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Friday, 14 May 2010

Why True Believers Are Eternally Secure In Their Salvation

Edited 19 Sep 2012
After this article was written, I found another excellent article (possibly even better) written by the hand of Harry Ironside. Please read this new link first together with the following content. Please click here to read "Eternal Security of the Believer".

Here is an excellent article by Michael J. Penfold of (See also listed in "my links")  which explains clearly what happens when a person is truly born-again and why scripturally and logically the believer can not lose their salvation.. But it would be good to get things into context first by reading my post entitled What Is Repentance? found within this link  Anyway, this is what Michael Penfold wrote:

Arriving at a clear understanding of the true nature of salvation represents the first step in settling the question of eternal security. The Bible clearly teaches that at the very moment of genuine repentance and saving faith a sinner is:  Converted - turned around (Acts 3:19),       Reconciled - made at peace (2 Cor 5:19),       Sanctified - set apart for God (1 Cor 1:2),       Regenerated - given new life (1 Pet 1:23),     Redeemed - purchased or bought back (1 Pet 1:18),      Adopted - placed in God’s family as a son (Rom 8:15) and        Justified - declared righteous by God (Rom 3:28, 2 Cor 5:21).

Furthermore the repentant sinner is sealed with, indwelt by, baptised in and anointed with the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13, John 14:17, 1 Cor 12:13, 1 John 2:27). He receives eternal life (John 3:36) and because he is now ‘in Christ’, he is
 predestined to be conformed to Christ’s image (Rom 8:29). He has come from darkness to light, from death to life and from the power of Satan to God. Once he was blind but now he can see. Truly, he is blessed with all spiritual blessings (Eph 1:3)!

From the very first moment of faith in Christ, all of this is equally true of every single child of God. These are positional truths unrelated to and independent of changing human emotions and feelings. Think for a minute: if Christians can lose their salvation, God is reversing all these actions in the lives of hundreds of people daily.

But what about believers who sin?

Part of the reason why some people deny eternal security is due to their mistaken belief that when they were saved, God only forgave the sins they had committed up to that point in time. They feel they must keep confessing their sins daily to ‘stay saved’. If they commit a particularly bad sin, they will lose their salvation and need to be born again...again. However, the Bible is clear that when God justifies a sinner, He clears his guilt, past, present and future. The sinner is declared righteous on the basis of the propitiatory and substitutionary death of Christ. Think about it; when Christ died on the cross no one now living existed. All their sins were future! So, where are the sins of those who believe in Christ? They have been remitted and forgiven on the basis of their acceptance of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ at Calvary. Christ gave Himself a ransom for all, and those who believe are justified from all things, from which they could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts13:39). God never reverses His justification of repentant sinners!

The daily sins of a believer must be confessed individually to God (1 John 1:9), but this is to maintain communion with Christ, not union with Christ. When God adopts into His family, a child of wrath becomes a son of God (1 John 3:1). Although a son in a human family may disobey his parents and be punished, nothing can change the fact of his sonship. Thus it is with a true child of God; the Lord will not cast him away.

Can Christians live as they like?

This seems a logical question at first sight, but it betrays a further misunderstanding of the nature of salvation. Paul encountered this objection when he expounded the twin truths of imputed righteousness and justification by ‘faith alone’ in Romans ch. 3. He states: ‘‘Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein? ’’ (Rom 6:2). He progresses the argument to explain that justified sinners have died to sin. Once the slaves of sin, they have now changed masters. Salvation never sets a man free to do as his sinful nature pleases. From the first moment, the new-born believer cries out ‘‘Lord, what do You want me to do’’ (Acts 9:5). There are no ‘free agents’ in the world, for all are either slaves of sin or bond-servants of Jesus Christ. When a sinner turns to God from idols, it is with a view to becoming God’s bond-slave (1 Thess 1:9).

True believers who fall into sin will be chastened by their Father (Heb 12:6-11) and disciplined by their local church (1 Cor 5:4-5); but any professing Christians who live in sin and go unpunished, only prove they were never saved in the first place (Heb 12:8) — for ‘‘whoever is born of God does not practise sin’’ (1 John 3:9). Thus, the Bible does not teach that those who profess Christianity but then return to their sinful ways are still ‘guaranteed heaven’. The Bible repeatedly emphasises the fact that “the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Judas exemplifies this truth. That he never lost his salvation is clear from the Lord’s words to the 12 disciples; ‘‘Ye are clean, but not all ’’ (John 13:10). Judas had never been to Christ for cleansing and forgiveness. His actions proved he was an apostate, not a backslider.

But what about all those tricky verses?

Well known evangelical speakers and writers in the UK, like David Pawson and Jacob Prasch, attempt to prove from the Bible that Christians can lose their salvation. What verses do they employ in their teaching? Here are six typical verses:

1. ‘‘If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned’’ (John 15:6).

This verse concerns ‘abiding in Christ’ and refers to believers’ ‘communion’ - not ‘union’ - with Him. Thus the Lord Jesus Himself speaks in v10 of His own abiding in the Father. The figurative language of v6 speaks of one who, through lack of communion with Christ, loses his testimony before men (men gather and burn, not God).

2. ‘‘ have fallen from grace’’ (Gal 5:4)

While the epistle to the Romans proves that sinners are saved by ‘faith plus nothing’, Galatians proves they stay saved by ‘faith plus nothing’. The irony is that many who would abhor any thought of earning salvation by works, attempt to keep their salvation by works, which theologically amounts to the same thing. One cannot keep by works the gift one received by faith (Rom6:23). ‘Falling from grace’ in the context of Galatians, refers to those who were trying to keep the law to ‘stay saved’ and had therefore fallen away from the true teaching of salvation through grace. They had lost their understanding of true salvation (unmerited grace), not salvation itself.

3. ‘‘You...has He reconciled...if you continue in the faith’’ (Col 1:21-23)

Does this verse teach conditional salvation? Not at all. Repeatedly in scripture, ‘if’ simply means ‘since’. One may be asked to turn off a light switch and reply, ‘‘If you say so’’. So here in Colossians, the fact that some continues in the faith furnishes the proof of their salvation; it is not put forth as a condition of salvation.

4. ‘‘For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened...If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance’’ (Heb 6:6)

In checking the context here, it is clear that those mentioned were enlightened but not saved. They tasted but did not drink. They experienced spiritual power but were not personally born again. These Jews had come out of Christ-rejecting Judaism into a knowledge of the truth, yet they had stopped short of actual faith in Christ. With full knowledge of the gospel, they had turned their backs on Christ. The context clearly shows that the author of Hebrews did not have true believers in mind here. Verse 9 states: ‘‘But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation.’’ In other words, no true believer can apostatise. (If this passage taught loss of salvation, the loss would be permanent — no repentance is possible according to v6).

5. ‘‘For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more sacrifice for sins’’ (Heb 10:26)

If this verse robs all deliberately sinning believers of salvation, then all are lost; for all believers commit deliberate sins. To avoid this particular doctrinal pitfall, it is vital to understand the ‘wilful sin’ in the context of the entire Hebrew epistle. Verse 26 refers to Jews who had come to a head-knowledge of the Messiah and then gone back to ritualistic Christ-rejecting Judaism. Then in v39 the position of true believers is contrasted with these Jewish apostates: ‘‘But we are not of those who draw back unto perdition; but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.’’ True believers may backslide, but they can never become apostate.

6. ‘‘For if after they have escaped...they are again entangled...the latter end is worse with them than the beginning’’ (2 Peter 2:20-22)

Again, this verse is about apostasy not ‘backsliding’. Believers are sheep (1 Pet 5:2), but here Peter is speaking of dogs and pigs (v22). They had a head-knowledge of the truth but had not truly repented. Finally, after an outward association with Christianity, they drifted back to the very depths of worldly pollution from which they had ‘escaped’.
So, each verse that may appear at first glance to teach conditional salvation, can be seen on closer inspection to teach no such thing. There is no space to deal with other verses here, but reference to sound evangelical commentaries will furnish plenty of helpful exposition to clarify any further difficulties.

4 Questions

Those who teach conditional salvation often avoid specifics. How would they answer the following questions:

i) What sin causes loss of salvation?

A theft? A swear word? A lie? Ten lies? 50 lies? No specific uniform answers are available, indicating the unsound foundation on which this error is built.

ii) How does loss of salvation become known to an individual?

Again, solid answers are not there, only nebulous suggestions.

iii) How is salvation recovered?

If salvation is through believing, how does one ‘believe again’? No one who has had Christ revealed to his soul could ever ‘believe again’. Interestingly, some cults who teach baptismal regeneration and conditional salvation do not insist on rebaptism once a ‘backslider’ has been ‘restored’. In other words, baptism is essential for salvation first time around, but not the second time — repentance is all that is needed!

iv) Where in scripture is there an example of a true believer losing his salvation and then being saved again?

There is not a single case of this type anywhere in the Bible. Some have suggested the case of the immoral man in 1 Corinthians ch. 5. However, scripture never indicates he lost his salvation. Once he was disciplined he truly repented, thus proving his genuineness — after which he was received back into the local church at Corinth (2 Cor 2:6-8).

Here now is a list of scriptures to prove the glorious truth of scripture — ‘once in Christ in Christ forever’.

John 5:24: ‘‘Verily, Verily, I say unto you, he that hears My word, and believes on Him who sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but has passed from death unto life.’’ This ‘passage’ is a one way street and carries no threat of reversal.

John 10:27-28: ‘‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and [firstly] they shall never perish, [secondly] neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.’’ Some make an attempt to circumvent the clarity of eternal security as taught in this verse by saying that while no other man is able, a Christian can pluck himself out of the Father’s hand! Actually, the word ‘man’ is an italicised supplied word. The verse is simply teaching the no foe or force of any kind can ever sever the true believer from Christ.

Eph 4:30: ‘‘And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.’’ The seal of ownership upon every believer is guaranteed to continue right through to the resurrection and beyond.

Phil 1:6: ‘‘Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.’’ God has promised to see Christians through to the day of Christ’s return.

II Tim 1:12: ‘‘I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.’’ If salvation depended on individuals, each one would have perished long ago. Thank God He is able to keep without losing even one weak believer.

For further reading see also Heb 5:9, 10:14, 1 Peter 1:3-5, 1 John 5:11-13. The scriptural motivation for Christian service should not be fear of losing one’s salvation but rather love to Christ. How tragic that some attend church and read their Bibles driven by the fear that if they do not fulfil these duties they will be cast out. May the Lord graciously reveal the truth of eternal security and the believer’s new position in Christ, that bond-service to Him may become the most blessed freedom of all.

John Chingford's  Further Comments On Eternal Security
Once we throw ourselves upon Jesus (after becoming convicted that we need to be saved from our sins) receive Him as our personal saviour, then the life of grace begins, but not before. Actually, it may be that the work of grace was going on in our heart, powered by God (through the Holy Spirit) to enable us to repent, but WE still need to respond to Jesus first, receiving Him as our Saviour.

Once we are born-again (after receiving Jesus) we are no longer alone. The Holy Spirit is changing us from within - we are a new creation the old has passed away. From this moment it is all of grace and all of God. He who begana good work in us will bring it to completion until the Day of Christ.

This is why I firmly believe it is impossible for a born-again believer to lose their salvation. You cannot be born and then "unborn". If a person receives Christ into their hearts AFTER genuine repentance, they are eternally secure!

If anyone is questioning whether they were truly saved or whether they ever repented before receiving Christ, just ask yourself the questions:

"is serving Jesus the be all and end all of my life? do I hate sin and impurity? would I rather be with Jesus in Heaven or would rather prolong my life here on Earth? Do I love Jesus and get lost in wonder of His love and goodness? Do I have a tender heart that responds compassionately automatically? Do I have a special love for God's people? do I believe in Jesus with all my heart and soul? Am I trusting Him alone for my salvation? Am I seeking His guidance for my life? Do I seek to glorify Him only?

The above are all evidences that you HAVE been born-again. I guess it is possible to do some of these without being born-again but impossible to do them all. The born-again person will be doing them as a matter of course because the Holy Spirit is working these things within them. You cannot achieve all these by self effort.

If these are not working in your life then you probably still need repent. It is not too late! You can do it now! Just cry out to God confessing your sins and turn your life over to Him and choose to go His way asking to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said "how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask". But remember that although you may have a wonderful initial experience as you are filled, the Holy Spirit is NOT a feeling or a power but a Person. You will be empowered to serve God with boldness but you may not always have feelings and cannot rely on having feelings as a "sign" that He is within you, but there will be the above evidences.


Expected Imminently said...

Hello John
I had seen this, but not read it as I was a little bemused that it was written by Michael Penfold (Penfold books?) If it’s the same one I have met, in those far off days I am sure he thought we could lose salvation? That is why I didn’t bother to read it, I thought I would disagree and I didn’t want the hassle – however it is very good and accurate.

I am glad you tackled Hebrews on Shofar; I was trying to get ready for that one - then you did it, great.

By the by, I am on the lookout for something appropriate I can copy re the Rapture.
God bless

John Chingford said...


I have sent something appropriate re the rapture to your email address

John Chingford said...

Someone asked whether it is possible to (later) reject Jesus and return to our wicked ways by exercising our God given FREE WILL.

Apostle Paul says that he is a bond slave of Christ. In fact we are ALL slaves of Christ. Jesus is the Master. A bond slave has chosen to yield his will to his master.

Besides Jesus said that those who follow Him must deny themselves and take up their cross. Paul said it is no longer I who live but Christ within me.

Therefore, have we not surrendered our wills and crucified them to the cross when we decide to follow Jesus?

In reality it is a lifetime gradual yielding up of our wills to Jesus. Point I am making is that the moment we repented, turned from our selfish/sinful ways and gave our lives to Jesus, we were asking Jesus to take control of our wills.

The Holy Spirit DOES NOT force God's Will upon us immediately because He knows we are flesh and weak. Unlike satan He leads us gently and does not drive us to yield up our wills immediately. It is an ongoing work in our hearts and minds.

However, at the point of our commitment to Christ, He also makes a commitment to us not to let us go, by influencing our hearts and minds to choose Him (so, if we were truly born-again, we couldn't lose our salvation even if we wanted to).

He will ensure that He brings us home because He honours our prayer when we said we hand over our will to Him.

When Jesus stated that those who endure to the end will be saved we need to understand the Greek idea of past, present and future tenses of the words.

We have been saved, we ARE being saved and we shall be saved. Those who endure to the end will be FINALLY saved, ie the FULL and COMPLETE work of salvation which is already working in us.

Truly born-again believers WILL be kept until the end because "it is Jesus working in us to will and to work according to His good purpose".

He places the earnestness in our hearts to live for Him. Paul said "It is no longer I that live but Christ who lives in me". Therefore we do not "work" at staying saved because His grace keeps me. We have become a new creation the old things have passed away behold all things have become new.

As true believers we WILL endure to the end. At the end of time we will enjoy the FULL benefit and blessings of that salvation, but now we enjoy in limited measure as we still reside in unglorified bodies.

John Chingford said...


Today I have edited this article by adding an extra link to an excellent article from Harry Ironside entitled "Eternal Security of the Believer".

For those still in doubt as to whether a believer is secure or whether they can lose their salvation, I recommend you read this. The link is

John Chingford said...

I would like to clarify something I wrote on this article. I just noticed, today, that it needs to be edited.

I wrote:

“Point I am making is that the moment we repented, turned from our selfish/sinful ways and gave our lives to Jesus, we were asking Jesus to take control of our wills.”

needs to be slightly changed to:

“Point I am making is that the moment we repented, (i.e changed our minds) being convicted about our sinful condition and gave our lives to Jesus, we were effectivelyasking Jesus to take control of our wills also (so that we are eternally kept from ever completely falling away).”

John Chingford said...

Sorry, my last comment was referring to an error on the article. Actually, the error was not in the article but in one of my comments above. you can read the context of it in paragraph 5 of comment 3 or go to:

Gary said...

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:

John Chingford said...

Hi Gary

Sorry that I didn't get round to posting your comment until now. I notice that you also wrote another comment on the new calvinism article. I have replied to that comment also.

It appears that you have going through the mill over the last year or so.

In answer to your comment on this article, I would like you to read my most recent article which tackles the issues you have raised. It is called:

"Why The Doctrine "Salvation Requires Continuing Works To Get To Heaven" Is a SERIOUS Heresy"


You mention that there is no evidence in the early church of the doctrine of eternal security. It all depends what you mean by the early church. The New Testament has plenty of evidence of that teaching from Jesus and the apostle Paul.

However, if you are referring to the teachings of the so called "church fathers", then you may have a point. The problem with possibly most of these church fathers is that they had been affected by the teaching of gnostics that had infiltrated the church.

The apostle Paul warned of such false apostles, false teachers, leaven etc which would infiltrate the church soon after his departure:

Acts 20:29-31:
" For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things , to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears."

Many of these church fathers taught gnosticism and the "mysteries" as contained in Babylon religion. Gnosticism means "knowing", i.e. having access to the mysteries and knowing them. As we now know, the church of Rome (catholic church) incorporated these mysteries as a re-emergence of Babylonic religion. These church fathers were a stepping stone to the work based religion of Rome that we see today.

Luther never recanted being a catholic. He simply highlighted some of the gross errors in their organisation but (as far as I understand it) never taught on eternal security. Luther Being a "reformed" catholic, it is no wonder that the Lutheran church still preaches a somewhat works based salvation.

Therefore, the later early church (as warned by Jesus in the book of Revelation) was becoming almost totally corrupted by false teaching and their practices. The first early church (as in the New Testament) is the only reliable material we should use to determine whether eternal security was taught or not.

Paul mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:7:

"For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work". He was referring to the mysteries of Babylon already existing at that time. Therefore, you cannot rely on the teachings of the early church fathers that brought influence other than the teachings of the NT.

John Chingford said...

To add ...

No-one can know for sure if other "christians" are saved or not saved. Therefore, we are in no position to judge whether a person is saved or not. Only God knows who is saved and knows the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

It is impossible for a truly born again believer to live a habitual life of sin because the Holy Spirit is working within the believer to change them "from one degree of glory to another". This is a lifetime work and the Holy Spirit is working in that individual, sanctifying them from a lifestyle of in.

Once that believer puts their faith and trust in Jesus, God is committed to protect and secure that believer for eternity. "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion until the Day of Christ"

Those who fall away were either never born again (never inviting Jesus to live within their hearts) or they are temporarily backslidden (the Holy Spirit WILL lead such people back again).

The former "so called" believers, were possibly never really repentant i.e never under the conviction that they were sinners destined for hell who could only be saved by the work of Jesus and did not ever believe in the true Christ but believed in a wishy washy Jesus.

Or, they simply believed because of the teaching that they would prosper with health and wealth if they become believers. Those type of believers were motivated by selfish reasons - not by the conviction of sin.

Anonymous said...


I'm learning of grace. Trying to leave works behind but struggling with scriptures. I'm hoping you could help. Do you know why Paul says to pursue holiness, without which none will see the Lord.


John Chingford said...

Hi Sandy

Regarding the quote you gave, let us look at the entire verse which is Hebrews 12:14:

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord"

It is not just the holiness but peace with all men.

We need to consider this in light of the context in which it is written. Therefore you need to understand the purpose of the book of Hebrews and the context within the chapter.

It sounds similar to what Jesus said on the sermon on the mount:

* "blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God" and
* "blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God"

The context of Hebrews chapter 12 is about born again believers relationship with the Lord. It is not discussing works to maintain salvation, but the things required to keep us close in our relationship with the Lord and our experience ("see the Lord") of Him.

Holiness simply means a separating from the world unto Jesus. Unless a person recognises they are a sinner who needs salvation and separates themselves from the conformity to worldly thinking by changing their mind to believe in Jesus with all their heart, they are not saved.

However, once they have done this, receiving Jesus into their heart, they are NOW holy (separated). Jesus becomes our righteousness. Hebrews 12:14 is referring to such people who can now experience God in their lives to a lesser or greater extent related to the quality of their relationship with the Lord.

The statement "holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord" is simply reiterating that without being separated (made holy) by being born again into God's kingdom (out of the kingdom of darkness) a person cannot go to Heaven.