SermonIndex Audio Sermons
Image Map
Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Perseverance of the Saints needs to be properly understood

Print Thread (PDF)

PosterThread
tjservant
Member



Joined: 2006/8/25
Posts: 1658
Indiana USA

 Perseverance of the Saints needs to be properly understood

________

**edit**


Posted for educational purposes only. Not to debate. I hope it brings clarification and understanding to the doctrine. That is all.

_________________________________________________




Perseverance of the Saints

Perseverance of the Saints first needs to be properly understood. This doctrine does not mean that all those who merely appear to have faith (i.e., said a certain prayer, walked down the church isle, joined a church, were baptized, etc.) will be kept by God and will therefore persevere to the end. There are many people who profess to be believers but then later fall away. Instead, Perseverance of the Saints means that all those who have a genuine faith in Christ will be kept by God forever and will persevere to the end. There are many professing Christians who trust in their own works, goodness, merits for their salvation. These people are trusting in their own "righteousness, instead of Jesus' blood, and do not have true faith in Jesus Christ. Therefore, later on they may get discouraged and decide to leave the faith and no longer be a Christian. This does not prove that they were saved and then lost their salvation, but simply that they deserted the Christian religion because they had only a said faith rather than a genuine one. The Apostle John clearly described such people in 1 John 2:19. Speaking of some who had renounced the Christian religion and had become anti-Christ, he said, "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us." It is clear from this passage that those who profess faith in Christ and appear to be true believers, and yet later fall away, were never really a part of God's people in the first place.

Another important point that must be made is that the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints in no way permits believers to live a lazy and rebellious Christian life. Some opponents to this doctrine say that it teaches a license to sin with an open door to heaven. This is grossly untrue, and a complete distortion of what Perseverance of the Saints actually teaches. Jesus said in John 14:15, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." Since the Christian is born again by the Holy Spirit, he loves Jesus and so naturally desires to keep His commandments. The change of heart that the Holy Spirit makes in regeneration, as well as the indwelling presence of the Spirit in the believer, ensures that the believer will continue to love Christ. Of course, the amount of love for Christ varies with the individual. A more mature Christian no doubt has a deeper love for Christ than a "baby Christian." Nevertheless, all of God's children have a love for their Savior. Thus, true believers strive each and every day to please Him. They strive each and every day to keep His commandments. This is not done in order to obtain salvation, or even to maintain salvation, because that would turn salvation by grace into salvation by works. Rather, Christians keep His commandments out of love and gratitude for the One who shed His precious blood for their redemption. Therefore, those who believe in Perseverance of the Saints do not say that Christians can live like any way they want and still expect to get into heaven. They say, "Do you really love Christ? Then keep His commandments!" Even though believers have a great love for the Lord, and strive to obey and please Him, human imperfection, the sinful flesh, causes a fall into sin from time to time. No one on earth is sinless. But God will keep His saints. He will see to it that all those He elected, died for, and regenerated will be glorified.

Here are several Scriptural passages that teach the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints. Jesus said in John 6:39-40, "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day." Here we are told that the Father's will for the Son is that the Son lose none of those that were chosen and given to Him. So in order for an elect person to be lost, the Son would either have to disobey the Father's will, or be impotent in His power to prevent the loss of those given to Him by the Father! It would be a sin for the Son to disobey the Father's will; and if Jesus lacks the power to keep those whom the Father had given to Him, then perhaps He is also unable to make good the many other promises He made to believers. So the only way a believer could be lost is for the Son of God to sin or be powerless to keep them. Needless to say, that will never happen. In John 10:27-29 Jesus says about the elect sheep in verse 27, "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me;". Notice that it is the nature of sheep to follow the Divine Shepherd. If anyone fails to follow the Shepherd, that person was never really a sheep. In the verses 28-29 He continues, "And I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand." It is sometimes argued that although nothing can take a believer out of the Father's hand, a person might take himself out of the Father's hand. However, the verse does not say that the believer is holding tightly to the Father's hand. It says that the Father is holding tightly to the believer. To illustrate, whenever an earthy father is holding his child's hand while crossing a busy highway, he holds tightly onto the child's hand. Even if the child releases his grip the father does not release his. He does not leave the safety of the child up to the child. He does not merely hold out a stick and tell the child to hold on to the other end of it and just leave it up to the child's decision as to whether to let go and wander into traffic or not. In the same way, God is a good Father, and He holds us tightly in His hand. We will never be able to get loose from His grip and perish because He promises that we "will never perish". How could He make that promise if it were possible for us to get loose from His grip and perish? It is not possible. In John 17:24 Jesus said, "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." It is Christ's desire for the ones whom God has given Him to be with Him and behold His glory. Christ is the sovereign God. He will get what He desires. Romans 8:35-39 says:

"Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, 'FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.' But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Sometimes it is argued that Satan may be successful in separating the believer from God and His love. However, Satan is a created thing, and the promise is that no created thing will be successful in separating us. If Satan could separate a believer from God and cause him to be unsaved, then that would make Satan more powerful than God!

It is also argued from time to time that even though the believer is safe from adversaries outside of himself, he is not safe from destroying himself. However, it needs to be remembered that even the believer himself is a created thing, and the promise is that no created thing will ever separate us from God. Philippians 1:6 says, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." God is not a God who fails to complete the tasks He begins. He is never defeated in anything He sets out to do. If He has really begun a good work in an individual, He will be successful in completing it. We can be confident of that. 1 Corinthians 1:8 says, "[Jesus Christ] will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 says, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." Here the Apostle Paul assures believers that God will preserve them in a blameless (justified) state. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 says, "But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one."

Since it is God's will that the Son lose none of those that were given to Him, the believer can be sure that He will successfully guard him from the attempts of Satan to destroy him and separate him from God. 2 Timothy 1:12 says, "For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day."

Sometimes people say that God would definitely like to make our ultimate salvation a certainty but that He is not able to because that would interfere with our so-called free will. But the Bible teaches that He is able. Jude 24-25 reaffirms this when it says, "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." This passage does not teach that God is able to keep us from stumbling and stand blameless before Him if we continue to do our part, for then, salvation would be dependent on our own ability, our own efforts. No, it is God who keeps the believer from stumbling; it is God who makes him to stand before Him justified.

There are several doctrines which prove Perseverance of the Saints. One of them is Predestination. The Bible teaches that God predestines certain people to be saved. Ephesians 1:5 says that "He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will " To be adopted as a son is to be saved. God also predestines us to be conformed to the image of Christ. Now, everyone whom God predestines to be saved and conformed to Christ's image will eventually be glorified in heaven. Romans 8:30 says that "these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." Here we see that predestination is an unbroken golden chain. Paul says that the ones who get predestined are the ones who get called. The ones who get called are the ones who get justified. The ones who get justified are the ones who get glorified. If you get the first part of salvation you get it all. It is an unbreakable chain. All those who get the first part of salvation get the last. All those whom God predestined to be saved will be glorified in the end. And how could it be otherwise? How could the Sovereign God predestine a thing to occur and it not occur? It is impossible!

Another doctrine that proves Perseverance of the Saints is Salvation by Grace. In Ephesians 2:8-9 Paul said, "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." Notice here that salvation is "the gift of God not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." Some people believe that a believer can lose his salvation. They believe that that the only reason some people are able to keep their salvation and others fail to do so is because some are simply able to endure. Perhaps one person has more strength than another, or maybe he does not lose his determination, or perhaps he has some innate ability to remain in Christ that others do not have. One of the problems with this, however, is that this leaves room for boasting. Let's say Christ did die for both men, and the Spirit did regenerate both of them, but one went to heaven while the other did not. Why? Because he had the strength to endure. So when he gets to heaven, he will have a lot to boast about. He could boast about his ability to persevere, or for even being sensible enough to make the right choice in accepting Christ as his Savior.

According to Paul's understanding, however, there is no room for boasting at all. God chose us before the foundation of the world, not because of anything we did. Jesus Christ died on the cross, and His blood covered all our sins. Then the Spirit brought us out of our spiritual death and into life; and God is holding us in His hand and guarding us from the evil one. He is keeping us forever. Salvation is totally of God and His grace. Therefore, we have nothing to boast about, and we will give God all the praise and glory. The Biblical view gives God all the glory for his salvation. Those who hold to the opposing view is logically compelled to accept a part of the glory for himself. Surely any understanding of salvation which leaves room for man to boast and divides the glory for salvation between God and the sinner cannot be the biblical understanding of salvation.

Another thing which proves that the believer is eternally secure, is the fact that scripture says that our life is eternal. Consider John 3:16: "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." If there is any possibility that some who believe in Him will at some future time lose their salvation, then how could Christ have made this promise? He said they will have eternal life. If someone is promised eternal life but loses it after twenty years, did he have eternal life? No. That person only had 20-year life. Christ promises that all believers will have eternal life. For the Son of God to make such a promise, He must know that it will come to pass. If the Son of God makes a promise like that, He will do everything to make sure it occurs, including putting us in the Father's hand. And the Father is greater than all, so no one can snatch us out of His hand.

Another thing which proves the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints, is that when Christ died on the cross, He purchased the church. Acts 20:28 says, "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Jesus purchased those people for whom He died. The church is Jesus Christ's possession. We are His. How then can we ever belong to another? How then can we ever lose our salvation and not belong to Christ anymore? Who would ever succeed in taking something away from the Creator of heaven and earth unless that person was greater than God? No, believers are securely in God's hand, and we know that God does not plan for any believer to be lost.

Unfortunately, many quote Hebrews 6:4-6 and say that this passage disproves the doctrine of the believer's eternal security. The passage says:

"For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame."

In order to have a proper understanding of the teaching of Hebrews 6:4-6, it is necessary to study the context. In Hebrews 5:10, the Lord Jesus is referred to as "a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek." Continuing on in verses 11-14 it says, "Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil."

Then comes the exhortation of the opening verse of the sixth chapter, in which the writer calls upon his Hebrew brethren, who have not yet received Christ although they have come to a knowledge of Him, to declare themselves openly for Christ. The Old Testament was their elementary school, their kindergarten, the place of first things or principles. The time had now come for them to graduate. The law was their schoolmaster to lead them to Christ that they might be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24). He writes now to them saying, "Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity [the same Greek word as is in the proceeding verse is translated "full age"], not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment." (Hebrews 6:1-2) All these are Old Testament doctrines. The apostle is exhorting the Hebrews to move forward to Christ, to whom all these doctrines pointed. "And this we will do, if God permits. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened [as the Hebrews had been] and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of [literally, companions, those who go along with] the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God [this had come to them through the ages by the prophets] and the powers of the age to come [these were the miracles they had witnessed], and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame." (Hebrews 6:3-6)

The Hebrew recipients of this letter were probably convicted of the truth of the gospel message without actually fully accepting it. So in that case they would not be genuine believers. The writer of Hebrew's warning in this passage is similar to that of Hebrews 4:11. Hypocrites among the recipients of the gospel have heard the truth repeatedly without an appropriate response. If they proceeded in their plans to return to Judaism, it would be "impossible" for them to genuinely repent since their hearts would have become hardened. There is nothing in this passage which speaks of a born-again person losing his salvation. This passage teaches there is no salvation for anyone unless they are found under the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. If this passage was teaching that a true believer could loose his salvation, then it also would be teaching that once someone has been saved, then lost, he cannot be re-saved. This would counter the idea some Christians hold that one could fall away, and repent later and return to Christ to be saved. Those who "fall away" are like the people the apostle John spoke about in 1 John 2:19:

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."

One can come to the presence of God in apparent repentance without ever having a genuine fellowship with Him. (Luke 8:13, 13:27) Even Pharaoh repented for a season. But his returning to rebellion against God showed that his repentance was not genuine. (Exodus 9:27, 10:16-17) But of those who truly come to Christ in faith and are born again, the Apostle Peter says:

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." (1 Peter 1:3-5)

"After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you." (1 Peter 5:10)

We truly are saved by grace through faith, and that not of ourselves, for it is the gift of God, lest anyone should boast. We have no reason to boast about anything. Not even for making a decision for Christ. We serve a gracious and merciful God who chose us before the foundation of the world; who shed His precious blood which covered our sins; who changed our hearts so that we would willingly serve Him for all of eternity; who gave us the faith we need; and who holds us in His hand now and forever. To Him be all glory and praise forever and ever!

Perseverance of the Saints states that all who are chosen by God, redeemed by Christ, and given faith by the Spirit are eternally saved. They are kept in faith by the power of Almighty God and thus persevere to the end.

Scriptural Support:
1 Samuel 2:9; Nehemiah 9:16-19; Psalm 31:23, 32:7,23,28-33, 38, 84:5-7, 89:30-33, 94:14, 97:10, 121:7, 125:1; Proverbs 2:8; Isaiah 40:30, 54:4-10; Jeremiah 32:38-42; Matthew 18:6, 12-14, 24:22-24; Luke 1:74, 22:32; John 3:36, 4:13, 5:24, 6:37-40, 51, 8:31, 10:4, 8, 27-29, 17:11, 15; Romans 6:1-4, 7:24-8:4, 28-39, 11:29, 14:14; 1 Corinthians 1:4-9, 3:15, 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5; Ephesians 1:11-14, 4:30; Philippians 1:6; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 3:3-5; 2 Timothy 1:12, 4:18; Hebrews 3:14, 7:25, 10:14, 36-39, 13:5; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 2 Peter 3:8; 1 John 2:19, 3:9, 5:4, 13, 18; Jude 1, 24.

[url=http://www.gospeloutreach.net/perseverance_of_the_saints.html]Source[/url]


_________________
TJ

 2009/10/19 8:45Profile
Leo_Grace
Member



Joined: 2009/6/14
Posts: 703


 Re: Perseverance of the Saints needs to be properly understood

Quote:
Nevertheless, all of God's children have a love for their Savior. Thus, true believers strive each and every day to please Him. They strive each and every day to keep His commandments. This is not done in order to obtain salvation, or even to maintain salvation, because that would turn salvation by grace into salvation by works. Rather, Christians keep His commandments out of love and gratitude for the One who shed His precious blood for their redemption. Therefore, those who believe in Perseverance of the Saints do not say that Christians can live like any way they want and still expect to get into heaven. They say, "Do you really love Christ? Then keep His commandments!" Even though believers have a great love for the Lord, and strive to obey and please Him, human imperfection, the sinful flesh, causes a fall into sin from time to time. No one on earth is sinless. But God will keep His saints. He will see to it that all those He elected, died for, and regenerated will be glorified.



Love for God is the heart of regeneration and the power of the Spirit that enables us to persevere. Amen to this wonderful post. Thank you for it, TJ.

 2009/10/19 10:10Profile









 Re:

I second Leo's amen. Very good read. Thank you.

 2009/10/19 10:12
elharris
Member



Joined: 2009/8/10
Posts: 59


 Re: Perseverance of the Saints needs to be properly understood

Hi,

I really would love to read this, but my eyesight is not condusive to things written in a running fashion with few paragraphs.

I start to read posts like this and give up on about the third sentence.

Please if you would, when you do a post, make many smaller paragraphs with double spacing between and they will be so much easier to read.

I can tell that you really have some good things to say. So again please considder us half blind people.

God Bless.

Regards,
El Harris

 2009/10/21 0:35Profile
tjservant
Member



Joined: 2006/8/25
Posts: 1658
Indiana USA

 Re:

Quote:

elharris wrote:
Hi,

I really would love to read this, but my eyesight is not condusive to things written in a running fashion with few paragraphs.

I start to read posts like this and give up on about the third sentence.

Please if you would, when you do a post, make many smaller paragraphs with double spacing between and they will be so much easier to read.

I can tell that you really have some good things to say. So again please considder us half blind people.

God Bless.

Regards,
El Harris



I agree, but this is not my work.

You might try to copy and paste it into another program and enlarge the font.

Hope something works out for you.


_________________
TJ

 2009/10/21 8:31Profile
Logic
Member



Joined: 2005/7/17
Posts: 1791


 Re:

This thread should be locked because all other Calv/Arm threads get locked.

This should get locked because when the opposing side reads this stuff, they will want to refute this stuff, and this forum seems to be finished in this debate.

Furhtermore, it it too long of a post to refute point by point.

 2009/10/21 11:40Profile









 Re:

"Furhtermore, it it too long of a post to refute point by point." logic

This is no longer than other threads that have been started. You can make the Calv/Arm argument but to say it should be closed because the length is too inconvenient is a little petty.

Besides this looks like something that came from the heart of the source and not a lazy cut and paste item....

 2009/10/21 12:00
Logic
Member



Joined: 2005/7/17
Posts: 1791


 Re:

Quote:
ccrider wrote:
Quote:
Furhtermore, it it too long of a post to refute point by point.


This is no longer than other threads that have been started.
You can make the Calv/Arm argument but to say it should be closed because the length is too inconvenient is a little petty.

It's not that it is too long, but I saw that other threads concerning Calv/Arm topics were locked.



Besides this looks like something that came from the heart of the source and not a lazy cut and paste item....
It was cut & Past.

 2009/10/21 18:30Profile









 Re:

I thought this was interesting:

Perseverance of the saints

Calvinists teach that if a person enters a state of grace he never will leave it but will persevere to the end of life. This doctrine is normally called the perseverance of the saints. [Many Calvinists prefer the phrase "preservation of the saints" since it puts emphasis on God's preservation of the saints rather than on the saints' efforts in persevering (which is thought to smack of "works-salvation"). This often results in a "holier-than-thou" attitude ("Look how holy I am; I place the emphasis on God's action, not man's"). But Scripture normally uses a human point of view. It calls men to repent, have faith, convert, and persevere. When one insists on preservation-language over perseverance-language, one is actually taking a holier-than-thou attitude, because the one who wrote Scripture used perseverance-language more than preservation-language. In effect one is playing spiritual one-upmanship with Scripture and the one who wrote Scripture]. All those who are at any time saints (in a state of sanctifying grace, to use Catholic terminology) will remain so forever. No matter what trials they face, they will always persevere, so their salvation is eternally secure. [This differs from the "once saved, always saved" teaching common in Baptist circles. According to that theory, a person never can lose his salvation, no matter what he does. Even if he leaves the faith and renounces Christ he will be saved. Perseverance of the saints states that, while a person will lose his salvation if he fails to persevere in faith and holiness, all who do come to God will persevere. If a person does not persevere, it shows he did not come to God in the first place. Passages such as 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Galatians 5:19-21, which say a person will not inherit the kingdom if he commits certain sins, are understood to mean that, if one habitually commits these sins, he was never a true Christian, no matter how sincere he appeared. Both "once saved, always saved" and perseverance of the saints teach "eternal security," but they are not the same. Calvinism admits there are mortal sins, such as failure to persevere, but says that no one who is saved commits these sins. "Once saved, always saved" says no sins would be mortal for a Christian, even in principle].

Analogies are used to support this teaching. Calvinists point out that when we become Christians we become God's children. They infer that, just as a child's position in the family is secure, our position in God's family is secure. A father would not kick his son out, so God will not kick us out.

This reasoning is faulty. The analogy does not prove what it is supposed to. Children do not have "eternal security" in their families. First, they can be disowned. Second, even if a father would not kick anyone out, a child can leave the house on his own, disown his parents, and sever all ties with the family. Third, children can die; we, as God's children, can die spiritual deaths after we have been spiritually "born again." [Elements of these responses are brought together in Luke 15, where the prodigal son begins as a son, then leaves the family and is spoken of by the father as "dead," only to return to the family and be spoken of as being "alive again" (Luke 15:24, 32). Christ teaches we can be sons, die spiritually by severing our ties to the family, then come back and be alive again--spiritually resurrected].

Calvinists also use Bible passages to teach perseverance of the saints. The chief ones are John 6:37-39, 10:27-29, and Romans 8:35-39. The Calvinist interpretation of these passages takes them out of context, [John 6:37-38 and 10:27-29 are taken out of context with John 15:1-6, which states Christians are branches in the vine which is Christ (v. 5), that God removes every branch from Christ which does not bear fruit (v. 2), and that the destiny of these branches is to be burned (v. 6). Romans 8:35-39 is taken out of context with Romans 11:20-24, where Paul compares spiritual Israel to an olive tree and states that since certain branches of spiritual Israel were broken off because of unbelief in Christ (v. 20), Christians will not be spared if they fall into unbelief (v. 21), but will be cut off (v. 22). The branches which had been broken off may be grafted in again (vv. 23-24). Romans 8:35-39 is also taken out of context with Romans 8:12f, 17, and 14:15, 20.], and there are numerous other exegetical problems with their interpretation [For further discussion see Robert Shank, Life in the Son (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1989) and Dale Moody, The Word of Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 348ff. Both authors are Baptists who believe in conditional security, not eternal security].

Calvinists assume perseverance of the saints is entailed by the idea of predestination. If one is predestined to be saved, does it not follow he must persevere to the end? This involves a confusion about what people are predestined to: Is it predestination to initial salvation or to final salvation? The two are not the same. A person might be predestined to one, but this does not mean he is predestined necessarily to the other. [For example, if a person was predestined to enter my living room, it would not mean he was predestined to remain forever in my living room]. One must define which kind of predestination is being discussed.

If one is talking about predestination to initial salvation, then the fact that a person will come to God does not of itself mean he will stay with God. If one is talking about predestination to final salvation, then a predestined person will stay with God, but this does not mean the predestined are the only ones who experience initial salvation. Some might genuinely come to God (because they were predestined to initial salvation) and then genuinely leave (because they were not predestined to final salvation). [Catholic theology has defined "predestined" to mean "predestined to final salvation." Thus those who will end up with God in heaven are spoken of as "the predestined" or "the elect." That a person experiences salvation at some point does not mean he is among the predestined (those God has chosen to persevere to the end)]. Either way, predestination to initial salvation does not entail predestination to final salvation. [Once the philosophical issue is cleared up, we can evaluate the teaching of Scripture objectively. When we do so, it is clear there are numerous indications in the Bible that a person can lose salvation. We already have mentioned John 15:1-6, Romans 8:12f, 17, 11:20-24, and 14:15, 20. There are many more. Robert Shank gives a list of eighty-five passages he believes will, if carefully interpreted in context, show that loss of salvation is possible; see Shank, 333-337]. There is no reason why a person cannot be predestined to "believe for a while" but "in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13). [I recognized this fact even when I was an ardent Protestant].

A Catholic must affirm that there are people who experience initial salvation and who do not go on to final salvation, but he is free to hold to a form of perseverance of the saints. The question is how one defines the term "saints"--in the Calvinist way, as all those who ever enter a state of sanctifying grace, or in a more Catholic way, as those who will go on to have their sanctification (their "saintification") completed. ["Sanctification" and "saintification" are the same word in Greek. When one has been completely sanctified (made holy), one has become a saint in the fullest sense of the word. Since this happens only in heaven, it corresponds to the common Catholic usage of the term "saint."]. If one defines "saint" in the latter sense, a Catholic may believe in perseverance of the saints, since a person predestined to final salvation must by definition persevere to the end. Catholics even have a special name for the grace God gives these people: "the gift of final perseverance."

The Church formally teaches that there is a gift of final perseverance. [Trent's Decree on Justification, canon 16, speaks of "that great and special gift of final perseverance," and chapter 13 of the decree speaks of "the gift of perseverance of which it is written: 'He who perseveres to the end shall be saved [Matt. 10:22, 24:13],' which cannot be obtained from anyone except from him who is able to make him who stands to stand [Rom. 14:4]."]. Aquinas (and even Molina) said this grace always ensures that a person will persevere. [Aquinas said it always saves a person because of the kind of grace it is; Molina said it always saves a person because God only gives it to those whom he knows will respond to it. But the effect is the same: The gift of final perseverance always works]. Aquinas said, "Predestination [to final salvation] most certainly and infallibly takes effect." [ST I:23:6.]. But not all who come to God receive this grace.

Aquinas said the gift of final perseverance is "the abiding in good to the end of life. In order to have this perseverance man . . . needs the divine assistance guiding and guarding him against the attacks of the passions . . . [A]fter anyone has been justified by grace, he still needs to beseech God for the aforesaid gift of perseverance, that he may be kept from evil till the end of life. For to many grace is given to whom perseverance in grace is not given." [ST I:II:109:10].

The idea that a person can be predestined to come to God yet not be predestined to stay the course may be new to Calvinists and may sound strange to them, but it did not sound strange to Augustine, Aquinas, or even Luther. Calvinists frequently cite these men as "Calvinists before Calvin." While they did hold high views of predestination, they did not draw Calvin's inference that all who are ever saved are predestined to remain in grace. [The fact Calvinists are not aware of this shows a lack of scholarship. Presbyterian theologian R. C. Sproul attempts to redefine Calvinism as the "Augustinian" view. While Calvin's view of predestination might be a variation of Augustine's view, the two are not the same. Augustine did not believe in Calvin's understanding of the "perseverance of the saints," and neither did the broadly Augustinian tradition. That understanding was new with Calvin. For an accurate historical discussion of perseverance of the saints, see J. J. Davis's article "Perseverance of the Saints: A History of the Doctrine," in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 34/2 (June 1991), 213-228. Davis is himself a Calvinist, and it is fitting a Calvinist help correct the errors of other Calvinists on the history of their doctrine]. Instead, their faith was informed by the biblical teaching that some who enter the sphere of grace go on to leave it.

If one defines "saint" as one who will have his "saintification" completed, a Catholic can say he believes in a "perseverance of the saints" (all and only the people predestined to be saints will persevere). But because of the historic associations of the phrase it is advisable to make some change in it to avoid confusing the Thomist and Calvinist understandings of perseverance. Since in Catholic theology those who will persevere are called "the predestined" or "the elect," one might replace "perseverance of the saints" with "perseverance of the predestined" or, better, with "perseverance of the elect."

In view of this, we might propose a Thomist version of TULIP

T = total inability (to please God without special grace);
U = unconditional election;
L = limited intent (for the atonement's efficacy);
I = intrinsically efficacious grace (for salvation);
P = perseverance of the elect (until the end of life).

There are other ways to construct a Thomist version of TULIP of course, but the fact there is even one way demonstrates that a Calvinist would not have to repudiate his understanding of predestination and grace to become Catholic. He simply would have to do greater justice to the teaching of Scripture and would have to refine his understanding of perseverance. [This has important implications for Calvinists who are thinking about entering the Church, and it has implications for Catholics who want to know what the Church requires them to believe and how they might defend the Church against anti-Catholic Calvinists. For an example of how Thomism can be used to refute Calvinist attacks on the Mass, purgatory, and indulgences, see my article "Fatally Flawed Thinking" (This Rock, July 1993). The article critiques The Fatal Flaw, a book by James White, a Calvinist and a professional anti-Catholic. For further reading on Catholic teaching in this area, see Predestination by Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange (St. Louis: Herder, 1939). Pope John Paul II studied and wrote his dissertation under Garrigou-Lagrange].

by James Akin

 2009/10/21 20:46
jimp
Member



Joined: 2005/6/18
Posts: 1481


 Re:

hi, why is it that people with so little to say write the most.Jesus is the savior...He said it is finished and faith in this propriating act of His taking the wrath of God on Himself isth only way one can be saved...sanctified... glorified.any other way a man could boast of his ability to persevere.jimp

 2009/10/22 0:22Profile





©2002-2020 SermonIndex.net
Promoting Genuine Biblical Revival.
Privacy Policy