Do you believe in eternal security? Once saved always saved? Dan
Hello my dear friend, Dan!!
If you had asked me this question back in the 70’s or early 80’s I would have immediately replied YES! without any hesitation. I was heavily schooled in this doctrine during my Bible College days (1972-75), and I often engaged in debates, arguments and disputes over it.
Strangely, I am more secure in Christ than ever before and I rarely discuss it as a teaching. Any reservations I may have with the doctrine of eternal security are not connected with a lack of security but with the sense of a formulaic approach to Christ.
Take that phrase, Once saved, always saved, for example. What I used to understand about being saved was all about destiny, you know, that I had been rescued from an eternity in the burning hell and would spend my after-life in that most wonderful place called heaven. Why? Because I had made the right choice. But the more I have seen of the reality of Christ as being my everything and my everywhere and my eternal now that whole former concept has simply faded away as part of a fleshly, religious view of God. So, that guy who claimed once saved, always saved was referring primarily to a security of destiny based upon a decision he made at a point in time by which he could claim a confidence from having met the one entrance requirement stated to be the act of saving faith.
I was trained to witness in a way that incorporated the above basic concept of eternal security. You see, we used certain Bible verses that make a strong connection between the one who believes and eternal life, and one of those verses is John 6:47, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (you’ll notice that I automatically quote it from my KJV days, which were back before ‘78). Part of the technique was to first get the person to admit to believing the Bible (which indicates that church-goers were the usual targets), and then to read the verse. By challenging their claim of belief in the words of the Bible (“Do you believe what it says?” – to which they respond in the affirmative), and then asking the question (“Do you believe in Christ, and what he did on the cross for you?” – which was usually agreed to), I would then press the logical conclusion (“What does it say you will get if you believe in Him?”). I was pretty doggoned good at this, I might add.
In the midst of my soul-winning days I began to suspect that something was not quite kosher in this as I happened upon many, of whom I was able to persuade by this reasoning, who had to be re-convinced … in much the same way they had learned to keep getting saved over and over again.
Not only that, but I had realized we were suggesting that if one did not believe he was eternally secure (at least, once presented to him clearly) then he simply wasn’t saved. We chalked it up as representing the difference between religious faith and saving faith … in other words, one who didn’t (or couldn’t) accept the idea that God would keep His promise (as written in the Bible) had never truly believed in Christ, but only in religion. On the other hand, some of those who were able to believe the formulaic logic of eternal security were just good at following logic.
Now, many have indeed merely put the label of faith or believing upon their acceptance of religion or upon their self-righteous versions of Christianity, but the possibility remains that those who question their faith may very well be those who have a faith to question. Yeah, I came to the realization that many who doubted their salvation often only doubted their own lack of performance, and had been taught to associate a lack of performance for a lack of faith.
I slowly began to see that the real culprit was the wisdom of the world upon which so much of Christian evangelism is based, and in the process I slowly ceased worrying about that former eternal security perspective. After all, I had come from a group that were confident in their eternal salvation … and yet were some of the most insecure people in real life. Okay, so we may have found a form of confidence relating to what would happen when we died, but how is it that we shared the same kind of deep fears regarding our present life as those who believed in eternal IN-security? The fact is that I have received as much grief from those of my former persuasion as from those persuasions I used to denounce.
I suspect one of the prime reasons I have so rarely engaged in eternal security discussions over the past many years (even though I am now more assured than ever as to the permanency of real life in Christ — both now as well as after this body dies) is simply that I have realized how easily it has been used to perpetuate a sense of after-life confidence to help counteract the overwhelming lack of confidence in real life in real-time.
Well, I can only imagine you saying to yourself, I just asked him a relatively simple question and I get all this? Hahaha! I hope it came close to giving you an idea of how I see things. J