“Do you believe in eternal security?”
I have asked this question to many people. I find it to be an outstanding way to initiate a conversation about the Gospel.
I began using this question when I was a pastor. I discovered that most people do not know what the expression eternal security means. This opens the door for me to explain. Of course in my explanation I am “forced” to explain the Gospel, for eternal security is essentially the Gospel.
After someone says, “I’m not sure what you mean by eternal security,” I normally respond as follows.
Eternal security, also called by some once saved, always saved, is the doctrine which says that once a person comes to faith in Christ and Him alone he is secure in his position as a member of God’s forever family. That is, Jesus Christ guarantees eternal life to all who trust in Him alone. It is impossible for a person who has come to faith in Christ to go to hell, no matter what he might do in the future, because the blood of Christ covers all of his sins, past, present, and future.
In John 3:16 Jesus said that whoever believes in Him has eternal life and will not perish. He guarantees it.
At this point I have given enough information for a person to answer my initial question: “So, do you believe in eternal security?”
This often provokes a response which shows that the person is understanding (although not yet accepting) the Gospel. This is the response: “What would motivate us to live a good life if we knew for sure we had eternal life and could never lose it?”
Many have never received a satisfactory answer to this question. It gives me a chance to defend the Gospel by explaining what can motivate an eternally secure person to obey God.
My answer typically goes something like this:
There are four strong motivations for people who know that they are secure forever to turn away from sin and to turn in obedience to serve God wholeheartedly day by day.
First, gratitude is a powerful motivator. As the famous British missionary of the last century, C. T. Studd once said, “If Christ be God and died for me, then there is nothing too great I can do for Him.” C. T. Studd was a young man from one of the wealthiest families in England. He gave up fame and fortune to go to India, China, and in his later years inland Africa to serve Christ. His motivation? Gratitude!
Many cultures teach that if a person saves your life you are obligated to serve him for the rest of your life. Since Jesus Christ has saved my life eternally, surely there is overwhelming motivation to serve him for the rest of my life. The Apostle Paul said, “The love of Christ constrains us” (2 Cor 5:14).
Second, God rewards obedience with blessings here and now. Those who serve God faithfully receive love, joy, peace and other inner blessings which we all want and need. While health and wealth may or may not follow, joy and peace are guaranteed for faithful obedience.
Third, God disciplines us when we disobey Him. While every problem in this life is not a result of some sin in our lives, some surely are. The Lord promises not to spare the rod when we need it. In short, sin never pays. The pain which follows sin far outweighs its temporary pleasures.
I have low blood sugar. If I eat something sweet I have a few minutes of pleasure followed by hours of headache, fatigue, and pain. I don’t eat sweets because the price I pay afterwards is just too great. So it is with drunkenness, drug abuse, sexual sin, lying, cheating, stealing, outburst of anger, jealousy, envy, strife, etc. sin just isn’t worth it. sin never pays.
Fourth, God rewards obedience with blessings forever. While entrance to God’s kingdom is a free gift, rewards in the kingdom are earned by faithful service. This life is like a proving ground. If we prove to have lived our lives in faithful service of our Lord, He will praise us at his judgment seat (the Judgment Seat of Christ) saying, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” and He will give us wonderful rewards. All in God’s kingdom will have joy; however, those who have lived for Him in this life will have a greater capacity for joy. And, as a result, they will experience a richer degree of joy than those who did not live for God in the life.
Jesus actually commanded us to lay up treasure in heaven. He wants us to set our hearts on eternal treasures (Matt 6:21).
Those are four powerful reasons why an eternally secure person is highly motivated to serve God. We do not need the fear of hell to motivate us. Indeed, if we fear hell it is because we do not believe that Jesus Christ has guaranteed us eternal life. Thus fear of hell should be a thing of the past for the Christian. We trust Christ to save us from hell. Once we trust Him, He does that. To doubt our salvation after we have trusted Him is to doubt not ourselves, but Christ Himself. While we cannot lose our salvation, we can lose our assurance if we lose sight of the Lord’s promises. That is why I consider the doctrine of eternal security to be so important. One cannot be sure of his salvation without believing in it. It is part and parcel of God’s offer to us in Christ.
Eternal security is the queen of Bible doctrines. It comforts me daily. It engenders in me a tremendous sense of gratitude.
So, do you believe in eternal security?
Bob Wilkin is the Founder and Executive Director of Grace Evangelical Society.