Eternal Security Vs. Responsibility
Eternal Security Vs. Responsibility
by Todd Strandberg
Eternal security: the belief that once a person accepts Jesus Christ as his Savior, he can never be lost. Eternal security sounds great until you realize that this doctrine allows people to commit every sin under the sun without suffering any consequences for their complete lack of holy living.
Why most people lack any concern for their eternal salvation is the most baffling question I can ponder. The Bible says that few people will choose to make heaven their eternal home. (Mat 7:13-14) The Bible and man are in sharp conflict with each other because most folks expect to be bound for heaven when they leave this world.
It's no accident that most people are deceived about their eternal destiny. Satan, who is described as the enemy of mankind, has made the damnation of souls his full-time job. Of course, everyone who's been hoodwinked by the devil into believing a lie only has himself or herself to blame for the poor judgment.
Satan doesn't come knocking on everyone's door saying, "Excuse me, could I please deceive you into losing your eternal soul." The devil and his fallen angels have a much smoother approach. They labor 24 hours a day, seven days a week to dream up new schemes that have men following paths that appear to be the way to heaven, but that in reality lead to a dead end called “hell.”
The all-pervasive eternal security teaching has to rank as one of the devil's favorite tools for deceiving man into neglecting or turning away from God's plan of salvation.
Alarm bells should have sounded immediately the first time it was made known that eternal security allows its adherents to sin as they please.
I'm amazed that a doctrine so contrary to the Word of God could have so many people relying upon it as their means of salvation. Jesus said, "he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Mat 24:13). For someone to think they can just claim Jesus as their Savior and go on living a life of iniquity is ridiculous. Jesus told us in Mat 7:23 that when Judgment Day comes, He'll be saying to many, "...I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
The Need For Open-MindednessI'm very familiar with the average person's love for eternal security. Some folks cling to this doctrine with a mind so closed that it can only be described as a steel vault that has been welded shut on both sides.
I just hope these people checked the Word of God before sealing themselves into vault. Several people have told me, "I don't know where it says in the Bible I have eternal security, I just know somehow it's there."
Who in his right mind would buy a house without seeing it first, and who would be foolish enough to invest his eternal destiny in a doctrine that he didn’t thoroughly verify?
One of the main reasons the Book of James was written was to combat the false doctrine of eternal security. When I point out James' comments on the matter-- "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also." (James 2:26)—many refuse to believe the words that are right in front of their eyes.
I get reactions like: "What version is your Bible?," "Yea, but did you check the meaning in the original Greek?," "Dose it say that anywhere else in the Bible?," Or at times I get no reaction it all.
When I was a young Christian, I heard the eternal security message and thought it sounded great. However, being a wise little Christian, I checked for opposing Scriptures and found plenty, so I ask you to please read this with an open mind.
A Three-Way Warning
In researching this article, I was primarily looking for warnings that applied to Christians who think they can remain in sin. As I was looking through the Book of Ezekiel, I found a passage that serves as a very good warning to the wicked, the wayward saints, and to all Christian leaders.
- ”Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul. Again, When a righteous [man] doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumblingblock before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand” (Ezekiel 3:19-20).
The warning to the Christian leaders shouldn't go by without comment. I would guess a near majority of our nation's preachers believes in eternal security. I'm not going to read the riot act to anyone who teaches eternal security. But I will say that preaching responsibility instead of eternal security is a move you just can't go wrong by making.
Grace Demands Responsibility
In the Bible, there are several passages in which God promises us the gift of eternal life, and the Bible also makes it perfectly clear that we can never earn that gift. However, a problem develops when people start to think that they don't need to show any responsibilities towards God's gift of salvation.
I have read several authors who believe in eternal security and each of them only searches for references that reflect God's commitment to saving us. After digging a little deeper, I found a gold mine of evidence that everyone who's under God's grace needs to accept that dreaded word, “responsibility.”
- “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matthew 7:21-22).
- ”Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Timothy 4:1).
- ”And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book (Exodus 32:33).
- ”He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels” (Revelation 3:5).
- ”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 an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
- ”And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
God Didn't Include Any Exemptions
You can just about open up your Bible to any page and find a reference to God's hatred of sin. No one, after reading the Bible from cover to cover, should be able to make the conclusion that God winks at iniquity. In several places, God lists the types of conduct He simply refuses to tolerate. When I read the following Scriptures, I failed to spot any exemptions allowing Christians to ignore God's warnings:
- ”Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15).
- ”This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Tim 3:1-5).
- ”But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
- ”For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog [is] turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:20-22).
- ”But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat” (1 Corinthians 5:11).
A License To Sin
I think the most flagrant problem with the “once-saved-always-save” doctrine is the notion that people can confess to be a Christians, and yet live a life so depraved that the devil himself would refuse to associate with them. Those who promote eternal security never mention the fact that people openly abuse the sin option. I remember one prime example:
One day I was talking with a gentleman about prophecy, and from the start I was aware of the fact he was smoking, which usually doesn't bother me. However, when he begin using profanity, that did bother me.
I thought it would be a good idea to ask him whether he believed that Christians could miss out on the rapture. He, of course, didn't think it was possible for believers to fall away, causing them to miss the rapture. As the conversation progressed, or better said digressed, he continued to chain smoke, curse repeatedly, and refer to certain racial groups by using inappropriate terms.
He had little knowledge of the Bible, but he did know all the once-saved-always-saved Scriptures by heart. I quoted several responsibility Scriptures to him, but he refused to ponder one them. It was like talking to a member of some mind-control cult.
Somehow, we got to talking about his smoking habit, and he gave me an explanation that I just could not believe. This guy, with a straight face. explained to me that because he's a child of God, whatever he did was God's will being done.
He pointed to the cigarette he was smoking and said, “I'm smoking this because God wants me to, and when He wants me to stop, He'll tell me.” I should have asked him, "How could it be the Lord's will that Christians should cheat on their spouses or abuse their children?" I've heard this demonic theory before, but I never thought I'd meet anyone who believed it.
Well, after several hours of listening to his "it God's will" reasoning and after realizing I was getting nowhere, I decided I had enough. I bluntly told him, "That cigarette you have in your hand is your god, and until you make Jesus Christ number one in your life, you will never see the Kingdom of God."
His reaction amazed me. He cursed God's name, saying, "There is no [expletive] way He is going to leave one of His own behind." It really wasn't the cursing that amazed me; what amazed me was that fact he had no idea that the Bible and his beliefs were so contradictory to the Bible.
Few There Be That Find It
In America, about 84 percent of its citizens claim to be "Christians," and a reported 57 percent belong to a church. When asked if they think they'll be going to heaven, more than 90 percent of Americans believe that heaven will be their final destination.
Despite this people's overwhelming optimism, Jesus, in Matthew 7:13-14, said that few would be saved. I've been asking people what they believe all my life, and I've found a very large portion of society holds to some form of the once-saved-always-saved doctrine.
Several people have told me that they have eternally settled the issue long ago. This is from people who openly smoke, swear, lie, cheat, or you name it. In order for Jesus to be telling the truth, eternal security would have to be an absolute falsehood.
Knowing that the odds are already stacked against us, for someone to come along and offer us a "guaranteed" ticket to glory and an unlimited option to sin as I so desire, our reaction should be, "Get thee behind me Satan!"
Some Examples From The BibleSaul, King Of Israel
A number of preachers will tell you that Saul, the first king of Israel, was saved when he died. They may believe that, but what does the Word of God say regarding Saul's fate?
- ”So Saul died for his transgression which he committed against the LORD, even against the word of the LORD, which he kept not, and also for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; And inquired not of the LORD: therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto David the son of Jesse (1 Chronicles 10:13-14).
If this describes a faithful saint of God going home to glory, then I guess I don't understand plain English.
Ananias And Sapphira
The once-saved-always-saved folks will also tell you that Ananias and Sapphira died saved, but again, what does the Bible say:
- ”But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession, And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land? Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God. And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things. And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him. And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in. And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband [are] at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying [her] forth, buried [her] by her husband” (Acts 5:1-10).
These two people were liars, and what does the Bible say about liars? In Revelation 21:8, it says, "But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
Those That Change Their Minds
Another bizarre argument that the eternal security crowd propagates is the idea that once you decide to become a Christian, you can never change your mind. Once you're in, there's no escape. From what Bible did this cultic teaching come? Certainly not the one I'm using.
The Apostle Peter says in 2 Peter 2:21 that it would "had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them." Not only did Peter say that believers can turn away, but he said it would be better for them to not have become aware of something that would end up haunting them throughout all eternity.
One excuse I hear a lot in an attempt to explain how someone can seem to fall away is the statement that "these people never really believed in the first place." I have known people who were saved miraculously, yet they fell away. If their salvation wasn't legitimate, then I'd have to doubt honesty of every of all confessions.
Causing Your Brother To Stumble
Even if the advocates of eternal security were somehow correct in their position, they would still be in gross violation of a doctrine that Paul laid out in Romans 14:14-20.
The Apostle Paul told the Romans that even though there's nothing scripturally wrong with eating meat sacrificed to idols, they shouldn't do so, because if a brother saw them eating the meat, they could cause him to stumble, due to the fact he may not know there's nothing evil about consuming pagan meat.
Now consider Paul's advise in light of those who think they should be able live impure lives. If you're the only Christian at your workplace, and at your next office party you get drunk as a skunk, doesn't that tell your unsaved co-workers, drinking booze is okay with God?
If we were going to rectify Paul's writings in Romans with the examples that many Christians are setting today, we would have Paul jumping up on a table and offering praises to almighty Zeus for this wonderful meal.
In Matthew 18:6, Jesus spoke of anyone who would cause little children to stumble, He said, "...it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and [that] he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
RewardsWhen we leave this world behind, the only thing we'll be taking with us is the works we have performed. In heaven, the status and rewards that God will bestowing upon us are completely determined by what we achieve down here on earth.
If you're someone whose only goal is just to get by, I think you need to reconsider your retirement plan. Jesus told His disciples, "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2).
Many Christians are expecting receive a mansion from Jesus, but if our works are what Jesus will be using to build that mansion, the only thing some people should be expecting is a grass hut with a dirt floor.
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting" (Gal 6:7-8).
If all you've done is sown to the flesh, then how can you possibly think you'll be reaping from anything but the flesh?
Finally, if there really were a shred of truth to the eternal security doctrine, Jesus would have had preacher spreading the Gospel in an entirely different way than the method currently being used. Evangelists would simply be on street corners with sign-up sheets yelling, "Just sign your name, folks, and we'll fill-out the paperwork for you." Everyone would be saved and hell would be a very lonely place.
Unfortunately, because of doctrines such as eternal security, hell has had to enlarge itself to make room for the millions of lost souls who have been deceived into going there (Isaiah 5:14).
Like it or not, every one of us is involved in a race, with heaven as the finish line. I don't think it matters with God how well you run the race. What He's looking for is whether or not you stay in the race. I like how one preacher put it: "When you come through the pearly gates, you may be so spiritually week that you'll need two angels on each side of you to keep you from falling over."
At times, the road may appear long and difficult. But if you keep your mind focused on the prize, I'm confident you can make it. "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him" (James 1:12).