Eternal Security Run Amuck

Run amuck has been defined as "To behave or run around in a wild, unruly, out-of-control manner" (https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/run+amuck)

Eternal security is the doctrine held by many evangelicals that says once a person is saved, he is eternally secure; he cannot lose his salvation. 

Doctrine and Tradition

Recently on social media I got into a discussion about salvation and those who inherit the kingdom of God in light of the passage 1 Cor 6:9-11. Some of the responses I heard reminded me of the danger of denominational doctrines. I'm not saying that doctrines are necessarily wrong, but their application is often a reflection of pharisaic teaching, commonly referred to as tradition.

On at least two occasions Jesus scolded the Pharisees because they used traditon to ignore scripture and thus set aside the commandments of God. Matthew 15, Mark 7 On one occasion he said that they were "experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep [their] tradition." Many of the Jewish traditions were no doubt from the Jewish Talmud, much of which explained the commandments in the Old Testament scripture. I think of them as commentaries. I like commentaries. They often shed new light on scripture, but they never replace or contradict scripture.

Doctrines, like traditions, can have some usefulness. Things like the doctrine of the trinity summarize dozens of passages illustrating the trinity. Unfortunately, people tend to base other beliefs based on doctrine. While they can be useful, doctrinal beliefs never supercede or conflict with what is written in the Bible.

Eternal Security

I was raised in Baptist churches,  and even preached a few times in a Baptist church, so I'm very familiar with Baptist doctrines. I believe the doctrines are mostly sound, on paper, but often when applied they often do not reflect what scripture says. Baptists and other evangelical Christians believe in the concept of salvation by grace, through faith alone, and eternal security, or the idea that once you are saved your salvation is secure; You can never be lost again. Based on that, Baptists and others believe that no matter how badly you fall into sin, you are still saved.

But combination of easy salvation and lifetime guarantees goes down a questionable path. "Just walk down that aisle" has been repeated more times that I would like to remember, and I wonder how many people put their trust in a public profession of faith, or just believing that Jesus will save them because of that. True Salvation is based on a committed faith and trust in Jesus, not just faith in his existence or his ability. Salvation also depends upon a repentant heart. Some might say repentance is not necessary; just faith. 2 Cor 7:10 says otherwise. "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation..." 

That social media post I mentioned when opening talked about what some people say about 1 Cor 6:9-11.

9  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 of themselves with mankind, 
10  Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 
11  And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. 

In the author's post he suggests that I Corinthians 6:9-10 doesn't refer to salvation/justification, but to sanctification/walking in fellowship with God. Even if you can be described as one of the people in that verse (fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, homosexuals, thieves, etc.), you are still saved. He makes the claim that this verse is talking about inheritance, inheriting rewards in the millennial kingdom... that as believers, they shouldn’t do those sins because they will not be rewarded for them in the kingdom.

First off, you can't substitute inheritance with rewards. We don't inherit rewards; we earn them based on our obedience and faithfulness; what we have done in the body. Our inheritance is based on our relationship, being a child (heir) of God. Jesus' use of the term 'inherit the kingdom' in Matthew 25 illustrates what it means to not inherit the kingdom. 

Additionally, verse 11 makes it clear that this is a contrast between those who have been washed, sanctified, justified, and those who haven't. You may have done these things in the past, but you are new creatures. Paul says "some of you were", not some of you are. Paul is not talking about the true believers in Corinth.

The whole purpose of this author's argument was to defend the doctrine of eternal security and expand it to say no matter what we do we can't lose our salvation. The purpose of Paul's message however, was to warn the Corinthians with a stern "Do not be deceived". Believing you are okay because at one time you expressed a desire to be a Christian is being deceived. To say that your lifestyle (or someone else's) is okay because you were saved as a child is to make a mockery of God and of true salvation. Elsewhere, Paul tells us that "God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, he will also reap." Gal 6:7

Twisting the Scripture

I'm not writing this to dispute the doctrine of eternal security. What I do want to relay is that we should be careful not to twist scripture to conform to our doctrine or tradition. Twisting scripture is essentially making a false statement about the gospel. Much of Paul's writings are in the New Testament for the express purpose of correcting untruthful teaching and practices. And Peter tells us parenthetically what happens to the "ignorant and unstable" when they twist the scripture. 2 Peter 3:16 It leads to their own destruction. 

When examining scripture we should be careful to look at the purpose of the passage, not see how can we explain away the obvious message by pointing to another belief/ truth, or just ignore it totally if it doesn't fit their beliefs. Another website confronts this passage by rationalizing that we cannot totally stop all sins. While that is true, the very argument is one against this scriptural statement. This is similar to Satan's argument with Eve, questioning God's very commandment (Gen 3:1). The worst thing is that it suggests that one can willingly continue in sin. In fact, Paul talks about the effort to continue in sin. It's true that everyone this side of heaven sins, but to hold onto some doctrine as a loophole to continue in sin is self-deceptive. 

Sinners and Sin

1 John and other books say that sinners are not children of God, and yet it teaches that if we (believers) sin we have forgiveness. While a Greek analysis of the greek words and tenses would shine some light on this, the simplest English explanation is that while all have sinned, and will occasionally fall into sin, those who continue in/practice sin are sinners who have not received the life-changing gospel. When we are truly saved, we can't continue in sin because we are born of God.

1 John 3:9: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.   

Reconciling 1 Cor 6:9

So how do we reconcile those included in the list in 1 Cor 6:9 who say they are Christians? We should always remember that we shouldn't interpret scripture based on some doctrine. If scripture doesn't line up with the doctrine, we need to reevaluate the doctrine or its application. Scripture always takes preference. Scripture clarifies itself.

If we see someone who is supposed to be a Christian listed here we can't say that they will inherit the kingdom of God. Paul makes it clear. We don't know what is in a person's heart, but it's very likely they were not saved in the first place. Maybe they made a confession of faith, even worked in the church, or taught. But, unless they made a commitment to God by putting their trust in Jesus, they weren't saved. Just believing in the existence of Jesus is not salvation.

One of the best explanations I've read about Christians that fall from grace is from Dr. Elmer Towns at https://www.biblesprout.com/articles/salvation/eternal-security/

The “apostate passages” designate individuals who have been exposed to Christianity, who have externally gone along with Christianity, who have tasted Christianity on its very threshold, but who have finally spit it out in rejection (often by drifting off into theological heresy). These individuals were never saved to begin with (not unsaved, then saved, and then unsaved again; eternal life is not some “roller-coaster ride”...).

1 John 2:19 clarifies that, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." Yes, it is possible that a Christian might commit one of the sins mentioned in 1 Cor 6:9, but don't think you can continue in one of these sins. If that is the case, examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

True Eternal Security

As I said earlier, I do believe in eternal security, depending on what is meant be it. If we have truly been saved, we have been reborn, born into the family of God, and we take on His nature. If we have truly been saved, Jesus is now in control. 

Jesus repeatedly tells us that his sheep, those who have put their trust in him, he will never cast out, and no one is able to snatch them out of my hand. (John 10:27-29, 6:37).

In a Romans we read that "neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)

Paul writes that God who began a good work in you will bring it to completion. (Phil. 1:6)

If you remember Ephesians 2:8,9,  you will notice, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." This not only tells us how we are saved; but it also tells us how we haven't been saved. 

While you don't earn or keep your salvation as a result of any works, in many of the passages that indicate that our salvation is a permanent thing we see that God will be working in you.  

Warnings

Just as scripture points to the sufficiency of Christ and His ability to keep us from falling, it equally gives warning after warning. Jesus said that not everyone who calls Him Lord will be saved. Here Paul says Do not be deceived, and elsewhere he tells us God is not mocked. As Christians we should relay that warning to others when appropriate. Ezekial talks about the responsibilities of a watchman and says that if the watchman does not warn the people, their blood will be on him. Similarly, if we as evangelists, teachers, or simply Christians do not warn others when we are instructed to, their lives are on us. 

Acknowledgement

I understand that some Christians use this passage to judge homosexuals as they are listed here. Singling out a single group or sin is not the way to spread the gospel. Not only does the list in 1 Cor 6:9 include sexual sins, it also mentions thieves and drunkards. Spreading the net even wider, the scriptures say that All have sinned. There is a time for pointing out the need of others but getting people to see their faults can only go so far.  Repentence must be followed by putting trust in Jesus for their salvation. The Christian life is a good thing and should be conveyed that way. 

As Christians we are called to spread the good news of God's love and we can't very well do that if we have hate in our heart for certain individuals, classes, or groups of people. Jesus came to save sinners, not the righteous. 

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