Archive for the ‘Perseverance’ Category
King David sinned against God. He committed adultery and murder (2 Samuel 11). 2 Samuel 11:27 ends with the saddest words perhaps in all of Scripture: “But the thing that David had done was evil in the sight of the LORD” (NASB).
Arminius wrote about David’s sin rather briefly but his words are interesting. He wrote,
The example of David proves nothing. For, even if it be granted that David after commission of adultery and murder had not lost the Holy Spirit, it does not thence follow that He cannot be lost. For a man may sin still more grievously, and on this account lose the Holy Spirit. But what if I shall say that David did lose the Holy Spirit, after he had committed adultery and murder? You will reply that it appears from Psalm li. that the matter stands otherwise. I respond that that Psalm was sung by David after that, having been admonished by Nathan, he had repented of those crimes; but that God, at that time, upon the preaching of Nathan, restored the Holy Spirit to David.
In another place Arminius wrote,
If David had died in the very moment in which he had sinned against Uriah by adultery and murder, he would have been condemned to death eternal.
Many Calvinist have taken exception with these statements saying that his theology here is poor and reflects his belief that a person can “lose their salvation” through sinning. They point to passages that seem to teach our unconditional security in places such as John 10:27-29 or Romans 8:38-39 and they praise God for His security in spite of their sins.
One Calvinist I have had some exchanges with on Twitter posted remarks about how Arminius was works-righteousness in his beliefs since he rejected eternal security (or “once saved, always saved”). In fact, I would argue that this Calvinist guy holds that if you reject eternal security, you are probably not saved. I wrote him and asked him, “If you went out and committed adultery and murder, where would you spend eternity?” He responded back, “HEAVEN (his emphasis) because my sins are forgiven.” He then responded, “but if I did go out and commit those acts, it would prove I did not believe.” So I wrote back, “So if you commit those sins, you were never saved to begin with?” How can he have it both ways? He says that he can commit adultery and murder and still go to heaven but if he did those sins, he was not saved to begin with?
Do you see where his road is leading? On the one hand he is arguing for an antinomian view that says that nothing we do affects us. We are under no obligation to be holy. We are under no obligation to obey God or submit totally to Him. We can do anything we like, live anyway we want but still be saved. Yet on the other hand, if we do go out and live like “hell” then we prove we were never saved to begin with. So which is it? Are we saved from sin or in our sins? Are we delivered from the penalty of sin but not the power of sin? Is there any sin that is more powerful than God that He cannot help us overcome?
I don’t doubt that we all struggle with the flesh. I recognize that we live in a fallen world full of the flesh and full of the devil. I don’t doubt that we all face temptations (James 3:2). 1 Corinthians 10:13 teaches us two important points: we all are tempted yet we all have the power of God to overcome. Take the “hot” sin of our times: homosexuality. Is homosexuality natural? The obvious answer for the Christian is no. So is sin natural? Why then do we sin if sin is not natural? The answer is because we want to sin. We love sin. Our flesh desires to sin (Galatians 5:16-17). I don’t buy into my own excuses for sinning nor yours. I sin because I enjoy sinning. Yet the Bible calls me to holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16). The Bible calls me to forsake my sins and walk in repentance (Acts 26:20). The Bible calls me to be like Jesus (1 Peter 2:21-24). The Bible calls me to confess my sins to God (1 John 1:9). The Bible calls me to not sin (1 John 2:1-2). The Bible calls us to examine ourselves to make sure we are in the faith or not (2 Corinthians 12:21-13:5).
The security of the believer is simply this: we are saved IN Christ Jesus. Why would you want to be away from Him? What sin is greater than the love of Christ? What does the world offer you that is greater than the joy of knowing your sins are forgiven in Christ? You see the issue is not about “losing your salvation” but loving Jesus supremely! The issue is not about what sins can I commit and still be saved but instead the issue is whether you love Christ more than your own sins. We have framed the questions wrong. We have made the debate over “eternal security” all about us and not about Christ. Christ is our salvation. I have eternal life because of Christ and not because of me (John 5:24-25). Christ is our all in all. He is worth more than anything this world can offer or the flesh can desire. In His presence we will be free from sin as we live in eternity with Him, free from the lies of Satan, the temptations of the flesh, and without the bondage of time (Hebrews 12:18-24). I pray that our focus would not be upon us or upon sin but upon the Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:1-11).
I recently had a discussion with a Calvinist blogger and he stated that belief in personal apostasy is akin to heresy. I asked this man if he believed John Wesley was saved. He said he didn’t know enough about Wesley to make this judgment but I could tell from his reply that he does not believe Wesley was saved because John Wesley held to personal apostasy.
There are three major views when it comes to the issue of the security of the believer. The first is the radical, hard view of what I call “extreme eternal security” views such as those held by some Dispensationalists such as Charles Stanley, Charles Ryrie, Tony Evans, and even Chuck Swindoll who embrace the idea that a person needs only believe for a moment and they are sealed unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). Stanley, for example, wrote an entire book on the subject called, Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure?, in which he argued that a person is saved no matter what they do so long as they once believed. This is sometimes called, “Once Saved, Always Saved.” Most Calvinists I know reject such a view. John MacArthur, for example, teaches that if a person claims Christ but lives in constant rebellion and sin, they were never saved to begin with. He would cite 1 John 2:19 as proof.
The second view is the Calvinist teaching called “perseverance of the saints.” Some Calvinists use the terms “perseverance of the saints” and “eternal security” in sync. The idea of this teaching is that true believers will persevere for God upholds them (John 10:27-30). While believers may sin, they will be convicted and repent under the discipline of the Lord (Hebrews 12:5-11). No true believer will continue in a life of sin (1 John 3:6-10). True repentance will manifest itself in holy living (Matthew 3:8). I have much more in common with this view than the radical “once saved, always saved” view from above. Godly men such as Dr. MacArthur preach holiness and preach against sinning. I appreciate that emphasis.
The third view is the belief in personal apostasy. While Arminius was not clear on this issue, Arminianism has historically held to this view. This view takes the bulk of Scripture and sees both the promises of God to keep us (1 Corinthians 1:8-9) and the warnings from God to remain faithful to Him as Lord (Luke 6:46-49; John 15:1-11; Romans 6; 8:12-14; 11:30-32; 1 Corinthians 9:24-10:21; 15:1-2; Galatians 5:1-4; 6:7-9; Ephesians 3:17; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:21-23; 3:1-4; etc.) and sees that God is faithful to convict us and He is faithful to discipline us but He calls us to have faith in Him and follow Him. Even my Calvinist brethren admit that God does not make us believe but rather they teach that He gives a special inward call to the elect that makes them want to follow Him. Either way, we both acknowledge that perseverance is necessary. The difference being that Calvinists would say that those who commit apostasy were never regenerated and Arminians would disagree. Both, I pray, would agree that such people need to repent whether they were never saved to begin with or not.
My biggest issue would be the large amount of “warning passages.” You have to do something with those texts. Are they not real? Are they given only for unbelievers? I once did a post on this blog about 85 passages just in the New Testament that are “warning passages.” We must do something with those. The tendency is to take passages that teach security such as Romans 8:38-39 and apply that to all the warning passages but that does not solve the problem. I would agree that the Bible is clear that we are secure, and here is the big issue for me, IN CHRIST. We are justified before God IN CHRIST (Romans 5:1). We have the assurance of our salvation IN CHRIST (Romans 8:12-17; Philippians 1:6). We are saved by grace through faith IN CHRIST (Ephesians 2:8-9) and are secure in Him by grace through faith (Romans 11:6). There are some who seem to teach justification by faith but then teach the assurance or even our security in Christ by works of obedience (Matthew 7:21-27). I would agree that obedience flows naturally from a redeemed saint of God (Ephesians 2:10) but I would deny that works keep us saved. Christ is our salvation and hope and He keeps us (1 Peter 1:5).
Let me get back to the point of this post. If a person holds to personal apostasy does that mean that they hold to works-salvation or works-righteousness? For instance, I believe we are saved by grace alone through faith alone. I believe works flow from our salvation and that is the point of James 2:14-26. I believe, with Paul the Apostle in Galatians 3:6, that Abraham was declared righteous because of his faith in God (Genesis 15:6). This reckoning took place systematically before Genesis 17:9-14 and the call to circumcision. It was Abraham’s faith that made him righteous and not his works. The same is true for the disciple of Christ. We are declared righteous before God because of our faith in Jesus Christ His Son (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:8). I am justified before God through faith in Christ (Romans 5:1). This justification is not based on my actions but upon Christ.
Now if I fully cast myself upon Christ as my Savior and believe that His blood alone cleanses me from sin (1 John 1:7), am I saved? If I hold that Christ takes away the just wrath of God against my sins (Romans 3:21-27; 1 John 4:10) and He brings peace through His sacrifice upon the cross (Romans 5:8-9), am I saved? If I hold that Christ is our salvation from beginning to end (1 Corinthians 1:30-31), that Christ alone is my mediator before God (Hebrews 7:25), am I saved? If I look to Christ alone to forgive me, to wash me, to uphold me, to pray for me, to stand with me, to be my righteousness (John 3:14-15), am I saved? If I make Christ the One that we should adore, follow, worship, pray to, preach, and continue to obey as Lord (Acts 14:22), am I still saved?
So where is the issue? I have been an Arminian disciple of Christ for over 20 years. I have heard one sermon in over 20 years on apostasy. And that brother today would laugh if I brought up his sermon because it was too hard and without grace. I have never heard one Arminian say about a person who walked away from the faith that “they lost their salvation.” I will admit that I did hear a Pentecostal Holiness minister once say during a testimony service, “As an Arminian I believe you could fall away from Jesus but praise God that this year I didn’t.” It did make me laugh inside. My point is that the language of apostasy often accused toward those who believe in apostasy is not found. We don’t “lose our salvation” since we didn’t find our salvation. We lose coins. We lose our keys. You don’t lose Jesus. You didn’t find Him. He is not an object like your wallet that you can’t find.
I will end this post by simply affirming that salvation is in Christ alone. Salvation is not in Arminianism or Calvinism or in belief or rejection of eternal security. Salvation is in Christ alone. Arminians and Calvinists can disagree over this issue but we must agree that salvation is by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. This is the heart of the Reformation. This is the heart of what it means to be Protestants. Jesus doesn’t save Arminians or Calvinists but He saves sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). I think we all would agree, that means us (Romans 3:23).
Don’t give up! That is the simple message I want to convey to you who preach the gospel to the lost. It can become discouraging as people pass us by, as others who proclaim themselves Christians mock us for sharing the gospel, or as we have to deal with mockers of the gospel. We can spend hours passing out tracts, debating with those who question the gospel, preaching in the open air, and see little to no results. But always remember this: the purpose of our evangelism is to glorify God. We are not sharing the gospel with people because we want to count hands raised or people who have prayed some prayer but our purpose and our passion should be to faithfully reveal the truth of God. Our passion and delight is to exalt the One who saved us by His grace (Romans 11:6).
It is easy to give up. You are the only one it seems who is sharing your faith. You long to see people saved. And yet nothing is happening. But persevere my dear brother or sister. Remember the Lord Jesus who was betrayed by His own friend Judas and who was forsaken by His own chosen disciples the night He was arrested (Mark 15:50). When the Holy Spirit fell on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), there were about 120 gathered in the upper room obeying the Lord Jesus’ command to wait (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4-5) for the Promise of the Father. Thousands had followed Him at one time but now 120 were awaiting His promise. He was by no means a failure for He obeyed the will of the Father perfectly (Hebrews 5:8-9). This was the work of Jesus: to obey the Father and to do His will (John 4:34; 6:38; 17:4; 19:30).
This should be our focus as well, to do the will of the Father. Jesus commanded us to go (Matthew 28:19). We are simply seeking to obey Jesus as our Lord. We are not sharing the gospel because we are seeking to earn God’s favor or trying to earn His salvation. We know we are justified before God because of Christ (Romans 5:1; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7). We are preaching the gospel to the lost because we simply want to obey Jesus as our Lord (John 14:15). In light of the cross, we obey Him as Lord (1 John 2:3-6).
So don’t give up. Keep your faith and eyes on Jesus Christ (Hebrews 12:1-2). Learn from Him and learn how He obeyed the Father, went to the cross, for the glory of God (Philippians 2:5-11). Keep going!
I saw where Louis Giglio has now resigned after being asked by President Obama to pray at the inauguration. The reason for his resignation was because homosexual groups and the Left were in a firestorm with Obama after someone pulled a sermon Giglio preached in which he called homosexuality a sin and that people in sin (all sins) needed to repent. In his sermon, Giglio quotes from Scripture to back his points. He is not merely giving his opinions but is stating what the Bible says. This caused the uproar and so Giglio withdrew from the inauguration although I am sure the Obama administration politely asked him to not attend.
My advice to all true disciples of Jesus is to not back down from the truth. Preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2). We will be attacked and put down (Matthew 5:10-12) but stand firm for the truth. We will be viewed as bigots, as old-fashioned, as losing touch with reality, as not being with the times but preach the Word. Stand firm upon our convictions from Scripture that all sin must be repented of as Giglio rightly said (Acts 17:30-31). Truth matters. Don’t compromise. Don’t give into the spirit of this age for the sake of anything. Not for the sake of money. Not for the sake of fame. Not for the sake of sin. Stand firm for Jesus and His kingdom. The Lord will vindicate us (Psalm 73). Jesus will win this war. We are promised this.
Persecution is coming friends. Soon we disciples of Jesus will be hated and killed but the Lord will be glorified as we stand firm for the truth. No matter what may happen, Jesus will win this war. Jesus will be the King of kings and the Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15-16). Our blood may be shed for the truth of Christ and His Word but stand firm. God will reward the righteous. He will judge the wicked (Revelation 20:11-15). No immoral person will be in heaven (Revelation 21:7-8) and Jesus will be exalted among His saints. Let us not give one inch to this world (James 4:4) but let us preach the truth to this world until they kill us.
”I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
There are two things we really want to know about being a Christian. First, we want to know that we are truly saved by the grace of God. Secondly, we want to know that our salvation is secure. I believe that Arminians can rejoice because we can have both in the context of biblical Arminianism. Too often many err when it comes to these issues by making assurance and the security of the disciple based on their own good works instead of the Person of Christ. I believe a biblical approach to these issues is to focus on Jesus Christ and His finished work instead of trying to look for the answers in ourselves.
Arminianism stresses the necessity of Christ both from our initial salvation to our final salvation. Jesus is our Savior from the time of our salvation to the end. He is our life (Colossians 3:4). I fear that many want Christ to rescue them from hell but they don’t want Him to rescue them from their sins (Matthew 1:21). They want to know that heaven is their reward despite living for hell here and now. This is not God’s way. God’s way is a way of holiness (Matthew 5:48; Hebrews 12:14). God’s call is for us to forsake our sins and follow Christ (Mark 9:42-50). This is the true nature of repentance (Luke 13:1-5; 24:47; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30-31; 26:20; Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9). Arminianism stresses that faith in Jesus is necessary for salvation and He is necessary in overcoming sin as well (1 Corinthians 10:13). We cannot overcome sin by our own will power for we are dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3) but we can overcome through Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24-25). Jesus is our complete victory!
Our salvation and our assurance of salvation and our security in our salvation comes in Christ. Jesus reminds us of this principle in John 15:1-11 where He stresses the importance of remaining in Him. Here we read:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
Jesus makes it clear here that our total trust must be in Him. We cannot bear fruit apart from Him. He is the vine. We are simply the branches from Him. We must abide in Him and we do this by faith. It is faith that saves us (Ephesians 2:8-9) and it is faith that keeps us (1 Peter 1:5).
We see this again before us in the small book of Jude. Jude 21 says that we must keep ourselves in the love of God and this leads to the end of our faith, our final salvation. Jude 24, however, says that God is able to keep us from stumbling and to present us blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy. The balance here is what Arminianism stresses with the emphasis upon persevering faith in Jude 21 but also the keeping power of God Almighty in Jude 24. It is unfortunate to emphasize one without the other. Too many have placed stress on our perseverance in the faith of Jude 21 but not enough on the power of God to keep us in Jude 24. The true Arminian stresses both.
Charles Spurgeon had written above his Pastor’s College door frame these words, “Holding Firmly, I am Held.” This is the biblical view of our salvation. We are saved by grace through faith and we are kept by grace through faith. We must endure to the end to be saved (Matthew 24:13) but this endurance comes through faith (2 Peter 1:3-11). Our salvation is based completely upon the Lord Jesus Christ and His saving work for us. It is not based on faith plus works. It is based on faith in the Lord Jesus to save us (Romans 1:16-17). The totality of our salvation is found in Christ alone. Not in us. Not in our power. Not in our faith. It is in Christ alone that we are saved and in Christ alone that we are kept by God’s sovereign power. May true Arminians stress this biblical truth that holding firmly, we are held. Jesus upholds us as we hear His voice and follow Him wherever He leads (John 10:27-29).
My sentiments respecting the perseverance of the saints are, that those persons who have been grafted into Christ by true faith, and have thus been made partakers of his life-giving Spirit, possess sufficient powers [or strength] to fight against Satan, sin, the world and their own flesh, and to gain the victory over these enemies — yet not without the assistance of the grace of the same Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ also by his Spirit assists them in all their temptations, and affords them the ready aid of his hand; and, provided they stand prepared for the battle, implore his help, and be not wanting to themselves, Christ preserves them from falling. So that it is not possible for them, by any of the cunning craftiness or power of Satan, to be either seduced or dragged out of the hands of Christ. But I think it is useful and will be quite necessary in our first convention, [or Synod] to institute a diligent inquiry from the Scriptures, whether it is not possible for some individuals through negligence to desert the commencement of their existence in Christ, to cleave again to the present evil world, to decline from the sound doctrine which was once delivered to them, to lose a good conscience, and to cause Divine grace to be ineffectual.
Though I here openly and ingenuously affirm, I never taught that a true believer can, either totally or finally fall away from the faith, and perish; yet I will not conceal, that there are passages of scripture which seem to me to wear this aspect; and those answers to them which I have been permitted to see, are not of such a kind as to approve themselves on all points to my understanding. On the other hand, certain passages are produced for the contrary doctrine [of unconditional perseverance] which are worthy of much consideration.