Eternal security is a doctrine of the New Testament that is often misunderstood. For Baptists, it is generally taught as “once saved, always saved”. However, most Baptists don’t know why they believe we are eternally secure. Most denominational and non-denominational churches, on the other hand, don’t believe in eternal security. They believe that if you are saved, you can lose your salvation.
When teaching on eternal security, most teachers handle the subject apologetically. That is, they stack up all the verses that support whichever view they hold. And then they just run through the verses that back up their position, whether the verses have anything to do with eternal security or not.
When people debate whether we are eternally secure, their immediate reply to a verse that seems to contradict their view is to offer another “proof” verse. They don’t discuss the apparent contradiction, they just keep quoting verses that support their own view. They say, “Yeah, but what about…” and quote the next verse. Neither party to the debate is persuaded by the other person’s view.
Once, when I taught on eternal security, we examined every verse that supports the doctrine and every verse that contradicts it. It takes a long time to get through all the verses. However, at least with this approach, you can clearly see the true doctrine of the verses, rather than their mere apologetic application.
Before preaching on this doctrine, it’s important to understand that eternal security is unique to salvation in the church age.
Old Testament saints were not eternally secure. Saul was God’s choice to be king of Israel. However, when Saul disobeyed God, the Lord removed his Holy Spirit from him. In 1 Sam 16:14, “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him”. 1 Sam 18:12 says, “the Lord was departed from Saul”.
When David confessed his sin of adultery, he prayed in Ps 51:11, “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me”. David knew that it was possible for God to condemn him and take his holy Spirit away.
Likewise, Tribulation saints won’t have eternal security. In Heb 6:4-6, “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”.
Only those of us who are saved in the church age are eternally secure.
We are eternally secure because we are “in Christ”.
Church age saints have eternal security because we are “in Christ”. When we trusted Jesus Christ to save us, 1 Cor 12:13 says that we were baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. As a result, Eph 5:30 says, “we are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones”. Since the flesh and bones of Jesus Christ are currently seated in heaven at the right hand of God, so are we. Eph 2:6 says, he “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus”.
Though we are physically on this earth, we are spiritually joined to Jesus Christ as one body, 1 Cor 12:12-27. As soon as our physical bodies die, our spirit and soul are instantly present with the Lord, 2 Cor 5:6-8.
Do you understand? You’re not waiting to get to heaven or trying to stay saved so you can go to heaven. You are already there in Christ. Your spirit and soul have escaped death and will never be in hell. This is not a presumptuous interpretation of scripture. This is an absolute fact. In Christ, the devil cannot get your soul.
We are eternally secure because we are predestinated.
We are not predestinated to salvation like the Calvinists teach. Nowhere in the Bible will you find predestination to salvation. You are not predestinated to anything but hell until you are in Christ.
However, when we are in Christ, we are predestinated to three things. That is, once you are in Christ, the destination of these three things is absolutely certain. Predestination is, in some respects, like flying in a commercial jet. Once you’re on board the jet, you are going to the destination of that flight. There’s no getting off or getting out in mid-flight.
First, we are predestinated “unto the adoption of children”, Eph 1:5. We are not waiting to be adopted as children of God. We are already sons of God, 1 Jn 3:2, “Beloved now are we the sons of God”. Rom 8:14 “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God”.
Adoption is the redemption of our body. Rom 8:23 says, “we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body”. Christ is going to redeem our bodies at the rapture. This is an absolute certainty.
1 Thes 4:16-17 says, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord”. Since our soul and spirit are instantly with the Lord when we die, this catching up together is the resurrection of our body when Jesus returns for his bride before the Tribulation begins. Our bodies will die if the Lord tarries. But our bodies will rise to live forever with him, guaranteed. Death cannot hold us.
Second, in Eph 1:11, “We have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated…”. Right now we have been “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession”, Eph 1:13-14. That is, right now we have the Holy Spirit in us and he has sealed us. Nothing can get in to take us and we can’t get out. We are sealed.
After our bodies are redeemed, and we are physically translated to heaven, we will receive the rest of the promised inheritance we have obtained. For example, Jesus promised that we have a mansion in heaven, Jn 14:1-6. And Jesus promised that we will live forever with him in our new city, New Jerusalem, Rev 21.
Third, we are predestinated “to be conformed to the image of his Son”, Rom 8:29. That is, when our bodies are redeemed we will look like Jesus. 1 Jn 3:2 says, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is”. There is nothing we can do to change this fact. Everyone who is in Christ by salvation is destined to be perfect, glorious, “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish”, Eph 5:27.
Phil 3:20-21 says, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself”. We are absolutely secure in this promise.
We are eternally secure because we are kept by Jesus Christ.
Paul wrote, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day”, 2 Tim 1:12. Keeping my salvation is not up to me. It’s up to Jesus. And Paul said, “he is able”.
Jesus told his disciples that they could count on him to keep them eternally secure. He said about his sheep, no man shall “pluck them out of my hand” and “no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand”, Jn 10:28-29.
To these verses a sceptic replied, “Yeah, no man may be able to pluck you out of his hand, but you can fall out”. Jude disagrees. He wrote, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy”, Jude 24.
There is none in the entire universe powerful enough to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, Rom 8:35-39. You can argue until you are blue in the face. If you are in Christ, you are going to be kept by Christ.
Conclusion: Now you know why you are eternally secure once you trust Jesus to save you. You can’t lose your salvation. You also know that if you haven’t yet trusted Christ, you aren’t saved and none of these promises are yours until you are saved.