It used to be that a virus was something for which you went to the doctor and a worm was what you used for fishing. Hackers were the golfers who seemed to connect more with the turf than the golf ball. The computer age has brought new meanings to these words. Now it is also my computer that gets sick with a "virus" and worms are just one form of "malware" designed by "hackers" to impede or even take over my computer.

In the past, it seemed adequate to simply be careful about opening attachments (often the "carrier" of viruses) to emails. Vir- uses are more numerous and hackers have become proficient in attacking computers via means other than attachments and so we find ourselves investing in firewalls and anti-virus programs, patching software holes and changing passwords frequently.

While all of this "computer security" business may seem like a lot of trouble, the first time that some virus begins erasing crucial information on your computer's hard drive, security seems like a good thing. I certainly want to be able to turn on my computer and connect to the Internet without worrying about some "worm" replicating itself through my email program and infecting the computers of all my friends (an excellent way to pare down your list of friends!).

It would be great if my computer could be secure from all dangers without any effort expended. The truth is that I have to take steps to maintain that security.

The Christian needs to know that his salvation is secure. Some would teach that the person who is truly chosen by God for salvation is secure. Some would teach that the person who is truly chosen by God for salvation can never be lost. The book of Hebrews, with its many warnings about apostasy addressed to Christians, would lay to rest this false doctrine (see 2:1-4; 3:7-4:13; 5:11-6: 20; 10:19-39; 12:18-29).

Nevertheless, the fact that a Christian can fall from grace (Gal. 5:1-5) suggests the need for him to know how he can remain "secure." Jesus informed us that no one can snatch His sheep from the hand of His Father (Jno. 10:28,29). Of course, it is crucial to note that His sheep are the ones who hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him (Jno. 10:26,27)! As long as they continue to listen to the Shepherd and follow Him, not even Satan himself can snatch them away.

Peter also observed that Christians are kept by the power of God through faith (1 Pet. 1:3-5). Can the Christian be secure, confident in his salvation? As long as he lives by faith (the condition for security), he can know that his salvation is not in jeopardy. I am told that it is extremely difficult to fully guarantee the security of a computer connected to the Internet. Fortunately, God has given the Christian the foolproof plan for eternal security. As already noted, it is conditioned upon the willingness of the Christian to hear the Shepherd's voice, but Satan will never find a way to "hack" through God's firewall.

By Allen Dvorak in News & Notes of April 25, 2004.

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