The Heresy of Eternal Security
On his weekly Friday Radio broadcast of April 6, 2012, Bob George, in his People to People ministry, clearly teaches in the sermon "Finality of the Cross" that a believer in Christ who asks forgiveness of sins is doing wrong. The Cross of Christ supposedly did away with any need to seek forgiveness. By asking forgiveness, you are not walking in faith which is supposedly the truth you already have been forgiven all sins, past and future.
Thus, George clearly teaches that repentance is not only unnecessary, but it is a violation of the faith you must place in Christ that the Cross is final: all your sins are forgiven, past and future. George implies therefore that you actually sin when you ask for forgiveness because you are asking for something you already have and should know but are wrongly asking for.
By George's criteria, Jesus taught us incorrectly that we have only two choices - heaven maimed (by repenting of sin) or hell whole (refusing to repent of sin, and cut off body parts causing us to sin). Mark 9:42-47. For our exposition of Jesus' teaching on the "Heaven Maimed, Hell Whole" principle, see online ch. 3 of our book Jesus Words on Salvation.
What comes to my mind is God's warning about teachers who promise life to the wicked by discouraging them from turning from sin. In Ezekiel 13, we read:
8 “‘Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because of your false words and lying visions, I am against you, declares the Sovereign LORD. 9 My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and utter lying divinations.... (23) Because you disheartened the righteous with your lies, when I had brought them no grief, and because you encouraged the wicked not to turn from their evil ways and so save their lives. (Ezek 13:8-9, 23 NIV.)
I like the King James translation even better of verse 22. It proves that despite Bob George's admirable goal to make depressed Christians happy, it is instead correctly achieved by the truthful necessity to repent from sin. It is a happy delusion which George fosters by promising life without repentance. Here is a better version of verse 22 that underscores this difference between George and the true path:
Because with lies ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life: (Ezek 13:22 KJV.)
Thus, the true way to relieve guilt is not to believe some decision to accept Christ in the past means you don't need to have guilt for sin, and ask forgiveness and then change course. Rather, God tells us to repent and go on the path of life, and you will then find joy and peace of mind. As Psalm 16:11 says:
Thou wilt show me the path of life: In thy presence is fulness of joy; In thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (ASV.)
You can learn more about Bob George and his teachings at his website. You can download a free copy of the Radio broadcast "Finality of the Cross" to your Itunes account at this link.
If you also want to see an extraordinary claim by Mr. George that a Christian who commits suicide (a species of murder) who accepted Christ previously is still saved, please see this dialogue he posted online himself. Apostle John says a murderer has no eternal life. I guess Mr. George knows best. (I am not serious.)
Charles Stanley, the major proponent of eternal security today, likewise says a Christian who murders himself is safe and secure in heaven despite an inability to repent of such murder:
“A believer who commits suicide is already forgiven. Now I didn’t say it was gonna be good for him. I said they’re forgiven. They are pardoned for that sin.” (Charles Stanley, Suicide: Is It An Unpardonable Sin? (Atlanta, Ga.: In Touch Ministries, 1994) audiotape MH074.)
By the way, J. Vernon McGee, heard on Thru The Bible, also taught that a Christian who murders himself is saved. In Questions and Answers (1990) at page 50 - a posthumous book of his teachings, McGee was asked and answers as follows about Suicide:
Q. I was completely surprised when one of my friends from church committed suicide. How could a Christian kill himself?
McGee's answer, in part, reads,
I can understand that a Christian might have a mental breakdown, a catastrophic illness, or certain other things which might cause him to do this. I would not sit in judgment upon a professing Christian who does this because, to begin with, the minute he commits this act he is out of your hands and out of my hands. We cannot pass judgment on him. And I do know this: if that person is a child of God, he is saved. I don't care what you say, he is saved if he is a child of God. (p. 50)
The only support for eternal security comes from Paul. See 2 Cor. 5:19; Eph. 1:13-14; 4:29-32; Col. 2:13-14; Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 1:12; 1 Thess. 5:24; Rom. 5:1,9-10; 6:1, 8-11, 23; 8:28-30, 39.
Jesus is often recruited to support Paul's eternal security teachings by using mistranslated texts. The mistranslation is always the same. The English present tense is used even though the actual Greek had a conditional or continuous tense that makes it improper to translate the verb as a present tense in English. Such translations remove any kind of conditionality to the protection Jesus speaks about, misleading an English reader that the promise is unconditional protection.
For example, Jesus says "no one will snatch you out of His hand" but the condition was "for those who keep on listening and following" Jesus. See John 10:28. But the English translation renders the continuous tense for "listen" and "follow" as simply "listen" and "follow," thereby implying in English that nothing continuous about listening or following is necessary. Thus, in English mistranslation, you can think John 10:28 means anyone who has listened to or followed Jesus cannot be snatched from Jesus' hand. But the Greek, to the contrary, has conditions that this protection depends upon the continuous activity of the Christian to "listen" (obey) and "follow" (obey).
You will find a similar mistranslation of John 5:24 discussed in the Study Notes below. Those who "keep on listening" and "keep believing Him who sent me" have passed from death to life -- a clearly conditional state.
Charles Stanley Materially Misquoting Texts
On the drive home this week, on July 2, 2015, I was listening to KBRT, 740 AM. Charles Stanley was giving a sermon on why eternal security is true. He argued that Christ promises to protect you, and that whomever God gives Christ, Jesus cannot lose. To prove the latter, Stanley quoted a text supposedly where Jesus says "Thank you Father, for I have lost none." Because this was cited to prove the impossibility that Jesus can ever lose anyone originally given to Jesus by God, you supposedly know you are eternally secure.
But what did the passage actually say from which Stanley quoted? Did it instead have the opposite meaning by having an exception, proving one found in Jesus can later become lost? The answer is yes, and thus Stanley materially misquoted a passage that proves the opposite of what Stanley was arguing. -- The passage instead proves someone saved, in Jesus' hand, etc., became "lost." Jesus said in the full sentence:
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled. (John 17:12, KJV.)
Thus, due to the word "but" in this sentence about the 12 apostles, the sentence means that Judas was one of the 12 whom God had given Jesus; that Jesus kept Judas in God's name, but only Judas was lost among the 12.
You can know a doctrine is false when the very same sentence used to advance the doctrine proves the opposite -- when read in its entirety.
Repent Now defines Eternal Security as follows:
Eternal Security Heresy.
This heresy says that once you have believed on Jesus, then it doesn’t matter what you do or how much sin you commit, you will still go to heaven when you die. This is a lie.
Dave Stewart Defends Eternal Security at "If Saved, Always Saved." This is especially aimed at Dan Corner and his book Conditional Security - a work I strongly recommend. Stewart contends:
There is a perverted theology today that mixes faith in Christ with surrendering one's life to God in obedience. This false doctrine is called "Lordship Salvation" and it is evil. The very idea that one's lifestyle is a part of saving faith is damnable heresy. Opponents of Eternal Security all follow Lordship Salvation, and they all use the corrupted New International Version.
Stewart solves the dilemma of various passages by saying anyone described as lost / heading for hell was never a believer:
You don't trust Christ one day and then forsake him the next, it doesn't work that way. A child of God will always be a child of God. If you don't have Jesus Christ today, it is ONLY because you never really trusted Him at all. In contrast to the other Apostles, Judas was a known unrepentant thief (John 12:6). We have no Scriptural reason to believe that Judas was ever a believer. This is why the Bible warns us to make sure we are saved—"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith..." (2nd Corinthians 13:5). Most of America's churchgoers are still lost and on their way to Hell.
One proof text he offers is John 5:24 in its common translation:
John 5:24 states: "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 condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
But this is a mistranslation. All the present tenses are continuous present except one which is perfect active (continuous too) for 'passing'. Thus, it truly reads that as long as you "keep hearing (listening to) my word," and "keep believing him that sent me," you "are having eternal life," and "are not come into condemnation," but "have passed from death to life." Significantly different. Take a look at the tenses at the Biblios link to John 5:24.
Of course, the most significant passages that do indeed confirm Stewart come from Paul. Stewart quotes Paul as follows:
...ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory" —Ephesians 1:13,14
Stewart continues, and says that one reason for this is Paul's doctrine that the law was abolished. 'How can we sin when the standard for sin was abolished, with its penalties?' Stewart says. Stewart confesses that indeed this is a license to sin. I kid you not!! But then Stewart contradictorily claims that there is a special place called the judgment seat of Christ where we will be judged by the law. (What law? The one Paul said was abolished? You see where Paul leads his followers? Into a pit of contradictions.) Here is Stewart's section answering whether he is guilty of teaching there is a license to sin:
A License to Sin?
I am going to Heaven, regardless of how I live. But you say, that's crazy! No! That's Bible! So do Christians have a license to sin? Yes, if you want to view it that way. Of course, no believer has God's permission to sin, which is why He has set apart a judgment, i.e., the JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST, just for believers (2nd Corinthians 5:10; 1st Thessalonians 4:6; Romans 12:19; 14:12). God expects every believer to fulfill the Law. The Apostle Paul makes this very clear...
"Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law" —Romans 3:31
"What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid." —Romans 6:15
Carefully notice that a believer is NO LONGER UNDER THE LAW. There is no condemnation for the believer. However, a believer who sins must give account to God at the Judgment Seat of Christ someday (2nd Corinthians 5:10). Please read Defraud Not Thy Brother. No one is going to get away with anything friend. It is this misunderstanding that often prompts people to create false doctrines about losing one's salvation. They are tired of phony Christians, and so am I. However, we are all phonies to some degree if we'll be honest with ourselves, because even the best of Christians still sin.
Such is the self-contradictory gobbledy-guk one ends up if one follows Paul, not Jesus.
Westminster Confession of Faith
The principle document of the Presbyterian Church is the Westminster Confession from the 17th century. It is built largely on the teachings of Calvin.
On the issue of justification, it claims it is permanent upon God's decree (before you were born, if you want to know). You can never lose this justification even for sin, and thus you can sin and supposedly still go to heaven:
5. God continues to forgive the sins of those who are justified. Although they can never fall from the state of justification, yet they may by their sins fall under God's fatherly displeasure and not have the light of his countenance restored to them until they humble themselves, confess their sin, plead for pardon, and renew their faith and repentance.
WCF - Chapter 11, #5.
Luther's Original View That Baptism With Faith Is All You Ever Need
In Luther's Babylonian Captivity of the Church, Luther taught:
Thus you see how rich a Christian is, that is, one who has been baptized! Even if he would, he could not lose his salvation, however much he sinned, unless he refused to believe. For no sin can condemn him save unbelief alone. All other sins, so long as the faith in God’s promise made in baptism returns or remains, are immediately blotted out through that same faith, or rather through the truth of God, because he cannot deny himself if you confess him and faithfully cling to him in his promise. But as for contrition, confession of sins, and satisfaction, along with all those carefully devised exercises of men: if you rely upon them and neglect this truth of God, they will suddenly fail you and leave you more wretched than before. For whatever is done without faith in God's truth is vanity of vanitiees and vexation of Spirit. Eccl. 1:2, 14. (LW 36:60) (Quoted at this link.)
Faith Alone Statements That Imply Never Can Lose Salvation
An honest translator looking a John 3:16 is fully cognizant this verse has been improperly translated to cement salvation is by faith, not obedience. The truth is the Greek commonly rendered as “believes” means “obey unto” in John 3:16. See link.
However, the honest translator has to confront speeches like Sam Morris' below on a regular basis, and may fear repurcussions using a true translation of John 3:16. Morris like many others has a rigid view that disobedience to Jesus or Yahweh is supposedly irrelevant to salvation. Belief alone is all that allegedly matters. Morris explains:
We take the position that a Christian’s sins do not damn his soul. The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people has nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul. All the prayers a man can pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the sermons he may practice, and all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform, will not make his soul one bit safer. And all the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder, will not make his soul in any more danger. (Sam Morris, Truth Magazine 3/22/73 at 3.)
Thus, Morris teaches belief is allegedly all there is to salvation. As R.B. Thieme writes in Apes and Peacocks (Houston: Thieme, 1973) at 23, even a one-time Christian who becomes an atheist is still saved:
It is possible, even probable, that when a believer out of fellowship falls for certain types of philosophy, if he is a logical thinker, he will become an ‘unbelieving believer.’ Yet believers who become agnostic are still saved; they are still born again. You can even become an atheist; but if you once accept Christ as savior, you cannot lose your salvation, even though you deny God.
Any addition of obedience or works to this supposedly correct faith-only-formula has an eternally fatal result. For we read in Jonathan Gerstner’s “Legalism and Antinomianism: Two Deadly Paths Off the Narrow Road” — a contribution to the popular evangelical work Trust and Obey (1996) at 118 writes:
Any whose ground for claiming Christ is... a faith that is coupled with works as a necessary prerequisite to gaining eternal life will be lost eternally.
As Charles Stanley — two-time President of the eighteen-million member Southern Baptists — says in Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure, supra, at page 80-81:
Consequently, God does not require a constant attitude of faith in order to be saved — only an act of faith.... It is a singular moment in time wherein we take what God has offered.
Yet, Jesus truly says in John 3:16 that one who "keeps on obeying onto the Son" has eternal life. See our ch. 26 of Jesus' Words on Salvation, and Von Kampen's work on John 3:16.
Charles Stanley elsewhere explains the belief you must have one-time is simply that “Christ was punished in our place.” (Stanley, Eternal Security, supra, at 33-34). Nothing more can supposedly be added to this formula.
In fact, some hem God in that He cannot put a condition on the ‘promise’ of eternal life. (As we saw in the link on John 3:16 above, the NIV incorrectly translates John 3:16 as a promise, using the word shall and not correctly as should have eternal life.). So R. T. Kendall puts it this way:
Whoever once truly believes that Jesus was raised from the dead, and confesses that Jesus is Lord, will go to heaven when he dies. ‘Once saved, always saved,’ means that such a person cannot lose his salvation. It follows, then, that he will go to heaven when he dies. It is an absolute enforceable promise. (R.T. Kendall, Once Saved Always Saved (Chicago: Moody Press, 1985) at 46.
With these preconceived ideas, not only would a translator reject out-of-hand the more correct translation of John 3:16 as about obedience, but also he would see it as virtual heresy to fix this common translation error. Seeking the mammon of this world -- sales of a Bible -- rather than accept pisteuo eis was used in classical Greek to mean "obey unto" and has no usage in that form -- where EIS is used in conjuction -- to mean belief -- is the obvious reason John 3:16 remains still in need of a correct English translation.
Articles on Eternal Security
John 6:39-40, Biased Mistranslation
Misleading Assurance of Eternal Security
Once Saved, Always Saved? by Ken Raggio
Videos on Eternal Security
Bercot, What Early Christians Taught About Eternal Security