A common objection to the doctrine of eternal security involves the hypothetical problem of a believer who later becomes a serial killer. The critic will ask, “Are you saying that if someone believes in Jesus, they get eternal life and can never lose it, even if they become a serial killer like Ted Bundy?”
Yes, that’s right. Once saved, always saved even applies to serial killers. We’re justified by faith apart from works (Gal 2:16), no matter how evil the works are. The only kind of salvation Jesus gives is irrevocable.
However, some of my Free Grace friends would hasten to add that’s an improbable scenario. In the real world, you would expect the indwelling Holy Spirit to work to make him grow spiritually, and if someone reached the point of becoming a serial killer, he would sin the sin unto death and God would take his life (1 John 5:16). In other words, it’s unlikely that God would allow any born-again believer to become a serial killer—but it is hypothetically possible.
Critics will say that admission is a clear reductio ad absurdum for our position because it leads to a ridiculous consequence. There’s no way that serial killers can be saved, right?
If that’s what you’re thinking, remember what John said:
Everyone who hates his brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him (1 John 3:15).
John wants you to see how serious it is to hate someone. Have you ever hated anyone? Then in God’s eyes, you’re a murderer. And have you hated more than one person? Then you’re a serial killer! According to your theology, have you lost your salvation? Were you ever saved to begin with? How can you be sure? (Not such a hypothetical situation after all, eh?)
Of course, Free Grace folk also affirm that even mental attitude serial killer won’t lose their salvation. You might disagree, but don’t hate us for it!
Send your questions or comments to Shawn.