Eternal Security - Eternal Life Possessed Now

Eternal Life Possessed Now

Harry Allen Ironside
Eternal Security 

In the last place, we rest the truth of the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer upon the fact that the believer is the present possessor of eternal life. It is not merely that if we are faithful to the end we shall receive eternal life. There is a sense in which that is true; there is a sense in which our hope is eternal life. I am a Christian now if I believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; believing on Him I have eternal life, but I have it in a dying body. I am now waiting for the redemption of the body, and when the Lord Jesus comes the second time He shall change this body of my humiliation and make it like unto the body of His glory. Then I shall have received eternal life in all its fullness, spirit, soul, and body, entirely conformed to Christ. In that sense I am hoping for eternal life. But over and over and over again, Scripture rings the changes on the fact that every believer is at the present time in possession of eternal life. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14-15). Adam’s life was forfeitable life; he lost his life because of sin. Eternal life is nonforfeitable life, otherwise it would not be eternal. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Everlasting life is life that lasts forever, and we have it now. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24).


His Sheep Follow Him

I have purposely left this point until last because people generally take it for granted it will be the first passage used in taking up this subject. In John 10:27 we are told, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Notice these three things. It matters not what profession a man makes, if he does not hear the voice of the Son of God he is not a Christian, and therefore the Savior does not know him as His own. No matter what profession he may make, if he does not follow the Lord Jesus Christ, he is only a sham and a fraud and a hypocrite. He may follow for a little while outwardly, like those of whom the apostle Peter speaks, who walk in the way of righteousness and then turn from it. “But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:22). If that dog had ever been regenerated and become a sheep, if that sow had ever been changed and become a lamb, neither would have gone back to the filth; but, you see, the dog was always a dog, and the sow was always a sow. They were just whitewashed, not washed white, they were never regenerated, and so went back to the old things. But the sheep of Christ are different. “They follow Me,” Jesus says. Be careful. Do not profess to be one of His sheep if you do not follow Him, It is the test of reality. There are many people who tell us, “At such and such a time I was converted, I went forward, I signed a card.” You can do all of these things and be lost forever. What you need is a new birth; and when you are born again, you get a new life; and when you receive a new life, you love to follow Jesus; and if you do not, you are not a Christian. Think about it; examine your own foundations a bit.



A Dangerous Doctrine?

People say, “If you preach this doctrine of the eternal security of the believer, men will say, ‘Well, then it doesn’t make any difference what I do, I will get to heaven anyway.’” It makes a tremendous difference what you do. If you do not behave yourself, it shows that you are not a real Christian. I know that a real Christian may fail, but the difference can be seen in Peter and Judas. Peter failed, and failed terribly, but he was genuine, and one look from Jesus sent him out weeping bitterly; his heart was broken to think that he had so dishonored his Lord. But Judas companied with the Lord almost three-and-a-half years and was a devil all the time; he was a thief and was seeking his own interest. He was even made the treasurer of that company and he held the bag, but we read, “He bare [away] what was put therein” (John 12:6), as this has been literally translated. At last remorse overtook him, not genuine repentance, and what was the result? He went and hanged himself. He was never a child of God. There is a great difference, you see, between a Christian and a false professor.


Justified By Faith

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life.” Do you believe it? I do not understand how people can read a passage like that and then talk about a Christian losing his life. It would not be eternal if it could be lost. “And they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.” The original is very strong here. In the English a double negative makes an affirmative, but in Greek it only strengthens a declaration. “They shall never, no never, perish.” It is impossible, it is unthinkable, that one who has eternal life shall ever perish. “My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” Here I am, a poor lost sinner, but the Lord in grace picks me up and saves me, and I am in His hand. And now the Father puts His hand around too, and I am in the hand of the Father and of the Son, and the devil himself cannot get me unless he can loosen those hands. Could you think of any greater security than to be in the hands of the Father and of the Son? “Never perish,” “eternal life”--what wondrous words are these! Do not be afraid of God’s truth. You might as well be afraid of the beginning of the gospel that God can freely forgive and justify a guilty sinner by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. People try to put guards around that truth and say, “Yes, you are justified by faith if you have enough good works to add to it.” That is not true. It is by faith alone, and good works spring from that. When you know you have eternal life, you will find your heart so filled with love for Christ that you will try to live for His glory.