John H. Stoll, Ph.D.


  1. The basis of this doctrine is found in Romans 8.
  2. A definition of this truth: Once an individual has willfully accepted the regenerating work of Christ, and is justified (i.e. declared righteous by God), it is impossible for God's child to become an eternally lost person. In John 10:27, Christ says of His own, "... I know them". This is the Greek present tense, which never ends.
  3. This does not mean that one may profess to be a Christian, without a heart commitment, and still be an eternally saved individual, nor does it mean that once a person has become a regenerated Christian, he may live a self centered life of sin.
  4. There are five Biblical principles that undergird this doctrine.

I. God's Preservation of the Christian is Based on the Perfection of Christ's One Offering on the Cross - Hebrews 10:10-14.

1. The book of Hebrews contrasts the many sacrifices offered under the law, with the one sacrifice of Christ.

a. Under the Old Covenant (i.e. Old Testament), a new sacrifice was offered for every sin, because the previous sacrifice could not atone for the present sin. Hebrews 10:11.

b. In Romans 3:25,26 there is the O.T. manner of Justification (v.25) and the N.T. manner (v.26). In the O.T. God ordained animal sacrifice as a temporary measure, through faith, awaiting the fulfillment of a promised redeemer in the future who would forever pay for sin. In the N.T. way of Justification (v.26), God is now able to declare righteous the believing sinner based on the ground of Christ's one offering on the cross (Hebrews 10:10).

2. In Hebrews 10:10-14 there is the O.T. way contrasted with the N.T. way, showing the superiority of Christ's once for all sacrifice, which was accepted by God for every believer (Heb. 10:12).

a. The sacrifice of Christ is perfect forever, for each child of God. Reason: Because His sacrifice is forever and continuously accepted by God in our behalf. The sacrifice is not dependent upon the person, but the person upon the sacrifice.

b. In Hebrews 9:11,12,23, Christ, as our High Priest offered Himself, once in our behalf, forever. If we deny His eternal sacrifice for us, we put a slight on the perfect, finished work of Christ, and relegate it to the level of the offerings of bulls and goats in the O.T. Why? Because if we say that the blood of Christ is insufficient for us to be eternally saved, then Christ's work was not perfect, and He will have to die again for us.

3. Many are afraid this doctrine will lead people to be careless about their spiritual lives, therefore they stress the other side, i.e. good works to retain one's eternal life. But, they do not see that this is a practical denial of Christ's finished and completed work. One is eternally saved because the work of Christ abides eternally. Salvation is not one holding on to God, but a declaration of God's righteousness keeping one eternally saved, by His holding on to us.

II. The Preservation of the Believer is Based Upon the Resurrection of Christ from the Grave: I Corinthians 15:3,4.

1. Like as Christ was buried in death, taking with Him our sins, so the Christian who accepts His completed work is dead to the power of sin, and because He arose from the grave, the Christian is alive to resurrection life, as a new creation in Christ Jesus. This gives to the believer eternal life in Christ (Colossians 2:12). Thus, one has resurrection life with Christ, which is eternal as He is eternal, and as incapable of dissolution or death, as Christ is incapable of dissolution or death.

2. Also, by union with the resurrected Christ, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit (i.e. the operation of the H.S. placing one into the family of God - See I Cor. 12:13), and the impartation of His eternal life, the Christian is made part of the new creation with Christ. Since Christ cannot fall/fail, there is no possibility for even the weakest Christian to fall/fail, who is in Him (Ephesians 1:7; I Peter 1:5).

III. The Preservation of the Believer is Based on the Perseverance and Omnipotent Power of the Holy Spirit.

1. By the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit the believer is made a child of God (Romans 8:16). Having thus been born of God, the Christian has partaken of the divine nature (I Peter 1:23; II Peter 1:4), and that nature is never said to be removed.

2. By the fact that the Holy Spirit now indwells every believer and never leaves that person (John 14:16). As a child of God one may grieve the Holy Spirit by unconfessed sin (Ephesians 4:30), but His presence is never said to be removed from one's life.

3. By the Holy Spirit's ministry in baptizing, the believer is joined to that body of which Christ is the head. (Galatians 3:27). Thus the believer is "In Christ", and in that union old things are passed away and all positions and relationships have become new and are in God (II Corinthians 5:17). Being accepted forever in God's family, the child of God is as secure as the one to whom he is related is eternal, and in whom he stands.

4. By the fact that God's Word declares that all Christians are sealed with the Holy Spirit unto the day of Redemption (Ephesians 1:13;4:30).

a. "Sealed" means a "finished transaction", and in Philippians 1:6, the Apostle Paul noted, "I am confident of this very thing, that the Holy Spirit who has begun a good work in you through regeneration will perform it completely unto the day of Jesus Christ". In other words he is stating that when we were poor sinners, the Holy Spirit had sufficient power to break down our opposition to God, and bring to an end our unbelief and rebellion, do we think for one moment that He does not have enough power to subdue our will as a believer, and carry on to completion the work he has begun?

b. The reason a Christian continues to the end, is not because of any particular perseverance of his own, but that of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit begins a work in the heart of a believer, He never gives up until it is completed. This is our confidence.

IV. The Preservation of the Believer is Based Upon the Fact of the New Creation - II Corinthians 5:14-17.

1. Being born again signifies the Christian is of a new creation (i.e. spiritual, not physical).

a. When we were born into this world, we were members of the original Adamic creation, who was the Father of us all. This creation was not by any act of our own.

b. When by our own volition of accepting Christ, we become a new creation in Him (i.e. spiritual). See: II Corinthians 5:17.

2. Adam was created sinless, but he fell into sin. Christ came, the sinless one. to raise up sinful, fallen mankind.

a. As at one time we were partakers of Adam's race, now we are made partakers of a new creation, "In Christ".

b. What does God do for us now? Does He put us where Adam was before and say, "Now behave yourself and you will not die again?" No, He puts us up higher than Adam could have ever gone, except by a new and divine creation (Ephesians 2:6). Thus, because we belong to His new creation we can never be an eternally lost soul

3. Mankind was originally lost because the head of the old creation Adam, failed, and mankind went down with him.

a. As Christians we can never be lost, unless Christ, the head of the new creation falls, and if He does, then the Christian will go down with Him.

b. Thanks be to God, Christ remains a living token of complete satisfaction to God in His work for us, and thus we never will fail or fall, for He will never fall. See: Hebrews 7:25.

V. The Christian's Preservation is Based Upon the Fact That the Believer is the Present Possessor of Eternal Life---John 10:27,28

1. Adam's life was a forfeitable life; he lost it because of sin. Eternal life is non-forfeitable life, otherwise it would not be eternal.

a. In John 3:15,16 eternal life is mentioned, which in the Greek is the present tense, meaning eternal life, now. Furthermore, the present tense is an ongoing infinite element, meaning that eternal life will never run out. It is ad infinitum, eternally.

b. In John 3:36 it says, "He that believes on the Son, has (present tense) everlasting life".

c. Again, John 5:24, uses the word "has", the same as in John 3:36, but adds, "... and shall not come into judgment, but is passed from death unto life". The latter part of the phrase is in the present tense, meaning, NOW.

d. Therefore, the believer in Christ is already the possessor of eternal life, and is now passed from death unto eternal life.

2. In John 10:27,28 we have the strongest passage for the eternal preservation of the Christian.

a. Christ is stating that He calls His sheep (i.e. Christians), and they follow Him (v.27).

b. Then (v.28) He says, "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone pluck them out of my hand". The word "perish" should be better translated, "destroy themselves". In the Greek this word is in the subjunctive mood, which lends itself to the stronger translation.

c. Thus, there is in this verse God's answer to the two objections to eternal, non-forfeitable life, i.e. 1) either God will take eternal life away from you, or, 2) you can take yourself out of His hand. The Christian can never destroy himself, nor can anyone take eternal life from him; it is guaranteed by the omnipotent power of God Himself.

VI. Conclusion: It does not matter what profession a person may make, if one does not accept God's offer of eternal life, through faith and commitment to Christ's work on the cross, that individual is not a regenerated person. That one may be as those of whom Peter speaks in II Peter 2:20-22, "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". It is one thing to "whitewash" the pig on the outward appearance, it is quite another matter to change the very nature of the pig. A profession without possession is like a whitewash, whereas regeneration in Christ changes a life.