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All born-again Christians have eternal security: a full assurance of their salvation. Jesus guaranteed this when He paid for our sins once for all time (Hebrews 10:12).
A promise of security that is temporary or conditional wouldn’t provide assurance. But worse, it would be fraudulent. The reasons to worship or trust God would be limited. Security is an emotional need that God fulfills through His care for us. Fortunately for us, God is fully capable of meeting our need for assurance:
The name of the Lord is a strong fortress;Proverbs 18:10 NLT
the godly run to him and are safe.
Even when I walkPsalm 23:4 NLT
through the darkest valley,
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
Psalm 23 ends with David’s conviction that he will live forever:
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue mePsalm 23:6 NLT
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
Assurance is Possible Because Salvation is Freedom
When interpreting the Bible, it is important to look broadly (across many scriptures) and narrowly (in the immediate context of a verse). Also, everything written has an intended audience. The Bible has two main audiences: the Christian and the non-Christian.
The question of eternal security is a positional one. The Christian should approach the Bible as someone who is already saved and interpret every verse from this perspective. The true believer has complete freedom and no condemnation (Galatians 5:1,13; Romans 8:1). As a Christian, you can: Interpret The Bible With Your Christian Identity. The non-Christian should feel condemnation for their sin and the need for the Savior.
Can we agree on what is required to become a Christian? All of us should be able to evaluate whether or not we are saved at the present moment. If you can’t assert that you are saved right now, then that is a different problem: you then must consider if you are saved at all.
Assurance is Possible Because Salvation is a Gift
The process of gaining salvation requires putting your faith (actively believing) in Christ’s work on your behalf. You can’t provide any “work.” All that is required is your faithful belief. Salvation is a gift. Gifts are received not earned as Paul makes clear:
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
If someone can lose their salvation, there must be an equally clear procedure of how that happens. I suppose someone could return the gift, but there isn’t any reason why a true believer would want to do that. Only someone who hasn’t already received the gift can refuse the gift.
Assurance is Possible Because Salvation is Rest
If you can lose salvation by not working hard enough at it, then this would make salvation a trap: it’s easy to step in, but once you’re in, you have to work increasingly harder to stay in, otherwise, you’ll be kicked out. But then is it easy or hard to get back in again? Besides being confusing, this seems to go against the Gospel message and many Bible passages that grace, not works, saves you.
Consider Jesus’s words about coming to Him for rest:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Salvation is not gained by working harder to avoid sin. That would be self-effort to keep salvation. Jesus is saying that salvation is the process of finding rest for your soul.
Matt Pavlik is a licensed professional clinical counselor who wants to see each individual restored to their true identity. He has more than 20 years of experience counseling individuals and couples at his Christian counseling practice, New Reflections Counseling. Matt and Georgette have been married since 1999 and live with their four children in Centerville, Ohio.