What Is Meant By Security?
In the foregoing pages we have seen something of what the Lord means by His promise of security, but in order to expose the falsity of the claims of many who glibly talk about their security it is essential that we know what these generally mean by “eternal security”. It is not the writer’s aim to shake the faith of any of God’s dear children, but it is my sincere wish to shake many deceived souls aloof from their unscriptural presumption. Some of God’s own dear people have been caught in this security snare. In this matter many of God’s own children are far better than their doctrine. By the grace of God they will remain true and make it to heaven in spite of the falsity of this doctrine, but by their teachings, unless delivered from error, they might be the means of damning other souls, for I am frank to say that the “unconditional security” theory is a soul-damning doctrine. Many are sleeping the sleep of death because some deceived teacher has told them there is nothing to do in order to retain their standing in grace.
Beloved reader, if you hold to this teaching, and yet you are a true lover of the Lord, cast not away your confidence in Him, but with an open heart follow me through these pages. If I speak not according to the law of God, then lay aside what I have written. Your writer was also deep-dyed in the doctrine of unconditional security, but by means of prayerfully searching the Word of God, and that with fasting, I saw the truth as it is in Christ. Thanks be unto God, I have no doubt about my standing in Christ. I am assured of safety in Him, and yet the Word of God admonishes me to take heed lest I fall. There is no security outside of Christ, for outside of Christ we are in sin, and in sin there is not security. If we are in Christ we are out of sin, and if we are in sin we are out of Christ. This is truth which cannot be refuted.
With reference to eternal security of the unconditional type, there are at least three classes. The first class teaches that there is no such thing as backsliding at all. That all who are truly converted will remain faithful to God unto the end and if anyone who claims to be a Christian falls into sin it is because he had nothing to begin with. The second class advocates that all who have been truly saved will finally persevere, even though he may fall into sin and drift far from God. Such a one, they say, will always return to the fold before death. The third class teaches that when a person is justified he is forgiven of all the sins he ever has committed and of all that he may ever commit, and even if he falls into the blackest of sins and dies in that condition he will go straight to heaven.
It is easy to be seen that all the eternal security groups do not agree on the subject of their pet theory. They even contradict one another on important points.
The first group is not so common among the security crowd at large, and among them are found many of God’s dear children who believe in a completely separated life. These do not usually make excuses for sin of any type. Since they love God and have found that the grace of God is sufficient to keep them from falling, they have accepted the theory that they cannot fall away. Many such folk have later had to throw away their theory, accept another view of security, or else abandon the whole idea as contrary to practice as well as Scripture.
Your writer has had some of these folk say to him, “Why, Brother Bustin, I love the Lord and delight in His ways, and would not think of sinning against Him. I can’t understand these folk who say they are converted, giving glowing testimonies of their love for the Lord, then after a time are found back in the world.” I can say the same thing, and yet I know that some who did run well have fallen away and no more walk with the Lord. Why will the security groups object to our citing such examples if they believe the Bible, for we have examples there as well as today.
During Paul’s imprisonment in Rome he writes both to Philemon and to the Colossians, and in each letter makes mention of Demas, his fellow-laborer, who sends his salutation along with Paul’s letters. He was then saved or unsaved. Is it at all probable that the great apostle would have chosen an unsaved man as co-laborer with him in the Gospel? He later wrote to Timothy saying that “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world.” God says, “If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
I am thinking just now of a one-time mighty man of God. He had been saved from a shameful course of sin, became a great man of prayer, and a powerful preacher of the Word. I know some who are yet living for God who were gloriously converted under this man’s labors. After having walked with God for some years he neglected his prayer life, began reading worldly magazines, his love grew cold (See Mt. 24:12), then came a sad fall. This poor man is now far from God. His oldest son also became a preacher of the Gospel, but later followed in the wayward steps of his father, took to drink, and died a wretched death. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” I Cor. 10:12; 2 Peter 3 :17
The best of men may fall. We can only stand by the grace which we will have vouchsafed to us abundantly if we will accept it. There is truly no excuse for any man going back into sin, but many do so. We are well aware of the fact that many so-called backsliders “never slid front ways” as Amanda Smith aptly put it, and yet the facts are indisputable that multitudes who gave all evidence of having walked with the Lord in reality have turned back to the beggarly ways of the wicked world.
Paul said to the Galatians: “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that you should not obey the truth?” Gal. 5:7 In the 4th verse of this same chapter he speaks of those who “are fallen from grace.” In Ch. 4:11 he says: “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labor in vain.”
Backsliding is a sad, practical problem in all truly evangelical circles today when the words of Christ are being fulfilled: “Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Whether men believe in backsliding or not they are everywhere practicing it on a wholesale scale.
The following is a quote from B. L. Omstead’s little booklet on “Three Types of Eternal Security.” This quotation is taken from The Baptist Training Union Magazine for April, 1940, by a Baptist minister, J. W. Storer. He said, “There is an unhappy, but too truthful expression which says that others preach backsliding and Baptists practice it. Candor compels the admission that there are multiplied thousands of our people who, like Demas, have forsaken their Master, and for the same reason; namely, because they have loved the present world. And of that John says that if any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. Why is there so much of this sorrowful and tragical thing called backsliding?”
We might argue that the most of these, together with most others who are branded as backsliders, never knew the Lord in truth. This may be true, and yet if there is only one case of backsliding from the grace of God, then the fact of backsliding must be reckoned with. This is exactly what we find the Word of God repeatedly doing — warning men against defection from the faith, and to repent and turn back to God. Why will men theorize and try to show themselves more wise than that which is written?
The second class of securitiests may admit that believers may fall away into sin of every description, but that since they are elected to salvation from all eternity — predestined to everlasting glory — they can never finally be lost. They will always return to the fold of God. This type of theorists have much to say about “once a son, always a son,” “once in grace, always in grace.” (Bud Robinson’s comment was, “Yes, they are always in grace — God’s grace, or in disgrace.”)
Of all the unconditional security adherents this class is the most philosophical. They reason that we have nothing whatsoever to do with the matter of our becoming children of God, and therefore have nothing whatsoever to do with ceasing to become His children. They believe that from all eternity we were all chosen, or elected, to be eternally saved, or to be eternally damned.
Your writer once held tenaciously to this theory of sovereign election to salvation or damnation. This, they say, “magnifies the grace of God.” They would call this, “All of Grace.” Since men like Saul and Judas died in their sins, this theory argues, “these men were never among the elect of God.” I am frank to say that this predestination idea is more reasonable than the other theory which advocates that we do have something to do in the matter of getting into the fold of God, but that we cannot get out when once we are in. This is both unreasonable and unscriptural.
The third class invites men to come, believe on the Lord, accept Him as our personal Saviour, (very little is said by these about sincere repentance) and promises them that when once they get in they are forever and unconditionally in the fold of God regardless of how they live thereafter. Some of them are too wise to make such claims publicly and openly, but others speak positively and dogmatically to the effect that upon believing in the Lord Jesus Christ all sins in the past, present, and for all future time are completely and forever forgiven. Many of these false teachers will say that it is wrong to sin, that believers should not sin, and that they will lose much of their rewards by thus living in sin, but the souls of such “saved sinners” are safe forever.
Some of our readers may argue that many good eternal security people do not go to this extreme in teaching. This is certainly true, but this is the logical conclusion which the eternal security theory leads to. Barnhouse, a prominent Keswick Convention speaker says, “Put very simply, this (the fact of justification), means that the moment a person is born again, forgiveness has been provided for all the sins he ever has committed or for all the sins he ever shall commit in the course of his life.” Again he said, “that God has offered pardon in advance for any sins which might be committed by the believer.” He says that he has no doubt about the salvation of Ananias and Sapphira even though they died with lies upon their lips. This brand of eternal security teaches that Judas went straight to heaven — that he fell from his high office, but not from grace. They say this in spite of the fact that Jesus spoke of Judas as being “lost”, the “son of perdition”, and “it had been good for that man if he had not been born.”
Your writer has sometimes admired messages by John R. Rice, but upon reading the following in the so-called Sword of The Lord, I confess that my confidence in the man was shaken to the very foundations. The following words appeared as an editorial August 10, 1951 under the caption of Tears in Heaven. We quote his own words:
“When we die or when Jesus comes, then we will be saved completely from sin. Then the body will be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (when Jesus comes again for us) according to God’s Word (I Cor. 15:51, 52). Then we will be done forever with sin in ourselves; but we will not yet be done with the results of sin. Those results will cause us sorrow in heaven.” (Comment — Part of this doesn’t sound so terrible, but listen to what follows.)
“How ashamed and heartsick will many a child of God be when Jesus comes, unexpectedly, and the Christian is found in sin. Some may be in theaters, some in taverns, and some engaged in business that will horribly embarrass them before Christ. Do not say no Christian ever goes where he should not. Many a Lot, vexing his righteous soul, will be in the midst of some wicked Sodom when Jesus comes. Many a David after God’s own heart, in other matters, may be with some Bathsheba when Jesus comes. Many a Peter will be warming by the devil’s fire and denying his Lord. So we may expect the roofs of picture houses to need repair, broken by raptured but shamed Christians at the rapture, when Jesus comes for His own.”
If this is not one of the “doctrines of devils” I know not what it could be. Think of the Bride of Christ, also referred to as a Virgin, living in a state of wretched sinfulness — patronizing the damnable movies which are sponsored by the adulterous Hollywood outfit, drinking in taverns with the moral debauchees, committing adultery with another man’s wife, warming by the devil’s fire, and denying the Lord of glory. Such teaching it is not only disgraceful but borders on blasphemy. There are some precious saints of God who believe in eternal security, but how under heaven could any man teach such damnable doctrines as these which come from the pen of Rice and at the same time be right with God?
This is the gang of securitiests who speak much about the imputed righteousness of Christ. Their idea of our being righteous is, We are not truly righteous, but we simply have the righteousness of Christ spread over all our filth so that God cannot see any of our sin through the righteousness of Christ. (Such do not believe the words of John who said, “Little children, let no man deceive you; he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.” I Jno. 3:7) How could such teachers accept the words of Peter: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” This portion of the Word teaches that we are partakers of Christ’s nature — His righteousness is imparted to us. With the Christ nature we can live the Christ life.
The imputed idea as taught by security theorists is like that of cleansing away a manure pile by spreading a white sheet over it. This is hypocrisy, and our Lord is not in the business of hypocrisy. That which the Lord calls clean is clean.
For just a moment let us try to compare John R. Rice’s words with those of the inspired apostle Paul. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers with themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” I Cor. 6:9, 10 If Paul believed in this unconditional security idea, why didn’t he qualify his words by saying, “None of these shall enter the kingdom of God except ‘sinning saints'”? This is exactly what the extreme securitiests teach.
In brief we have seen what the various unconditional security crowds teach concerning security of the believers. In reality it is not security from sin, as is taught by the Word of God, but it is security in sin. Of course the first class we have considered would deny this, but even their doctrine logically leads to this conclusion.