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MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell - http://www.nepaugchurch.org/election/elmss928.s.htm
MAKING SENSE OF GOD'S ELECTION: a Digest of the Essentials of the Work by Donald R. Shell
Part II: Examining Scripture On The Will-Related Doctrines
Chapter X: Examining The Believer's Salvation Security In Scripture
B. Correcting Misinterpretations Of The Conditional Security View And Conclusion On Salvation Security
- When we claim Scripture teaches the Spirit's sealing and earnest ministries UNCONDITIONALLY KEEP us justified, the Arminian objects, saying MANY passages teach one CAN LOSE his salvation!
- Most of these passages can be shown to teach otherwise as Walvoord revealed (Chafer/Walvoord, Major Bible Themes, p. 221-224). Like Walvoord, we can categorize key passages into groups that can be explained as such while treating passages needing special attention with necessary remarks:
- Clarifying Verses Misunderstood When They Apply Actually To Unbelievers - Some misunderstood passages speak only of unsaved men. Judas was "lost" acc. to John 17:12 though he was never justified, cf. John 6:70f. Judas was only lost from the external group of the disciples. Other key passages similarly misused are Matthew 25:1-13; Romans 1:28; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 4:1-3 and Jude 4-16.
- Clarifying Verses Misunderstood When They Speak Of A False Faith - Other verses used to teach one can lose his salvation only speak of a false faith; these are Matthew 7:20-23, Luke 11:24-28 and 12:45-46.
- Clarifying Verses Misunderstood When They Speak Of The Evidences Of Salvation - Some misused passages speak only of the evidences of salvation. Matthew 5:13 is used to say one can lose his salvation as salt loses its savor; yet, the context reveals Jesus was speaking of the evidences of membership in the Kingdom. He wanted His Hebrew listeners to gain salvation by grace through faith as opposed to seeking it by man's merit, so He set the standard for entrance into His Kingdom high to that end, cf. Matthew 5:20; 19:23-26. Other key passages thus explained are Matthew 6:15, 23; 7:16-19; John 8:31-32, 51; 13:8; Romans 8:11; Colossians 1:21-23 and Hebrews 5:8-9.
- Clarifying Verses Misunderstood When They Speak Of Rewards - Other misused passages actually speak of the loss of rewards. Key passages here are Luke 21:19; 1 Corinthians 9:23-27; Galatians 6:7-9; Hebrews 6:12; 10:19-39; 13:7-17; 1 Peter 3:6; 5:8-9; 2 John 6-9; Revelation 2:7, 10-11, 17-26 and 12:11.
- Clarifying Verses Misunderstood When They Address Fellowship Status With God - Some misused passages only speak of a loss of fellowship with God. (1) Jesus used the term, "abiding" in John 15:1-6 to picture fellowship with God and the lack of such "abiding" as a loss of fellowship, and this theme is repeated in 1 John 1:5-3:11 where Arminians errantly claim John teaches a believer can lose his salvation! Then, (2) Galatians 5:1-4 is misused to teach one can lose his salvation ("fallen from grace") when the context speaks of a departure from living by grace to living in carnality, for these Galatians were still saved, cf. Galatians 1:2; 3:5! (3) 2 Peter 3:17 is also misused to warn of falling from salvation when Peter only called believers to watch for a lapse in living by faith. Other key passages similarly misused are Acts 11:21-23; 13:43; 14:21-22; Romans 6:11-23; 11:2-4; 14:15-23; Galatians 3:4-4:1; Colossians 2:4-8, 18-19; 1 Thessalonians 3:5-8; 1 Timothy 1:3-7, 18-20; 2:15; 4:16; 5:5-6 (with Romans 8:6); 5:7-15; 6:9-21; 2 Timothy 3:13-15; Hebrews 2:1-3; 3:6-19; James 4:4-10; 5:19-20; 2 Peter 1:5-11 and Jude 20-21.
- Clarifying Verses Misunderstood When They Use "Faith" As A Synecdoche Of The Part For The Whole - In some cases, "faith" is used to teach one can lose his salvation when the word is only a synecdoche of the part for the whole where "faith" is put for the saving and keeping entity of salvation. (E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used In the Bible, p. 640) Passages thus misused include Romans 1:17; 3:28; 5:2; 2 Corinthians 1:24; Galatians 2:20-21; 3:11; Ephesians 2:8; Philippians 3:9 and 1 Peter 3:5, 9.
- Clarifying Verses Misunderstood When They Picture Physical Death Or A Loss Of Blessing - Some misunderstood passages actually refer to the loss of temporal blessings or one's earthly life due to sin. (1) For example, 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 with 1:8 describe Paul's delivering a believer in sin over to Satan for the destruction of his body when the man's spirit is to be salvaged in the day of Christ. (2) 1 John 5:16 speaks of such a physical sin unto death. (3) Some passages like Ezekiel 3:20-21 KJV mention a loss of one's "soul" for sin, and the context reveals this to be the loss of physical life where the Hebrew word for "soul," nephesh is the equivalent of the Greek word, psuchay used in 1 Peter 3:20 of the "souls" saved from physical death in Noah's ark! (cf. Kittel's Biblia Hebraica, p. 814; T.D.N.T., vol. IX, p. 617, 652). Other passages similarly misused are Deuteronomy 28:15, 63; 30:17-20; Isaiah 1:28; Jeremiah 17:5; 22:24-30; Zephaniah 1:6; Matthew 18:23-35; 24:4-26; Romans 8:12-17; 11:11-26; 1 Corinthians 10:1-21; 11:21-32; Hebrews 12:1-17, 25-29; James 1:12-26 and 2 Peter 3:16.
- Clarifying Verses Misunderstood When The Context Is Misused - Some passages are misused due to a misunderstanding of the context. (1) Matthew 13:1-8 is said to speak of a loss of salvation due to one's failure to maintain a positive attitude toward Scripture. Yet, Jesus shows these responses could be true even of believers due to the varying yields of the good ground, verse 8! Those who "fall away" in Luke 8:13 (same parable) are those who cease heeding the Word regardless of their salvation status. (2) The obedience of faith in Acts 5:32 refers to man's submission to God's call to trust in Christ (Acts 17:30), not the preservation of justification. (3) Paul's mention in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 to his readers' possible vain belief does not mean they had lost their salvation, but means the Gospel would be invalid were Christ not to have risen, cf. verses 13-14. (4) The fact Peter's walk was misaligned with the truths of the Gospel in Galatians 2:14 does not mean Peter had lost his salvation; rather, his actions had perverted his Gospel, 2:11-16. (5) Paul's claim in Galatians 5:21 that those who practice certain evils will not inherit eternal life does not mean a believer who does these sins will lose his salvation; he was only warning believers to stop acting like the lost, cf. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. (6) Paul's claim that Christ will deny us if we deny Him in 2 Timothy 2:12b is not a reference to a loss of salvation, for Christ remains faithful regardless of our unbelief, cf, verse 13; rather, Paul in 2 Timothy 2:12b alludes to apostates with a false faith. (7) The patriarchs' possible return to their former lands would not make God disown them in their loss of salvation, Hebrews 11:13-16; rather, the passage evidences their salvation. (8) James 5:19-20 is not a call to deliver believers from a loss of salvation, for the death there is physical, cf. 1 John 5:16; Acts 5:1-11.
- Clarifying Verses Misunderstood By Ignorance Of Biblical Languages, Customs, Manuscript Evidence, etc. - Some passages are misunderstood due to inadequate scholarship: (1) Exodus 32:32-33 records Moses' call to be blotted out of God's book of life; however, according to Deuteronomy 9:13-14 with Exodus 32:10, we see Moses asked for a removal from a book of the physically living in contrast with the Lamb's Book of eternal Life that records those who are justified, cf. Revelation 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27. (2) Revelation 22:18-19 in the KJV states one can be blotted out of the Lamb's Book of Life and lose his salvation; yet, James R. White ( The King James Only Controversy, Minneapolis, Bethany House Publishers, 1995, p. 66) reveals Erasmus borrowed the "book of life" reading from the Latin Vulgate in forming the Textus Receptus, for the "tree of life" reading instead appears in both the Majority Text which the Textus Receptus usually reflects and in the modern texts of the New Testament Greek manuscripts! Ryrie adds a better reading is "share" for "part," making the passage warn of God's refusal to give eternal life to the lost who distort the Gospel (Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978 ed., ftn. to Rev. 22:19, p. 1815). (3) Psalm 51:11 (13) is used to teach the Holy Spirit can depart from a believer when he sins so that he loses his salvation with the loss of the Holy Spirit's seal. Yet, John 14:17 notes a change in the Spirit's ministry from the Law to the Church eras: the Holy Spirit could come and go with believers in the Old Testament, but in the Church era, He permanently seals them! (4) Passages like Matthew 10:22; 24:13; Mark 13:13 and Luke 18:8 can be misused to teach one will stay saved providing he endures in godliness to the end; yet, these verses address the need for believers in the Great Tribulation to live by faith for the blessing of entering Christ's Messianic reign, cf. Luke 18:8; Rev. 6-19. (5) John 15:6 is used to deny unconditional salvation security as it speaks of men like branches being cast into the fire (i.e., of hell) for ceasing to abide in Christ; yet, nowhere else do men cast men into hell as verse 6 would then say; rather, Jesus used the analogy of pruning unproductive branches to show the need for believers to fellowship with Him! (6) Hebrews 6:4-6 might appear to teach justified people can lose their salvation. Yet, Hodges shows the Greek text has no conditional, "if-then" clause as do some translations. The author of Hebrews only warns of the hardening of Christians unto discipline in keeping with Israel's wilderness wanderings, cf. Bib. Know. Com., N.T., p. 794-795. (7) James 2:14-26 appears to make salvation rest on works, leading some to say one can lose his salvation by sinful works. Yet, verse 18 has James' thesis that good works merely evidence a true faith. (8) 2 Peter 2:1 shows false teachers denying the Lord who "bought them," KJV. As these are apostates, not believers, and are yet covered in Christ's unlimited atonement, this passage can not be used to promote the conditional salvation security stance.
- Conclusion On Salvation Security
- Scripture teaches the believer has unconditional salvation security in the Spirit's sealing ministry.
- Regarding the salvation security of Old Testament saints who lived before the sealing ministry of the Spirit, as man's faith is non-meritorious, we rightly assume the Old Testament believer was unconditionally secure in his salvation by faith in God's promise and work of salvation, Genesis 15:6.
- So, regardless if we assert the divine efficacious grace and effectual call doctrines are unscriptural, and claim faith is authored only by man, the believer is unconditionally secure in his justified status.