Eternal security is the sovereign work of God which guarantees that when the gift of salvation is received, it becomes the eternal possession of the believer, and cannot be forfeited. Salvation then is an “irreversible work of God.” It is described by Hodges as a “one-time event with everlasting consequences.”
The security of our salvation is grounded in the sovereign purpose of God. Romans 8:28-30 describes five links in the unbroken chain of salvation which are all spoken of in the past tense, signifying that the God’s plan of salvation has been achieved.
For whom He foreknew, He also predestined, and these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Therefore, no one can bring a charge against the elect of God. Nothing can separate them from the love of God (Rom. 8:38-39).
The security of our salvation is grounded in the promise of God. Those who believe in Jesus Christ are promised eternal life. They will never perish.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
The security of our salvation is grounded in the power of God. We are kept secure by the power of God because no one is able to snatch us out of the Father’s hand (John 10:29), which is an answer to the intercessory prayer of God the Son, “Holy Father, keep them in Thy name” (John 17:11).
The security of our salvation is grounded in the provision of God. Because of the sufficiency of the work of Christ on the cross, our salvation is complete. As Jesus hung on the cross, He said, “It is finished,” which means “paid in full” (John 19:30). Salvation is totally a work of God. Since we did nothing to obtain our salvation, we can do nothing to keep it.
Eternal security is evident when God’s work of salvation is understood. The believer is given eternal life (John 3:16), made a child of God (John 1:12), sealed and indwelled by the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13; Rom. 8:9), and baptized into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13).
Can this salvation be lost? Is the believer capable of undoing the work of God? Can God’s work of salvation be retracted because of the believer’s sin? Or can believers lose their salvation if they stop believing and reject Christ? Is it possible to reverse the Holy Spirit’s work of regeneration? If this were possible, as the Arminians suggest, then the indwelling Holy Spirit must leave, eternal life must be taken away, and the body of Christ fragmented. If salvation can be lost, then Christ’s death was not adequate.
Nor can we do anything to supplement God’s work of salvation. To add perseverance to salvation is to confuse the positional sanctification of the believer with the fact that each child of God is being progressively sanctified throughout the duration of his or her Christian life. Believing in Christ is a one-time act at the moment of salvation, not an on-going perseverance to maintain our salvation (Acts 16:31). Salvation is by faith alone, not faith plus perseverance. To add perseverance to saving faith is to add human effort to salvation and make the Reformation meaningless.
The Apostle Paul clearly distinguishes between the positional, progressive, and ultimate sanctification of the believer. In addressing the Corinthians, the most ungodly of all New Testament believers, he describes them as “saints” who have been “sanctified” in Christ Jesus and will appear “blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” because of the faithfulness of God (1 Cor. 1:2, 8-9).
The doctrine of eternal security must not be reformulated by interpreting Scripture from a particular theological paradigm. Verses and warning passages, which on the surface may appear to teach loss of salvation, must be examined in light of their context and in view of the biblical teaching of eternal security.
Assurance is a confident realization that one possesses eternal life. As defined by Lightner, assurance is the “believer’s acceptance of the security provided for Him in Christ the Savior.” First, our assurance depends upon our willingness to believe what God’s Word says about the eternality of our salvation. According to 1 John 5:11-12, God has given believers eternal life: “And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life (1 (John 5:11-12). The Apostle John then states that he has written the epostle of 1 John “so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13).
Secondly, the Bible tells us that it is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to assure us of our salvation. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God (Rom. 8:16).
However, for both Calvin and Arminius, assurance is subjective, dependent upon a believer’s perseverance (which is defined in great detail by adherents of both views). Assurance focuses on the works of man rather than the work of God in providing salvation. But if perseverance is included as a means for the believer’s assurance, then the truth of Scripture and the witness of the Holy Spirit are deemed to be inadequate in giving assurance. The result is that for both the Arminian and the Calvinist, there is no absolute assurance of one’s salvation until the moment of death. This places believers in bondage, fearing that perhaps they are not saved or that they can lose their salvation.
While the life of a believer may manifest evidence of salvation, which may be construed as assurance, the lack of any such evidence is not proof of the absence of salvation. Sin or disbelief cannot be interpreted to mean that person either is not, or never was, saved. The truly saved are eternally secure and can be assured of that fact. However, the fact that the Scriptures teach that the believer is subject to both discipline and loss of eternal reward is motivation for the believer’s perseverance.
 Robert P. Lightner, Sin, Savior, and Salvation (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1991), 240; Charles C. Ryrie, So Great Salvation (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 137.
 John F. Walvoord, ed., Lewis Sperry Chafer Systematic Theology, vol. 2, (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1988), 151.
 Zane C. Hodges, Absolutely Free (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing, 1989), 58.
 Joseph C. Dillow, The Reign of the Servant Kings (Miami Springs, Florida: Schoettle Publishing Co., 1992), 492.
 “Believe” is in the Greek aorist tense indicating a once-for-all past activity.
 Charles C. Ryrie, So Great Salvation (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1989), 142.
 Lightner, p.240