Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Questions of Conviction on Eternal Security

Because "eternal life" is integral to the gospel's promise, I believe eternal security is an integral blessing of the gospel, and to deny it is to embrace a truncated gospel. Eternal security is near and dear to my heart, and I have been grateful and sobered by the many opportunities I have had to teach it to others in counseling situations over the last several years. Eternal insecurity, the doubting of grace for me, has been the number one counseling issue I have encountered in both Bible Belt Nashville and the traditionalist wasteland of rural Vermont.

When I reflect on God's promise of eternal security for those in Christ, I go to these common Scriptures and posit these questions of conviction.

John 6:39
And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

1. How perfect is the Father's will?
2. How good is Jesus at his job?
3. Does the word "nothing" mean nothing, or does it mean "some"?

John 6:40
For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

4. What does "eternal" mean?
5. What does Jesus' promise about the last day mean for "everyone who believes"?

Romans 8:28-30
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

6. How does "predestined" jibe with insecurity?
7. If God commits to glorify those he justifies, why do we think he won't?
8. Is justification really justification? Does it mean what it says?

1 Corinthians 1:8-9
He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

9. How long does God commit to keep us blameless?
10. Is security dependent on our faithfulness or God's? And how faithful is God?

Hebrews 7:25
Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

11. Does "completely" mean "partly" or "temporarily"?

Hebrews 13:5
[H[e has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

John 10:28
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.

12. Does "never" mean "never"?
13. Does "no one" mean "no one"?

Hebrews 10:10
And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

14. How long does Christ's sacrifice last?
15. How much does Christ's sacrifice cover?

Titus 1:2
. . . in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

16. What kind of life did God promise?
17. When did he promise it?
18. Are God's promises reliable?
19. Wouldn't denying his promise of eternal life be tantamount to calling him a liar?

20. Is your sin more powerful than Christ's blood? Is your weakness more powerful than God's might? Are you the nut he can't crack?
If our religion be of our own getting or making, it will perish; and the sooner it goes, the better; but if our religion is a matter of God's giving, we know that He shall never take back what He gives, and that, if He has commenced to work in us by His grace, He will never leave it unfinished.

-- Charles Spurgeon


Patrick Mitchell said...

Jared thanks for this rundown. It's helpful to see lists like these at times instead of thinking in sporadic ways. Just found your blog and am really enjoying it and being challenged by it.

Joshua said...

You forgot my favorite verse on the subject, and the most comforting verse in Scripture, to me.

Philippians 1:6

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

And excellent post. I believe it is important that we make eternal security a 1st order issue and stop ignoring the destructive teaching or salvation, either gained or kept, by works...

Doug D said...

Everything you cite in Scripture does indeed confirm that God's grace and redemption are unconditional. He will not deny us the gift of eternal life, but I am convinced that he will not force it upon us either.

Jesus makes this commands in John's gospel, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you." The implication here is a choice: we can choose to obey the command or not. If not, "... you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned." (John 15:4,6)

Earlier in this chapter Jesus says, "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit ..." The conditional is implied here once again. One can be "in" him, but if we do not bear fruit there comes a point when the gardener prunes.

Thanks for sharing your encouragement - I know where your heart is coming from - to assure believers that we do not have to worry moment-by-moment whether or not we are "still saved."
I can't say I've wrapped my mind around all of this, but I know there's a balance between resting assured of God's gift and our choice to hold onto it.

Jared said...

Doug, I don't believe God forces himself on us either. He frees our heart to choose him freely. Before that, we could not do so (Rom. 8:7).

But I am convinced that even in our imperfect choosing and wanting, he will be the one faithful to complete the work he began in us. I am convinced that if I add any of my wanting or choosing to my salvation, I have impugned God's grace, which saves me despite myself.

Thanks for your comment.

Doug D said...

Thanks, Jared. I know that "works" don't save us, and yet I see clearly in Scripture that obedience (which is a "work" - and a choice) does play a part in leading us into eternal life. As Jesus said, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." Hence, we "work" to receive a gift (food that endures to life eternal). It's such an odd concept to wrap our minds around.

Great stuff here - keep it coming.