In today's world, people are looking for something that they can believe in: something that is sure, steadfast and unmovable. Many people turn to faith in God for hope and stability, and rightfully so. For God is the only stable endeavor that a person can get involved in.
Though it is true that God is the only perfect and stable one, unfortunately people who claim to be followers of God are not always stable in their teachings. Many "religious" people make up doctrines that only appeal to man's tradition and philosophy. The danger with that is that people's faith is founded in un-truths, which can jeopardize a person's eternal destination. Thus, the topic of eternal security becomes a major concern.
There are only three major views on the subject of eternal security we want to look at.
1) When a person believes on the Lord they have eternal life and can never lose it, even if they die with sin in their life.
2) A person is never secure and can be lost altogether.
3) A person receives the promise of "eternal security" when they are saved, but they can fall from grace and lose out on that chance for "eternal life" in the future.
With the above (#3) in mind, let's look to see what the teaching of "eternal security" really is. Because it is really that important!
WHAT IS ETERNAL LIFE?
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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. (John 3:15-16)
The above scripture is the most popular text used for the doctrine of "eternal security." This scripture is absolutely TRUE when it comes to everlasting life. When a person believes in Jesus, and obeys the biblical plan of salvation, then they are promised eternal life.
The Greek word for "eternal life" (ahee-o'-nee-os) in the scripture below, means perpetual (also used of past time, or past and future as well): - eternal, forever, everlasting. The word denotes a state or realm that goes on forever and ever.
The declaration of Jesus in that verse is spoken in a broad sense of promise. Many use this scripture as the plan of salvation in of itself. However, it is true that we have to believe on the Lord to have eternal life, but we will see later that Jesus taught more than just "believing on the Lord" as the only way to be saved.
HOW DO WE GET ETERNAL LIFE?
Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. (John 5:39-40)
Jesus is instructing us to search the scriptures when it comes to eternal life and who He really is. Most everyone agrees that eternal life is in Jesus Christ, but Jesus is telling us that salvation is in Him and that there is more to eternal life then man's philosophy. Therefore, because eternal life is in Jesus, then we must hear what He has to say about salvation.
Because of space limitation, we only want to point out that Jesus' message of salvation is... A person must believe on the Lord, confess and repent of their sins, be water baptized (have sins remitted and washed away), and they shall receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost with the evidence of speaking in tongues. Read more about how a person is save in article, The Born Again Experience of Salvation.
For a person to receive the promise of eternal life, they must be born again according to scripture. And since we are still mortal and cannot live in this eternal realm until time ends; eternal life is a promise from God to us for the future if we have no sin in us when we die. More on this later.
SHALL WE CONTINUE IN SIN?
The controversy that arises over this subject is the question; "Can a person continue sinning and still be saved with unrepentant sin and still have a promise of eternal life?" Some even teach that a person can be saved regardless of what they do (sinning) on this earth. They say, "Once saved, always saved." When they make these claims, they are saying that they can just sin and live anyway they want to and it doesn't matter if they repent or not. They say, "When we get to heaven, God will just forgive our trespasses because we believe in Him."
We then must read...
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Mat 7:21-23)
We must be careful what we believe. For we will find in the scripture above that Jesus will not let sin (iniquity) into heaven on judgment day no matter what we have done for Him. We can see by the statements of Jesus, that anyone who believes on the Lord, and works iniquity, will be cast away in that day (judgment day).
So shall we continue in sin??
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Rom 6:1-2)
If anyone thinks that they can continue in sin so that grace may abound is not practicing truth. When God saves us, he saves us FROM our sins, NOT IN our sins.
Christians are not supposed to continue sinning. For we read…
Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. (1 John 3:9)
What John is saying, is that when a person is saved he has been given a seed (salvation-spirit of God) in him that helps him live above sin, he does not willfully practice sin anymore.
Now we must also be truthful here; everyone sins once and a great while. There is a big difference between "willful sinning", sinning each day and sinning from ignorance. Making a mistake while trying to do right is just being human.
We must also understand, that if we sin we can ask God to forgive us. For we read…
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (1 John 2:1)
We do not practice or continue sinning when we know better. But if someone does sin because of ignorance, God will supply the grace they need to repent, so they can also be forgiven.
Now we are brought to our next question. “Can a person sin and lose his promise of eternal life?” This next chapter is very important because we must understand that what we believe concerning the subject of "eternal security" could cause us to be saved or lost forever.
CAN WE LOSE ETERNAL LIFE?
From our previous discussions, we have concluded that a person does receive the promise of eternal life when they repent, water baptized in Jesus name and filled with the Holy Ghost. This promise abides with a believer all the way up to judgement day if they die saved.
However, it is very possible for a believer to backslide, become an "unbeliever" or die with sin in their life; thus losing their chance at eternal life. Let's research this a little deeper.
But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die. (Eze 18:21-24)
The above scripture is about sinning and dying in those sins. We want to key on the righteous person who turns from righteousness, unto sin. What Ezekiel is saying is that when a person sins and never repents of that sin, then his past righteousness does not count. He will die in those sins and be lost for eternity and forfeit eternal life with God in heaven.
So, what is the process when a righteous person sins? God tries to convict a person of their sins as long as that person is alive; He is very longsuffering and patient. If a person chooses not to repent of their sins, it will be on their account until they die. And if they physically die with unrepented sin in their life, then they will forfeit the promise of eternal life upon death. Then, when judgement day comes they will end up in the lake of fire forever and ever.
So, what is the difference between a backslider, reprobate and blasphemer of the Holy Ghost? Paul spoke of it this way…
Heb 6:4-8 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. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
Paul is saying that it is impossible for someone who was once a "believer" (and partaker of the Holy Ghost) to be saved or renewed in God if they fall away from God. NOW... before anyone panics though, you must understand that Paul is not saying a person that backslides can not be renewed and forgiven by God. Instead he is referring to someone who becomes a reprobate (which means rejected) and refuses to repent of his sins. There is a difference between a backslider and a reprobate.
A backslider is someone who sins and strays from God and still believes that God is true, even though they are not right with God. These people can be forgiven and brought back to God. A reprobate is someone whose conscience is seared and they cannot be convicted of their sins anymore. A reprobate stops believing in the truth and sometimes they may even blaspheme the Holy Ghost (which can never be forgiven). They are rejected by God and given over to wicked deeds (Rom 1). Even though a reprobate is rejected by God; only because a person chose to completely push God out of their lives; there may still be a very slim chance that they can ever get back to God. However, scripture only says there is one unforgivable sin, and that is blaspheming the Holy Ghost. Scripture implies in Hebrews 6 that it is near impossible for a reprobate to ever find God again... because they refuse to retain God in their knowledge as stated in Romans 1.
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. (2 Pet 3:17)
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 Savior Jesus Christ. (2Pe 1:10-11)
Peter writes that we are not to follow the error of the wicked. We are to be diligent and to make our walk with God secure, unless we become unstable and fall from grace.
We can conclude that a "believer" may sin and even backslide, and God can still forgive them. But, if he does not repent of those sins and he dies with sin in his life, he will die lost for eternity. And we must also note that in Heb 6:4-6, 10:26-27 (see previous scriptures) that if we sin willfully and do not repent, then there is no more provision of grace and eternal life ("the powers of the world to come") because a person has refused Jesus Christ. This is where a person could possibly become a reprobate, or worst, blaspheme the Holy Ghost.
Here are the conditions when a "believer" loses his promise of eternal life.
1) A person dies with un-repented sin in his life
2) A person becomes a reprobate and may never be saved.
3) When a person blasphemes the Holy Ghost, he can NEVER be forgiven. He loses all chances of eternal life right at that time when he blasphemes... even before he dies.
To sum this chapter up, we must understand that there is a process God uses on a person called Grace. This grace is not a free pass to just sin anytime we want too. But rather it is God’s Spirit trying to convict us of our sins and it’s His grace that helps us find forgiveness and helps keep us from sinning. That is how we are saved by grace, it is a continual process. But when someone refuses to repent of his or her sins, they will either become a reprobate or die in their sins.
THE TWO "ETERNAL DESTINATIONS"
The above discussion is very serious, but we must understand, that the mind-set, "We can sin a little each day so that God's grace can abound" is walking on very dangerous ground. God is holy and no sin is going to enter into heaven. If a person has sin in his life when he dies, he will not be going to heaven. There is no second chance on judgment day. It all depends on which state that a person dies in whether he is saved or not.
The scripture teaches that there is two eternal destinations; One is eternal life with Jesus in heaven and the other is eternal damnation in the lake of fire. They both are eternal, but they are two different places that will last forever-and ever, and ever and ever.
In review, the “once saved always saved” doctrine doesn’t make sense when compared to the things Jesus taught. Many think that God’s grace is a free ticket to heaven, but seeing God will not let sin into heaven, then He must convict us of sin. Therefore we are going to review the process in order, that God uses to deal with us.
Very sobering isn't it?
Now we can see why the subject of eternal security is so important. It is a matter of life and death to a Christian. We cannot be-bop along in this world thinking that we can live anyway we choose and "sin a little each day" just to feel the grace of God. That is not even true!
If we die with sin in our life, we will not enjoy eternal life with Jesus, because sin cannot enter into heaven. It doesn't matter if we were holy for forty-two years and then we fell back into sin in our forty-third year. If we die in our forty-third year with sin in our lives, then we will die lost, without God.
God has promised us that we which are saved will escape death, hell and the grave; we will not perish and see death. (1 Corth 15:54-58). That is the hope of a born again believer; to be resurrected at the last day and go to heaven bypassing the second death, which is eternal damnation in the lake of fire!
So, we can see that we do inherit eternal security knowing that if we live for God all our days and stay repented before Him, then we will automatically enter that place in eternity. It is a secure feeling knowing that as long as we repent of every sin we commit, then when we die, we will spend eternal life with Jesus!
The conclusion of the whole matter is this… Is eternal security a biblical doctrine? Yes and No!
YES -- because it is a biblical doctrine! And it applies only if a person dies without sin in his or her life. Then they have the assurance that they are truly saved and will be with Jesus forever and ever!
NO -- If a person believes they can have un-repented sin in their life and still claim they are saved and going to heaven. In that case, the doctrine of "eternal security" is not a biblical term if we base it on the notion that, "It doesn't matter what we have done, God will just forgive us anyway even if we don’t repent." Some denominations teach “eternal security” like it was a free ticket to heaven regardless of what we have done; but that teaching makes no sense at all.
And lastly, in reference to the New Jerusalem, in heaven... No inquity will enter in!! Only those whose names are written in the lamb's book of Life!
Rev 21:27 - And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? (Rom 6:1-2)