You may not like the title of my post (I don't like it either, really) or the subject matter (I'll agree with you there, to a large extent at least), or the tone of some of my posts recently (okay, I don't either), or in the past (to some extent I'll agree there, also). But I believe this is important because it's a part of Scripture, and I believe Scripture is the word of God speaking the message and Story of God to us. Which ultimately comes to us, in Jesus, God's final word to us.
I was raised Mennonite, but after my conversion at the beginning of my senior year in high school, I was soon influenced by my uncle who taught at the school and is a pastor, and I by and by embraced a Baptist doctrine, leaving my Mennonite beliefs behind. Of course eternal security was part of that teaching, and since I felt insecure, I found it helpful and liberating for me. And indeed, it is essential to know just how important and foundational God's keeping of us in Jesus is.
At the same time, I think what I understand Scot McKnight in a recent comment at Jesus Creed, to have said, is true. Many Baptists who believe in eternal security, once saved always saved, really do not believe in perseverance, that is that true Christians will persevere faithfully in God's will till the end, not perfectly, but they'll always come back and be saved in the end. I do think most Baptists believe we're to live holy lives, and only a few think that when you are saved you don't have to concern yourself with that.
But inherent in their position is the belief that once you're saved you'll always be saved. In light of the book of Hebrews, and in light of Jesus' strong warnings to his disciples, I think such a position takes the teeth out of such passages. The idea is that no matter what you do, you can't lose your salvation. That may be true. For example I knew a good young pastor years ago, at that time a youth pastor who believed that one would forfeit their salvation if they committed suicide. There is no way I believe that. Though at the same time I wouldn't want to fall into such a sin with all the awful ramifications and no opportunity in this life to repent of it.
What sinning can do for us is harden our hearts since sin is deceitful. We can drift away from the message of Christ and the gospel. Not just for those who have yet to taste and see that the Lord is good, but for those who already have. We are told in Scripture to make our calling and election sure. There are other arguments on this side, as well as on the other side. Good Christians will disagree on it.
My plea though is to take seriously the warning passages, and not somehow skirt what they're actually saying so as to take the teeth out of them. By faith we're kept by the power of God for salvation, but though we can't earn our salvation, we can walk away from it, at first perhaps not deliberately, but in the end no longer caring, hardened in heart and devoted to other things (idols) rather than God in Christ.
So I think we need to listen to the word of God and take to heart all that is written in it. We need to continue to rest in the grace of God for us in Jesus, trusting God for his good work in us, and working that out with fear and trembling.
Just some scattered and incomplete thoughts on this, this morning. One part of Scripture which is not pleasant, but is for our good.
What would you like to add to this, or say here?