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Security of the Believer


Dr Grant C Richison


The Issue

Can a true believer ever lose his salvation by either sinning or ceasing to believe, or in any other way?

The Proof of Security

The doctrine of eternal security rests on a proper concept of what God actually does when He saves a soul.

He loves to the uttermost (John 13:1).

He purposes to keep in spite of everything (John 10:28-30).

He intends to present us faultless before Himself (Jude 24).

His Son ever lives to make intercession to keep us saved (Heb. 7:25; I John 2:1).

His Spirit has placed us into the Body of Christ (I Co. 12:13).

His Spirit has sealed us until the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30).

His Word guarantees that nothing (including ourselves) can separate us from Christ (Rom. 8:23-39). In order to lose one’s salvation all of these works of God would have to be undone, and the Bible nowhere even hints that this is possible.

Problem Passages

Heb. 6:4-6. If this teaches that one can lose his salvation, it also teaches that one can never be saved a second time. This passage is not talking about non-Christians but about mature and immature Christians (compare 5:12ff).

John 15:6. Probably refers to the judgment seat of Christ.

James 2:14-26. Non-working faith is not a faith that saves in the first place.

2 Peter 2 and Jude are referring to false teachers, who in Jude’s estimation were not true believers (Jude 19; cf. Rom. 8:9).

Matthew 24:13. End of what? (The great tribulation).


A. The Condition

Salvation is conditioned solely on faith in Jesus Christ. Nearly 200 times is faith or belief stated as the single condition in the NT (John 1:12; Acts 16:31).

That faith must be placed in Christ as one’s substitute for and Saviour from sin.

It is not easy to believe someone whom you have never seen about the most important matter of eternal destiny, but this and only this is the way to be saved.

B. False Additions to Faith

Through the ages other requirements in addition to faith have been wrongly added. Some of these are:

1. Surrender to the lordship of Christ.

Christ must be the Lord in the sense of Jehovah in order to be a qualified Savior (Rom. 10:9), but Christ’s personal lordship over the individual’s life is not a condition for salvation.

It should be a consequence of salvation and is a condition for dedication in full discipleship.

2. Baptism.

Baptism is the visible testimony to one’s salvation, but not a condition for it. Acts 2:38 should be translated “Repent and be baptized on the basis of the remission of sins.” Acts 22:16 teaches that baptism followed the arising, just as forgiveness followed the calling on the name of the Lord. The two parts of the verse should be kept distinct. Mark 16:16 is undoubtedly not a genuine part of Mark’s gospel.

3. Repentance.

This is a valid condition for salvation when understood as a synonym for faith. It is a false addition to faith when understood as a prerequisite, requiring the cleansing of the life in order to be saved.

4. Confession.

Confession is a normal result of being saved, though it may also accompany the initial act of believing. Nowhere is public confession required. In this connection, prayer may be helpful in clinching a decision, but it is not in itself a requirement for salvation. Assurance has to do with certainty of one’s salvation NOW.

SECURITY: (has to do with certainty of salvation NOW and FOREVER (with no lapse in between). This comprehends more than assurance. Security has to do with God’s side of perseverance.


People frequently doubt the correctness of the method of salvation.

EXAMPLE = One may be approached by a Church of Christ person, who says he must be baptized and throws Acts 2:38 at him and the true believer begins to doubt he is really saved.

They doubt the genuineness of their salvation experience and wonder if they really came to the Lord.

They look inwardly to their experience. People know their own feeling and begin to doubt the faithfulness of God. (2 Tim. 2:13).

They are confused by their life after salvation. They have problems, tragedies, dejections, sins and wonder how they could do these things and really be a Christian.

They do not understand the doctrine of carnality –

                             1 Cor. 2:14–3:4 and 1 John 1:5-7.


Evidential Means (good works in the life).

It is legitimate (many times) to use experience as a proof of salvation. Eph. 2:10; 1 John 3:7-14; James 2:14-26.

Faith demonstrates reality by its works.

Internal Means (the witness of the Spirit).

The H.S. testifies in conjunction with our own spirit, not “to” our spirit. This conjunction brings peace from within. Rom. 8:16-17.

External Means (the Word of God).

The basis of salvation is the blood of Christ (cross). The assurance of salvation is the Word of God. God has promised eternal life (John 3:16) and because He cannot lie or go back on His word, we must be saved forever.

1 John 5:13 shows that a Christian can know he is saved and has eternal life. This is the believer’s rightful possession.


1) “are” – 1 John 3:1.

2) “has” – John 3:36 — Roland Mill used to say H-A-T-H, that means or spells, “I got it”.

3) “know” 1 John 5:13, 19


Catholic view — Christian can lose salvation by mortal sins.

Lutherans — they say regenerated ones can fall totally and finally, but the elect can only fall totally and never finally.

Arminian — say any man can lose his salvation; but never the elect.

Pentecostals — say any man can lose his salvation.

Reformed — the truly regenerated person will persevere to the end and cannot be lost. Perseverance is not derived from logic, but only from faithfulness of God. This doctrine is one more verse in the “Hallelujah Chorus of the Saints.


A. Stated negatively — it is not the teaching that a believer in Jesus Christ is to be saved no matter what his practice may be. Heb. 10:26-29; Eph. 5:5-6.

B. Stated positively — the doctrine of security does mean God has secured the continuous and final salvation of all true believers in Christ, keeping them from the practice of sin and apostasy.

From man’s viewpoint (human side) man perseveres. Phil. 2:12-13; 2 Pet. 1:10.

From God’s viewpoint believers are preserved (or kept). Jude 1:1; 2 Tim. 6:13 (“God preserves a life.”). 1 Pet. 1:5.


2 Tim. 2:19

1 John 3:9 – a pattern or bent of life characterized by being in a sphere of righteousness.

Jude 21,24 – Jonathan Edwards, “The proof of election is that one perseveres to the end of his life.”


  1. Biblical Support.

The Purpose of the Father.

Rom. 8:28-30 — makes it evident that God’s purpose includes the ultimate glorification of all the elect.

Verse 28 — God works everything together for good for those called according to His purpose. What is His purpose? To make them, ultimately like Christ. Is anyone lost in the process? Each “these” refers back to “whom”. Every one who is foreknown will be glorified. Notice glorified is in the aorist tense (this shows certainty).

The Power of the Father.

1 Pet. 1:5 “who are being guarded by the power of God.” The word for “guarded” is in the present tense, expressing durative action. God continually guards believers with the view to their receiving salvation ready to be revealed. The word for “guarded” is a military word, which pictures a sentinel who keeps guard.

If there is any being in the universe stronger than God, then we might worry, but since we are being guarded by the power of God, we can be confident.

Some stumble over this verse because it says “by faith”. God purposes the means (faith) as well as the end (salvation). God maintains our faith! The One Who gave us faith to believe on Christ also gives us faith to maintain our salvation.

Promise of the Son:–

John 10:28-29 — God gave eternal life to His sheep and said that they will never perish – can it be possible that they will perish? No! If language means anything, this means NEVER! If they did perish, it would be an absolute contradiction. God cannot go back on His word.

“No one shall pluck them out of my hand.” God has promised that none shall be plucked out of His hand. We sometimes don’t believe because our human nature naturally tends to rebel against the promises.

The Prayer of the Son.

John 11:42 – our Lord’s prayers are always answered. In John 17:11, 15; Heb. 7:25; Rom. 8:34. Christ prays for the preservation of the Saints. God cannot refuse this prayer.

The Presence of the Spirit.

John 14:16-17 — Jesus prayed that the Spirit should be with us forever.

The Spirit has permanent residence in the believer. The Spirit may be grieved and quenched but never extinguished.

Sealing of the Spirit (permanence).

Eph. 4:30; 1:13-14. Believers are sealed by the Spirit (2 Cor. 1:30).

Sealed means: ownership, finished transaction or security.

In Eph. 4:30 “unto” expresses end, or aim of the Spirit’s work; this work cannot be disturbed or arrested.

The Possession of the New Nature (New Life).

We are partakers of the new nature (2 Pet. 1:4). If we have it, it is eternal.

1 John 3:9 — a verse more to the point, “If his seed abide in you, you cannot go on sinning.” This “seed” is a reference to the divine nature.

“Abides” means a permanent thing.

2. Logical Support For the Election of Security (more theological).

Argument from Election

Election has as its end salvation and glorification (Rom. 8:28-29).

An election which doesn’t involve a keeping power wouldn’t mean much. Election involves in its very essence, security. Election without a keeping power is no election or salvation at all.

Argument From Grace:

John 19:30 Christ, on the cross, cries out, “It has been finished.” If salvation is by keeping myself, it, therefore, is not by grace but by works. One is not kept by what Christ died PLUS what I do.

EXAMPLE: Some say getting to heaven is like riding a bicycle. If I stop peddling, the bicycle stops. In other words, applied to salvation, they mean if I stop doing, I stop being saved or lose my salvation.

Argument from Union with Christ:

1 Cor. 12:27 — Paul says we are the body of Christ and members in particular. On earth, Christ had a body (flesh); He ascended to heaven and now has a glorified body. What is to take the place of His former body on earth? We, as Christians, are the body of Christ on earth to replace, in a sense, His body.

As it is impossible to imagine our Lord’s body losing some of its parts, so it is impossible to imagine the Body of Christ (composed of Christians) losing parts of its body. WE CANNOT BE TAKEN OUT OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.

1 Cor. 6:17 — Paul says, making one of his most unusual statements, “the body joined to the Lord makes one spirit.” This is the deepest, closest union one can have. THERE CAN BE NO DIVISION IN THIS

Argument from the Baptism:

There is no provision in Scripture made for re-baptism, while there is provision made for excluding one from the Lord’s Supper because of being out of fellowship. One can lose fellowship, but not salvation. One never needs to be baptized again, and baptism symbolizes spiritual baptism, which occurs the salvation.

Argument from the Doctrine of Sin.

Some groups make distinctions in sins. They say some sins are worse than others. THIS IS UNSCRIPTURAL! The Bible makes no distinctions in sins. 1 John 3:4 “all sin is lawlessness.” And Gal. 5:21 puts “envyings” right beside “murders”. Therefore, to say that man could lose his salvation by sinning would make a farce of the completed work of Christ and the promises of forgiveness to believers

David, as an example, committed as great a sin as a believer can cultery, murders, etc. But David never says, “Restore unto me the salvation”. BUT he prays, “restore unto me the joy of salvation” (Ps. 51)

Peter, another example, went out “and wept bitterly” after forsaking the Lord. BUT he didn’t lose his salvation.


Passages dealing with MERE POSSESSION.

The Word teaches that it is possible to apostatize from profession, but never possible to apostatize from the possession.

1 John 2:19,

“They went out from us because they were not of us…for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us.” JOHN INDICATED HERE A REMAINING ON THE PART OF THE TRUE BELIEVERS.

Heb. 6

Background. The key to this passage is to recognize the character of those addressed and the meaning of terms addressed. Those being addressed are Hebrew Christians. The book is written to teach them they should no longer be under the Mosaic system. They had a hardness of heart, which may indicate they are

Christians who revert to the Old Testament types.

The word of “departing” is “apostase. When you come  the book of Hebrews, you have to read terms used in the light of their usage in this book, not by the use of these terms by other writes such as John and Peter.

Examination of the Passage:–

Verse 2 “baptisms”–what does it mean? See Heb. 9:10, which says these are “divers washings”. The baptisms are the Levitical washings, which is the washing of the priest when inducted into the office. He is saying that once you have seen Jesus Christ as the end of all the OT system and you turn back from this light, God has done all for you that He can do! If one turns away it may be impossible for him to come to Christ. He gives this warning to see if these people are really true, born-again, Christians. So, these people are apostates, not Christians who have backslidden!

Verse 1 — “repentance from dead works.” What does this mean? It refers to Levitical ordinances (9:14) in connection with the Tabernacle. These Hebrews’ trouble was that they were thinking about going back to Hebrew ordinances, which were done away with.

Verse 4 — “once enlightened”. Some think they have a strong argument by saying this means saved. But it does not mean salvation. Some use the term “tasted” and turn to Heb. 2:9 saying, “Christ tasted death, or went all the way; He didn’t just take a sip, but actually died. So this word tasted here means that these people actually received salvation, the heavenly gift.

They are building an argument out of a straw man, for the key phrase is not “tasted” but “heavenly gift”.

The word “partakers” is also seized upon some as a proof of salvation. They say that these people were partakers of the HS so they had to be saved! But this is not true either. For even Judas partook of the HS and cast out demons by His power (Johnson’s view).


Johnson says: “It is impossible for those who have had all of these privileges and with them have fallen away, to renew them to repentance.”

If this passage teaches less of salvation, it teaches “once lost forever lost.”

Johnson’s position is that this book was written to warn against apostasy.

2 Peter 2:20-22

This passage deals with apostates. These have turned from paganism into Christians profession but are not Christians (born-again). These have a knowledge of the truth but the truth is not a reality to them.

Their nature has not be changed. These professors, deny the Lord who bought them. They are whitewashed, not washed white. This is a perfect illustration when the sow goes back to the mud hole even if garbed in beautiful ribbons. The sow is the filthiest animal alive.

Passage dealing with LEGALISM

Gal. 5:4 — “fallen from grace”. Falling from grace does not mean loss of salvation but has to do with the method of salvation. A Christian can fall from grace by any legalistic method of applying salvation.

Salvation is always by grace; any other method is legalism. One may fall from grace by falling pray to the Church of Christ heresy or any other legalistic group.

Passages dealing with FELLOWSHIP

2 Pet. 1:10; James 5:12 — it is possible to fall from fellowship. We can fall “within Christ” but not “out of Christ”.

ILLUSTRATION: A man going to Europe on a ship; he may fall many times on the ship and still get to Europe. He may fall but he is still on the ship.

Passages dealing with DISCIPLINE

1 John 5:16,17 – Rom. 8:13; 1 Cor. 11:30-31 — this has to do with physical death, not spiritual death. If there is persistence in any sins, it may result in physical death, but not less of salvation.

Passages dealing with REWARDS

1 Cor. 9:27 – “Castaway” means “disapproved”. Paul is not talking about being rejected from the race, but from the prize! Paul was not castaway; he was disapproved. This whole passage has to do with rewards, not loss of salvation.

Passages dealing with PRESENT SALVATION

Phil. 2:12-13 — this refers to salvation, not from the penalty of sin, but from the power of sin in the daily life.

Passages dealing with PHYSICAL SITUATIONS

Mt. 24:13 “He that endures to the end shall be saved.” This has to do with physical deliverance through the Tribulation and spiritual salvation.

B. Logical Objections to Security

Problem of freedom – Man becomes an automaton; he has no freedom of choice.

True freedom is in the freedom to please God. By choosing right we please Him who bought us.

Man is only ultimately free when he is in the perfect will of God.

Problem of license – If man is secure, he will go out and live as he pleases.

Security is a stimulus to ever greater Christian living and a pure life.

A true Christian has a “new heart” (he is a new creation) and this new heart is from God and it desires to please HIM. 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 John 3:9.

Security can never be taught without teaching the doctrine of discipline (1 John 5:16-17; 1 Cor. 11:29-30). The Christian is in the family of God and is not disciplined. The fact that God will forgive me for sinning gives no incentive to sin because of the discipline factor. The Father always chastises for our profit. Hab. 12.

Also a true Christian desires to have a full reward.

For a Christian to be in doubt about his salvation causes him to be in a turmoil, up and down, insecure plagued with instability. Insecurity always results in defeat.

If salvation is temporary thing, you can be sure a man is not going to be as careful.

Grace is sufficient to take care of license. (Gal. 1:15; 2:21; 5:13).

Problem of Admonition (Romans 14:15; 1 Cor. 8:11; Heb. 3:12).

Heb. 3:12 – Why are there so many warnings that suggest one may fall away? Why is there need for admonition if one is secure?

Security is not just an abstract theory but is related to experience with Christ. Faith must continue in the daily life.

The aim of admonitions is to keep our hearts constantly looking to God.

There are two explanations for admonitions:

1) They are God’s appeals to more professors.

Heb. 2:1-4. Men who haven’t really grasped the truth in their hearts. (challenges us).

2) Frequently they are God’s means to secure the end of perseverance in case of the believer. Admonition points out the way of error so correction can be made; yet there is no less of salvation.

Acts 27:22,31. God may use exhortations, promises, threats as means to secure his and for the believer.

The problem of contingency (Heb. 3:6, 14; Col. 1:23; Promises in Rev. 2 and 3; 1 John 5:16-17).

Contingency falls into two categories, which are rewards and/or discipline.

Heb. 3:6, 14 – “if” is a 3rd class condition. One who perseveres to the end proves he is one of the elect. This means to secure perseverance or a tact of man’s profession.

Problem of Prayer – Why pray with reference to one’s security? Why pray at all?

Prayer is a means for obtaining God’s end.

Perseverance and prayer no problem to Paul.

1 Thess. 5:23-24

“Sanctify” is in the optative mood because it expresses a wish. When man addresses God in the optative it is a prayer

“preserve” is also in the optative mood – Paul praying they will be preserved.

5:24 “faithful is He that calls you”. Paul using prayer as a means to secure this certain end.

Problem of Temptation – Why does God test us and why does He allow Satan to test us?

God desires to educate and refine the believer. God doesn’t do it to lose us but to make us better witnesses for Him. Job wasn’t lost but he was educated and refined by his testings.

The example of Peter (Lk. 22:31-32). Peter denied the Lord but was kept by the power of God. In 1 Pet. 1:5 he says, “We are kept by the power of God.” Peter learned from his experience of denying the Lord.

The purpose for temptation and testing is to teach us.

Problem of Experience – Some people claim they have lost their salvation.

Truth is stated by the Word, not experience. There is not one instance of any Bible character who was saved and then lost. Many try to appeal to Judas (Matt. 27:3-4). They say Judas was saved, lost and then repented. The text says that Judas was “remorseful” which means regretted. Why did Judas regret? Probably because of the fear that was going to come upon him. He felt sorry for himself. He regretted what was going to happen to him. Judas had that feeling of forsakenness. He couldn’t live with himself any longer.


Why does God assure us of our salvation?

It is an incentive to worship. Jude 24,25; 1 Pet. 1:3-5

It is an incentive to holy living. Eph. 4:30

It is an incentive to service – The man who knows he is secure is the man who will serve; he will not be paralyzed by doubt. Ps. 55:22 “Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

More secure is no one ever than in Jesus Christ the Savior”