|Rev. Dr. Robert Preus|
3) Loss of Salvation: Lutherans do not believe in eternal security. They correctly read the warning passage of Scripture as being addressed to believers, but they incorrectly believe that those warnings concern the possibility of losing our eternal salvation. If Lutherans held consistently to faith alone in Christ alone, they would know that losing our salvation is impossible. The fact that they teach eternal salvation can be lost, shows that Lutherans do not really believe in salvation by faith alone apart from works.
I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live… [God] wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth…The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (Ezekiel 33:11; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing…You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit (Matthew 23:37; Acts 7:51)!
He [Erasmus] argues that there is something in men that responds to the gospel. But this will not do, because even if God shows the gift of his own Son to ungodly men, they don’t respond unless he works within them. Indeed, without the Father’s inward working, men are more likely to persecute his Son rather than follow him (Luther and Pond 1984).
This charge [Timothy’s duty to order certain teachers not stray from pure doctrinal teaching] I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme (1 Timothy 1:18-20).
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall (1 Corinthians 10:12).
Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, nor grumble as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come (1 Corinthians 10:6-11).
When holy people – still having and feeling original sin and daily repenting and striving against it – happen to fall into manifest sins (as David did into adultery, murder, and blasphemy [2 Samuel 11]), then faith and the Holy Spirit have left them. The Holy Spirit does not permit sin to have dominion, to gain the upper hand so that it can be carried out, but represses and restrains it from doing what it wants. If sin does what it wants, the Holy Spirit and faith are not present. For St. John says, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning…and he cannot keep on sinning.” And yet it is also true when St. John says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…We will now return to the Gospel, which does not give us counsel and aid against sin in only one way. God is superabundantly generous in His grace: First, through spoken Word, by which the forgiveness of sins is preached in the whole world. This is the particular office of the Gospel. Second, through Baptism. Third through the holy Sacrament of the Altar. Fourth, through the Power of the Keys. Also through the mutual conversation and consolation of brethren, “Where two or three are gathered” and other such verses, especially Romans 1:12 (McCain, et al. 2005).