By Bishop Cullen Hicks
"In the eternal redemption of all saints who are faithful to the end (Matthew 24:13) and (Revelation 2:10). But, we
reject the theory of `Once in grace, always in grace' regardless of conduct" (1 Corinthians 10:12 and Galatians 5:4).
What about "Eternal Security?" Does the Bible teach `Once in grace, always in grace'? We, as a church, reject the
doctrine outright. We understand the doctrine of `Eternal Security,' to fall without foundation in view of the scriptures
as a whole. No man can boast of being eternally saved in this world. Not until we reach heaven will we be able to say
we are eternally saved. Space would not permit an extensive study on the subject, nor do we intend to answer every
argument on the subject, but the following is given for your consideration.
The Bible, to a degree, teaches eternal security, but not the way many are teaching it today We mean that it
teaches eternal security to this extent; that God's grace is eternally secure, and it will keep us from sin in this life and
save us at last in heaven. Yet, it is up to the individual whether he continues in the faith and serves God or goes
back into sin. One does not become a puppet when he is born again. He still retains his free-moral agency.
At first let us say that we do not believe in backsliding as many seem to practice it. There are those who claim to
receive Christ and salvation in every revival. An experience of that nature leaves room for doubt, and we question
the validity of such an experience. If every person who has professed a born-again experience would have truly
been born-again, we are certain that we would not have heard so much about back sliding.
We have reason to hope that those who are truly born-again will continue in the faith and be saved by God's all
sufficient grace. Yet the Bible issues too many warnings and statements of caution to the Christian, warnings against
backsliding and apostasy, to say that a believer cannot fall away and make shipwreck of his faith. These warnings
would be useless words if one cannot fall. The last and closing threat of the Bible is that "If any man shall take away
from the words of the book of prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the Book of Life," signifying that he to
whom this could happen did have a part in the Book of Life.
Is it possible for a righteous man to turn away from God and die in that condition and be lost? Let scripture answer
(Ezekiel 18:24-26), "But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth
according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done
shall not be mentioned; in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he
die. Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O House of Israel; is not my way equal? Are not your
ways unequal? When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness and committeth iniquity, and dieth in
them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die."
Now the last word of the above scripture, "die" must certainly have reference to death of the soul rather than
physical death, for the following verse (27) says, "Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness
that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive." Consequently, if the
wicked person's soul is saved by his turning from his wickedness and doing the right, then likewise will the righteous
person's soul be lost if he turns from his righteousness and does that which is wrong.
To teach `once in grace, always in grace' is not only unscriptural, it is an encouragement to carelessness
concerning a holy life and separation from the world. If one cannot be lost, then why be concerned about
self-examination as Paul exhorts the Corinthian Christians in (2 Corinthians 13:5) "Examine yourselves, whether ye
be in the faith; prove your own selves."
The writer to the Hebrews was writing to Christians rather than sinners when he wrote in Chapter 2, "Therefore we
ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip."
The Revised Version reads thus, "Lest at any time we drift away from them." The writer continues, "For if the word
spoken by angels were steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward:
How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation."
Jude relates to us, "How that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them
that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in
everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." These are examples set forth for our
warning and admonition. Yet, why the warning if we are eternally saved now?
It is possible to draw back unto perdition after once having the Faith. For (Hebrews 10:38) says, "Now the just shall
live by faith; but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him." Still, some would answer, "But the
next verse says that `We are not of them who draw back unto perdition, but of them that believe to the saving of the
soul." Yes, that is true, we are not of them that draw back unto perdition, but there is the possibility that one can
draw back or verse 38 would not have said, "But if a man draw back..." Again, (2 Peter 1:9-10) reads, "But he that
lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sin.
Wherefore, the rather brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if you do these things, ye
shall never fall."
It is a dangerous thing to backslide, to go away from God. In the words of the scripture it is worse to know God, and
then turn back, than to never be saved. The backslider is really more responsible than the sinner who has never
known God because of having had the greater light. (2 Peter 2:20-22), "For if after they have escaped the pollution
of the world, through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein and
overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning." David said, "The wicked shall be turned into hell,
and all the nations that forget God" (Psalm 9:17). Now it is unreasonable to assume that you can forget something
or someone whom you did not know. So David is saying that the nation (and a nation is made up of individuals) that
forgets God, whom they knew, shall be turned into hell, or shall be lost. Again he states in (Psalm 50:22), "Now
consider this ye that forget God, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver."
To the Hebrew Christians the warning was given as follows: "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil
heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of
you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of
our confidence steadfast unto the end."
In the strictest sense of the word, a backslider (and by that terminology we have reference to a person who begins
the Christian life and for some reason turns back into sin) is nothing more than a sinner and to get back to God he
must be converted again. James 5:19-20 reads: "Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him,
let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall
hide a multitude of sins."
It has been offered as an argument in favor of eternal security that once a person is born into a family he cannot be
unborn. To that we may heartily agree. However, though he cannot be unborn, he can certainly die. Many parents
have had sons to be born into their homes and have lost their sons, not because they were unborn, but because
they died. Remember, scripture says, "The soul that sinneth, it shall die."
In the Apostle Paul's last words to Timothy, he emphasized the fact that "I have finished my course, I have kept the
faith." According to the doctrine of eternal security, he had to finish his course and he could not help but keep the
faith, for he could not lose it. Now if he could not lose his faith, why would he tell Timothy that he had kept it?
The Apostle Peter penned his first Epistle to the "Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father . . . " to
Christians, mind you, and to them he said, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring
lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." The word "devour" means the same as "destroy."
Jesus said in ( St. John 17:12), speaking to His Father, "Those that thou gavest me I have kept," and many would
stop there. Yet it continues, "And none of them is lost, but the son of perdition . . . " Here He has references to
Judas whom the Father had given Him. Jesus must have had Judas at one time in order to lose him. However, some
have argued that Judas was a devil from the beginning. However, the Bible makes no such statement. Jesus did say
of him in (St. John 6:70), "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil." Jesus did not say Judas was a
devil but that he is a devil. Just at what time Judas became of such character the Bible does not say, but one thing
we do know, Judas `fell by transgression' (Acts 1:25).
We are aware that most any belief can be proven by scripture if that scripture is lifted out from its context and from
the whole of the scriptures. However, when a doctrine is substantiated by the general teachings of scripture rather
than by an isolated quotation, we can then without fear, preach and teach such a doctrine.
We have briefly touched on a few of the scriptures relative to our teachings, but many, many more could be
mentioned. Our admonition to all men is found in the words of Jesus when He said, "Watch ye therefore . . . lest
coming suddenly he finds you sleeping" (St. Mark 13:35-36).
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