To the believers at Philippi, the Apostle Paul writes, “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Phil 1:6 NLT). Paul was certain about the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer. The work that God has begun in the believer he will “finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
Eternal Security Defined
The eternal security of the believer (“once saved, always saved”) is the doctrine which says that those who have been called of God, repented of their sins and trusted Jesus for salvation, and thereby regenerated and justified, receiving the Spirit of adoption as both a seal and down payment, will persevere in their faith to the end, never losing their salvation.
This, however, does not mean that the believer who holds to the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer will live anyhow he chooses, without regards for the honor of Christ and His Church.
Rather, the believer who understands the biblical doctrine of eternal security will take the “warning passages” of the New Testament seriously and will persevere in his faith to the end, being aware of the keeping power of God (1 Pet 1:5 Jude 1).
Of Grace. Salvation from beginning to end is all about grace. It is misleading to think that we who have been saved by grace are able to keep ourselves without God’s sovereign grace. The same grace that saved us is the same grace that will keep us to the end. Hear Paul:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (Phil 2:12-13 NIV, emphasis added)
This is the nature of God’s sovereign and saving grace.
Of the Trinity. Each member of the Trinity, the Godhead, is involved in the eternal security of the believer. First, God the Father will finish what he began in the believer (Rom 8:29-30; Phil 1:6 1 Pet 1:5; Jude 1). Second, God the Son not only shed his blood to atone for our sins, past, present, and future, but Paul says,
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. (Rom 8:34 NIV)
I love this verse! You know why no one condemns? Christ Jesus—“who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Wow! To know that Jesus in interceding for me is both humbling and mind-boggling at the same. How can Jesus failed to keep the believer in his intercessory work? Again, that is why Paul asks, “Who then is the one who condemns?” Answer. “No one.” Third, when the sinner came to faith in Christ, God the Holy Spirit began to indwell the person, proving both a seal and down payment (Eph 1:13-14). As seal and down payment, the Holy Spirit guarantees that the believer will persevere by faith to the end. Yes, the believer may grieve the Spirit through sin. But the Spirit remains that seal for the day of redemption (Eph 4:31).
Of the Community of Believers. Moreover, God has designed it so that the believer will persevere in his faith in the community of fellow believers. The saying, “It took a village to raise a child” is also true of God’s community of believers.
12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. (Heb 3:12-14 NIV, emphasis added)
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Heb 10:24-25 NIV, emphasis added)
We are one big family of believers. Note the “let us” and the “one anothers.” You have been saved to belong—yes, to belong to a community of fellow believers, to encourage the faith of one another to the end. This is God’s design. Jesus gave his life for this experience.
Yes, no one is perfect! And that is why we cannot abandoned one another. This is the encouragement of both passages from Hebrews. The eternal security of each believer is also a community experience.
So I encourage fellow pastors, to preach the doctrine of eternal security of the believer to his people. They need it. It is biblical. It is theologically sound. As a body of believers, your people need to hear it, especially in these challenging times.