In the discussions on this subject some objections have been raised so I decided to address these possible objections and bring some clarifications.
Common Objections to Eternal Security
While this section is not meant to be exhaustive, it will deal with some of the common passages used by those who object to the doctrine of eternal security. The passage will be listed along with its relation to eternal security.
1 Samuel 16:14
"Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him."
This verse reveals to us that the Spirit of God was taken away from Saul and seems to dispute the orthodox teaching of the Spirit being the very earnest (pledge) which guarantees God will finish our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14; Philippians 1:6). However, the seal of the Holy Spirit is only a New Covenant blessing that was graciously extended to the Gentiles to provoke the Jews to jealously (Romans 10:19-20). The outpouring of the Spirit of the New Covenant as described in Ezekiel 36:25-27 was originally just a covenant given to the Jews. Our death and marriage to Christ (Romans 7:1-4) has made us heirs of the promise and broken down the walls between Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2:14). The body of Christ now takes the place of the torn vail of the temple (Matthew 27:51) that we ourselves might become the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:19) and worship Him there (Hebrews 10:19-20). Since we are vailed by Christ, there is no chance that the Holy Spirit will ever be taken from us who are under the New Covenant. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit could leave a person because of sin and return to the temple behind the vail since the body of Christ could not yet vail them. This in no way nullified Saul's justification as 1 Samuel 28:19 seems to indicate.
"He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion."
We should confess our sins and repent of them lest we are chastised by our Father (Hebrews 12:5-11). Chastisement's purpose is to correct us, if we repent and turn from the sin there is no need for chastisement. 1 Corinthians 11:29-32 where we are exhorted to judge ourselves lest God judge us, notice it is said that some sleep because of their sin. Sleep refers to a believer who has died (John 11:11-12; Acts 7:60; 1 Corinthians 15:6, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-15), they were not sent to Hell, but there life was taken from them. Stern rebukes do not necessitate eternal condemnation."
If we consider the Old Testament covenant, it becomes apparent that our salvation is not dependent upon our continual confession of sins. In the Old Testament covenant, the Holy Spirit stayed with Israel through the tabernacle or temple. God was not willing to treat individuals as temples because they committed sins every day. The Israelites were daily offering sacrifices in order to make atonement for those sins. The question is why the Spirit does not leave us (Ephesians 1:13-14 says were sealed with the Spirit) when we sin and come back when we confess our sins. The key lies in how God dealt with our sin. In the Old Testament, the lamb died in the place of the person offering the sacrifice. In the New Testament we died (Galatians 2:20) with the lamb (Jesus) so our sin is dealt with in one stroke. In God's eyes were all dead, and no longer commit sins (1 John 3:9). We live through Jesus, who is completely righteous, so God may give us His Spirit. Christ simply testifies that we are dead in Him, that is why he is able to save us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25). The reason we repent today is to restore fellowship with the Spirit whom we have grieved (Ephesians 4:30). Otherwise, we will be disciplined as mentioned above. So as God the Father we still commit sins that need to be disciplined, but as God the Judge we are dead in Christ and commit no sins. If this was not the case, the Holy Ghost would not be able to tabernacle with us.
"For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions."
The ability to forgive is a sign of a true believer (Ephesians 4:32; John 2:10-11).
"I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
The "sons of the kingdom" here are the Jews in the nation Israel. One of the key teachings of the Gospels is the rejection of Jesus Christ by His own people, the Jews. Time and again Christ warns and rebukes the Jews and their leaders, but most of them reject him. The first half of Matthew, in particular, documents this fearful situation.
"You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved."
This verse as well as Matthew 24:13 re-affirms the perseverance of Christians during tribulation (also see Romans 8:35). Note also that the day's are shortened for the elect's sake (Matthew 24:22) and that it is not even possible to deceive the elect (Matthew 24:24).
"But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven."
Certainly those who do not confess Jesus as Lord are not saved since it is necessary for our salvation (Romans 10:9).
The parables of the ten virgins and of the talents are given in the context of Christ's coming and of the establishment of the kingdom of God in Israel (Matthew 25:31-34). The foolish virgins do not have to picture true believers. One has to read this into the parable. Likewise, the wicked and lazy servant of the parable of the talents does not have to picture a true believer. Again, one must read this into the parable. I believe, in light of everything the New Testament promises to the child of God, that the foolish virgins must be those who are unsaved. As I have said before, to interpret this otherwise is to throw multitudes of clear Scriptures into confusion. The wicked and lazy servant is not a true believer. First, he did not know the Lord. He considered the Lord "a hard man." It is obvious that he did not know the blessed Lord Jesus Christ! The fact that he is called a servant does not mean necessarily that he is saved. The Jews are called the Lord's servants, but they were not all saved (Isaiah 43:10). It is not wise to establish doctrine upon parables. Parables have one central point, and if one tries to push every detail of the parable one can have all sorts of doctrinal problems.
"And He said, 'A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.' So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, "How many of my father's hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! 'I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.' So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and 0embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' But the father said to his slaves, 'Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.' And they began to celebrate. Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.' But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, 'Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.' And he said to him, 'Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.'"
Applying theological terminology to a parable is very difficult. Many parables do not lend themselves to this kind of exegesis. It should be kept in mind that parables are generally taught with one message in mind. In the very next chapter of Luke we read about the parable of the unjust steward.
Some try to say the king in the parable is God as in other parables, but this king actually commends the servant for his wickedness (Luke 16:8). And certainly Christ is not saying we should behave as the unjust steward and cheat those above us. The parable seems to just teach we should use our money wisely. A similar way of understanding the parable of Luke 15 can be used. The parable simply reveals that God is willing to forgive sinners and backslidden sons despite their actions. The fact that the Pharisees are portrayed as sons does not mean they were saved either (Matthew 23:33). Also notice that the sudden famine (Luke 15:14) could be God's chastisement (Hebrews 12:5-12) to insure that the son would indeed return.
If we feel absolutely compelled to treat this passage theologically, perhaps it is best to see the two sons as representing Israel (the first being the common man and the second representing the priest). Several times the Old Testament (especially the book of Judges) tells us that the next generation did not hold on to the faith of their forefathers and became spiritually dead. Later Israel would remember God and seek Him during their time of tribulation because foreign enemies would oppress them. This corresponds exactly to the parable and teaching of Jesus, that He came to seek that which was lost (Luke 19:10). This interpretation also has the advantage of not equating sonship with salvation since the Pharisees (represented by the older son) were Jewish but not necessarily saved.
"Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap."
The context here is the Great Tribulation and the coming of Christ. Some would say that this passage teaches that we must prove ourselves in order to be worthy to escape the judgments to come. But such an interpretation contradicts the clear teaching of Scripture on the matter of personal salvation. It is therefore an impossible interpretation. Those who are overtaken by the Day of the Lord are contrasted repeatedly with the believers, who are not destined to wrath (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10).
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 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. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 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. 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. 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."
This passage teaches that the evidence of true faith in Christ is the bearing fruit for His glory. The vine gives the life to the branches. If the branch bears no fruit, then it is not given "life" by the vine. It shows that that branch wasn't given "life". It is Jesus who gives the life that bears fruit. If one is not given life, he will not bear fruit. Many will experience God's grace, but not all will experience His saving grace.
"Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity."
Whether Simon was saved or not is questionable, regardless the rebuke Peter gave was appropriate to make sure the man was saved."
"For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live."
Paul simple warns the church that believers are not after the flesh but in the Spirit (verses 8-9). Who we serve, sin or God, reveals whether we have been regenerated or not (Romans 6).
"But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that t is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ?Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in. Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either."
This whole chapter talks, in a general sense, about the Jewish people losing their position as God's chosen people because of unbelief, and God opening salvation up to the Gentiles (although it actually always was open to them). This passage does not refer to individuals falling away, but the entire Jewish people. Today God has temporarily turned away from the Jews and is calling a people for His name from among the Gentile nations. The day will come when God will again turn to the Jewish nation to fulfill His promises to them. Verses 24-26 make this plain. Paul is speaking in a general sense, not in a personal sense. A careful reading of this chapter illustrates this.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
"Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God."
These passages do not teach that a believer can lose his salvation, unless salvation is by works. These two passages list several sins and then says at the end that those who do such sins will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Most scholars agree that Paul is describing someone who has not escaped from the bondage of sin through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:10, 14; 2 Peter 1:4). The whole epistle to the Galatians is an apologetic against works-based salvation and repeatedly states that the law can in no way justify us before God (Galatians 2:16, 3:3, 5:4). Note especially in Galatians 3:3, which asks, "If after starting in the Spirit, are we made perfect through the flesh?" Salvation through works is complete and utter heresy and the apostle says let those be accursed who would pervert the gospel to preach another Galatians 1:6-9. They in effect have made Christ dead in vain, according Galatians 2:21. This applies specifically to the legalist, since faith plus works happened to be the same false doctrine being preached at Galatia.
1 Corinthians 15:1-2
"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain."
This passage discusses the resurrection and the condemnation of those who do not hold to this truth. Paul uses the chapter to show why Christ's resurrection was essential for our salvation and simply questions the salvation of those who do not believe in it (verse 2). This is brought out more clearly in verse 17 where Paul says, "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins." Believing in the resurrection is essential for our salvation as Romans 10:9 indicates.
"You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace."
Note that this verse does not say they had fallen out of grace, but from grace. To lose one's salvation, one would have to move out of grace, which is God's unmerited favor directed towards people. Those being spoken here have returned to the law for their justification. The phrase "fallen from grace" refers to those who tried to mix faith and works. Grace simply is not grace if works is mixed in with it (Romans 11:6). They were never justified because they failed to understand what grace means and instead trusted in the deeds of the law for their salvation. This being the case, they were still under the curse of the law (Galatians 3:10). Once God has established a relationship with a person that is based on His grace, that person cannot undo it, for he did nothing to merit it in the first place.
Another view way of looking at this text is this. To fall from grace is to fall from favor. While some extend this fall from favor to loss of salvation, it is not at all necessary from the context. The severing is simply the disruption of fellowship and the nullifying of the power of Christ in their lives. To return to the law is to return to a system of righteous requirements with no power to meet them. When Paul says that "Christ shall profit you nothing" he is again speaking not of salvation, but of the assistance we receive when we rely on Him. This may be a variation on the theme of walking after the Spirit vs. walking after the flesh. To return to works is to rely on the flesh which is doomed to failure, since there is no way to please God when we operate in the flesh.
Regardless of which of the two views above one considers, the attempt to get loss of salvation from this passage is to force a meaning on it that contradicts the very words of Jesus regarding the security of those whom God has given to Him (John 6:39). It also makes Paul contradict his own inspired declaration that nothing can separate us from the love of God. (Romans 8:37-39)
"Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."
1 Timothy 5:15
"For some have already turned aside to follow Satan."
This verse should give stern warning to women to root their salvation in Christ rather than men. The passage seems to say that certain women were marrying men to make them the focus of their life instead of Christ.
2 Timothy 2:12
"If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us."
The issue is rejecting Christ, not committing certain sins. Paul is probably using "we" in the widest sense of the word -- all people. Those who believe in Jesus receive certain benefits. Those who deny him will be denied by him, as Jesus warned in Luke 12:8-9 (to a mixed audience).
"For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end."
Is the writer teaching what a person must do to remain in the House and in Christ; or is he declaring what the mark of a genuine believer is? Following the latter interpretation, if the recipients return to Judaism as they are considering, it will demonstrate they were never really in the House and in Christ to begin with. So a mark of one who has been genuinely saved is perseverance to the end (1 John 2:19).