In Protestantism (of which Pentecostals derive), there has been a strong debate between Calvinistic camps and Arminian camps. The argument has focused on many questions, one being if eternal security is Biblical or not. But do Pentecostals believe in eternal security?
Do Pentecostals believe in eternal security? No, the vast majority of Pentecostals subscribe to more Arminian theology. This theology would state that once someone gains salvation, they can choose to give it up. Most Pentecostals would agree that one can lose their salvation.
But what do we mean when we say Arminian theology? And what exactly is the deal with salvation? In this article, we’re going to take a good look at eternal security and the beliefs around it.
Jacobus Arminius was a Dutch reformer who developed what we now know as Arminian theology. Arminian theology was developed mainly in response to Calvin and Calvinistic theology. Some called Arminian and his theology a return-to-form for historical Christianity.
The main talking point of Arminianism for our discussion today is article five of the Five Articles of Remonstrance. Article five states:
“That those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his life-giving Spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own flesh, and to win the victory, it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through his Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand, and if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by no craft or power of Satan, can be misled, nor plucked out of Christ’s hands, according to the word of Christ, John x. 28: “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scriptures before they can teach it with the full persuasion of their minds.”
The important point here is that article five states it is possible for a Christian to surrender or otherwise give up their own salvation. When a Pentecostal says that it is possible for someone to lose their salvation, this is what they are referring to. This theology was further developed and elaborated upon up to today.
Calvinistic theology was the reason for Arminian theology’s development. Calvinists generally take a much more assured stance when it comes to the question of salvation. Essentially, a Calvinist would say that God choses who is saved and who isn’t. Since God entirely chooses who is saved, it is impossible to ever lose what God has declared over you. A Calvinist would say that mankind can absolutely never deny what God has made so, even up to force.
This is summed up in the fifth point of Calvinism: “Perseverance of the Saints asserts that since God is sovereign and his will cannot be frustrated by humans or anything else, those whom God has called into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end”. A Calvinist would assert that we have eternal security in our salvation because even if we no longer wished to be saved, it isn’t our decision to make, it is Gods.
So how does all this work specifically?
How Would One Keep Their Salvation?
People who claim eternal security will often quote verses like Romans 8:38-39 which says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.
This verse would seem to say that absolutely nothing can take our salvation away from us. Death, demons, and all of creation can never remove us from the love of God (given the context here, it is safe to say that this also includes salvation).
And John 10:28-29 says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand”. This verse explicitly is talking about eternal life. If we have eternal life given to us by Jesus, and no one can snatch us out of his hand, why do a lot of people believe one can lose their salvation?
How Would One “Lose” Their Salvation?
Hebrews 6:4-6 says, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallenaway, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace”.
This is a hard verse to interpret, but it is also one of the most important verse in the Bible for Arminians. So, lets quickly run through a couple of these things.
- Enlightened – Daniel 2:22, Acts 26:18. Enlightenment is something that only happens through God. While taken on its own it is possible this isn’t referring to salvation, but with the other phrases used in this passage it seems to pretty clearly be talking about the enlightenment of salvation.
- Heavenly Gift – John 4:10, Romans 6:23. Here we have an explicit reference to salvation that matches the rest of the New Testament. The Heavenly gift we received is Salvation and union with God. This can’t really be referring to anything else.
- Shared in the Holy Spirit – 2 Peter 1:4, 1 Thessalonians 1:5. Sharing in the Spirit is something reserved only for those who know God and have Salvation. If you can share in the Spirit, you are saved.
- Tasted God’s Goodness and Powers of the Coming Age – Mark 10:18, Acts 10:38. God’s goodness is clearly shown to those who know Him. Again, it is theoretically possible that this isn’t a reference to salvation, but when taken with the other points it seems to be.
- Brought Back to Repentance – Luke 24:47, Acts 3:19. Repentance is a reference to the forgiveness of sins and salvation. In being brought back to it, the verse implies that one had it already and no longer does. This repentance is referencing salvation.
When taking all these things into account, it seems pretty clear that the Bible states you can lose your salvation. Who is really correct on this issue has been a large debate for a really long time, and I would guess that isn’t going to change any time soon.
What Do Pentecostals Believe?
Pentecostals hold to Arminian doctrine thoroughly. While there may be certain Charismatic circles who hold Calvinistic views. Pentecostal denominations believe it is possible for one to lose their salvation as outlined in Hebrews 6.
If you are interested in learning about other Religions in the world, then check out this book on World’s Religions on Amazon.