Does the Bible actually teach “eternal security”? An interview with Scot McKnight

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Author and professor Scot McKnight dives headfirst into the contentious Christian debate over salvation and security.

Author and professor Scot McKnight dives headfirst into the contentious Christian debate over salvation and security.

Author and professor Scot McKnight dives headfirst into the contentious Christian debate over salvation and security.

Author and professor Scot McKnight dives headfirst into the contentious Christian debate over salvation and security.

Scot McKnight has never been one to shy away from a debate. In 2010, he challenged Brian McLaren’s “new kind of Christianity” through a fiery Christianity Today article and a debate with McLaren at the Q conference entitled, “Conversations on Being a Heretic.” In 2012, he questioned the way many Christians understand the meaning of the term “gospel” in his book, The King Jesus Gospel: The Original Good News RevisitedHe’s also advocated for women in ministry and challenged Christians’ thinking on how to read the Bible. Whether you agree with the positions he has taken, he has proved himself to be a first-rate Bible scholar.

In McKnight’s new e-book, A Long Faithfulness: The Case for Christian Perseverancethe professor and author tackles the controversial topic of “eternal security,” which is the idea that once someone becomes a Christian they can never be lost. Here we discuss his position, the Biblical basis to his view, and why he thinks some Christians have gotten it wrong.

JM: When I first saw this book, I thought it was a general Christian living book on faithfulness. But you’re really wading into a contentious debate in this book, aren’t you?

SM: Yes, the title might lead one to think that, but fairness will also admit the book is a plea to recognize the reality of apostasy and, at the same time, to walk on faithfully behind our Lord. So, it is about faithfulness because it’s about the gravity of unfaithfulness.

You are right, it is a contentious debate. I tell my story in the e-book of how I was reared in eternal security – frankly, for having made the right decision regardless of how I lived – and then in college I was surrounded by some godly and intellectually challenging Calvinists. So I became a reader of high Calvinism, including folks like John Owen, whose volumes I drank in. Somehow I managed not to read Edwards, but my favorite of all was the Baptist Puritan, Charles Spurgeon. I read his autobiography twice and read a sermon a day for two of my years in college.

Cover image courtesy of Patheos Press.

Cover image courtesy of Patheos Press.

As a seminary student I was pushed by mentor, Grant Osborne, to think about the other side of this argument because he assigned me to update his Calvinist-Arminian handout. I began by reading I Howard Marshall’s published dissertation, Kept by the Power of God, a book that plods through the Bible on this theme. Over and over I thought his exegesis surpassed and was the more plain reading than what I read in Calvinism. By the time I put that book down I had inwardly surrendered to a Wesleyan form of soteriology. Then when I was a young professor I was asked to teach Hebrews, I spent the summer working the book but especially the warning passages, and I came up with a journal article that is completely reworked and expanded in this piece.

It is contentious, but good Christian theologians ought to be able to sit down with the Bible and sort things out like this. I’ve given my best attempt here; I offer it to the other side to explain the evidence of Hebrews. This ebook does not sort out what all the Calvinist responses might be to each issue for I wanted to present a positive case for what the text says (in my view). If some want to counter my views, fine, but the only thing that interests me is if they can show that the audience is not genuine believers. If they can, I’ll listen but if they want to show how they can explain the text as Calvinists … well, been there and done that. Explanation of something through a grid does not count as proof; what matters is what that text says.

JM: Hebrews 6:4-6 is a much debated passage that you address in this book. How do you think some Christians have misunderstood it?

SM: They have argued that those who were enlightened, those who have tasted the gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age … that each one of those does not mean what it says but instead something far shorter or far thinner. Take “taste”… when someone says this means “nibble” or only “taste” vs. “eat” they show me they don’t care how biblical metaphors work and that they don’t want that text to mean what it seems to mean: genuine conversion and genuine Christian experience of God’s grace in Christ. And you can’t recrucify Christ if you haven’t died with him already.

I know many disagree with me; I know what they say and I respect that point of view, but I don’t think that is what the Bible says.

JM: How do you interpret 1 John 2:19, which seems to support the notion that those who don’t persevere never expressed true faith?

SM: This is an important text in my overall understanding of apostasy. Some folks walk away because they were never really with us; they never were converted. That’s what 1 John 2:19 says; but there’s no reason to think that text explains every apostasy text in the Bible. But I must admit that most attempts by Arminian types are not to me rigorous enough, and even Howard Marshall’s dissertation and his 1 John commentary do not satisfy careful study of this text (for me).

Two points: the first is that John’s situation ought to be given full consideration; he’s talking in this context about antichrists, and not your ordinary run-of-the-mill Christian who decides to walk from the faith. This is the “last hour” he says in 2:18; the antichrist is coming and, in fact, “even now many antichrists have come” and this indicates the lateness of the hour. This is serious stuff. The “they” is the antichrists and John is talking about a secession or schism in the church so it is at least reasonable, and I think clear, that he’s talking groups here more than personal or individual soteriology (though I don’t want to pretend that personal redemption is not at work here; it is).

The second point is that John clearly connects perseverance, and here it means remaining in fellowship with John’s theology (cf. 2:22-23) and church, to genuine faith. One can reasonably extrapolate from this that anyone who falls away never had genuine faith. I respect that, but in light of the first point it is reasonable to think John has formed a general principle on the basis of a particular situation. It is not convincing to me that he means to speak to all situations with the same principle. In other words, those of Hebrews are in fact described as those who did have genuine faith.

JM: What is it that the church needs to learn from folks who’ve walked away from the faith?

SM: First, that it can happen to us. Those who believe in eternal security, and there are too many who make it glib with a “once saved, always saved” certainty, will not believe this but I do. It is not that this creates anxiety but instead what should be seen as holy reverence and awe before the grace and awesomeness of our zealous God. So those who walk from the faith drive me to God, to God’s grace and to deeper prayer and commitment because they make me see that it is all dependent upon God’s loving grace and sustaining power (onto which we must hold).

Second, that daily life matters, that habits matter, that spiritual practices matter … because those who walk from the faith rarely do because of a sudden realization. Those I know who walked away did so over time, after small decisions and small disobediences that built a character that no longer had humility before God, trust in God’s grace, and tenderness in their love of God. So constant fellowship with others; accountability to others, these matter.

Third, that “assurance” is important but that it is a subjective experience rather than the objective reality. The objective reality is the utter faithfulness of God and the noble accomplishment of Christ at the cross and resurrection. God has done what God can do; God has done all that needs to be done. But we sense that love and that tenderness, that affection for the beauty of our Lord, only as we are sanctified and grow in love and holiness. Assurance, that conviction that we are in Christ, is our appropriation of what God has done.

JM: I see you have edited another new book, Jesus is Lord, Caesar is Not: Evaluating Empire in New Testament Studies. Tell us about it.

SM: For at least a decade biblical studies, especially New Testament studies, has had an echo at work in the halls of the academy: the echo is that if Jesus is the Lord, and if the early Christians declared him to be the one true Lord, then it follows that they were anti-empire, anti-Caesar, and anti-Rome. That is, the echo is if Jesus is Lord then Caesar is not.

Anyone who denies this, of course, is missing the point: there can be only one Lord and one God; if Jesus is that Lord, then no other person or god can be the true Lord and God. Including Caesar. But this inevitable implication of claiming Jesus as Lord is not quite the point being made.

In empire criticism in the New Testament another move occurs:  this is a conscious, overt, aggressive theme for the early Christians. They were, in effect, anarchist and rebellious; they overtly repealed the claim of Caesar.

The problem, over all, with this is simple: every time the apostle Paul mentions Rome he is positive. If the apostles truly were anti-empire there is no way Paul can say what he says in Romans 13 – hence the attempts to suggest that Paul is tongue-in-cheek or ironical – and be courageously, aggressively anti-empire.

Cover image courtesy of Intervarsity Press.

Cover image courtesy of Intervarsity Press.

Joe Modica and I edited this book and, instead of attempting to write the whole ourselves, we selected authors who would give this their all in evaluating the claims of anti-empire scholars. It is fair to say this is the most formidable challenge to empire criticism yet. More could be done, to be sure, but this is a start. We have three openers: Andy Crouch sets this in our cultural context; David Nystrom expertly sketches what Rome thought about imperial power, and it is not unusual to hear make claims about Rome that don’t match the realities of Rome; and Judy Diehl, who has written three long articles in Currents in Biblical Research on this very topic, sketches the history of his scholarship. Then we have one author after another, experts in the field, probe the scholarship and time after time our authors conclude, “Well, perhaps, but it is not all that convincing.” In other words, this volume puts a question mark on this scholarship for overcooking the books.

There’s another issue here: more than one European has said that empire criticism is (1) American scholarship, and no one else cares; (2) anti-Bush era political protest, and we have seen empire criticism diminish under President Obama; and (3) there is an uncanny connection between a person’s politics and one’s posture in the empire critical approach. For years one sees the rather adventurous – for the neutral scholarly game called academic work – “application” of conclusions to contemporary American “empire” on the part of scholars who rarely “apply” anything. In other words, it’s fishy to be an anti-empire critic and be vehemently anti-Bush or anti-America and then to begin seeing it all played out in the pages of the New Testament.

It is entirely reasonable to think Christians ought to criticize empire pretensions on the part of America – it is another to think Jesus and the apostles were engaged in a similar exercise.

  • Tracy

    Does anybody else have nagging meta-thoughts about this? Like, doesn’t it seem odd that we are talking, 2000 years after Christ, about a point that isn’t settled, that perhaps won’t be settled among us. In the year 2013 a theology prof in the middle west thinks he’s dug deep enough for a definitive answer. Well, okay.

    If you were God, is this how you’d offer truth? Buried, in need of super-intellects with time on their hands to turn up the answer? (Which, of course, won’t convince much of Christendom.) To the larger world, doesn’t it seem like we’re debating something akin to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? And is this what the world needs from us?

  • Tim

    Good interview, Jonathan, and good responses, Scot. My main agreement is with Tracy, though.

    Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Arminius, et al, were a bunch of smart cookies who lived in roughly the same era, and they didn’t agree on tons of stuff. It makes me think that while Scot’s book has value in helping us think through what the Bible says, R.C. Sproul’s teachings on the subject are just as valuable and no one should expect to have the last word on this or a number of other doctrinal issues.

    I think the lack of stark clarity on something like eternal security (or long-faithfulness or whatever label you put on it) indicates that this is not a central tenet of what it means to belong to Christ. I could be wrong, but then again the fact that I belong to Jesus means I’ll eventually understand all of this in the eternal kingdom.


  • Scot McKnight

    Tim and Tracy

    Nice call. Yes, and I agree: we will disagree on this one as philosophers have. So one of the impacts of a book like mine is a case that genuine believers can fall away is that this view finds biblical support, while the Calvinist view can make the same claim. However, there are many in each camp who think the other view is so wrong to be heretical… I would hope my ebook will help to counter that kind of thinking. It is not unusual to see the word Arminian connected to Heresy, and in fact was very, very common in the days of the founding of America (on the part of Puritans).
    Having said that, I do hope many will give the ebook a close enough read to weigh the evidence of Hebrews.

  • three quick thoughts 😉

    1. It’s been about 500 years since the Calvin/Arminian divide surfaced. That means these ideas about God’s saving work are pre-modern, pre-scientific, pre-enlightenment etc. Why are we not asking different questions, ones that are rooted in a post-modern, scientific, post-enlightenment age?

    2. Scott is also working from a very specific way of understanding the atoning event and God’s relationship to Jesus. I’d be interested to see what affirmations he makes about Jesus, about God, and about atonement before he begins this dialogue on salvation. I’m familiar with his work, so I know he’s explored these ideas elsewhere but if they aren’t made clear in the beginning of this book then his argument is sloppy.

    3. I would be interested to know how Scott addresses God’s power in the book. He says he grew up interested in Calvin (who has tragic notions of God’s power) and now he’s interested in more Arminian notions of God’s power (which also have tragic notions of God’s power). Scott is making a lot of assumptions about the “omni’s” of God (omnipotence, omniscience etc.), assumptions that are destructive to the planet, destructive to the poor, destructive to the sick (etc.) and are in dire need of addressing!

  • I’ve always been thankful for Dr McKnight’s voice in any conversation as it adds depth and a perspective which might be unfamiliar for so many evangelicals.

    The contentious issue of eternal security is likely due to come up again, specifically with millennials and their vagabond spirituality. How do we deal with past moral failures or times where we practiced other faiths (i.e. Buddhism, Islam, etc)? Were we still Christians? Do we need to be saved again?

    For my take, I’m a firm believer in eternal security. Salvation is given to those who believe (John 3:16; Rom 10:9f; 1 Cor 1:21; Eph 2:8f; etc.) and is a gift from God. For those of us who believe God is the exclusive grantor of salvation to people who cannot do anything to obtain it ourselves, what can we do to lose that salvation?

    In other words, there is a pattern for salvation in the NT (not a simply the sinner’s prayer mind you.) Passages such as Acts 16:30f and Romans 10:9f stand as examples of this process. Yet there is no pattern for losing our salvation outlined in the text. One would think that if you can lose your salvation, there would be a pretty explicit set of texts talking about the nature or amount of sinfulness necessary to lose salvation. This doesn’t appear in the NT.

    As well, we consider Jesus’ own statements that those who are given to him cannot be taken away (John 6:37; 10:28.) If Jesus gives us eternal life, does that mean Jesus can also take it away? These rhetorical questions can go on for a while.

    Perhaps if you have a synergistic view of salvation where people are part of the process of their own salvation, you can reasonably assert a lack of eternal security. However, if you hold to a mongeristic view of salvation, that God provides the means and action of salvation, it seems difficult. Though I am not Reformed, it seems that the burden of the NT testimony shows us that salvation, as a gift from God, is something which truly changes us and seals us in his justification (1 Cor 1:22.) While can point out that just because people fall away, or reject Christ after a supposed salvation experience, doesn’t inherently mean they were ever saved, we also must be careful not to fall into the “No True Scotsman” Fallacy. These are important discussions.

    So, just a couple of thoughts on eternal security. My perspective is one of a theologically conservative evangelical. I am thankful for other perspectives and think we are stronger for the conversation.

  • At Reformed Theological Seminary we had to write a paper on whether or not, according to the book of Hebrews, one can lose their salvation. I found McKnight’s original piece on the warning passages in the book of Hebrews to be enlightening. However, I felt that there was just not enough that was said in regards to texts such as: Philippians 1:6; John 6:38-40; Ephesians 1:13-14; 1 John 5:13; etc. Also, when I analyzed McKnight’s writing on Hebrews 10:26-31, I felt that he misinterpreted the Greek word “hagiazo” (set apart). I believe the interpretation, “by which one is sanctified” makes more sense than, “by which he was sanctified” in light of the text. This person in Hebrews 10 was set apart because he was externally part of the Christian community and not a true regenerate believer. On another note, Wayne Grudem and David Desilva have written extensively on the warning passages in Hebrews and I think they present a very strong and fair case.

  • Garet,

    Thanks. Good thoughts. You mention there isn’t a pattern for losing one’s salvation in the Bible. But is that really a an argument against the view. I mean, we post-enlightenment believers want a neatly packaged pattern or process for everything but sometimes I wonder if it may be as simple as an invitation into a mystery– “Come and persevere. Be faithful.” Idk. I agree with you. I’m just thinking through this…


  • James Adams

    I find Dr. McKnight’s perspective helpful and, dare I say, biblical. The Hebrews author makes the same point in referring to the Israelites failure to enter the promised land (Heb 4). Though heard the promise, they failed to persevere and did mt enter the rest. The author connects this notion to salvation in warning his readers that they too may not enter eternal rest if they fail to persevere. This seems to be position taken by the earliest post-apostolic Christians, ie. 1st and 2nd Clement and the letters if Ignatius.

  • Matt,

    I wonder though if both views end up in the same place. If you can be an external member but not really a believer, doesn’t it still lead to questioning about security? Doesn’t one just as easily say, “I wonder if I lost my salvation” as “Maybe I’ve never actually been ‘saved'”?

    Your thoughts?


  • You bring up an important point, which many ignore. That is, the views of the earliest Christians. This is fertile ground, I think, for more discussion…

  • I think the issue with your comment is that one can of course doubt their salvation. For example, it is possible for you to have some doubts at certain times as to whether or not you feel “eternally secure” or “saved.” But just because you question your salvation, does not mean that eternal security is not true. I believe that the One who calls us, also keeps us (Jude 1:1).

    I believe that it logically does not make sense either for one to be “saved” and have the blood of Jesus Christ wash them and sanctify them, and then all of that just be “undone.”

    Again, I believe that McKnight has not presented exegetical justification for why he interpreted Hebrews 10 the way that he did. Also, I have not read or seen anything as to how McKnight interprets a few eternal security passages outside of the book of Hebrews (i.e. Phil. 1:6; Eph. 1:13-14).

  • I think you’ve got a good point. I just wonder that if one allows for a loss of salvation, without knowing what qualifies as losing that salvation, is there ever a confidence in your salvation to begin with? Is it a certain amount of sinning? Or types of sin? Just a curious line of discussion.

    Salvation is indeed a wondrous mystery of grace. We shouldn’t forget that. The better argument is the primary one, that salvation, being a gift, isn’t something you can return or lose.

    Though we, westerners, think of it too often in terms of formulaic modernist processes, there is something grand in the mystery of its grace.

  • Good questions…

  • More Jesus less Caesar………..

  • “Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me, not for time alone but for Eternity”…(and Lo I am with you always)……..

  • Rick Knox

    I’ve loved reading these comments, and the civil tone which characterized them. But I’ve missed any reference to the promises and warnings of Revelation 2 and 3, where the promises were to be fulfilled to those who “overcome.” For example, Rev. 2:8-ll; 25-26. In Rev. 3:4-5, Christ promises to him who overcomes that He will “never blot out his name from the book of life.” Could that happen if one is eternally secure? In each challenge to the churches, there are real warnings, real dangers expressed, and implied decisions to be made by those addressed–repentance, overcoming, and patient endurance. That, added to the warnings in Col. 1:22-23 and Hebrews 6 indicate to me that there’s enough mystery between the positions of Calvinism and Arminianism to eliminate smugness and complacency as we continue to trust in the loving care of the one who has freed us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His Son. As adopted children who have been born from above, we have lots of reason to trust God for our security. Can one who is born become “unborn”? But as those who often choose our will over God’s, we need to practice drawing near to Him and abiding in Him in order to sense the security which we believe we have.

  • Tim

    Scot, I’ve seen the heresy charges leveled against Arminians by Calvinists, and vice versa. When they come up, I follow the advice of a wise judge back when I was still practicing law and thought someone was attacking me personally during a hearing. He said, “Just ignore her. That’s what I do.” Then he went on to rule in my favor

    My righteous Judge also rules in my favor, whether I understand doctrine rightly or not. That’s the beauty of the gospel. If anyone tries to attack me for believing that, then I’ll once again follow that sage advice I received long ago: I’ll just ignore ’em.


  • Jeff

    I couldn’t agree more. If a child can’t understand it I don’t think it’s worth debating.

  • Lori Smith

    Having just finished Dr. McKnight’s A Long Faithfulness, I think it needs to be noted that he continually refers to this being an un-choosing. This is not someone just committing one too many sins and “losing” their salvation. This is a willful walking away. The person in their free-will chose to believe and then, in their free-will, to un-choose God (God allowing this by surrendering this area of His Sovereignty to allow us free choice). He says the person who is worrying if they are apostate isn’t–the apostate knows and is proud of their decision to stop following God. It’s not God turning His back and being unfaithful. I’ve grown up Southern Baptist so always heard “once saved, always saved,” and I found Dr. McKnight’s arguments to be very compelling, and they certainly hold true with those that I have seen leave the faith. They want to be boss of their lives, not God.

  • Cheers from the Finger Lakes,

    As much as Christians argue about the many points of biblical theology, I am a firm believer that God does intend for us to have clear answers – He is of course capable of speaking a clear word.

    Regarding this doctrine and others of like controversy, finding the clearest passages as the controlling paradigm for interpretation is most important. Not to be “that guy,” but I actually wrote and published on this very topic just a few hours ago, before I had seen this thread. Check me out here and give me the most rigorous critique possible:



  • Good thinking to bring in Revelation references!

  • billwald

    Doesn’t matter because there is no objective test for regeneration aka salvation.

    For all the Calvinists know, God has only elected LDS members and Zen Buddhists.

  • Tim

    That’s a rather simplistic and misleading statement of Calvinism, Bill. If you don’t like Calvinism, address what it really says and the explain your own understanding of our blessed assurance in Christ. But don’t criticize Calvinism for something it doesn’t hold.

  • Don Heller

    How about instead of arguing if one can lose their salvation… if they have made the right choice or not, allow themselves to inherit eternal life and then live in it that father /child relationship and love their neighbor as themselves?
    Just a liberal Lutheran thought wandering through this discussion! 🙂

  • I think the entirety of Hebrews is about not neglecting salvation. That’s “neglect”, not “lose”. Dr. McKnight’s self-stipulated stricture aside, were not the epistles in general originally read to churches, which churches most certainly had false professors mixed in with genuine believers?

    Has anyone ever considered Heb 2:4, regarding signs, wonders, and gifts of the Holy Spirit as being God’s witness, as a bookend to Heb 6:4-6 and its warning to those who have been enlightened by and tasted that which God has provided as a witness, and then fallen away? This is truly a warning against neglecting a great salvation. We should also not neglect Heb 6:7-10, with it’s allusion to fruit-bearing, and it’s assurance to the “beloved” (genuine believers). Also, note the shift to third-person pronouns in vss 4-7, then the return to second-person in vs 9.

    @Rick Knox: Rev 3:5 says to Sardis he who overcomes or conquers Jesus will “never blot his name out of the book of life”. This really isn’t the same as saying there are some whose name *will* be blotted out. If we just must find a matching antithesis, we should understand that persons could be banished from a city’s list of citizens if they were found to be undesirable. And John explains to us what it means to overcome or conquer in 1 John 5:4.

  • TMS

    Every other world religion demands that its followers do things in order to make themselves right with its god and attain whatever it holds out as heaven. Christianity is the only one in which God (Jesus) does everything needed for His follower (me) to attain eternal salvation. The idea that man can definitively reverse this or any accomplishment of God is inconsistent with the character of God and does violence to the power of the Resurrection.

  • gary

    Don’t you think that it is a problem that there is no evidence in the Early Christian Church of the belief that “once saved, always saved”? In fact, quite the opposite. There are plenty of early Christian pastors and theologians in the first three to four centuries AD who warn Christians not to be complacent in their faith and live a life of willful sin…lest they perish to eternal damnation.

    I grew up evangelical. I witnessed many persons pray the Sinner’s Prayer or go forward during an Altar Call and make what seemed to be very genuine professions of faith. These people then went on to witness to others about salvation through faith in Christ, attend Church and prayer meetings, etc. for a number of years.

    They NOW never darken a church door or read a Bible. One person has converted to be a Muslim to marry her Arab husband, completely abandoning the Christian faith. I know of others who became murderers and child molesters and are unrepentant. I know others who are now living lives of sexual immorality and believe that there is nothing wrong with their behavior.

    Do you really believe that if one of these former believers dies…he or she will go to heaven???

    I know one Lutheran mother who’s daughter became an evangelical and had a “born again” experience. A short time later the daughter started living with her boyfriend. Her mother warned her that what she was doing is sin, and that ongoing willful sin against God places her salvation in jeopardy. The daughter replied, “Don’t worry, Mom. I’m covered. I was born again, and if you are born again there is no way you can lose your salvation no matter what you do. Lutherans are wrong.”

    Neither infant baptism nor an adult “born again” experience is a “Get-into-heaven-free” card! Salvation only occurs by the grace of God, received through faith. No faith, no salvation.

    The Christian whose faith and trust is in the Lord need never worry about his eternal security/his salvation. Our salvation is not dependent on how many good works we do. But, the believer who takes his salvation for granted, turns his back on God and lives a life of sin is endangering his soul and very well may wake up one day in hell!

    The doctrine of Eternal Security is an invention of the Calvinists, codified at the Synod of Dort. It is false teaching. It did not exist in the Early Church. It is a license to sin! The Doctrine of Eternal Security is not scriptural!

    I encourage evangelicals to read this Lutheran statement on this issue:

  • TMS

    It doesn’t matter what the early Christian pastors and/or theologians taught. Just like it doesn’t matter “what the teachings of the church” are as stated by Roman Catholic priests at the beginnings of their TV commentaries nor any policy statements of the Lutheran Church. What matters is what the Bible says. The intuitively obvious teaching of the Bible is eternal security. Look no further than John 10:25-30. Also enumerating other peoples’ sin (including the sin of hypocrisy) ignores that fact that everyone’s sin is equally horrible and offensive to God and deserves the punishment of Hell. That God saves anybody is one of His most amazing attributes. Finally Mt. 7:21-23 tells us that not everyone who names the Name is a believer and called to eternal life.

  • JPeterson

    I agree with you completely!

  • Stuart

    Yes, why are we still debating this subject when Jesus himself gave us the answer 2,000 years ago? Please refer to Luke 15.

    In Luke 15, most teachings on the parable of the prodigal son focus on the father’s mercy and willingness to forgive his son. This is certainly true as the prodigal repented of his ways and returned to his father’s graciously open arms. However I don’t think that this aspect of the parable was Jesus’ main teaching point as Jesus repeats only one phrase in this whole story and we know that when Jesus repeats something to his listeners, he is putting emphasis on something so we’d better take heed. Moreover he concludes this story with v.32 being the last verse thus summarizing his main teaching point. With that in mind, in verses 24 & 32 the father describes his son as being dead but alive AGAIN; was lost but is found. How can someone be made alive again? We are born again once when we first believe but how is the son made alive a second time? Note that the father described his son as being dead – not physically dead but spiritually dead. The son was spiritually alive when he abided in his father’s house but when he separated himself to pursue a lifestyle of sin, he became spiritually dead. When he repented and returned to his father seeking forgiveness he was made alive AGAIN. Thus Jesus’ point is that a believer/child of God can forfeit their salvation/inheritance when they no longer abide and sever themselves from the vine through habitual disobedience. If one repents as in the prodigal’s case, God forgives and one is made alive again but if one remains in an unrepentant condition, one is spiritually dead and separated from God.

  • Stuart

    If we look at Jn 10:25-30, eternal security is only promised to those who “listen” and “follow” the shepherd (v.27). No such assurance can be said to apply to those who don’t listen and who don’t follow. Obedience is requisite.

  • stuart

    Perhaps you may want to consider Romans 8:12-13 which I think is one of the clearer texts warning that Christians can lose their salvation. “Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation-but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For IF you live according to the flesh, YOU WILL DIE; but IF by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, YOU WILL LIVE.”
    Paul’s warning is a somber one as these verses describe the potential death of born-again believers, referred to as the brethren in v. 12. If this death were not a real possibility, the warning would be nonsensical. We also know that this warning pertains to spiritual death – not physical death – because everyone dies physically irrespective of how we live our lives. Moreover, one must have spiritual life in order to be in danger of spiritual death. You cannot threaten a spiritually dead person with spiritual death. Such a person is already dead. Therefore, it must be concluded that these are regenerate brethren who are being warned of dying. Also note that this verse is conditional – not unconditional – as indicated by the word “if.” IF believers walk according to the flesh = they will die. IF believers walk according to the Spirit = they will live. Simple as that. Verse 13 cannot be said to apply to unbelievers because only believers have the choice as to whether to walk according to the Spirit or according to the flesh. Unregenerate persons have no such choice and can only walk according to the flesh. Thus, it stands to reason that Paul’s warning of spiritual death; i.e. eternal separation from God is directed to Christians who live in rebellion and knowingly engage in habitual sin.