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The Eternal Security of the Believer

by Hy. Pickering (1858-1941)

Hy PickeringWe believe that the Bible sets forth the eternal security of the believer. A fivefold view will cover the many portions of Scripture which give the believer in Christ grounds for assurance as to the present possession of eternal life, and an entrance into the heavenly Kingdom.

1. The Nature of God

"As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God ... which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13).

The spring of the new life to which the believer has the power, right, or privilege, lies solely in God. Here in this first mention of the "new birth" it is made plain that it is brought about (1) "not of blood," that is, not by descent; (2) "nor of the will of the flesh," that is, not by desire; (3) "nor of the will of man," not by human power; (4) "but of God," for God's "born ones" enter by the new birth into the family of God—new birth being the communication of the divine nature by believing on His Name. "Believing on His Name" is in contrast to His own people Israel who "received Him not" (vs. 2), and is the distinguishing mark from a mere conviction of the mind.

A mortal man can only convey that which is mortal; that which is born of God—the Eternal God—can only pertain to that which is eternal. Hence, the very nature of God assures the believer that "whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world" (I John
5:4), and all so born shall be "more than conquerors through Him that loved us" (Rom. 8:37). That of which they are born is "incorruptible," so like it they shall "live and abide for ever" (I Peter 1:23).

Besides, the believer is "born of the Spirit" (John 3:6), and the Spirit takes up His abode in every regenerated soul, not on conditions, or for a season, but as the Master promised to His disciples, "He will abide with you for ever" (John 14:16). A spirit-filled believer in the Lake of Fire is an unthinkable proposition!

2. THE CHARACTER OF GOD

"Verily verily, I say unto you. He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).

The honor of the Father and the Son is interwoven into these wondrous words of life (vss. 20-23). To the believer a threefold assurance based on the character of God is given in this statement of the Son.

As to the past—he "is passed from death unto life." He stands on resurrection ground, entirely beyond death's sway. As truly as Lazarus was dead, and at the voice of Christ was made alive, so truly every child of God "is passed" out of the death condition into the life condition. As Lazarus knew he was alive, so ever believer should know that he has everlasting life.

As to the present—"Hath everlasting life." No hopes to have, may have if he holds on, will have if he endures to the end, but the moment he accepts Christ he becomes the actual and present possessor of "everlasting life"; that which lasts, not for years, but for ever and ever.

As to the future—"He shall not come into condemnation" or judgment. Jesus says, "My sheep hear My voice ... and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish" (John 10:27-28). "Those that Thou gavest Me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled" (John 17:12). The keeping of the believer for eternal glory depends not on himself, but on the great Giver. Judas, the son of perdition, is cited. As he was never born again, he was a "thief" (John 12:6), and a "demon" (John 6:70), and "went to his own place." But the keeping of every truly born again believer is assured by the Giver and Receiver—"All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them" (vs. 10).

Well said the aged saint, when it was suggested that after all he might lose his soul, "Well, I would be a great loser, but God would be a greater. I would lose my sol, but God would lose His character."

Thus, if one child of God were lost, God would lose His character, Christ would lose His glory, and the Scriptures would be unfulfilled.

3. The Justice of God

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). In this climax chapter of Romans there is a threefold cord of assurance for the saint based on the justice of God.

1. No condemnation (vs. 1) An absolute statement without limitation or restriction. If Christ was condemned on the cross instead of me, and I have accepted Him as my Saviour and Substitute, then there can be no condemnation for me.

Payment God will not twice demand,
First at my bleeding Surety's hand,
And then again at mine.

2. No accusation—"Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect?" (vs. 33). Omitting the italics "it is," the query is raised, "God that justifieth?" Will God who has justified a sinner through faith in the blood of His Son lay nay charge against the justified one? Justice cries, "Nay."

Then for the second time—'"Who is He that condemneth?" (vs. 34), comes the query, "Christ that died?" Will a Saviour Who loved me enough to die for me at last condemn me? The very Judge Himself has borne the judgment that was due to me. Is it likely that the Judge Who bore my sins will exact the penalty from me when He sits on the judgment seat? Justice cries doubly, "Nay."

3. No separation—Who "shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (vs. 39).

Thus, if there is no condemnation in the present, judicial accusation in the future, and no separation in time or eternity, what greater confirmation of verse 30—"whom He justified, them He also glorified." Not half, nor three-quarters, nor the faithful, nor only the enduring ones, but every sinner "justified by faith" (Rom. 5:1) shall assuredly be glorified together with Him.

Resting on the justice of God I have the living receipt in the Person of the Lord Jesus seated at "the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Heb. 1:3). "Delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification: (Rom. 4:25). If God were not satisfied with what Christ did on the cross, He would still be in the grave. He is risen; therefore, God is satisfied, and the throne is filled.

A Dundee woman appeared at a police office one morning and paid the fine her husband had incurred in connection with some simple offense. After paying the thirty shillings, or whatever the sum was, and leaving the office, she remembered she had no receipt, and wondered if she might not have to pay again. Returning to the officer at the bar, she asked for a receipt. he simply smiled, and replied, Your husband at liberty is receipt enough that the fine has been paid."

It is a just and righteous act of God to set one who has believed on His Son in the glory, for God's character and my salvation stand or fall together. So we rightly sing:

Since Christ has died, and risen, and gone above,
For us to plead at the right hand of Love,
Who shall condemn us now?

4. The Sovereignty of God

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate... Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified; and whom he justified, them he also glorified." (Rom. 8:29-30).

Whatever differences of judgment there may be amongst Bible students us to the doctrine of election or predestination, all agree that God is Sovereign, that God has a plan in dealing with the sons of men and the affairs of the earth, that that plan is not thwarted by the upheavals of nations, or the vacillations of individuals, and that though we find it difficult to understand, and more difficult to explain, it ever abides true, "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose." (vs. 28). Ephesians 1:9 lets us into the secret of the source of "His purpose" when it says "Which He purposed in Himself." the fivefold link of "His purpose" holds together: (1) Foreknew. (2) Predestinated. (3) Called. (4) Justified. (5) Glorified. Every one included in 1, 2, 3, and 4 must certainly be included in 5. If one "foreknown" and "called" of God were to fall away and be lost
for ever, it would be a violation of "His purpose," and a break in the chain of the Sovereign electing love of God.

Was it any wonder that the aged prisoner of the Lord, nearing the journey's end, rejoicing in God "who hath saved us ... according to His own purpose and grace," Wrote these words of certainty, "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
(II Tim. 1:9, 12). So could say his dearly beloved son, Timothy, so can say every true child of God. "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: " (Phil. 1 :6). God begins—God finishes. Wherein can failure come?

5. The Love of God

I am persuaded that neither (1) death, (2) nor life, (3) nor angels, (4) nor principalities, (5) nor powers, (6) nor things present. (7) nor things to come, (8) nor height, (9) nor depth, (10) nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38, 39).

It used to be a common query to young converts, "To what persuasion do you belong?" Meaning, which of the denominations had you joined. A good answer used to be given, "To Paul's persuasion." Could any believer have a better fixity of mind than that given in the verses quoted!

Think of the items named for a moment, and recall what "dividers" they are.

1. "DEATH." First on the list, widest in area, longest in practice, and greatest of all causes of separation. How sudden and unexpected it made its appearance in the early persecuting days of Paul's persuasion. Why! Paul himself was "in deaths oft" (II Cor. 11 :23)—stoned at Lystra (Acts 14:19); well nigh drowned in the sea (Acts 27:20); poisoned in Malta (Acts 28:6); with wild beasts at Ephesus (I Cor. 15:32); with infuriated Jews at Damascus (Acts 9:24), and in many other ways. Nay, at last death severed the aged Apostle from his loved brethren on earth (II Tim. 4:8), but all the "deaths oft" in life, and the Roman's executioners axe at last could not "separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus."

2. "LIFE" with all its rub and scrub, its changes and delays, is a great divider. Where are the companions of our childhood, the fellows of our youth, and to us who are
joining the ranks of "Paul the aged," where are the many brethren and sisters who have worshipped with us for years? Scattered over the five continents of earth, or
called to higher service in heaven. As the end of the journey is reached we have more friends on "the other side" than here, yet we continue to sing,

Earthly friends do fade and leave us,
One day soothe, the next day grieve us:
But this FRIEND will never leave us:
Oh, how He loves.

And no dividing on earth will be able to part us from God's love in Christ Jesus.

3. "Angels" or "Messengers." Little information have we of angelic beings. There are good angels and bad angels, ascending and descending angels, preserving and
destroying angels, humble and princely angels, elect and fallen angels, angels of churches, angels of children, and hosts more, but one thing is certain, no angelic power, not even "an innumerable company of angels" (Heb. 12:22), can separate one trusting soul from the Saviour Whom he trusts.

On the contrary, when the Devil, who could not get Moses alive, sought his dead body. Michael the archangel said what amounted to, "No, Devil, you could not get him
in life, and you shall not have him in death. So with us."Whether we live or die, we are the Lords" precious possessions."

From "Grace and Truth" Vol. XI, May 1933 (No. 5). Issued monthly by The Denver Bible Institute, Colorado.

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