“You shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever” (v. 7).
Psalm 95 is one of the many passages in the Old Testament Wisdom Literature that warn us about the danger of falling away if we do not heed the Lord. Such warnings have caused many Christians to wonder whether it is possible for true believers to fall away finally from the faith. Of course, these warnings are not limited to the Old Testament but are also found throughout the New Testament. Many theological traditions have interpreted these passages as teaching that it is possible for a regenerate person not to die in faith, that an authentic Christian may actually lose his salvation. But is this what these passages are really teaching? We will now pause our studies in the Wisdom Literature to address this question, using Dr. R.C. Sproul’s teaching series Eternal Security as our guide.
Those who believe that true Christians can never lose their salvation often refer to this doctrine as the eternal security of the believer. Interestingly, while the Reformed tradition would agree that believers cannot finally fall away from grace, Reformed Christians have not traditionally talked about eternal security. The preferred term has been perseverance, which has the advantage of taking into account the biblical teaching that the Christian life is marked by warfare against sin and doubt. We must persevere in faith through the assaults of our enemies. Furthermore, the term perseverance seems less susceptible to misunderstanding. Often, those who use the term eternal security hold to some form of “easy-believism,” namely, that we are saved if we have confessed Christ even if we later reject Him or fall into unrepentant sin. Such an idea, however, flies in the face of Jesus’ teaching that if we love Him we will keep His commandments (John 14:15).
Yet it would be wrong to reject the term eternal security completely. After all, it reflects the human need for stability. We look for security in this fallen world, particularly when it comes to salvation. We want to know if God will keep us as His children forever. Will He finish His work of salvation in all in whom He starts it? To ask that question is to answer it. We serve a mighty God who is able to save to the uttermost all who trust in Him. We find our security in Him, and as we are reminded of His salvific work in the past, we can be confident that it will continue in the future. Like Joshua and the ancient Israelites who remembered God’s deliverance of the nation (Josh. 4:1–9), we need to remember His work in the past so that we can have confidence in Him in the future.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Ultimately, our Creator is the only One in whom we can fully trust for our security. Although we play a part in our perseverance, if we trust in ourselves alone, we do not possess true faith. We must continually look outside ourselves to what God has done, particularly His work in and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Seeing that He has faithfully kept His promises to save His people in the past will give us confidence that He will keep His promise to save us.