The fact that people who have been saved can reject their salvation (Salvation) and hence be cut off, is clearly shown in several passages from the Bible, a few of which we have already discussed in my other posts. (Christ is Salvation, The Necessity of Abiding in Christ, Loss of Salvation: The Process, and Covenant)
Something that many people tend to get confused on is the Bible’s promises and assurances to the believer. This goes back to our recent discussion on Covenant. God does make promises to the believer, but they are conditioned on the believer abiding in Christ. It would be a pretty lopsided arrangement otherwise, if God sent His Son to die for us, gave us all the strength and grace we needed to overcome sin, yet we reject Him and choose to live in a life of sin, should we then still expect God to reward us with eternal life? No, and that’s what the warnings in the Bible are meant to address is the fact that God will not reward such a person, but will punish them with the rest of the ungodly.
One of the most commonly referrenced verses to try to prove eternal security is Ephesians 1:13,14.
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13, 14)
Eternal securists put the emphasis on the word “sealed”. When I began examining the verse, the first First I looked at what the word for seal meant exactly, so I looked its definition up in a concordance and from what I can tell it has two possible implications in this context. Briefly stated, 1) a mark, in this case it would be a mark put on us by God’s that we are indeed His. 2) It said that another possible use for a seal would be as security from Satan. I think that definition #1 fits the context the best, though let’s discuss definition #2 first. We are indeed kept by the power of God and are not under the control of Satan, but of course this doesn’t change the facts 1) we are tempted by Satan, though God gives us the power to overcome that temptation and 2) we still have the free will to choose to sin, which I would say also has the implication that we have the choice to even choose to go back to a lifestyle of sin as well.
I think that definition #1 fits best, though as I will explain. Let’s take another look at that verse: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13, 14) Notice very carefully the language employed here; Paul is using legal terminology. The seal of the Holy Spirit is the earnest of our inheritance.
This brings us right back to our discussion on God’s covenant with His people. God more than lives up to His part of the bargain by providing us His Son, His Spirit, His grace to overcome sin, and eternal life to the faithful. However, we still have a part in this process because God still allows men the freewill to choose whether they will serve Him and follow His ways or whether they would choose follow a life of sin. So the seal that God gives us is the mark that we’re His and the earnest of our inheritance, but if we choose to break our covenant with Him, God Himself cuts us off from salvation (John 15:1-6 and Romans 11:17-22), which is His right and would be so even in the manner of human transactions.
So it is God Who puts His seal on us and it is also God Who has the right to remove it as well.
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:28-31)
“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.” (Hebrews 10:39)