Theological Terminology Thursday:
The Study of Specialized Words Relating to Theology
Conversion and Regeneration
By Ron F. Hale.
He has served as Pastor, Church Planter, Strategist (NAMB), Director of Missions, Associate Executive Director of Evangelism and Church Planting for a State Convention, and now in the 4th quarter of ministry as Minister of Missions.
A Personal Application of the Words
I was born into a lost and sinful world; weren’t we all!
Sin messed up the world after the fall of Adam and Eve, and the mess has been growing like a blazing inferno. Sin’s power to destroy, distort, and devalue will never change. It is seated in the very soul of sinners. Immorality and corruption, prejudice and pride, iniquity and evil, out of which grow wars and rumors of war will continue unless the hearts of men are changed.
By the age of nineteen, I was the youngest man in my state to acquire a license to sell alcohol and was part-owner and manager of a 500-seat nightclub in my hometown. The business grew. It was sort of the happening place in our city and the largest dance club between Memphis and Nashville. I was messed up and helping people make a bigger mess of their lives.
Something happened to me that changed the course of my life, family, and the lives of others. According to John 3:3 and 2 Corinthians 5:17, I was born again by the regenerating power of God; the old was gone and the new had come! In Christ, He brought about a new spiritual, volitional, moral, and intellectual change. Thirty-five years later, God continues cleaning up the mess in my life through His life-changing power.
How did this change come about in my life? Did God zap me with a bolt and jolt of regenerating power? Did I say the right words of righteousness or do something to gain God’s favor? Was it God? Was it me? What happened?
Why Your Faith Is Secure, Part 6:
What the Bible Teaches about Apostasy
We have been examining reasons for the security of the believer from Ephesians 1 and other Scriptures – that persons who are genuinely saved are saved forever. We have seen five reasons in previous articles why the Bible teaches that we cannot lose their salvation:
“Part 1 — Salvation Is of God, Not of Us,”
“Part 2 — It is Based upon a Life Changing Experience with God,”
“Part 3 — It Is Based on a Scriptural Promise.” and
“Part 4 – It Is a Logical Necessity.”
“Part 5 – It is Based on an Unchanging Relationship Status.”
In this sixth article of the series I’ll discuss the Scriptures that are often raised against belief in the security of the believer, and attempt to explain why I don’t believe that these Scriptures teach that we can lose our salvation.
The Security of the Believer and Apostasy
In five prior posts, I have been presenting the biblical rationale for the belief that once we are genuinely saved, we are saved forever. We call this belief the security of the believer or perseverance of the saints. The five reasons presented to support belief in the security of the believer’s salvation are that we cannot lose our salvation because: (1) salvation is not ours to lose since God provides it, not we ourselves; (2) it is based upon a life-changing salvation experience with God; (3) eternal salvation is a Scriptural promise; (4) eternal salvation is a logical necessity; and (5) it is based on the unchanging status of our relationship with God. However, some other Christian denominations teach that believers can indeed lose their salvation. How do they reach this conclusion? What biblical basis do they claim for their belief? Let’s look together at what they take to be a biblical rationale that persons can lose their salvation, and why we believe that this is not the correct reading of these texts.
Can a Believer Fall Away?
The primary Scripture verses usually cited on behalf of those who believe you can lose your salvation include the idea of “falling away” from the faith in Heb. 6:1-6, or the mention of apostate believers who “fall away” or “err” from the faith (as in 1 Tim. 4:1, 6:10). The word translated “fall away” in Heb. 6:6 is the Greek word peripipto, which means to turn from or deviate from the correct path. At first blush, these verses would appear to indicate that persons could possibly lose their salvation.
Why Your Faith Is Secure, Part 5:
It is Based on an Unchanging Relationship Status
We have been examining reasons for the security of the believer from Ephesians 1 and other Scriptures – that persons who are genuinely saved are saved forever. We have seen four reasons in previous articles why the Bible teaches that we cannot lose their salvation:
In this fifth article of the series we see another compelling reason why we believe that we cannot lose our salvation – because eternal salvation is based on an unchanging relationship status.
Eph. 1:13-14 describes the Holy Spirit as sealing and guaranteeing our salvation. On the basis of this Scripture and many others, we believe the Bible teaches that once someone has a genuine salvation experience is saved forever – sometimes described as “once saved, always saved.” Another reason that we have this confidence in our eternal salvation is that it is based on an unchanging status of relationship.
One of the most fundamental confusions about the security of the believer is that it is earned by good works. Some teach that if we “keep persevering” with good works that we will eventually be saved. Yes, if we are truly saved we will demonstrate “bear fruit consistent with repentance” (Matt. 3:8, HCSB; see also Acts 26:20). But we are not saved by our continuing in good works. We continue in good works because we are genuinely saved.
Salvation is not earned by good works, and neither is it kept by good works. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addressed those who listed all the good works they had done for Him, and Jesus gave them a surprisingly strong rebuke: “I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23, NASB). Note that although these would-be believers had done many good works for Jesus, these good works were not sufficient for salvation. The basis for salvation was whether or not they had ever entered into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Obviously, they had not done so, for Jesus said, “I never knew you.” Salvation, then, is based on a relationship with God, not on our performance.
Why Your Faith Is Secure, Part 4:
It Is a Logical Necessity
We have been examining reasons for the security of the believer from Ephesians 1 and other Scriptures – that persons who are genuinely saved are saved forever. We have seen three reasons in previous articles why the Bible teaches that we cannot lose their salvation:
In this fourth article of the series is the most compelling reason why we believe that we cannot lose our salvation – because eternal salvation is a logical necessity.
We have seen that Eph. 1:13-14 describes the Holy Spirit as sealing and guaranteeing our salvation. On the basis of this Scripture and many others, we believe the Bible teaches that once someone has a genuine salvation experience is saved forever – sometimes described as “once saved, always saved.” However, other Christians disagree with this teaching. As evangelist Angel Martinez used to point out years ago, there are two logical alternatives to this view, both of which are held by other Christian groups. Besides the “once saved, always saved” view, there are those who believe (a) that you can lose your salvation once, and never regain it, or (b) you can lose and regain your salvation many times.
Which of these views is correct according to Scripture? We must ask a key question of those who believe that you could lose your salvation – “Where in Scripture does it say what would be required to lose our salvation?” More specifically, what Bible verse says which particular sins would be so heinous as to cause you to lose your salvation, and what Bible verse identifies how many sins would be required to lose your salvation? I challenge anyone to find a Bible verse with specific answers to these questions with clear reference to former Christians losing their salvation. Many verses tell us what it means to be lost, but none tell us the kind of sins or the number of sins that would be required for believers to lose their salvation.
Why Your Faith Is Secure, Part 3:
It Is a Scriptural Promise
We have been examining reasons for the security of the believer from Ephesians 1 and other Scriptures – that persons who are genuinely saved are saved forever. We have seen two reasons in previous articles why the Bible teaches that we cannot lose their salvation: — “(Part 1) Salvation Is of God, Not of Us” — salvation is not ours to lose since God provides it, not we ourselves, and “(Part 2) It is Based upon a Life Changing Experience with God.” In this third article of the series is the most compelling reason why we believe that we cannot lose our salvation – because eternal salvation is a Scriptural promise.
Continuing our in-depth study of Ephesians 1, the Apostle Paul (in reference to his own salvation and the salvation of the Christians in Ephesus) spoke of being “sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13b, see also Eph. 4:30). What does being “sealed” mean? In the first century as Paul wrote these words, seals were a very important tool in communicating messages. Important instructions from a king to his army commander would usually be sent on a scroll and delivered by a messenger or courier. Two challenges came with this method of communication. First, it was possible that someone else might counterfeit a message and send the commander the wrong instructions. Second, the enemy might intercept the message, open the scroll, and read its secret contents. How could these problems be avoided? The king would put wax on the scroll to seal it, and then would imprint his signet ring on the soft wax. The commander could then know that the message was authentic and from the king because it had his sign upon it. And since the seal had not been broken, the commander could be sure that the message had not been compromised by the enemy.