Security in Christ
The security of all Christians is in Christ. He died for us, forgave us, and promised a home in heaven to those who are faithful. There we will be eternally secure in his radiant presence. Even today Christians can have a calm assurance of salvation as long as they are faithful, for while they live, they have the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and when they die, they have the promise of a future home in heaven.
Redemption Available to All
God created mankind for the purpose of honoring and glorifying Him. Knowing that man would fall, God planned from creation to redeem him (Matthew 25:34). “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16-17). This redemption was for all humanity, as proclaimed by Jesus in the Great Invitation: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
Complete text of: Security in Christ
Predestination or Choice?
Some teach that God has predetermined everything that happens. According to this doctrine, some people are predestined to eternal life and others to eternal death. Their eternal destiny does not depend on their own faith or personal choices, but on God’s choice for them. Some even believe that once a sinner is born again, it is impossible for Satan to lead him back into sin. They also teach that the new birth proves one is predestined for heaven and is unconditionally and eternally secure.
The Bible teaches that Adam and Eve were given a clear command. They chose to disobey, and therefore they were punished. Throughout the scripture, man is taught that he is responsible to choose between right and wrong, life and death. Moses exhorted the Hebrews, “Therefore choose life” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Joshua said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15). Undoubtedly, Adam and Eve could have chosen to obey, and you and I can also choose. If we choose God’s will for our lives, He will save us and bless us. If we choose the way of sin, we will be punished (Romans 6:23).
God Wants Everyone to Be Saved
A primary principle taught in the Word of God is this: It is the will of God that all men should be saved. “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). “But is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). We must conclude that those who will perish in hell were not preselected for hell, but chose not to repent and believe.
God loved the world so much that “whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The atonement clearly is not only for a chosen few but is for everyone. Therefore we rejoice, “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men” (Titus 2:11).
Salvation Is Conditional
Peter, after giving a unique formula for spiritual growth, invites believers to accept “exceeding great and precious promises” and to add to their lives various Christian qualities. Then he tells believers: “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:10). That little word if, used so often in Scripture, indicates that salvation is conditional on one’s faithfulness. Jesus says, “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20).
What did Jesus mean when He said, “No man is able to pluck them [my sheep] out of my Father’s hand”? See John 10:27-29. Examining this scripture, we note two requirements if the sheep want to claim the Father’s keeping. They must “hear his voice,” and they must “follow” Him in obedience. No other person or power will be allowed to pluck the believer from Christ’s safekeeping. However, if a sheep, of his own choice, neglects to hear and obey the Shepherd, he will soon stray from the Shepherd’s side.
A sinner who responds to the call to salvation and is saved, must follow Christ thereafter. Jesus instructed his disciples to teach baptized believers to “observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). He was concerned that they would “follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21) to remain saved. That is a condition of our salvation.
Backsliding Is Possible
In Matthew 18:15-17 Jesus teaches that a believer who sins and resists correction will lose his salvation. This passage gives directions to the church for dealing with disobedient members. The same thought is repeated in Jesus’s discourse on the vine and the branches. “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” (John 15:6). Here Jesus plainly describes one who was a branch (a believer) on the vine but did not continue in his doctrine. He perished!
In 2 Peter chapter 2, the apostle writes about people “which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray” (verse 15). It is very clear that he is speaking of erring believers and of God’s judgment on their backsliding. “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (vv. 20-21).
The teaching of unconditional eternal security is incompatible with the doctrine of church discipline as taught by Christ and the apostles.
There Are Reasons for Biblical Warnings
Jesus often cautioned his disciples to be on guard: “Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation” (Mark 14:38). See 1 Peter 5:8, Matthew 24:24, Mark 13:35-37, Luke 18:1, Ephesians 6:11, 1 Corinthians 10:12. “Beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:17). Paul writes about the need for disciplining his own life and gave this reason: “Lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
Scriptural Examples of Backsliders
Scripture relates examples of people who once were Christian believers but became unfaithful.
Of Judas Iscariot, Jesus says, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70). Some may say he was never converted. Would Jesus have given Judas the apostleship if he were unsaved? Would He have sent him out to preach, heal, and cast out devils? This is not reasonable. Peter said of Judas: “For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry... from which Judas by transgression fell” (Acts 1:17, 25). Could he have fallen if he had not been saved?
The book of Revelation records the Lord’s messages to the seven churches in Asia and asks those at fault to repent. If they did not repent, the Lord said their names would be blotted out of the Book of Life. For example, the leader at Ephesus, received many commendations, yet he had left his first love. The message continues: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:5). The message to each of the seven churches ended with a promise to the one “that overcometh.” Satan’s tactics are such that believers must be continually watchful lest they fall. Only by the grace of God and his Spirit within will we be overcomers.
Who Is Predestinated for Heaven?
Much of Romans chapter 8 is devoted to the topic of “Life in the Spirit.” It soon becomes evident that in order to be saved we must walk after the Spirit (v.1), be spiritually minded (v.6), and not live after the flesh (v.l3). Such holy living is essential to salvation. God calls everyone to salvation. Therefore, no one is destined to be lost. God does, of course, see the future but the foreknowledge of God does not affect in any way man’s power of choice or his need to choose rightly in this life. This element of God’s foreknowledge is the basis for what Paul writes in Ephesians 1:4-12. Another beautiful truth is revealed in these verses. For those who will choose God and his way, the Father has made full preparation for their journey to heaven. He accepts them as his own (v.6), gives forgiveness of sins and redemption (v.7), gives them wisdom and prudence (v.8), makes known to them his will and purpose for their lives (v.9), promises to gather them together (v.10), and provides for them an inheritance as children of his family (v.11). The Father has made every needed preparation, and in this sense, has “predestined” them to glory. If the believer fails to reach the goal, it will be he who has failed, not the Father.
Suppose that a beloved friend from a distance invited us to visit him. Knowing we did not have the means to pay for the trip, he sent us a good supply of money with which we could begin our journey, and also told us of banks along our route where we could obtain more. He sent us a detailed map on which our route was highlighted. Included were many notes describing landmarks along the road, detours, road construction, places of particular danger, and places of special interest where we would delight to stop for refreshment.
Further, our friend’s instructions would tell us of places where we could buy good meals, and places of lodging where we could rest at night. Added to the invitation would be this postscript: “Here is my telephone number. If you get lost or have problems with your vehicle, just give me a call and I will send help for you. Please come as soon as you can.”
This is an example of what God has done and is doing for us. We are very secure as we follow his maps and use the resources He has provided. There is really no reason not to make it to our Father’s house. Like the illustration, however, we can choose a different road, decide we want to make some side trips, or choose to use the resources He has provided to pursue other pleasures or buy other things. In this way, we can choose to miss the goal. God has made a way for us to go to heaven, and the principles of the Bible teach us that faith in Christ and a life of holiness is the way to make this possible. God has done his best. Now we must do our part. He created us. He created heaven for us. Unfortunately, Satan is trying to spoil God’s plan. It is our duty to resist these evil forces, to commit our lives to Him, to heed the warnings in the Word, and to live holy lives. Then, having overcome the world, we can await his second coming with confidence.