As soon as someone sees this title they are automatically going to think that this article seeks to discredit those who adhere to reformed theology. Let me assure you, this is not the case. It is important to look at any teaching or doctrine and examine it against the weight of Scripture. In this article, there is only one aspect of Calvinism that is going to be talked about. The idea that a person can lose their salvation is a touchy subject to those who would consider themselves Reformed.
Let’s just deal with the elephant in the room. There are those who are reading this article and wondering where I stand on the topic of eternal security. I believe that a person has the free will to completely walk away from his or her faith. With that said, I also believe that no one can lose their salvation. In other words, a person does not simply wake up one day no longer saved. This is a complex topic, and I wish believers would talk about in a spirit of understanding. Now let us speak to the issue at hand. Are we eternally secure?
The answer to that question is yes. On the other hand, we are also free to walk away from the Lord. One scripture that is used in order to prove that if a Christian walks away from the faith, they were never saved in the first place. 1st John 2:18-19 is used to prove that if a believer defects from the faith, then they were never in the faith. I will admit that there are many who go to church Sunday after Sunday, and are not really committed to the things of God. Yet, this does not mean that someone who defects from the Lord was never saved to begin with. Let us examine this verse carefully.
1John 2:18 ¶ Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.
The term Antichrist is used in this text. What does the Greek word say of the Antichrist? According to the Greek, the Antichrist is an opponent of the Messiah. Well, isn’t that the same thing. A person that walks away from God could be classified as an opponent of the Messiah. Yes and no. The context of this verse is speaking to a specific person or persons known as the Antichrist. This is not speaking about the everyday believer that has been wounded in one way, shape, or form, and leaves the church as well as the faith. The next verse speaks to the people that the verse is referring to.
1John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
It begins with the word, “they.” Who are they? The Antichrist figures that are being spoken of. It is the Antichrist figures that were never really a part of the church to begin with, and it is not the average person that “walks away from the church or the faith.” This is vital to understand because if we continue to teach that you are eternally secure, and no matter how much you sin, you will not lose your salvation. This is a dangerous teaching because it can almost give a license to sin. I am aware that my reformed brother’s and sisters are not advocating sinful behavior.
The perseverance of the saints is totally biblical in the sense that we are eternally secure as long as we continue to walk in Christ. Once we step out of that fellowship, we forfeit all rights and privileges that go along with being a believer. So, let us be careful when using verses of Scripture to defend doctrine. Context is everything. Allow me to also add when speaking about sinful behavior, it is not that we will not sin. We will sin, but there is a difference between sinning willfully and continuously practicing sin. We do not lose our salvation because we sin. It is important to understand that a person walks away long before they leave physically. So let me be clear again, we cannot lose our salvation, but we can leave it, as displayed in Revelation chapter 2 with the church of Ephesus.
I realize that this is only scratching the surface of the discussion. All of us, no matter which position we take, really need to be graceful in how we interact with our brothers and sisters in the faith. I pray that this article would spark great discussion and fellowship. We need each other.