Monday, September 25, 2017

A Theological Discussion On Eternal Security

  • Introduction:
          -The well-known doctrine of eternal security, which is also known as once saved always saved, is a hotly debated topic among professing Christians. While many Protestants adhere to the theological position that a Christian can never lose his or her salvation after conversion, others maintain that a believer can undeniably cease to be a child of God due to practicing sin or apostasy. Thus, members from both sides of this doctrinal controversy have set forth various arguments from a number of different biblical passages which seemingly offer support for their respective positions. There are godly Christians on both sides of this debate, and we all agree that justification is by faith alone. Nonetheless, this article aims to give some commentary on various arguments used in defending the doctrine of eternal security.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:15 Does Not Prove The Doctrine Of Once Saved Always Saved:
          -Although this text is not the most frequently cited in defense of eternal security, some have used it as a proof-text for their position. 1 Corinthians 3:15 can be a somewhat difficult passage to address because of its complex allegorical nature. Opponents of conditional security argue that since God "burns" all the poor quality works that do not stand up to His judgment, salvation must be unconditional because the people involved remain saved.
            +While this Scripture passage describes in detail what takes place at the judgment seat of Christ, and even provides us with great assurance of salvation, this text still does not grant validity to this teaching. 1 Corinthians 3:15 places the condition of remaining on Christ as the sole foundation of our overall association with the gospel (v. 10-11). If people do not abide in the Lord Jesus Christ, then how could they still have Him? How could they rightly claim to be saved? This Bible verse offers no justification for the doctrine of eternal security, any more than it serves as biblical evidence for the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory.
  • 1 Corinthians 5:5 Offers No Scriptural Support For The Doctrine Of Eternal Security:
          -Proponents of once saved always saved have interpreted the text of 1 Corinthians 5:5 to mean that God may destroy a person's mortal flesh in order to prevent his or her spirit from departing from His divine grace.
             +If it is impossible for a Christian to lose his or her salvation, then why would God need to destroy the physical body of the sinner? And why is it that God will erase the names of people from His Book of Life (Exodus 32:33; Deuteronomy 29:20; Psalm 69:28;  Revelation 22:19)? Can a genuinely saved Christian willfully take the mark of the Beast, and still remain justified in God's sight (Revelation 13:12-19; 14:9-12; 19:20)? None of this makes any sense. The New American Bible Revised Edition has this insightful footnote:

             "[5:5] Deliver this man to Satan: once the sinner is expelled from the church, the sphere of Jesus’ lordship and victory over sin, he will be in the region outside over which Satan is still master. For the destruction of his flesh: the purpose of the penalty is medicinal: through affliction, sin’s grip over him may be destroyed and the path to repentance and reunion laid open. With Paul’s instructions for an excommunication ceremony here, contrast his recommendations for the reconciliation of a sinner in 2 Cor 2:5–11."
  • 1 John 2:19 And The Doctrine Of Eternal Security:
          -Proponents of the belief that authentic Christians cannot fall away from God’s grace after spiritual conversion oftentimes rely on this text to substantiate their claim that backsliders were “never really saved to begin with”. These people interpret the “they” mentioned in 1 John 2:19 as being a reference to people who have never committed their lives to Jesus Christ or fully accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. Though this argument sounds absolutely brilliant from a superficial standpoint, it has many logical flaws:
             +This argument derived from the text of 1 John 2:19 is problematic because the word “they” has been misapplied by defenders of eternal security. In truth, this text is speaking of people who are identified in context as “Antichrists” (v. 18), not so-called Christians who fell away from the faith. These people were not “of us” because they were “Antichrists”—people who outrightly teach contrary to the gospel. Consider these words, "Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions." (Acts 15:24) "Who is the liar? It is whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a person is the antichrist—denying the Father and the Son." (1 John 2:22)
             +This claim flies right in the face of many Scriptures that clearly state that a person can lose his or her salvation. In other words, professing Christians who subscribe to the doctrine of eternal security have the burden of interpreting passages such as Galatians 5:4 and Colossians 1:23 to mean the exact opposite of how they naturally read. If it is true that those who appear to have “lost their salvation” were “never really saved to begin with”, then it follows that the verses should say “never attached because of a lack of belief”, “never had grace in the first place”, and “never had the hope held out in the gospel”. But the logical conclusion of this defense used by eternal security proponents is flatly contradicted by Bible verses such as the ones previously listed, for they clearly denote a loss of salvation. In simplest terms, the underlying reasoning of this once saved always saved apologetic is: “If you can obtain X, then you cannot lose X; and if you lose X you never really possessed X.” Does that even make any sense? And how can anybody stake conclusive declarations about another person's state of heart (as is done by proponents of eternal security who resort to this argument), when Scripture states that only God knows the hearts of man (1 Kings 8:37-39)? This defense of eternal security is not even consistent with itself, considering that it undermines us even having assurance of salvation in the first place.

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