SGBC Modesto

Once Decided Always Decided? (Thoughts on Eternal Security)

April 30, 2024 by

Johnnie Sloan

There have been countless articles and thoughts written on the subject of eternal security of the believer.  Doubtless, there are mounds which are better than anything I may write.  However, I have encountered something that at least may be worth a moment of pause.

First, a quick (very quick) word about the doctrine under question.  We are here looking at the simple idea that a believer who has trusted Christ as Savior is indeed secure in that he will ultimately be in heaven glorified.  We of course reject the Arminian doctrine that a person saved from their sin can lose salvation and will not entertain that discussion here.  However our point of order is whether security means something more than the modern expression of it.  Namely, ‘once saved, always saved.’

This quaint saying, though appealing in its bumper-sticker/T-shirt style brevity, leaves entirely too much to the imagination.  We want our food fast, but we ought to let our Theology simmer.  It is most certainly the case that much of the discussion on this topic hinges on the idea that by ‘saved’ as it is meant in this phrase is someone who may have made a ‘decision’ for Christ or walked an aisle to ‘accept’ Him as Savior.  I am a relatively young man and only a few years into the Pastoral ministry, but I can say without reserve that in possibly hundreds of discussions on the subject, it is not the accomplished and applied (Murray) redemption of a Sovereign Savior in which the ‘saved’ person finds their comfort.  But rather, it is in the fact that at one point, they ‘made a decision’ to follow Christ and it is even said that if they were sincere in that decision, they can be certain of their eternal security.

As already pointed out, others have written on this subject more adequately than I.  I can say in a word though that this concept of ‘Decisional Regeneration’ is foreign to Scripture and no one should ever find comfort in their Salvation resting on their sincerity or a decision made within their sinful mind.  Salvation is of the Lord from start to finish.  He does it all and is not dependent on my will or decision to choose Him (John 1:13).

The new thought I have to add is quite simple, but may help us shake any notion of the above error in thinking we are deciding as the Arminian Hymn says to follow Jesus.  I think there is a security found in these errors that is a false security.  Not in the sense of a loss of Salvation, but in the sense of belittling the effect of the gospel and its Captain over and above the decision of man.  With the correct Theology in mind of Salvation i.e. that we sinful humans are radically corrupt and need the Sovereign Lord after first having predestined and elected us unto eternal life, to give new birth, faith, repentance, justification, sanctification and ultimately glorification, I offer the common understanding in the form of reworking statements made in Scripture so as to make the point of the error of the overly simplistic modern notion of security.

 The way some folks read John 10 is as follows (sarcasm is intended). Forgive any hint of irreverence in doing this to the Word of God.  This is not intentional, but make no mistake, it is no worse to do it to teach a point then it is to actually believe the errors implied in it (Paul uses this type of rhetoric in Romans 6:1).  Please compare this with a real translation of John and note the error:

John 10:14-16 (in the adjusted poor Theology Version) 

I am the good shepherd; and I will eventually know after they choose me who are My sheep, and am known by My own as long as they know me sincerely. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep in hopes of some of them making a decision to follow me. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring if they let me bring them, and I will hear their voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.

And John 10:24-29 (in the adjusted poor Theology Version)

Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus answered them, “I told you, yet have been apparently unconvincing. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you don’t want to yet, as you can imagine… you have to want itBut if they (my sheep) want to and are sincere, I will meet them where they are and follow their voice when they choose to accept me. And then they will have eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

I have intentionally left the last section untouched because this is what is done in the belief system mentioned.  In other words, we desire, we want heaven, we learn of the love of Christ, we see its benefit, we recognize that we are so very loved and we decide.  And now God will follow us where ever we go, even if it is into sin.  If our confession was sincere, then when we’re saved (because if it), we are always saved and are guaranteed heaven though we bear no fruit or show any evidence of a change having been wrought in us from above.

This is quite ridiculous.  Let the serious student of the Word of God never hold this cheap version of the Awesome Grace of the Sovereign God!  Now go read the good things written by better Theologians and give proper honor to the One who saves the sinner in spite of themselves and with full power to cause them to persevere and bear fruit to the end and never live in the land of habitual sin again.

The ‘P’ in the Calvinist’s TULIP is not an ‘E’ for this weak version of eternal security based on our fickle decision making.  It is the Doctrine of the Perseverance of saints transformed from without by the power of God in the Gospel of Christ unto good works and then glory.