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The Doctrine of Eternal Security

Differing views on an important topic 

Within Protestantism, there are two prevailing views of the permanence of salvation: the Reformed view and the Arminian view.

The Reformed view, which was championed by the influential French theologian, John Calvin, states that salvation can only come to those who are truly called. Because the Bible explains that God’s calling is irrevocable, this view teaches that the true “regenerate” believer can never lose his salvation.

The Arminian view was codified, presented, and ardently defended by Dutch theologian, Jacobus Arminius. It states that because men come to Christ of their own volition and through their own free will, it is also possible for them to abandon Christ through their own free will. Because this decision to abandon one’s faith is always possible, eternal damnation could await formerly regenerate believers who abandon their faith and reject God’s free gift of salvation.

The majority of Protestants hold to one of these two views — or some variation/combination thereof.

Can You Lose Your Salvation? – Slideshow Presentation

Reformed View
(Eternal Security)

Arminian View
(Conditional Security)

ARGUMENT #1

Eternal security is a necessary and logical outcome of total depravity and unconditional election.

ARGUMENT #1

God gives us this freedom to choose Him or reject Him. (Free will) God does not take away this freedom when we become believers.

ARGUMENT #2

Scripture plainly teaches that one can never lose their salvation:

  • John 5:24; 6:39-40; 10:25-29
  • Rom. 8:29-30,38-39; 11:29
  • Eph. 1:13,14

ARGUMENT #2

Scripture plainly teaches that one can lose their salvation:

  • 1 John 5:16 ; Mark 3:28,29
  • Heb. 6:4-6; 10:26,27
  • 2 Pet. 2:19-22; Gal. 5:1-4

ARGUMENT #3

Christians can rest in the assurance of their salvation:

  • 1 John 5:13
  • Phil. 1:6

ARGUMENT #3

Scripture plainly teaches that salvation requires a continuous belief until death:

  • Matt. 24:10-13; Heb. 3:6
  • John 3:16; 5:24; 6:40

Reformed View in a nutshell

“Security and perseverance are two sides to the same coin. It is God’s responsibility to protect and secure our salvation and it is our responsibility to persevere in our belief until the end. However, God will enable those who are His to persevere until the end. Those who don’t persevere until the end were not His to begin with.”

Arminian View in a nutshell

“Salvation can be lost through apostate action: scripture proves it and free will requires it. To believe otherwise is a blatant heresy. History supports this view because until John Calvin, no serious church leader had believed in, or promoted, the “once-saved-always-saved” view.”

 

Conclusion: It is worth noting that both Reformed and Arminian devotees can furnish convincing prooftexts for their respective belief. Some are dogmatic in their persuasion on this matter. However, I am content to hold these two views in tension. Over the years, I have found that an over-obsession with this topic can often indicate a deeper insecurity within the believer.

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