News & Reviews:
Are you a Christian?
Does the Holy Bible teach Eternal
|"Matthew 13:3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 13:4 And when he sowed, some [seeds] fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 13:5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 13:6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 13:7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 13:8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 13:9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear."|
When considering whether scripture teaches eternal security or conditional salvation, we find the answer in Jesus' words above. So, why does this war between viewpoints continue? I believe the reason is because Jesus' explanation of salvation in the believer partially fits both paradigms of thought.
So, what do the above passages mean? Lets see Jesus explanation below:
|"Matthew 13:18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 13:19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth [it] not, then cometh the wicked [one], and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth [it]; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."|
From this explanation, we see that Jesus views the Christian life similar to the life of a plant, which bears fruit. The gospel (Good News from God's Word) starts as a seed in the person's life. The person's life is the dirt in which the seed landed or was planted into. Hard ground is similar to a person who is hard hearted and can not hear the gospel or refuses to accept it. The fact it landed on the "wayside", means his heart was not cultivated to accept the gospel, so the birds (the Devil) comes and steals the opportunity away. Now, cultivated soil, which can yield life, is a person who accepts the gospel and believes in Jesus Christ. Yet, there are things which are within the cultivated soil which can destroy this new life growing, such as many stones or thorns.
So, for a person to become a Christian with a solid foundation, he needs to first have his heart cultivated to hear the Word of God. Next, after he hears and receives the gospel, he needs to have soil free of stones (road blocks to deep faith in Christ). For example, a child grows up in the church, but when he gets to college, he has some godless professor test his faith and destroy it, because he did not have root, due to road blocks in his faith (no intellectual defense to his faith, no strong faith, etc). And, last, we have the person who has the faith, but false hopes and lies choke the Word of God from his life. Luxuries, desires, love of money, worries of this world, destroy his relationship with God and His fruitfulness towards God.
There is only one person who is truly Christian at the end of this parable. It is the person who bears fruit unto God. So, the person who bears fruit unto the end is the one who is eternally secure (and technically the only real Christian). All the others, either never were or no longer are Christian. Now, at this point, it can become an argument over terminology. Was the person who had some faith at first and fell away, really a Christian? Was the person who let the cares of this life and the love of money to draw him away from God, really a Christian? So, the point is, once you understand this parable correctly, there really is no more argument over "Once Saved Always Saved" or "Conditional Salvation". As Christ makes it clear, how the gospel works in a persons life. And it becomes simply a word game after this.. Who really is the Christian in the parable? How do we define a "Christian". Is a Christian defined by the one who remains unto the end? Or is a Christian defined by those who say they have faith in Christ? If the first definition, we could say "Once Saved Always Saved". If the second definition, we could say "Conditional Salvation".
One thing should be very obvious, though. A person not living for Christ is not a Christian. So, those who think you can say a prayer one time in the past and then somehow live like the Devil later on in your life, you are just fooling yourself. You are not a Christian if you are not living for Christ, plain and simple. As Jesus said:
|"Matthew 7:16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 7:18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."|
You can see here, Jesus is tying his statement above to the parable of the sower. Those who do not produce fruit unto God will be "hewn down, and cast into the fire". So, this here proves that only the one that beareth fruit in the parable of the sower is truly saved. Further, we see that the "evil fruit" is "thorns" and "thistles". Now, imagine in your mind a person who had the seed of Christ's Gospel in him and then the cares of this life or the love of money had choked him and made him unfruitful. All you have left is a dead plant with a bunch of thorns choked around it. Would this not describe the "corrupt tree" mentioned above? So, the condition is that your faith produces fruit and is not a dead faith. Jesus even goes on to say that "many" will say unto him "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name?" They would not be calling him "Lord" unless they thought He was their God. Meaning, having a "form of godliness" is not enough. You need to have Christ first in your life, not allowing the cares of this life or the love of money, etc to choke the Word of God in you.
|"1 Timothy 6:10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows."|
But, I think it should be entirely clear that once a plant has been established at full size and is bearing fruit, it is difficult for that plant to be choked by the cares of this life or the love of money. So, once a plant has its root (deep, intellectual faith) and no thorns (puts God first), the first stages are impossible to resort back to. There is no way for stony ground to hinder a plant of deep root. There is no way for the seed to be stolen by the birds, as it has already grown. All that remains is the potential for the cares of this life or the love of money to choke the Word of God in you. It should also be noted that it would be much more difficult for a thorn bush to choke a full grown plant. So, in a sense, eternal security plays a part at this final stage.
You may be wondering, but what about the teaching "by grace only" through "faith only"? Doesn't this idea of Christians having to live a certain way, bear the marks of being saved by works? Therefore, shouldn't we also see the plant that is choked by the cares of this life as a person that is "saved" as well, but just looses his reward in Heaven? Well, lets look at a few of these scriptures, which are commonly used for this theological viewpoint:
|"Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."|
|"John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."|
Notice above that I included one extra verse on the end of both of these commonly quoted passages. I did this, because it changes the tone of the passage slightly and gives more insight. First, notice that we are, indeed, saved "by grace ... through faith", however at the end of the passage it says we are "created in Christ Jesus unto good works". Now, this here should make you wonder, "What type of faith is required?" Well, if you look at the greek term for "faith":
The term "believeth" in John 3:16 -
Strongs Number: G4100
Orig: from 4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), i.e. credit; by implication, to entrust (especially one's spiritual well-being to Christ):--believe(-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with. G4102
Use: TDNT-6:174,849 Verb
The term "faith" in Ephesians 2:8 -
Strongs Number: G4102
Orig: from 3982; persuasion, i.e. credence; moral conviction (of religious truth, or the truthfulness of God or a religious teacher), especially reliance upon Christ for salvation; abstractly, constancy in such profession; by extension, the system of religious (Gospel) truth itself:--assurance, belief, believe, faith, fidelity. G3982
Use: TDNT-6:174,849 Noun Feminine
Heb Strong: H530
Notice that both definitions include such words as "commit", "fidelity", "constancy".
This means we are to be faithful to Christ and entrust our lives to him. So, it would make sense that a person who is saved "by grace ... through faith" would be "created in Christ Jesus unto good works" - Ephesians 2:10. A person who is faithful to Christ, will produce good fruit or works. So, we can see from the definitions of the greek words for "faith" and "belief", that they are not entirely the same as the english dictionary definitions. There is a commitment aspect, such as seen in marriage. This is why we are called the "bridegroom of Christ". As we are married to Christ, when we become a believer in Christ and we are required to be faithful to Him. As the scripture says, "Matthew 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.". Maybe this is why Jesus says this strange comment in Luke 18:8 about faith, as many seem to misunderstand what the word faith even means, "Luke 18:8 Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?"
This is exactly why you can find scriptures that seem to point to either "Conditional Salvation" or "Eternal Security", because neither one is entirely representative of the Christian experience.
Lets take score in this competition of ideas and see who shall win:
ETERNAL SECURITY +1
|"Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 1:25 To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
Note the phrase, "keep you from falling". Who does He keep from falling? The true Christian, and those men who do fall, were not Christians. Meaning, the final stage person of the Parable of the Sower is the one who is "kept from falling".
CONDITIONAL SALVATION +1
|"6:4 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, 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6:6 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."
What this scripture is saying is that a person who at one time believed , but then fell away (In the Parable of the Sower, those who at first believed, but then died or were choked), they now do not believe Jesus is the Son of God who was crucified on the cross for their sins. Therefore, they become like the pharisees and Romans who crucified Christ for mockery. This is what is meant by "they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh". Meaning, Christ is the only payment for sins and if they hold him as a mockery in their minds, how can they renew unto repentence, thinking this way? Therefore, it is not saying that a person who falls away can not come back. It is saying that a person who believed and then rejects Christ, crucifies him again to mockery in their mind and as long as they have this mindset, they will never be saved.
Consider the Parable of the Sower again. Your heart is the soil. Is it possible for you to grow one plant and it die and then grow another in the same soil? Couldn't even the dead plant be used for fertilizer for the new one (old experiences). So, could not a new seed be planted in your heart? I am just theorizing based on the concepts in the parable. As soil can sustain more than one plant. If your faith died once and you came back, you are a new creature again, and hopefully, this time around you nuture and deepen your faith and avoid the cares of this world.
ETERNAL SECURITY +1 / CONDITIONAL SALVATION +1
|"Jude 1:1-3 ...to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, [and] called: 1:2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints..."
These passages are terribly entertaining, as they go back and forth on this topic! On this one, we see the believer is "preserved in Jesus Christ", but at the end of the passage it says to "contend for the faith". So, at first, it says, you are "eternally secure" and then at the end it says "contend for your faith so you don't fall". The point is that only those who are of God are "eternally secure" and if you fall, you were never a true Christian. So, it is a double edged sword, without contradiction.
ETERNAL SECURITY +1
|"Revelation 17:14 These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him [are] called, and chosen, and faithful."
Here, we see that they who are Christians are "called, and chosen, and faithful." So, we see that they were called from the beginning, chose and were also faithful. So, obviously, these that were "called" are "eternally secure", however, as we can see from the scriptures thus far, merely believing in Christ does not make you a faithful Christian unto the end, seeing many believe for a while and then fall away. So again, a war of verses when it is not required. The fact is, those who are faithful unto the end, were called from the beginning and were always secure in their eternity unto Christ. And those who believed in Christ and the cares of this world choked the word, made them unfruitful and they fell away, so they were never chosen from the beginning and were never real Christians. This is the only feasible way to make all these scriptures work in agreement with each other.
CONDITIONAL SALVATION +1
|"Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 10:27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
This scripture here would be totally irrelevant if any person that believes could not fall away. So, it is obvious the definition of one who is "eternally secure" is one who endures unto the end.
And so on (back and forth).. The same pattern unto infinity.
Looking again at the Parable of the Sower, if you mapped out the stages that a person goes through once they have accepted Christ, it appears that in the earlier stages, the faith seems to reflect "Conditional Salvation" more. And in the final stage of full growth, "Eternal Security" seems to fit best. This is why I said at the beginning of this article that both partially fit. Because, technically speaking, all true believers are eternally secure, yet those who fall away were never true believers. It is not a contradiction and it does make sense once you think about it. So, there are indeed conditions to salvation, yet those who meet the conditions are eternally secure.
The idea of teaching eternal security alone has its pitfalls. Therefore, it should be taught within the fullness of scripture. If taught in the common way, it can make a person believe he or she is going to Heaven, when it is possible, they could be on their way to Hell. So, I believe that teaching the Parable of the Sower would be the best way to teach the concept of salvation to the believer.
Further, I think it is possible for the common teaching of "Conditional Salvation" to cause problems as well. As some go too far with this line of thinking and it can lead to people to believe they need to get saved again everytime they goto church. Accidential or unintentional sins are not the same as purposeful sins. An accidential sin is one that is covered by the blood of Christ and does not set you at odds with God. It is when you intentionally sin against God that you are in need of repentance and recommitment to Christ. So, I don't like to see same Christians lining the alter every Sunday thinking they need to recreate their relationship with God. I think this is a result of some after-effect teachings within "Conditional Salvation" thought.
So, I think it is healthy to espouse Christ's explanation of the life of the believer, or to realize that only those who bear the fruit and avoid the thorns are "eternally secure". Those He has "called" will endure unto the end and likewise those who believe and do not endure, he never called. As it seems to put it into the proper perspective and avoids the potential of error. Further, everyone understands the Parable of the Sower, even children. So, it is the ideal explanation for the Christian experience.