Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Eternal Security and Licentiousness

Paul told the believers in Rome that there's now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). Aside from having been freely acquitted and counted righteous in God's sight through faith in His Son (Rom. 3:24-28, 4:4-6, 5:1), Paul wrote that they have also received the life-giving Spirit of Christ by whom "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts" (Rom. 5:5), leading them to walk in the newness of life God has prepared from them beforehand (Rom. 8:2-27; cf. Eph. 2:10). There's no way Sin can take hold of them once more because they're no longer under its power (Rom. 6:1-2). God, who is greater than all, makes everything to work together for the good of His children (Rom. 8:28), and this is in accordance to His good pleasure and eternal purpose in predestination (Rom. 8:29; cf. Eph. 1:4-5, 11). Thus, all whom God has chosen for Himself in eternity past will be finally glorified (Rom. 8:30). Nothing can totally overcome them because their sovereign Father is in control (Rom. 8:31; cf. Jn. 10:27-39). Because God didn't spare His Son but gave Him up for their own sake, surely He will also grant them whatever grace they need unto the fullness of Salvation (Rom. 8:31-34).

Having said all the above, the conclusion is inevitable:
"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:37-39)
This conclusive declaration of Paul concerning the assurance of salvation for those whom God has called according to His purpose (i.e. the elect) echoes that of Christ in John 10:27-29 which says:
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." (Jn. 10:27-29)
Baptists call this doctrine as Eternal Security[1] in Christ; a glorious display of the greatness of God's grace and sovereignty in the whole process of redemption, yet also one of the most controversial and often misunderstood. The main objection thrown at this biblical teaching is that it seems to entice the Christian to be slothful and licentious. Critics of eternal security argue that if one cannot lose his salvation, it follows that it won't matter if Christians would just sit around the corner and neglect all that God has commanded them to do. Never mind going to church (Heb. 10:25). Never mind going out for evangelism (Mat. 28:19-20). Never mind reading the Bible (Josh. 1:8) or making every effort to become more like Christ (2 Pe. 1:5-10). Why bother if in the first place being holy or not won't make any difference to one's eternal destiny? Seems legit.

On the contrary, however, the glorious truth of our salvation being not in any way dependent on human performance should serve as a motivation for true Christians to be all the more eager to glorify their Lord and Savior with their lives. This is clearly seen in Titus 3:5-8. After stressing the complete gratuitousness of our salvation in verses 5-7, the apostle Paul went on to say:
"The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people." (Tit. 3:8)
Paul advised Titus to insist on the glorious doctrine of our gratuitous salvation in order to compel "those who have believed in God" to be "careful to devote themselves to good works"! This worked for me personally. When I learned from my study of God's Word that my Lord and Savior remains faithful even when I'm not (2 Tim. 2:13); that He will carry into completion at the day of Jesus Christ the work of salvation that He has begun in me (Php. 1:6; cf. Rom. 8:30); and that no one can ever pluck my soul out of His sovereign hand (Jn. 10:27-29), great joy, peace, and deep gratitude filled my innermost soul. All worldly fear and insecurity that once troubled my heart vanished altogether (Rom. 8:15), and I was left energized and ablaze to do more for Christ. Definitely, the doctrine of eternal security didn't make me slothful and licentious. Quite the opposite; it made me a better person!

Now I don't deny the potential danger in over-emphasizing the statement: "we are still saved even if we sin." While it is true that God never ceases to be our Father despite our shortcomings (see Heb. 12:5-11), this is just a portion of the whole truth concerning our eternal security in Christ, and a portion of truth is no better than a lie if not united with the other portions of the whole truth. The whole truth—and this must always be stressed—is that since God mightily preserves and sanctifies His children by His grace, all true believers will surely persevere in faith and holiness[2] unto the end (1 Sam. 2:9). The apostle John wrote:
"We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them." (1 Jn. 5:18)
A child of God may sometimes fall into sin through neglect and temptation, but God would never permit him to totally return to his old sinful lifestyle or finally repudiate his saving relationship with Christ (1 Cor. 10:13; Heb. 12:2; 1 Pe. 1:5). Our Father, being infinitely wise and sovereign (Rom. 10:32-36), can use even our downfalls to benefit us at the end of the day (Rom. 8:28). Yet it should also be emphasized that all professing Christians have the responsibility to evince their salvation by their works (Php. 2:12; Jas. 2:14-24; 2 Pe. 1:5-7). Doing so doesn't make one eternally secure, but it further confirms the genuineness of one's profession of faith (Mat. 7:16; Jn. 8:31; 2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Pe. 1:10).

In the final analysis, Eternal security is not a teaching that promotes idleness and licentious living. Far from it. It is a biblical doctrine that brings glory to God's grace and mobilizes true Christians to unceasingly worship God by pursuing Christ-likness.
"Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." (Jude 24-25)
Praise God for His unfailing grace!


[1] Early Baptist documents with strong Calvinistic leaning such as the London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689) call this doctrine as Perseverance of the Saints, emphasizing the need for professing Christians to persevere in faith and holiness as an outward evidence of their being truly born-again. Some Baptists, however, didn't like the term Perseverance as it can give wrong impression that we maintain our salvation by our works, so they prefer to call it Preservation of the Saints—emphasizing God's active role in keeping his saints secure. Both are valid designations and refer to the same concept, but in this paper we will use Eternal Security for the sake of brevity. 
[2] This doesn't mean we can no longer sin. Christians do sin (1 Jn. 1:8), but they don't deliberately live in Sin (1 Jn. 5:18), nor can they return to their old sinful lifestyle (Rom. 6:1-2) because they are now a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17)


  1. Jeph, Have you been a baptist all your life? (serious question)

    One way that I look at it is this way, if Jesus had so much to say to the 7 churches in the book of Revelations, why are we so sure that the churches we attend today are ok doctrinally?

    Wouldn't be easy to assume that most churches today are apostate?

    Because of Free Will, I find it next to impossible to believe in OSAS.

    Check out my blog if you have time:

    Thanks, Thomas

    1. Thomas,

      Welcome to my blog.

      [Jeph, Have you been a baptist all your life?]

      Nope, I was converted in an Arminian-oriented Full Gospel church 6 years ago. I'm became a Baptist 2 years later.

      [One way that I look at it is this way, if Jesus had so much to say to the 7 churches in the book of Revelations, why are we so sure that the churches we attend today are ok doctrinally? Wouldn't be easy to assume that most churches today are apostate?]

      We have the litmus test for knowing which church is apostate: The Scriptures.

      [Because of Free Will, I find it next to impossible to believe in OSAS.]

      I know perfectly where you're coming from. Been there.

      Thanks for dropping by my blog.

      In Christ,

  2. Many Christians have said the following to themselves during a very difficult period in their life: “Am I really saved?” Here are the thought processes on this issue for an Evangelical and a Lutheran:

    The Evangelical's Assurance of Salvation:

    1. At age ___ I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. At that moment I asked Jesus to come into my heart to be my Lord and Savior and to forgive me of my sins.

    2. But since I am currently questioning my salvation, maybe I didn't "do it" correctly. Maybe I didn't fully understand what I was doing. Maybe I didn't fully repent. Maybe I didn't really have complete faith. Maybe I did it just because my friends were doing it. Maybe...

    3. I don't know...maybe I should "do it" again, just to be 100% sure.

    The Lutheran's Assurance of Salvation:

    1. Have I been baptized into the name of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, thereby receiving God's promise of the forgiveness of my sins, salvation of my soul, faith, and eternal life?
    Answer: Yes.

    2. Have I outright rejected Christ as my Lord and Savior?
    Answer: No.

    3. Am I living a life of ongoing sin in willful disobedience and defiance of my Lord?
    Answer: No.

    Therefore, I know I am saved!

    When your assurance of salvation is based on what GOD did and not what you did, it makes all the difference in the world!

    1. As a Reformed Baptist who also hold that the holy ordinances of baptism and Lord's Supper are among the ordinary means of grace instituted by Christ, I really cannot find any reason to disgree with you.


Commenting Rules:

1. No trolling or baiting; submit relevant responses to appropriate blog-posts.
2. No name calling, bashing, flaming or posting of any ad hominems or personal attacks or insults of any kind
3. No spamming, advertising or soliciting.
4. No littering in the comment-box (multi-posting or cross-posting).
5. No blasphemous post and no links to occultic and cultic materials and immoral sites.
6. No negative one-liners.
7. No impersonating
8. No heckling; harrassments
9. No posting in all caps; no posting in all bold letters
10. If you're posting Anonymously, please provide a name so you can be addressed properly.

*All mature, sensible, and honest comments are welcome and encouraged. Comments will be filtered by the blog-owner before granting them to be published.