A good friend from Illinois emailed me in regard to a recent column by me examining the doctrine of eternal security.
My friend had reposted “License To Sin” at another forum whereupon one of the forum members came down on him for posting a column on eternal security. Part of the comments, (with names redacted), went like this:
“I will NEVER be part of a theology that excuses "continued" sin in "believers" lives - making them feel comfortable and "justified" (I can’t help it) to continue in their sin, only to discover one day He never knew them.”“Bro B---, can I now please ask that you give me your assurance that you will stop posting OSAS justifying messaged here at the group, as I would hate for Bro B--- to have to put you on moderate.”
Uh-oh. The missive was signed, “in Christian love.” (Sigh. Aren’t they all?)
His question to me, however, wasn’t about the theology or the doctrine. It was about the animosity it engendered.
“Why is there this hostility to believing that "we can't be taken out of the Father's Hand"?
This is a question that deserves a broader hearing, since it cuts a wider swath than just the issue of eternal security. One encounters the same kind of hostility in discussions about the Rapture, pretribulationism, Dispensationalism and so on.
These are some of the things that mature Christians hesitate to discuss unless they are sure they are discussing it with like-minded believers. Our own forums have from time to time become battle zones over some of these same doctrinal issues.
More than one member has broken fellowship with us following a debate over eternal security or pretribulationism. I am almost always blindsided by how quickly the debate turns nasty.
While I was answering my friend's email, the Lord showed me why.
I thought it worth sharing.
Since the topic at hand is eternal security, we’ll stick with that, but you will see how it applies to pretrib Rapture doctrine as well.
When I said a minute ago that the Lord showed me why it turns nasty, it wasn’t hyperbole. I found the answer was given specifically by Jesus, beginning with Matthew 20:1.
“For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard.”
There are several important points made here. The first is that this is a parable about heaven. The second is that the laborers had agreed with the householder about their wages.
“And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.”
Let’s stop here and digest what we have so far. In the West we divide the 24 hour day at noon and midnight.
The Jews reckoned time using a 30 day lunar calendar and a twenty-four hour day divided as it says in Genesis 1:5.
“And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.”
So the Jews divided their twenty-four hour day more logically. The day begins at morning and ends at dark. So the first hour of the day would be from 6 until 7 – that was about the time the first laborers were hired for a penny.
The “third hour” was 9 am. The householder didn’t set an exact wage, but instead promised to do right by them for going to work. Then he went out at the sixth hour (noon) and again at the ninth hour (3 pm) and hired more workers under the same contract conditions.
Finally, it says that he even hired workers at the eleventh hour (5 pm) and sent them out to work.
“So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first.”
So they were paid in the reverse order from their hire. The last ones to work (for only an hour) were paid.
“And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny.”
These guys put in a twelve hour day, whereas the last ones hired worked for only an hour. So the guys that worked longer complained.
“Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.” (Matthew 20:12)
These guys were mad. No two ways about it. And I can’t blame them. If it was me that had worked my butt off in the field for twelve long, hot hours, I would expect better than the guys who barely worked up a sweat.
“But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee.”
And here is the answer to the question at hand.
“Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?
Do you see it now? The main objection to eternal security is always that it is license to sin. There are those people on this earth that, for one reason or another, don’t have the same struggle with sin that others do.
They don’t think so, but that proves the point. Nobody knows how heavy somebody else’s burdens are. There are some Christians that have no problem with habitual sin – they easily gave up smoking or drinking or cussing. . . or insert your besetting sin here.
I know that to be true because there are also non-Christians like that. There are non-Christians that successfully quit smoking or drinking or cussing -- and they managed to do it without relying on God or the Holy Spirit. That is just a fact.
Why is it sometimes easy for an unsaved sinner to accomplish what a saved Christian still struggles with? The answer is obvious to almost anybody except some Christians. Because it is easier for some people than it is for others because that is how they are built.
It isn’t an excuse. It is an observable fact. Some people quit smoking the day they get saved, some saved people continue to smoke for years.
Some unsaved people quit smoking the day they decide it’s unpopular, too expensive, too unhealthy or too stinky.
So you are the kind of Christian that started working at the first hour, and you see some alleged "Christian" who is still struggling to get started at the eleventh hour, long after your besetting sins are behind you.
And then some joker like me comes along and says that guy is just as saved as you are.
That makes them mad. Just like when they object to the Rapture as a Great Escape. It isn’t fair.
“Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day.”
Or put another way,
“I will NEVER be part of a theology that excuses "continued" sin in "believers" lives - making them feel comfortable and "justified" ( I can’t help it) to continue in their sin, only to discover one day He never knew them. . . . In Christian love . . .”