Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Eternal Security Debate

I used to debate eternal security with practically anyone with ears.  I had some people standing there with no answers, but they still walked away convinced that their belief in conditional security (salvation can be lost) was true. 

I used to think that such people were being willfully blind.  I debated a man from Kentucky who was attending a college to get his Master’s Degree in Bible.  He claimed that he just finished his dissertation on Galatians 5, and wanted to discuss it with me.   We had a debate that lasted no more than 5 minutes on “falling from grace.”  I was able to show him something that his eyes clearly overlooked in chapter 5 that caused him to stop the discussion immediately.  Would you think he would have changed his position on chapter 5?  No, he walked away still convinced that “falling from grace” is losing salvation. 

Most believers who doubt their salvation are obsessed with finding the answer to the problem texts in Scripture.  They reason in their minds that if they can have an adequate answer for nearly every problem text then believing in eternal security would prove to be no problem.  However, their studies go on and on, and they never seem to find a satisfactory answer.  They still fear the same verses, and they still walk around with the question in the back of their minds, “What if salvation can be lost?” 

I do receive emails from several people asking for help with nearly every problem text.  Also, I still receive emails asking me for help with a particular verse, so that they can go back and debate others on eternal security.  I do not debate anymore, as I found the debates fruitless.  I did have a person that was attending a Christian school that believed in conditional salvation, but he wanted my arguments to present to his teacher to refute him.  I do not agree with such an approach at all. 

The reason why someone believes in conditional security (salvation can be lost) has NOTHING to do with 1st Corinthians 6:9-10, as such verses simply support their already perception of who God is.  Much of this perception has been dumped into our heads when we were kids.  It has to do with how a person believes in God that causes him or her to believe the way they do.  If you are looking to covert a person to eternal security then it can never be in the form of “Let us debate the problem texts” sort of approach.

My son knows that I love him dearly.  I hug him, kiss him, tell him how much I am proud of him, tell him daily I love him, take care of him, and even spoil him at times.  He knows he can come to me when he has a problem without fearing me overreacting to what he says.  He feels very comfortable approaching me.  My son never once had to say, “Dad, do you still love me?”  He never would ask, “Dad, if I screw up bad in life then will you disown me?” 

What is it about conditional security that you hear all the time?  How God would leave you and forsake you.  How God would drop kick you and your sins in hell.  How angry God is and how He is so full of wrath.  How God is so conditional where you literally have to question His love.  So many people are like a child that sits in His lap asking, “God, do you still love me?  Are you still there, or did I sin you away?  Have you truly forgiven me?  Did I commit the sin of apostasy?  Did I blaspheme the Holy Spirit?  If I am your child then why do I live like this?  You could not accept the likes of someone like me.  Did I believe enough?  Were you pleased with my repentance?  Did I feel my sins enough as religion taught me?  Was I sincere when I prayed that so-called sinner’s prayer?”

Having such a picture of God in your head would make verses like 1st Corinthians 6:9-11 terrorize you.  It seems to be confirming your already implanted fears.  This is why people often doubt, and this is why people often reject eternal security.  Their god is not someone that sits you on his lap sharing how proud he is of you, but rather preaches your screw-ups with such anger.  This is why so many churches are behavioral oriented churches, because their god will give you a disease to make you obedient if you do not conform.

If you are looking to win people over to eternal security then it needs to be done by changing their perception of who God is.  If they believe salvation can be lost then my starting point would be “What gospel do they believe?”  I often give the gospel to those that preach salvation can be lost, because I have question whether they have come to know the God of all grace.  Many of them do not see a completed gospel, but rather one filled with conditions (endure, holiness, abstaining, faithfulness, confessing, etc).  If they believe salvation can be lost then how does one stay saved?  Often this is where you will hear a works oriented gospel coming out of their mouths.  

Most of the people I have encountered that believe salvation can be lost were often fearful and angry.  Many of those who claim to believe in eternal security, but who doubt their salvation were fearful and angry people (fear and anger often go hand in hand).  The anger was often seen in their relationships with others, as they could lose their cool easily, because they are often frustrated and miserable spiritually.

If I try battling my opponents on James 2:14 then the debate always is the same.  If they cannot win with James 2:14 is when they introduce another verse to me, and then another one.  When that fails is when they will argue the ridiculous, “So, you believe that a person can get drunk, murder, steal, beat his wife and kids, but will still go to heaven?”  When that fails often starts the personal name-callings, “You’re an idiot.  You teach the doctrine of demons.” 

You have to understand that they are arguing their perception of God, so no matter how many times you feel you refuted them with scripture does not alter their perception of God.  They only walk away figuring that they need to polish up on their arguments better for next time.  I had some that were so upset that they did not effectively argue against me that they would go home and study and memorize new arguments for round 2 later.  

Just remember, the next time you are caught up in a debate is to know that they are arguing their perception of God, and your maybe polished arguments will not do much to win them over.  This is throwing pearls before swine, and I am not saying that to sound like I am degrading them.  You are merely throwing arguments out that will do no good. The problem is not their perception of Galatians 5:19-21, but rather, it is their perception of God that causes them to see Galatians 5:19-21 the way they do.

The veil over their heart needs to be removed.  Do not seek to be some polished debater, but one who can clearly present a loving God to sinners.  A God who falls on the necks of sinners with tears receiving them.  Teach them of a Savior who shed His blood to “purchase” them, and not “borrow” them as long as he or she proves worthy.  A person who is convinced that God receives sinners, and forgives them before they even lift a finger will see those so-called problem texts very differently.  The person will no longer be trying to sow on fig leaves of self-righteousness.  He will stand completely naked before God knowing that this God has received them right where they stand.  God will clothe them in righteousness that is apart from works of the law.  The realization that if we are righteous apart from the works of the law means that we can never be made dirty again by the law will change one’s perception of God.  They will no longer be working to please, but will work because he or she is already pleasing in His sight.  The one that lives slothfully will hear praises, and the one that works diligently will be hear praises.  If you do not agree with that then you clearly believe in a shallow god.  (See my short article ‘Pleasing 24/7).

As long as one imagines that the arms of God are folded with disgust then they will never approach such a God on the merits of Christ, but rather on their own merits.  No child feels comfortable around an angry parent, so no person would feel comfortable around a god that is constantly ticked off.  A parent who screams at you for not making A’s in school will petrify you every time you get a B.  Such is a description of the god of religion, and that is the perception that needs to be changed, and not their perception of James 2:14 or any other verse.

I might answer a verse or two they throw at me, but I will not enter a debate anymore.  I will merely give them the gospel that lifts up Christ, as I proclaim that through this man is preached the forgiveness of sins, and justification from all things.  Give them the gospel, and if they seek to remain argumentative and nasty is for you to walk away. 

To you that doubt your salvation are for you to change your perception of God, and no longer try to have every proof text of our opponents first answered.  Often people excuse unbelief because of some verse that terrorizes them.  They make excuses that they will believe only after they get a good answer.  Start with your perception of God and those verses that scare you will fall into place, as you will see that they are not the death threats religion has implied them to mean. 

17 comments:

  1. Hear, hear!

    For me personally, obtaining assurance was a long process, finally coming to a screeching halt upon discovering blogs such as yours and Jack’s. It’s amazing how many teachers/ministries I’ve shed since then.
    I think my greatest hindrance to having assurance was my own upbringing, my parents being very performance based, from behavior to grades. The hardest thing for me now is finding how to live between the two: my earthly parent vs. my Eternal Father - I’m tired and, frankly, resentful.

    I also appreciate the wisdom in your refusing to debate. You made many interesting points I’d not considered before. Makes perfect sense. Besides, Paul told us to abstain from debates anyway, no doubt because he knew it would only distract us from personally growing up in Christ.

    Thanks, Dave.

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  2. Hi Pearl,

    For most people, obtaining assurance is a long process, because they are often trying to have every question answered.

    However, you obtained assurance when you finally learned that God is the one that keeps you secure. Your perception of God changed, and not because you had a problem text answered first. You might have received some good answers concerning a particular problem verse(s), but you came to trust a loving embrace that never lets you go.

    Blessings,

    Dave

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  3. Aw man, great stuff bro. Dave, once again! I'm glad I didn't post before I read Pearl's response too, that was a blessing as well. One thing she said that really resonated was the fact that assurance was a process for her, as it was for me. I was about to mention a certain ministry that was a blessing at first but later turned to grief for me, but I'll leave them unnamed & just say along with Pearl that I've shed some ministries as well & it has been freeing. Your fleeing debate also is good, because there was a time in my perfectionistic thinking that if I could not win a debate, (I am terrible at debating, my mind goes blank & I get flustered) then I must not be mature in the faith, or worse. Anyway, my assurance is not in my faith but my Savior. You & this blog are a blessing to me, just as is bro. Jack & some others as Pearl mentioned. Thanks so much for these encouraging articles, please keep 'em coming! By the way, I posted a short one on my humble blog, check it out if you get a chance & lemme know whatcha thank! God Bless!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  4. Hello Brother David,

    Yes, coming to assurance in Christ is a process for many people, as it was certainly a long process for me.

    There are people who are gifted with debating, but losing a debate does not mean you lost the argument. If an atheist whooped you in a debate before others that God does not exist then who really won the argument?

    If a man argued with you that Jesus did not die, and his arguments convinced a large audience that he was right and not you, then who really won the argument about whether Jesus died or not?

    So many are so worried about being able to whoop their opponents, but all they really need to do is present the truth.

    If you were to debate Dr John MacArthur that Lordship Salvation is a fleshly works oriented religion, and he delivered a royal can of whooping on you then who really won the argument? John MacArthur won the argument before man, but David Wyatt won the argument before God.

    Just present the gospel to these people, and if they argue it away then simply wipe your feet and leave because you presented the truth. Your job is not to memorize the latest top 10 arguments. Those that love to debate are often those with the biggest heads, and that is probably why your mind goes blank because you are not that big headed man like they are.

    Lord bless you,

    Dave

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  5. I agree bro. Dave. You are right, truth is truth no matter how good someone tries to make error sound & vice versa. I appreciate your encouragement, obviously God has gifted you in this area! God Bless.

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  6. Indeed, to perceive the power that a certain text or statement or word bears, one has to consider first at least two things:

    1)Number one in priority is to consider on what assumption does that statement rest;

    and

    2) what are the implications that logically follow from it

    The assumption is always ultimately resting upon a certain kind of perception of God, since God is the context of all things. It is useless and a waste of time to argue with a person who has different context than yours by which he interprets all things.

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  7. Thanks for this page....it confirms my experience.

    Faith in God is NOT found in seeking to be sure that we are satisfying every scripture in the bible to please Him. Faith is the simple surrender to the God who IS GOOD ....and then living in the experience of the love, joy and peace that this relationship brings to us.

    Dismissing all the arguments of those who do not believe God is good (Heb 11:6)...and that the way of salvation is by God's grace alone, has only helped to confirm to me how GOOD He really is.... and how secure I am in His goodness.


    Is this TOO simple? (2 Cor 11:3)....It is in this simplicity that I find truth....and FREEDOM to walk as His Son.

    All the other options produce fear and bondage and cofusion
    Chris

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    1. Hello Chris,

      Thanks for visiting! You made very good points here and they were much appreciated. I like what someone said before, "The bible is so simple that we need theologians to complicate it." Religion/theologians makes faith difficult, as they consider our faith as "easy believism," but they fail to see that they stumble over the simplicity that is in Christ. Faith is only difficult when it is focused in what it sees, feels, or hears from religionists, as they are obsessed with performance and sins, and this is why they have their own set of tests that they believe proves whether one is saved or not causing one fear, confusion, and bondage. Faith against hope believes in hope. It looks past what it sees, feels, and what it hears from religion/flesh and beholds the love, grace, and goodness of God.

      Thanks for sharing!

      Lord bless,

      Dave

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  8. This is a fascinating article. I'm a great fence sitter regarding this issue. Having been raised in a very strict Weslyan doctrine, it is almost impossible to escape the guilt that many--just like me--feel, from the long held traditional teaching in Holiness churches pertaining to sin. Could this issue sometimes be a matter of semantics? Those items a Baptist might label as sin, the Methodists label as "err". This obviously may not account for all err/sin, but it's a thought. Do Baptists believe they cannot live without sinning and do Holiness folks believe that can live without sinning? Even though I attend a Baptist church and I "get it", I also see the other side as well and I get *that, too. I would love to hear a modern day debate between a John Wesley and a John Calvin. :)

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    1. Hello Kimberly,

      Thanks for your comments!

      I personally would not listen to a debate between Wesley and Calvin as I believe they both erred concerning the truth. I see both arguing a man-made religious system according to what they believe is logical. I have seen Calvinism debates before where they begin with the first point of Calvinism and will seek to go through each point. Arminians tend to do the same. I found the arguments never seem to change as nothing original ever comes out at the debates.

      I believe eternal security is the result of the work of Christ and not something we offer to the finished work of Christ (our repentance, believing, insane efforts to remain faithful). I view Jesus as our surety and not my contributions to that. Faith is beholding a reality and immediately enjoying its benefits.

      It is a long discussion for me to try and bring up here in the comment section, but my blog is devoted to hopefully answering many of the things that plague the minds of believers today.

      All I know is the constant debating of OSAS versus Conditional Salvation has gotten to the point that it now bores me. Others like it but it has now caused me to roll my eyes when I see two people debating it. Years back, I used to debate heavily this very topic, but I found my Weslayan opponents remained loyal to their faith while those on the other side remained loyal to their faith. I eventually viewed the debates as a waste of time. As my faith and understanding grew over time was to see the debates are based upon a meritorious view of salvation often on both sides of the issue.

      Thanks for commenting!

      Dave

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  9. I think I am addicted to your site, I am browsing through all these articles haha. '

    Going back to your article, this was an awesome article. I use to get so mad when I will argue with people over eternal security and I will have so much bitterness. I remember when God revealed to me,that when someone is true, then you do not need to argue. I stopped arguing with people over the fact that you cannot lose your salvation. I love that you mentioned perception, because that is what it really is. The thing about perception is that it becomes your reality, even if it is not true.

    In a way Dave, I think that people has been so burned out by religion that they look at God as Man. They have been forsaken for so long, that it is hard for them to comprehend that a loving God will never leave them or forsake them. It is hard for them to understand that Salvation is a free gift and you did nothing to earn it and therefore, you cannot do nothing to keep it.

    I hear often "Yes salvation is free BUT there is a lifetime to keep it." How in the world does that make sense? If Jesus chose us before the foundation of the world,is he not able to maintain what he chose?

    I do not walk around in fear, I am ONE with the Father, God loves me and I am in heaven everyday because I have His presence.

    Mt heart breaks for those that believe you can lose your salvation, God loves them so much and He wants them to know that there is nothing they can do to separate themselves from Him. If you Hate him, he loves you, If you curse Him, He'll bless you. If you run away, He seeks you! There is no escaping His love.

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    1. Hello Mike,

      I love your last paragraph:

      "Mt heart breaks for those that believe you can lose your salvation, God loves them so much and He wants them to know that there is nothing they can do to separate themselves from Him. If you Hate him, he loves you, If you curse Him, He'll bless you. If you run away, He seeks you! There is no escaping His love."

      I stopped arguing too with them. They hate the light and will not come to the light. The light is truth and they rather believe a lie. I simply try to present to them the gospel as their perception of God is flawed. If their god is ticked off, unforgiving, and withdrawn then no matter what I say will not penetrate the veil they have erected. I merely give them the gospel and pray that God will open their eyes.

      Yes, many are burning out and even turning to atheism to be free of such a horrible god as found in religion. I believe atheists are a step closer to the truth than religious people because they finally told the god of religion to take a flying leap and now they need to hear about the God of all grace. Also, people today are challenging tradition they were raised to believe and many are now embracing the pure grace gospel and it is transforming them.

      You said:

      "Yes salvation is free BUT there is a lifetime to keep it."

      I was taught years ago that when someone throws a "but" into the sentence is when you can disregard everything they said before that word "but." What they really believe will follow that word. It also reminds me of what one preacher said not that long ago. He said, "What comes out of a 'but' is do-do." It is free BUT do this and do that sort of nonsense.

      I do appreciate your comments!

      Blessings,

      Dave

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  10. You are welcome man,this is life changing¡

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  11. Gary, Part One of Two

    I did not post your comment because you clearly are using my blog to advance your beliefs. I will not post links that support what I believe is a departure from the gospel. I also do not post links that promote religion.

    Do I think that it is a problem that there is no evidence in the Early Church of “once saved always saved”? No, unless I want to base my beliefs off of the inconsistent ante-Nicene fathers. I would ask you if you have a problem knowing that 4 out of 6 schools taught universalism in the first few centuries? They were not condemned by people until around the 5th century if my memory is correct. I am not a universalist but they also appeal to early church history as well and have “very” early dates supporting their beliefs. Sounds like eternal security to me but it simply was not called that back then. Soul sleep is another belief too that religion claims was a belief of the early church. Cults appeal to the early church. Roman Catholics use the early church. Dispensationalists use the early church as proof. You will not find this blog of mine preaching early church because I do not care if they do support me or do not support me.

    I think it is a real shame that people are busy basing their beliefs off of “man” and not scripture and that was behind this blog. I do know that Paul was sharing a universal departure taking place in his day from the faith. Paul said “all they in Asia be turned away from me.” When I read early church writings that seems quite evident in many of their writings. Their writings are not the holy script and I hope you know that!

    Not sure what your point is about sinner’s prayer and altar call that I already view as nonsense. You are barking up the wrong tree here. My blog does not support such things or teach it. You are only arguing what you “feel” proves your case. You and the early church fathers are never the final word in authority. Having people pray a prayer is not the gospel period.

    OK, they stopped reading the bible but who was reading the bible during Paul’s days? Did the Gentiles walk around with a pocket NT with the words of Christ in red? You sound as though you have a very legal view of the gospel which would make it no gospel at all. You seem to somehow know the hearts of these so-called believers who became child molesters but I thought God can only see the heart. Basically, your whole message was based on what “you” see in others and what “you” feel. Robert Tilton quotes scripture, prays, preaches, and witnesses but that makes that him a believer?

    End of Part One

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    1. Part Two of Two to Gary:

      Never heard a “get-into-heaven-free” card because it does not come from the bible. I have heard that we have been justified FREELY (without a cause) by Jesus Christ in Romans 3. He gave His life a ransom for all!! God concluded all in unbelief so that He might have mercy upon all. What a gracious and great God we serve!

      Hmm, a believer ends up in hell? I did not know that hell was an after death experience. Never heard Gehenna as described as a place where every “dead” person goes. I only see physical descriptions about body and soul (physical life) being cast into it as it was limited to a place, people, and time. I never seen a single person worrying about themselves or anyone else in their family from dying and going to such a place. I have seen Luke 16 that was "hades" twisted by religion. I never seen Paul preach on hell in the next life either. I do see Paul saying that all will be made alive in Christ. Amazing how the Corinthians lived in such a way that showed absolutely no worry about losing salvation. Amazing how Paul never warned them that they were on the brink of losing it either.

      I am not a Calvinist so I cannot help what you think the Calvinist so-called started. You shared nothing scriptural with me but only a list of opinions and yet you claim the Calvinists belief on eternal security are not scriptural. You need to talk to a Calvinist about that as you have issues with them. I do speak for them. I do believe your beliefs are a direct attack upon Christ and what He accomplished and applied. If there were anything to fear in the next life then I would not want to stand within 100 feet of you. However, God is not imputing sin and He loves you dearly. You were on His mind before the fall of Adam. It is a shame that you have reduced God to a "god" who shows less love and ability than a human parent.

      I would like to share the gospel with you but not sure if you will hear it. I believe this is your second attempt at leaving your contradictory beliefs at my site as the last one was all about infant baptism that had "nothing" to do with anything I said on my blog on 1st Peter 3. If you are simply an internet troll then find a site that promotes the insecurity you desire. I'm here to help people be free of religion and not have them dive into its mire again.

      Please keep your Lutherism to your blog site as it will not be posted here. Jesus did not come to give us religion but liberty.

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  12. Can you interpret (exegete) Matthew 18:15-20 regarding church discipline and why this would be needed by the church?

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    1. Hello Bob,

      I will answer your question probably this weekend. I have been working long hours and have not had much time for the Internet. Get back to you soon.

      Blessings,

      Dave

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