Eternal Security (Part 1)

Can a believer lose his or her salvation, either because of an act of sin or by ceasing to believe? What are the principles behind the concept of eternal security? This is the first of a three-part series about eternal security.

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What Does Eternal Security Mean?

Eternal security means that once a person has truly been saved, that person cannot lose his or her salvation, not by committing a specific sin and also not by ceasing to believe. That which keeps the believer safe and secure is the work of the Holy Spirit and the work of God on his or her behalf — and not our own works.

The following ten principles are behind the concept of eternal security.

Salvation is not repeatable

Salvation is not something that is repeated. Scripture records not a single case of someone that was saved, lost his or her salvation and was then re-saved at a later stage. Just like you cannot be unborn physically, you also cannot be unborn spiritually.

The relationship between salvation and works

If works are needed to keep salvation, then salvation is by works (cf. Romans 4:4-6; Galatians 2:21; 2 Timothy 1:9). But the Bible consistently teach that salvation is by grace through faith apart from works.

True salvation produces works of righteousness

Salvation is not by faith and works, but a believer works because he or she has been saved (Matthew 7:17-20; Titus 2:11-12; James 2:14-24; 2 Peter 1:5-10). True salvation will produce some degree of genuine works of righteousness in one’s life.

Works of the believer rewarded

Since salvation is a free gift from God (Romans 6:23), the believer does not obtain his or her salvation by works. But salvation should result in works and these will be rewarded (1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Hebrews 6:10).

The basis of the exhortations to live a godly life

Whenever the Bible exhorts believers to godly living, these exhortations are based upon what God has done for us and not on the fear/threat of losing our salvation. For example, Romans 12:1-2 teaches that, on the basis of ‘the mercies of God’, we should present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God. Similarly, 2 Corinthians 5:15 exhorts the believer to live unselfishly — based again on what God has done for us (and not the fear of losing one’s salvation). One more example: Ephesians 4-6 exhorts the believer — based on what God has done for us as shown in Ephesians 1-3 — to walk worthy of the calling with which we have been called.

The difference between position and practice

While they were a sanctified church in position (1 Corinthians 1:2), the practice of the Corinthian church frequently did not show it. That there is a difference between position and practice should be kept in mind when thinking about eternal security.

Perfection is not achieved in this life

If one must reach perfection is this life in order to maintain salvation, then every believer is in trouble. Believers will not reach a stage of perfection in this life. We still sin (cf. 1 John 1:8-10). Paul stated towards the end of his life, in the present tense, that he is a sinner (1 Timothy 1:15). Paul wrote to the Philippians that he is not yet perfect (3:12-14). We are not saved because we live (or will live) perfect lives; we are saved because Christ lives a perfect life. We will be perfected when we receive our glorified bodies.

The results of sin in the believer’s life

What does sin do in the believer’s life? It severs one’s fellowship with God (1 John 1:6, 7, 9). Once one believes, he or she has a ‘family relationship’ with God. When one is born physically, you are born into a family and will always be part of that family, even if sometimes relationships within that family may become strained or even be broken. The same is true in the family of God. The believer may break fellowship and communion because of sin, but such believer remains part of the family of God. Sin therefore severs fellowship — but not salvation.

Persistent sin shows a lack of conversion

Another principle of eternal security is that persistent and continued sin in a person’s life may show that such a person was never saved to begin with, not that such a person lost his or her salvation (cf. 1 John 3:6-10). Persistent sin may show a lack of salvation.

Doctrinal consistency

Doctrinal consistency is a test of genuine faith (Colossians 1:22-23; 2 John 2). When a person is saved, he or she may not know that Jesus was born of a virgin. But when such a believer learns this, he or she will accept it. If this is denied, then perhaps it shows that such a person was never saved to begin with. Doctrinal consistency is a test of true faith.

In Part 2, we will discuss many Biblical evidences for eternal security.


If you would like to read more about this important topic, we suggest you read the original article and source of this summary, Eternal Security, written by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum.

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