Sunday, July 1, 2012

Conditional Eternal Security

Continuing on where the previous post left off:
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 1 Cor. 15:1-2 

Paul states three positives about the Corinthian Christians.  

1. He calls them brethren. By this, Paul means fellow Christians. 

2. He says, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received.  They have received the Word of God as Paul preached it and they were born again.

3. He says, by which (word) also you are saved if you hold fast that word which I preached to you. 

These things are in place, the people are Christians and yet Paul lays it on the line by saying, if you hold fast.  Seemingly, this leaves no room for the theory of unconditional eternal security but in spite of that, Wycliffe says, Believed in vain does not indicate loss of salvation as a possibility. The apostle means…that a faith that does not persevere is not true saving faith.  Paul, however, said that they were saved.  Why do some say that the apostle does not mean what he said?

You are being saved (as Wuest has it).  Both Thiessen and Wuest have already said that being saved is a continuing action.  It is not, you have been saved.  It says that the continuing salvation pertains only if you hold firmly.  

The people He is writing to already believe, Paul said so by calling them brethren, still, he is concerned that they might believe in vain.

you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him - provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel. Col. 1:21-23 

Paul said he has now reconciled you.  That is, they have received the new life. He did not write: you fooled some people and caused them to think that you had accepted Christ, but actually, you never did.  This, however, is the flavour of the argument that is used by those who insist on unconditional eternal security. 

Here, again, the whole promise rests on these words, provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith.  If you don't continue, of course, the opposite is true.

For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
2 Tim. 1:12-14

Verse 12 is often used as a proof text for unconditional eternal security; that is erroneous Bible teaching.  In the context, the argument for unconditional eternal security takes a real beating.  Notice that the following two verses each start with a warning.
verse 13, Hold fast the pattern of sound words. 
verse 14, That good thing which was committed to you, keep. 

If falling from grace were not possible, warnings like this would be redundant. What Paul is saying is that God is capable of guarding that which he (Paul) had entrusted to Him, but that Jehovah will not force people against their wishes, just like He did not force people at their initial repentance.  This is an argument for conditional eternal security but not for unconditional eternal security.

But the one who endures to the end shall be saved. Mat. 24:13

Concerning Matthew 24:13, Mr Thiessen writes, To this we simply reply that that has nothing to do with the main argument. If a man is saved he will continue; if he isn’t saved he will not continue.  Surely, a person must have his mind closed to insist that this has nothing to do with the main argument.  This is the main argument of this verse!  What Christ is saying, is that if you do not endure you will lose your salvation.   How could one quit enduring if one had never been involved in that which one is enduring?

And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. Mark 13:13

The only way to believe in unconditional eternal security after reading these verses is to read them wearing mental blinders.  Christ makes the contrast very clear by using the word, but.  To have started out on the right path and then turn on to the wrong path does not lead a person to the right destination.

If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us.
2 Tim. 2:12

The words to notice here are, If we endure.  Wuest has translated them as, If we are persevering.  It seems almost pointless to ask, what if we do not persevere in the faith.  Still Paul answers by saying, If we deny Him, He also will deny us.  

Some argue that in this phrase, Paul is speaking of those who had never accepted Christ as their Lord.  However, by using that line of reasoning one is completely leaving the words, If we endure, out of the equation.  Here the word, we, refers to those who already are Christians, as is clearly shown in the text preceding this statement, for if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him.

The next post will continue with more Bible verses to prove that the doctrine of unconditional eternal security is not found in the Bible.