Several years ago a pastor in Pennsylvania, concerned
for the salvation of the many Roman Catholics in his community,
invited me to come up and teach a seminar. First he asked me to send
some of our publications so he could become more familiar with our
ministry. After reviewing our Gospel tracts, he called me to cancel
the seminar because he discovered that I teach the assurance of
salvation. I explained to him that assurance is what makes Godís plan
of salvation "good news." God promises to save forever those who come
to Him through Jesus (Heb. 7:25). I asked him what good news do you
have to share with Catholics if you preach eternal life is not
everlasting but can be lost? Catholics already adhere to a "maybe"
salvation that depends on what they do rather than what God has done
through Jesus Christ. After many exchanges, this pastor was unwilling
to believe Godís promise, that everyone who has been saved by grace
through faith in Jesus shall be brought to glory.
Those who reject the doctrine of eternal security
tend to place more emphasis on the subjective experiences of
"professing" Christians than the objective truth of Scripture. They
may know someone who was baptized, repeated a prayer or responded to
an altar call, then later rejected the faith or turned to a life of
habitual sin. These experiences become their proof that salvation has
no assurance. But is there any way to know if these people were born
again? Judging someoneís spiritual condition is risky because no one
can see a personís heart. Opponents of assurance focus on manís
failures rather than on Godís divine power. Such misunderstandings can
be overcome by discarding human reason and accepting divine
revelation. Faith should not rest on the wisdom of man but on the
power of God (1 Cor. 2:5).
Consider the Word "Eternal"
The "eternal" Gospel (Rev. 14:6) of our "eternal"
God (Rom. 16:26) promises every believer "eternal" life (1 John 5:13)
and "eternal" glory (1 Pet. 5:10) in His "eternal" kingdom (2 Pet.
1:11). The "eternal" King (1 Tim. 1:16) called salvation "eternal"
(Mark 16:20) because He has given believers "eternal" comfort (2 Thes.
2:16) by obtaining "eternal" redemption through the "eternal" Spirit
who guarantees an "eternal" inheritance (Heb. 9:12-15; Eph. 1:14).
According to Godís "eternal" purpose (Eph. 3:11), every believer has
been saved from "eternal" judgment (Heb. 6:2), "eternal" destruction
(2 Thes. 1:9) and "eternal" punishment in the "eternal" fire (Mat.
Eternal life is not only an infinite quantity of
time (people in hell will live forever), but an eternal quality of
life. It is an intimate relationship with Jesus whereby His life and
divine nature is placed in every believer and every believer is in Him
(2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 5:20). This life begins at the second birth when
those who were dead in their sins are made alive in Christ (Eph. 2:4).
Eternal life is everlasting because the very life of Christ (who can
never die again) has been imparted to believers (Rom. 6:9). But this
leads to a provocative question. Knowing that sin is what brings
spiritual death to the soul, what keeps Christians from dying again
when they sin after their conversion? The apostle Paul gives the
answer. It is because God no longer counts sins against those who have
trusted Jesus as their substitute (Rom. 4:8; 2 Cor. 5:21). God laid
all their sins, past and future, on Jesus (Isaiah 53:6). Our kinsman
redeemer "bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to
sin and live to righteousness" (1 Pet. 2:24). "With His own blood He
entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal
redemption" (Heb. 9:12). Everyone redeemed has been bought with the
precious blood of Jesus and now belongs to Him. Eternal redemption and
eternal security are thus one and the same.
Those who reject eternal security must explain why
they do not also reject everything else described as eternal, such as
the eternal triune God and His punishment for unbelievers. They must
also be able to answerówith Scriptureósome other relevant questions.
Can those who have been redeemed from under the curse of the law be
placed back under it (Gal. 3:13; 4:5)? Can one, who has been born
again of incorruptible seed, die again (1 Pet. 1:23)? Can a new
creation return to what has passed away (2 Cor. 5:17)? Can one who has
been perfected forever be found imperfect (Heb. 10:14)? Can those whom
God delivered from the power of darkness be sent back (Col. 1:13)? Can
those who have been made complete in Christ become incomplete (Col.
2:10)? Can those who were saved without merit or human effort be lost
because of demerits or human failure (Eph. 2:8-9)? Does any man have
the ability to undo a sovereign act of Almighty God (Rom. 8:28-39)?
Consider the Promises of Jesus
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word,
and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into
judgment, but has passed out of death into life (John 5:24). "My sheep
hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal
life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch
them out of My hand" (John 10:27-28). Jesus also promises never to
cast out or lose anyone that His Father gives Him (John 6:37, 39). The
promises of Jesus to all believers are clear and are guaranteed by His
divine power and attributes. Having received eternal life, the sheep
will follow the Shepherd who will keep them and protect them. Jesus
promises they will never be judged for their sins, will not experience
spiritual death, shall not perish and will never be cast out or lost.
How can Christians say they trust Jesus and not believe His promises?
Consider the Fatherís Role with the Spirit
God the Father has caused His children to be born
again to a living hope. They are now protected by His power and will
obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and reserved for them in
heaven (1 Pet. 1:3-5). This inheritance has been securely guaranteed
by the sealing of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:11-14). The Father, who
calls believers into fellowship with His Son, is faithful and will
confirm them until the end (1 Cor. 1:8,9). He promises to glorify
those He justifies (Rom 8:30). Godís children have this assurance: "He
who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ
Jesus" (Phil. 1:6). On that spectacular day, all believers will be
revealed with Him in glory (Col. 3:4). Everyone who has trusted Christ
can have the same confidence as Paul who wrote: "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" (2 Tim. 1:12).
Consider the Nature of Godís Gifts
Believers also have the assurance that Godís gifts
and calling are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29). The amazing gifts God gives
to repentant sinners include eternal life (Rom. 6:23), the Holy Spirit
(Acts 10:45) and the righteousness of Jesus (Rom. 5:17). Those who
have received these gifts will never again be separated from God and
never come into judgment for their sins. Opponents of assurance will
say that people can give back the gifts or throw them away. But where
is the Scriptural support for this? God has credited the gift of
righteousness to the believerís account. Does man have access to Godís
books to change His accounting?
Consider Godís Chastening of His Sons
The Lord knows those who are His and everyone who
names the name of Christ must depart from iniquity (2 Tim. 2:19). But
what does God do with any of His children who persist in sinning? He
chastens them, as a loving Father, so they will not be condemned along
with the world (1 Cor. 11:32). Godís chastening has a purifying effect
on those who do not judge themselves. His discipline will continue
until there is repentance or until He calls them home. Those who fall
away or fall into habitual sin without Godís chastening were never His
children (Heb. 12:6-9).
The Roman Catholic Catechism (CCC) teaches that
Catholics lose their salvation when mortal sins are committed (CCC,
para. 1035). Catholics must do works of penance and merit enough grace
to regain their salvation (CCC, para. 1456, 2027). Needless to say,
Catholics can never be sure about their eternal destiny because,
whenever man is involved in attaining and/or preserving his salvation,
there can never be assurance. However, when man forsakes all efforts
to save himself and believes the objective truth of the Gospel, he
will be more certain of living eternally in heaven than one more day
on earth. There is no way a mortal man can do maintenance on an
eternal gift from God. Paul wrote, "For this reason it is by faith,
that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise
may be certain to all" (Rom. 4:16).
John wrote his first epistle to those "who believe
on the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know [Gk. oida]
you have eternal life (1 John 5:13). The Greek word "oida"
refers to a positive, absolute knowledge. True believers can rejoice
in their salvation with absolute certainty and peace. The question for
professing Christians is not "Will God will keep His promises?" but
"Have I been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone?" This
means forsaking all other attempts at salvation through sacraments,
good works, indulgences, purgatory, the sacrifice of the Mass, obeying
the Law and the intercession of Mary.
There is Assurance When Salvation is of God