A Question I Was Asked:



Surely Eternal Security is a Wrong Teaching!







The Question:

With regards to what you both promote and teach, you declare that at the moment of the initial Justification experience all FUTURE Sins receive a mandatory appropriated/imputed absolute FORGIVENESS for all perpetuity.
Therefore, these simple little questions will easily prove whether you are RIGHT or WRONG:
Respective to the Parable Jesus taught in Matt. 18:23-35 on His commanded FORGIVENESS principal of the Brother's trespasses - Did the Wicked Servant in this Parable have his initial FORGIVENESS of his said DEBT REVOKED by his Lord? YES or NO?

Likewise, was the entire ORIGINAL formerly forgiven DEBT of the Wicked Servant in this Parable REINSTATED by his Lord?
YES or NO?

Moreover, did Jesus restate this SAME commanded FORGIVENESS principal and consequential outcome in Matt. 6:15 and Mk. 11:26? YES or NO?
If therefore, you cannot answer each of the above cited questions in a Scripturally affirmed absolute NO, then your notion of Eternal Security/OSAS/Perseverance of the Saints, Reformed Theology, etc., Scripturally FAILS by none other than the Commandments of Jesus Himself.
Therefore, how can you in good-faith still insist on, teach and prompt a doctrine that is a clear contradiction to the teaching of Jesus?


UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, so let us note what this is: this is a clear attack by one holding Arminian theology upon the entirely biblical teaching of the Eternal Security of the saved, therefore the attack is not really upon myself and what I am privileged to teach, but upon the Holy Scriptures themselves!

The Bible clearly shows that the elect, that is, those truly called and chosen by God will not be snatched out of His (God's) hand.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. (John 10:27-29).

The truly called and chosen have received the 'earnest' of their inheritance and that inheritance is certain (Ephesians 1, which we look at in a moment). In an attempt to show that such biblical promises cannot be relied upon (and we will remind ourselves of these promises in a little more depth later), my inquisitor chooses several random Scriptures, apparently to show that the saved have no security and that they can suddenly lose God's grace at any point!

At the outset, I am accused of teaching that, "...at the moment of the initial Justification experience all FUTURE Sins receive a mandatory appropriated/imputed absolute FORGIVENESS for all perpetuity." So we start off with a statement I know full well I have never made in that particular form; it is an over-simplification and badly-put. Nevertheless, it is true that, once covered by God's grace, the true believer will never permanently fall away (though he or she will almost certainly have weaker, or backsliding phases). This is about the power of God's grace, His mercy and His non-conditional love. I have never yet come across a true Arminian (in theology, that is), who fully comprehends those facets of God's nature. They seem to consider God as unreliable and whimsical.

I do indeed teach (in common with the New Testament), that the called, chosen and faithful saints have security - but only because God Himself guarantees it! Of ourselves - without God's grace - we would all fall again tomorrow. Also, this grace is only for the called, chosen and faithful, in short: the Elect of God. Some become 'believers' but walk away from the Faith a few months later, a few years later, or maybe even 25 years later. According to Scripture such people were never true believers in the first place (1 John 2:19). John compares such people (verse 19) with those who have an 'anointing from the Holy One' (verse 20). Now let us look at the Scriptures which are thrown at me:

In Matthew 18:23-35 we find a parable in which a servant who owed his master ('king') a huge sum of money is about to be thrown into jail for the debt but, upon his begging for mercy, the huge debt is freely forgiven (just as God does with all of us), but then this servant goes out and threatens somebody who owes him far less money. He has him thrown into prison, refusing all the man's pleas for mercy.- despite the bounteous mercy he himself had just been shown. The Master is angry and the man is now thrown into the prison he was threatened with in the first place because of his refusal to forgive, and to show mercy. This Scripture is put to me with the following question:

'Did the Wicked Servant in this Parable have his initial FORGIVENESS of his said DEBT REVOKED by his Lord? YES or NO?' Likewise, was the entire ORIGINAL formerly forgiven DEBT of the Wicked Servant in this Parable REINSTATED by his Lord? YES or NO?

The idea seems to be that God can change His mind about people and that - therefore - Eternal Security is not a biblical teaching, but our God is not whimsical and capricious - He does not quickly give up on people, as some of us would. Sadly, the Scripture in question is seriously misapplied.

This is a parable and its central teaching point is that once we are forgiven by our Lord, we too should willingly forgive others. Our debt was huge, other debts will be smaller; we should forgive! This is for us, it is not about God who plainly 'knows the end from the beginning' (Isaiah 46:9-10). Any attempt to make this parable show that God changes His mind about those whom He calls and saves is in error. The teaching is for us and how we ourselves handle mercy and forgiveness. If a servant behaved in such a wicked and unjust way this would only demonstrate that he never stood under God's grace in the first place! Parables should never be stretched to make them "prove" something which was never the central point in the first place. So - indeed - this man's initial forgiveness was revoked - in the parable. His debt reinstated. But his behaviour revealed that he was not one of the called, chosen and faithful - therefore he did not stand under God's grace. Of course, it could be stated that if he was forgiven at the outset he must have been truly called, but this is to go too far and to force a meaning beyond the original intention of the parable's teaching: our need to forgive others once we ourselves are forgiven.

Okay, let us move on. My questioner asks:

Moreover, did Jesus restate this SAME commanded FORGIVENESS principal and consequential outcome in Matt. 6:15 and Mk. 11:26? YES or NO?

Okay, let us check Matthew 6:15:

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

It's the same point. God wants His people to forgive others just as He has forgiven a huge debt with all of us. Again, this is about us and about how we measure up - it is not about God. It is not saying that God can change His mind in an unpredictable and capricious manner! Why do some want to teach that God is so changeable? Can such people even really know the true God?? God is utterly dependable, He keeps His word, He does not 'throw the towel in' when the going gets rough. People are like that - God is not! This Scripture is not saying that we ourselves remain on trial after Scripture plainly tells us our sins are forgiven. In short, the teaching is for us - not for God. However, if a person supposedly 'converted' goes around refusing to forgive others as a way of life, that would simply eventually confirm that such a person was not one of the 'called and chosen,' and was not under grace. It would therefore be correct that the Father had not forgiven their sins.

So - up to this point - my inquisitor (though undoubtedly sincere) has not moved forward in his argument against Eternal Security through his unfortunate misapplication of Scripture.

My inquisitor's final point is this:

If therefore, you cannot answer each of the above cited questions in a Scripturally affirmed absolute NO, then your notion of Eternal Security/OSAS/Perseverance of the Saints, Reformed Theology, etc., Scripturally FAILS by none other than the Commandments of Jesus Himself. Therefore, how can you in good-faith still insist on, teach and prompt a doctrine that is a clear contradiction to the teaching of Jesus?

Sadly, there is confusion and lack of in-depth biblical and theological knowledge here. Because no forgiveness was permanently afforded in the two cited cases that cannot possibly alter the character of God. The point is: we should forgive others just as our Lord has so bounteously forgiven us. There is no link between the examples thrown at me and the teaching of Eternal Security and the Perseverance of the Saints. To suggest that there is simply, I'm afraid, to reveal a lack of in-depth Scriptural knowledge.

I now want to compare my questioner's seeming lack of belief in the sure promises of God with the words of Paul the Apostle in Ephesians. I want us all to see for ourselves whether those truly called and saved can later fall:


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will - to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment - to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession to the praise of his glory.

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God's people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. (Ephesians 1:3-21).


Read those words of Paul, then re-read them with care. Note Paul does not use terms/expressions like 'maybe,' 'perhaps,' 'as long as we keep on course,' 'possibilty of being saved' etc. Rather he states, "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." Hmm. Pretty positive I would say! Paul also states, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us..." Moreover, Paul writes, "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will..."

Is it seriously being suggested that God cannot call and save specific people? According to many examples within Scripture, He not only can indeed do that but He then does not give up on people when they fall short (numerous examples, including Abraham, David, Samson and countless others).

But now especially notice the next part: "...And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession to the praise of his glory." Please note what is being stated here: The Holy Spirit is the guarantee or, 'down payment,' on the Eternal Life to follow - it guarantees our eventual inheritance! Could anything be plainer? Of course, Paul undoubtedly knew that a few would read these words and the words would not apply to them. There have always been some 'tares' among God's people but he probably thought that they would not properly comprehend the full import of these words anyway.

If the above were not sufficiently powerful confirmation of Eternal Security all on its own (and it is), Paul also wrote a very large section of Romans to say exactly the same thing. The entirety of Romans 8 is an exposition of the Eternal Security of the saints. I am not going to go through that entire chapter right here for reasons of space will just quote a very few of those glorious verses:


Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:1-2)

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (verses 9-11).

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father." The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. (14-17).

For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (29-30).

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (31-39).


So when Paul asserts with authority that, "...neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord," the Arminian responds with, 'no, no, no - it's not that sure, what about my failings, what about ---- what about ---- what about---' So we perceive that a lack of belief and confidence in the promises of God is the real problem; the mistake is to be looking too much at ourselves and not enough at our Saviour!

In closing, my questioner states that I hold "reformed theology." Actually I would question that. Several years ago I was close to it but came to see that 'reformed theology,' or Calvinism, is wrong in parts. Reformed theology later went well beyond what Calvin had stated and slipped into error, eventually almost teaching a form of fatalism. It also embraced 'covenant theology' which is simply not Scriptural in certain points. No, I think my theology is simply as biblical as I can make and is neither Calvinist nor Arminian. Broadly, I suppose I now uphold what is sometimes now called 'New Covenant theology.'

Robin A. Brace. September 26th, 2012.

Related articles:

ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED?

ETERNAL SECURITY; NOT A VAIN PROMISE

ETERNAL SECURITY AND THE SAVING LOVE OF GOD


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