The past few weeks I have had the privilege of being a part of some very good discussions in the Perspectives ACG on the topic of Eternal Security, Apostasy, etc. We've looked at several different ways the passages related to security (i.e. John 6:38-40; John 10:28-29; Romans 8:30; Philippians 1:6) and those which issue warnings against falling away (i.e.Romans 11:20-22; Hebrews 6:4-6; Hebrews 10:26-29; 2 Peter 2:18-22) have been resolved. Oh, and don't forget all the conditional statements either (i.e. Revelation 2:11; Revelation 3:5; John 8:51; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2).
Two weeks ago I began outlining my understanding which is a covenantal/reformed understanding (as opposed to a simplistic, flat Calvinistic approach). Here are a few of the key points that I'll be blogging on this week. Other posts may be needed that connect this discussion to the importance of the visible church ('The visible Church…consists of all those throughout the world that profess the true religion; and of their children: and is the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, the house and family of God, out of which there is no ordinary possibility of salvation'), infant baptism, and more. But this is a start.
- Baptism is the initiatory rite into the New Covenant and the visible church.
- Those baptized, whether as adults or infants, are new covenant members and, therefore, Christians.
- "Christian" is not necessarily coterminous with "elect"; therefore, while it is true that all the elect will be saved, it is not true that all Christians will be saved
- To be in the covenant as a member means one is subject to the terms of the covenant, including blessings and rewards. In the new covenant, the blessings are great, if we will believe. However, in the new covenant the curses for unbelief are severe.
- A baptized person who is not living a life of faith and obedience is still a covenant member, but an unfaithful one, and should be admonished as one being unfaithful to their covenant vows.
- Apostasy is real. Christians (members of the new covenant) turn their back on their birthright all the time. Hence, warnings should be taught as real, genuine warnings to be heeded, not hypotheticals.
- Eternal security is based in the eternal (and unknowable) decrees of God. 'Saved' and 'unsaved' are categories we aren't privy too. (When those words, actually that word – only 'saved' shows up in the Bible – it's a verb, not a noun). The categories we are given are 'righteous' and 'wicked', or 'faithful' and 'unfaithful'.