assurance of salvation
The Bible affirms that all who remain in the faith of Jesus Christ will be saved and that nothing will ever be removed from them by the hand of Christ. The Bible emphasizes the infinite fidelity of the Lord and the absolute sufficiency of Jesus Christ for our salvation. It also emphasizes the everlasting love of God for all peoples, calling the gospel the power of God for the salvation of all who believe. In the possession of this certainty of salvation, the believer is invited to remain firm in the faith and to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (John 10,27-29, 2, Corinthians 1,20-22, 2, Timothy 1,9, 1, Corinthians 15,2, Hebrews 6,4-6, John 3,16, Romans 1,16, Hebrews 4,14, 2, Peter 3,18)
What about "eternal security?"
The doctrine of "eternal security" is called "perseverance of the saints" in theological language. In common parlance it is described with the phrase "once saved, always saved", or "once a Christian, always a Christian".
Many scriptures give us a certainty that we already have salvation, though we must wait for the resurrection to finally inherit eternal life and the kingdom of God. Here are some of the terms that the New Testament uses:
Whoever believes has eternal life (John 6,47) ... whoever sees the son and believes in him has eternal life; and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6,40) ... and I give them eternal life and they will never perish, and no one will tear them out of my hand (John 10,28) ... So there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8,1) ... [Nothing] can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Romans 8,39) ... [Christ] will also keep you firmly to the end (1 Corinthians 1,8) ... But God is faithful, who does not let you try over your strength (1 Corinthians 10,13) ... who has started the good work in you, he will also complete it (Philippians 1,6) ... We know that we came into life from death (1 John 3,14).
The doctrine of eternal security is based on such assurances. But there is another side that concerns salvation. There also seem to be warnings that Christians may fall at the mercy of God.
Christians are warned: "Whoever thinks he is standing may see that he does not fall" (1 Corinthians 10,12). Jesus said: "Watch and pray that you will not be tempted!" (Mark 14,28), and «love will cool in many» (Matthew 24,12). The apostle Paul wrote that some in the church “believe in
Have suffered a shipwreck » (1 Timothy 1,19). The church in Ephesus was warned that Christ would remove her candlestick and spew the lukewarm Laodiceans out of his mouth. The admonition in Hebrews 10,26: 31 is particularly terrible:
«Because if we sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, we have no other sacrifice for sins, but nothing more than a terrible wait for judgment and the greedy fire that the adversaries will consume. If someone breaks the law of Moses, he must die without mercy on two or three witnesses. How much harsher punishment do you think will earn those who trample on the Son of God and think that the blood of the covenant is unclean, by which he was sanctified, and revile the spirit of grace? Because we know him who said: Revenge is mine, I want to repay, and again: The Lord will judge his people. It is terrible to fall into the hands of the living God. »
Also Hebrew 6,4-6 gives us to consider:
«Because it is impossible for those who have once been enlightened and tasted, given the heavenly gift and share in the Holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the future world and then have fallen away to renew again for repentance , because they crucify the Son of God again for themselves and make fun of it. »
So there is a duality in the New Testament. Many verses are positive about the eternal salvation that we have in Christ. This salvation seems safe. But such verses are softened by a few warnings that seemingly state that Christians can lose their salvation through persistent unbelief.
Since the question of eternal salvation or whether Christians are safe - that is, once they are saved, they are always saved - usually arises because of such scriptures as Hebrews 10,26: 31, so let's take a closer look at this passage. The question is how should we interpret these verses. To whom does the author write, and what is the nature of the "unbelief" of the people and what have they adopted?
Let us first look at the message of the letter to the Hebrews as a whole. The essence of this book is the need to believe in Christ as a fully sufficient sacrifice for sins. There are no competitors. Faith must be based on it alone. The last verse of this chapter clarifies the question of the possible loss of salvation that verse 26 evokes: "But we are not of those who back away and are condemned, but of those who believe and save the soul" (V.26). Some back away, but those who remain in Christ cannot be lost.
The same assurance for the faithful can be found in the verses before Hebrews 10,26. Christians are confident of being in God's presence through the blood of Jesus (V.19). We can approach God in perfect faith (V.22). The author exhorts Christians in the following words: “Let us hold on to the confession of hope and not waver; because he is faithful who promised her » (V.23).
One way to understand these verses in Hebrews 6 and 10 about “falling away” is to give readers hypothetical scenarios to encourage them to stand firm in their beliefs. For example, let's look at Hebrews 10,19:39. Through Christ, the people he speaks to have "freedom to enter the sanctuary" (V.19). You can "step up to God" (V.22). The author sees these people as "who hold on to the confession of hope" (V.23). He wants to incite them to love even more and to believe (V.24).
As part of this encouragement, he paints a picture of what might happen - hypothetically according to the theory mentioned - who "willfully insist on sin" (V.26). Even so, the people he addresses are those who were "enlightened" and who remained faithful during the persecution (Vv. 32-33). They put their "trust" in Christ and the author encourages them to persevere in faith (Vv. 35-36). Finally he says of the people to whom he writes that we are not of those who back away and are condemned, but of those who believe and save the soul » (V.39).
Let us also note how the author ends his warning about "falling away from faith" in Hebrews 6,1: 8: "Although we speak like this, dear ones, we are nevertheless convinced that it will be better with you and you will be saved . Because God is not unjust to forget your work and the love that you have shown in his name by serving and still serving the saints » (Vv. 9-10). The author goes on to say that he told them these things so that they "show the same eagerness to keep hope to the end" (V.11).
Hypothetically speaking, it is possible to speak of a situation in which a person who had genuine faith in Jesus can lose it. But if it were not possible, would the warning be appropriate and effective?
Can Christians lose their faith in the real world? Christians can "fall away" in the sense that they commit sins (1 John 1,8: 2,2). They can become mentally sluggish in certain situations. But does this sometimes lead to a "falling away" for those who have real faith in Christ? This is not entirely clear from Scripture. Indeed, we can ask how someone can be "real" in Christ and "fall away" at the same time.
The position of the church, as expressed in the beliefs, is that never can people who have the enduring faith that God has given to Christ be torn from his hand. In other words, when a person's faith is focused on Christ, he or she can not be lost. As long as Christians hold this confession of their hope, their salvation is secure.
The question about the doctrine of "once saved, always saved" has to do with whether we can lose our faith in Christ. As mentioned earlier, the letter to the Hebrews seems to describe people who had at least initial "faith" but who could be in danger of losing it.
But this proves the point we made in the previous paragraph. The only way to lose salvation is to reject the only way to salvation - faith in Jesus Christ.
The letter to the Hebrews deals primarily with the sin of unbelief in God's work of salvation, which he accomplished through Jesus Christ (see e.g. Hebrews 1,2: 2,1; 4: 3,12-14; 3,19: 4,3; 4,14;). Hebrews, Chapter 10, dramatically addresses this question in verse 19, noting that we have freedom and full confidence through Jesus Christ.
Verse 23 exhorts us to adhere to the confession of our hope. We certainly know the following: As long as we hold on to the confession of our hope, we are quite sure and can not lose our salvation. This confession includes our faith in Christ's reconciliation for our sins, our hope for new life in him, and our continued faithfulness to him in this life.
It is often not clear to those who use the slogan "once saved, always saved" what they mean by it. This wording does not mean that a person was saved simply because he or she said a few words about Christ. People are saved when they receive the Holy Spirit, when they are born again into a new life in Christ. True faith is demonstrated by faithfulness to Christ, which means that we no longer live for ourselves but for the Redeemer.
The bottom line is that we are safe in Christ as long as we continue to live in Jesus (Hebrews 10,19: 23). We have the full certainty of faith in him because it is he who saves us. We don't have to worry and ask the question. "Will I be able to do it?" In Christ we have security - we belong to him and we are saved, and nothing can be taken from his hand.
The only way we can get lost is to kick our blood, and decide that we do not need it in the end and that we are self-sufficient. If that were the case, we would not worry about our salvation anyway. As long as we remain faithful in Christ, we have the assurance that he will complete the work that he has begun in us.
The comforting thing is this: we don't have to worry about our salvation and say, "What happens if I fail?" We have already failed. It is Jesus who saves us and he does not fail. Can we fail to accept it? Yes, but as spirit-led Christians we have not failed to accept it. Once we have accepted Jesus, the Holy Spirit lives in us, who transforms us into his image. We have joy, not fear. We are at peace, not afraid.
If we believe in Jesus Christ, we stop worrying about whether we "can do it". He "made it" for us. We rest in it. We stop worrying. We have faith and trust him, not ourselves. Therefore, the question of whether we can lose our salvation no longer plagues us. Why? Because we believe Jesus' work on the cross and his resurrection is all we need.
God does not need our perfection. We need His, and He gave it to us as a free gift through faith in Christ. We will not fail because our salvation does not depend on us.
In summary, the Church believes that those who remain in Christ cannot be lost. You are "forever safe". But it depends on what people mean when they say "once saved, always saved".
As far as the doctrine of predestination is concerned, we can summarize the church's position in a few words. We do not believe that God has always determined who will be lost and who will not. It is the Church's view that God will make fair and just provision for all those who have not received the gospel in this life. Such people will be judged on the same basis as us, that is, whether they place their faithfulness and faith in Jesus Christ.