Thursday, December 21, 2006

The War on Error - False Security

I've run across several Christian debates in blogland over whose doctrine is most biblical. The interesting thing is how many points of view there are, and the funny thing is that these same debates have been going on for centuries. There really is nothing new under the sun. The sad thing is that, much like a political debate, each side has a tendency to misrepresent the other side's stance. I don't think they do this intentionally, though it seems that some of them have such disdain for anyone who doesn't agree with their doctrine that they resort to name-calling and other immature tactics. From the sidelines, it often appears that they are really only arguing over semantics. More on that later.

What draws me to these blogs? It's a good thing to defend the faith, and I find it helpful to read others who are more discerning than myself. I've learned quite a lot since I began blogging, and here is where I will be sharing some of those things with you.

We'll start with "Once Saved Always Saved." I was brought up believing this and had never questioned it, until a few months ago, when I read an article claiming that it's a dangerous doctrine. So I did a little more research, and found that I agree with that assessment.

I did not say that I no longer believe it. I just said I agree that it can be dangerous, in that it must be handled with care.

There are those who say it isn't even biblical, and then they go on to say "Nowhere in the Bible does it say that!" I say that's a lame argument. You won't find the word "trinity" in the Bible either, but that doesn't mean it isn't biblical. Try again.

The real danger is in using the excuse of Eternal Security as a license to sin. This is a fatal error! Consider the following statements*:

Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy.

The Bible clearly teaches that God's love for His people is of such magnitude that even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from His hand.

You and I are not saved because we have enduring faith. We are saved because at a moment in time we expressed faith in our enduring Lord.

Yes, there are people who believe these false teachings.

I am not one of them. I don't think Heaven will be populated with unbelievers.

2 Peter 2: 1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.

17 These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. 18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. 20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.

Your thoughts?

*Quotes from a book written by a well-known pastor who has twice been elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention.

13 comments:

Cheryl said...

You are saved because you believed that Jesus was the son of God and that he died on the cross for our sins. Should you at some point in your life decide their is no God and therefore Jesus was not His son nor did he die on the cross for our sins, you would become an unbeliever.
As you noted from 2 Peter 2:21, it's just making me physically sick thinking about their judgment day.

Melanie said...

You wrote this so well.

I believe in once saved, always saved. BUT, I do agree it is a dangerous doctrine. I think that if a person is TRULY saved, then they cannot become an unbeliever. I believe you receive the Holy Spirit at salvation and that the Holy Spirit will always direct you to Christ, not away from Him. This doesn't mean that a person would not slip into sin. They can, but if they are really saved (meaning that the truly accepted Christ at some point in their life), then that sin will eat away at them. Little by little, it will eat away. This is The Holy Spirit convicting them of sin. Eventually, they will return, if you will, to God. Like the prodigal son. He was always the son of the father. He was just away for a time.

I think the "once saved, always saved" doctrine can be dangerous because people can misunderstand it, have a false sense of security, and truly take salvation for granted. Salvation is a gift, not earned, but that does not mean I am supposed to disregard it as a priviledge.

I do believe that many people have been caught up in emotion and guilt and walked the aisle- a walk I think we Baptists emphasize too much. I think there are people who may not have really accepted Jesus. (The Church doesn't take the time to follow through and disciple, and make certain a person understands their decision.)In this case, they never were really believers, per se.

So, how do you know if someone is saved or not? Only God knows their heart. Only He can judge. We just have to provide the message of the gospel. The rest is left to Him.

Thank you so much for this discussion! Bravo on a post well-written!

Tammy said...

Such a thought-provoking post, Brenda!
For me, I always stuggled for years with the fear of somehow losing my salvation...though I walked daily with the Lord. That fear is based on the extreme belief on the other end...so, in my own heart, I believe that once Christ truly moves into your heart, He has a hold of you.
But as Paul says, does that mean we now should purposely sin? Heaven forbid...
Someone that does not have any desire to please the Lord probably was never truly saved...because with salvation comes the desire to try and please Him. Not that we well always succeed...but at least our motives are pure.

There's so much more I could say...other "what ifs" I could address...but I guess the bottom line is that I tend to agree with what you said. There can be a danger in the belief of once saved, always saved...but at the core of this thought is a basic truth. We don't go in and out of salvation...we are bought with a price- with the blood of the Lamb.

Great post!
Blessings,
~Tammy
http://familydoins.blogspot.com/

PEZmama said...

Much of what I would have said has already been addressed by the previous comments. My few thoughts:

I, personally, have settled in my own mind that a person's salvation cannot be lost. I Cor 1:21-22 says:

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

I know other people may interpret this Scripture (and others) differently. So be it.

But I agree that there are dangers to overemphasizing the "once saved..." doctrine. Namely, that some take it as a license to go on in sin. Paul, however, clearly addresses the idea of using grace as a license to sin when he says "May it never be!" in Romans 6:2.

But I think the bigger issue in all of this is how we present salvation in general. I am not so sure it is something we "accept" as much as maybe "submit to." And we often tie it too closely with an event like "walking the aisle." We cheapen the doctrine of salvation by speaking only of heaven. While eternal life is, in fact, a benefit of salvation, that isn't the DEFINITION of salvation. Heaven isn't what salvation is about. (I'll spare you my "definition" of salvation, so as to avoid making this comment into a post of its own.)

Perhaps we should talk more about our Great and Mighty God, and let people's hearts be pricked by their own knowlege of their irreverence towards Him. Let their hearts burn with a simple desire to be in right relation with Him. Stop making salvation into a sales pitch where people are concerned only about what they get out of the deal. Or worse, let's stop making it into a guilt trip, because, after all, YOU MIGHT DIE TONIGHT!

Instead let each person come to a humble agreement before God about who He is and who they are in light of that. Let them desire right relation with Him because it pleases Him, and not because they'll get some mansion of gold some day.

When we water down the doctrine of salvation to getting sins forgiven and going to heaven, we give people a false sense of hope in a salvation that they may not actually possess. That is, indeed dangerous.

Those who turn their hearts Godward and delight in His glorification may, indeed, have times of doubt and will most certainly commit sin. To that, I say - let them work out their salvation (Phil 2:12.) And if THESE are the people to whom the author of your quotes is referring, I can't say I disagree with what he has written.

But if those quotes refer to those who have bought into our cheap explanation of salvation, just so that they could get something for themselves out of the deal, then those are dangerous quotes. Sadly, I think many fall into this category because of the sickly doctrine that we, as the Church in America, have propagated.

And, it turned into a post of its own anyway. (But you knew it would, right?)

Grafted Branch said...

I love the last line of "Oh Sacred Head Now Wounded" that says, "let me never ever outlive my love for thee."

I can't become unsaved. I know it. And I think being an adult convert and having such a striking consciousness of the before and after has helped me believe it.

Perhaps what we're really talking about isn't a loss of salvation as much as it is having never had it at all (as others have mentioned). Think about it -- if you really have the Lord, you KNOW it.

But if you DON'T really have the Lord? How can you possibly know that? You can't know loss of something you haven't had. So...I truly believe that people who "lose" their salvation never had it.

But then there's Hebrews 6...that's always a light read. ;)

Grafted Branch @ http://restoringtheyears.blogspot.com

From the Waiting Room said...

Scripture does warn us about turning away. Jesus made clear in the parable of the soils that it could take awhile to recognize the life in which the Word had taken root.

However, in my mind, while I think much that has been said here is not exactly untrue, it is man-centered. The issue is God and His persevering, sustaining grace. It is He who saves us, not only from the beginning (initiating), but also to the end (completing). I.e. - "He who began a good work in you..." Phil. 1:6.

Is it possible that Jesus should let any of His sheep slip away? He says it isn't. Is it possible that His sheep stop hearing His voice? He says it isn't.

Teaching about eternal security probably is dangerous – at least in one sense. Grace is also dangerous. Jesus is dangerous. In the well-known words of Mrs. Beaver about Aslan, "He is good, but He is not safe."

Ultimately, it seems to me that it is the misunderstanding of this teaching about eternal security that is dangerous. I am thankful to know that God has promised to complete in me that which He alone began - and which He alone can complete. It is about Him, not about me.

Scripture tells us that we are saved by GRACE through (by means of) faith. It is God and His grace, not us and our faith, that ultimately save us. We need to be careful to recognize that our eternal security isn't in our hands, but in God's. But for Him, every single one of us would fall away. We are called to be sober, not to presume upon the grace of God, or to mistake liberty for license - but we must also trust His initiating, sustaining, persevering grace.

Dawn said...

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! We got slammed with two storms in one week, and the university's been open one day since last Wednesday noon - and I was there yesterday. The drifts are amazing, and it's very hard to park and get around. It snowed again last night, so they closed again today. I hope it's better on January 2!

Blessed Beyond Measure said...

This is one of those posts that I read, ponder, read again, ponder some more but cannot come up with a comment. I'll probably gnaw on this for awhile.....

Robin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dawn said...

Haven't heard from you in awhile. How's things in Georgia? Hope to make it down there to Athens in the spring or early summer.

Shash said...

I too think it can become dangerous to put your "faith" in. I have heard too many (teens mostly) say I'll do what I want and have nothing to worry 'cause once saved - always saved. I do not think this is what God had planned for our relationship.

I know that once upon a time I lost my way - drifted from the path - became a prodigal son. I always felt so convicted and in a major battle, torn between two worlds. At the time I thought I was going to hell for sure but now looking back - all the while I knew my Father was there waiting for me, I could feel Him drawing me, wooing me.

Now I have met people who have walked away from God - really turned from Him. No longer believe that there is a God, deny Him or blame Him at every turn. Really angry. Or what about those who just don't want to have a relationship with Him any longer? Do these people get to go to heaven? I don't think so but I don't know and I'm really glad that I'm not the judge. It's a heart issue isn't it?! Only He knows that.

Mommy Dearest said...

Yes, I believe in "once saved always saved," too. Here are my scriptures:

John 6:37-40
All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 10:27-29
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.

Good discussion!

Laurel Wreath said...

I am like Blessed this is a post to chew on.

I have settled "once saved always saved" I like the verses Mommy Dearest posted.

But definitely one to chew on.