Questioning Eternal Security

Q. I see this is one of your top ten topics. Without even using the book of Hebrews-which you expounded on well-I see other passages from the Holy Bible which make me question your doctrine.

Matthew 5:13. The Lord Jesus compares and calls believers the salt of the earth that if it loses its saltiness; it will be cast out and trodden under the feet of man. This sounds like the loss of salvation.

1 Timothy 5:12 speaks of young Christian widows having damnation for casting off their first faith. And this was just for getting remarried. Were we not designed and made for human companionship? Even Adam in his sinless state found no helper for him. God said “It is not good for man to be alone”. And if it was for the widows-why? Did these Christian widows lose their salvation?

2 Timothy 1 :18 Why was Paul concerned that Onesiphorus would find mercy of the Lord in that day? Didn’t the apostle Paul believe his Christian friend was eternally secure? Why was scripture used to worry about his potential mercy?

A. Let me begin by saying that in citing these passages you’re violating one of the primary rules of interpretation. You’re using vague illustrations to define clear teaching instead of the reverse. The Bible can’t contradict itself, so when it appears to do so, we are to use the clearest teaching on the matter to help us comprehend passages that aren’t as definitive.

The clearest teaching on Eternal Security is found in Ephes 1:13-14 and 2 Cor. 1:21-22. They say that our salvation is guaranteed by the Holy Spirit being sealed within us. In 2 Cor. 1:21-22 Paul said that God Himself has taken responsibility for us and has put his own seal of ownership upon us as well sealing the Holy Spirit within us. There’s no verse in the Bible that speaks of Him undoing these things, because to do so would mean that God had to change his mind about us, and therefore doesn’t know the end from the beginning after all.

In Matt. 5 Jesus was teaching on the need for a Savior. He said our righteousness has to exceed that of the Pharisees, who devoted their lives to keeping the law, or else we’d never see the Kingdom. (Matt. 5:20) Then He explained what the law really meant, to wit: Thinking wrong is as bad as doing wrong. He ended the chapter by saying we have to be perfect as our father in heaven is perfect, an impossible thing for man, but mandatory for meeting God’s standards.

We were created to dwell in the presence of God. To do that we have to be as righteous as He is. If we ever sin we’re of no more value to Him than salt that has lost it’s saltiness. Losing our saltiness is symbolic of losing our righteousness, not our salvation. Salvation is the means by which our righteousness is restored. Just like salt cannot make itself salty again, we cannot make our selves righteous again. We need a Savior and that was His point.

In 1 Tim. 5:12 Paul couldn’t have meant the young widows would lose their salvation because to have done so would have contradicted an earlier statement of his that nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:38-39) In Matt. 5:33-37 Jesus said not to make vows because we don’t know what the future will bring and the enemy will use them against us. Paul was advising Timothy to keep the young widows from falling into this trap and bringing disgrace down upon themselves and the Church by not letting them take widows’ vows.

The same goes for 2 Tim. 1:18. According to Paul’s teaching in 1 Cor. 3:10-4:5 Judgment for believers concerns the rewards we get for things we do after we’re saved. (Our sins were judged at the cross and the penalty was paid by Jesus). In 1 Cor. 3:15 he made it clear that this doesn’t concern our salvation, only our rewards. Far from worrying about his salvation, Paul was expressing his desire that the Lord would be merciful in dispensing rewards to Onesiphorus for all his acts of kindness toward Paul.

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