Vol: 20 Issue: 10 Thursday, March 10, 2016
We’ve spent an unusually high percentage of our time this month dealing with issues of doctrine, with the central theme being the doctrine of eternal security.
Why so much time on this one doctrine? Is it so important to me to prove I am right that I can’t let go? Is it just that I am arrogant and unwilling to consider any other view? Why this one issue above the rest?
I hope none of those apply — I earnestly pray that God will keep me from being arrogant, and protect me from propagating error.
The reason I have spent so much time on eternal security isn’t because I haven’t investigated alternative interpretations — because I have. I don’t want to be in error, and I am even more worried about spreading error.
Despite the charges from my critics, I am not a false teacher, ‘sent by Satan to confuse the Church and teach a watered-down doctrine that will lead many to hell’.
My fear of teaching error is so much greater than my fear of being wrong that I have probably spent more time studying the alternative doctrines than I have the one I believe to be the correct one.
The Bible takes a dim view of false teachers and false doctrines, and I take Scripture at face value.
That said, the doctrine of eternal security is, according to Scripture, the most effective defensive weapon in the Christian’s war arsenal. Particularly for this generation, and even more particularly, at this point in time.
The Apostle Paul described the spiritual weapons available to the Christian preparing for battle, and their purposes.
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” (Ephesians 6:11)
Note immediately two things. The first is that this armour is ‘of God’, and the second is that it is provided so that we can ‘stand’ against the devil’s deceptive ‘wiles’ — not engage in a frontal confrontation.
It is the enemy who fears a frontal confrontation. Scripture says that,
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1st John 4:4)
The enemy knows he cannot win a direct frontal confrontation with a believer indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
Rather, Paul writes,
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:12-13)
Here again, we find that our tactical mission isn’t to swarm and overcome, but instead, to ‘withstand’ and ultimately, to remain standing.
Paul describes a Christian in full battle dress as one,
“having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” (Ephesians 6:14-15)
Note the tactical information we are able to glean from the type of combat gear we are issued for battle. In the hand-to-hand combat tactics of Paul’s day, as now, the most vulnerable place to strike an enemy is the groin area.
One needn’t strike a killing blow with an edged weapon to disable an enemy, the haft of a spear, a club, or even a raised knee is sufficient.
If one stands against the enemy and doesn’t have the truth, he will be disabled just as easily. A killing blow is not necessary. A glancing blow is enough.
The next largest vulnerability for a warrior is the chest area. It is a large target, and has many potential kill zones, including the heart. An unrighteous warrior’s heart is exposed to an enemy blow.
An ancient Roman battlefield tactic often employed was for one side to sew a potential battlefield with sharp stones, bits of metal, tacks, etc.
The Roman legions often met with barefoot ‘barbarian’ hordes, while Roman soldiers wore heavy laced sandals. Soldiers who can’t walk, can’t fight, and this tactic thinned out the enemy forces even before the first blow was struck.
Paul tells us to be on a firm footing with the Gospel if we want to be able to ‘stand’ in battle. One cannot do spiritual battle with the enemy if one doesn’t understand the Gospel.
“Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (6:16)
Faith is our shield.
” . . . for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2nd Timothy 1:12)
It is our faith that provides the most effective shield against the attacks of the wicked.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
All of us have encountered some glib apologist for humanism, or a well-versed atheist eager to ‘prove’ that there is no God. Some of their arguments seem convincing, and without the shield of faith, we are vulnerable.
We have only two weapons left to fully equip us for battle. Finally, Paul tells us,
“. . . take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:17)
Note that our only offensive weapon is the Sword of the Spirit — the Word of God.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
The Word of God, Jude tells us, is so powerful that, even,
“Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.” (Jude 1:9)
Now we move to what Paul calls, “the helmet of salvation.”
A blow to the groin can disable an enemy, so can a strike to the chest. An army with bloodied feet can’t fight, and without shields, it is vulnerable to long-range attack from archers. But strike a blow to the head and your enemy isn’t just disabled, he’s dead.
I know of no quicker way to render a Christian ineffective for battle than to convince him the battle is already lost.
A Christian who is out of fellowship with God is reluctant to join the battle, one who believes he has lost his salvation is defeated before he steps out on the field. Why fight for a general who has abandoned his troops in the field?
How does one deploy the various defensive weapons AFTER one is already dead?
How does one take the battle to the enemy, when the strategic objective is a prize of no value?
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)
These verses are often used as ‘proof’ texts that a believer’s salvation is conditional on his maintaining a certain standard of conduct.
Note the elements: First, it is impossible for one who has been saved to be ‘renewed again unto repentance’, because it would demand ‘crucifying to themselves the Son of God afresh’ — something the Bible says would ‘put Him to an open shame.’ How so?
“But this Man, after he had offered ONE sacrifice for sins FOR EVER, sat down on the right hand of God.” (Hebrews 10:12)
Jesus said from the Cross, “It is finished.” If it is NOT finished, then He lied – hence the open shame.
Another ‘proof text’ is Hebrews 10:26 which says;
“For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.”
If those ‘proof texts’ are correct, then, instead of the doctrine derided as ‘Once Saved, Always Saved, we are faced with the Bible promise that, for a believer, the true doctrine is ‘Once Lost, Always Lost’ — unless it is possible to be renewed unto repentance, something the Scriptures say is IMpossible.
To the believer out of fellowship NOT protected by his helmet of salvation, stepping out into the field is pointless.
What good is the Sword of the Spirit to an otherwise unprotected warrior? One without the helmet of salvation certainly can’t wear the breastplate of righteousness. The breastplate of righteousness doesn’t fit the lost sinner.
The shield of faith is too heavy to lift. Their feet are unshod by the Gospel of peace. The ‘truth’ that protects their loins is the truth that they have lost their salvation and are unfit for battle.
How can the lost do battle with the lost?
The doctrine of eternal security is the helmet of salvation that protects us from that fatal head shot.
If one is secure in his knowledge of his righteous standing before the Lord because of his faith that Jesus paid the penalty for his sins and that it truly IS finished, then the breastplate of righteousness fits securely, the shield of faith becomes weightless, and the two-edged Sword of the Spirit only cuts one way.
I stress eternal security because there is no time left for excuses. We haven’t the luxury of malingering in the field, claiming exemption from battle because we aren’t fit for combat.
Not every combatant is eligible for the Medal of Honor. Some are just tired dog-faces who go where they are sent and fight when the battle is joined.
They haven’t any doubts about which side they are on. They can’t claim neutrality or unfitness for combat. They KNOW that, whatever doubts the enemy casts on their fitness for combat, in the end, they will be victorious, because, although the battle still rages, the war is won.
I often think of the embattled defenders of Bastogne during the closing months of World War Two. The 422nd and 423rd Regiments were surrounded by German forces, outnumbered, outgunned and cut off without supplies.
Militarily speaking, the condition was hopeless.
The Germans sent an ultimatum to General McAuliffe, demanding he surrender his forces. By every military standard, McAuliffe should have accepted. It was the coldest winter in living memory.
Within the first three days of battle, many units were decimated. The 106th Infantry suffered 564 killed in action, 1,246 wounded and 7,001 missing in action, for example.
But McAuliffe knew, even as the battle raged, as hopeless as things looked, that the war itself was already won. Germany could not sustain the offensive, and he knew US reinforcements were fighting their way to their defense.
All he had to do was ‘stand’ until the battle was over and victory was his. McAuliffe rejected the surrender ultimatum with a one-word answer, in popular lore, the word, ‘Nuts’.
His troops fought on, despite the losses, in the face of overwhelming odds, because they had faith in ultimate victory. They knew that their forces had already defeated the enemy and it was only a matter of time. They needed only to stand in order to win.
Now, consider the same situation in reverse.
German forces, surrounded by US troops, cut off from their supplies, outgunned, outnumbered, with no hope of retreat, and knowing that the writing was already on the wall.
There are no reinforcements, Germany is on the verge of collapse and the war already lost. General McAuliffe sends the German commander the same ultimatum; surrender or be annihilated.
(It makes a world of difference to know you aren’t fighting for a lost cause.)
Eternal security is the assurance that our cause is NOT lost. The ‘Battling Bastards of Bastogne’ had the constant assurance that, no matter how badly the battle seemed to be going, in the end, they would win. It kept them on the field despite the APPEARANCE that they were lost.
I have spent this much time on the doctrine of eternal security because it is the mission of the Omega Letter to train and equip an army of one-on-one evangelists prepared to step out onto the battlefield, regardless of conditions, certain of their ultimate victory, confident of their armor, and trained to use their sword effectively.
We are in the last days. There is no time to bandage the wounded before committing them to the battle. What may appear as defeat to you from your vantage point in the action may actually be a tactical victory somewhere else up the line. Only our General knows all the battle details, and He says, ‘Trust Me’.
We need to be;
“ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1st Peter 3:15)
That hope lies in our eternal security. It isn’t a minor point of doctrine, and it isn’t just an interesting doctrinal argument among Christians to see who can score the most debating points.
It is what guarantees us ultimate victory, and what makes us fearless warriors on the field of battle. That’s why Paul called it the ‘helmet of salvation’.
“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21)
It’s THAT important.
Featured Commentary: In the Beginning: Part 2 ~ J.L. Robb