A Prayer
of Jesus
I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise
and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will

 The Trap
On the Security of the Believer 

(The Experience of Salvation - Part 3)

By Edgar Jones

"Security of the believer' may bring to mind several associated ideas.  There is "saved and certain," "once saved, always saved" and the "P" in Calvinism's TULIP, which is "perseverance of the saints."  It may also remind you of contrary ideas such as "apostasy" and "falling from grace." Please look at these ideas briefly, then set them aside because they are all erroneously conceived.  Every one, in common with Reformation theology in general, is founded on an erroneous conception of personal salvation. This conception grows out of the arcane theology of Paul and gives him primacy over Jesus.  If one takes Jesus of Nazareth as the sole source of Truth (which he is), the Truth about these things -- their fallacious base -- comes to light. Historically, both sides of the issue, pro and con, have engaged in a battle of proof texts that prove nothing whatever except that neither side has the Truth. When we enter the Light of Jesus, this entire controversy and all the billions of words expended to support or debunk it are seen as an exercises in futility.  I do not submit this paper as another contribution to the debate, but as an independent investigation of this idea in the Light of Jesus.

What do I mean by our title, "The Trap?"

I vividly recall a favorite wintertime activity as a farm lad -- trapping rabbits.  A rabbit trap, such as I made and used, consisted of a long wooden box about 6" x 6" x 36" open at one end.  The open end was fitted with a drop door, rigged so that it was held open by a notched wooden pin inserted through a small hole in the top of the box, near the back or closed end.  The pin was latched in place by the notch on one side of the pin, which faced the open end and was hooked under the inner surface of the top of the trap.  This was in upward tension due to a see - saw like lever attached to the pin at one end and the top of the open door at the other, so that the weight of the open door held it in place and the door open.  The pin protruded down into the trap a bit.  I placed this trap in a field where I anticipated that rabbits would find it, placed some "bait" in the very back of it -- perhaps a carrot -- that would entice the rabbit to enter from the open end. Then I set it, latching the door open by means of the notched pin in the hole in the top of the trap. Next morning, or perhaps that evening, I would go get my rabbit.  The poor, unsuspecting critter, entering and moving to the back in quest of the bait, dislodged the notched pin and allowed the door to drop in place behind it.  In the dark box, without light and without hope, that was one dead rabbit.

So it is with this trap.  The unwary and unsuspecting soul, entering the church facility in pursuit of the alluring bait -- certain salvation -- then joins the church and is baptized, thus tripping the trap as the door drops.  Without Light and without hope, there is one dead soul!

But there is a very important difference between these traps.  The poor rabbit knows immediately that something is wrong, whereas the poor soul rejoices in the darkness, thinking it is light!  Yet this trap, like the rabbit trap, has a hole or two in the top as necessary to the trapping mechanism, which admits a little light -- the only hope for such a soul.  But the trapped souls seldom see it as such; rather they hate the light, thinking it is darkness!  

I. Defining Salvation

The false conception of the Security of the Believer so commonly preached springs from a misunderstanding of salvation.  This misunderstanding lies across the Way to Truth. Realizing the Truth therefore begins with a correction of this error.  

A search of the Web finds few real definitions of salvation but only some statements about salvation that are presumed definitions. These statements are characteristically long, as this one:
Briefly, the Gospel--the good news--is that each person, through Jesus Christ, can be forgiven of sin, brought back into fellowship with God, and filled with God’s Spirit for newness of life.
Salvation is the bundle of benefits received by the person who believes the Gospel and entrusts his or her life to Christ. The "benefits" include forgiveness of sin, a totally right standing with God, heaven instead of hell upon physical death, new life (the Spirit of the life of Christ Jesus), awesome joy and contentment, and power to change bad habits.

This "bundle of benefits" has some valid content, but obscures a proper definition.  Present purposes require a definition of greater brevity, for there is much room for deviation from this lengthy statement.  So I searched the Web for "salvation is."  This string produced a lot of stuff but no real, concise definitions.  Here are examples from one site:
Salvation is God's gift to you. "The gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

Salvation is by God's grace, "not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Here we have brief statements, to be sure, but they are not definitions -- and neither of them is true.  Salvation is not a gift of God, and it is not by God's grace.  Continuing, I found this:
Salvation: This word is used of the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptians (Ex. 14:13), and of deliverance generally from evil or danger.  In the New Testament it is especially used with reference to the great deliverance from the guilt and the pollution of sin wrought out by Jesus Christ, "the great salvation" (Heb. 2:3).
Here we have an acceptably brief definition if we isolate the New Testament part and read it thus:
Salvation is . . .  the great deliverance from the guilt and the pollution of sin wrought out
by Jesus Christ, "the great salvation" (Heb. 2:3).

There is Truth in this, yet it continues to miss the mark. This definition actually conforms well with the #1a & b definitions I get from the dictionary, definitions that are obviously based on Christian doctrine:
Main Entry: sal·va·tion
Pronunciation: sal-'vA-sh&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin salvation-, salvatio, from salvare to save -- more at SAVE
Date: 13th century
1 a : deliverance from the power and effects of sin b : the agent or means that effects salvation c Christian Science : the realization of the supremacy of infinite Mind over all bringing with it the destruction of the illusion of sin, sickness, and death
2 : liberation from ignorance or illusion
3 a : preservation from destruction or failure b : deliverance from danger or difficulty
Have you noticed that the citations above quote supporting texts, yet none quote from an utterance of Jesus? Paul is the favored source, and therein lies the fatal flaw.  If we run a search of the gospels, for the word salvation, we will not find a definition there. Jesus expects us to understand him without an explicit definition of this term, which can only be because his conception is very simple and easily derived. Salvation is, to him, not a technical term on which to focus.  We focus on it here only because it is a major concept in Christian doctrine and one must target it to dispose of it.

But have you also noticed that the dictionary definition explains, in the etymology, that salvation comes from salvare to save?  You already knew this, of course, but I needed to point it out because the word save is the key word when we go to Jesus to seek insight on salvation. We go to him now and I will demonstrate what I mean.  We need submit only two brief utterances of the Lord, that form the basis of any valid perception of salvation in Truth.


[35] For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it.


[24] For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.
These are parallel accounts of the same utterance, which Jesus repeatedly emphasized throughout his teaching and that form the kernel of his gospel. From this application of the word save, it follows that the salvation of which Jesus speaks is the salvation of the life of the individual.  He deliberately chose to state this as paradox, to grab our attention and draw us to investigate what he means. The salvation of one's life depends solely on one's losing it for my sake and the gospel's. However, if anyone would save his life he will lose it!  It follows, does it not, that the one who wants to save his life does not want to lose it, and therefore he will  lose it.  But, you may think, everyone wants to save one's life, because one loves life and does not want to part with it.  Surely Jesus is not attacking the attitude of love of life?  Isn't this one of the prime virtues -- this love of life? Perhaps he doesn't mean what we mean when we speak of "my life?" 

Jesus slammed the door on this question by the way he phrased this concept of salvation in the Fourth Gospel, and simultaneously revealed what our lives become when we will to lose them for his sake:


    [25] He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world
    will keep it for eternal life.
There can be no debate as to what Jesus means here by his life. It is life in this world. Jesus used this Great Principle to explain his crucifixion, by which he lost his life in this world so as to save it -- to keep it for eternal life. It is in the light of this principle that we must understand the "salvation" that Jesus has wrought, and all his utterances concerning life in this world.  When he says:


[10] I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
    He means that, through him, one may acquire the eternal life that comes from hating the life in this world. It is to provide this salvation -- this saving of one's life -- that he came, and it is to exemplify this salvation that he died on the cross. We will now attempt a brief, concise definition of "salvation" consistent with the teaching, mission and example of Jesus.

    Salvation is the saving of one's life.

    Is this brief enough? This is salvation according to Jesus.  It is this and nothing other than this.  It is accomplished through hating life in this world for his sake of, and thereby keeping it for, eternal life.  We can learn this solely by listening to him -- hearing his words -- and believing him.  This explains such utterances as this:


[24] Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

    II. The Red Herring
Have you noticed that, in arriving at this definition of salvation according to Jesus, we found no need to even mention sin ?
Yet Christian definitions of salvation generally focus on sin, as does the dictionary definition listed above.  Salvation is:
1 a : deliverance from the power and effects of sin.
Therefore, Paul's gospel (and Christian theology in general) is a red herring laid across the path of all seekers of Truth.  It causes people to arrive at deviant and false conceptions of salvation by applying it to sin so as to misunderstand it entirely. It follows that Christians, in the grip of this delusion, completely misunderstand and misapply other critical sayings of the Lord, such as John 10:10 listed above.


[10] I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
We have this example from a Baptist:

The only hope we have in the midst of world events is to see life from God's perspective. With His help, we can do more than just cope, we can live the abundant life and share that with others!

Let me share a verse: "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Almighty God Who created and sustains all things by His grace, in His power, and for His glory stepped out of glory and robed Himself in human flesh. And when He returned to His Father, He made us a promise, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:18).

God wants to indwell every believer with power, love, and a sound mind. How do I know that? Because God's Word promises, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).

Jesus came to give you abundant life in the midst of Satan's attacks to steal, kill, and destroy. Are you ready to live that kind of life?
This is typical of the Christian view.  It applies the abundant life of Jesus to life in this world.  This indulges the love of life in this world, which is condemnation, not salvation. It is a view that seeks to steal the Lord's sheep, that kills and destroys them. Now we can appreciate the full text of John 10:10:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Now that is sin! It is a powerful, insidious and pernicious deception that intends to steal, kill and destroy the sheep by convincing them of a lie.  It is, in short, a red herring!

And did you take note of this, in the quotation above, how this Baptist moved swiftly to a text from Paul (2 Timothy 1:7) to buttress his statement?

III. God's Perspective

 The source of the above quotation from a Baptist introduces his words with this sentence:

The only hope we have in the midst of world events is to see life from God's perspective.

Very well, let us see life from God's perspective.  But to get this view, we must go to Jesus because he is the only one qualified to describe God's perspective.  You are surely familiar with this Parable of the Prodigal Son, but for the few who aren't, here it is from Luke 15:

[11] And he said, There was a man who had two sons;
12] and the younger of them said to his father, `Father, give me the share of property that falls to me.' And he divided his living between them.
13] Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took his journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in loose living.
14] And when he had spent everything, a great famine arose in that country, and he began to be in want.
15] So he went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16] And he would gladly have fed on the pods that the swine ate; and no one gave him anything.
17] But when he came to himself he said, `How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, but I perish here with hunger!
18] I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you;
19] I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants."'
20] And he arose and came to his father. But while he was yet at a distance, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
21] And the son said to him, `Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
22] But the father said to his servants, `Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet;
23] and bring the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and make merry;
24] for this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to make merry.
25] "Now his elder son was in the field; and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
26] And he called one of the servants and asked what this meant.
27] And he said to him, `Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.'
28] But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him,
29] but he answered his father, `Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends.
30] But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!'
31] And he said to him, `Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
32] It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.'
This is how the Father sees us, from his house (heaven) as he looks down sorrowfully to this far country and grieves for his wayward children who are dead yet are eating the food of swine. The Prodigal Son does not find life and salvation until he has learned to hate his life in the far country, which is this world, then acts on this resolve: I will arise and go to my father.

The Father is overcome with joy because,
 . . .this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.'
Now that is life. . . .from God's perspective! Everything of this world is death from his perspective! Now we are in a position to define salvation more precisely:
Salvation is the deliverance of life from death.
The Father looks down at this world of the dead and, in his love for all persons, earnestly desires to save us from this death and install us as his children in Glory.  It is for this purpose that he sent our Elder Brother with the Word of Eternal Life. When anyone receives that Word and desires, like the Prodigal Son, to go to the Father -- that one has eternal life.  That one is no more dead to the Father, and there is joy in heaven!

Now, that is salvation! It is the rescue of the children of the Father from the sinking ship of the dead that is this world.

IV. Sin

Jesus has the Prodigal Son say, on his resurrection to the father's house,
Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired servants.
Sin has its role in the drama of salvation.  That is clear from the parable but it is also clear that sin, its essence and root, is the love of life in the far country that is love of life in this world. Jesus has the father cry out in great joy at the sight of the returning Prodigal Son. Is the father concerned about the son's loose living and all his patronage of harlots in the far country?  Never mentioned!  The father doesn't want to hear a word of it, but embraces his son and rejoices, interrupting the penitent son in the midst of his confession with commands to the servants that restored him to the status of a living son. The prodigal's foundational sin was his love of life in his far country. His return to his father's house was his repentance of that sin, for it demonstrated both his love for the father and the life in the father's house, and his newly established hatred of life in the far country. Any other conception of sin blocks the light that reveals salvation.

The love of life in this world is the love of death and the hatred of eternal life, and is therefore the essence of all sin.  Humans commit a sin when they do a thing is rooted in the love of life.  All acts of sin occur because the sinner loves life, which motivates the act.  Repentance of sin has no significance before the Father if it does not go to this root of all sin.  Thus,the Prodigal Son repented of the love of life in the "far country" when he resolved to arise and go to his Father.  The only exception is that tormented soul who, in total despair, loves nothing, knows no life, abides in death and hates all things including himself.

It is vain for an individual to repent of a particular sin, or of a set of sins, or of "his sins" while remaining bound by the love of life in this world because that love simply continues to pour fuel onto the flames of sin and makes everything one does a dead and sinful thing.  This far country is the realm of the dead and all who are attached thereto are bound to death and have not repented.

So, one has experienced salvation only after being delivered from this death, and the deadly love that produces it.

V. The Free Gift

How far, how very far removed from this is the deadly salvation doctrine of Paul and his disciples that tells us salvation is free.  Consider this statement from him:


[23] For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Eternal life is the free gift of God?  Absolutely not.  It costs every one the same thing -- one's very life in the world.  That is the cost to the prodigal son -- his life in the far country.  This is exactly what Jesus had reference to when saying:


[27] Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple.
28] For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
29] Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
30] saying, `This man began to build, and was not able to finish.'
31] Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
32] And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace.
33] So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
So much for the free gift. Salvation is not God's gift.  One cannot even become a disciple of Jesus without paying a price.

Salvation is not by God's grace.  Grace is generally defined as unmerited favor. Salvation costs each one the life in this world.  Being so purchased, it does not come as the a gift of grace.  Therefore, salvation is not by God's grace.  The Father is gracious, but grace is a word that Jesus never required to define or describe his salvation.  

God has, indeed, presented a gift to the world; and Jesus defined it precisely:


[10] Jesus answered her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, `Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.


    [16] For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.


    [37] On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink.
    38] He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, `Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.'
    39] Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.


    [63] It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
    Jesus the Son is the gift of God (John 3:16), from whose heart (John 7:38) pours the living water that also pours from the hearts of all who believe in him.This living water is the Spirit (John 7:39) that gives life (John 6:63) and that comes only through the Son as the words that I have spoken to you, for the words that I have spoken to you are both Spirit and life. This explains why eternal life is contingent solely on receiving, obeying and believing the words that Jesus spoke in the world.  To receive his Word is to drink of the living water, and this is the gift of God.  And, receiving that Word and believing it, we know that the salvation of God, far from being free, costs us everything in this world, defined as life in this world.  Hereby we know both the free gift of God and the high cost of salvation.  

    Eternal life is not free.  Salvation is not free. The Word of Truth uttered by Jesus -- that is free so that all are without excuse who do not receive it. If we begin with a fallacious conception of eternal salvation, everything gets muddled and confused so that one devalues the priceless free gift and attempts to steal (obtain without paying) the costly salvation.  

    V. Security of the Believer

    Now that we have understood the salvation of the Father -- that it is the salvation of one's life, we are able to see and evaluate this and all the associated red herrings for what they are. Is the believer secure in his belief?  That all depends on the believer.  The Father has never taken away our free will and we are, for so long as we remain in this world, susceptible to the love of life in this world and tempted to yield to it.  Nor is it possible for any of us to foretell when or if we will yield to this temptation so as to fail to attain to eternal salvation.

    Now we can see the force of the gross error that drives the Christians to make such assertions as this one, again from Baptist source:

You see, if one particle of it depends upon me, then I have to ask myself: am I good enough? I'm in bondage. I can never know. But when I'm saved by the grace of God, it all depends on Him. I don't have to be a question mark with my head bent over. I can be an exclamation point, standing up straight and saying, "Praise God! I'm saved!"

Thus springs the trap!  It is true that our salvation depends on God and on Jesus, but they -- God and Jesus -- have done all they can do for us in bringing the Word of Truth to us.  Now the ball is in our court and we will decide our eternal destiny by the life choice we make. The question, "Am I good enough?" is irrelevant.  It is not our goodness.  It is not our works, it is our will!  Paul never understood this, and so his disciples to this day fail to understand. Can your works save you? It's an irrelevant question.  Can you earn salvation?  It's an irrelevant question. All such ideas are red herrings in the quest of salvation. There is no bondage so hopeless as this one, that motivates a person to stand up straight and say, "Praise God  I'm saved and certain!"
Once saved, always saved?  Yes! Absolutely -- except that no one is "once saved" until one's arrival in the Father's house (like the Prodigal Son).  So, to say, "Praise God I'm saved" in this world only seals the deception.

Saved and certain?  Only when you get to the Father's house and see the joy in him due to the homecoming of another of his beloved prodigals.  Then you can be absolutely certain!

Perseverance of the saints?  It all depends on you.  If you choose to persevere in the Word of Truth, than a saint perseveres.  However, if you have not drunk of the Living Water, you have not achieved a status of perseverance.  This is just more bait for the trap.


An erroneous conception of salvation results in an avalanche of similar irrelevant questions. The ones I have listed above are only the more common ones.  There are others.  One is How can I know I have been saved?  

Foolish question!  No one can have such knowledge because no one has been saved while abiding in this world. It all depends on the individual human being, for every one of us always retains free will while we remain in this world, which leaves open the possibility that one may revert to the love of life.

How can I earn my salvation? 

Foolish question!
Your salvation is not an earnable entity. The "cost" is not the price of salvation, for it has no price tag placed on it.  It is simply the way things are in Truth.

Am I good enough? 

Foolish question!  No one of us is good, but that idea is an irrelevant distraction.  The Father isn't looking to how good we are, but He only loves us and wants us to come home.  The question we must ask ourselves is, "Do we love Him enough to want to go to him - now?"

Is it possible to fall from grace?  

Foolish question!  Grace is not a factor in salvation.

Must I join a church to be saved? 

Foolish question.  Church membership is one of the most distracting ideas.  Where does one get such questions?  Certainly not from Jesus.

Finally, let's take a closer look at another statement from the source listed above:

"These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God: that ye may know that ye have eternal life . . ." (1 John 5:13).The word know means absolute assurance. According to verse 13, it is possible to be saved and know it. But the very fact that John wrote this verse shows that it is also possible to be saved and doubt it.

Now look at the highlighted word, know, and see what he says about it:

The word know means absolute assurance.

Does it?  This statement suggests certainty.  It comes in an article entitled "You Can be Sure."  But a very little uneducated thought will immediately lead a reasonable person to a contrary conclusion.  Nor is any knowledge of New Testament Greek necessary, as is implied by this writers statement.  All one needs is a little common sense to know better than this.

How so?

There is no certainty that God exists, is there?  His existence is not a proven certainty but is a matter of pure faith.

There is no certainty that eternal life exists, is there?  It is a matter of pure faith.

Therefore, there can be no certainty of anything concerning God, including salvation or eternal life.  The simple logic runs like this: if I am not certain that there is a yellow house in my city, then I cannot be certain that my friend lives in a yellow house in my city.  

If the primary premise is not certain, then no derivative can be certain.

There is very little, if anything, concerning which human beings can have absolute assurance.  Death and taxes?  Well . . . yes. But no one of us knows certainly that one will rest in bed tonight -- the very bed in which one rested just last night.  There is no more certainty pertaining to where one will rest in eternity, or even if an eternal rest exists.  Therefore, any claim to certainty or absolute assurance in all things eternal is foolish.  

Doubt is not the option to absolute assurance, as suggested in the above statement by the Baptist. The option to that is faith, and faith is the only antidote to doubt.  This gives evidence of the inherent contradiction in Baptist doctrine.

How so?

Because they teach that salvation is by faith (true) but then say it is certain!  Absolutely nothing that is received by faith can be certain, for in that case it is no more faith but knowledge.

We now underscore all of this by referring to a quotation from Jesus that makes absolute certainty concerning salvation and eternal life to be absolutely uncertain. You find this in Matthew 25:31-46, where Jesus described the scene at the Last Judgment. You know the story, how the "goats" on his left hand are shocked and surprised to discover that they are to inherit the fire. Their response strongly suggests that they had thought themselves certain of a different judgment.  Then we discover a similar surprise on the part of the "sheep" at his right hand, who are given as their inheritance the "kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world."  This just as strongly suggests that they were not certain of their destiny prior to that day.

Security of the believer?

It is a theological red herring.  It is bait in the Baptist trap, drawing in men, women and children and sealing their doom.

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