Eternal security simply means everlasting salvation or "eternal redemption" as seen in Hebrews 9:12 that Christ obtained for the believer when He entered into Heaven for us by His own blood. It is that happy restful assurance that the believer has in knowing that he or she is saved forever.
Those that put their trust in the finished redemptive work of the cross when Christ shed His blood to make salvation not only possible but perpetual are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). He "abides" (John 14:16) for ever. The intercessory work of Christ makes this actual (Heb. 7:25) since He lives forever to make it real.
When one understands the nature of salvation as of God and the impossibility of the sinner ever saving himself or keeping himself saved, he can readily believe in the wonderful truth of eternal security in our Lord Jesus Christ. It is not only a reality but a necessity. It is always anchored in Christ and never in one's worth or ability.
I. The Nature of Salvation.
- It is of the Lord (John 3:16-18, Psalm 37:39; Jonah 2:9).
God designed salvation, ordained it, and brought it to pass when He gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins. Apart from Him there is no salvation. We do attribute it to Him.
- It is "eternal", a "gift of God", and comes to us through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:23; I John 2:25; Titus 1:2).
God's salvation lasts for ever. It is the opposite of eternal death which is a result of the wages of sin. Wages are earned but eternal life is not earned in any way. It is a gift of God to the believer through the finished work of Christ on the cross. He paid the sinner's death penalty and set him free. He died as his substitute. Consequently,
God can give it to the believer free of any charge.
- It is by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8).
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God" (Eph. 2:8; Rom. 3:22). "Grace" implies that which is not deserved. A sinner does not merit salvation because he is a sinner. Salvation is absolutely free. It is given without any recompense.
- It is based on the shed blood of Christ (Rom. 3:25; 5:9).
God has always indicated that salvation was based on a blood sacrifice from the days of Abel and throughout the Old Testament. "Without shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb. 9:22). It totally makes salvation apart from anything that man can do for it. It is altogether the provision of God.
- It is not by any works of righteousness (Titus 3:5-6).
A sinner has no righteousness of his own. The Bible says that "There is none righteous, no, not one." What could be more conclusive? What could be said more distinctly than, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy, he saved us."
- Sins are forgiven (Eph. 1:7).
The riches of God's grace provides redemption, which means all sins are forgiven. He does not hold any sin against the believer for the debt was paid by our Lord Jesus Christ so that forgiveness can be granted.
- Christ's intercessory work guarantees it (Heb. 7:25).
Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father to make our salvation eternally good. His being there makes good what He did. The resurrection of Christ proves our justification.
- The Holy Spirit seals the believer for ever (Eph. 1:13).
The believer is born of the Spirit and indwelled by the Spirit who abides forever (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit is the seal and determines God's ownership. The believer is set off by God for Himself for eternity. Consequently, Christians are held inviolable by being sealed with the Spirit and do not lose salvation but are predestined for Heaven.
- It is not based on works or the deeds of the law since all are sinners (Rom. 3:23, 28; Gal. 3:11-13).
The law only tells one that he is a sinner because he has broken it. The law was added because of transgressions and marks one as guilty. Any one law that is broken makes one guilty of all (James 2:10).
- The believer is kept by the power of God (I Pet. 1:5).
II. The Believer's Response to Salvation.
Since salvation is given to the believer through faith in Jesus Christ and the believer is given righteousness without meriting it both as to its inception and retention, what should he do? Salvation by grace does not imply sinning because of grace.
- The believer in Christ is to maintain good works (Tit. 3:8).
This is not to maintain his salvation, but because he is saved. Works is a product of salvation and not a means to obtain it nor retain it.
- The believer in Christ is told to sin no more (I John 2:1; 3:10).
God's free grace does not mean freedom to sin. Freedom from the bondage to sin gives one the liberty to live in righteousness and to serve God as one ought. The Bible teaches that we should not live in sin that grace may abound (Rom. 6:1-4).
- The believer is to confess sin when he does sin (I John 1:9).
The blood of Christ has made an atonement for the believer's sins past, present, and future. When the believer sins, he does not lose salvation nor break the relationship with God but he does lose fellowship which can be restored by confession of sin. This is not a license to sin but the protection from being lost again and the joy of remaining in fellowship with God.
- The child of God responds with a life under the power and control of the Spirit (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:16, 25).
The Spirit of God that indwells with the new birth empowers the believer to live a righteous life. To be filled with the Spirit is a command of God and each one is responsible to so live so that he is without excuse.
- To be a witness for Christ is the command of our Lord Jesus Christ before He ascended (Acts 1:8; Mt. 5:13-16).
It is good to know that we have been saved to serve our Lord Jesus Christ by our manner of life and to be a witness for Him. Every Christian should be able to at least do that. The Lord needs every believer to be a witness for Him. We are called the salt of the earth and a light to the world. Without our witness, sinners will stay lost and never hear of the Saviour nor understand the way of salvation. All believers should learn how to lead lost souls to Jesus. The Holy Spirit was given by our Lord as He promised that we might have power to be a witness. We have no excuse.
- The believer should respond to salvation by yielding His life to God and by presenting his body to Him (Rom. 6:11; 12:1-2).
The very least one can do in appreciation of the mercy of God for salvation is to yield the body to the control of the Holy Spirit and to so present the body to God as to live a transformed life. We are not to be conformed to the world.
Our manner of life comes from a change of heart wrought by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. A Christian that understands God's way of salvation knows that He lives for God not to keep saved but because he is saved.
- A believer should attend church faithfully as the Word of God dictates (Heb. 10:25).
It is Christ's church. It is built by Him and He is the Head of the church and its message. In attending church, one shows he believes in Christ and wants to be associated with Him and His people.
- In response to salvation, one should live in the expectancy of Christ's coming (II Pet. 3:11-14; I John 3:1-3).
Christ is our only hope for the future. Apart from Him, the future is hopeless. We should live in light of His imminent return.
- To live in obedience to the Word of God is to show that one believes that it is faith that saves, but obedience that shows one is saved (Mt. 4:4; Col. 3:16; James 1:21-22).
A good example is natural child birth. After the child is born it learns obedience and not conversely. It is also true of the new birth.
- One responds to salvation by staying in fellowship with God (I John 1:3-7).
Fellowship may be broken while relationship remains. A believer will always be a child of God, but can lose fellowship with Him if sin intervenes and the line of prayer is broken.
From Quarterly Notes, vol. 12, no. 3, "Bible Study," by Al Troester. Used with permission of author.