Acts 17:11 - "Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with [great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.


Introduction

This article is a response to CARM's article - "What things should we look for in a church" found here - https://carm.org/look-for-in-a-church

In this article , the heresy of "conditional security" (a true Christian can lose their salvation) is categorized as a "debatable issue" in light of Romans 14:1-12.

Here is the direct quote from the article -

"Debatable Issues

  1. Romans 14:1-12 tells us not to judge a person on debatable issues.  We must be careful to continue in fellowship with other believers and not pass judgment on debatable issues.  Such issues are:
    1. Can you lose your salvation?
    2. Should we worship on Saturday, Sunday, or any other day?
    3. Is the rapture pre, mid, or post tribulation?
    4. Which is the correct view on the end times: Amillennialism, Premillenialism, or Post Millennialism?"


The purpose of this article is to correct CARM in light of Galatians 6:1 on this gross oversight.
We at 2 Corinthians 10:5 deeply respect and love our brother in Christ- Matt Slick- the president and founder of CARM, however he is simply wrong to state that the belief in the heresy of "conditional security" is a debatable issue based on Romans 14:1-12. CARM as a ministry has greatly blessed us and if you look at our website, we use so much of their biblically sound teachings as resources.

However, in light of Acts 17:11, our allegiance is to Jesus Christ and with that being said we must oppose the false teaching that the heresy of conditional security is a Romans 14:1-12 issue.
Adopting such a false view is very dangerous with many serious ramifications- a lot of which will be examined in this article.



THE HERESY OF CONDITIONAL SECURITY IS NOT A ROMANS 14:1-12 ISSUE

Romans 14:1-12 says "Now accept the one who is weak in faith, but not for the purpose of passing judgment on his opinions. One person has faith that he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats vegetables only. The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat, and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge the [a]servant of another? To his own [b]master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
One person [c]regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord, and he who eats, [d]does so for the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who eats not, for the Lord he does not eat, and gives thanks to God. For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written,
As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall [e]give praise to God.”
12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God."


Here is the proper context of Romans 14:1-12 as  delivered by Pastor John MacArthur  -

"So, our Lord established there a very important truth, and that is that we must take great care not to offend or look down on any other believer.  Now I believe that Paul picks this theme up and it brings us now to Romans chapter 14.  And Paul's great concern here is that we learn as believers in the church how to get along.  Now last Lord's Day evening, I mentioned to you that we're all aware of the fact that sin causes a rift in the fellowship.  Sin fractures the fellowship of the church.  But there is another area that can create great chaos and confusion and struggle and strife and conflict in the church and that's not so much in the area of overt sin as it is in the area of strong and weak believers being in conflict over preferential issues.  Not issues that are moral issues or biblical issues that are clear cut, but preferential issues.  And we talked about the fact that in the church you have people who prefer certain things and other people who prefer different things.  And the potential for clashing is very great.  The church is a mixture of Christians at all levels of spiritual growth, from brand new babies to very, very mature men and women in Christ.  People from all kinds of backgrounds, people who come from a wild kind of licentious, lawless background and people who come from a very traditional, very rigid, very ritualistic, legalistic background, and we all come to Christ and we all wind up in the church and there's a potential clash when our preferences for say external forms of worship, preferential styles of life vary and can create some problems.  And we went into that in detail last time.


So, what Paul is bringing to our attention here in this matter of Christian living which he began in chapter 12 is the need to develop a loving compatibility among all believers in the church.


Now let me just remind you that there are two believers that he sort of focuses on: the weak and the strong.  And we define a weak Christian as a believer who because of some preference, maybe because of his past experience or orientation, but a believer who because of some preference cannot understand and fully enjoy his freedom in Christ.  He tends to be narrow.  He tends to be somewhat legalistic.  He tends to be rather intolerant of spiritual liberty.  He's confined because of some preferences that have been bound to him through some past experience.


On the other hand, a strong believer is one who does understand his freedom, does enjoy his freedom, is not constrained by ceremonies or traditions or rituals, or any kind of non-moral externals.  And so, the strong believer tends to just live his liberty to the fullest.  And the weak believer tends to be extremely confined.  And the potential problem comes when the weak believer looks at the strong believer and accuses him of being abusive of freedom.  And the strong believer looks at the weak believer and accuses him of being too narrow and not understanding what Christ has really provided.  And so there is conflict potentiated.  The disharmony then comes when the strong despise the weak as being small-minded, untaught, and narrow.  And the weak condemn the strong for abusing their liberty.

Now the church at Rome obviously faced this problem because it had in it many Jews.  The Jews who had come out of a very tight, very strict Judaistic background with laws that touched on every area of life, what you ate, how you cooked it, what you wore, the kind of clothing, the days you celebrated certain festivals and feasts. Myriads of rules and laws and rituals and routines had been built into their culture to the extent that they were almost an involuntary behavior.  And they came to Christ, and of course, in Christ all of those external ceremonies, rituals from the Old Testament and tradition were wiped away.  And it may not have been a problem for the Gentiles so they might have celebrated their liberty and greatly offended the Jews, who though having faith in Christ were unable to understand their freedom from the laws of ceremony that were so much a part of their heritage.  And after all, as we said last week, those laws were ordained originally by God. And so, it was very common.  In fact, it was the norm for converted Jews to hold on to Mosaic tradition, and in some cases to want to bind that externalism to the Gentiles as well.


On the other hand, there were some Gentiles who came out of a wild, pagan, religious background and there were certain things that were a part of their background such as feasts and festivals to the various gods and idols.  And we said that in those feasts they would offer food to their idol.  What food wasn't consumed in a feast or eaten by the priests would show up in a marketplace and be sold for money to support the temple operation.  So it is possible that you might buy meat that had once been offered to an idol.  And if you served that to a Gentile who used to worship that idol, it would offend him greatly because he would see it as having been desecrated.  And so it's possible that even Gentiles were very narrow in some areas of their Christian experience and unable to enjoy the fullness of their liberty in Christ.  An idol is nothing, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 8, don't worry about it.  But at the same time, we don't want to be offensive to one another.


Now remember, the issues Paul is dealing with are not sin issues, they're preference issues, issues of tradition, non-moral issues.  In order to help us to understand how strong and weak are to get along, he gives us four main thrusts from verse 1 of 14 through 13 in chapter 15.  I mentioned those to you last time, I'll just briefly mention them now.  First, in verses 1 to 12 he says you have to receive each other.  You have to receive each other, open your arms and take each other in." - http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/45-109


As you can see , Romans 14:1-12 is scripture that deals with how Christians are to relate with each other on preferential issues. Preferential issues are issues that are neither moral nor biblical and are not clear cut.

It is a serious eisegesis error on CARM's behalf to say conditional security is a Romans 14:1-12 issue  when in context Romans 14:1-12 addresses debatable and preferential issues.
By CARM claiming the heresy of conditional security is a  Romans 14:1-12   means God preserving a person he saves is debatable and is a preferential issue!!

How is the work of God in salvation debatable or a matter of preference? How is God's work in salvation not clear cut?

John 10:29 says "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. "

These are the words of God directly from Jesus Christ's mouth(God-man, 2nd person in the trinity, Son of God) on the eternal security of a person saved by God through Christ. How is this debatable ? How is this not clear cut? How are Jesus' statements which are full of the Spirit and of life( John 6:63) to be treated as matters of preference? Who is the man that can pluck a person from God's hand once he is saved by God? Who?!

Conditional security is heresy and distorts the essential belief of the gospel. It is an attack on God's faithfulness and promise to preserve all he saves.

Romans 8:29-30 says "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified"


Conditional security cannot be labeled as a debatable issue in light of Romans 14:1-12 because conditional security is an attack on the gospel of Jesus Christ and the salvation he provides. How is Jesus saving  and obtaining an eternal redemption for the person who believes the gospel debatable , not clear -cut , or a matter of preference?!! It is not.
Hebrews 9:12 says "and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption."

The heresy of conditional security is an attack on God's character and nature. Consider Ephesians 1:4-14 which says 

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before [a]Him. In love [b]He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the [c]kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In [d]Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He [e]lavished on [f]us. In all wisdom and insight He [g]made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His [h]kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration [i]suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things [j]in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 [k]also we [l]have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in [m]Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In [n]Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also [o]believed, you were sealed in [p]Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is [q]given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory."

As you can see, God- the true Holy Triune God of the Bible saves us through the gospel. The Father selects, the Son saves and the Holy Spirit seals!! Every person of the God-head plays a role in a believer's salvation. This is not debatable!! To believe and teach conditional security is an attack on God's triune nature. To teach that attacks on God's nature is debatable with Romans 14:1-12 is wrong!!

Conditional security is simply heresy and has been tolerated under the guise of being a matter of "preference" with no scripture in context!! In light of Jude 1:3, believers must oppose this!! It is an attack on the gospel and who God is.

Questions for CARM

1. How is CARM promoting biblical fidelity when Matt Slick holds to the biblical truth of eternal security in salvation provided by Jesus Christ but is okay with his audience attending a church that teaches a Christian can lose their salvation?
Titus 1:9 says "holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict."
An Elder must be biblically sound and hold to the truth of the gospel in all areas, it is a lack of biblically fidelity to encourage others to attend a church where the gospel is diluted under the guise of Romans 14:1-12.

2. Mark 12:31 says "The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' There is no other commandment greater than these." How is it truly loving to suggest that is okay to attend a church where the word of God is diluted on salvation ? How?

3. Jesus Christ is the only way to God- John 14:6. Jesus said it himself. This is not debatable . Jesus says no man can snatch the ones the Father has given him in John 10:29. This is not debatable. Why is Romans 14:1-12 being misapplied to the heresy of conditional security only ?

4. Would CARM be ok with doing evangelism with a Pastor or Evangelist  who claimed to be a Christian and  believed a true Christian could lose their salvation and taught it? Why or why not?
Amos 3:3 says "Do two men walk together unless they have made an appointment?" What do you do when the Pastor/Evangelist tells a  potential convert- "here is the gospel but you can lose your salvation". Would you refute that or tolerate it due to Romans 14:1-12 applied out of context? Is not a Pastor or Elder supposed to teach sound doctrine in light of Titus 2:1?

5. What do you do with the possibility of a new convert reading your article on what to look for in a church and because you say "losing your salvation" is a debatable issue by taking Romans 14:1-12 they attend a church that not only perverts the gospel on the eternal security of a believer but in other areas as well? A little leaven ruins the whole lump(Galatians 5:9), if a church is teaching a true Christian can lose their salvation what else are they compromising on?

6. 1 Timothy 4:16  "  Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will [a]ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you."  Are you truly paying close attention to what you are teaching and recommending for people to look for in a Church in accordance to sound doctrine? God will hold you accountable for the people you mislead.


Conclusion
The heresy of conditional security is an attack on the gospel and God's character. It is not a matter of preference. Romans 14:1-12 does not make this a debatable issue. God through his word determines truth - 2 Timothy 3:16 not church history, opinion etc   Apostasy is not to be confused with conditional security either.

CARM needs to repent.



Written by Cash Willis