[Tom writes, "I have never before put this in writing, but believe it to be the most powerful testimony concerning the deadliness of eternal security of which I know. This is what happened."]
My brother-in-law, Clarence, was one of the most unpleasant people I have ever known. His wife, my sister, is one of the most kind, generous, giving people I have ever known. She is submissive to a fault, prone to allow less gracious people to push her around. He was inconsiderate, self-centered and verbally abusive. I never saw any spiritual fruit, nor did I ever hear him say anything that would indicate that he was a born-again Christian. Nothing.
She had always had an awe of, and a tender heart toward, God. As the years passed, she became extremely hungry for the things of God; but he was from indifferent to hostile, depending on his mood. She wanted to have prayer at mealtimes, and for them to read the Bible and pray together; but he would have none of it. Finally one day, she said to him, "Clarence, I'm not just concerned for my own spiritual well-being, but I'm also concerned for yours." That set him off: "You're so stupid that you don't even know that once you're saved, you're always saved! I'll have you know that I joined Evergreen Baptist Church when I was a boy ... etc., etc." Intimidated, she abandoned the effort.
Not long after this, he developed cancer at the base of his tongue. I have watched a lot of people die, but I have never seen anyone die as slowly and horribly as Clarence. The sicker he got, the more open he became to the things of God. Knowing that the Lord had healed me, he even hoped for a healing; but he got progressively sicker, and was finally in the hospital, helpless.
The hospital chaplain was an Episcopal priest who didn't even carry a prayer book; his passion was investments. He visited Clarence every day, but Clarence thought he was the hospital administrator. Irritated, he said to me one day, "I wish you would tell that [blankety blank] hospital administrator with the expensive clothes to stop coming in here and bothering me!" The pastor of Evergreen Baptist Church also visited regularly, and prayed for him.
One day I went to visit Clarence in the hospital; he could no longer speak. No one else was in the room, not even my sister. I took his hand and said to him, "Clarence, maybe the Lord will heal you, and maybe He won't. If He doesn't, you are soon going to die. Are you certain that when you die, you'll be with the Lord in Heaven?" He looked at me and shook his head, "No." I asked, "Wouldn't you like to be sure?" He closed his eyes and nodded his head, "Yes." I took the Gideon Bible, which had been put up on a shelf, out of the way, and led him to the Lord. I never saw him alive again; he was dead three days later.
Here was a man obviously dying, at the very edge of eternity, attended by two clergymen, one a liberal and one an evangelical. The Episcopal chaplain didn't ask him if he was ready to die, because he didn't believe anyone is lost. That Baptist pastor knew the difference between being lost and being saved, and he saw Clarence almost every day. But he never once asked him if he was ready to die; for how could a member of a Southern Baptist church not be ready? He would have let Clarence die, lost and undone, without God, without a covenant, without hope. Eternal security would have sent Clarence off into eternal damnation, had not God graciously snatched him from the fire.