Security of Salvation
The certainty of our salvation is one of the great comforting promises of Scripture. It is our hope! Yet the topic remains controversial even among Christians.
Why is eternal security so important for our wellbeing?
Our eternal security helps us throughout life by:
- Hope – The knowledge of our salvation and a better future life beyond helps us through every step of our lives to maintain joy despite difficult times.
- Protects our minds – Knowledge of our salvation provides good wellbeing as shown by our Foundation, Teleios (1-3). It’s difficult to have hope in the future and good wellbeing if you don’t even know you are truly saved. Our eternal security is the helmet of our salvation, protecting our minds (Ephesians 6:15) and the anchor for our souls (Hebrews 6:19).
- Service – Eternal security also allows us to better serve God as it becomes difficult to be a joyful servant when we lack confidence that we will ever really be with God. Such doubt can sap our energy and turn our thoughts from serving God to our own selves. We can only serve fully when we have a confident secure foundation (Colossians 1:9-14).
- Christian growth – Knowledge of our security is necessary for progressing to maturity in the Christian life as exemplified in 1 Thessalonians 1:5-7. We may not feel we deserve salvation (actually we do not – it is God’s gift through Christ) and it may fight against our nature and upbringing, yet as Christians we must live by the facts of Scripture and its blessed truth.
What are the evidences of our eternal security?
There are on at least five levels:
Direct statements to our eternal security – At least several key verses directly indicate a believer, who has trusted in Jesus Christ by faith for his salvation, is eternally secure, are the following:
- 1 Peter 1:4-5 – To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
- John 10:29-30 – My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.
- 1 John 5:10-13 – He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
- Romans 8:28-39 – And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Positions in Christ – By the results of our glorious salvation we obtain positions in Christ which are irreversible, on both a legal and a morphological basis. It is not that we believe, become a Christian, and that’s it; it is that we believe, become a Christian, and obtain the amazing unchangeable positions listed below. These positions add strong evidence to our eternal security. There are a number of these positions but several pertinent ones are:
- Spiritual baptism – We are regenerated by the Holy Spirit into a new person and our old self dies (Romans 6:2-9). We become identified (the meaning of the word ‘baptism’) with Christ’s death and resurrection. This marvelous spiritual truth speaks to the importance of the resurrection because it is the vehicle for our new life in Christ and eternity (Romans 6:9, 10:9-10). Indeed, we are a new person and the old sinful self is gone forever.
- Membership in the church (1 Corinthians 12:13) – The Spirit places each believer in the church universal (the fellowship of all believers under the headship of Christ [Colossians 1:17-18]). We serve others, and God, typically through a local church assembly.
- The Holy Spirit – He is given in part as a down payment to our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2 Corinthians 1:21) that we cannot lose (Romans 8:28-39; 1 Peter1:4-5). He maintains us until the day of our redemption when Christ comes again (Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:10).
- Adoption – Each believer is a child of God, adopted into His family. As generally in first world cultures today, when a child was adopted in the ancient Greek and Roman world, it was a legal right that could not be overturned (4). In other words, the adopted child received all the rights and privileges of a natural-born child; so also it is with a believer as a child of God (Ephesians 1:5).
- Justification – Before we believed we were guilty of sin for which Christ died on the cross to provide his forgiveness and to declare us innocent (Romans 3:24-25). The word for justified in Greek (δικαιος, dikaios) means legally found innocent as in court of law. In other words, there is no double jeopardy: οnce found innocent no one can bring a charge against us (Romans 8:33).
- Possession– We are the possession of God (John 10:27-30; Ephesians 1:13-14; 2:10). No one can take us out of His hand (John 10:27-30).
Perseverance – This theme is vital because it indicates that God alone, and not us, causes us to endure to our salvation. Even if we wanted to change our position in Christ, or if we make mistakes, He causes us to persist to eternal life. Thanks be to God – it’s all based on Him not us! Here are some key verses (KJV):
- 2 Timothy 1:12 – For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
- Philippians 1:6 – Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 1:8 – Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:23 – And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Election – The fourth position of our wonderful salvation is that God chose us for Himself. Again, this was all God’s doing and not from our own efforts and work. Although some think this doctrine is controversial, let’s look at the scriptures so you can decide for yourself:
- God chose us – God elected us for salvation before all time to come to faith (Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 5,11; Romans 8:28-30).
- The choice was individual – God did not choose a group, such as the church, but each of us distinctively (John 6:37,44,65; John 10:28-29; 2 John 1:1).
- God’s character – Choosing is consistent with God’s character and past actions. To accomplish His magnificent work on earth He has always had to choose those who would serve Him (e.g., Noah, Abraham, Moses and Israel).
- God’s dragging and convicting – After choosing us God had to convict and drag us to Himself or we would not have come (John 6:44; John 16:8; Romans 3:10-12). The Bible uses the imagery here of having to ‘drag’ fish into a boat by use of a net. The fish, like us, do not come willingly!
- No other way – By our very nature we never would have chosen God, understood Him or desired Him because of our fallen nature into sin (Romans 3:10-18; Ephesians 2:1-3). Although some think that God’s choosing is unfair there was no other way and scripture says it was done out of love and knowledge (Ephesians 1:4-7). If God had not intervened all would have perished!
Christ’s sufficiency – God’s glorious salvation, accomplished on the cross that we can be saved by faith alone and not our own work. Every aspect of salvation is God’s, all to His glory:
Christ alone is sufficient – God not only endorses eternal security with wonderful promises, as we’ve just seen, but also expresses His displeasure to those who do not believe it. This is expressed in two main passages in Hebrews, Chapters 6 and 10.
Let’s examine briefly the main passage in Hebrews 6, which although it can be controversial, is an exciting proof of our eternal security. Here are the main points:
- Hebrews 5:12-14 – The author tells the young Hebrew believers that they should be mature by now; being teachers and able to judge quickly between right and wrong.
- Hebrews 6:1-3 – He urges them to leave the rudimentary principles of the faith dealing with issues related to their salvation.
- Hebrews 6:4-7 – How could those who were saved (have known God’s gift and enlightenment and receive the spirit [all words or events consistent with salvation]) and have believed their sins were forgiven, could have another means to salvation apart from Christ. Indeed, their insistence that some sin was not forgiven indicated they would want Jesus to return to the cross and submit to public humiliation again. This is not viewed favorably by God.
- Hebrews 6:9-10 – The Hebrew Christians should recognize their salvation as evidenced by the acts that they have already done.
- Hebrews 6:13-20 – Accordingly, our security is based in Abraham; God’s promises to him and His confirmation by an oath are two things that provide a sure anchor for our souls.
Hebrews 10 also indicates that for those who are unsure of forgiveness there is no other means for salvation except by Christ. The author urges those who doubt their forgiveness to progress in their faith (Hebrews 10:19; 10:26-39).
Certainly, we have a wonderful salvation by which Christ is sufficient to cover each and every one of our sins, past, present, and future. For us to say that somehow His painful, long, suffering, humiliating and unjust death is not enough to cover even one of our sins is an offense to God.
- Stewart WC, Adams MP, Stewart JA, Nelson LA. Review of clinical medicine and religious practice. J Relig Health Mar 2013;52:91-106.
- MacIlvaine WR, Nelson LA, Stewart JA, Stewart WC. Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2013;19:251-255.
- MacIlvaine WR, Nelson LA, Stewart JA, Stewart WC. Association of strength of community service to personal wellbeing. Community Ment Health J 2014; 50:577-582.