Just a few years before he passed away, J. Vernon McGee was the commencement speaker at Dallas Theological Seminary. It was a pleasure to hear this 80+-year-old man explain some of the more difficult doctrines of our faith in simple, down-home language that we could all understand. He does that well in his writing as well. In one text, he writes about the subject of eternal security. He explains, “There is also a sharp difference between eternal security and assurance. Nevertheless, they are two sides of the same subject. It’s like two sides of a door. Eternal security is the exterior—that’s the outside of the door. Assurance is the inside of the door, and that’s internal. Eternal security is objective—it depends on that which is on the outside of us. It doesn’t depend on anything inside of us. Assurance depends on the inside. It is subjective. Eternal security is not an experience at all. Assurance is experienced. And eternal security is theological, while assurance is psychological.”

He goes on to clarify even further when he discusses salvation in general. He says, “There is actually no difference between salvation and security. Will you notice this? The only salvation God is offering is eternal salvation. He’s not offering any other kind. The kind of life that God is offering is eternal life. This is quite simple, and yet it is so important to see.” He uses John 3:36 to illustrate this truth from a biblical passage. It says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” We could find dozens of passages that further support McGee’s observation that the only kind of salvation offered by Jesus is “eternal” salvation. John 3:16 is key also. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” What kind of life? Everlasting!!

It’s crucial for us to move this truth from the theological realm of eternal security to the internal realm of personal assurance. It’s this truth that Paul was writing to Titus about when he said, “This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God – who does not lie – promised them before the world began” (Titus 1:2). In his commentary on the book of Romans, John MacArthur rightly observes, “Tragically, many Christians throughout the history of the church, including many in our own day, refuse to believe that God guarantees the believer’s eternal security. Such denial is tied to the belief that salvation is a cooperative effort between men and God, and although God will not fail on His side, man might-thus a sense of insecurity. Belief in salvation by a sovereign God alone, however, leads to the confidence that salvation is secure because God, who alone is responsible, cannot fail. Beyond that theological consideration, Paul is saying that the truth of eternal security is clearly revealed by God to us so that all believers are able with certainty to know the comfort and hope of that reality if they simply take God at His word. God’s child need never fear being cast out of his heavenly Father’s house or fear losing his citizenship in His eternal kingdom of righteousness.”