Bible Answers: Ezekiel 18 represents individual responsibility

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“I just read Ezekiel 18. Does it support the doctrine of eternal security?”—Katrina
The doctrine of “eternal security” holds that once an individual becomes a Christian (i.e., is accepted by God through Christ), that individual can never “lose” her salvation.
This doctrine has its roots in numerous texts (John 1:12; 3:5-7; Rom. 8:15-17; II Cor. 5:17ff; Eph. 1:11-14; 2:5-7; Phil. 1:6; Col. 2:10-15; I Pet. 1:3-5; passim).
As can be seen from this list, the doctrine is essentially a New Testament teaching. Christian biblical scholars sometimes point to ancient Hebrew themes (such as the Covenant, the Chosen People, Exodus and the Promised Land, et al.) that they suggest are consistent with “eternal security.”
The text at hand is fascinating. Ezekiel 18 presents one of the earliest and most clear statements regarding individual responsibility before God. Theretofore, responsibility for sin and repentance was born by the community, the tribe and clan and family. In this passage, the “word of the Lord” (18:1) clearly states that God will deal with both a father and his son as individuals for their faith and their conduct.
Concomitantly, there is grace: the wicked man who turns from his sin and lives righteously will find life (18:21-22, 27-28).
The passage does not directly address “eternal security.” Set in the wider context of judgment on Israel’s sin and God’s promises of restoration, the text declares that God finds no pleasure in the death of anyone (righteous or wicked, 18:23, 32) and issues a call to repentance (“a new heart and a new spirit”, 18:31) for all who will hear.