C. L. raises another important question:
I have a friend I’ve witnessed to on several occasions about eternal security. He acknowledges how Scripture seems to make it clear, and he seems to believe it up to the extent that he HOPES it’s true, but then is sort of prepared for the possibility that it’s not by continuing to hold to the faith he was raised in. He feels the same way about the pre-tribulation Rapture too. He hopes it is true, but he is preparing in case it’s not. I realize this may seem like he doesn’t actually understand, but he seems to really get it.
He was raised in a family that didn’t consider everlasting life to be a present possession but is only “received” after death, so persevering faith proven by works is required to have the promise of eternal life. But now he says he can see it both ways. How can I show him that OSAS is what was meant to be expressed in Scripture, even though he already agrees that it COULD be?
What is the object of saving faith? Anyone who has read John 3:16 knows that Jesus is the object of saving faith. “Whoever believes in Him” will never perish but has everlasting life.
Do we need to believe all of John 3:16, or just part of it? Do we only need to believe that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son? Period. End of story. Could John 3:16 just end without the promise of everlasting life to all who believe in Him? Obviously, it does not. But could it? Yes. But if so, the Lord would not be telling Nicodemus and us that we must believe in Him to have everlasting life. He would just be telling us about God’s love for the world. But since the entire conversation with Nic is about his need to be born again, John 3:16 is not John 3:16 without the promise of everlasting life and never perishing.
Read John 3:16 again. What did the Lord say there? Read John 4:10 and John 5:24 also. John 6:35 and John 11:25-26a, too. Acts 16:31 and Eph 2:8-9 and 1 Tim 1:16 and Rev 22:17 as well. What do they all have in common? They all say that we must believe in Jesus for what He promises, everlasting life.
We don’t believe in people abstractly. We believe in the person for something. If you believe that President Biden will stop all new drilling for oil and natural gas in America, then you believe in him for that. If you believe he will send you more stimulus money, then you believe in him for that. Now someone might believe that President Biden is trustworthy. But if so, then he believes that which the President promises.
If you claim to believe that Jesus is trustworthy, yet you do not believe what He said in John 3:16, then your claim to believe is a false one.
If we can change the promise from everlasting life to probationary life, then we are not believing the promise that we will never perish and that we have everlasting life.
That’s what I’d tell C. L.’s friend. If he is wrong, then he is not believing in Jesus for what He promised. He is not safe either way.
No matter how godly C. L.’s friend is, if he does not believe the saving message, then he is doomed forever. No amount of good works can make him safe if the only way to be saved is to believe in the Lord Jesus for the irrevocable salvation He promises.
There is a message that we must believe to be born again. Whatever it is, we must believe it. That is, we must be convinced it is true. If we simply think it might be true, we do not yet believe it.
C. L. should urge his friend to pray about it and to read a chapter of John each day. His friend needs to know that he is not safe with his either/or approach to faith. One is true and one is not. Being uncertain is not believing. It is doubting.
By the way, his friend’s doubts about the Rapture are not a life and death issue. One need not believe in the Rapture to be born again. But doubts about the promise of everlasting life are a life and death issue.