Perseverance of The Saints (Preserving Grace or Eternal Security)
“I think few doctrines more vital than that of the perseverance of the saints, for if ever one child of God did perish, or if I knew it were possible that one could, I should conclude at once that I must, and I suppose each of you would do the same.”
If it is not you who avails yourself to salvation, then it will not be you who keeps your salvation. The Doctrine of Eternal Security naturally follows the other four doctrines and is completely supported by Scripture. Those whom the Father chose will ultimately persevere in faith, and those actual people for whom Christ actually died have been purchased by His blood and will not be lost.
Romans 8:29-30 lays out the entire unbreakable chain of salvation. It says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Notice that glorification is not a possibility, it is an actuality. God does not start the process and let you complete the rest, because we couldn’t. He is the One who foreknows, predestines, calls, justifies, and ultimately glorifies. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:8-10).” He is the One who gives the faith. He is the One who saves. He will be the One to bring us into glorification.
John 10:27-30 says, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” What does it mean to “never perish”? What does it mean to be “held in the hand of God”? Is it really “eternal life” if it can be lost? These are the questions we must ask, and the answers strongly support eternal security.
Before I list a barrage of Scriptures that support eternal security, I will deal with three verses that are often used to deny it. Galatians 5:2-6 says, “Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.” Those who use deny eternal security pull the phrase “fallen away from grace” out of verse 4 and its context. This passage is obviously speaking of those who would try to work their way to justification. That is not salvation, and therefore they were never justified to begin with. The word “grace” may be troubling with this explanation, but that is easily explainable. As I discussed in the article on Limited Atonement, there is a universal call to salvation. Those who attempt to work their way into justification have rejected that call and therefore have fallen from “grace”. While these people may have made a profession of faith, they were never truly regenerate and, as a result, never came to a true saving faith in Christ.
No passage has given me more doubt concerning eternal security that Hebrews 10:26-31, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” This passage deals with the opposite evil of that spoken of in Galatians 5. The type of person in Hebrews 10:26-31 is a person who shows that he is unregenerate by willfully and defiantly sinning rather than by relying on the Law for justification. The phrase “and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified” may cause some doubt as to this explanation, but the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary explains it better than I could. It says, “Wherewith he was sanctified—for Christ died even for him. “Sanctified,” in the fullest sense, belongs only to the saved elect. But in some sense it belongs also to those who have gone a far way in Christian experience, and yet fall away at last. The higher such a one’s past Christian experiences, the deeper his fall.”
Another verse that has been largely used to argue against eternal security is 2 Peter 2:1. It says, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” The only phrase that causes concern in this verse is “denying the Master who bought them”. Matt Slick, President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry, points out in an article that Peter often uses Old Testament terminology in his epistles. In fact, this verse alludes to Deuteronomy 32:6. Slick makes the following observation:
“In Deuteronomy Moses was addressing the rebellious Israelites who were turning away from God, “Is not He your Father who has bought you?” Though they had been bought, it did not mean they were saved. And, of course, they were not bought with the blood of Christ. Notice that Peter says in 2 Peter 2:1 that “there arose among the people.” This is the past tense and, again, is most probably referring to the Old Testament times. I don’t know of any other reference that fits. Then he says, “just as there will also be false teachers among you.” Peter switches from past tense to future tense, referring to false teachers of past times and then false teachers to come–both of whom were bought. But bought in what sense? Were they bought as in salvation or bought as in delivered from bondage? It makes sense to say that Peter is referring to the Jews being freed from their bondage in Egypt since they were bought, but not all of those Jews were true believers. Peter was warning people that just as there were false prophets in ancient times, there will also be false teachers in the present time. Also, since the false prophets of the Old Testament context were bought and delivered from the bondage of Egypt but were not true believers, so also there will be among Christians in the church today those who likewise will not be true believers but can appear to be bought by the Master as well. Peter is warning Christians to be on guard.
So, since the context is Old Testament terminology and concepts, we cannot say definitively that Peter was saying people lose their salvation. Instead, he was probably referring to the then present people–like those during the times of Moses, who were “bought” and freed from bondage or appeared to be saved but were not saved and who were also false teachers. False teachers are not real Christians. They didn’t become false teachers by losing their salvation. They were false to begin with, and Peter is warning his people that just as there can appear to be people who have been freed from bondage in the Old Testament, they can also appear to be free from bondage in the New Testament having been, so-called, “bought” but are actually never really saved.”
-Matt Slick (for more click here)
In light of these observations, we should remember when John said in 1 John 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” Later in that chapter John speaks of a promise made to us, God’s elect, “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.”
The following verses strongly support the Doctrine of Eternal Security. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it is a start. May it give the child of God assurance and call the unsaved to repentance:
- “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)
- “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37)
- “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.” (John 6:39)
- “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
- “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11:6)
- “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)
- “And who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:22)
- “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
- “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.” (Philippians 1:6)
- “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9)
- “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,” (Jude 1:24)
This concludes the series “Why I Am a Five-Point Calvinist”. For the rest of the articles in the series, see below:
Over the course of this week, I have been releasing articles on the Doctrines of Grace (aka the Five Points of Calvinism). This was not meant to cause division, but rather to give a clearer understanding of these doctrines. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, either leave them below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow to get our articles in your inbox!