Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Can We Lose Our Salvation? A Response to a Challenge of the Security of the Believer

On my last post I received a comment, well an invitation actually, to visit the commenter's blog. I followed the links to Christian-with-a-view. I found this post particularly interesting.
He asks the question:
Is God "crying wolf" when He warns of Christians falling away or mentions those who have departed from the faith?
He then provides selections of scripture he feels supports his position against eternal security. I've decided to interact with these verses seeking to show God's faithfulness in preserving his saints. Some are more clear than others, and as always there is a certain amount of tension to be held in this doctrine. But the majority of the verses, and especially those that are most clear, support the doctrine of the Believer's Security.

  • (Acts 20:28-30) Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

The Apostle Paul is referring to the group of people who he is speaking to and those who would come after them. In no way is he asserting that these "fierce wolves" had ever been redeemed.

  • (Gal 5:1-4) For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. 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.

Paul is not saying that there is a danger of losing salvation. He is warning the Judiazers of the seriousness of trusting the law for salvation. If you desire to seek righteousness through the law you are obligated to keep the whole law. There is no grace, no forgiveness for failure. They have fallen from the chance to receive grace in judgment, because they are seeking to be righteous by law.

  • (1Cor 9:16-17) For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.
  • (1Cor 9:27) But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Paul is speaking of his call to preach the Gospel and not of his salvation. He has been entrusted with a stewardship and does not want to be disqualified from performing it, so he remains disciplined in his life and actions.

  • (Hebrews 6:4-7) For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 

This verse is more difficult but not impossible. You seem to take this verse as stating that there is a possibility of losing salvation. Paul seems to be saying that it is impossible to lose your salvation since it is impossible for those who have been saved to then fall away, because then there could be no way to crucify Christ again.

  • (Rev3:4-5) Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 

These letters were written to local churches. Churches are made up of saved and the unsaved. Here Jesus affirms the security of the believer by stating they will never be blotted out. The verse does not say that it is possible to be blotted out.

These are just the verses that were presented in the blog post, there are many more to support our security.

  • (Romans 8:28-30) And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 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. 

  • (Philippians 1:6) 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. 

This is just a quick response, and by no means is it meant to be exhaustive. Everyone feel free to comment on any of this, offering your own interpretations, supports, or challenges. It is always beneficial to both sides to discuss these matters, in love.
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