by Paul Miles, adapted from an article in the March-April 2012 edition of Grace in Focus. This is the second part of a two part piece. Part one may be viewed here.
System 2: Eternal Insecurity
Many believe that it is possible for someone to sin enough to lose his eternal life. On the surface, it may seem that someone takes sin seriously if he is afraid that sin will cost him his salvation, but let’s look at the other side of the coin. Those who teach that it is possible to sin enough to lose salvation must also teach that it is possible not to sin enough to lose salvation. In other words, by our own merit we can turn away from the big sins that God hates, and we can make it with the sins that He’s okay with.
We know from John 5:24 that whoever believes in Christ has already passed from death into life, regardless of his works, but let’s take a look at this from the viewpoint of those who don’t believe in eternal security. If some sins are serious enough for damnation while others are not too bad, then we have a conflict with James 2:10: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all.” Sin is such a problem, that even the sins that we think are small are the same as any other atrocity we could commit. Any plan of salvation that requires us to turn from sins can only end in damnation for us all because for us to be pure enough, we would have to live without any sins no matter how large or small they may seem. Theologies that suppose man can sin his way out of eternal life aren’t taking sin seriously, either.
System 3: Pluralism/Universalism
Pluralism has been growing among Protestants, so it is worth considering this worldview as well. Pluralism teaches that there are many paths to God, such that “faith alone in Christ alone” is not necessary for salvation. Universalism goes a step further and teaches that all people are saved; in other words, every religion and philosophy, including atheism, leads us to God.
In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” There are two possibilities here: either Jesus is right or He is wrong. If Jesus is right, then He and only He is trustworthy to take us to the Father and Universalism is wrong. If Jesus is wrong, then He is not trustworthy to take us to the Father, so Universalism is still wrong. Either way, the Universalist has a problem if he wishes to reconcile the words of Christ with any other religion. Likewise, Pluralism is self-defeating on these grounds. Even Christian Pluralism, which teaches that all or many forms of Christianity will save, needs to subtract Free Grace from its plausible options of saving messages on the ground that ‘by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone’ stands or falls on the sufficiency of grace, faith, and Christ. If someone calls Jesus “the Christ,” yet tries to earn his own salvation, then He is rejecting Jesus’ Christship by trying to pay the sin debt himself. How cute must sin be if anyone other than Christ can pay for it?
What is to be said, then? We see that our sins are so great that we can’t do enough good things to make up for them and that even if we could remove our past sins, we couldn’t keep our salvation by living a sinless life.
Is sin such a big problem that mankind has no hope of being reconciled with a righteous God? This is where the Free Gracer who takes sin seriously can step in and answer, “Absolutely not!” From the very first time sin entered the world, God knew that we would be unable to pay the sin debt ourselves, so starting in Gen 3:15, He promises a Savior who would bridge the gap between sinful man and righteous God. The Bible teaches that the only possible way for man to be reconciled with God is on the grounds of Jesus Christ’s payment for sin on the cross. Since He is the only One who could pay for sin, any system that adds to faith alone in Christ alone simply does not take the problem of sin seriously.
Paul now leads Grace Abroad ministries which focuses on free grace translation, teaching, and outreach, especially in Eastern Europe. www.graceabroad.org