Bible · Christian Security · Conditional Security · Doctrinal · Interpretation · OSAS

Conditional Security – Matthew 24:23-26

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. – Mathew 24:23-26 ESV

Security

True security depends on truth.  (Duh)

Let me tell you a story of how the great Teacher prophesied of an impossible danger.

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, the great Teacher told His students (disciples) of a danger they were not to worry about.  He only had a few days left with them before departing, so instead of giving the students (disciples) information that would directly impact their lives, He decided to share what some saints consider a hypothetical situation that would be misunderstood by the students (disciples) He was speaking to.

Security is found in the Truth

Lead astray, if possible, even the elect? Deceive many believers?

The Lord seems to be directing this warning to His current followers at least. I realize that the last passage could make this a hypothetical situation, but then why give the warning if it was not possible. Could it be that the possibility of being deceived is dependent on the “elect” and not on the Elector?

In other words, if a saint is following, the deception is not possible.  Security is experienced in the believer through their faith relationship with the Lord, and God will protect.

Who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. – 1Pe 1:5 ESV

Otherwise, if a believer tends to wander, (by his own choice), the deception is very possible and the security spoken of may be simply self deception.

This is a difficult, scary situation, but sometimes we have to recognize that the King does not appear to be safe, and that at times a challenge may appear to be beyond our hope.

This concept reminds me of the last lines in the chronicles of Narnia, where Susan and the Beaver are speaking of the Great Lion, Aslan

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Whether the Master was speaking to His apostles of their possible falling away, or to us, we are all to cling to Him, to see Him as our only hope, our only salvation, the only One who truly is good in His Royal Bearing and Being.

Trust in Him for He is good. Seek Him in your daily walk and do not turn your heart from Him. Ask for His help, His guidance, His wisdom, His boldness, even as disappointment, discouragement and disillusionment crowds your thoughts and heart. That is when trust becomes real, and when the security has an opportunity be realized


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Conditional Security – Hebrews 7:25

Hebrews 7:25

25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

I would like to look at what seems to be an unassailable eternal security stronghold verse today. My intent is to look at the verse for what it says, in relation to the believers security .

So often I have found that in my zeal to understand the Word that I find “my truth”.  What  I mean is that I may have an agenda or teaching, and find support for it in the Word.  This is a difficult issue to handle, since I am not a blank slate, but I come to the Scriptures with a history, a bias and a weak mind.

With my limitations clearly stated, I still intend to consider how the passage relates to the security of the believer, with an honest mind and open heart.

Conditional or Eternal Security

Is it the authors intent to discuss the eternal security question?  Lets consider the phrases in this verse and try to understand what the apostle (or apostolic representative) is trying to say.

He is Able

Roget thesaurus gives me my first clue as to what is being communicated to us as believers.  The thesaurus has a definition for “able” as “capable of performing”, “having an innate capacity”, and uses words like capable, competent and strong as synonyms.

Strong’s dictionary is also helpful.  

“Able” is the translation of the greek word dunamai, a very familiar greek term for many believers.
G1410, dunamai, Of uncertain affinity; to be able or possible: – be able, can (do, + -not), could, may, might, be possible, be of power.

Hopefully, it is obvious to you, as it is to me, that to be able to perform an action does not inform us that the action is being (or even will be) performed!  It is simply a description of the capacity of the Messiah, in His office of High Priest.  And yet we know He is a loving and merciful God.

Shall we presume that since He has the ability to save to the uttermost, that He will do so independently of all other considerations?  Is the eternal security doctrine falling into this trap?

Is there a condition upon which the ability to save to the uttermost becomes reality in a persons life?  And is this reality in a persons life that which is the security believers seek?

Coming to God

The condition in this passage is that those that will be saved, must come unto God by Him.

It is important at this point in the study to realize that all verbs in this passage are “present tense” which in the Greek signifies continuous or habitual action, and often reflects a lifestyle.

This speaks volumes when you consider the verb “come” in this text. Those that are being saved, even to the uttermost, are those who come (continuously) to God via the Great High Priest.

This is the condition upon which His abilities to save are released.

But lets consider one more aspect that I found intriguing.

To the Uttermost

When the author is describing the abilities of our Great High Priest, he states that Jesus is able to save “to the uttermost”  I have always come away from this verse, wondering what exactly this means and I am glad this study is forcing me to consider it.  You see, what I have found is that “to the uttermost” refers to the result of the sanctifying work of God in a believers life.

Uttermost is the English translation of the Greek παντελής (pantelēs). This word speaks of completely, or perfectly, that the action being performed is finished. It is a rare word in the New Testament, used only in Hebrews 7:25 (our verse today) and in Luke 13:11 in a negative sense.

Luke 13:11

And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself.

She could in no wise lift herself up.  She could not “completely” lift herself up. She couldn’t “finish” standing straight!

If the eternal security teaching is true, then I would have hoped that the previous term would have a time element associated with it.  What I mean is that the saving action of our Great High Priest would be perpetual based on my initial coming to Him.  Sadly, I am not sure this verse supports such a teaching.

So lets recap

To be able to do something does not necessarily imply action.

The Great High Priest has conditions to be met prior to a saving work being performed.

Those coming to God are described as continuously coming.  A lifestyle of coming to God! With each coming, the High Priest is able to save, that is completely save.  (I take this to mean in a sanctifying process.)

Praise God.

But I still have a problem!

He Ever Liveth

Lets consider the next phrase – He ever liveth to make intercession.  Again the present tense, He is always alive in order to always make intercession.

I suppose at this point I have a question that I am not sure if the verse answers.

Does He make intercession for us since we are His children, or does He make intercession for us as we come to God by Him?

I am not going to loose any sleep over it, since we both know that as believers, we are to constantly seek His favor and help.

It is just so great that He is there when we seek Him. He is Good, and He is able! Let us seek Him.


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Conditional Security – James 1:13-16

James 1:13-16

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

In  an earlier blog, we considered James 1:12 in relation to the security question. The very next week in Sunday School, we continued on in the passage and came across the verses below.  During the class, the teacher suggested I ask my question to another believer in the church.  That was a welcome offer since it gave me a chance to meet another believer.

So after Sunday School we ventured off to discuss the following passage.

My basic question for both teachers was..
•    When James mentions death, is he referring to spiritual or physical death?
•    If James’ warning is referring to physical death, what threat is that?  Everyone dies!
•    But if James’ warning is referring to spiritual death, what does that mean?

The believer that I got to chat with boldly stated that the death being referred to in this passage is spiritual.  I was somewhat surprised when he said this, since I assumed he would be defending the eternal security doctrine.  I asked him how this spiritual death applies to believers.  He said it doesn’t.  He gave me an illustration of when he preaches on a Sunday morning.  He sometimes preaches to the congregation as believers, and sometimes directs his message to the lost within the group.  I told him I understood his analogy, but the text seemed to be directed to believers. (See James 1:2, 9, 16, 19, 2:1, 5, 14, 15, 3:1, 10, 12,  4:11, 5:10, 12, and 5:19)

He held on to the idea that James is warning the lost within the congregation.  He also mentioned that sin and death was brought up by Paul in Romans 6, but I didn’t see how that strengthened his position in the security discussion.  I am afraid he has fallen into a trap that is very familiar to me, that is the practice of bringing my preconceived ideas into a passage.  I didn’t mention that to him since he was kind enough to chat with me, and I have found that a well placed question left alone is very powerful.  I often think of the fellow who asked me about sin and death in Romans 6:23.  He just asked, but I couldn’t let it go. Nevertheless, I told him I appreciated his time and hopefully will be able to discuss other issues in the future.

One of the side issues that came out of this discussion was the curiosity of other believers that passed by.  By the end of the discussion, the youth pastor and another christian was involved in the discussion.  Each partook in the discussion.  I hope it was an edifying time.

I  am thankful for the body that my wife and I have found.  I pray we can be useful for the Lord among His people.


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Conditional Security – Acts 13:43

Acts 13:43

43 And after the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, as they spoke with them, urged them to continue in the grace of God.

What would happen if they didn’t continue in the grace of God?

Are Paul and Barnabas implying a danger of not continuing in the faith?  Of denying the faith?

Since the Jews and religious proselytes had a religious background, it would have been easy for them to include Jesus into their religious life, but Paul and Barnabas persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.


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Conditional Security – Acts 11:23

And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, Acts 11:21-23

Why exhort to remain faithful?

And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. Acts 11:21-23 NKJV

Why cleave to the Lord?

And the presence of the Lord was with them with power, so that a great number [learned] to believe (to adhere to and trust in and rely on the Lord) and turned and surrendered themselves to Him. The rumors of this came to the ears of the church (assembly) in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what grace (favor) God was bestowing upon them, he was full of joy; and he continuously exhorted (warned, urged, and encouraged) them all to cleave unto and remain faithful to and devoted to the Lord with [resolute and steady] purpose of heart. Acts 11:21-23 Amplified Version

If eternally secure,

  • Why the continuous exhortation?
  • Why the continuous warning?
  • Why the continuous urging?
  • Why the continuous encouragement?

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Conditional Security – Acts 5:32

And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” – Acts 5:32 ESV

Obey Him.

That is the issue in this verse.  Of course some could say the initial belief is the act of obedience that is being referred to in this verse, but I wonder.

Some questions arise in my mind though.

  1. Does God give the Holy Spirit to those who do not believe?
  2. Does God give the Holy Spirit to those who do not obey Him?
    1. Are these the same question? Is believing the same as obeying?
  1. Is this an unconditional gift of the Holy Spirit to anyone who at one point believes?
    1. If so, is one act of obedience/belief all that the Lord is looking for from us?

The Greek verb edoken (has given) is in the aorist tense. “Obey” is a translation of peitharchousin, which is a present participle. The literal translation is “obeying.” According to Robertson (Grammar, pp. 891-892) the “obeying” can come before, at the same time, or after the act of giving. It can even refer to past action still in progress. Obviously, much depends on the context.


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Conditional Security – 1 Corinthians 1:4-9

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge– even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you– so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. – 1 Corinthians 1:4-9 ESV

Security

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I would look at verses that seem to support the eternal security teaching and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these passages.

Today’s passage is found in 1 Corinthians 1:8, but I would like to consider the passage from verses 4 through 9.  Is Paul seeking to instruct the believers in Corinth about eternal security?  Or is he breaching upon their lack of stability?

Security and Confirmation

Verse 8 clearly states that Jesus Christ shall confirm them unto the end, which must surely mean that once a person becomes a true believer, Jesus Christ is responsible to independently supply the believers security and deliver that person to God at their death.  At least that is how I read it in the past and suppose it is the common understanding among those who lean toward the eternal security teaching.

But I do have a few concerns.

I would like to start with Paul’s description of the Corinthians confirmation in verse 6. The passage is telling me that the testimony of Christ was confirmed in the Corinthians. This is the very same word that Paul uses two verses later in verse 8.

So lets consider what is going on in these verses.

In verse 7, Paul states the purpose of the confirmation described in verse 6.  The testimony of Christ – that is the witness/proof of Christ, was confirmed in the Corinthians via the gifts they received, the knowledge and utterance they experienced.  The confirmation had a purpose.  The confirmation had two participants, that is, God supplied the gifts, but the Corinthians exercised these gifts of knowledge and utterance. This is important to consider.

In verse 8, Jesus Christ is confirming the believers for the purpose of presenting them as blameless in the day of Christ.

Lets think about this.

Security Synonym?

Is confirmation a synonym (a word that means the same) for security?

As I read this passage in my earlier belief of eternal security, I would have to say yes! But the question begs to be answered honestly.  Please remember that security has synonyms such as safety, defended, protected, sheltered, unharmed and shielded.  Confirmation does not relate to these concepts.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Additional Questions

Is this confirmation something that is performed only in heaven?  Or is this confirmation something that is being accomplished within the believer’s life?

Of course, if it is some type of mystical confirmation in heaven that is a completely independent activity of Jesus Christ alone without the participation of the believer, then adherents to the eternal security may have a valid argument with this verse.

But if the believer participates in this confirmation by obeying the direction (however imperfectly ) of the Master, following His teaching and seeking His direction, then somehow verse 8 includes a human component, a willingness and desire to conform to a blameless life, under the power and enabling of the Lord.

The greek word used in both verse six and eight is βεβαιόω, and the root meaning is “to be firm”.  When used of persons, it signifies someone who is trustworthy, someone who inspires confidence.  In verse eight, the verb is in the future tense and active voice. The active voice represents Jesus Christ (the subject) as the doer or performer of the action.   Let me ask this simple question – As Jesus is confirming these believers to be blameless, would it not be obvious to all about?  Remember that to confirm someone is to produce someone who is firm, trustworthy, and one in whom you can trust and depend on. Would not this fruit be evident in the believer’s life?  A life that is becoming more like Jesus.

He is certainly firm, trustworthy and One in whom we can place our confidence!

This is most interesting since many in the eternal security camp may speak of those who have no outward witness of Christ living in them as still being believers that are eternally secure and guaranteed entry into heaven, simply due to some statement of belief in the past.

Of course this is a very difficult statement to say in these days of sensitivity, where we must not offend any.  But I wonder what engenders God’s trust in some believers who break covenant without concern about His teachings and who claim a vital relationship with Him in the midst of obvious sin and rebellion.

Consider.


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