Mixed Messages on Eternal Security
I definitely haven't forgotten the preaching/teaching series, and I apologize for the delay in posting my thoughts on teaching, but I want to open up another topic for discussion. This isn't going to be as much of me writing my thoughts as just questions that are running around in my mind.
First, a little background to the questions. I was taught eternal security when I was growing up. The so-called "once saved, always saved" teaching says that once a person is saved, they can never lose their salvation. There are Scripture passages used to defend this position (such as John 10:29), as well as appeals to the nature of God (i.e., because God is sovereign, it would be impossible for someone to thwart the work of salvation that has been done by God in that person).
Of course, there are people who believe otherwise, citing the many references in the New Testament that seem to indicate the possibility of falling away (e.g. Hebrews 6:4-6) or even being cut off by God for not abiding in Christ (John 15:6).
While it is not the purpose of this article to defend one position or the other, my questions are more targeted at the "can't lose your salvation ever, for any reason" thinking. (By the way, "lose your salvation" is a poor phrase, because it sounds like salvation is something that can be misplaced by accident! Even if one believes that it is possible to fall away from salvation, this should never be something that is used to cause people to fear unknowingly offending God and incurring His wrath.)
And here's where my questions start. Recently, in several different blog interactions, I have seen certain doctrines mentioned (the Trinity, inerrancy of Scripture, etc.) as things that don't need to be affirmed in order to respond to the call of salvation, but can't be rejected later on. For example, here is a quote from the Chicago Statement of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy:
We affirm that a confession of the full authority, infallibility, and inerrancy of Scripture is vital to a sound understanding of the whole of the Christian faith. We further affirm that such confession should lead to increasing conformity to the image of Christ.Notice that the statement clearly denies it is necessary to "confess" the inerrancy of Scripture in order to be saved. Granted, this statement does not say that one cannot be saved if they deny the inerrancy of Scripture later on, but it does predict unspecified "grave consequences" if one does, in fact, deny the inerrancy of the Scripture at some point in their life post-salvation.
We deny that such a confession is necessary for salvation. However, we further deny that inerrancy can be rejected without grave consequences, both to the individual and the church. (Article XIX)
Can someone not believe in the Trinity but yet still respond to the gospel of grace of Jesus Christ and be saved? Yes. Can someone claim to grow in their walk with the Lord, study the Scriptures and continue year after year to deny the Trinity and be considered a true believer in the Lord? Of course not.Now, this introduces a very interesting dilemma, in my opinion. On the one hand, Steve (being fully Calvinistic in his doctrine) teaches very clearly that one cannot lose their salvation. Yet here, he states that, while a belief in the doctrine of the Trinity is not necessary for salvation, one cannot later deny the doctrine of the Trinity and still "be considered a true believer".
This sends a very mixed message on the subject of eternal security. How can one be saved, but then later not be considered to a "true believer" because they later reject a particular doctrine that wasn't necessary for salvation in the first place? Either the doctrine is absolutely essential for salvation, or it's not. I don't understand this.
I'm just curious if any of my readers have any thoughts on how to understand this mixed message.
Until next time,