July 2008


Eternal Security And Jesus’ Strong Language In Matthew 18:34

It would help our congregation if I used this Newsletter to comment on a very strong and difficult to interpret statement Jesus makes in Matthew 18:21-35.  This is a critical passage on forgiveness that we will be studying this morning.   

In v. 34 of this text, Jesus says something that seems to suggest a believer could lose his or her salvation. 

"And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed

him.” [Emphasis added.]


This text is a parable in which Jesus teaches that we are to forgive one another because God has forgiven us

a debt of sin so immense we could never repay it back to God.  Therefore, when another believer sins against

us, a sin which is miniscule in comparison to God’s forgiveness at salvation, we should welcome each and

every opportunity to forgive our fellow Christians.


In v. 34 of the parable Christ states that the first slave will be handed over to torturers until he repays all that

he owed to his king if he does not forgive the debts of his fellow slave.  An inference from this verse could be

raised that we would lose our salvation because of a failure to forgive other Christians.  This interpretation

cannot be proper for two primary reasons.


1.        This would contradict the clear teaching of Scripture that if we are truly saved then we cannot lose our salvation – [1 Jn 5:13; Jn 3:16; 3:36; 5:24; 6:39-40, 47, 51, 54, 58; 1 Pet 1:3-5; Jn 10:26-29]. 


2.        Christ clarifies in the next verse [35] what he means in v.34 when he states, “My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart.” [Emphasis added.]


It is true that if a professing believer is unwilling to forgive another Christian such a lack of forgiveness is radically contrary Christian behavior.  Therefore, in light of Matt 18:21-35, that individual should wisely follow Paul’s instructions in 2 Cor 13:5:


“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?”



1.        That salvation is temporary and can be lost by subsequent behavior.


2.        That salvation is conditional upon our subsequent behavior.




1.        That if we have been forgiven by God at salvation we are to extend forgiveness for far lesser sins committed against us by fellow believers.


2.        That if we are unwilling to forgive another believer, we should not be surprised if God disciplines us even severely disciplines – described symbolically in Matt 18:34 as torture and in Heb 11:6 as scourging.


3.        That if we are unwilling to forgive another believer, such behavior is so contrary to the experience of true salvation that we should examine our hearts to make sure that Jesus Christ dwells within us.


SPURGEON To be forgiven is such sweetness that honey is tasteless in comparison with it.  But yet there is one thing sweeter still, and that is to forgive. As it is more blessed to give then to receive, so to forgive rises a stage higher in experience than to be forgiven.  To be forgiven is the root, to forgive is the flower.

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Community Church of the Santa Ynez Valley
240 E. Highway 246
Buellton, CA 93427