There are 2.38 billion professing Christians today. Of those, only about 200 million, or 9% of professing Christians, believe in eternal security apart from perseverance.
The Gospel of John reports Jesus’ evangelistic teaching. John shows that Jesus taught that whoever believes in Him is eternally secure at the moment of faith, apart from perseverance. It is no wonder that most pastors and theologians shy away from the book that contradicts their teachings.
A bit surprisingly, some of the 200 million who believe in eternal security apart from perseverance also avoid John’s Gospel. That is because they do not believe a person needs to believe in Jesus for the irrevocable life/salvation He promises. They say that all who believe in Jesus’ deity, death, and resurrection (DDR) are eternally secure, even though most who believe in His DDR do not believe in the promise of everlasting life. This leads to a sort of Christian universalism. These people believe that nearly all 2.38 billion professing Christians are born again. They see the assurance of one’s eternal destiny as a sanctification issue, not a justification issue.
The promise of everlasting life to all who simply believe in Jesus for it is found throughout the NT. However, John’s Gospel is the place where it is featured on nearly every page. That is why many Christian leaders rarely dip their toes into the waters of the Fourth Gospel.
The bestselling book, The Gospel According to Jesus, was written by the head of a huge church, radio ministry, Bible college, and seminary. In that book’s first edition, he wrote about John 3:14-15 and the uplifted bronze serpent in Numbers 21. He speculated: “In order to look at that bronze snake on the pole, they had to drag themselves to where they could see it” (p. 46). That statement was dropped from the second and third editions due to the criticism the author received. Nothing in Numbers 21 suggests anyone had to drag themselves to see the uplifted serpent.i
Warren Wiersbe wrote:
Moses didn’t stick the pole inside the Tabernacle or even in the Tabernacle court because nobody is saved by keeping the law. The uplifted serpent was the only cure in the camp, just as Jesus Christ is the only Savior of sinners in the world (Acts 4:12; John 14:6). Nobody could look at the bronze serpent for another person; each dying sinner had to look for himself or herself. The salvation Christ offers is personal and individual, and each of us must look to Christ by faith. No matter how hard they tried, no dying Jew could save himself or herself. The only salvation available was what God had graciously provided, and if you rejected it, you died (Be Counted, p. 93).
When people who disagree with the message of John’s Gospel discuss it, they contort its meaning to fit their perseverance theology.
The Lord Jesus taught that whoever believes in Him has everlasting life that can never be lost (e.g., John 3:14-18; 4:10-26; 5:24, 39-40; 6:35, 37, 39, 40, 47; 11:25-27). Guess what type of response He received. John tells us: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). The population of Israel at the time of Christ is thought to have numbered around 600,000. Jesus had only about 500 followers by the end of His ministry (1 Cor 15:6). He led around 1,000 people to believe in Him during His three-and-a-half years of ministry. Most of Israel thought He was a false teacher and a false messiah.
We will also be labeled false teachers if we teach what He taught.
That is one way that we suffer for Him (Phil 1:29).
We should highly esteem the words of the Lord Jesus in John’s Gospel as we share our faith. Avoiding His words in the only evangelistic book in the Bible is a bad idea.
i Since the pole was mobile and God gave it as a means for healing, Moses may have sent it all through the camp. He also could have extended the pole high enough for anyone in the camp to see where they were. In any case, Num 21:9 say that the uplifted serpent, like the uplifted Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:14-15), was available to heal all who looked.