I have been, I would add these Words to teaching.

    Considering the teaching, what else would you teach us being full of the Spirit of Grace, Knowledge and Truth?

    1Ti 4:7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;
    1Ti 4:8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.
    1Ti 4:9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance.
    1Ti 4:10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
    1Ti 4:11 Command and teach these things.

    • Thank you Michael for the added thought and scriptures.

      I know what you mean about growing slack. Its something we all have to stay alert to…

  3. Jesus gives us free will to love Him and believe in His Word. (John 3:16) Anyone who once bought by the blood of the Lamb, and then denies the Lord by teaching or believing in destructive heresies denying the Lord (2 Pet 2:1) cannot continue to abide in the doctrine of Christ. There are hundreds of passages warning believers can to fall away and deny their faith. (2 Pet. 2:20-22, Heb 3:12, 1 Tim. 4:1, Heb. 10:29, Heb. 6:4-6) Once saved always saved is the most deceptive heresy being sown in the church by deceiving spirits. (1 Tim. 4:1) Your saved as long as you abide in the doctrine of Christ. (2 John 1:9)

  4. Although I grew up in a church which preached OSAS, I am essentially in agreement with your position PJ. Unfortunately there are many who once professed Christ Jesus who now live lives that are indistinguishable from those who never believed. The tragedy is that because they prayed sinner’s prayer many years ago they think it will be OK in the end.

    I believe that the epistle to the Hebrews is particularly strong on this subject and, indeed, you include a couple of quotes from Hebrews.

    We should remember that the primary reason for writing Hebrews was to warn Jewish Christians against the danger of reverting to the Old Covenant, possibly because the might receive less hassle from their Roman masters by practicing Judaism again since it was a permitted religion in the Roman empire.

    The writer reminds them that in the New Covenant everything is better and the Old is redundant.

    There are at least 5 strong warnings against reverting in this way.
    Heb 2:2. If the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?
    You quoted Heb 3:12. See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. This passage goes on to equate this with those who rebelled in the desert in the time of Moses and, because of that, were unable to enter into the promised land. Ch 4:1 Therefore, since the promise of entering the rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it.
    Heb 6:4-6 you have already highlighted
    Heb 10:26. If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of teo or three witnesses. How much more severely do you thinkl a man deserves to be punished, who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?

    All of these warnings were written to Christians, who also happened to be Jewish, and those who believe OSAS have a hard time explaining them away. One explanation is usually given that the people written about here were never truly saved in the first place, but that doesn’t stack up with the purpose of the letter. Also there will be those who say that the above quotes are selective and that the epistle has much more to say about the blessings and benefits of the New Covenant, with exhortations to press on in in full expectation of faith, which is true, but both must be read together to get a true picture.

  5. PJ,

    How I grieve over the many who have been sold a false gospel. Thankfully, I never once believed in OSAS.

    What I do believe is that once a new Christian has come to faith and through discipleship in it’s various forms attends to having a firm foundation laid with the six foundation stones found in Hebrews 6, he/she will be well on their way to building a proper “house” for God in their lives, where He comes to dwell and have fellowship with that believer. Granted, it isn’t always that squeaky clean, as the Parable of the Sower illustrates, but there is great hope for the soul that seeks God in truth.

    Hebrews 6:1-3 says: Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection; not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the teaching of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.

    But the context is key, as it goes on to say: Heb. 6:4: For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

    What does one who believes OSAS do with that?

    Yes, we do serve a merciful High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, but this is talking about living in such a way of practiced sin and open rebellion that He is put to open shame. Nobody will get away with that.

    It also says, “All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matt. 10:22
    And again this is repeated in Matt. 24:12-14 and Mark 13:13.

    Believing and living out the full counsel of God in sincere obedience as it is expressed in the written Word of God will win for the believer a gospel that has the power to save, keep them saved, and save them forevermore.
    -E

    • Thankfully, I never once believed in OSAS.

      No, i didn’t either. Looking back i don’t think i ever heard it preached in churches i attended. Which is actually surprising when its such a prevalent teaching..

  6. Jan, Thank you for what is a wonderful video. I hope you don’t mind but I copied and pasted and sent by e.mail to several friends as a blessing to them.

    Pj I didn’t realise there were so many scriptures to back up the dreadful posibility that we CAN lose our salvation, (not so sticky now eh?), although I did recognise and have often quoted a couple of them. I have looked them up and made a note of each one for reference when the subject rears it’s head again in the future, which it surely will.

    Confirmation of our need to be constantly alert to the ‘deception and seduction’ of the evil one indeed.

    • Confirmation of our need to be constantly alert to the ‘deception and seduction’ of the evil one indeed.

      Amen RoT.

    • Hi RofT
      happy new year to you and your family if I haven’t said it before
      well, my church passed the video to me and then I simply passed it on
      when Paul wrote in Ephesians “speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” I don’t imagine he ever thought we could share over the seas and miles away in a matter of seconds…

  7. I believe the Lord has shown me the key to enduring to the end, and thus realizing your salvation, is summed up in one word: ABIDE.

  8. The concept of “eternal security” derives from the concept of predestination as introduced to the Christian church by Augustine. The concept of predestination derives from Manichaeism, a Gnostic religion popular at the time. Thus, the reality is that “eternal security” has its roots in ancient heresy. But we must be very careful in how we react to “eternal security” because on the other side of the equation lies Pelagianism, another equally dangerous heresy that asserts that we can and must “will our way into heaven”. Salvation is a truly miraculous process in which the will of God and the will of man are intermingled in an incomprehensible mystery and we can get into serious trouble when we try to simplify it to the point of a “dummies guide”.

    Salvation is based on faith. The Bible teaches this emphatically. Nowhere in the Bible will you find the term “faith alone”. And there is a reason for that. The book of James teaches that genuine faith is evidenced by works. Those works in NO WAY contribute to salvation BUT they are the evidence of saving faith. The Roman church drifted into a heresy which confused the relationship between faith and works, and the response of the reformers was to over correct to the point of denying the very real link between faith and works as taught by James. In the process, they very conveniently dipped into the confused teachings of Augustine and adopted some of them and through out the rest. Others like Calvin followed on and further developed these teachings that, at their root stemmed from the teachings of heretics.

    There is extreme danger on either side of this equation, the Manichean side or the Pelagian side. Neither is more dangerous or deceptive than the other. Those who adhere to one side will expound on certain key biblical passages at great length and try to explain away the proof texts of the other side and visa versa. Whenever someone is trying too hard to explain scriptures that don’t fit their theology, beware. The way of the cross is not simple. Only those with faith can receive it. Because it defies understanding. It remains … a mystery. The work of our sovereign God which no man can comprehend in its totality.

    To sum up, the points that pj makes are extremely important. We must not try to explain away important scriptures simply because they do not fit our flawed theology. The Word of God is Authoritative. ALL OF IT. And the teachings of the early church fathers is in many ways key to understanding the scriptures.

  9. Ha Ha Jan I agree, but never mind about Paul the apostle, even my dear old grandad, a young man 100 years ago, would never have imagined us sharing over the seas and miles away in a matter of seconds. We type on our computers, from the UK, USA and BRAZIL all at the same time and up it pops here.

    The facility has made the world a smaller place, but you know what? Our God has becomes BIGGER and MORE MAJESTIC throughout the earth, truly making us ONE IN HIM, HALLELUIA!
    Happy New year to you and yours also, and may the Lord Bless you sister 🙂

  10. All I know is this: One day I was minding my own sinful business, and without even knowing it, I was on my merry way to Hell fire for all eternity. Then without any effort or plan on my part, I was awakened to the truth of Christ crucified for my sins, and by His grace and mercy received a measure of faith as a gift that allowed me to believe that His sacrifice was sufficient for my justification before God Almighty.

    I can take no credit for what happened, and can claim no glory even in my own free will for choosing Him, for that was not the case; but rather for some strange reason He chose me. What’s more, I know that if even so much as one blink of an eye is reliant upon me in order to see the completion of what God has started, then I am without doubt doomed to all eternity in Hell.

    Believe me brothers and sisters, if you are talking about some doctrine that can be labelled OSAS, and is the vile filth I remember from my days in the charismatic church, then I spit on it for the heresy that I too believe it to be. For that lie used to tell me that I could say a prayer like some magical incantation, and providing I believed I was sincere at the time, then I could continue to live for the flesh without fear of damnation.

    However now I no longer look to the flesh, but to the Spirit of God. I no longer trust in man, not even myself, but only that which is revealed to me through Scripture, and made alive to me by the work of His Spirit. And it is this alone that gives me assurance in my hope, for I know that at whatever point I have to rely upon my own self, I am lost. So this being the case, am I supposed to now doubt that the Holy Spirit that I have been so graciously given is a deposit insufficient to most assuredly secure my salvation as the Word promises? Should I not be able to rest solely upon that which Christ has performed on my behalf, but instead have to be in fear of doing something drastic enough to prevent Him in His work? For if you do, the God you serve is not the same as I!

    Call me arrogant or deceived if you wish, it makes no difference whatsoever, for I have spent far too long doubting the strength, power and majesty of my God, and I will do so not a moment longer. In the eighteen years I have spent supposedly serving him, in reality the devil has had me going around in circles, not realising that salvation is out of my hands. As a result, I have spent many a lost year wandering around in a backslidden state, wringing my hands, wondering if my salvation was ever real. But all along, not realising that through this attitude I was placing myself above my Lord and Saviour.

    Now I have chosen to trust the promise of His Word and nothing more. I have committed to putting to death every desire of the flesh that raises its ugly head against the truth of God, but even in this, many times I am a failure. So ultimately I can do nothing more that trust in His hand alone to save me, which is exactly what I intend to do.

    Am I part of the elect? With all my heart I hope so, for I know that it is only they who will be saved. But in all honesty, until the day I see the Lord face to face, and He receives me as His own, all I can do is trust that He is good, and will remain faithful to the promise of His Word.

    One thing though: Are we in agreement here that the elect of God shall not be lost?

    • The elect of God indeed shall not be lost. The scripture is VERY clear in that regard in my opinion. And when we see the work of God in our lives (not to be confused with our own religious efforts), feel conviction in our hearts when we slip up, and trust in his Word and His work on the cross to the depths of our being we can have much assurance that we are numbered among the elect. – George

    • John Dunning:
      ‘One thing though: Are we in agreement here that the elect of God shall not be lost?’

      This raises another thorny question which is, if only some are elected to eternal life then others are elected to damnation. This flies in the face of 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance.

      In the light of the discussion on OSAS, to postulate a special group called ‘the elect’ does not make any sense. If you are in the elect then you do not have the choice not to be saved and, of course, you would then be OSAS, and the whole question of falling away would be redundant. This is why I believe God’s election is not about ‘who’ but ‘what’. And the ‘what’ is is that he purposes to make us like Christ.

    • Gordon, I think you are trying too hard in this to explain verses you are having trouble with. Martin Luther had a problem dealing with the assertion in the book of James which ascribes Abraham’s salvation to works. He eventually was able to come up with an explanation he felt comfortable with, but wouldn’t it be better to simply confess that we don’t completely comprehend all the ways of God? One of the problems we have as Protestant evangelicals is that we always feel like we have to figure everything out theologically until we come to the point where we each have our own church, and even then we find there is still some disagreement. In terms of election, consider the following from Romans 11:

      Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

      It gets really difficult and convoluted to try to understand election in this verse as dealing with a “what” rather than a who. It is pretty clear that Paul is referring to two groups of people. This scripture of course seems to contradict the scripture you quoted from 2 Peter. But scripture is like that. If you can explain away this scripture from Romans, someone on the other side will have an answer for the scripture from 2 Peter. But we have to move beyond our theological sensibilities and be willing to say “yes Lord” even to scriptures that rub us the wrong way.

      I can tell you that if you read the church fathers, you will find that the key to understanding this issue is rooted in the foreknowledge of the Father. The elect HAVE eternal security. They ARE those whom the Father foreknew. The thing the trips us up in this process is in how we see the elect in the world around us. Usually when people refer to the elect as a “who”, we think they are referring to the people in the church (building). But in reality there are people in the church (building) who are not part of the elect. AND there are “unsaved” people who ARE part of the elect. And the ONLY one who really knows is the Father.

      The next question of course becomes, can we have confidence in our salvation? My answer to that would be a QUALIFIED yes. If our confidence is in the Jesus of the Bible, we can be assured of eternal security in Him. Unfortunately many “Christians” (in quotes) have their confidence in another Jesus, the Jesus they have created in their imagination. On the other hand, many who are part of the elect have no confidence of eternal security as they have not yet really heard the Good News, but once they hear and believe, then they too can have confidence in their salvation.

      =============================================================

      Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. 1 Peter 1

      Note how Peter expresses his confidence in being numbered among the elect AND how he links it to the foreknowledge of the Father WITH the why for following … the ONLY why for in which we can have confidence.

      =============================================================

      According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. II Peter 1

      Note how Peter further explains how we can have confidence in our eternal security in Christ. The problem is not that the concept of eternal security itself is heretical, rather it is that its application is often heretical as is the way in which predestination is often understood. The predestination of the Bible is intrinsically linked with the foreknowledge of the Father. As such it is a completely different concept than the Gnostic understanding of the word introduced by Augustine (though the Roman church denies this) known as predestinarianism which teaches that God rigidly planned each soul’s demise from creation. Only through the concept of synergia can we reconcile the sovereignty of God and the justice of God. The God of the Bible is totally SOVEREIGN in ALL things, yet he FORCES NO ONE into damnation. This is something that only synergia can explain and yet the Protestant church has pretty much lost an understanding of that concept, and thus ends in constant debate over God’s sovereignty as opposed to God’s justice.

      =============================================================

      But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. Genesis 4

      Note that God did NOT say to Cain “I am the Potter and you are the pot, so if I choose to assign you to hell thats where you will go”. He did not even say “you have made your choice”. Instead he all but begs Cain to soften his heart and repent. Truly the ways of God are beyond understanding and when we try too hard to figure them out we bring unnecessary division and destruction upon ourselves spiritually and otherwise. God bless you my brother!

    • I would also, for the record, like to note the definition of the Greek word for election:

      ἐκλεκτός – Eklektos

      Strong’s – ‘select; by implication favorite: – chosen, elect.’
      Thayer’s – ‘picked out, chosen; chosen by God to obtain salvation through Christ’
      Webster’s – ‘Selected from a number; picked out; taken in preference; elected; predestinated’.

  11. John, your testimony seems very authentic to me, as does your experiences in charismatic circles. Having been part of that scene to some extent myself, I can vouch for the fact that there are a lot of Pelagian tendencies there that I consider quite heretical. Salvation doesn’t come by striving and trying to make it happen in our own flesh. The early church fathers taught that salvation is a process of “synergia” or a “working together with”, between God and ourselves. But in this it is understood that God is unequivocally in control. For one like yourself for whom the cross means death, there is little danger of falling away. Those warnings are directed at those who would take their salvation for granted, and, to some degree ironically, they are directed toward those same charismatic types you are familiar with who feign holiness while living a secret (or not so secret) life that is anything but. Just as an absence of works indicates that something is defective with the underlying faith, so a persistent sin pattern indicates the same. As you so eloquently point out, we are powerless to deal with the sin that besets us. ONLY He can deal with that. I can only rejoice in the freedom you have found in Christ! God bless you my brother!

  12. Mr. John Dunning

    I appreciate your testimony and recognize that you are standing on firm ground in your relationship to God. But one thing to consider is that we are only saved because God loved us, and He provided salvation as an expression of that great love.
    But I wonder how much love does God desire from us. Works can be faked. Actions can be performed with resentment, and obedience is not necessarily an act of love. So I wonder does God cherish a love that has no choice, or is freely given from the heart.
    If the latter, then the greatest love is one that shares the hope that their love never dies. Genuine love is then an expression of the desire to keep something that can be lost.

  13. Amen John Dunning, your whole testimony of truth was a delight to read. You understand the essential ‘distinction’ that so many disregard. God bless you as Heaven awaits you dear brother.

  14. Brothers,

    A wonderful well worth read is Christless Christianity, by Michael Horton.

    It liftsthe Truth from the quagmire we’re experiencing in the Church today, and explains how the American Church is rife with Pelagianism and exposes many other issues plaguing the Church, including the Joel Osteens of the world. Without tearing the person apart, he defines the error and the deception so many have bought into, for it is not a true gospel they want, but a formula to live by that promises them “freedom”, though it only is the law dressed up in a suit and tie. He incorporates cultural influences and does a phenomenal job discussing law vs. gospel, and how we need both, as they go hand in hand.

    For me, it was a freeing experience to read this book, and I’ve recommended it many times to friends.

    -E

  15. “the American Church is rife with Pelagianism”

    No truer words could be spoken. And it projects outside of the church through attempts to take control of government and try to enforce a “Christian” morality civil religion on the rest of the population. Make no mistake about it, I am not against good works or morality, but when they become linked in peoples minds as some sort of means of obtaining righteousness and improving their standing with God, it becomes a huge problem. And in the process, evangelism becomes degraded to attempts to stop the pagans from sinning rather than proclaiming the Good News. This has been the trend in the evangelical church for some time now and human sinfulness doesn’t seem to be in decline as a result, in fact it seems to be thriving.

  16. george

    great word Sunday by Pastor Dave, yes?

    You just posted these words:::>

    “….This has been the trend in the evangelical church for some time now and human sinfulness doesn’t seem to be in decline as a result, in fact it seems to be thriving…”.

    Don’t you suppose all you have done with those words is underscore what Scripture teaches already?

    2Ti 3:1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.
    2Ti 3:2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
    2Ti 3:3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,
    2Ti 3:4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
    2Ti 3:5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
    2Ti 3:6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,
    2Ti 3:7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.
    2Ti 3:8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith.
    2Ti 3:9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.

    Why I cite those verses is because of the very next verses in the chapter:::>

    2Ti 3:10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness,
    2Ti 3:11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra–which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me.
    2Ti 3:12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
    2Ti 3:13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
    2Ti 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it

    One of the greatest threats today in “evangelical churches” is this shallow thing called psuedo fellowship, what we like to emphasize as the “Holy Christian Church”:::>

    [I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic* Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.]

    The reality is this, there are many people “attending” church services weekly who have no “communion of the saints”. Their lives are uncovered. Their habits are not known but from afar. There is no pastoral voice speaking to them because they will not allow anyone to care for their soul.

    They say they go to church but do they? They say they have a “pastor”, but do they?

    The charge, which is an appointed work of Grace, that a “pastor” is given to care for the souls of that particular congregation, the Pastor and the Godly ordained and appointed elders of the local congregation, seems to be missed by so many who attend church.

    That is why I underscored your words above suggesting this just might be why we see such increases of sinfulness so boldly in the public discourse of the day and over the radio and on the t.v. and at the movies.

    United States and a lot of the western world is in rapid decline when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s work and being added to the local Holy Christian Church where true communion of the saints occurs!

    I believe the sky is now falling and at least in our area, the earth is quaking! 🙂

    • ++++++> great word Sunday by Pastor Dave, yes?

      Michael, I guess I am sort of an anti-consumer. In an age where people flock to churches where there “needs are met” and their egos stroked, I flee from those places. I NEED to be in a place where I feel some pain.

      For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. I Corinthians 11

      I am so thankful to be in a body where the Word is faithfully preached! It is out of this faithful preaching of the Word that true fellowship is born. Where their is only spiritually empty ritual and/or spiritually meaningless entertainment, there can be no fellowship (communion).

      While I assure you that I agree on your points regarding lack of covering, I guess what I am suggesting is that the problem goes beyond a lack of covering, although that certainly contributes. In many congregations, the one appointed to cover, however well intentioned that person might be, is uncovered themselves, as either they or someone in the chain above them is uncovered and the result is a failure of both doctrine and practice at the leadership level. At this point all attempts at covering and communion are pointless since there is no foundation for it. The result is churched people with no moral compass, although they often feel free to define morality for others on the outside.

      There was a lot of well meaning “covering” going on in the Discipleship/Shepherding movement, but it failed to achieve its intended goals and instead collapsed in scandal. I am convinced that much of this failure is connected with our loss of connection to the early church and the ensuing practice of private interpretation of the Word which has resulted in this doctrinal confusion that grips our culture. I say our culture because the confusion in the church projects outward onto the surrounding culture.

      Sadly, much of the church no longer has a compelling message for their congregations, much less their community. But God is faithful and the gates of hell will not prevail against God’s church.

  17. Hi George,
    I agree with your words: “And it projects outside of the church through attempts to take control of government and try to enforce a “Christian” morality civil religion on the rest of the population. Make no mistake about it, I am not against good works or morality, but when they become linked in peoples minds as some sort of means of obtaining righteousness and improving their standing with God, it becomes a huge problem. And in the process, evangelism becomes degraded to attempts to stop the pagans from sinning rather than proclaiming the Good News.”

    I came across this quote the other day and posted it on my facebook for all the world (my world) to see:

    “Failure to distinguish between the gospel and all the effects of the gospel tends, on the long haul, to replace the good news as to what God has done with a moralism that is finally without the power and the glory of Christ crucified, resurrected, ascended, and reigning.”- D.A. Carson

    Moralism is never to be the effort but rather the effect of a pure gospel…

    Bless you,
    -E

    • E, Thanks for that great quote from DA Carson. It really describes what is going on in much of the church these days. And the effect is not saving, but rather corrupting.

      I would add a quote here from II Timothy, but michael has already got that one covered above. It describes all sorts of wickedness but notes a “form of godliness”. Its all around us.

  18. “Clearly we cannot depart from something we never had, nor can we “continue” something not begun. Therefore, we can be sure Paul was speaking to Timothy about converted people”…

    Here’s food for thought. And I offer this just as that and nothing more:

    Keep in mind that, spcifically, and literally, faith means *belief*.

    So, to depart from the faith means to depart from belief. To stop believing.

    Now consider this: how much control do you really think you have over what you really believe? You can hear the evidence. And you can make intellectual assessments, but if you are honest with yourself, you will admit that people believe what they WANT to believe, not what they are constrained by reason to believe.

    There are things of the faith that I believe against ALL the amassed evidence! When presented with a condition to consider, I almost always have a belief immediately before I’ve even started the process of intellectual analysis. I cannot help it.

    When I heard the word of God preached to me, when I was unsaved, I simply KNEW it was 1) True. And 2) Speaking of me specifically! In spite of my not insubstantial efforts not to, I knew it was true.

    God’s work is only a work of revelation. Holy Spirit Revelation is an absolutely essential part of regeneration because without it man is quite capable of grasping the meaning, but not capable of making himself believe it.

    I’m just gonna stop now… 😉

  19. Wait… no i’m not… 😉

    What I meant to get at and conclude with is this:

    Can you actually stop believing something?

    You can suppress it. You can act like you don’t believe it. You can cover it up. But can you actually make yourself NOT believe something you know is true and currently believe?

    I described it this way, once. You are in a completley dark room. Someone comes in and turns on the lights for a few minutes. Then they turn them off again.

    Can you really pretend that you do not know what the room looks like, now? You know there’s an aquarium over there in the corner. You know there’s a red couch. You know the room actually exists. Can you really forget? Can you really NOT know what the reality of the room is, now that you’ve actually, really, truly seen it?

    • Can you actually stop believing something?

      You can suppress it. You can act like you don’t believe it. You can cover it up. But can you actually make yourself NOT believe something you know is true and currently believe?

      The quote concerning steps to apostasy helps to sum it up pretty well Kirby;

      “First it startles him, then it becomes pleasing, then delightful, then frequent, then habitual, then confirmed; then the man is impenitent, then obstinate, then resolved never to repent, then damned” (Jeremy Taylor (1613-67) – description of the downward progress of the apostate: Strong, Systematic Theology, p. 651).

      Before coming to Christ our understanding was darkened. I think when one who walks in truth and light, turns purposefully away from the light, they once again resort back into spiritual darkness and blindness. What once was so real and true to them, (Christ, the Gospel, Heaven, hell, etc etc) is no longer real to them in their minds and heart.

      The things of God–even their own experiences when walking with God, fade away and seem to have never been real.

      Deceive-ment and delusion are both very powerful. None of us should underestimate the deep deep bondage they are capable of taking any one of us into, if we flirt with turning away from the truth.

      You know, there are all types of bondage. And Christians can [for a number of reasons] find themselves needing to be set free. The thing is though, they ‘know’ they are in bondage [to whatever it is] and they know they are needing to be set free.

      Its not the same concerning deception or delusion.

      People who have allowed themselves to be taken captive by deception or delusion, are not even aware of their condition–in fact they believe they are fine and its you [or whomever tries to reach them] who are deceived! They no longer are able to recognize the truth for they are blinded by the lies they chose to believe.

      And one cannot be set free from any type of bondage unless they truly desire to be set free!

      Can you see the dilemma?

      In other words its as Peter wrote,

      For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

      just a thought..

    • Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? James 2

      Where is our faith? Is our faith in Christ? Or is our faith in faith? I think that pj sums all of this up very well. When we try to over simplify things by isolating faith and narrowing it down to simply believing in God, we can get ourselves into real trouble. There is a huge chasm between active saving faith and simple belief in God and even in His POWER to save. Many flirt with the gospel and then drift away. Salvation requires that we be SETTLED in our faith and live it out in our daily lives. It also requires that we “fear” God as we would fear our loving Father. It takes more than just “making a decision” and going our way assuming that we have taken care of business with God for all eternity (which is unfortunately the way it is happening these days in much of Christendom.

  20. Excellent explanation, PJ. Well done!

    Concerning spiritual blindness, it is in itself a judgment from God. This is why the Bible warns us against claiming to see. I believe the Lord gives grace to the humble, as 1 Peter 5:5 declares, but if we are proud and insolent, blindness sets in…perhaps in degrees, but there will be an inability to perceive with all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

    But to see as He sees is a grace from God, and never afforded us without bending our knee in humility and earnest for isn’t it only in the light of His Presence that we see light?

    May God’s people see!
    -E

  21. This was a really good sermon on Hebrews 6…I think the best I have ever heard on the subject really.

    Now, Pj, you know where I stand on this issue, so I won’t rehash that, but I remember some time ago we were discussing Hebrews 6 so I thought I would share this sermon with you. If you have time, please listen. You may agree, or disagree, but it really is worth the listen! 🙂

    http://kittykit.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/those-who-lose-their-salvation-can-never-be-saved/

    • Now, Pj, you know where I stand on this issue, so I won’t rehash that..

      ahaha.. 🙂 I’ll be sure and listen to it Kit, though it may be tomorrow. Its 2am and i want to be fresh (or at least have a clearer mind then i do now! LOL)

      I’m curious after noticing the title [in the link] if its concerning the belief that if one goes back he was never saved in the first place.

      (a belated happy new year Kit!)

  22. PJ

    I like that response. It brings to mind just what the Apostle Paul was also teaching in his letter to the Romans.

    How ironic it is the debates going on these days between the RCC apologists and the Reformed.

    What you have given here underscores the necessity for vigiliance and sobriety in obedience to the Truth of God’s Word and adherence to the many instructions and admonitions it is replete with.

    Here are some verses that ring the bell for me that underscores your response above:::>

    Rom 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations,

    and

    Rom 16:25 Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages
    Rom 16:26 but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith–
    Rom 16:27 to the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.

    It is one thing to see our total depravity and the sin that so easily besets us. It is quite another to be deceived and deluded so as to be blinded to inaction to the Truth. Repentance is a true response to total depravity. Repentance, by the way, is not a one time thing. It is a daily baptism into Christ. I like what I heard recently that reminded me of something I read about Billy Sunday. A woman came to him after a hot night of preaching and asked him why he kept preaching repentance and revival. He turned the question on its head and asked her why she keeps taking baths?

    That analogy of the person who sits in the dark room and then suddenly light comes on in the room and illuminates what is inside the room allowing that person to see what truly is inside that room, [of their heart] and then the light goes out shakes me to the core.

    What these early Apostles lived out for our learning is based on their personal experience with their own total depravity first. Because the “lights”/Our Triune God now continually light up the room of their hearts so that they are now aware of the total depravity of their own nature they comfort others and all down through the ages since, their words comfort even our own souls too:::>

    2Co 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,
    2Co 1:4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

    Php 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
    Php 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
    Php 2:14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning,
    Php 2:15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,
    Php 2:16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

    What we are being called into daily is a life of obedience to the Faith once delivered to the Saints. God is not interested in reforming or mending or changing our natural hearts. No, He intends on giving us a brand new heart wherein dwells His Righteousness!

    Eze 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,
    Eze 11:20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

    and

    2Co 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
    2Co 5:18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
    2Co 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
    2Co 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
    2Co 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

    Praise God from Whom comes all good gifts of Grace, Mercy and Peace through Christ Jesus Our Lord daily!

  23. I recalled a few interesting messages i’d read on this topic some time back, but could not recall “where” i’d read them! LOL

    The website use to be in my bookmarks, but after my computer crashed, i lost it. Well, wouldn’t you know it–i came upon the site by accident tonight.

    from Safe-Guard your Soul:

    OSAS Dialogue, RECENT EMAIL RECEIVED AND RESPONSE

    OSAS Dialogue

    Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth – How To Apprehend the Truth About Eternal Security

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