Bob and I were discussing the centrality of eternal security to the saving message. I have heard Yankee Arnold say “The gospel is eternal security.”
As readers of this blog know, Jesus promised believers eternal life:
This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life (1 John 2:25).
Paul urged people to believe in Jesus for that promise, just as he did:
Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life (1 Tim 1:16).
The life that Jesus promised is eternal. Not temporary. Not on loan. Not on probation. It is eternal.
If you do not believe salvation is eternal, you do not believe what Jesus promised.
There are as many as forty things that happen to a believer at the moment of faith. Bob and I wondered, how many of those imply eternal security? And how many are not understood (and implicitly rejected!) if eternal security is denied?
For example, let’s say you evangelize by preaching that Christ died on the cross to provide forgiveness. Isn’t that forgiveness total, irrevocable, and irreversible? If someone does not understand that, or rejects it, have they really believed in Jesus for forgiveness?
If you evangelize by preaching justification, and say that your sins were imputed to Christ on the cross, so that God’s righteousness can be imputed to you by faith apart from works, isn’t that justification permanent? Isn’t it once and for all? And if someone does not know that, or rejects that once-for-all justification, have they really believed in Jesus for it?
If you present the saving message in terms of the Spirit’s indwelling, or regeneration, or being born-again, or being delivered from hell, judgment, and eternal death, isn’t an essential point that all those benefits are irreversible? That they cannot be undone?
If someone thinks they can be indwelt, then abandoned; regenerated, then unregenerated; born-again, then aborted; saved from judgment, then condemned, have they really understood the saving message?
No, they haven’t.
In other words, eternal security is not just another benefit. It is not something you can believe, or not believe, and still be saved. Rather, eternal security is the master concept behind all the benefits of salvation.
In the sermon I linked to above, Yankee Arnold also said, “When you don’t believe in eternal security, you don’t believe the Bible” (near 7:07 min). Not everyone in the Free Grace movement would agree with that. Some think that eternal security is an optional and secondary belief that you can reject and be saved.
That’s an important division in the movement.
GES is clearly and firmly on the side of proclaiming that eternal security is at the heart of the saving message. Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead to give eternal salvation to believers, not probation salvation.
What do you think—is eternal security the gospel?