Is the Believer Imperishable? Part 1 -- By: Arthur B. Whiting

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 101:401 (Jan 1944)
Article: Is the Believer Imperishable? Part 1
Author: Arthur B. Whiting

Is the Believer Imperishable?
Part 1

Arthur B. Whiting

The question we are about to discuss is one that has divided theologians and caused schisms among the rank and file of believers for many centuries. Much has been written by those who regard the believer as eternally secure in Christ; while on the other hand, equally voluminous have been those who view the believer’s security as conditioned upon his own good behavior subsequent to regeneration. This paper is not an attempt to say something new on a subject which has received so much attention, but it is a treatment of a doctrine which has come to mean much to one who spent some time in the early years of his Christian life floundering in the Slough of Despond through a failure to recognize the precious truth of eternal preservation in Christ. It will be evident at once, then, that this is no mere academic problem, but one that is of the most vital importance to every believer since it is so intimately linked with his external daily practice, his internal daily peace, and his eternal heavenly bliss.

There are a number of factors which must be fully recognized in order to clarify some issues which frequently confuse thinking and prevent a proper understanding of the problem under consideration. In the first place, it must be freely admitted that many persons who make a profession of Christianity fall away from this profession. The Scriptures warrant our dividing these individuals into two distinct classes: those who were never truly born again, and those who prove to be temporary backsliders but are restored at some later time. In our Lord’s parabolic presentation of the kingdom of heaven in its mystery form, the reference to the hearer who received the word with joy but endured only “for a while” is a clear indication that many who make a profession of Christ are never firmly rooted in Him (Matt 13:20, 21). In outward appearance they are at first indistinguishable from genuine, born-again believers,

but the time comes when “tribulation or persecution...because of the word” reveals them in their true colors as persons who are devoid of the spiritual life which has been professed. It is to these persons John evidently refers when he says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). Such a statement provides a sufficient standard, on the human side, for determining if what is professed is also possessed; for continuance in the Christian lif...

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