I had the privilege this past weekend of speaking to the congregation at Grace Bible Church on the subject of eternal security. Most Christians wonder from time to time if they can lose their salvation, or whether it is secure. Is it possible for a person to believe in Jesus but to later fall away to such an extent that they will no longer receive eternal life?

I realize that there are some tricky passages in the New Testament on this issue (if you’re interested, I’ve addressed a few of them in sermons on Hebrews 6, Hebrews 10, and James 2), but I do believe that the Scripture clearly communicates that our salvation is secure. Why?

Here are four key reasons why those who have trusted in Christ for eternal life can be sure that they will never lose it (to get the full impact of these points, you really need to read the passages I’ve linked in parenthesis):

We didn’t earn it in the first place (Ephesians 2:8-9). If salvation is a truly free gift, then we can’t possibly pay for it by works we do before or after we believe. If the presence of sin or the absence of good works could make me lose my salvation, then it isn’t really a free gift. It would amount to receiving a Christmas present and then getting a bill for the price of the gift. Grace that requires payment — at any point in time — is not truly grace.

Jesus paid for all of our sins (Hebrews 10:11-14; Colossians 2:13-14). Old Testament priests never sat down, because there was always another sacrifice to be made for sin. Jesus made one sacrifice for all time — for everybody’s sins past, present, and future — and then sat down when the work was finished. If my future sin or disobedience can cancel Christ’s work, then His death and resurrection are not as sufficient as the Bible says they are.

God preserves our salvation (Romans 8:31-39; John 10:27-29). God’s character is such that He always keeps His promises. If He has promised to give salvation to those who believe, He will do it! If He has promised to forever adopt us as His children, that means we are forever His children. Romans 8 says that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ — and Paul includes “any other created being,” which includes…me! Because of God’s perfect character, nothing can separate us from the life He has given us in Christ.

The Holy Spirit guarantees our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14). God’s Spirit lives within those who have believed in Christ. Ephesians 1 says He is like a seal, or a down payment guaranteeing that God will give us the inheritance He’s promised. When you and I became believers, something fundamental changed within us, and we can never go back to who we were before (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Holy Spirit is proof of that change, and a guarantee of the eternal life to come.

Why does this matter? Because the best foundation for spiritual growth is not fear and paralysis, but security. When I confidently know that my eternal destiny is secure, I am free to love and serve Jesus from gratitude and joy, instead of resentment and fear. I think that’s why John wrote of the importance of knowing that we have eternal life (1 John 5:11-13).

Questions or comments about the doctrine of eternal security?

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