Most of the fundamentalist arm of the Protestant church believes in the doctrine of Eternal Security.
This means that at a certain point in his life, a person realizes that God is real, confesses that he is a sinner, admits his need for a savior, accepts Jesus Christ as his personal lord and savior, and allows Jesus to personally come into his life. This one-time experience and act of faith and surrender is a beautiful concept. But is being a Christian really that easy?
Preachers like Charles Stanley, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Marilyn Hicky, Benny Hinn, and a huge number of others, all claim that, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, you must be born again. But just as St. Paul said in 1 Thes. 5:20-21, “Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good.”
So let’s try to prove this thing:
Reverend Stanley said in one of his television broadcasts, “we who teach the word of God must make sure we are absolutely correct in our teaching”. So, we are prudent to ask Charles Stanley the standard he uses to prove his teachings. Of course, Reverend Stanley will tell us that the Word of God is his absolute standard in everything he teaches, be it eternal security, Bible interpretation, the “Born Again” doctrine or anything else. But is Stanley’s interpretation infallible?
I, personally, have never heard Charles Stanley and the rest of the eternal security teachers refer to the Fathers of the Church – except to say that they “prayed incorrectly” when asking God for a healing.
These Fundamentalist Christians rely on their denomination’s interpretation of the scriptures unquestioningly. But where did the denominational and nondenominational churches learn their Biblical interpretation? I will tell you: They learned it from those who taught it to them. What was their authority, and the authority of the person who taught them, and the authority of the person who taught the person who taught them, and so on . . . ? I can tell you one thing for certain. They did not learn belief, practice or procedure from the context of the Church Fathers.
The Church Fathers:
The Church Fathers were the first pastors in the first and second centuries – some who even knew the apostles personally. These men who received the Gospel from the mouths and the pens of the Church Fathers were infinitely closer in proximity and truth than, say, the Southern Baptist Conference is.
The real truth is that the first Christians DID NOT TEACH ETERNAL SECURITY. Even Protestant Reformers like John Calvin and Martin Luther would creak in their crypts if they heard today’s Fundamentalist preaching. Men like Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland would have been branded as heretics and excommunicated posthaste.
The teaching of Eternal Security was borne out of the American Revivalism movement – not from the early Church, the Protestant Reformation in the1500 and 1600s, the 1,500-year period prior to Martin Luther or at any other time in the history of Christianity.
Let’s look at a few examples of this twisted teaching and see what we can learn:
The Bible states that we have to believe before we become a Christian. But John 3:16 and the Nicodemus “born again” exchange with Jesus and many other passages are also balanced with other scriptures. Taking a “bleeding” scripture or two, attaching a modern interpretation to it and making those into a doctrine that amounts to life or death is unscholarly, ignorance-driven eschatology at best.
What about the hard stuff like overcoming to the end?
“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Revelation 3:5)
If one were to proceed down the Fundamentalist path, one would think that the Holy Spirit did not show believers how to be “saved” until the Fundamentalist’s gospel was borne.
This whole Fundamentalist gospel is a new invention – a tradition of men – and should be viewed with great suspicion, especially since our souls and eternal destinies, and those of our loved ones, are at stake.
Steve Ray in his Defenders of the Catholic Faith writings said the following:
“What about the word overcome? Strong’s Greek Dictionary defines “overcome” as used in the Bible “of Christians, that hold fast their faith even unto death against the power of their foes, and temptations and persecutions. . . ). Fundamentalists, on the other hand, believe anyone who is “born again” by praying the sinner’s prayer is automatically an overcomer. This does great violence to the whole text as I’m sure you recognize. It assumes that you overcome by saying the “sinner’s prayer” and has nothing to do with resisting sin and living the required holy life before God (e.g, Heb 12:14).
But look at the other places in Revelation where St. John uses the word overcome:
Revelation 2:7 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.”
Revelation 2:11 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.”
Revelation 2:17 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”
Revelation 2:26 “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.”
Revelation 3:12 “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.”
Revelation 3:21 “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”
Revelation 21:7 “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
With a casual reading of these contextual verses containing the word overcome, does it sound like a teaching of “easy believism,” of “say a prayer and you’ll slide through the pearly gates”? How can Stanley use a verse with the word overcome in it to sanction his “Eternal Security” view of salvation? He can’t. Especially when Paul says in Colossians 1:22-23, According to Paul’s exhortation: what if you don’t continue? And what if you aren’t grounded and settled? And if you are moved away, what then? Why didn’t Charles Stanley bring Paul’s conditional verse to our remembrance in his sermon? So, who are the overcomers? Would you be surprised to know that no one in the early Church agreed with Charles Stanley?”
“In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.”
It goes on and on. John tells us that those who overcome and have kept their robes undefiled “are worthy.”
I have one more point to show you:
Charles Stanley says that those who are “born again” are not to worry about the Great White Throne Judgment. Really?
Here is another quote from Ray:
“Stanley says those who pray the sinner’s prayer have no concern for this great judgment for they will avoid it. Oh yeah? Who is it that is judged at the Great White Throne Judgment – only unbelievers? Stanley takes the position that it is only for those involved in the second resurrection. Those in the first resurrection are all those who “believe in Christ” and they are immune from the judgment of death. But who is it that is part of the first resurrection? All believers? No! Martyrs! Read this:
“And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand year” (Rev 20:4-6).
Why do you think it was so “easy” for Christians in the early centuries (e. g. Ignatius of Antioch in 106 AD) to give themselves so willingly to martyrdom? They saw it as the quickest “way to God,” a way that conferred special honor, which is clearly justified in John’s prophecy. That’s what this passage in Revelation says. It is NOT referring to all Christians.
Who is then left to take part in the “second” resurrection?
Everyone else, and everyone else will be judged based on their works as John makes abundantly clear by emphasizing it TWICE within two verses.
. . . And the amount of faith or trust you had at conversion, or have now, will not be the matter adjudicated. Everywhere in the New Testament where the judgment is discussed, works are the criteria for judgment.
Consider the words of Jesus:
“Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:28-29).
The author of the Commentary we just read, Leon Morris, goes on to say, “John proceeds to inform us that the dead were judged according to what was written, according to their works. It is common New Testament teaching that judgment is on the basis of works.”
Where does Stanley come up with his stuff? I’ll tell you. He gets it from unfounded, novel, Americanized, Fundamentalist tradition which never existed before the last few hundred years. The whole Rapture idea came from a “prophetic word” during an ecstatic trance from a woman in Scotland in the mid 1800’s. It was picked up by J. N. D. Darby and the Plymouth Brethren, and popularized in America through the Scofield Reference Bible.
Why did the Holy Spirit hide this truth from the apostles and all believers for 1900 years? The sorry thing is, it is a false doctrine and is going to be deadly for a lot of people, especially those who have been warned and will have no excuse.”