Question #5 – It is argued that the phrase “you have eternal life” means that once this eternal life starts in a disciple upon conversion, it never stops but it continues on and unto eternity because “eternal” means without end, continuous, perpetual.  Is the argument correct?

NOTE:  A favorite passage of those who believe in “once saved always saved” or what is called “eternal security of the saints” is 1 John 5:11-13. 

Answer – No, the argument is not correct.  Watch carefully that the continuing possession of eternal life which starts at genuine conversion has the following requisites:

(a)  Eternal life is in the Son, (b)  Belief or faith in the Son of God, and (c)  Continuing faith in the name of the Son of God.

Be it noted that man’s faith may falter as illustrated in the following instances:

  1. Read Matt. 13:6, Mark 4:6 and Luke 8:6 where the seeds that fell on the stony soil, “ the faith withered away” because there is not much soil and moisture.  Tribulations, sufferings, fiery trials in life are the stones. Faith lacks nurture and lacks a strong determination to survive in the stony field. Apostle Paul encourages disciples to enlist the help of the Holy Spirit to maintain steadfast faith according to 2 Tim. 1:12-14, but in the case of the Jewish populace, “you always resist the Holy Spirit” was Stephen’s inspired accusation against the Jewish leaders of his time (Acts 7:51). 
  2. There are examples in the NT of actual falling away due to weak faith. Read 2Tim. 1:15, “those in Asia have turned away… among them Phygellus and Hermogenes.” In 1Tim. 1:19, faith and good conscience were rejected by some disciples, hence suffered the shipwreck of their faith.  Note the past tense of the verb which signifies falling away from grace, a cessation of eternal life in the shipwrecked disciple. 
  3. John 6:63; Romans 8:1; and 2 Cor. 3:6 tell us that the Holy Spirit gives spiritual life.  This eternal Spirit in Hebrews 9:14 is the Holy Spirit who can be grieved (Eph. 4:30); and when grieved by consistent disobedience, He departs from the disciple as in the case of King Saul. Please read 1 Samuel 10:6, 10; and 11:6 where the Holy Spirit provided power to King Saul, but Saul’s repeated disobedience caused the Spirit to depart says 1 Samuel 16:14 & 18:12), and a spirit of confusion entered into his life. When the Holy Spirit departed from King Saul, he lost his spiritual life. 
  4. The Holy Spirit assisted the 12 apostles (Judas Iscariot included) when they went around the towns of Israel (Matt. 10:20; Luke 12:12).  It is understood that the Holy Spirit departed from Judas when he allowed the Devil to dominate him in the last days of his life. (See Luke 22:3; John 13:2, 27).  Judas committed suicide.
  5. Two illustrations of falling away from grace and loss of the implanted eternal life are found in 2 Peter 2:20-23.  Disciples have escaped sin and spiritual death through their knowledge of Christ, but the lack of nurture led them to be entangled again in the ways of the world. What they turned away from, they returned to it.  The pig to the mud and the dog to its vomit. Their situation is worse compared to the one before their conversion.