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.
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!!
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