67. Is perseverance of the saints the same thing as eternal security?
It is common to hear the term “eternal security” used basically as a synonym for “the perseverance of the saints”. The former term emphasizes that all who are in Christ, that is, all the elect, who have truly been regenerated, are secure in their position forever – they will never finally fall away. The latter term, on the other hand, emphasizes the manner in which God will infallibly preserve his own – by causing their faith to persevere through every trial, until they finally apprehend the prize of the upward calling, for which they have already been apprehended by Christ (see Philippians 3:12-14). If this is all that is meant by the term “eternal security,” then it is certainly a biblical doctrine, very similar to the term “perseverance,” and complementing it.
However, the term “eternal security” is often used in a very different and unbiblical way, by Christians who adhere to a synergistic doctrine of regeneration (that is, the doctrine that man from his own nature produces faith in the gospel, and then God regenerates him in consequence of this faith – a doctrine opposed to the scriptures [see question #40, “What does monergism mean,” above]). To many of these Christians, faith is something that we ourselves contributed to our salvation by our free will, and so it is up to us whether or not we will continue to believe, as well. According to this doctrine, then, “eternal security” basically means that a person who has come to faith in Christ may fall away from that faith and turn aside to a lifestyle of willing sin, and yet he will be saved anyway, because he had faith at one time, and so he is eternally secure, no matter what his subsequent life may look like. This false doctrine, based upon a flawed understanding of “free will” (see Question #47, “Does the bible teach that man has free will,” above), contradicts many scripture passages which teach that the saints must persevere in the faith to be saved (e.g. 1Co 6:9-10; Gal 5:19-21; Eph 5:5; Heb 3:14; 6:4-6; 10:26-27; 12:14; Rev 21:7-8; 22:14-15), but that the God who first gave them faith will cause them to persevere. Hence, in common usage, the term “eternal security” can sometimes refer to a doctrine diametrically opposed to the Reformed doctrine of perseverance.
For Further Study:
Can a Christian Lose His or Her Salvation? by Greg Johnson
Monergism Copyright © 2008