From The Editor’s Notebook: The Security of the Saved

From The Editor’s Note Book

W. Ross Rainey

The Security Of The Saved

Today, a frequently discussed question relative to the Word of God is the eternal security of the believer, or as the older theologians called it, the perseverance of the saints. The doctrine of security is one of the five points of Calvinism, the other four being: the total depravity of man, unconditional election, limited atonement, and irresistible grace. This important major doctrine is well stated in the Westminster Confession of Faith, which asserts: “They whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved” (17:1).

The fact, however, that the doctrine of security is one of the five points of Calvinism and is firmly upheld by the Westminster Confession of Faith is not what gives it a place of importance. Rather, it is distinguished in its importance because, as Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer has so aptly stated: “… it is set forth in the New Testament in the most absolute terms and is there seen to be an indivisible feature of that which God undertakes when a soul is saved.’”

It was Charles H. Spurgeon who said, “I believe not so much in the perseverance of the saints as in the perseverance of the Saviour.”1

Sometime ago the editor was having breakfast with several evangelical preachers. As we chatted, one of these preachers whom I knew to be Arminian in his convictions told us of some spiritual blessing he had experienced recently in his ministry, and in his description of what had happened he said, “Several young people were saved for the first time.” Not wishing to get into a possible argument, I simply smiled to myself, yet at the same time realized the seriousness of his erroneous teaching, coupled with the fact that many of God’s dear people live in needless fear of losing their salvation if they somehow don’t hang on.

Granted, many Scriptures seem to teach that a child of God can lose his salvation. However, all seeming difficulties of either a moral or Scriptural character can be properly understood by the application of four key points. First of all, there are those who object that the doctrine of eternal security leads to license, but those who raise this objection fail to understand the true believer’s heart. The Christian who truly loves the Lord will not want to sin. William Hoste has discerningly stated: “It is the one who enjoys most of Christ who will seek most to please Him.” Second, the sinning believer is subject to God’s chastening judgment, which eventually leads to the “sin unto death” (Heb. 12:6; see 1 John 5:16 with 1 Cor. 11:27-32). Third, while the believer’s union with God in Christ can never be broken, his communion can, and this is the explanation of many Bible passages which appear to pose a difficulty. Fourth and last, a number of passages refer to professors, who may have considerable light and knowledge but in reality are not possessors of eternal life (1 John 2:19).

It is true that the expression “eternal security” does not occur in the Bible, but neither does the term “trinity” occur. Yet, who among true believers would deny the latter doctrine just because the term is not found in the Scriptures?

The plan of salvation (Eph. 1:3-14), the purpose and power of the Father (Rom. 8:29-30; 1 Pet. 1:5), the promise and prayer of the Son (John 10:28-29; 17:11, 15), and the presence and permanence of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; Eph. 1:13; 4:30), all guarantee the eternal security of every true believer. In fact, any one of these blessed spiritual realities is sufficient to guarantee eternal security.

On this important doctrine, Dr. E. Schuyler English has forthrightly written as follows: “Reverently we say it: if God fails to keep a single one of those for whom Christ has died, He dishonors the Son and fails to fulfill completely that which was accomplished by His Son at Calvary. To reject the doctrine of the Christian’s eternal security, however well-meaning this disallowance may be, comes dangerously close to doing despite to the grace of God, and to His love and power.”2

Many years ago at the great Keswick Convention in England, a Christian said to Mr. George Silwood, “Is it not blessed to be safe in the arms of Jesus?” “Yes,” said Mr. Silwood, “but I am safer than that.” When asked how this could be, Mr. Silwood joyfully replied, “Why I am as safe as an arm of Jesus.” (See Ephesians 5:30.)

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The Early Conversion of Children

Seventy years ago an evangelist named John A. Hoffman boxed in an area down the side of his personal stationery. In this box he listed 22 reasons why children should be converted early in life. In July 1977 his daughter, Mary Hofman, who resides in Portland, Oregon, sent this list to the editorial office of Child Evangelism Fellowship in Warrenton, Missouri. Having appeared in the April CEF’s “Fellowship News,”

I felt our readers would be interested in thoughtfully going over them. They should serve as an encouragement to all of us who, in any measure, work among children.

The list is as follows:

1. Because children are sinners and are lost.

2. Because Jesus Christ died for them and they can be saved.

3. Because the simple plan of salvation through faith in Christ is the same for children as for grown-ups.

4. Because there is a special promise for the young: “Those that seek me early shall find me.”

5. Because it is constantly found that there are children who want to come to Jesus, but who do not know the way.

6. Because they are not safe until they have come.

7. Because they may die while they are still young.

8. Because the Lord may come and none of them will ever grow up.

9. Because when the child’s heart is tender and not yet hardened by sin, he is more receptive to the Gospel.

10. Because the child receives the truth in more simple faith than the adult.

11. Because it is easy for children to love, and therefore, they may be taught to love Jesus.

12. Because it is easy for children to trust, and so they may be led to trust in Jesus.

13. Because those converted early in life often make the most earnest and consistent Christians.

14. Because, having life before them, they are likely to become the most useful Christians.

15. Because the influence of a Christian child may lead others to Christ.

16. Because we now have the children with us, and it is easy to get them to listen to the story of the cross.

17. Because thousands of children leave our Sunday Schools unconverted at the age of thirteen or fourteen.

18. Because when they grow up without Christ they often drift into sin, and it then becomes very difficult to reach them.

19. Because these children will become the parents of the next generation.

20. Because the work among the young does not require special gifts so much as earnestness and love.

21. Because it is a work that brings us nearer to Christ.

22. Because the lambs are so dear to the heart of the Good Shepherd who said, “Suffer the little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

1 Systematic Theology, III, p. 267.

2 Our Rope, June 1952, p. 760.