So many times I get irritated at the debates between friends who are of different theological understandings. You know, the Arminean/Calvinist or Reformed/Wesleyan debates over the doctrine of eternal security (or perseverance of the saints). Why do I get irritated? Because so many people on both sides of the debate miss the whole point of grace. (Of course, most have never read the actual works of John Calvin or Joseph Arminius but that is another subject).
On one side, you have those who say that once saved, no matter what one does or how they live, they are still assured of eternal salvation. On the other, you have the belief that one can remove themselves from God’s protection by their sinful actions. What many people of both camps miss, however, is the change that occurs at salvation. The old has passed away, the new has come. We have been born again, born anew, born from above. What does this mean, practically?
No longer does sin have dominion over us. We can still sin, and we do. We no longer have a life characterized by sin, though. We are no longer under its power nor is it our desire to sin any longer. A person who continues in the same habits of sin with no remorse nor power to stop the sinning has never been transformed into a new creature. He or she has never experienced the new birth, no matter what prayer or ritual they have supposedly made. A life that has been born anew is as different from the old one as a piglet and a puppy are. Oh, both may wallow around in the mud for a little while, but they are fundamentally different and while there may be some similarities they are identifiably different.
Those who believe that the doctrine of eternal security gives a person license to sin miss the whole reality of the transformation the Holy Spirit does in a life. No person born from above has a desire to live a life characterized by actions that would bring shame to their Lord. One cannot, of course, ever become un-born. The metamorphosis is one-way. You are either changed or you are not. The confusion comes from those who claim to be Christian, know the words to say, but whose lives do not match their profession. By their fruit you shall know them. There is a reason why Paul tells the church to examine themselves by the light of Scripture to see if they are really in the faith or not.
I know this doctrine ties in with election, God’s sovereignty and others equally debated. My point isn’t to stir that pot – yet. My point is that God’s transforming power is so awesome, so complete, that it fundamentally changes the nature and character of the one changed and that change is observable and non-revocable. Once saved you are forever changed. If you are not changed, you are not saved. Period. Go back and study the ones given new life by the Spirit – Zacchaeus, Saul of Tarsus, Mary Magadelene and others. That change is what everyone born of God experiences. If you haven’t, contact me and I will be glad to show you how the Spirit can transform your life forever.