John MacArthur on Eternal Security
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    Ruth is offline Citizen

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    Default John MacArthur on Eternal Security

    The following "Question" was asked by a member of the congregation at Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California, and "Answered" by their pastor, John MacArthur Jr. It was transcribed from the tape, GC 70-2, titled "Bible Questions and Answers." A copy of the tape can be obtained by writing, Word of Grace, P.O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412 or by dialing toll free 1-800-55-GRACE. Copyright John MacArthur Jr., All Rights Reserved.

    Question

    There seems to be a big problem in the church today, concerning the doctrine of eternal security. Most Christians, Charismatics, and even Evangelicals, believe you can lose your salvation. Now, one of the arguments they use is Revelation 3:5 which says, "He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments and I will not erase his name from the book of life and I will confess his name before my father and before His angels." Now they point out two things. Number one, that overcome is in the present tense and that means that you have to work in order to keep your salvation. They also say that God has an eraser and He will use it to remove your name from the book. Now please comment on this verse and also explain what Moses meant in Exodus 32:32, when he said, "But now if Thou wilt, forgive their sin, and if not please blot me out from Thy book, which Thou hast written.

    Answer

    I love that verse in Revelation 3:5. That is the greatest verse. Thatís one of the best verses in all the Bible on eternal security. I donít know how those people can do that with that verse. People say, "Well, you see right there, youíre liable to get your name blotted out of the book." Now I want to explain that verse. In Revelation 3:5 it says, "he that is overcoming"Ö.he that is an overcomerÖ.now how do you get to be an overcomer? Who wrote Revelation? John.

    So we ought to ask John. "John, what is an overcomer? What are you talking about? What do you mean by this?" Well John will tell us that "we have overcome," verse 4 of 1 John 5, John says, "For whatever or whoever is born of God is overcoming the world." So the overcomers are the people born of God. "And this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." So saving faith makes us an overcomer. Saving faith makes you an overcomer--you are born of God. So now in verse 5 of Revelation 3 we know what he is talking about. The one who is a Christian, who by faith in Jesus Christ has been born again, has overcome the world. The world is no longer his master, he is an overcomer. Thatís the definition of a Christian.

    So he says the one that is an overcomer, the same will be clothed in white raiment. Is that conditional? Is there any other condition except being an overcomer? No. If you are an overcomer, and you overcome by your faith and you are born again, then you will be clothed in white raiment. That is an absolute fact. There are no other conditions to that. The day will come when you enter into the glory of the presence of the Lord and He will clothe you in the brilliance of pure and holy reality forever and ever. "And I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father and before His angels." Now what the Lord says here is not that He will blot out our name, but that He will not. Now how you can get eternal insecurity out of that, I do not know. He says, "I will not do that." Now where did He get that? This is written to the church at Sardis and at Sardis they had a basic principle in terms of the city and citizenry that many cities of the ancient world have. When you came into the city you were written on the rolls of the city and you were identified as a member of that city and that was an honor. You belonged to that place but if you committed some criminal act, or if you discredited yourself, or if you dishonored the city in any way and brought reproach upon it, they would erase you out of that city roll and you then would be dispossessed and disenfranchised. You would be, if you will, a man without a city. And what God is saying is that they may do that to you in Sardis, but Iíll never do that to you. No matter what you do, if you have put your faith in Me and are by virtue of saving faith an overcomer, you will be clothed in white garment, which was used for very honored people in the city, for the highest honor the city could give, I promise to do that and in no condition will I ever do to you what men do to men. I will never blot you out, but I will affirm you; I will confess you before my Father and before His angels. This is a gilt edged guarantee that you canít lose your salvation so when they pick on that verse they are in real trouble.

    Now you were asking about Moses and Moses is saying, "Oh Lord if you donít do something with this people, blot my name out." He is really saying, essentially, the same thing Paul said in spirit in Romans 9, where he says, "I could almost wish myself accursed for the sake of my kinsmen, my brethren, Israel."

    In other words, I could almost come to the point where I say God I am so about the salvation of Israel that, "**** me and save them". Well, thatís really what Moses is saying. It isnít necessarily that he is articulating some theological concept. What he is saying is, "Oh Lord, my passion runs so deep, I have such a great concern for this people that I wish youíd do something for this people and oh God, if you are not going to do anything for this people that I love I canít bear the burden--just eliminate me." This is the outcry of an impassioned heart and you donít find the doctrine of insecurity in that outburst of passion. There is nothing Moses says there about whether or not that could happen. He is just pouring out the emotion of his own heart.

    And when you want to affirm the doctrine of security there are two passages that I would recommend to you that are unanswerable. John 10 and Romans 8. In fact we did a series, a rather protracted series on Romans chapter 8 on the security of the believer. Anybody, I believe, who could sit and listen to that entire series and not believe in the security of true salvation, has an unwilling mind and that may be the problem. And then I think part of the reason people believe in insecurity is because they canít explain certain peopleís behavior. In other words they say well what about my Aunt Ethel. She came to church for a long time and then totally bombed out and they donít know what happened, so they explain it as the loss of salvation. The Bible explained it as "never having had it". Right? 1 John 2:17, "They went out from us because they were not of us. If they had been of us they would have continued with us, but they went out from us that is might be made manifest that they never were of us." So I donít think that Revelation 3 does anything but affirm the fact that the Lord is going to do for us what He promisesÖ.a white raiment, Heís going to keep us in His book forever, confess us before God and angels and men may blot people out but God doesnít do that.

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    Question

    We were members here until about five years ago when we moved to Utah. In an adult Sunday school class in our church back there, we were going through the Book of Galatians. In chapter five, which I was teaching a couple of weeks ago, we came to Galatians 5:2 and 5:4, which talk about the consequences of accepting circumcision or coming under the Jewish law, or doing anything legalistic. Paul writes in verse two that “Christ is of no benefit to you that were severed from Christ,” verse 4, “you are fallen from grace.” I got into quite a discussion with a fellow in the class about whether this meant you could lose your salvation, which was the position he took-in fact, he got so upset that he got up and left. I just wanted to ask how you would have dealt with that situation? What would you suggest to me?

    Answer

    First of all, again, you’re back to context, and I think what he’s saying here--Galatians five--he’s writing to believers and yet he knows that in the wings are the Judaizers, those people who went around saying “we’re Christians, but we believe before you can enter into Christ, you have to keep the mosaic law and go through the physical rite of circumcision.” So, this is adding law to grace, and Paul’s viewpoint is always if you add law to grace, you nullify grace. I mean, that’s clear in Romans 3 and Romans 4. As soon as you add any law to grace, you’ve nullified grace. As soon as you say, “Yes, salvation is by grace if you do this and if you do that,” and there is some kind of temporal action that you can do, like keep mosaic ceremonies and get yourself circumcised, and that’s part of salvation, you have now nullified grace.

    So, what he is saying is, if you are receiving circumcision, believing that this is contributing to your salvation, then Christ is of no benefit to you. In other words, you have now forfeited a salvation purely and only by grace and you’ve clouded the issue by your works. You are now saying, “Yes, it is grace plus my works and that negates the only means of salvation, which is grace.” In verse four, you are really severed from Christ…if you’re seeking to be justified by law, you have now fallen from the grace principle. He doesn’t mean you were saved and now you’ve been lost; you have fallen away from the only means of salvation, which is the principle of grace.

    Circumcision was a very important symbol, but it was not a means of salvation. But, those Judaizers were trying to make it a means of salvation. Does that cover it?

    Question (continued)

    I was wondering if you thought those verses had any relevance to believers once they’re saved, and if so, what that was.

    Answer (continued)

    Well, if you say that, then you’re going to say that Christ is of no benefit to a believer. And, in verse four, that he has been severed from Christ. If I’m going to say this is going to be applied to a believer, now I’m going to have to say the believer somehow lost his salvation. But, I don’t want to presuppose that you can’t lose your salvation and read it into the text. What I want to say is, Paul has been preaching through this entire book: salvation by grace. I mean, back in chapter 3, he said, “Look, you began in this Spirit; you can’t be perfected by your flesh.” I mean, being justified by the Spirit through grace, you’re not going to be perfected by the law through works. The principle of comparing grace to law goes through this whole book. And I think all he’s saying here is, “Look, Christ set us free to be free. Keep standing firm. Don’t let somebody come along and tell you your works are going to save you, because if you get into that, you’re going to fall away from the grace principle, which is the only thing that can truly save, and you’re going to be cut off from Christ. I think to go beyond that is to read anything into the text.

    Obviously, it has some implications. You could say, “Well, for a Christian, if I try to live in the flesh, I’ll get cut off from the power of Christ,” but I don’t think that’s what this is saying.

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    Question

    I have a question from Matthew 8:12. It says, “the sons of the kingdom should be cast into outer darkness, where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth.” I came from an organization where they teach that there are born-again Christians who, because they don’t live a holy, godly, Christian life, can forfeit the kingdom and wind up in this place of outer darkness. Do you believe in this? Or do you believe that all Christians will get into the kingdom, no matter how they live?

    Answer

    First of all, I don’t believe that kind of stuff, that Christians are going to wind up cast out of the kingdom, weeping, with gnashing of teeth. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives to Me will come to Me, and I have lost none of them,” John 6. None of them are going to be lost--none of them. Paul said, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul said, “What shall separate you from the love of God? Nothing. Life, death, principalities, powers--nothing,” Roman 8, “shall separate you.” Nothing. And, you’re saved because you were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, that you might become like Jesus Christ. That is not going to be interrupted.

    Now, you can’t lose your salvation. That’s clear as it can be in scripture. Second point: a Christian, by very nature, and by very desire, longs to live a holy life. That’s not the perfection of His life, but that’s the direction of it. So, a Christian--a true Christian--isn’t going to choose to live like that, or he’s not a true Christian. Right? Because a true Christian loves God, hates sin, and desires to obey. Doesn’t love God as fully as he should, doesn’t hate sin as much as he should, doesn’t obey as often as he should, but that’s the desire of his heart or her heart. If you’re truly saved, you’re going to pursue the right thing, you’re going to pursue the things of God, and you can’t lose your salvation.

    Question (continued)

    Just one more question? Who are the “sons of the kingdom” there in Matthew 8:12--who’s that talking about?

    Answer (continued)

    Jews. Jews, who had every right by birth into the line of Israel to inherit the kingdom promised to Israel, but they were going to wind up cast out of the very kingdom which was their inheritance and their birthright because they rejected the Messiah. They rejected Jesus Christ.

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    Question

    Is it possible for redeemed people to lose their salvation?

    Answer

    The Bible says no. One who is saved "has everlasting life, and . . . is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24). Eternal life by definition cannot be temporary. It is the present possession of all those who have truly trusted Christ. Romans 8:28-39 reveals clearly that there is nothing in the universe that can separate the elect from the love of God. The One who chose to save you "is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy" (Jude 24).

    According to Scripture, people who profess to know Christ at one time but later deny Him were never really saved to begin with. First John 2:19 says, "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us." A true believer will never depart from the faith (Philippians 1:6), so those who do so are revealing that they were never truly saved (John 8:31; Hebrews 3:14).

    Even true Christians can sin, however, and because of that may lack assurance of salvation (Psalm 51:12). A failure to grow spiritually can also rob us of the confidence that we are God's children (2 Peter 1:9). But anyone indwelt by the Holy Spirit is secure eternally, because He is the "deposit guaranteeing our inheritance" (Ephesians 1:14).


    For further study:
    John MacArthur, Eternal Security (tape series).

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    Question

    I understand about salvation, that we do have salvation, we don't lose it. But I've been asked on Matthew 24, verse 10, where it says that many will fall away in the last days. Is that referring to Christians?

    Answer

    Well let's look at it. Matthew 24:10, just turn in your Bibles so we make sure we get the right context. And, of course, here you're talking about the time of the Tribulation so the church has already gone by this time, out of the world. "And then shall many be offended and shall betray one another and hate one another. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall grow cold. Many false prophets shall rise and deceive many. But he that shall endure to the end, the same shall be saved."

    Now some say that what you have here is the unveiling of the false...in other words, under pressure people who attach themselves to Christianity during the time of the Tribulation under pressure of attack from the beast and whatever else, they begin to drop off. Others say it has direct reference to Israel. For example, in the first half of the Tribulation there is going to be a pact between Israel and the Antichrist. And everything is going to be peaceful and wonderful and there may be there's a reconstruction of religion in Israel. And they're going to be worshiping in their temple again. And all of a sudden the beast comes in the middle of the week and he destroys that thing, in verse 15, "The abomination of desolation takes place." And it may be that at that time those who are not really followers of the truth, those who are not really believers in God are going to be made manifest cause they're going to bail out. So I don't think it has reference there to Christians. I think it has reference to those who have attached themselves...and it can be to Israel as well as the possibility of being attached to Christianity.

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    Question

    I was taught before, when I used to go to a different church, that once you become a born again--once you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you can never lose your salvation. But it seems like, after listening to all your preaching, that being a Christian is not just saving by grace; you have to constantly work hard to be a Christian, to obey. So that means a Christian could still go to hell?

    Answer

    No. No. They were right at your other church. Once you become born again, that’s it forever. We’re not talking about working hard to be a Christian; we’re talking about working hard to honor God as a Christian. I mean, just a simple analogy: if I’m born into a family, I don’t have to work to be a son. I’m a son! But, my parents would like me to be a good one, a useful one, a helpful one, a respectful one, an honoring one, and that’s what we’re talking about. We’re talking about living your Christian life to the glory and honor of God and to your own blessing and eternal reward.

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    Question

    1 Timothy 4:1, says, "Now the Spirit speaketh specifically, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons." Is this somebody who loses their salvation?

    Answer

    No, I don't think so. I don't think you can make the word "some" into a Christian, necessarily, "some" shall depart from the faith. "Some" within the framework of Christianity will depart from the faith. For example, I was just reading today, in the latest issue of the Evangelical Press News Service, which comes out every week and I just, go it today so it's hot of the wire. Claremont Theological School has just hired a man who believes that the biggest myth in the Bible is the incarnation of Jesus Christ. And he has spent years--he has written seven books, one of which majors on the myth of God incarnate. He is teaching at Claremont Graduate School of Theology, which is under the name of Christianity. I think that's what we have in view here, departing from the faith, what faith? The faith. That's a very important concept, the faith is not faith, but "the" faith, it's not the act of belief, it's the content, in other words he's not departing from believing, he's departing from the faith, what faith? Jude calls it, "The once for all delivered to the saints faith. And what is "The once for all delivered to the saints faith?" It's here. And so in the latter times, the Spirit says that there will be people who under the name of Christianity, and under the guise of teaching God's truth will depart from the historic faith. I don't think it has nothing to do with people losing their salvation. I think that they simply teach the doctrines of demons, it's false teachers. That's the key.

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    Question

    I have a question that my sister wants some answers to and I think you’ll do a better job. She’s a brand new Christian and we come from a Catholic background and she’s having a little bit of difficulty with the fact that you do not loose your salvation even if you do backslide. So can you elaborate on that?

    Answer

    So, just to help you understand why you don’t loose your salvation? There are a lot of reasons by the way.

    1. The primary one being that the Bible does not indicate that you can loose your salvation. Anybody who believes you can loose your salvation is unable to find a single statement in the scripture that says that. There is no place in the Bible that says you can loose your salvation.

    2. On the other hand, everywhere it says your salvation last how long? How long does it last? Forever. Forever. Now to me that is the issue, if the Bible said your salvation lasts as long as you hang on to it. That would be very clear, but it says it lasts forever. How long is forever? And then people say, “well, what about so and so and what about this and what about that” and then you start bringing in all of these exceptions and all these confusions, and then they say, "Well I had an old aunt and she used to go to church and she read her Bible and all this, all of a sudden she bailed out, she left the church and didn’t walk with the Lord, she curses...she lost her salvation." But you see you can’t redefine the Bible on the basis of your old aunt. But that’s what people do. If you can’t explain your old aunt don’t change scripture. Define the situation through the scripture and go to 1 John 2:19 where it says “they went out from us because they were not of us, they went out from us that it might be made manifest they never were of us, if they had been of us they would have remained with us.” The key thing is you can not defend that biblically, so it is an extrapolation from experience, the inability to really describe what happens in a person’s life. Any other way then to say they lost their salvation when there are other explanations, and the other explanation is that they were never saved to begin with.

    3. Let me take another approach. The Bible says those who were saved were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, right? So whoever He chose, was redeemed because of His sovereign choice. In John 6, Jesus said this “all that the Father gives to me, shall come to me and I have lost none of them, but I’ll raise him up at the last day.” The security of the believer then is bound up in the character of eternal life, which is eternal salvation, and it is bound up in the decree of God. And that’s how it is.

    And so the idea that you can loose your salvation is an accommodation to human misunderstanding, in other words, because people aren’t able to figure out what happened in somebody’s life they therefore determine you can loose your salvation.

    4. Now let me give you one other thought. I think the reason people have come up with the doctrine of the fact that you can loose your salvation is because they never had a strong enough salvation to begin with. They let too many people in cheap and then when they bail out they question the eternality of salvation rather than questioning the legitimacy of that salvation to start with. You know, in the Book of Hebrews it says it says, “you’ll be saved if you continue” if you continue, if you don’t fall away. And that’s true, because if you don’t fall away you prove that your salvation was the real thing. But if you fall away you’ve proved it wasn’t real to begin with.

    So I think maybe those thoughts can give you some help. Salvation that is genuine results in a new creation, you’ve been born again unto eternal life and that’s the only way the Bible ever describes it. It’s eternal. But it’s our weak doctrine of salvation that gets us into trouble with that.

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    You mentioned once that you knew this man who was a real good Christian and he was a leader and he was one of the men that was on the panel that ordained you, do you remember saying that? And you said that he asked you the toughest questions to make sure that you towed the line, and were fundamentalist, and were O.K., and then you said that that man turned from the faith doctrinally and theologically. Did that man loose his salvation?

    Answer

    No, I don’t think he did and it’s hard for me to evaluate that and that ties in with the question that was asked earlier. It’s possible for a Christian to fall into sin and never really deal with that sin until the Lord disciplines. All of us have been disciplined by the Lord, right? And it’s just that if you protract that unrepentant spirit the ultimate discipline could come.

    So it’s possible for a Christian, to say to fall into sin and die before they ever get their act together. And somebody might sit back and say, “Well maybe that person was never saved” and you have every reason to say that…we don’t know. I mean a person who says they’re a Christian, enters into sin, never repents before they’re dead, there is no way to know, right? I mean because they are acting like an unbeliever, so there’s no way to know.

    However, when a person says they’re a Christian and then turns to an utter and absolute denial of the faith, that is evidence that they never were redeemed and they are apostatizing. 1 John 2:19 is a classification of those people, “They went out from us, because they were not of us, if they had been of us, they would have remained with us, but they went out from us that it might be made manifest that they never were of us.” That’s what the Bible says, 1 John 2:19, but the point is this, someone may fall into sin, I mean a moral sin, or whatever, but when someone turns and disavows the faith and ceases to confess Christ and denies God and the Word of God and salvation that is the mark of an apostate, and I see that person as never having been saved, but like so many people wearing the mask hypocritically. I don’t think that man was a Christian and as it turned out, before he became a philosophy professor and denied the faith overtly, they kicked him out of his church for having sex relationships with myriad of women in his office. So wherever there is doctrinal deviation there’s always moral deviation sooner or later it will come to the fore.

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    Question

    Does Hebrews 6:4-6 teach that a true believer can lose his salvation?

    Answer

    No. In that passage, the writer of Hebrews is speaking to the unsaved who have heard the truth and acknowledged it, but who have hesitated to embrace Christ. The Holy Spirit warns them, “You had better come to Christ now, for if you fall away it will be impossible for you to come again to the point of repentance.” They were at the best point for repentance–full knowledge. To fall back from that would be fatal.

    Because they believe the warning is addressed to Christians, many interpreters hold that the passage teaches that salvation can be lost. If this interpretation were true, however, the passage would also teach that, once lost, salvation could never be regained. There would be no going back and forth, in and out of grace. But Christians are not being addressed, and it is the opportunity for receiving salvation, not salvation itself, that can be lost.

    The believer need never fear he will lose his salvation. He cannot. The Bible is absolutely clear about that. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29; see also Rom. 8:35-39; Phil. 1:6; and 1 Pet. 1:4-5).

    If you are in Christ, rejoice. Your salvation is secure forever.

    (Adapted from Hebrews, MacArthur New Testament Commentary, p. 146.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruth View Post
    The following "Question" was asked by a member of the congregation at Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California, and "Answered" by their pastor, John MacArthur Jr. It was transcribed from the tape, GC 70-2, titled "Bible Questions and Answers." A copy of the tape can be obtained by writing, Word of Grace, P.O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412 or by dialing toll free 1-800-55-GRACE. Copyright John MacArthur Jr., All Rights Reserved.

    Question

    There seems to be a big problem in the church today, concerning the doctrine of eternal security. Most Christians, Charismatics, and even Evangelicals, believe you can lose your salvation. Now, one of the arguments they use is Revelation 3:5 which says, "He who overcomes shall thus be clothed in white garments and I will not erase his name from the book of life and I will confess his name before my father and before His angels." Now they point out two things. Number one, that overcome is in the present tense and that means that you have to work in order to keep your salvation. They also say that God has an eraser and He will use it to remove your name from the book. Now please comment on this verse and also explain what Moses meant in Exodus 32:32, when he said, "But now if Thou wilt, forgive their sin, and if not please blot me out from Thy book, which Thou hast written.

    Answer

    I love that verse in Revelation 3:5. That is the greatest verse. Thatís one of the best verses in all the Bible on eternal security. I donít know how those people can do that with that verse. People say, "Well, you see right there, youíre liable to get your name blotted out of the book." Now I want to explain that verse. In Revelation 3:5 it says, "he that is overcoming"Ö.he that is an overcomerÖ.now how do you get to be an overcomer? Who wrote Revelation? John.

    So we ought to ask John. "John, what is an overcomer? What are you talking about? What do you mean by this?" Well John will tell us that "we have overcome," verse 4 of 1 John 5, John says, "For whatever or whoever is born of God is overcoming the world." So the overcomers are the people born of God. "And this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." So saving faith makes us an overcomer. Saving faith makes you an overcomer--you are born of God. So now in verse 5 of Revelation 3 we know what he is talking about. The one who is a Christian, who by faith in Jesus Christ has been born again, has overcome the world. The world is no longer his master, he is an overcomer. Thatís the definition of a Christian.

    So he says the one that is an overcomer, the same will be clothed in white raiment. Is that conditional? Is there any other condition except being an overcomer? No. If you are an overcomer, and you overcome by your faith and you are born again, then you will be clothed in white raiment. That is an absolute fact. There are no other conditions to that. The day will come when you enter into the glory of the presence of the Lord and He will clothe you in the brilliance of pure and holy reality forever and ever. "And I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father and before His angels." Now what the Lord says here is not that He will blot out our name, but that He will not. Now how you can get eternal insecurity out of that, I do not know. He says, "I will not do that." Now where did He get that? This is written to the church at Sardis and at Sardis they had a basic principle in terms of the city and citizenry that many cities of the ancient world have. When you came into the city you were written on the rolls of the city and you were identified as a member of that city and that was an honor. You belonged to that place but if you committed some criminal act, or if you discredited yourself, or if you dishonored the city in any way and brought reproach upon it, they would erase you out of that city roll and you then would be dispossessed and disenfranchised. You would be, if you will, a man without a city. And what God is saying is that they may do that to you in Sardis, but Iíll never do that to you. No matter what you do, if you have put your faith in Me and are by virtue of saving faith an overcomer, you will be clothed in white garment, which was used for very honored people in the city, for the highest honor the city could give, I promise to do that and in no condition will I ever do to you what men do to men. I will never blot you out, but I will affirm you; I will confess you before my Father and before His angels. This is a gilt edged guarantee that you canít lose your salvation so when they pick on that verse they are in real trouble.

    Now you were asking about Moses and Moses is saying, "Oh Lord if you donít do something with this people, blot my name out." He is really saying, essentially, the same thing Paul said in spirit in Romans 9, where he says, "I could almost wish myself accursed for the sake of my kinsmen, my brethren, Israel."

    In other words, I could almost come to the point where I say God I am so about the salvation of Israel that, "**** me and save them". Well, thatís really what Moses is saying. It isnít necessarily that he is articulating some theological concept. What he is saying is, "Oh Lord, my passion runs so deep, I have such a great concern for this people that I wish youíd do something for this people and oh God, if you are not going to do anything for this people that I love I canít bear the burden--just eliminate me." This is the outcry of an impassioned heart and you donít find the doctrine of insecurity in that outburst of passion. There is nothing Moses says there about whether or not that could happen. He is just pouring out the emotion of his own heart.

    And when you want to affirm the doctrine of security there are two passages that I would recommend to you that are unanswerable. John 10 and Romans 8. In fact we did a series, a rather protracted series on Romans chapter 8 on the security of the believer. Anybody, I believe, who could sit and listen to that entire series and not believe in the security of true salvation, has an unwilling mind and that may be the problem. And then I think part of the reason people believe in insecurity is because they canít explain certain peopleís behavior. In other words they say well what about my Aunt Ethel. She came to church for a long time and then totally bombed out and they donít know what happened, so they explain it as the loss of salvation. The Bible explained it as "never having had it". Right? 1 John 2:17, "They went out from us because they were not of us. If they had been of us they would have continued with us, but they went out from us that is might be made manifest that they never were of us." So I donít think that Revelation 3 does anything but affirm the fact that the Lord is going to do for us what He promisesÖ.a white raiment, Heís going to keep us in His book forever, confess us before God and angels and men may blot people out but God doesnít do that.

    Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "MacArthurís Questions and Answers" by:

    Tony Capoccia
    Bible Bulletin Board
    Box 119
    Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
    Websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com
    Ruth, thank you for this post. I copied it for future reference. Listen, I'm new to John McArthur. I read & heard a couple of "this & tht's about him", but listening to him preach, I like what I hear so far. I wanted to buy his commentary, but won't spend dthe money until I know for sure that he's ok. One post I read on the internet said that he didn't always believe that Jesus was the Son of God, or something like that. That scared me off. Please let me know about him. This article really rings true to me, an indepth analysiz of scripture. Thanks, Ruth.

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    I have posted the substance of this material in the other thread, but it is relevant here because we are dealing with people not neat theological doctrines. Many people profess to be Christians but they may not be in fact. Therefore any doctrine that people think gives them security regardless of their behavior is dangerous.

    I have said I believe in eternal security ... but not in unconditional eternal security. And when I say I believe eternal security is conditional, I am meaning the conditionality is a pre-existing conditionality, not an ongoing one. In other words, our security is conditional upon us being true believers. And the way we know we are true believers is by the evidence of the changes He makes in our lives and by our resulting obedience. Never have I suggested that now we’re saved, now we’re not, now we are, now we’re not, as though there were some sort of revolving door. I have always said that if you are a true Christian then you are saved forever. End of story.

    But many think that just professing the words, even if they believe them at that moment, and begin to lead an apparent Christian life, means they are Christians. John MacArthur disagrees with that, as do I. That was my point in stressing the importance of change … and obedience. And that was my point in stressing the perseverance of the saints. In fact Dr. MacArthur says:
    And if there was a time when you believed and now you don't, if there was a time when you had interest in Christ and now you don't, if you are indifferent to the Lord at all, if you don't have a hunger and thirst for Him, if you don't have a desire for His Word, if you don't love Him and long to serve Him, if you don't want to know Him, if you don't have a sustained trust and confidence in Him, if you don't live your life in the hope of eternal glory, then whatever you may or may not have done in the past, you're not a Christian. You're not a Christian because Christians live by faith, an enduring sustained faith. It's not apart from our wills, it's in perfect harmony with our wills. We remain steadfast but not passive. We are active in persevering. We are pursuing Christ with all our might. We are pursuing obedience. We are longing for it, desiring it. We hate sin, we love righteousness. We are active in this process of persevering, that's why we can call it persevering. It is a kind of faith that captures our minds and captures our souls and makes them enamored with Christ and in love with His Word and in love with His Law and desiring to serve Him. All our being, everything in us reaches out to honor Christ and we live in a kind of state of grief because we do what we don't want to do and don't do what we ought to do and we find ourselves in Romans 7, sick of our own remaining sin.

    … You say, "Well what about the person who believes for a while and goes away?" That was human faith, that wasn't the gift of faith from God. They never were genuinely saved. If they were genuinely saved, if they genuinely came to Christ, if they genuinely repented and believed, if they genuinely were given that gift of saving faith, if they truly and honestly opened their heart to that gift from the Lord, that gift would be there to the end. Our continued faith in Jesus Christ is the instrument by which God protects us.
    In the same vein, my comments regarding the IF’s and the fact that God’s promises are conditional have nothing to do with us working to hold on to our salvation, but everything to do with proving that our salvation is real to begin with. Again, John MacArthur:
    …these are the verses that are very often, or the major ones that are very often used for people to support the idea that you could lose your salvation.

    John 8:31 is one. John 8:31 says, "If you abide in My Word then are you truly disciples of Mine." And they will say, "Well you see, if you don't stay in the Word, you would cease to be a disciple." And then there's John 15:6, "If anyone does not abide or remain in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up and to gather them and cast them into the fire and they are burned." You're going to go to hell if you don't stay faithful. You're going to go to hell if you don't abide.

    And then there's Matthew 24:13, "The one who endures to the end, he shall be saved." So it really does depend upon your endurance. The same thing is mentioned also in Matthew 10:22. And then there is Acts 13:43 where Paul and Barnabas were speaking to Jews and God-fearing Gentiles, quote, "Urging them to continue in the grace of God." And so it seems as though you have to will and commit yourself to continue in the grace of God to be saved in the end.

    … (But) the idea here is these are not warnings to believer to hang on with all their might lest they lose their salvation. They are rather statements that those who endure, those who continue, those who persevere, those who hold fast give evidence of being the ones who are saved. So that you can take all of these verses and sort of answer them all in the same way. Jesus is saying, if you're one who abides in My Word, then you're a real disciple. If you're one who does not abide, you're not a true disciple. If you're one who endures, you're going to receive your final salvation. If you're one who continues in the grace of God and continues in the hope of the gospel and continues steadfastly and holds on, then you give evidence of having had the mighty saving work of God because you possess the only faith that saves and that's an enduring faith.

    These passages then define the nature of saving faith. They are not warnings in the sense that believers would need to be warned to hang on. They are warnings to superficial believers, to sham believers, to professing believers who aren't the real thing. And they are saying if your faith is real, it will endure to the end, kept by God, protected by God.
    So to summarize, we are eternally secure IF we are true Christians. And we show we are true Christians by our perseverance in the faith. Just as I said in my earlier posts. The doctrine of eternal security cannot stand on its own, it is false by itself. The doctrine of perseverance of the saints cannot stand on its own, it is false by itself. But combined they form one true doctrine. And I will let John MacArthur have the last word on this:
    Any doctrine of eternal security that leaves out perseverance distorts the doctrine of salvation itself. Heaven without holiness ignores the whole purpose for which God chose and redeemed His people... God’s own holiness thus requires perseverance. God’s grace insures our persevering, but this does not make it any less our persevering. Believers cannot acquire “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” unless they “press on toward the goal” (Phil 3:14). But as they “work out [their] salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12), they find that “it is God who is at work in [them], both to will and work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).
    It is critical that when we look at doctrines that we ensure we balance them.
    -------"You are not your own; you are bought with a price." ó1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a

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    Question - if we were on the same page all along then why was there such a lengthy discussion to find we were never in disagreement - both of us being professional writers?

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    I was not sure we were on the same page. You kept talking about an unconditional eternal security. And I was concerned that readers here who may not be well-versed in scripture would read into that doctrine a belief that regardless of how they may live, if they just believe in God and Jesus, if they believe have "given their heart to the Lord" or "made a profession of faith" or "asked Jesus in their heart" or whatever term you wish to use, then they are eternally secure.

    My whole point was to bring the balance of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. In fact that last paragraph by Dr. MacArthur in my post above—where he says "Any doctrine of eternal security that leaves out perseverance distorts the doctrine of salvation itself"—was part of my very original post in that other thread. But in your response to that you merely gave more support for eternal security, ignoring my point that it is erroneous unless combined with perseverance.
    -------"You are not your own; you are bought with a price." ó1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattfivefour View Post
    I was not sure we were on the same page. You kept talking about an unconditional eternal security. And I was concerned that readers here who may not be well-versed in scripture would read into that doctrine a belief that regardless of how they may live, if they just believe in God and Jesus, if they believe have "given their heart to the Lord" or "made a profession of faith" or "asked Jesus in their heart" or whatever term you wish to use, then they are eternally secure.

    My whole point was to bring the balance of the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. In fact that last paragraph by Dr. MacArthur in my post aboveówhere he says "Any doctrine of eternal security that leaves out perseverance distorts the doctrine of salvation itself"ówas part of my very original post in that other thread. But in your response to that you merely gave more support for eternal security, ignoring my point that it is erroneous unless combined with perseverance.
    You never seem to cease to confuse me.

    For me - it is a black and white issue. We are either saved or we are not.
    It is like - you can't be a little bit pregnant.

    But I keep reading where you are trying to blend the two and make it gray and like nailing jello to a wall.

    I think we have beat this dead horse long enough and it is the Lord alone who will sort out the facts to the truly seeking heart who loves the truth.

    2 Thes 2 10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

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    Quote Originally Posted by open door View Post
    Ruth, thank you for this post. I copied it for future reference. Listen, I'm new to John McArthur. I read & heard a couple of "this & tht's about him", but listening to him preach, I like what I hear so far. I wanted to buy his commentary, but won't spend dthe money until I know for sure that he's ok. One post I read on the internet said that he didn't always believe that Jesus was the Son of God, or something like that. That scared me off. Please let me know about him. This article really rings true to me, an indepth analysiz of scripture. Thanks, Ruth.
    John is one of the best out there for pushing 'man made' doctrine aside and looking for the truth.

    As with any human being though - he has his blind spots and everything should be checked against the scriptures and prayed over before settling on it.

    If we look at the enemy - he has limited resources. He is not like God in that he is omnipresent or omniscient. So, he would look to influence as many people as possible utilizing his limited resources in the best way possible. That would be by influencing a teacher of influence.

    Unless these teachers prayerfully consider every word they say, then they can easily fall into a trap and be deceived. They must be vigilant and since they are human, we know they will have some areas of weakness and in order for us to not be influenced by their weaknesses, we test everything against the scriptures and with the Holy Spirit as ultimately our only teacher.

    If we ever find that an answer alludes us - then we simply put it aside and leave it in His care. I have found when I do this, rather than trying to force the scriptures to give me an answer now - that the answer does come somewhere down the road after the Lord has answered several other questions that were the foundation to the question that I puzzled over.

    What many teachers / Christians do is want to have an answer today and when we are impatient then we force scripture into our limited view.

    Some questions that seemed impossible to answer to my way of seeing things - over time and His teaching me a few necessary things to give me a bigger perspective - and suddenly - wow the answer is a plane as the light of day and it is completely outside of the scope of any perspective I had before.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruth View Post
    John is one of the best out there for pushing 'man made' doctrine aside and looking for the truth.

    As with any human being though - he has his blind spots and everything should be checked against the scriptures and prayed over before settling on it.

    If we look at the enemy - he has limited resources. He is not like God in that he is omnipresent or omniscient. So, he would look to influence as many people as possible utilizing his limited resources in the best way possible. That would be by influencing a teacher of influence.

    Unless these teachers prayerfully consider every word they say, then they can easily fall into a trap and be deceived. They must be vigilant and since they are human, we know they will have some areas of weakness and in order for us to not be influenced by their weaknesses, we test everything against the scriptures and with the Holy Spirit as ultimately our only teacher.

    If we ever find that an answer alludes us - then we simply put it aside and leave it in His care. I have found when I do this, rather than trying to force the scriptures to give me an answer now - that the answer does come somewhere down the road after the Lord has answered several other questions that were the foundation to the question that I puzzled over.

    What many teachers / Christians do is want to have an answer today and when we are impatient then we force scripture into our limited view.

    Some questions that seemed impossible to answer to my way of seeing things - over time and His teaching me a few necessary things to give me a bigger perspective - and suddenly - wow the answer is a plane as the light of day and it is completely outside of the scope of any perspective I had before.
    Thanks, Ruth, sound words of advice. I am a very analytical person, and I do like you said, I put everything ANY preacher or whoever says up against the Word. It simply must measure up, or it doesn't. Since you highly recommend MacArthur, I may take a closer look at his commentary. I recently bought The Believer's Bible Commentary by William MacDonald, I really like it so far. I think I do recognize it may not be as indepth as MacArthur's, but still very good. Thanks, again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruth View Post
    You never seem to cease to confuse me.

    For me - it is a black and white issue. We are either saved or we are not.
    It is like - you can't be a little bit pregnant.

    But I keep reading where you are trying to blend the two and make it gray and like nailing jello to a wall.

    I think we have beat this dead horse long enough and it is the Lord alone who will sort out the facts to the truly seeking heart who loves the truth.

    2 Thes 2 10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
    Ruth, I am sorry but YOU have ME confused. You accuse me of trying to "gray" "a black and white issue". No, I was trying to bring BALANCE to it. And rather than rely on my own poor scholarship, I chose to use Dr. MacARthur's. In fact just about my entire post was presenting Dr. MacArthur's BALANCED teachings on eternal security and perseverance ... as opposed to just cherry-picking his teachings on eternal security asówith respect and not intending to be offensiveóyou appear to have done.

    And among all of his excellent teaching, Dr. MacArthur said THIS:

    "Any doctrine of eternal security that leaves out perseverance distorts the doctrine of salvation itself."

    Are you in disagreement with this?
    -------"You are not your own; you are bought with a price." ó1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a

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    Quote Originally Posted by mattfivefour View Post
    Ruth, I am sorry but YOU have ME confused. You accuse me of trying to "gray" "a black and white issue". No, I was trying to bring BALANCE to it. And rather than rely on my own poor scholarship, I chose to use Dr. MacARthur's. In fact just about my entire post was presenting Dr. MacArthur's BALANCED teachings on eternal security and perseverance ... as opposed to just cherry-picking his teachings on eternal security asówith respect and not intending to be offensiveóyou appear to have done.

    And among all of his excellent teaching, Dr. MacArthur said THIS:

    "Any doctrine of eternal security that leaves out perseverance distorts the doctrine of salvation itself."

    Are you in disagreement with this?
    Matt - you and I have gone round and round with this.
    I think it is futile for us to continue in this way.

    I trust you will find the truth prayerfully through our Lord and Savior through the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

    It is clear that for you and I to try to reconcile our focus will never happen through this format.

    Peace be with you.

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    Sure wish you would answer that last question of mine. But I guess your mind is made up. So, reluctantly but respectfully, I agree: this discussion between us has no future. Furthermore enough information has been put out for others to be able to see the issues.

    I, too, trust you will find the truth prayerfully through our Lord and Savior through the teaching of the Holy Spirit. (And I do not offer that repetition of your words in a snarky or unChristian way. I truly mean it ... as I am sure you did.

    May God continue to bless you.
    -------"You are not your own; you are bought with a price." ó1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a

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