Those who oppose the Biblical doctrine of the eternal security of the believer set forth arguments for their opposition which, in the end, means that no one can ever be certain of their salvation, or have assurance of their final destiny. Worse, salvation is not solely the work of the grace of the sovereign God, but is a synergism of God’s grace, and man’s effort. It cannot be said that, “Salvation is of the Lord” (Jonah 2:9), for the faithfulness of the individual is the ultimate determining factor.
Opposition to the doctrine of eternal security reflects a misunderstanding of the Author of salvation, and the guaranteed work of God. God has promised that, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
While it is true that some promises are conditional, other promises are not. There is the gospel promise, that whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).
Those who call upon the name of the Lord, and are saved are promised eternal life. “And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life” (1 John 2:25). If the life God gives is eternal life, then it is not temporary life. It is not something that can be lost, or taken away, any more than God can stop being eternal.
It is impossible for a person to be lost once they have been saved, for the One who saves a person is the One who keeps them by His power. Jesus told God the Father that He has lost none whom the Father gave to Him (John 18:9). The heart of the Christian should rejoice, because “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36).
It might be argued that “we can separate ourselves from the love of God”. There is truth in that thought, for the non-converted. Jesus observed that the Pharisees had passed over the love of God (Luke 11:42), to their eternal shame, and destruction. However, a person who has been born of God is a new creation. It is not within the nature of a born again believer to stop loving God, for His love is shed abroad in the heart (Rom. 5:5).
It is true there are people who come to Christ, and embrace outwardly many Christian doctrines and practices, and then leave Christ and the church. But that is because they were never converted. The apostle John explains. “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (1 John 2:19).
Those who are called of God, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, will follow their Lord. They shall never perish, nor be plucked out of the Lord’s hand. “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one” (John 10:28-30). The sheep, not those who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, follow the Lamb, not potentially, but actually. “These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth” (Rev. 14:4).
I tremble in fear for those who argue against the doctrine of eternal security, and boldly declare that even the called of God, in Romans 8, is no guarantee of glorification. It is wrong to deny what God has affirmed in Holy Scripture.
In Romans 8:28-30 there is no discussion of apostasy. There is only sure knowledge for the believer that those who are called according to God’s purpose shall be saved, sanctified, and glorified.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:28-31).
The called of God in Romans 8:30 has reference to those who have heard the special call that goes to the elect of God and draws them to Christ in a close and permanent relationship that shall never be broken. Jesus spoke of this when He said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:26).
During His earthly ministry, many people heard the voice of Jesus, but they were not all called by Him to salvation, for they were not among His flock. So there is a special gospel call of God to the elect, and there is a general call to all.
One day Jesus spoke to many people, and told all that He was the Bread of Life. Some believed, others did not. All received the general call, but not all heard the special call of Christ, and believed. What made the difference? Those who did not believe had not been given to the Son by the Father. “But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:36-37).
Now, it is true, that even the called of God, even those who are truly born again can be misled, for a time. This was the situation in the churches of Galatia. Paul was concerned that some who had heard the gospel call were turning away from the true gospel. But their departure from the gospel was never full, or final, for Paul calls the people to whom he is writing, “brethren”. Time and again Paul uses this term Paul was not speaking to full apostates, but of brethren, children of God, which needed correction. Paul recognized among the true brethren, false brethren (Gal 2:4), so that always a distinction made in Scripture between those who are truly born again, and those who are religious, but not regenerated.
Any professing Christian is capable of being misled, but, when a true believer in Christ is corrected, according to gospel terms, they repent, and move closer to Christ. In contrast, false brethren, those who are not the called of God to salvation, will continue in their doctrinal, and moral corruption, to their eternal damnation.
Finally, in Ephesians 1:14, the Holy Spirit is declared to be the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory. The meaning here is this. Christians have the Holy Spirit as the pledge that that shall be ours, and the Holy Spirit will be imparted to us until we enter on that inheritance.
The Holy Spirit is not to be thought of as a spiritual “down-payment” on a house, and it is up to the soul that would be saved to faithfully make the rest of the “mortgage payments”. The word used here means to seal up; to close and make fast with a seal, or signet. “Christians are said to be sealed; to be sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; 4:30); that is, the Holy Spirit is given to them to confirm them as belonging to God. He grants them His Spirit. He renews and sanctifies them. He produces in their hearts those feelings, hopes, and desires which are an evidence that they are approved by God; that they are regarded as his adopted children; that their hope is genuine, and that their redemption and salvation are SURE—in the same way as a seal makes a will or an agreement sure. God grants to them His Holy Spirit as the certain pledge that they are His, and shall be approved and saved in the last day” (Albert Barnes).
I commend to you the Doctrine of Eternal Security, for it teaches a person to say, Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone, for the great things He hath done.