Is it possible that two ideas that seem contradictory can both be true? Can it be that God is BOTH three and one? If this is true that we are deep into heresy if we see Him as either three OR one.
Isn’t it true that Jesus was both God and man? Aren’t we right in saying that if we see Jesus as God but not man, we are deep into heresy? We must embrace both. If we see Jesus as man but not God we are even deeper into heresy.
Is it possible that both of these things are true:
- Once truly saved, we are completely secure in our relationship with God. We can have all confidence that we will spend eternity with God in Heaven. Even if we backslide, or wander from the truth, He can never disown His own.
- If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left. (Hebrews 10:26) If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us. 2 Timothy 2:12
If both of these things are true, and we reject either of them, we are deep into heresy.
A human example makes this clearer. I want my children to be secure in my love. I want them to know that I love them, that I will always love them, and that there is nothing they could do that would make me stop loving them. These things are true.
But, if one of my kids started down this line of thought, I would quickly stop them: “Dad, if you love me no matter what and would never quit loving me, does that mean that you would love me even if I stole from you? Could I have your bank PIN number?” My response: don’t get stupid.
It is unthinkable to me that my kids could ever misbehave so badly that I would ever quit loving them. But, I have heard stories. I have heard stories of children who so disrespected their parents I just don’t know what I would do if that happened to me. I’ll be you have heard stories as well. So, I would say to my kids: I love you no matter what, but don’t get stupid.
I might say to my wife: I love you no matter what. For richer or poorer, better or worse, sickness and health. I love you forever. But, if you fall in love with someone else and decide to move in with them, I think it is safe to say we are done. I love you no matter what, but don’t get stupid.
The message for those who believe in the security of the believers is simple: don’t teach that people can deliberately keep on sinning and still be saved. Don’t teach that if we disown Him, no worries. If we disown Him, He will disown us. To teach otherwise is to contradict scripture.
How does this harmonize with the doctrine of eternal security? I am not sure, but I am pretty sure that we must have both. We must have both a secure confidence that we are eternally saved AND a fearful reverence around the idea that only those who endure to the end will be saved.
Repent and believe
The same principle applies to the front end of salvation. The people I grew up with tended to believe in the security of the believer, but not in irresistible grace, so I will address my comments to this audience. In light of the many verses that deal with the idea that we were dead in our sins and could not choose to follow God, and that we were predestined to be saved before the foundation of the earth, it seems those who don’t believe in predestination need to have a humble appreciation for the fact that there is more to their salvation than them being smart enough to choose God. No one seeks God. No one understands. We were dead. Dead people can’t believe. Regeneration must proceed faith.
I desperately needed God to do something for me that I could not choose to do for myself. I needed God to regenerate my dead soul before I could repent and believe. These things are true.
It is also true that I am responsible to repent and believe. This is my choice. This is something I must do. This is something I can do because God has enable me to do.
There is mystery here. We see through a glass darkly. The word Paul used was “inscrutable.” It means it is beyond our understanding. Just as a two-year-old cannot understand rocket science and cannot calculate how much thrust is required to get a rocket into orbit, so we cannot understand in inscrutable riches of God.
Here is the bottom line: the more confident you are that you understand it, the less likely that you actually do. If you say, “It is simple. God chose those who would choose Him,” you greatly misunderstand. You could not choose. If you say, “God picked certain ones and He picked me and that is that; it is simple,” you don’t understand. Paul said it is inscrutable. It is not simple. In fact, it is beyond understanding. If you think it is simple, you don’t understand it. There is mystery here. There is awe here.
Just as God is three and one, we must believe, and we can’t believe. We must repent, and we can’t repent. We are eternally secure and are only saved if we endure to the end.