“He who believes in the Son has eternal life.” (John 3:34; see also John 5:24, 6:47, 54, 10:28; Acts 13:48; 1 John 5:11, 13)
“He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise Him up on the last day.” (John 6:54)
“Everyone who...believes in Me will never die.” (John 11:26)
Though eternal life is sometimes spoken of as something that Christians will inherit (future), it is clear from Scripture that it can also be viewed as something we already possess. But if it were possible for a true Christian to later reject Christ and end up perishing, in what sense did he ever possess eternal life? It certainly wasn’t eternal for him.
Note: Although this eternal life from God possesses other qualities in addition to eternality, it is impossible to escape the clear meaning of the Greek word for eternal (aionios, Strong’s #166), which is that it is unbounded with respect to time—i.e., forever. (E.g., The three definitions listed in Thayer’s lexicon all have to do with unlimited time: either without beginning, without end, or both.) Thus, a person who possesses eternal life can never die. He will be raised up on the last day.
“You do not believe, because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:26-30)
Since those who are not of the Lord’s sheep do not believe, then those who believe clearly must be the Lord’s sheep, and are promised that they will never perish. Neither can they completely not follow Christ, nor can they be removed from the Father’s hand.
“If anyone loves God, he is known by Him.” (1 Cor. 8:3; see also John 10:27, quoted above)
“Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:23)
True Christians are known by God, in the sense of having a personal, saving relationship with Him. But note that the words of the Lord to those who ultimately reject Him are not, “I once knew you, but not anymore,” but rather, “I never knew you.” In other words, once a person is known by God (in the above sense), that person will always be known by God, and can never be categorized as one of these people to whom the Lord will say, “Depart from Me; I never knew you.”
“Lo, I am with you always.” (Matt. 28:20)
“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” (John 14:16)
“He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’” (Heb. 13:5)
How could the Lord make an unconditional promise to remain with His disciples forever if there was any possibility that those disciples might lose their salvation?
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Cor. 5:17)
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20)
“[God] raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:6)
“Put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness and truth.” (Eph. 4:14)
“You have been born again not of seed which is perishable, but imperishable.” (1 Pet. 1:23)
To be born again is not simply to undergo some kind of change (which might imply the possibility of later changing back to the original form); it is rather to be created anew, to become a completely new creation which is identified with Christ in His resurrection. True, the old self (though legally dead) still taints our being, but there is also this new creation which is not of the flesh, but is holy and righteous and thus cannot sin. Now if it were possible for a true Christian to reject Christ and lose his salvation, then we are left with the problem of explaining what would become of this new creation. The new creation is imperishable and so clearly cannot be lost or destroyed.
“No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9)
This appears to me to be a reference to the above truth, i.e., that the new creation is holy and cannot sin, not even in the slightest. Many commentators, on the other hand, do not take this as an absolute, but rather view it as only saying that a true Christian cannot fall into a lifestyle of continual practice of sin. Either way, if it were possible for a true Christian to reject Christ and lose his salvation, then how could this statement be true?
“He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phi. 1:6)
“It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Phi. 2:13)
“...He is able to guard (KJV: keep) what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Tim. 1:12)
“...who are protected (KJV: kept) by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pet. 1:5)
If we are kept by God’s power for salvation, through faith which God is working in us to will and to have (see Reason #10), then how can it be possible to reject that salvation? And how could Paul say God’s good work in you would be perfected if there was a genuine possibility that it might not be?
“If we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection.” (Rom. 6:5)
“Having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge (margin: down payment; NKJV: guarantee) of our inheritance.” (Eph. 1:13-14)
“Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance.” (Col. 3:24)
“...an inheritance which is...reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4)
How can we know with certainty that we will receive the inheritance if there is any possibility, no matter how slight, that we might reject Christ some time in the future and lose our salvation?
“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son...and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” (Rom. 8:29-30)
“He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself.” (Eph. 1:5)
Even those who understand predestination as being conditional (i.e., based on God’s knowledge of who would choose Him) rather than unconditional (i.e., based on God’s choice) cannot deny the fact of predestination altogether. If something has been predestined to occur, then in God’s eyes it is as good as done; it will happen. Thus, He views us as being not only already predestined and called, but also already justified and even already glorified. Now the context of this passage indicates that it is speaking of all true believers (specifically, those who love God). But if it were possible for a true believer to later reject Christ and lose his salvation, then clearly such a person will never truly be conformed to the image of Christ and will not ultimately be glorified, and thus could not be included in this category of those who have been predestined to this result.
“...my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” (Phi. 4:3)
“He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his from the book of life...” (Rev. 3:5)
“All who dwell on the earth shall worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” (Rev. 13:8)
“And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown in the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15)
Although the promise by God to not erase our names from the book of life may appear to be conditional, in reality it must apply to every true child of God, whose name has been written in this book from before the foundation of the world. Our names can never be erased, for the names of the unsaved are described as having not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. That is, these names were not once written and then subsequently erased, but rather never written.
“God has allotted to each a measure of faith.” (Rom. 12:3)
“By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Eph. 2:8)
“To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours...” (2 Pet. 1:1)
“The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” (Rom. 11:29)
Though this point is admittedly somewhat controversial, I believe Scripture teaches that the faith upon which our salvation depends is an irrevocable gift of God. We did not manufacture it ourselves, by our own choosing, as though we were the exception to the rule that “there is none who seeks God.” It was only God’s grace that softened our hearts and caused us to believe. Thus, the only way we could lose that faith would be through God’s taking back that gift, which is not going to happen.
This page copyright © 2004 Edward A. Morris. Created June 25, 2004. Last updated June 25, 2004.
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