The Eternal Security of Believers (Part 1)

Jesus declared - "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand" (John 10:27-29).

This is one passage (of many) that is a favorite of those who affirm that once a person is saved he will always be saved. They believe it is impossible for such a one to later be lost. They claim this teaching is founded, in part, on the very words of Jesus Himself when He stated - "I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand." If one can never perish, then his salvation is secure, right? If no one can steal such a one away from God, then his salvation is secure, right?

Well, that's how the argument goes, but is it sound? If someone receives the gift of eternal life from Christ, is there nothing he can do to forfeit that gift? What if he later becomes a murderer, a rapist, or an idolater, and what if he impenitently refuses to turn from those sins? Is it possible for such a one to perish in sin or does the grace of God cover everything--no matter what--for an heir of eternal life? Is it possible for such a one to voluntarily leave Christ and walk away from the faith (which is a far cry from being snatched out of the Father's hand by the adversary)?

There are many arguments and Scriptures that can be marshaled for both sides of this issue, but both views cannot be correct even though they appeal to the Bible and reason. One's salvation is either secure conditionally or unconditionally; there is no third option.

We should begin by defining: What is meant by security? Security is a condition of being safe; it pertains to certainty and confidence. I believe the Scriptures affirm that the salvation of believers is secure. It is safe and certain. But is such confidence conditional or unconditional? Let us consider some important Biblical truths as we seek to answer that question.

1. The Bible affirms the believer is KEPT and PROTECTED.
Jude 24 teaches that God is able to keep believers from stumbling - "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy." I Peter 1:3-5 states that believers are kept (i.e., protected) by the power of God through faith - "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." In II Timothy 4:18, Paul proclaimed the certainty of God's continuing help - "And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom."

2. Jesus indeed is ACTIVE in intercessory work.
In John 17:15, Jesus prayed that God would keep believers from the devil - "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one." Paul stated in Romans 8:34 - "It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us." Clearly, Christ is not idle but continues to make intercession for believers. We can see an example of this in the past from Luke 22:31,32 - "And the Lord said, 'Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.'" Hebrews 7:25 affirms that Jesus lives to make intercession for believers - "Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them." We learn from I John 2:1 that Jesus is an Advocate with the Father for believers - "My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous."

We will continue this study in our next lesson.