Eternal Security? Wrong Focus.

Today, I want to examine the Calvinist/Arminian debate concerning eternal security.

Just kidding!

Those are fine things to think through, but I would like to go on record as saying that discussion has limited relevance for Christian living.

The Calvinist doctrine of eternal security says that it is impossible for a person who has truly come to saving faith in Christ to ever lose his or her salvation. There are a whole host of verses that do emphasize the security and confidence we can and should have in Christ’s salvation.

The Arminian position, focusing on human free will, insists that a redeemed person retains the ability to shed his or her allegiance to Christ and forfeit salvation. Again, Scripture is full of warnings to be on guard lest we fall away.

Calvinists are tempted to think that if salvation is not some sort of gilded unconditional certificate of admittance, then there is no real security for the believer. Redemption is shaky and flippant—we can be in one day and out the next.

Arminians, on the other hand, are tempted to try to determine how far we have to go to fall away. How “bad” can I be before I lose my salvation?

Repeat after me: WRONG FOCUS!

First of all, our hope for salvation rests in God’s character. He has revealed Himself to be faithful, good, merciful, just, loving, and powerful.  He’s not looking for ways to disqualify us. Jesus went to the cross because God wants us to have eternal life with Him.  This would indicate that if a person’s heart meets the conditions of saving faith in Christ in any way, it is God’s pleasure to grant eternal life.

That brings me to my second point. I think most Christians would agree that mankind was created for the purpose of an eternal relationship with God. That being the case, God’s primary interest has always been the heart. We are intent on nailing down the legal parameters of salvation and how much wiggle room we have. Shouldn’t we be focusing on pursuing the heart of God and loving Him better with each passing day.

God will uphold His end of the covenant. Why are we obsessed with trying to figure out how much we can cheat on Him before He determines we have officially walked out on the marriage?

Whatever we believe about the conditions of salvation, the appropriate response to God’s lavish love remains the same—a relentless pursuit of His heart and a life devoted to pleasing and blessing Him. Questions concerning how much we can get away with hurting, grieving, or disobeying God really have no place in determining how our salvation will be lived out.

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7 thoughts on “Eternal Security? Wrong Focus.”

    1. Yes – Thanks; salvation has past, present, and future elements for the redeemed.

      It is the “present” element that I am primarily discussing here.

      Philippians 2:12-13 (NASB)
      12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
      13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

  1. Actually He is giving the hearts that seeks Him out, and the New Covenant have both ends secured by Him also (ie. as Christ is our Covanental Head and He fulfilled everything that have to be fulfilled and He obeyed God perfectly which is accounted to us who believe just as Jesus took our sins on himself). And you are right that our hope rests in Him and Him alone.

    Just as the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism nicely states:
    Question 1. What is thy only comfort in life and death?
    Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, (a) am not my own, (b) but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; (c) who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, (d) and delivered me from all the power of the devil; (e) and so preserves me (f) that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; (g) yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, (h) and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, (i) and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him. (j)

    God bless you,
    a.

    1. Adam – I don’t think I am quite sure what you are getting at…

      Are you making the argument that our willingness to seek and live for God does not really come out of our own choice?

      Thanks for the reference to the Heidelberg catechism though. I was not familiar with it–so I looked it up and found it very interesting.

      1. It comes out of our own hearts (so from our own choice), but not the ones of stone which we had when we ware dead in our traspasses but from the hearts of flesh which God gives. (full disclosure — I’m a calvinist)

        Among protestant catechisms I find the Heidelberg quite exceptional exactly because of the first question it covers, but if you would like to read something more modern I would recommend “Growing in Christ” by J.I. Packer, the purpose of this book is the same and Packer writes in a very pastoral and easy to understand style.

        God bless you,
        a.

      2. Adam – Thanks for clarifying. I am (probably quite obviously) not a calvinist. I respect the logical consistency of this system, but I cannot make it square with my understanding of God’s character and His interaction with man as it is revealed in the Bible.
        All the same – I think we agree that we are only able to love and obey God because of the grace He gives us.
        My point in this post was only that no matter what flavor our soteriology has, ultimately we should not be looking for our security in the “rules of how it works”, but in the character of God and Christ’s work on the cross.
        The love of God should move us past a fixation with self preservation – to a deep desire to love Him back.

  2. Exactly and, as far as my understanding, the perseverance of the saints (which is a calvinistic doctrine of assurance of salvation for believers) is what about. See on what the first answer of the Heidelberg Catechism is “fixed” — on Jesus faithfulness, His work on our behalf and a sincere will to live for Him for which we are powered through Holy Spirit.

    God bless you,
    a.

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