In Defense of the Faith |

Dave Hunt

What about “Eternal Security”?

Question: The Bible clearly says that “he that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matthew:10:22); and that we are “made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning or our confidence steadfast unto the end” (Hebrews:3:14). Our ultimate destiny is therefore dependent upon whether or not we remain true to Christ and maintain our faith in Him to the end. In light of such statements, how can you then teach an “eternal security,” which has no such requirements for remaining saved?

Response: “He that endures to the end shall be saved” refers to those who have survived the Jew’s worst holocaust (which is yet to come under Antichrist), and are alive when Christ returns to rescue Israel in the midst of Armageddon. Paul referred to them with the words, “all Israel shall be saved” (Romans:11:26). Surely that couldn’t mean all Jews who ever lived but all those who are alive when Christ visibly returns at His second coming and, seeing Him, believe that He is the Messiah. The subject is not the salvation of those who are in the church, but of Jews alive at the end of the Great Tribulation.

As for the salvation we receive as a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Christ, our Lord said: “I give unto them [my sheep] eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John:10:28). This is a double promise: that He will care for believers as a shepherd for his sheep, and that this secure relationship is eternal. Moreover, we don’t become His sheep in eternity but here and now, the moment we put our faith in Christ. And the moment we become His sheep, we receive eternal life as a free gift of God’s grace: “The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans:6:23). We are given this assurance repeatedly in Scripture.

“Eternal life” would be a strange description of something that didn’t last forever. It could hardly be eternal life if one could have it and know it (1 John:5:13) today and not have it tomorrow. Moreover, if, in spite of Christ’s unconditional promise that His own “shall never perish,” some of those who were at one time His own lost that status and did indeed perish for any reason whatsoever, we could have no confidence in anything else He would say.

We know, however, that the One who is the truth cannot lie. Therefore we have complete confidence that it is impossible for Christ’s sheep ever to perish. Once we belong to Him, He keeps us and will never let us be lost.

Hebrews:6:1-9 confirms the fact of eternal security. The first three verses urge the believer to move on from those elementary things of the faith that pertain to the beginnings of the Christian life, such as repentance, faith, baptism, and so forth. Verses 4-6 give the reason why we must not engage in what verse one calls “laying again the foundation”:

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame.”

Clearly, those to whom this passage refers are genuine believers. Moreover, it doesn’t say “when they fall away” but that “if they fall away,” it would be “impossible” for them to get saved again. Why would that be?

First of all, if the death of Christ were not sufficient to keep them saved, then for them to get saved again would require that Christ die again . . . and again, every time they needed to be saved once more. Secondly, if Christ’s death is not sufficient to keep one saved, then He is held up to ridicule for having done something so foolish as having procured salvation at infinite cost and then given it to creatures to maintain who are not able to effect their own salvation and certainly can’t maintain it. This would be like committing a fortune to the safekeeping of an infant who would surely lose it.

That the falling away is hypothetical is indicated again by verse 9, which says, “But beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.” In other words, falling away does not “accompany salvation.” Those who are truly saved can never fall away.