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Section 8A .. A Question Of Salvation/Eternal Security

 

003white  Index To Section 8A.. A Question of Salvation       >         Assurance of Salvation?

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Eternal-Security
 

The Assurance of Salvation

Carol Brooks

Also See Eternal LIfe... Possession or Promise

And The Two Phase Atonement

As the words imply, assurance of salvation means a person can know for certain that if he died at this very moment, he would be saved. Some very reassuring words come from the pen of the apostle John who wrote:

    These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

There are many Bible teachers that consistently, and rightly, advise against reading any one isolated verse in Scripture, instead advise reading all the surrounding verses in order to get a sense of the flow of the author’s thoughts, and thus correctly determine the point he was trying to make in a particular passage. Yet when referring to this verse as a proof text in support of Unconditional Eternal Security, teachers of the doctrine do not seem to hesitate in wrenching this verse out of it’s context.

    Note that the doctrine of Eternal Security is that which teaches that a Christian, once saved, can never totally or finally fall away from the state of grace. That eternal life being a gift that not only cannot be withdrawn, but can also not be forfeited by the person himself. In other words a person once saved cannot do anything to get ‘unsaved’. [See Eternal LIfe... Possession or Promise]

Any one who read 1 John 5:13 as a stand-alone, completely misses the whole point that John was trying to make. Reading the entire book of 1 John, or at least the last chapter, will bring a person to a very different conclusion… Assurance of Salvation is very different from Unconditional Eternal Security.


The “These Things” That John Speaks About.
John says he has written “these things” to the reader, “in order” that they may know they have eternal life. Obviously the second half of the verse is predicated on the first, so we need to stop focusing solely on the second half and read the pay more attention to the first.  We need to determine what “these things” John was speaking about.

In essence, the book of 1 John makes three key points, which are summarized by him in a statement near the close of his letter. John says…

    Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God [faith], and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him [deeds]. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments [obedience]. [1 John 5:1-2]

John writes an entire letter centered around these three factors, then stresses that he had written “these things” in order that his readers might know they have eternal life. Apparently all three factors are the marks of a true believer and all are equally important.

So how does the modern reader know he (or she) has an assurance of salvation? In exactly the same way as the first century reader did. They do not cling to the cherished memory of a once made profession of faith, but evaluate their present lives in light of John’s three crucial factors.

    If they look at their lives and see God’s transforming grace at work in them, they know, or have the assurance that they are genuinely saved.

    If, on the other hand, they look at their lives and find that it does not measure up and reflect God’s transforming grace, they can consider themselves warned. The good news being that they still have the opportunity to repent and change their eternal destiny.

Noting that an honest evaluation is supremely important and self deception can fatal, we should take a closer look at John’s three factors (in the order he himself used in his summary) that can help us make our evaluation.


Faith
“Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God”

The above statement is the essence of our faith. John, approaching the same fact from other angles also says…

    Who is the liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, even he that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that confesseth the Son hath the Father also. [1J ohn 2:22-23]

    Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God. [1 John 4:15]

This test of faith is tragically often the only one considered valid (or considered at all) by many Christians today. As long as someone verbally confesses that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God...the savior, he is considered “saved”. Yet we totally forget that it is entirely possible to verbally confess Jesus as Lord with one’s mouth, yet completely deny it by one actions. John warns about this at least four times in his first epistle …[All Emphasis Added]

    The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him [1 John 2:4].

    The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked [1 John 2:6].

    The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now [1 John 2:9].

    If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen [1 John 4:20].

It should be very apparent that empty words are just that.. empty. Unless, of course, undergirded by something far more substantial…


Deeds
“and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him”

John also said.. [All Emphasis Added]

    He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him. [1John 2:10]

    By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. [1 John 3:10]

    We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him [1 John 3:14-15]

    If someone says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. [1 John 4:20]

In both these statements John is simply echoing the words of Jesus who gave His disciples a new commandment… that they were to love one another. He added that this love for the brethren provided evidence to the world that they (we) were indeed His disciples. [Emphasis Added]

     “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

This is perfectly understandable. The world will sit up and pay attention to genuine love, caring and compassion in a world filled with prejudice and hate. This is especially true when they see that people of widely diverse social, economic, and racial backgrounds can come together under one banner, visibly demonstrating their caring for one another.

This love also distinguishes believers from unbelievers in the sight of God, emphasized in Jesus’ foretelling of things to come…

    But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink? And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.

    Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    Then shall they also answer, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?

    Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of these least, ye did it not unto me. And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life. [Matthew 25:31-46. ASV] 

And how is this love put into action?  John is very clear..

     We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth [1 John 3:16-18].

In other words, this love is expected to go a little deeper than the after service token hug or handshake.


Obedience
“Hereby we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and do his commandments”

    By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. [1 John 3:10]

There is nothing ambiguous about the connection John makes between “knowing” God and keeping His commandments.

    And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked (1 John 2:3-6, emphasis added).

The term “know” in the Scriptures, especially when applied to God, often has a sense beyond the basic meaning of simply having intellectual knowledge of something or someone. As demonstrated by the following examples, “To know God,” is to be in right relationship with him.

    but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows (yâda‛) Me, that I am the LORD who exercises loving kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the Lord. [Jeremiah 9:24]

     O continue Your loving kindness to those who know (yâda‛) You, And Your righteousness to the upright in heart. [Psalm 36:10]

    I know (Gr. eidō) him; because I am from him, and he sent me. [John 7:29]

    So they were saying to Him, "Where is Your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know(Gr. eidō)  neither Me nor My Father; if you knew (Gr. eidō) Me, you would know (Gr. eidō) My Father also."

    They said therefore unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye know (Gr. eidō) neither me, nor my Father: if ye knew (Gr. eidō) me, ye would know (Gr. eidō) my Father also. [John 8:19]

Certainly, while knowing God has to include objective, factual data, one can possess intellectual knowledge of God, His character and His laws, yet still not “know” him. Remember God’s words to the priest through the prophet Jeremiah…

    "The priests did not say, 'Where is the LORD?' And those who handle the law did not know (yâda‛) Me; The rulers also transgressed against Me, And the prophets prophesied by Baal And walked after things that did not profit. [Jeremiah 2:8]

There is no question that the priest had head knowledge of God. They recognized His existence, knew of His dealing with the nation, and were familiar with His laws which it is more than likely, they publically acknowledged. However they did not love, repect or honor the God they professed to serve, nor did they ‘walk in His ways’. Some more examples are

    "For My people are foolish, They know (yâda‛) Me not; They are stupid children And have no understanding. They are shrewd to do evil, But to do good they do not know." [Jeremiah 4:22]

    "They bend their tongue like their bow; Lies and not truth prevail in the land; For they proceed from evil to evil, And they do not know (yâda‛)  Me," declares the Lord. "Let everyone be on guard against his neighbor, And do not trust any brother; Because every brother deals craftily, And every neighbor goes about as a slanderer. "Everyone deceives his neighbor And does not speak the truth, They have taught their tongue to speak lies; They weary themselves committing iniquity. "Your dwelling is in the midst of deceit; Through deceit they refuse to know Me," declares the Lord. [Jeremiah 9:3-6]

    Their deeds will not allow them To return to their God. For a spirit of harlotry is within them, And they do not know (yâda‛) the Lord. [Hosea 5:4]

    They profess to know Gr. eidō) God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. [Titus 1:16]

    For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know (Gr. eidō) whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day [2 Timothy 1:12]

At the last judgment, Jesus says to all pretenders to piety who claim to have done many works in his name …. "I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” [Matthew 7:23]. He obviously will have factual data about these people, or He could not know that they were, in reality, evil doers. His not ‘knowing’ them, therefore, was in the sense of not having been in relationship with them. He never approved of their conduct and never regarded them as His friends.

    but if anyone loves God, he is known (Gr. ginōskō) by Him. [1Corinthians 8:3]

    I am the good shepherd; and I know (Gr. ginōskō) mine own, and mine own know (Gr. ginōskō)  me, [John 10:14]

Walking in God’s ways and in a right relationship with Him is the key to salvation and eternal life.

    "This is eternal life, that they may know (Gr. ginōskō) You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. [John 17:3]

If we examine our lives using the criteria given us by the apostle John, and find that God’s grace is indeed at work in us, then yes, we certainly can have assurance that we have eternal life’

However the Scriptures are also very clear that NO LIVING CHRISTIAN can claim to be finally saved.  Eternal life is not a tangible possession given to us as a commodity and it is entirely possible to fall away from the faith. If at any time in the future we examine our lives using the same criteria and find that we do not measure up, we can consider ourselves warned and need to repent and return.

See  The Two Phase Atonement   and   Eternal Life... Possession or Promise

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