Eternal Security

         I believe that God knows those who are his, has chosen them, drawn them, deposited his Spirit within them, created a special relationship with them and will not abandon them even if they fail in some area of faith or behavior. This I believe is the basis for believing in eternal security. However there are many among us who believe that  heaven can be forfeited and support this with a number of scriptures. Now it is true that these scriptures can lead one to conclude that a believer must ‘persist’ in belief and/or deeds until death in order to avoid hell and gain heaven. So it is in the face of these passages that this article is written.

       Before I address the scriptures directly it is important in addressing this topic to understand that the New Testament writers lived and breathed in a day when God's hand was very much against Israel and NT Christians were under great persecution themselves.  They were very much focused on survival and hoping for deliverance from the perils of life as well as those of hell.   There is also a tendency among us to interpret our English scripture translations from the perspective of our current culture without much actual cultural context of the original writings being applied. The most common example of this is assuming that all references to the term saved, relate to eternal life when this is not what a 1st century Christian would have understood. The cultural context of the letters recipient is needed to correctly impart meaning to all biblical writings and this is especially true for passages that would point towards something so important as loss of eternal life. This paper is intended to address eternal security from this perspective.

       Here are a number of scripture passages that indicate in one way or another that people must "continue" to believe the gospel and/or to to follow Christ in order to be saved

·        Romans 11:22

·        2 John 1:8-91

·        Corinthians 15:

·        Romans 2:7

·        John 15:5-6

·        Col 1:23

But there are also passages that indicate that in Jesus Salvation is guaranteed on belief. These include;


·        1 Peter 1:3-5

·        2 Thessalonians 2:13

·        Ephesians 1:13-14 and 4:30

·        Romans 8:28-30 and 8:38-39

There are also passages that warn people not to “fall away” such as the difficult Heb 6:6, but then there are also passages that show that” falling away” is not permanent if you are Christ’s elect. This is seen clearly in the example of the disciples falling away in Matt 26:31. Yet before it happends  Jesus predicts that all will fall away as seen in Mark 14:27 and then after it does  Jesus says he “knows” his disciples them and assures that not one will be lost and then He himself brings them back  (John 16). This example is further supported by passages that tell us the the power to continue in belief is given to people by God. These include ;


·        John 17:26

·        Eph 1:13:14

So which is true? How do you handle these passages. The best answer I have at this time is this;


The Old Covenant


        Throughout Israel’s history the Jews had a conditional covenant of Gods care and in the face of their recurrent violation of that covenant God was always chastening them, turning them over to their enemies, yet each time He always came back for them. Yes,  He always came back! You see despite the conditional nature of the Mosaic covenant, God never abandoned Israel. He chastened them severely but he always came back. In the gospel account of the last supper, Jesus predicts that his disciples would fall away and warns then intensely not to, yet he also predicts they will fall away and then He restores them later. You see just as Jesus said “God knows those who are his”  (see John 14-17).


The New Covenant


       During the OT the Holy Sprit was actively working  and on the behalf of Gods children yet alas Israel constantly turned against God. In  Jeremiah 31:29 just before the destruction of Jerusalem God predicts a new way for his people : He will “write on their hearts” . This looks forward to the new covenant of the NT which is not conditional as was the old Mosaic covenant for with the new Covenant the  Holy Spirit now  indwells a believer rather than just operates around them on their behalf . This new covenant transition occurred after Pentecost  and John as well as Paul confirm for us that    it is the Holy Spirit that enables belief not the person. For the Holy Spirit now …

... seals us ……………………….2 Cor 1:22, Eph 4:30: Eph 1:13-14
... guarantees what is to come   …2 Cor 1:22 & 5:5
... enables belief & testifying  …..2 Cor 4:13

       The key concept here is that the power to persevere or even return from some aspect of “falling away” is Gods.  He will not abandon his elect even if they become faithless for a time. Therefore his spirit will enable belief and will not leave you. For this reason Paul could pen Rom 8:38-39. You see, the term “falling away” in our society would seem to denote a permanent disinterest in something, yet in biblical writings the term is much more associated with what we would call “stumbling”.

So then the question must be answered , Why all the warnings in scripture “to continue”?. Some of this is understandable if you realize that during the period of the initial conversions of Jews and gentiles there was a transitional period before indwelling was automatic. This is seen early in Acts in the case of the believers in Acts 8:16. They believed but  had not yet received the HS. In the face of such a time, the warnings could have been valid. Today they would  not. The other  passages that indicate in one way or another that people must “continue” to believe the gospel and/or to to follow Christ in order to be saved are understood in one of the following  ways ;


·        1 Corinthians 15:2 is a hypothetical, the case made by Paul is further clarified in 15:14. It is not teaching on loss of salvation but he is making a case against those who deny the resurrection.

·        John 15:5-6 is a metaphor describing the contrast between believers and non-believers as the term “abide” is a statement of permanent dwelling. It does not refer to persistence. The NIV translation of abide to “remain” in this verse is unfortunately miss-leading. See KJV or NASB and our article found at

·        Others such as Rom 11:22 are understandable in face of Gods apparent abandonment of Israel. Rom 11 was written to answer the challenge from Gentiles, which was “why should we believe, look at how God abandoned the Jews. Yet Paul goes on to explain that despite the conditional nature of “Gods blessings” even Israel has a future and is not cut off forever. Why? Pauls says “for His sake”.  Here we find that eternal life is not in focus but blessings and the treatment of the believer during his life on earth.

·        There an a number of verses (2 John 1:8-9, Romans 2:7, Col 1:23) where the aspect of  salvation that is in focus is not  loss of eternal life but rather loss of “salvation” from the  power of sin in ones life during life on earth and being turned over to difficulty or in the case of Col 1:23 having no “reproving” required nor “accusation”. These are “sanctification” passages” not  “justification” ones. You see the word “saved” is scripture does not always refer to eternal life .  For in scripture we “were saved” eternally from the penalty of sin when we believed, we “are being saved” from the power of sin as we yield to the spirit and we “will be saved” (from the presence of sin) someday in heaven. This is a key message of 1 Cor 1:30 . I have posted a word study of the word “saved” showing which NT verses are using it in terms of eternal life and which are using in terms of being saved during life from the results of sin. Salvation terms are often used in the NT as being related  to being saved from difficulty, chastening or even early death rather than referring to eternal life or the possibility of lose of rewards and despite being saved eternally being ashamed at the judgement seat of Christ. (See 1 Cor 3:8-15)  These include the dire warnings of Hebrews chapter 6 and 12 which are  often misinterpreted  as pointing to the inability of  a “fallen away” person to be “restored” to eternal life.. These Hebrews passages are the topic of an entire research paper I have placed on our website in the Articles section called the Warnings of Hebrews Take the time and read it for it shows how  these warnings cannot be used to justify loss of salvation doctrine  unless you ignore the context of the letters recipients. In the context  of being written to a group of Hebrew believers under persecution who were about to abandon their faith these passages actually support eternal security and describe the painful restoration process associated with  being disciplined by God if one who is chosen turns away from God. For many  give insufficient weight to the implications of how God judged and disciplined Israel in OT times while not abandoning them  and  not seeing the OT quotes and references in the context a 1st century Jewish Christian.




       So in summary, I believe that Christ’s elect cannot lose their salvation from the penalty of sin and their eternal life. I believe the reason is for the sake of Christ himself and that the method by which our Lord insures this is by giving the power to “continue in belief” as part of indwelling of the Holy Spirit. This indwelling of the believer is a basic element of the New Covenant for here God “writes his ways on the believers hearts”. (Eph 1:13-14). Continuation of the elect is not optional. I further believe that the passages that indicate that continuation is required are either reference to salvation from the power of sin during life and are blessings or rewards oriented as described above.



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