Someone who had seen a video that Shawn and I made emailed a question about four passages. In the video, we said that the sole condition of everlasting life is faith in Christ, but that if a believer does not live for God, he will reap the consequences both in this life and at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Here was the question:
Hi. What about Ephesians 2:10? It clearly says to do good works as a believer.
How about 1 John 2:3-5?
What about John 15:1-14?
Also, Romans 11:17-24.
Can you please explain these verses? It really troubles me when it comes to salvation assurance, especially when encountering these verses.
We have articles on these passages at our website. I will simply give a brief explanation of each text.
Ephesians 2:10. Notice the shift from you plural in verses 8-9 to the first-person plural (we) in verse 10. In Ephesians the word we refers to Jews and Gentiles united into one body, the Body of Christ. See 2:11-22. This text does not promise that individual believers or even individual churches will be characterized by good works. It says that God has designed the Church to produce good works. But good works are not automatic, as Revelation 2-3 clearly show. See here for a blog by me on Eph 2:10.
1 John 2:3-5. The issue here is how we know that we know Christ in our daily experience. It is not a question about assurance of eternal life. John discusses that in 1 John 5:9-13. The point is that we know that we know Christ in our experience if we keep His commandments, which are summarized in loving one another. See here for a 1988 article on this text by me.
John 15:1-14. The issue here is that only by abiding in Christ can a believer be fruitful in his Christian life. Yes, the Lord desires that believers abide and are fruitful. But He does not guarantee that. The fire of verse 6 refers to judgment in this life, not eternal condemnation. See here for a journal article by Dr. Gary Derickson on John 15:1-6.
Romans 11:17-24. Israel was under God’s blessing for over one thousand years. But in AD 70, God overthrew Israel and kicked His people out of their land. Though they are back in the land today, it appears we are still under “the times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24). Israel was cut off from the tree of blessing for a time. But soon the Gentiles will be cut off the tree of blessing. During the Tribulation great judgment will fall upon the Gentiles after the Church has been raptured to meet the Lord in the air. The issue here is about loss or gain of blessing, not of everlasting life. See this recent blog by me.
None of these passages deal with assurance of everlasting life. No wonder someone would be concerned if he took a passage dealing with discipleship and misunderstood it as a passage meant to get people to doubt their salvation.