In anticipation of this week’s Bible Study at our church, I’ve been re-reading different takes on the idea of “the security of the believer” – a phrase one won’t find in the text. It’s called other things, “eternal security” and “once saved always saved” are a couple of the more popular phrases. Regardless of what you call it, defending it seems a huge challenge if one allows for the plain meaning of the biblical text.
Now I don’t have a burning desire to convince anyone that the security of the believer is a false premise. Most folks in that camp are firmly entrenched as, I might add, those on the opposite end of the argument. What I’ve tried to do in my own considerations of the biblical evidence is attempt to figure out what is so threatening about the concept of apostasy?
I suspect, if push came to shove, most people see the weakness of the “security” concept. I also suspect that much of their concern is due more to our Western frame of thought than anything else. For example, in our culture, avoiding personal responsibility is not uncommon. Therefore to take personal responsibility for one’s ongoing relationship to Christ is threatening on many counts.
In my mind, the main issue centers on two misconceptions. One is the idea of eternal salvation. That is the lynchpin for many when it comes to “the security of the believer.” However, what is often misunderstood is that it is the salvation that’s eternal not the possession of it. Second, being secure in one’s relationship to Christ is a matter of end-of-days endurance or perseverance. It is NOT, as some would falsely proclaim, a matter of getting up every morning and wondering whether or not you are saved. That’s a pitiful argument similar in scope to the argument used by the democrats regarding obamacare – “if you don’t vote for this babies will be dying the streets.” Perhaps it’s time the discussion is elevated to a higher level of discussion.
Another false premise is “you can’t lose what you can’t earn.” Really? Show me. Yes, I can give you hundreds of verses (in context) that speak contrary to that elementary idea. I also know that the other side can cite their verses. So why does the scripture seem to create its own tension on this issue? It’s not a matter of losing – that connotates an accidental action. It’s a matter of walking away, abandoning, turning one’s back on, etc. One point to recognize here is this – the responsibility of endurance is on us, not on God. HE will fulfill his end of the covenant if we are faithful to the end in fulfilling ours.
I realize this whole issue is a ripe for some rather pointed discussion. However, if the plain meaning of the text is usually the correct meaning of the text, then perhaps we should give that premise its due. We can’t allow ourselves the danger of brining theological predispositions to the text and forcing the text to fit within that ideology.