The Bible is full of promises,
exhortations, and warnings.
Promises emphasize God's work
towards us, while exhortations and
warnings are our responsibility towards
God. The following word study is
intended to stress man's obligation in
the salvation process. To limit this study
to a reasonable scope, I will be dealing
exclusively with God's exhortations and
warnings from the New Testament.
LAY HOLD ON ETERNAL LIFE
1 a: to have possession or
ownership of at one's disposal b : to
have as a privilege or position of responsibility;
2 a: to have or maintain in
the grasp b : to support or keep from
falling or moving;
3 a: to prevent from
leaving or getting away.
Vi 1 a: to maintain
position: refuse to give ground b :
to continue in the same way or to the
For the sake of brevity I will limit the discussion
to the preceding definitions.
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on
eternal life, whereunto thou art also called,
and hast professed a good profession before
1 Timothy 6:12.
What is the meaning here of "lay hold on
eternal life?" This epistle is written to believers
as the verse in question and the
surrounding context will prove. So, the
eternal life of these individuals is not a
possession that has not yet been in their
grasp, but that which must be maintained
or prevented from getting away.
Some have translated this phrase "lay
hold" as "hold tightly to" (Living Bible),
"keep your grip on" (Phillips), "take hold
of "(NIV, NEB, RSV). To "lay hold of "
or, "take hold of " leaves the reader
wondering if the eternal life is something yet to
be acquired, or worse yet, earned by fighting
the good fight (as the Jerusalem Bible and the
TEB seem to imply by translating as "win for
yourselves" and "win eternal life"). While it is
true that this possession of eternal life is yet to
be bestowed upon us in all its finality, ( 1 Jn.
2:24-25 ), we cannot take the "winning" of
eternal life as an issue of merit.
"Laying up in store for themselves a good
foundation against the time to come, that they
may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep
that which is committed to thy trust" 1 Timothy
Once again, the context is plain and clear that
believers are once again exhorted to "lay hold"
on eternal life. The meaning of this passage is
also fixed by Paul's admonition to Timothy to
"keep" that which has been committed to his
trust. The interpretation of the "keeping" that
Timothy is to ensure is a divided issue.
say that this is an exhortation for Timothy
himself to stay in the faith, and some say that
it is a charge to Timothy to ensure that his
flock is kept through the dangers of vain disputes
or trust in riches. Either way, the facts
remain the same concerning this "holding on".
His hearers, including himself, must continue
in the faith to lay hold on the promise of eternal
"But Christ as a son over his own house;
whose house are we, if we hold fast the
confidence and the rejoicing of the hope
firm unto the end" Hebrews 3:6. The meaning
of this passage is clear and unambiguous.
If we do not hold fast to the end, there
is no promise of eternal life.
"For we are made partakers of Christ, if we
hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast
unto the end" Hebrews 6:14. Holding
on through to the end is our responsibility
and not God's. Our being made partakers
with Christ is conditioned upon our continuance
in an obedient faith and trust in the
atoning sacrifice of Christ.
"Seeing then that we have a great high
priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus
the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession."
The warnings in Hebrews were written to
encourage Christians to stay faithful under
intense persecution. They were in imminent
danger of apostasy from the faith. If a believer
has nothing else to do about his salvation
once it has been given to him, why
then, does the writer of Hebrews continually
stress holding on if there is no danger?
Other Areas Of Christian Responsibility
The word "if" means "on the condition
that," "allowing that," or "in
the event that." I will allow the
reader to research this word on their
own. "If" is a small word, but if it is
removed as a condition, we no
longer have a Bible.
Gen. 4:3-7; Lev. 26:3-28; 26:40-42;
Deut. 11:26-28; 30:17; Josh. 24:20; 1
Sam. 7:3; 12:14, 15; 1 Chron.
28:6-9; 1 Kings 11:11-13; Jer. 7:5-7;
Matt. 6:14; 16:24-26, Jn. 8:31-51;
15: 6, 7, 10, Rom. 8:13, 14;
11:19-24; Col. 1:21-23; Heb. 2:1-3;
3:6,14; 6:4-8; 10: 26-31; 10:38, 39;
12: 7, 8; James. 1:22-27; 2:8, 9; 2
Pet. 1:4-10; 1 Jn. 1:9; 2:3; 2:24; 3:7,
If you do not complete the condition,
you cannot enjoy the promise.
"Abide, Continue, Endure"
More conditions! I was told that my
security and salvation were unconditional!
My friend, God cannot remain,
abide, continue, or endure for
us anymore than He can repent and
believe for us! Proof that we have a
conditional salvation will be shown
by a study of verses containing these
ABIDE defined. To remain, continue,
stay, or to be steadfast. As you read the
following passages, ask yourself if God
really does require us to remain faithful to
be able to receive eternal life!
Jn. 15:1-11; Rom. 11:23; 1 Cor. 7:24; 1 Jn.
2:6; 2:10; 2:24, 27, 28; 3:6; 3:14; 3:24, 2
CONTINUE defined. Abide, remain,
stay, or be steadfast. As you read these
passages you will see that there are no
blessings to those who do not continue.
Jn. 8:31; 15:9, Acts. 13:43; 14:22 (why
exhort them if this were not possible?),
Rom. 2:7; 6:1; Gal. 2:5; 3:10; Col. 1:23; 1
Tim. 2:15; 4:16; 2 Tim. 3:14; 1 Jn. 2:24.
ENDURE defined. Remain, continue, or
Matt. 10:22; 24:13; Jn. 6:27; 2 Tim. 2:3;
Heb. 12:7; James 5:11.
The point of this whole exercise is to show
you the myth of unconditional security.
Theological trickery may explain away
these truths, but to those who desire to gain
the prize of eternal life, no substitute for
the word of God will do.