Thursday, May 4, 2017

Eternal Security 1 John 5

Eternal Security in 1 John 5:11-13

(11) and this is the testimony God gave us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. (12) Whoever has the Son has life, whoever does not have the Son does not have life. (13) I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.

John the apostle has a pattern in his writing. At the end of his writing he explicitly tells us the main idea. He does this in the gospel of John and he does this in the letter of 1 John. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” The purpose of this book of the Bible is so that Christians can know, with certainty, that they have eternal life. If someone is truly saved they can know that they have eternal life because of Jesus. A true Christian cannot lose their salvation.

GOD Gave
God gave us eternal life. Eternal life is not something we take, it is something that God gives. That is consistent with the rest of scripture. The apostle Paul confirms what John is saying when he makes it clear that we are saved by grace alone(Eph.2:8-9). Grace means gift. A gift is given. Salvation is a gift given by a loving God through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ. Eternal life and heaven is something that is a gift given by God.
The reformation inspired by the great Martin Luther was built on this fundamental. It was a reaction against some who were teaching that salvation is not by grace. The latin phrase that came out of that movement was “sola gratia”…only grace. We are saved by grace alone. There is something else that gift giving grace leads to. You are saved by God’s grace alone, and you are kept by God’s grace alone. If you are not saved by works, you are also not kept by works. We are saved and kept by grace. There are some important reasons for this. If salvation were dependent on your works, no one could ever be saved. This is because our works are never enough to overcome our sin. Our works don’t measure up to God’s infinite standard of perfection.
The same is true after salvation. The standard of God’s infinite perfection doesn’t change. We might think that because I am saved I am doing more and better works, the works of faith. That’s great, and we should. But, we should never think that those works are what keep me in the good graces of the Lord. Those works can be a sign, but they are not what keeps us eternally secure. Eternal life is a gift of God’s grace. God gave us eternal life.

There is a simple sentence here. The action is done by God – He gave. The recipient of the action is “us”—Christians. And the action verb is what God has done – gave eternal life. What is interesting is the tense of the verb. It is in the past tense.
This is amazing. Eternal life is something that has already been given by God to Christians. It is in the past tense. John is writing to a group of believers in the present and the verb is in the past tense. Eternal life is something god GAVE them. It is already something that they possess.
Eternal life is a present reality. Most of the time when we focus on eternal life we think about something in the future. We think of eternal life as that day in the future when we get to experience the glorious reality of God’s heaven forever and ever. Oh, what a glorious truth. Oh, how I long for that day. It is not inappropriate to think of eternal life in that way. That is what scripture is talking about when it talks about eternal life. But, what people often fail to capture is that there is another dimension of eternal life. It is not just a future event, it is also a present reality.
At the moment of salvation, when a person comes to Christ in repentance and faith, that is when eternal life begins. It begins at the moment Jesus comes in. I have eternal life right now. We’ve got this heaven business all mixed up. What makes heaven heaven is the presence of God. What makes everlasting life so wonderful is the presence of God. What salvation does is puts us in the presence of God. Eternal life begins now. It has both a present expression and that future day that we all look forward to. It is both. And 1 John 5 is telling us that God has already given us eternal life. A Christian already possesses eternal life. That means nothing less than the absolute security of our eternity. This is not because we have worked for it. This eternal security is because God gave it!(past tense!)

Eternal Life
The Holy Spirit clearly speaks to us in scripture that eternal life is present at the moment of salvation. That is when eternal life begins. That is not where it ends. Eternal life begins at salvation but it has no ending. It lasts forever. There is something else powerfully significant. Eternal life is eternal. Some translations will say it is “everlasting”. This is repeated throughout the NT.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life.”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”

The definition of eternal/everlasting is pretty simple. It is something that has no end. It lasts forever. It is eternal. When someone is truly saved by God’s grace through faith, they are at that moment given eternal life. They are given by God something that lasts forever. They are given something that has no end. IF IT COULD END THEN IT WOULD NOT BE ETERNAL! If you could lose what God has given you then it would not be eternal life, it would be temporary life. If you could lose your salvation then the phrase ‘eternal life is meaningless’. It is not meaningless. Those who are truly saved are given something that they can never lose. They are given something amazing by God. It is a gift of His free grace because of the finished work of Christ on the cross. That gift is eternal life. Eternal life is something that can never be lost, otherwise it wouldn’t be eternal. Words have meaning and eternal means you cannot lose it – ever!

That is eternal security.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Eternal Security From Romans 8

Eternal Security From Romans 8: You Cannot Lose True Salvation

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those are in Christ.” 8:1
“For I am sure that…nothing else in all of creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 8:39

If someone is truly a Christian, the Bible teaches that they can never lose the salvation that God has freely given to them. God tells us this specifically in many places in the Bible, but I want to focus this article on Romans 8.

Why this is important?
There are those who differ with me and think that it is possible for someone to lose salvation.(They are more than entitled to their view and still deserve complete love and respect). This position is called “conditional salvation”. That basically means that there is a condition for someone to keep their salvation. Inevitably this “condition” is based on something that has to be done by the person. The person has to do certain things in order to stay saved. The reason that this is a big problem is that it logically leads to salvation by works. This false position might grant that a person does nothing to bring them into salvation, but they have to meet the conditions to keep that salvation. When this is reasoned out it leads to the conclusion that a person does something which earns them being kept in salvation. That person does certain works which earn him the credit of keeping his salvation. This is really the only logical conclusion. And, this is why this is so important. It devolves very quickly into works based salvation which scripture clearly rejects(Eph.2:8-9). It logically leads to the conclusion that Jesus’ work on the cross might be enough to get me started but it is not enough to keep me going – I have to add the “conditions/works” in order to keep my salvation. Far be it from me to ever lessen the finished work of Christ’s blood on the cross.
Now, works for Christians are important. I am no antinomian who thinks that a Christian doesn’t need to do acts of obedience. But, there is a big difference. We are not to do works to keep salvation. We are to do works BECAUSE I have been secured eternally in salvation. The former leads to a type of legalism. The latter is graced based obedience. I obey not because I am afraid I will lose my salvation if I don’t. I obey because I have been secured by Christ’s grace for all eternity.

Now, to Romans 8

The entire book of Romans is about justification by grace alone. When Romans 8:1 says that those in Christ are no longer under condemnation, it is talking about the issue of justification. Verse 30 makes it clear that justification is something that has been completed in the past by the sufficient work of Christ alone on the cross. Justification is when God imputes(gives) righteousness to a sinner(through faith) based on the work of Jesus. It is a done deal. This, in and of itself, leads to the doctrine of eternal security. We cannot add anything to the work of Christ on the cross for our salvation. No works necessary to secure, obtain, or keep our justification through Jesus alone.

No condemnation
The wording of verse number 1 is very strong and emphatic. The construction seems a bit clunky to us in English, but the Greek is doing something intentional. It is not only emphasizing the negative, it is a strengthening of it. “There is, therefore, now NO condemnation for those in Christ.” The meaning of this construction is that a Christians is not under any condemnation and never will be EVER again. Thus, we have a strong statement for eternal security. If one could lose their salvation they would be under the condemnation of God. But, we have been justified fully by the work of Jesus alone. Therefore, there is no condemnation – Jesus didn’t take part of it. Jesus took all of our condemnation.

Indwelling of Holy Spirit
Verse 9-11 makes it clear that to be a Christian means that the Holy Spirit comes and makes His home in our hearts. At the moment of salvation the Holy Spirit “indwells” the Christian. The word used here is very significant. It means to make a permanent dwelling. There are other words in the Greek language to describe a temporary residence. The most common one would be the word “tent” or “tabernacle”. But, the metaphor that God uses is with the word of a permanent residence. The Holy Spirit comes into a Christian to stay permanently – forever. To lose salvation would require the Holy Spirit to set up a temporary tent, so He can move out and move on if the person doesn’t do the right things. That is not what the text tells us. He moves in for good, never to leave. (He will never leave nor forsake us. Heb.13:5).

Heirs of God, fellow heirs of Christ – promise of inheritance and our adoption 8:15-17
The Holy Spirit is one of the biggest proponents of eternal security. The Bible tells us in many different places that the Holy Spirit in us “guarantees” our eternity with God.(Eph.1:14) Through His incredible grace, God has saved us, adopted us as His children which makes us heirs of a great inheritance. The Holy Spirit is the sealing of that promise from God. That inheritance is our future glory with God in His heaven. God has promised this inheritance to His children. God never goes back on His promises. That means our eternity is secured by His faithfulness to keep His promises.
There is another incredible statement of our absolute security in Christ. We can never lose our salvation because we have been adopted by God the Father through the work of Jesus. The metaphor of adoption used of salvation carries the idea of permanent relationship. In the legal law of the times, once a father signed the legal papers adopting a child it could never be undone. It didn’t matter what that child ever did, the adoption could never be undone. So, some might think that they could do something to “dis-inherit” themselves from God’s promise. The idea of adoption removes that false thought. We did nothing to deserve our adoption as God’s children and we can do nothing to keep it. It is all based on God’s justification and promises. We cannot lose our status as God’s children—because we have been adopted.

Predestined, justified, glorified
Verse 29-30 contains a list of vocabulary words. There are some deep subjects that crop up in this list of words. I am not going to branch off to discuss all of those deep topics. There is something incredibly powerful in these words. They are all verbs in the past tense (aorist active in greek). This is stunning. We have been predestined by God. Because we have been predestined by God we have been justified by Christ. Our justification is finished in the completed work of Christ on the cross. Those are stunning statements in and of themselves, but the last word is very curious. We have been glorified. How can that be past tense? Our glory is something that is coming in the future.(see vs.17-18,24-25). How can something in the future be applied to us in the past tense? The only way this past tense verb makes sense is because of eternal security. Our salvation, which leads to our future glory, is so secure God can talk about it in the past tense. God views our future glory as an absolute certainty. So much so, that this future reality can be talked about using a past tense verb! Amazing! If we could lose our salvation it would make much more sense to use a different type verb, “Those whom He justified MIGHT one day be in glory.” But, that is not what the verse says. We are assured of our glory.

Nothing can separate us
The conclusion of the chapter doubly reinforces our security in salvation because of the work of Christ. Paul asks a series of rhetorical questions. These serve to add emphasis to his point. Can anything ever separate the love of the Father from His children? Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God. No condemnation inevitably leads to no separation. There are no forces on this earth, no forces in the spiritual realm, no situations, nothing in all of creation that will ever separate a child of God from the love of the Heavenly Father. That is eternal security in the love of Jesus!
Some might raise the possibility that we can remove ourselves from the love of Christ in salvation. But, the verse says that nothing in all of creation can ever do that. We are a part of creation. So, if we are truly saved by the justifying love of Jesus, we cannot separate ourselves from that love.

Eternal security is true ONLY for those who are truly saved. There is such a thing as false conversion. There is such a situation as people who assume they are in Christ, but they have never truly repented and believed. There is no eternal security for those who are not truly saved.

But, for those who are truly saved, they can never lose that salvation. God’s children are eternally secure because of the work and love of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen and hallelujah!!

Other scriptures/issues:
Eternal life – John 17, John 3:16 (God gives us eternal life at salvation. If we could lose that then it wouldn’t be eternal.)
1 John 5
John 10