Summary: Proof of conditional eternal security based on John 10:28.
9/21/2008 Intercession City
Growing up in the church world, often times, it is as if we are given a list of the “right” choices in life, the “right” responses to objections of the world, the “right” things to say. We live with this list of “talking points” (explain) ; what to say in this situation, what to do if this happens, how to respond to this objection. This is all great if the situation or the person objecting follows the line of questioning or reasoning that we have been trained to respond to. However, it rarely works out that way. So it was with me and the doctrines of eternal security.
Christian friends and some very skillful pastor we sat under, over time, began to bring up the topic of eternal security. They would mention how that if you were ever saved one time then no matter what you were going to Heaven. They were teaching the doctrine of unconditional eternal security. I would enter into conversations with these people, using the “talking points” I had been given my whole life (in support of conditional eternal security). However, I was less than convincing when talking about this subject; because, I was just reciting what I had always been taught. It wasn’t really a subject I had studied for myself. It was something I believed, without really knowing why I believed it.
As Christians the only way to know the truth, to be fully equipped to respond to oppositions to our beliefs, is to study God’s Word for yourself. A lot of times, when we study the word of God, we read it through a certain set of lenses. We read it through the lens of what we have always been taught, or what our particular denomination believes, or we do not read it at all, we just rely on the pastors weekly teaching and “whatever he says goes”. It is probably hard for you to believe, but I have been in the church long enough to know that, get ready for it, that pastors make mistakes (intentional and unintentional). They are human too. The only way to know the truth is to study, with an open mind/heart/eyes, God’s Word for yourself.
There are two views of eternal security, unconditional and conditional. There are good, Godly, Christian people that believe both ways. Unconditional eternal security is the belief that once a person is saved he is always saved and can never “backslide”, or become unsaved; and that no matter how a person lives his life God will take him to Heaven. I was talking to one friend who believes this way. I gave him the following scenario, a “what if?”, “I was saved as a young boy when, I was 12, now I am 25, and I hate God, love Satan, want to go to Hell, what happens”. His response was that I would go to Heaven, because I had at one time accepted Christ as my Savior (what about ‘free will’?). You can see the potential danger of this doctrine of unconditional eternal security.
As Wesleyan-Arminians, and more particularly, the Wesleyan church, we believe in the conditional eternal security. This quote is taken directly from the Wesleyan core values statement:
“234. We believe that after we have experienced regeneration, it is possible to fall into sin, for in this life there is no such height or strength of holiness from which it is impossible to fall. But by the grace of God one who has fallen into sin may by true repentance and faith find forgiveness and restoration.”
What I present to you this morning is the first results of the beginning of my study concerning the doctrine of eternal security. My attempt to explain why I believe what I believe; based on God’s Word alone. I begin my study with this passage from John (10:28), because this is the key verse that proponents of unconditional eternal security use to prove their point.
I. The Promise (v. 28)
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish - ever! No one will snatch them out of my hand.”(v. 28)
What a wonderful verse of promise! It is a wonderful thing to know that we are in the hands of God; to know that whatever comes our way, He saw it first and knows all about it. To be in His hand is to allow Him to have his way be done in our lives.
In the agrarian culture of the time this analogy would have been very applicable to their lives. As shepherds, the people understood the dangers to the sheep. Sheep were susceptible to being stolen by thieves and robbers, susceptible to attacks from wild animals, to being separated from the flock. However, it is the shepherds responsibility to protect, watch over, lead his sheep. Jesus is our shepherd; He alone is the one who protects, guides, and watches over us.