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The Frustrating Aspect of Eternal Security

I live in the South here in the United States.  The old joke is that there are more Southern Baptists than there are people.  Just as everyone in Italy belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, everyone in the South belongs to the Southern Baptist.  The SBC dominates the church world here.  Even our bookstores are mainly Lifeway Christian Stores which is owned and operated by the SBC.  Most of the students I went to college with were SBC.  Many of my professors were SBC.  By the way, SBC stands for “the Southern Baptist Convention.”

The down side of this is that because the SBC is so large, many backsliders and pagans think that because they grew up in the SBC hearing the gospel and many of them being baptized in SBC churches, they are ready for heaven.  Someone along the way taught them the SBC doctrine of eternal security and the rest is history.  I have friends who embraced sinful lifestyles and have turned away from Jesus completely but they still believe they will go to heaven when they die because they are “once saved, always saved” no matter what their lifestyle may say.

I have had friends make sinful decisions because of their belief in eternal security.  I know of two men who both chose to indulge their sinful flesh in immorality and both embraced “once saved, always saved” as a cushion for their sins.

Now, to be fair, many SBC pastors and theologians would admit that those above have misunderstood the doctrine.  The doctrine is based on a person being a true Christian.  Within the SBC, however, you’ll find three groups.  First are the theologians who teach that a person was never saved to begin with if they turn to a life of sin.  They base this on 1 John 2:19 which I believe has false teachers in view in relation to the apostles teachings.  This group would teach the more Reformed Calvinistic teaching of “perseverance of the saints” which teaches that those whom God has saved will persevere because God grants His elect the faith and grace to continue.  The second group would be those who teach the Charles Stanley view of eternal security and that is that you are saved at the moment of saving faith period no matter what you do from there.  God gives you eternal life and that is it.  Eternal life is a gift from God that He never takes back no matter what.  Stanley’s book, Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure?, is where you should start if you want to understand his views.  His views are very troubling to me.  I see nothing in them but an excuse for living in sin and indulging the flesh all in the name of Christ.  Holiness is optional despite passages such as Matthew 5:48 or Hebrews 12:14 or 1 Peter 1:15-16.  Warning passages such as Hebrews 6:4-20 or 10:19-39 or 2 Peter 1:1-22 are ignored or twisted.  The third group is a minority who deny eternal security and teach the Arminian view of conditional salvation based on perseverance in the faith.  Most of these either leave the SBC or adopt the standard SBC view of “once saved, always saved.”

Now what is frustrating to me about all this is that some pastors honestly believe that when they teach on eternal security to their people they are teaching not just God’s Word but are honoring Him as Lord through the process.  It seems they never bother asking themselves the question, “Am I giving people a reason to sin?”  If any teaching allows for continued sinning, it should be thrown out.  How can we preach “continued sinning” when passages such as Romans 6:1-4 or Galatians 5:16-24 or Hebrews 10:19-39 or 1 John 2:3-6; 3:6-10 are all against such teachings?  To tell people that they are eternally secure and that nothing they can do can separate them from the love of God (even disobedience against Him to His face), what are they teaching if not “you can live in sin and get away with it?”

On a more practical level, eternal security is frustrating as well because I engage people in evangelism and they falsely believe they will go to heaven because of “once saved, always saved.”  Many of the teenagers I have spoken with don’t believe you need to be holy, seek God, read and study the Word of God, forsake sin, repent of your sins, etc. because they have believed that once you say a prayer, you are sealed forever with God.  I have evangelized men trapped in porn who have no problem with their sin because they have believed that they are forever loved by God despite their outright indulging of their flesh.  I have even met former pastors who claim to be eternally secure despite now living in sin with their live in girlfriend.

I understand the hunger for assurance of our salvation.  Eternal security often is presented in that way.  You can know that you are forever saved and this is how: once saved, always saved.  There is a level of assurance there not found even in the Reformed teaching of perseverance of the saints.  The Reformed teacher says, “If you fail to persevere, you were never part of the elect to begin with.”  The Arminian teacher says, “If you fail to persevere, you committed apostasy.”  But the Charles Stanley, typical SBC view is, “Once saved, always saved.  Period.”  And for many, that is reassuring despite not being biblical.

For those wanting to read an interesting book about this subject, Amazon offers the book Security: The False and the True by Arminian theologian W.T Purkiser for free for the Kindle.  While a dated book, it does offer good insights into what is true security that we do have in Jesus and what is false.  To me, to teach a person can live in sin and remain forever a child of God is ignoring far too many biblical passages, waters down those on holiness, and makes the cross of Christ ineffective in dealing a death-blow to sin in our hearts (Galatians 2:20; 3:13-14; 6:14).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

04/24/2012 at 5:43 PM

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