Perseverance of the Saints

From the Archives: Thoughts On Eternal Security

From Faith Pulpit, Spring 2016. Used by permission.

It has been twenty-four years since the topic of eternal security was last addressed in the Faith Pulpit. In the February 1992 issue Dr. Myron Houghton presented the four major views on security and then explained how Romans 8:28–30 supports eternal security. In this issue Dr. Alan Cole, professor of Bible and theology at Faith Baptist Bible College, extends the discussion by presenting additional evidence to support the view that genuine believers cannot lose their salvation.

I appreciate the article Dr. Myron Houghton wrote in 1992 about eternal security, and I completely agree with his position. The article provides valuable help to Christians regarding this important issue. Since Dr. Houghton’s article examined Romans 8:28–30, I want to explore several other passages that support eternal security.

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Perseverance and Hebrews 6: The Midrash Solution

Detail from "The Spies Return from Canaan," Gerard Jollain (1670)

(Hebrews 6:3-9 with Numbers 13-14)

Introduction

In the United States, many people who had at one time professed allegiance to Jesus Christ have turned away from their previous commitment. We refer to a person who once knowingly professed the faith — but has since renounced it — as an “apostate” (from the Greek, “one who stands away” from what he once professed). Theologically, how do we account for apostates?

Most of us would agree that people who deny Christ (whether they once professed Him or not) are lost. But what route did these apostates take to earn this “lost” label? Do genuine believers always persevere in their faith? Is our assurance of salvation merely tentative — subject to revision? Bible-believing Christians are divided over this issue. For many, the text of Hebrews 6:3-9 is a deciding factor, and there are certainly a number of interpretative routes we could take.

An Important Perspective

I would like to demonstrate that interpreting this passage from a Midrash perspective clarifies the controversy. By Midrash, I mean that the writer to the Hebrews is intentionally and consciously drawing principles from Old Testament texts, in this instance Numbers 13:1-14:45. He applies the principles of this text to a current (somewhat parallel) problem within the Hebrew congregation, the result being Hebrews 6:3-9.

Since most Jews had memorized the entire Torah and were fluent in the rest of Old Testament, I would argue that the original readers of Hebrews understood this clearly.

1754 reads

Thoughts On Eternal Security

From Faith Pulpit, Spring 2016. Used by permission.

It has been twenty-four years since the topic of eternal security was last addressed in the Faith Pulpit. In the February 1992 issue Dr. Myron Houghton presented the four major views on security and then explained how Romans 8:28–30 supports eternal security. In this issue Dr. Alan Cole, professor of Bible and theology at Faith Baptist Bible College, extends the discussion by presenting additional evidence to support the view that genuine believers cannot lose their salvation.

I appreciate the article Dr. Myron Houghton wrote in 1992 about eternal security, and I completely agree with his position. The article provides valuable help to Christians regarding this important issue. Since Dr. Houghton’s article examined Romans 8:28–30, I want to explore several other passages that support eternal security.

17058 reads

Eternal Security and Christian Living

Practice is from position, never to position. The ethical mandates of the New Testament are decisively clear that believers are to walk in the richness of the position we have been given (Eph 1:3), and that the position is actually necessary for the walk (Heb 11:6). Never is a believer warned that their position as a child of God is in danger because of their walk.

Certainly there are warning passages. Hebrews 4:1 warns us to fear lest we “may seem to have come short” of entering His rest. Hebrews 4:11 prescribes diligence so that “no one will fall.” In the same context, the writer exhorts, “let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16). Why else would we need continuing grace and mercy if we were without sin in our practice?

Later, the writer reminds, “we are not of those who shrink back to destruction (Heb 10:39). There is no future of destruction for believers because “the believing one has eternal life” (Jn 6:47). Once eternal life is given, then by definition, it is eternal. Any end to it would make it something other than eternal.

The warnings, then, are not about loss of position, but about loss within that position. One whose practice is lacking will suffer loss—even losing reward—but that person is still secure in position (1 Cor 3:12-15).

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