ANSWERING CRITIQUES OF OUR WORK "MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION"
Part III: Answering An Arminian Critique That Salvation Security Is Dependent On A Strong Human Faith
A. Though no Arminian has voiced to us a critique of our work's stand that teaches unconditional salvation security, many hold that Scripture teaches one has eternal security providing his faith is strong, but that a lapse of that faith causes him to lose his salvation.
B. This view counters the unconditional salvation security of our work, so we answer it (as follows):
II. Answering An Arminian Critique That Salvation Security Is Dependent On A Strong Human Faith.
A. If a single verse of God's infallible, inerrant Scriptures were unquestionably to teach unconditional salvation security, every other Bible passage must harmonize with it and not counter it.
B. We hold that such a verse exists in John 5:24 as expounded from the Greek New Testament text (as follows):
1. We first note that three major critical texts of the Greek Testament, the Nestle/Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 1973, p. 244; the G. D. Kilpatrick He Kaine Diatheke, 1972, p. 292-293 and the U. B. S. Greek New Testament, 1966, p. 340, show that there are no variant readings in the text at John 5:24.
2. In the KJV, the verse reads: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life."
3. The tenses for the words "believeth" (pisteuon), "hath" (echei) and "shall [not] come" ([ouk] erchetai) are all in the present tense (U. B. S. Greek N. T., 1966, p. 340; Wm. D. Mounce, The Analy. Lex. to the Greek N. T., 1993, p. 374, 230 and 216 respectively). The Arminian thus concludes that the promise that one will not come into "condemnation" (krisin, "Divine judgment," Abbott-Smith, A Man. Greek Lex. of the N. T., 1968, p. 258) holds true on the condition that one's faith remains strong as reflected in the present tense of these verbs, but that a lapse of that faith will cause him to lose his salvation.
4. However, other words in this verse indicate that Jesus spoke here of unconditional salvation security:
a. A strong adversative in the form of the particle, alla follows the verb "shall [not] come," and alla means "but rather" to "express opposition" to what has gone before (Ibid., p. 21; Ibid., U. B. S. Greek N. T.).
b. This particle, alla, is followed in turn by "is passed" (metabebeken) in the perfect tense (Ibid., Mounce, p. 316), meaning one "is permanently passed over" (Ibid., Abbott-Smith, p. 286).
c. The prepositional phrases that follow metabebeken include "from death unto life" (KJV), and they use the prepositions ek, "from out of" and eis, "into" (Ibid., U. B. S. Greek N. T.; Ibid., Abbott-Smith, p. 135 and 133-134 respectively) to signal a once-for-all, permanent transition out of the sphere of spiritual death and into the sphere of spiritual life.
d. Thus, the notably strong adversative particle in alla that counters the idea of the believer's facing divine judgment, and the following of that particle by the perfect tense of metabebeken to describe one's permanent transition from the sphere of spiritual death to the sphere of spiritual life would be meaningless if such a salvation security were dependent on mortal man's fickle, weak human faith!
5. In addition, Jesus introduced His statements in this verse with the words amen, amen, translated "Verily, verily," that introduce "solemn statements" (Ibid., U. B. S. Greek N. T.; Ibid., Abbott-Smith, p. 24-25), and with the great burden of Christ here to dwell on the security of one's salvation in such a solemn manner, it would be unthinkable for Him to highlight that security with all solemnity if it was only a conditional security that could easily be lost by a fickle, humanly weak lapse of faith!
6. Finally, the John 5:17-47 context presents Jesus as asserting His authority as the Son of God (Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978, ftn. to John 5:17-47). In that context, Christ is seen as authoritative in judging men (John 5:22-23, 27), and giving life and escape from judgment for believers (John 5:24), Ibid., ftn. to John 5:21-27. Thus, to teach as in Arminianism that the escape of judgment is conditioned on a strong human faith versus the sovereign authority of Jesus Christ is to counter the thrust of the context that honors Christ as Sovereign God in shielding believers from the coming judgment!
Lesson: As clarified in the context and in the Greek text of the New Testament, Jesus in John 5:24 taught that one who believed in Him has permanently passed over from the realm of spiritual death into the realm of spiritual life, that he is thus unconditionally eternally secure in his salvation status. Due to the infallibility and the inerrancy of the Scriptures, all other Bible passages must harmonize with this truth, so the Bible teaches unconditional salvation security.