I believe firmly in the security of the believer. "Once saved always saved" would describe my belief that true salvation is never lost. To try to convince me otherwise would be as futile as trying to convert me to Islam or to becoming a Jehovah Witness. But that is not the issue I want to address in this post...
Yesterday, I was talking on the phone with a fellow missionary colleague in another city about a problem Baptist church in their region whose pastor does not hold to the doctrine of the 'security of the believer'. The missionary shared that he had asked the pastor what would happen if he, as a saved person, were to sin and were to die before repenting of that sin? The pastors sad answer was that he would go to hell.
As I continued to talk with my missionary colleague, he shared that his IMB church planting team has made the conscious decision to not partner or work with any other Christian group that believes or tolerates the teaching that salvation can be lost.
In other words, the eternal salvation of one's soul is, for my colleagues, one of those 1st tier, undebatable issues, where the line has to be drawn. Anyone not subscribing to this doctrine, may be a Christian, but my colleagues cannot (in good conscious) work alongside of, or partner with anyone holding to the possibility that salvation can be lost.
So the question becomes for me, is the doctrine of the security of the believer a 1st tier matter? Should this teaching be on the same level as other 1st tier Baptist beliefs such as 'salvation is on the basis of faith' in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ? Is the 'security of the believer' on the same level as there being only one way to God the Father, and that is through Jesus Christ? Is it equal to our belief in the literal, physical death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus? My missionary colleagues, whom I highly regard, esteem, and respect would answer, yes. The 'security of the believer' is a 1st tier doctrinal issue for them.
This is not a theoretical question only, but is very real issue with serious consequences to our future work. Should we draw the line in the sand on our belief in the 'security of the believer' as one of those 1st tier doctrinal issues? Or is it a 2nd or even 3rd tiered issue? Should our position on this matter determine who we may, or may not work with in the Kingdom? What insights would you be able to share to help us?