I propose to you that salvation and security are not synonymous, and, therefore, not inseparable.
If you’ve been to my home page, you’ve seen my opinion that salvation and security have two separate definitions. I believe that is a very important distinction that must be made in order to correctly understand the Bible. We believers in the Church Age are uniquely blessed to have both. I wrote this article to help those who lock these two terms together see why that leads you down the wrong path.
Jesus’ finished work at the cross opened the door of heaven. His resurrection was the Father’s stamp of approval of His sacrifice. In other words, Jesus is the hinge upon which the door of salvation swings. That door can never be shut by anyone or anything. Salvation has been purchased, paid for in full. Praise God!
Most Christians understand this truth.
But the next step from here is where things go astray. Those who believe in eternal security for all believers of all time say salvation and security are inseparable, and that all who believe are secure.
“Well, just look at John 3:16,” they’ll say. “There’s your proof that everyone’s secure by faith alone.”
I know this because I used to say it myself!
But this is not accurate. We know not to take a verse out of context and make it a standalone truth for all people of all time. So why do we do it here?
Any and all verses need to be in context.
Let’s look at John 3 to see if it’s really speaking of salvation and security. And remember, John, along with the other Gospels, is outside Paul’s Church Age books and, therefore, outside of faith-alone salvation.
Read the whole chapter on your own. Due to space, I’ll start here with v.13-15.
13 No one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the Son of Man. 14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.
Notice that Jesus must die in order to offer eternal life to those who believe. Right?
Good so far?
Now continue on through v.21.
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
Broken down looks like this:
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.
Again stating God sent His Son Jesus to offer salvation to those who believe.
18 He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
Believers are not judged. Unbelievers are already judged because they don’t believe in the One sent by God.
19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.
And what’s that judgment?
Though God has brought His presence down to man, unbelievers’ evil actions show their inner desire and love for darkness, not God.
20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
Their actions show their hatred for God, and they shun Him (and the One He sent) because they don’t want to give them up.
21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
Those who, on the other hand, have good deeds – practice the truth – want those deeds to be seen because they stem from a love of/for God.
At this point you might be thinking I’m full of baloney, seeing things that aren’t there, and you’re going to stick with your understanding. If you would, please hang in there a little longer!
Before we move on to 1 John, please check out what John says in John 15:1-17.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. 17 This I command you, that you love one another.
Now we’re going to move on to 1 John.
Remember, we’re looking to see the direct connection back to John 3 where salvation is discussed with corresponding actions and deeds. Are these actions required or just shown out of gratitude? You’re going to see much clearer evidence that practicing the truth is required because they have no security. Once we’ve covered that, we’ll then move on to security, which is promised in the Church Age books where no actions are required for salvation.
Let’s go to 1 John 1:5 – 2:6
5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
Same topic: God is Light; walking in darkness; practicing truth, etc. Notice the result of walking in the Light.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
2 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; 2 and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.
Confessing sins is vital to a non-secure believer. Same cleansing spoken of in v.7 and v.9 and ultimately 2:1-2.
3 By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4 The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him;5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: 6 the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
They are commanded to walk the walk, practice the truth. For example, check out Matthew 7:21-27 and see how Jesus separates those who do the Father’s will (v.21) from those who practice lawlessness (v.23); those who act upon His words (v.24) from those who do not act upon them (v.26).
And if you keep going in 1 John, you’ll run into stuff like this:
1 John 2:24-29 24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.
Abide in the Son by abiding in what you were taught. Remember the promise of eternal life in John 3:16. This is all still regarding salvation!
26 These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you. 27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him. 28 Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him.
Same concept of practice/do/demonstrate to show who you are, children of God. These correct actions will cause them to joyously look forward to His Return (not Rapture!).
Remember Rev. 22:12 where He says, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.” (Psalm 62:12; Isaiah 62:11; Matt. 16:27; 1 Peter 1:17.) Reread v.29: believe and do!
All of chapter 3:
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. 3 And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.
Read v.3 again.
4 Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him.
Ties back to the earlier sin passages.
7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning.
How believers enter through the door of salvation outside the Church Age!
The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.
Same thing but with love added in the mix.
11 For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; 12 not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16 We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth. 19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. 23 This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.
Sounds like Jesus’ summary of the Law in Matthew 22:37-40 but ‘updated’ to include His sacrifice having occurred! Remember, the required commandments aren’t the 600+ given to the Jews; they’re specifically what Jesus tells them in the Gospels, the Upper Room and post resurrection, and are spelled out again in whatever the Eleven say in their non Church Age books.
24 The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.
The same Spirit we Church Age believers have except He indwells us!
Do you see now that John and 1 John are not talking about security?!? They’re speaking only of salvation and demonstrating one’s beliefs! (Hebrews and 1 Peter are full of this stuff, too!)
So John 3:16 is not about faith-alone guaranteed salvation, just like 1 John is not about the Church Age, ‘oh, my feet are dirty, I need to confess to stay in fellowship’ like you’ve been taught. Both are addressing salvation for believers outside the Church Age who must abide in Him and confess their sin when they sin – which should be very seldom — and demonstrate their faith by obedience!! Go back and read it again!
Now for security.
When the Holy Spirit indwells a believer, then, and only then, is he secure. When the Holy Spirit does not indwell a believer (thus leaving that believer without a guaranteed inheritance), he must prove that he is a believer through obedience to God’s commands given in his time.
Eternal security is not based upon one’s spirituality, gender or nationality. It is not based on God’s character or the doctrine of man’s depravity or whatever other statements you’ve read in your commentaries.
Security is promised only where indwelling is found because the Holy Spirit’s permanent presence within a believer is what guarantees his forever home. Seeing now that there’s a very clear and specific reason for security, check out Actual ES Verses here at this site for a listing of verses that show this indwelling.
Did you notice where those verses were found? Yep, only within Paul’s epistles. This means Paul’s epistles have to be directed to a specific audience and set apart from the rest of the Bible which shows no indwelling. Interesting, isn’t it, that that’s the same section of the Bible (Paul’s epistles) that the faith alone gospel is preached. Hmm.
This indwelling/faith alone section clashes with ‘the Spirit comes and goes’ or ‘the Spirit falls upon’ time frames. It clashes with ‘you must obey’ or ‘you must bear fruit’ or ‘you must love’ or ‘you must persevere’ or ‘you must be alert’ passages throughout the rest of the Bible. And who’s that very blessed specific set-apart audience?
Only the sealed, secure Church mentioned in Paul’s epistles is given the gospel of salvation by faith alone.
Maybe at this point you’re saying ‘this doesn’t sound like something God would do. He’s so powerful; He would simply seal everyone who believes.’ Well, God is God and His ways are above our ways. His understanding is above our understanding. We cannot know His mind, but we can read His word.
So instead of saying “God assures everyone of all time that once you believe in Jesus, your salvation is guaranteed” as the ‘everyone-is-secure’ believer says OR the total opposite “God gives no assurances ever to anyone” as the ‘no-one-is-secure’ believer says, you should say this “Outside the CA, upon that initial faith/trust in God/Jesus, a believer must do what He says in order to enter through that open doorway.”
Reworded looks like this: heaven is available to all now that the Salvation Door has been opened, but entering through the door is another matter. Only we Church Age believers are considered to be already through it upon faith alone, again, due to the Holy Spirit’s unique role in our time. All others must obey God’s directives given them in the time period in which they live – they must demonstrate that faith they say they have.
Please stop and think about this for a minute. Whoever is sealed by the Holy Spirit is also saved without having to prove/demonstrate their faith because God’s Spirit is already locked inside him so He must have seen that his faith was for real when He sealed him!
The door of salvation has been opened to all, but your passage through that door isn’t guaranteed unless you live in the Church Age and have the guarantee sealed within you – the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Once you rightly divide the Bible, you can clearly see that salvation and security are not the same thing. (Remember the foundation statements above.) John 3:16 speaks of heaven being opened to all believers, but in context you can see it doesn’t mention security. Security is only promised to us, the sealed and secure Church – and only in Romans through Philemon where due to the indwelling Spirit, we’re guaranteed entrance into heaven!
Pick a Path would be a good place to go next, if you haven’t already been there!