Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Perseverance of the Saints

For this post, we will examine, in the light of Biblical salvation, the doctrine of perseverance of the saints as taught by Calvinists. This post is not an attack on any one person, but on a false doctrine. Many saved people who love the Lord, as much as I, believe in this false doctrine. My desire is not to prove I am right! My desire is to , glorify my Lord, earnestly contend for the faith, and be of help to fellow brethren.


I need to finish off my last post first. I did not finish with what makes salvation effectual to a person. The answer in the Bible is (Act 20:21) Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

When a person realizes they are a condemned sinner before a holy and righteous God and truly believe in the work Jesus has done for them, they need to put their faith in Him with repentance. All who do so are saved! Acts 3:19, Acts 17:30; John 3:16,36 Romans 10:9,10; Acts 16:31. (There are dozen of verses teaching us this.) We are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8, 9). It is the grace of God that enables this. You see, none deserve salvation! It is because of the grace of God, that God has provided a means of salvation for His creation. (Titus 2:11) If God does not give grace, then Jesus does not go to the cross and we are all condemned! The key attributes of God in play are Holiness, Justice, Love, and Grace.

My guess is the majority reading this would agree. It is the clear Biblical teaching.

So when a person “A” places their faith in Christ his sin was judged at Calvary, and he has received the righteousness of God! Because of these two FACTS person A is eternally secure. Why? His sin has already been judged. ALL of his sin. Two, he has now received the righteousness of God, in which there is NO sin. This righteousness has been imputed to the believer, just like his sins were imputed to Jesus. This is why the Bible gives us verse after verse on everlasting life. Our sin has already been judged and the Lord God has given us His righteousness!

There is no longer anything separating us from God. This is one reason why, at salvation, the Holy Spirit indwells the believer and his spirit is given life. At that moment he receives eternal life. Eternal life is NOT heaven. Heaven is a place. I will not receive eternal life when I die. I already have eternal life (John 3:36)! Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the LIFE.” He is eternal life, and all true believers have received Him!

Here are some more scriptures teaching us what has happened to the believer’s sin.

(1Jo 3:5) And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

(Heb 1:3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;


(1Jo 4:10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

These verses teach us our sins have been taken away, purged, and that Jesus was the propitiation of our sins. (He satisfied the holiness of God by His sacrifice.) This is why the believer is eternally secure.

Now let’s compare that with the teaching of Calvinism. The Calvinistic doctrine of perseverance teaches perseverance is essential for salvation. They believe it provides the believer needed assurance, and that it is EFFECTUAL in their salvation. They believe it is the proof of a true believer.

I do not have so much a problem with the idea of perseverance providing assurance, as well it being evidence of salvation. The Bible does teach, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” My problem lies with the teaching making it effectual in salvation.

Now please don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at some of the teachings by prominent Calvinists of our day.

(All of this material, sermons, I have personally read. I went to NO book or web page teaching against Calvinism for this material! This has been my own research. )

First, let’s look at a comment by RC Sproul. He was teaching on the perseverance of the saints when he made this comment. I have NOT taken it out of context.

“In and of myself I am capable of sinning even unto the loss of my salvation, but I'm persuaded that God in his grace will keep me from that. (“Can a Sinning Christian Lose His Salvation”?)

According to Sproul perseverance is necessary for salvation. That without God keeping him from sinning, he would fall away and lose his salvation. Now, I have some questions for Bro Sproul, Were or were not your sins purged by Jesus Christ? If so, then how could you ever fall under condemnation again!? If all of your sin has already been judged, how can you be judged again for your sin? If you could, that would attack the justice of God.

Let’s go to John Piper,

These two quotes are taken from one of his sermons about perseverance of the saints.
(Title of sermon: “Be diligent to enter God’s rest.”)

“Persevering in faith to the end is a community project.”

His point here was we need each other to “persevere.” (I thought it was all of God!?)

“Anyone who puts faith in God's promises bought for us by the blood of Jesus, and is diligent not to throw that faith away, is a part of the people of God.”

He, too, asserts to the necessity of perseverance for salvation. Notice his last statement. He is adding works to salvation! Now, he escapes this work salvation by teaching his perseverance is all of God, not of himself. However, he clearly contradicts that teaching in this sermon as is evident by the first quote.

Eric Schumacher,

This Calvinist has a sermon online called “The Necessity of Endurance for Salvation.”

The title says it all, but let’s look at one quote from the sermon. The point he was trying to make, by this quote, is seen in many writings by Calvinist on this subject. I would like to address it. Here is the quote from that message:

“So, we see that sanctification is a necessary attribute of a saving faith. One cannot be a saint without being sanctified. This is one reason we must be striving to endure: our salvation.”

The first part of this statement I agree with, but his conclusion is unscriptural. He, too, is adding works to salvation. Notice WE must STRIVE. (Again he escapes saying he believes in works, because he is able to “endure” because of God not himself. That still does not change the fact that the enduring is his own work!

Many sermons, and books by Calvinist concerning the “P”, use sanctification to teach the necessity of perseverance in relation to salvation.

There are three Biblical aspects to sanctification. We will look at two of them here.

The first is positional sanctification. This takes place at the moment of salvation. (I Cor 6:11 “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”

Here the Bible teaches we are sanctified already. This sanctification has already taken place. How? Because my sins were purged and I received the righteousness of God. Notice the verse says, I am sanctified in the “name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of God.” No perseverance is mentioned or referred to.

There is also a progressive sanctification. The Bible says in I Peter 1:16 “…Be ye Holy for I am Holy.” While we are on the earth we need to strive for holiness. Not to be saved, but because we are saved. That is clearly seen is the context of the chapter in I Peter.

Problems arise when people mix positional and progressive sanctification.


Finally, let’s look at statements by John MacArthur. (All quotes are taken from his Master Seminary Journal lecture on perseverance of the saints.)

Here, Bro Macarthur was quoting from Murray:
“But let us appreciate the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and recognize that we may entertain the faith of our security in Christ only as we persevere in faith and holiness to the end.”

Again, here he makes perseverance essential to salvation. This is a work of man.

“God's own holiness thus requires perseverance. "God's grace insures
our persevering`but this does not make it any less our persevering."21
Believers cannot acquire "the prize of the upward call of God in Christ
Jesus" unless they "press on toward the goal" (Phil 3:14).”

He is adding to the gospel, not understanding that all his sins have already been judged at Calvary. Perseverance does not make salvation effectual! Faith does!

Also, note he admits this perseverance is “our” perseverance, not simply God’s.

“The maintenance of a Christian's faith
is as much His work as every other aspect of salvation. Faith is
kindled and driven and maintained and fortified by God's grace.
But to say that faith is God's gracious gift, which He maintains,
is not to say that faith operates apart from the human will.

The means by which God maintains their faith
involves their full participation.”

Here he was teaching this “maintaining” of our faith is all of God, with our “participation.” If it is with our “participation”, then it is not all of God. Yet salvation is of God. I am not kept saved by my “participation.” That would be me working. There is no way around that. I am kept saved because of the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

It is clear Calvinist believe perseverance is necessary for salvation. It is making faith contingent upon perseverance, which is a work of man!

Bro MacArthur again,

“Consequently, many people who utterly lack any love for the Lord Jesus Christ are being given a false hope of heaven. True Christians love Christ.”

Here, he is exactly correct. His conclusion is true, Christians love Christ. AMEN! That is exactly right. We love Christ not to BE saved, but because we are saved. Yet the teaching of following the Lord faithfully (perseverance) fails to distinguish this point.

Many people think if perseverance is not true then you can sin all you want and never face consequences. That is not true and it too lacks understanding of what took place at salvation.

When the Lord saved me, he indwelled me. (Rom 8:9) He gave my spirit life. (Eph 2:1) As a result I am a “...new creature: old things are passed away behold all things are become new.” Because I am saved, I will follow my Lord. Those who profess to be saved, yet do not follow are not saved. John 8:31 We all agree a vain profession saves no one! At the moment of my salvation all my sins were imputed unto Jesus and His Righteousness was imputed unto me. (Romans 4; II Corinthians 5:21) Thus I am eternally secure. The penalty of sin has been paid for on behalf by Jesus Christ.

The teaching of the perseverance of the saints makes a RESULT of salvation a CONDITION of salvation and thus the error. This error is believed and taught because of a lack of understanding of what took place at our salvation.

The fruit of repentance will show up in a desire and love for the Lord. It is a result of salvation.


Please remember back to my first post on how salvation works. It is our sin that has to be dealt with. Our sin was dealt with by the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It is not dependent upon my perseverance.

Let me finish with the Bible, itself, address the issue. The following verses are Romans 4:1-8. The key verses being the last few. (One might be thinking, why Romans 4:1-8 it does not talk about perseverance. Exactly!!!)



(Rom 4:1-8) What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.


I hope and pray this post is of help to some!

51 comments:

Colin Maxwell said...

Conscious that this is someone else's blog, but if I might advertise the fact that I have been analyising Terry's points on the following webpage:

http://www.corkfpc.com/mcgoverncalvinism.html

This is a serious response to serious issues and will be kept free of any rancour etc.,

Anonymous said...

'Perseverance of the saints'does NOT mean that I am kept by my own persevering in the faith. According to the scriptures, I am kept by God. I am united with Christ, indwelt by the Holy Spirit and sealed for eternity. Perseverance means that we WILL persevere because God causes us to stand. God keeps me, He will lose none of whom He has chosen to save. But we also persevere in that we continue to walk with Christ, day by day. This is done because God continually causes us to persevere. It does not mean we are working to either save or keep ourselves. It is the same meaning as eternally secure, just a different wording.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, it seems you are mixing up your opinion with Calvinism - kind of a mixture of both... Eternally secure is a reference to being kept by God, and does not refer to how I live day by day. Someone that is truly saved is eternally secure REGARDLESS of how they live (see below).

The material I have read does teach that a Christian must persevere to be assured of or certain of salvation - whereas the Bible teaches the true Christian will endure because the Lord has kept him. He will overcome through his faith overall because he is God's child (1 John 5:3-4), the Holy Spirit indwells him (Romans 8:9), he is kept by God's power (1 Peter 1:5), and God will chastise him when he wanders (Hebrews 12). His persevering is a result/outcome - not a cause - of his salvation; and when he doesn't persevere, there is chastisement... (obviously there would not be chastisement if every true child of God "persevered" all the time (ie. we will persevere in the faith - we may falter at times in perseverance in our conduct).

Stevetip said...

I will simply concur with Collin, and respect that this is not my blog. I believe that Terry has misconstrued the concepts of assurance and perseverance, and has misunderstood the quotes he provides. If Terry wants, I can post my personal thoughts.

Terry McGovern said...

Steve,
Feel free to post on here. I would like to see why you believe I have misconstrued the concepts of assurance and perseverance.

I have read Colin's argument already.

Colin,

I have some questions for you. You said you agreed all of your sins have already been judged. You agreed you have ALREADY received the righteousness of Christ.

If your sins have already been judged, why do you need to persevere? Is not the one thing keeping you from eternal life (sin) been taken care of by Jesus Christ?

Kent Brandenburg said...

Colin,

I read your critique of Terry's essay. First, if these Calvinistic men do believe that perserverance is not a condition for justification, what they have written is confusing. These statements are false and shouldn't be made even in their context. You really spoke nothing of what they actually said. The Bible doesn't contradict itself.

Second, I think you misrepresent Terry with some kind of cheap grace that does not result in God working in believers both to will and to do of His good pleasure. As far as justification goes, is losing your life for His sake essentially "letting go?" Isn't ceasing from your own work in Romans 4 and Hebrews 4, letting go and letting God? Isn't leaving the elementary principles of the doctrine of Christ to go onto perfection in Hebrews 6 letting go and letting God?

Terry McGovern said...

I must admit I am surprised by the lack of comments on this post. Only a few of those who commented before have now commented on this post. Yet, this post is where I analyze a particular teaching of Calvinism! I did no such thing on my first post!

Everyone was quick to jump on my comment about Carey, because they ASSUMED I did not know he was a Calvinist. (This was not implied in the post either!) The point was his fellow preachers (CALVINIST) did not think he needed to reach the world with the gospel. That view stemmed from their belief in Calvinism. Carey was CLEARLY in the minority of his day. He desired to reach the world IN SPITE of the dominance of Calvinism of his day. The point still stands.

Yet, this really is a side issue. It did not specifically address any one issue of the TULIP. The Carey comment was given by me by way of introduction. To catch people’s attention, and show a possible future result of the influence of Calvinism today. We could debate about Carey, but that would be fruitless. However, debating about the teachings of Calvinism could produce fruit.

There has only been a small decrease of traffic to my blog today, as compared to the last two days, yet very few comments. I would think this post would have produced more response, since I attacked one key doctrinal issue of Calvinism. Am I to assume by your silence, that you agree with my conclusions? :)

Terry McGovern said...

Colin,

Kent brought out a good point. I want to follow that up with a question. Do you believe perseverance is needed for justification before God?

Colin Maxwell said...

Terry,

There are three aspects to salvation.

1) Justification:

A forensic act whereby God accounts me righteous in His sight on the basis of His grace (Romans 3:24) paid for by the blood of Christ (Romans 5:9) and mine when I received it by faith (Romans 5:1) This is a perfect justification - cannot increase or be diminished - and is a one off act which will stand good for all eternity.

2) Sanctification:

An inward process upon my soul whereby God makes me good. He gives me a new nature and new desires etc., (2 Corinthians 5:17) This ebbs and flows according as I, by His Spirit's help, obey Him or otherwise. My understanding of perseverance of the saints is that we persevere in holiness - we seek to live in the world, but not be of the world. For Calvinists to insist on perseverance of the saints is not to add anything to justification (I think that's were you're getting it confused) but to live out the justification in our lives. If we are not being sanctified (note the ongoing process) then we may query (at the very least) whether we are truly saved. I accept that such introspection can lead to doubts etc., but they are needful doubts if we believe we are saved when we are not. We must keep looking to Christ (Hebrews 12:2) but such a look will bear fruit and if there is no fruit, then the root of the matter is not in us. True Christians, through the means God has given, involving our participation, persevere in holiness unto the end.

3) Glorification. For us, yet future when we go (either at death or at the Return of the Lord Jesus) to be forever with the Lord and live, without sin, with Him for all eternity.

Salvation is more than merely being forgiven for our sins and enjoying the mansions above and be with Him 10,000 years and more. It involves denying ourselves here on earth and seeking to glorify Him by our holy living. The world doesn't want us to do it. The Devil certainly doesn't want us to do it and our own flesh is forever kicking against it, but (by God's grace and help) we persevere or overcome unto the end. This is the norm for every last Christian. It is the evidence of life - not the cause. There is no merit in what we do, although God graciously rewards us for it.

When Calvinists insist on these things (as the Bible does) it is to prevent empty professions. We do live in age of consumer type Christianity where repentance etc., is considered a turn off for prospective "converts" and where empty professions abound. Therefore we need to insist more than ever (without being unbalanced about it) that the good tree necessarily brings forth fruit, otherwise it is cumbering the ground and will be removed.

I hope this helps.

Stevetip said...

Terry:

Well, seeing as how you asked for it...

I have four pages so far. I will upload it after I have a chance to read the words of the men you quoted in their total context, which Collin was so gracious to offer. I also want to sleep on my words to ensure that I do not say anything I might come to regret. I should post my comments, Lord willing, around 5 or 6 pm PST tomorrow.

Please don't attribute my silence to consent.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Colin,

We understand the justification is part of salvation, although salvation and justification can be used synonymously. We know that he that overcometh will receive the crown of life. However, no passage necessitates overcoming as a condition of justification.

The last part of this sentence sounds like you too are adding works to grace (stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free): "It involves denying ourselves here on earth and seeking to glorify Him by our holy living." "Seeking to glorify Him by our holy living" does not sound like any Scriptural "cause" for justification, Colin. People who are justified will seek to glorify Him by their holy living, but we don't get any kind of salvation through seeking to glorify Him by our holy living. Your word "involves" is also very ambiguous and non-soteriological.

Colin Maxwell said...

Kent,

No Calvinist is saying that overcoming is a *condition* or a *cause* of justification. This is something which others seem have got into their head that Calvinists believe, when we don't. Overcoming is the infallible *evidence* of justification. I mention denying ourselves etc., in the sanctification paragraph. I don't think I can make it any clearer than I am doing. I assume that you believe that *Christians* are to deny themselves etc., not in order *to be* justified, but because they *already are* 100% justified as stated in my paragraph on justification. As for use of the word "involves" - it is a basic English word and I did not expect to be pulled up on the use of it. Please be assured, for the sake of continuity in these discussions, that we are not encroaching on the grace of God at all. Doctrinal discussions, often by their nature, can be difficult enough, without having to make sure every last basic English word is completely watertight. Let's keep it as an amicable discussion among friends rather than a dispute among lawyers.

Terry McGovern said...

Steve,

I knew you would be posting. My comment was not directed toward you.

If your response is that long, I would prefer if you could do something similar to Colin. Perhaps he could allow you to post your comment on his web page he has set up for this discussion. Then post the link again on the comments section.

From there we can discuss your comments. I look forward to reading it.

Thanks
Terry

Colin,

We would agree about the evidence, but I am surprised by your comment. Are you saying you do not believe perseverance plays an effectual role in salvation?

Hypothetical;
If the Lord did not help you "persevere" after salvation would you have everlasting life or could you lose eternal life? Please don’t tell me you won’t answer because it is not possible. I understand that. Your answer though, will clarify for me what you are saying.

Thanks

Colin Maxwell said...

*Are you saying you do not believe perseverance plays an effectual role in salvation?*

Perseverance has no contribution whatsoever to the justification of the Christian. Justification is based entirely, 100% on the work of Christ. My receving it by faith does not contribute to it in any way.

Perseverance is solely the *evidence* that we have *already been* justified before God (the argument of James 2) and is an ongoing process, accomplished as we overcome the world by His grace, through the channel of our faith (1 John 5:4) with faith being the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22)

I think this is clear enough.

Colin Maxwell said...

* Hypothetical; If the Lord did not help you "persevere" after salvation would you have everlasting life or could you lose eternal life? Please don’t tell me you won’t answer because it is not possible. I understand that. Your answer though, will clarify for me what you are saying. *

I can't answer you here, simply because I cannot turn to the Bible for those answers. The Bible deals with realities…not hypothetical situations. Eternal life is more than "life for a long infinite period of time". Eternal life is also a quality* of life. When I believed, I received not only an instantaneous and perfect justification, based purely and solely on the grace of God. I also received the new nature that overcomes or perseveres. If I do not overcome or persevere, then I cannot claim to have that eternal life of which the Bible speaks. Therefore I cannot lose what I have never had. I hope this clarifies it for you.

Terry McGovern said...

Colin,

You are clearly avoiding my questions. The first question was a yes or no question. Please answer it yes or no.

For the second question you stated "I cannot turn to the Bible for those answers," concerning the hypothetical scenerio I gave. In your rebuttal to my post you stated you read the sermon by John Piper, in which I refered too in my post. One purpose of Bro Pipers sermon was to show that you could go to the Bible for those answers. He was using the text in Hebrews to demonstrate that. (Of course, he did not believe he would lose his salvation, but none the less he needed to "fear faithlessness" which leads to "coming short of God's rest." It was also discussed in John MacArthur's essay as well under "The problem of Quantification." RC Sproul's comment was directly addresing the question I gave you.

Let me ask it this way:(I think you will find it more palatable in this format.)
Do you agree with RC Sproul's following statement? (YES OR NO)

"In and of myself I am capable of sinning even unto the loss of my salvation, but I'm persuaded that God in his grace will keep me from that. (“Can a Sinning Christian Lose His Salvation”?)"


After answering the questions,"yes" or "no" go ahead and give your explanation. But please answer each one yes or no.

Terry McGovern said...

Steve,

If you do not have a means of posting your 4 page comment on another web page, then post one part at a time, here. (After we discuss one part of your comment, then post another part.)The comment section is not designed for such a long post.

Seeing that it is four pages, tells me it adress several issues concerning my post. Let's look at those one at a time.

Thanks

Stevetip said...

When examining any kind of statement, we need to first question what issue the author of that statement is trying to address. The issue is one of context. It is of the utmost importance when examining any kind of answer is to see what the question is. The question being asked is as important as the answer that is given. For instance, if we read from Paul that women can be saved through childbirth (and that is exactly what he says), we need to see what issue he is addressing. Clearly, salvation and justification are not what he is addressing.

In the quotes provided, each author or speaker is addressing a closely related set of questions. That question is NOT how am I saved, nor is it what must I do to be saved. If you asked them that question you would get a very different answer. Instead, they are all asking variations on this question: How do I know I am saved? The issue here is one of assurance. We know the bible states that the elect will be preserved by God, and that they will persevere, and that will not come under condemnation. Given. However, how do you know that you are saved? The New Testament gives one firm answer: If you produce fruit and if you persevere in that production, you can have assurance of your salvation.

I can state, and be completely biblical, that in order to be saved you must produce good works. Or I can say that in order to be saved you must persevere. The issue is what I mean by "be saved." Do I mean justified, or do I mean belonging to the category of those who have been justified? Good works do not save me, but if I exhibit no good works, or I do not persevere in my faith, then I have not been saved. Therefore, in order to be saved (to know that I belong to the group of people who are saved), I must exhibit and do these things. If someone asks, "How do I know I am saved?" I can state, "To be saved, you must produce works." That is a valid answer, and it completely biblical. Now, if you walked up and just heard my answer, and did not take into consideration the question I was trying to answer, you might well think I am a heretic. But my words were true.

No where do the men you quote explicitly state that in order to be justified you must exhibit works. In fact, each of them (with the possible exception of Schumacher, as I am not familiar with his work) explicitly states the very opposite in many places. Given that, we should probably give them at least the benefit of the doubt when it comes to places where it could be implied that they are saying something a bit unclear. We see the same issue with biblical interpretation: we must interpret what seems implicit in terms of what is explicit, the unclear in terms of the clear.

Perhaps they were not that clear here, especially if you divorce their words from the questions and issues they were addressing. Perhaps we can second guess them and assume that they mean what we want them to mean However, if one has a doctorate in theology or ministry, is a highly respected preacher and teacher and has written numerous books on the subject or which address the subject in which anyone can look up that he does not believe that we are justified on the basis of works, then perhaps when a reader comes across comments such as these he should take the time to look into what issue is being addressed and not just jump to the conclusion that R.C. Sproul and the others (and all Calvinists, by extension) believe in justification by perseverance or any other such nonsense.

Now, AT MOST, you have shown that a few Calvinists made some statements that could, if taken out of context, be misconstrued as saying that they believe that perseverance is the basis of their justification. Yet you should admit that this is, at best, an implicit statement that is repudiated by other, clearer and more explicit, statements. Further, you fail to deal with what Berkhoff (a standard of Reformed systematic theology), Calvin himself (in his institutes) or the Westminster Confession of Faith state about perseverance, assurance or the status of works in the life of a Christian. NONE of these explicitly speaks of perseverance as the basis for justification, nor is it implied in context. Neither do any of these men in any of their works that I have ever read (or heard) explicitly state or imply in context such a notion. You have not proven that "all" Calvinists are "a group claiming they believe salvation is all of God and grace, [yet] actually believe in works for their salvation." All you have proven is that you have misunderstood the context that these men were writing in, the questions they were trying to answer and the nature of the Reformed faith.

Lastly, I will give my own answer to the question you posed to Collin (Are you saying you do not believe perseverance plays an effectual role in salvation?) Yes, I do not believe that perseverance plays and EFFECTUAL role in my salvation. Perseverance does not produce salvation, nor is it capable of producing salvation (thanks to dictionary.com). The role of perseverance is evidentiary. It's presence proves to me and to others that I am saved, just as its absence proves that I am not saved.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I believe that the saints will overcome. Scripture is clear on that. I don't accept the confusing, unscriptural sentences like this one that you used, Steve: "To be saved, you must produce works." If anyone, any reformer, Berkhof, Hodge, Piper, Calvin, or Augustine, said this, they were not Scriptural---"laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men" (Mark 7:8). Why say it, if it isn't Scriptural, other than to fit into a manmade system?

Colin, I truly wasn't attempting to be nit-picky with my critique of "involves." You can say that you assuredly do not add works to grace. I'm happy to hear that, but why ambiguity that would open the door for works conditional for justification? You might say you aren't, but Terry gives quotes where Piper, MacArthur, Sproul, etc. do it, and now I read questionable statements reflective of those others coming from Steve and you. This is not an attempt just to be argumentative. Terry is probably wondering, like me, how these statements can get into the equation.

I know that when I read Calvin, I get the same kind of problem. People say he was in no way a works salvation person, but then you read these statements in his Institutes: We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for the whole of life. . . .Both baptised unto repentance, both for remission of sins, both in the name of Christ, from whom repentance and remission of sins proceed. . . .Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ
All then that Ananias meant to say was, Be baptised, Paul, that you may be assured that your sins are forgiven you. . . .In baptism, the Lord promises forgiveness of sins: receive it, and be secure. God in baptism promises the remission of sins, and will undoubtedly perform what he has promised to all believers.

Calvinists feel the need to defend him to the hilt because he made "clear statements the other direction" elsewhere.

So regarding lack of clarity or ambiguity, not nit-picking, I declare: Why not say *results in* seeking to glorify Him by our holy living, instead of "involves seeking. . ."?

Joel said...

This was a complete misrepresentation of the doctrine of Preserverance. To many errors to detail.

For example, from the post: "The Calvinistic doctrine of perseverance teaches perseverance is essential for salvation. They believe it provides the believer needed assurance, and that it is EFFECTUAL in their salvation."

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong!

Try this from the 1689 Confession: THE PERSEVERANCE OF BELIEVERS
17.1 The elect are those whom God has accepted in [Christ] the Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, and given the precious faith of his elect. These can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they shall certainly persevere in grace to the end and be eternally saved. For God will not repent of1 his gifts and calling, therefore he continues to bring about and nourish in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit that lead to immortality.

Nothing about works being essential for salvation there.

Terry McGovern said...

I had to remove my comment for Steve, because I misread his post. I did not catch it until I read my reply again, a few hours later. (My phone was also out for a time prevetning me from going online.)

Steve, if you already read my reply disregard. I though you stated you DID believe perseverance played an effectual role in salvation. You did not.

What about RC Sprouls statement? Do you agree with that? Would you not agree that his statement is making perseverance play an effectual role in salvation?

I would like to see your thoughts about his remarks

Thanks

Terry McGovern said...

Steve , Colin and Joel,

I would like your thoughts on this quote from JI Packer. He was commenting on the Confession.

"Reformed theology echoes this emphasis. The Westminster Confession declares, They, whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called, and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved. (XVII.1)"

Packer continues,
"The doctrine declares that the regenerate are saved through persevering in faith and Christian living to the end (Heb. 3:6; 6:11; 10:35-39), and that it is God who keeps them persevering.


Is not his explanation of the Confession making perseverance effectual to salvation?

Am I saved by persevering in faith?

Again, I would like your thoughts about what he says here.

Here is the link to the remark:
http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/packer/perseverance.html

Stevetip said...

I am going to keep this post to respond to Terry. I will respond to what Kent said later. I would, however, like to keep my comments primarily focused on a dialog with Terry. Mostly because it his blog, but also because it makes it easier to track one conversation at a time.

What, specifically, of Sproul's statement do you see as the equivalent of stating that perseverance is necessary for salvation. He does not state that in the quote given. He does say that if it were up to him, and up to him alone, he is convinced that he would fall away. He sees the fact that he doesn't fall away as evidence that it is God who keeps him from falling away. I completely and totally agree with that. God doesn't just do a once-for-me thing on calvary and then depart to polish the watch-works. He enters into a covenant with me, personally and corporately, to be my God. This is why Jude talks of God as the one "who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy...." Stumbling is, theoretically, possible, but it is not a real possibility for the believer because God is able to keep you from stumbling (not just able, He actually does). Nor is our salvation simply a once-for-all-time thing that happened on the cross, otherwise why would God need to present me blameless before the presence of His glory? Salvation, in the Reformed context, is one of those things that is "already" and at the same time "not yet." Just as the Kingdom of God is "already" and "not yet."

I persevere because God preserves me. I must persevere if I am truly saved (not as the basis, but as an inevitable outcome). If I am truly saved, will persevere (not in my own power, but because God preserves me).

In fact, Sproul states exactly what I have submitted here:

If it were up to my strength to persevere to guarantee my future salvation, then I would have very little hope of persevering.

The statement that immediately preceded the one you originally quoted states:

So my confidence again rests in the intercession of Christ and God's ability and promise to hold on to me.


Now, I have some specific questions for you.

1.) You say your sins were purged by Jesus Christ. What specifically was purged? If, on or about A.D. 32 or so, Terry's sins were purged, how is it that you still sin?

2.) How do you know that you are saved? I want to see how you answer the question that Sproul and the others were trying to answer. What do you say to the person who has "faith" but no works?

3.) What, specifically, are you saved from? How, specifically, are you saved from that? What makes you different from the person who claims to be saved, but lives a life that is not indicative of salvation?

Stevetip said...

I don't accept the confusing, unscriptural sentences like this one that you used, Steve: "To be saved, you must produce works."

That statement is not, in context of the question it is asking, unbiblical. Nor is it part of a man made system. Is the most clear way that someone can state a position? Is it capable of standing on its own? Maybe not. But if every sentence I utter or write has to be able to stand on its own, what use is there of ever going beyond the mere basics of any subject?

Is this man made?

"What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he as faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? .... faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith and I have works." Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.... Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; and Scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness" -- and he was called a friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by a faith that is alone."

James says, "Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." You cannot show faith with out works. So, in that sense, you cannot have been saved if you do not exhibit works. CANNOT HAVE BEEN. If you weren't, then you aren't. He further shows how Abraham's works justified him. He isn't speaking of a forensic justification, neither here or in the last sentence, but justified in the sense of evidence (just as Jesus used the term to show how wisdom is justified by her children). Abraham believed God, and the righteousness of Christ was reckoned to him at that moment. Howver, in order to justifiy his staus of being justified, he had to obey God. Just as you, or anyone else, must produce works to show that you are saved. If you do not produce works, you are not saved.

Stevetip said...

Okay, last one tonight:

If that is what Packer meant to say, then I would say that, as I understand him, he is wrong. I would give him the benefit of the doubt that he misspoke. Either way, that is not exactly what the confession teaches. However, you should look at the verses he quotes:

Hebrews 3:6 -

but Christ is faithful over God's house an a son. And we are his house if we indeed hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

Hebrews 6:11 -

And we desire each of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end.

Hebrews 10:35 -

Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,

"Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;
but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back
my soul has no pleasure in him."

But we are not those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls


In the end, I base my theology on what the Bible says, not on what Packer says. It has been my experience that the Westminster Confession of Faith essentially states the doctrines that are contained in the Bible. However, I do not base my understanding of salvation on what the WCF says, but on what the Bible says. The confessions are a guide to understanding the Bible, but do not take its place. They get "authority" by echoing the very doctrine that the Bible contains, which is true authority. The Bible is the only infallible rule of faith.

Can Packer be wrong? Sure. In fact, it would be something I would bet on, even if I were Packer. Especially if I were Packer. To be Reformed is not, as it is so often characterized, to follow Calvin blindly (or Sproul or anyone else). It is to always be reforming our theology to the written word of God. I am convinced that the reformers we have spoken of on this blog are, more often than not, completely biblical. Show me from scripture and sound reason that I am wrong, and I will admit my folly. Or show me how they are wrong, and I will disagree with them (if tht is what Packer meant to say, I disagree with it). However, be prepared to confront the whole counsel of God, not just pet verses. Also, be prepared to confront hundreds of years of scholarship that show that the system of doctrine set down by the reformers, and carried forward by reformed theologians, is the system of doctrine contained in the bible.

Colin Maxwell said...

Terry,

I think any confusion here is emanating from your use of the general word "salvation". This is why I followed the Bible line and use the 3 different terms above that it embraces - each of which has different connotations. My fear is that if I say "yes" but only as it regards sanctification, then you will apply it to justification and I am left with a works gospel, which is as anathema to Calvinists as it was to Paul himself. I fear if I say "no" but only as it regards justification, then I leave myself exposed to preaching that men can consider themselves counted righteous before God even if there is no evidence of this fact in their lives.

Bearing that in mind, here is your "yes" or "no" answer:

First question: *Are you saying you do not believe perseverance plays an effectual role in salvation?*

If by salvation, you mean " justification" then "Yes…I DO NOT believe that perseverance plays any role in salvation." We are justified before God by faith alone, without works of any kind. Works only prove that we have been already justified (James 2)

If by salvation, you mean "sanctification" then, "Yes, I DO believe that perseverance plays an effectual role in salvation." It is the *evidence* that we are *already justified by faith alone* and it involves us overcoming the world etc., and remaining faithful unto the end. We are kept by the power of God through (overcoming) faith, God working in us both to will and to do His good pleasure (which is to see every last child of God brought home safely to Heaven for His own glory.)

While we must separate justification and sanctification for the purposes of discussion and discussion, the two go hand in hand together in real experience and we should not put asunder what God has joined together. It is not a matter of avoiding your questions, but a matter (as indicated in my first paragraph above) of preserving the purity of the gospel.

Secondly: Do you agree with RC Sproul's following statement? (YES OR NO)

"In and of myself I am capable of sinning even unto the loss of my salvation, but I'm persuaded that God in his grace will keep me from that. (“Can a Sinning Christian Lose His Salvation”?)"

YES. The qualifier is "In and of myself" which is another hypothetical situation. We are not left to such a precarious state as being "in and of ourselves" - We are completely surrounded and protected by the preserving grace of God - the *evidence* of which is our overcoming of the world until we reach Heaven at the last. All summed up in Peter's words: "Kept by the power of God through faith." God gives me the faith to persevere, and I believe with the faith that He gives me. God's sovereignty and man's responsibility sitting harmoniously together. As it should ever be.

Kent: I'm afraid like Steve, I'm going to have to concentrate on Terry's replies as it gets too much trying to keep up with two discussions at once. However, I'm sure you would agree that Terry is doing a good job!

Advance notice: I'll be away for a few days from tomorrow (Saturday) so it is possible that any response from then might be delayed until my return.

Terry McGovern said...

Colin,

I will reply to your post in the morning. I have had a long day and need to get to bed. Between finishing my sermon for Sunday, and this discussion I am wore out!

Please, if you can, respond to Kent. I would like to see what you think about his comments.

Also, I appreciate the manner in which Steven and Colin are discussing this with Kent and I. Not too many debates, concerning Calvinism, stay friendly!

Terry McGovern said...

Steve,

First, please feel free to respond to others. Don’t think you have to only answer my questions because this is my blog. Kent Brandenburg is a much respected pastor and author. He is in California. I would consider him a scholar. He is very knowledgeable.

My point about Sproul’s statement was that it was saying, in effect, without perseverance he would fall away. That is making perseverance effectual in Salvation. I can never fall away from God. Not because he helps me to persevere, but because he has already imputed all my sin unto Jesus and has given me His righteousness. I have already received eternal life. Eternal life is not awaiting my glorification. I already have it.

As far as this statement, you need to clarify your point before I respond:
“God doesn't just do a once-for-me thing on Calvary and then depart to polish the watch-works.”

I am presented “blameless before God” because of Jesus Christ, not as a result of my persevering.

Christians do stumble (sin), although yes, there is no reason why they should. According to I Corinthians 10:13, God is always there to provide the strength I need to overcome. However, there are times when my flesh is in control and I stumble (sin). Romans chapter 7 expounds on the point I am trying to make. “The good that I would I do not, yet the evil which I would not that I do.” “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” My spirit now has life because of salvation, but the flesh is still present.

“Nor is our salvation simply a once-for-all-time thing that happened on the cross,..” WOW! Are you saying the cross is not enough? My salvation is “a once and for all thing” because of the cross. It was there my sins were paid for and there I received the righteousness of God. Therefore I am blameless before God!

My salvation is already, but my glorification is not yet.

Now on to your questions.

1.) ”You say your sins were purged by Jesus Christ. What specifically was purged? If, on or about A.D. 32 or so, Terry's sins were purged, how is it that you still sin?”

Jesus Christ paid the penalty of all my sin at the cross and thus purged my sins. So my sins were purged. This does not mean I will now be sinless. My sins, which I commit, will not be imputed unto me, because God has already imputed them unto Jesus. (Romans 4:8) Therefore, I will not be held on judgment for any sin I commit. My sins have already been judged at Calvary. Purged does not mean God has taken away the ability to sin, just that he has taken away the penalty of my sin. He has cleansed/purged me of my sin. Romans chapter five is a great chapter. It shows us that as a result of the disobedience of one (Adam), many were made sinners. And that how because of the obedience of one (Jesus), many shall be MADE righteous. I am righteous before God because of Jesus Christ, not because of my perseverance.

2.) "How do you know that you are saved? I want to see how you answer the question that Sproul and the others were trying to answer. What do you say to the person who has "faith" but no works?"

I know I am saved, primarily because I have the Spirit giving me assurance Romans 8:16. I also have assurance because of my faith in the promises God. “Ye shall never perish.” I also have further assurance as a result of my walk with Him. (II Peter 1:8,9)

As far as the SAVED person, who has faith and no works, I would refer to Romans 4:5 “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Now there are plenty of people who have made a vain profession who exhibit no evidence of salvation. To those, they need to be born-again. (Born-again - another topic we could debate at another time. :) )

I believe a saved person will have change in their life as a result of salvation. (II Cor 5:17) How can they not! The Spirit of God now indwells them! Their spirit now has life. But, again none of this is effectual for salvation, only evidence of salvation.

3. "What, specifically, are you saved from? How, specifically, are you saved from that? What makes you different from the person who claims to be saved, but lives a life that is not indicative of salvation?"

I am saved from the penalty of sin. I am saved from an everlasting torment, eternally separated from God. I am saved by repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. (As of June 30th 1982!)

If the person claiming to be saved, is saved, he will be under the chastisement of God. (Heb 12:6,7) I am not. If he is not saved, he is under the wrath of God. (John 3:36) Again, here too, I am not.

Brian said...

Concerning your point #2 above:

"As far as the SAVED person, who has faith and no works, I would refer to Romans 4:5 “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” "

The Bible clearly teaches that without fruit people will not go to heaven.

Hebrews 12:14, "Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord."

Romans 8:l3, "If you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."

Galatians 5:l9-2l, "Now the works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not enter the kingdom of God." (See also Ephesians 5:5 and l Corinthians 6:l0.)

Does bearing fruit earn your way into heaven? No - bearing fruit is only by God's grace, as a result of the indwelt Spirit. But if your sin has been forgiven by Jesus, you will bear fruit and persevere. Only Jesus' blood gets you into heaven, not your works in any way. Even so, if you don't have those works it's a sign that your faith isn't real, because real faith produces a holy life. This is my understanding of what the Bible teaches.

I heard it once put this way, "If faith could exist apart from works, which it cannot, it would be sufficient to save."

How can you Biblically claim a person who says he has faith but has no works will go to heaven in light of the numerous warning passages in the Epistles and Christ's own teaching? I am very interested.

Kent Brandenburg said...

I don't think we are far off on this doctrine, but how much does it take for Christ's work to be of no effect until you? Steve says Packer is wrong in what his statement says; that's good. He says that this statement is Scriptural: "To be saved, you must produce works."

I believe there is confusion in the Hebrews warning passages. They are warning concerning apostasy. A believer cannot apostatize. The just shall live by faith---they cannot but live by faith. They are also not ones who will apostatize, but believe. So those warnings aren't to believers but to apostates. Should believers examine themselves to be sure they are not apostates? Sure. But we don't continue in order to be saved, we continue because we are saved.

stevetip said...

My point about Sproul’s statement was that it was saying, in effect, without perseverance he would fall away. That is making perseverance effectual in Salvation.

Actually, he is saying that with out God's preservation he would fall away. He says specifically that if his salvation were on the basis of perseverance (his faithfulness) he believes he would fall away. God keeps him from falling away. That is preservation not perseverance.

“Nor is our salvation simply a once-for-all-time thing that happened on the cross,..” WOW! Are you saying the cross is not enough? My salvation is “a once and for all thing” because of the cross. It was there my sins were paid for and there I received the righteousness of God. Therefore I am blameless before God!

I am not speaking of possibilities, but of realities. Is it possible that the cross would be enough? Sure. But that is not how God designed salvation. It is a three step process. He who has begun a good work in me (the Cross and when it was specifically applied to me when I was converted by the Holy Spirit), will surely see it to completion (glorification, with my sanctification in the middle). Your "justification" is a once and for all thing. Your sanctification is more than just justification. Why? Because sanctification is necessary for salvation. So is glorification. Why? Because God decreed that it be.

My salvation is already, but my glorification is not yet.

Not according to the Bible, which conveys your salvation as three components: justification, sanctification and glorification. Each are a part of salvation. No one part is more important than the rest, in that it is the sin qua non. Sure justification is the starting point, and without that the other two do not come, but the Bible knows of no justification that does not also have sanctification nor glorification.

know I am saved, primarily because I have the Spirit giving me assurance Romans 8:16. I also have assurance because of my faith in the promises God. “Ye shall never perish.” I also have further assurance as a result of my walk with Him. (II Peter 1:8,9)

Romans 8:16 says that the spirit bears witness, but that didn't answer my question. HOW does the spirit bear witness? By producing fruit. You have assurance because of the promise of God? How do you know that those promises apply to you? Again, if you have fruit you can be assured. If not, you have no biblical basis of assurance.

As far as the SAVED person, who has faith and no works, I would refer to Romans 4:5 “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

The bible knows of no one who is saved and has no works. I used "faith" (faith in quotes) to denote someone who says they have faith, but there is no fruit. You cannot say that they are still saved and remain biblical, because James explicitly says otherwise, and Paul implies it numerous times. There simply is no such thing as a "carnal Christian." Further, Romans is not saying that the righteous does not work, but that such work cannot merit salvation. You have taken that out of context. If you are giving comfort to church members who have made a confession of faith but fail to produce any kind of fruit then you are giving false comfort. You are, in effect, saying peace, peace where there is no peace.

I believe a saved person will have change in their life as a result of salvation. (II Cor 5:17) How can they not

I must go one further. If they do not (have a change in their lives), then, according to Scripture, they have not been saved.


I will be out of town this weekend until Sunday. I also have a pretty hefty test this week that I should be studying for. And two papers that aren't going to write themselves... And kids, and work, and, and. So, I hope you will forgive me if I bow out for a bit. I would like to close by saying that I see no evidence that the Reformed men you quote believe that their salvation in total is caused by perseverance. Nor do I believe that any of the standards of the Reformed faith, the chief being the Bible, teach such a doctrine. I do believe works are a necessary out growth of salvation, that works are an integral part of sanctification, and that if no works are found what-so-ever, the person in question has no right to be assured of their salvation.

I do feel that the primary issue is a misunderstanding of the three "stages" of salvation and what role works play in that. In addition, we are discussing an issue which is based upon a foundation of systematic thinking. If our foundations differ, is it any wonder that our conclusions based upon those foundations differ? And please don't say (anyone) that your foundation is the Bible, because I don't know of anyone who has not been led in his or her understanding of Scripture by using other sources to illuminate scripture (and some, I believe, actually do just that). But therein lies the problem. I am convinced that the Reformed system of theology is the one that accurately reflects the Bible. You are convinced that the system of theology that you learned (you or anyone, whatever that systems name) accurately reflects the Bible. Debating side issues might cause one or the other of us to realize that our system is unbiblical (which is what happened to me to "convert" me to the Reformed faith). More often than not, however, we will just end up agreeing to disagree (at best, hating one another at worst) because our basic assumptions are do different.

I pray that God will do a mighty work in you and through you in Papua New Guinea. From what I have read, He is, has and shall. I will continue to pray for you, and for the youth that you are working with. Ultimately, you believe that it is God who saves, and that is good. I urge you to continue to focus on the main thing: proclaiming the whole gospel to the world. It may be a week or more until I can devote more of this kind of time to this issue. If you have reason to believe that I seriously misspoke and want to clarify anything, you can email me at stevetip@yahoo.com

May God Keep You and Bless You!

Steve

Joel said...

Terry, the Westminster states the doctrine very succinctly. Packer’s comments are fine, although I would want to examine the context in which he uses the term “Christian living”. I do know that when he speaks of “persevering faith” it is essentially the same as saying “saving faith”. The doctrine teaches us that those that fall away from the faith did not possess saving faith, and only that faith which is from God is truly “saving faith”, for that genuine faith which is from God does not, in the end, fail, and is therefore “persevering” faith.

My biggest problem here you use of the term “effectual” where it is not conventionally used. Did I miss something or have you sourced a reputable Calvinists as ever saying that good works were “effectual to salvation”? Aren’t you putting words in Packer’s mouth that are not there?

Besides that, isn’t the whole purpose of your post to paint Calvinism in the bad light of “works salvation”? It’s interesting that historically just the opposite has been true. Calvinists have always been falsely accused of being antinomians, not legalists. I wish the Calvinist strawman would make up his mind which heresy he follows!

Yes, if you are saved, then you are saved by persevering faith. What other kind of faith can one be saved by – failing faith? And the source of saving faith? Packer states it very well: “it is God who keeps them persevering”. And I will add: They keep persevering because God keeps preserving them.

You have to be a theological acrobat to get works salvation out of that. Isn’t it God that is behind your own sustaining, saving faith?

Terry McGovern said...

It will be little while before I can respomd. This morning I went to make visits and the my truck broke down. My son and I walked 100 degree heat for just over an hour, before we found a bush truck, to take us home.

Please also pray for water for us. We are out of water, as of yesterday, and I do not have my truck to go to the river to get water. We NEED rain.

When you are without water it effects every aspect of your life. We do have three trade stores here, and I think one of them will let me use a vehicle to go get water from the river.

When I can sit down and concentrate on the replies I will answer, but I have more pressing issues right now. It should be a day or two.

Thanks

Please pray about my truck and rain.

Terry McGovern said...

Within a matter of hours, the Lord had worked everything out from my last comment. The Lord had a purpose in all of it. I will post what happen tomorrow on my blog, so take the time to read it, if you are interested.

Brian thanks for joining the discussion.

First, Steve, I do not disagree necessarily with your interpretation of Romans 4. My post did not take it out of context. But I should have explained it better than I did. You are correct the context is clearly comparing those who are trying to work for their salvation, as compared to those who believe for their salvation. My point was, works has NO effectual role in salvation at all, at any stage. Romans 4 does demonstrate that.

As I read your statements, you both seemed to be saying that a Christian will ALWAYS have good works. (Perhaps more so with Steve, than Brian.) The flesh is still here. Paul struggled with it, and so do you. You sin, and so do I. Even Bro MacArthur agrees a Christian can fall into gross immoral sin, but that he will not abide there. He will not utterly fall away! I agree with his assessment. For instance, Lot was a saved man, yet he had times when he was not producing evidence. Steve made the statement there is no such thing as a “carnal Christian.” That is a false unscriptural statement. There are verses that show Christians who are carnal. I was very surprised to see Steve make that statement. Perhaps, I do not understand what you were saying. Here are some verses:

(1Co 3:1-3) And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

Notice, “YE ARE YET Carnal.” Notice they are “brethren.” That statement was giving under inspiration of God, so these were saved, carnal Christians.

Steve said,

“Sure justification is the starting point, and without that the other two do not come, but the Bible knows of no justification that does not also have sanctification nor glorification.”

My glorification is a result of my salvation. My glorification does not pay for my sins in any way. It was Jesus Christ who paid for my sins. As a result of my salvation, I will be glorified. (Perhaps we are just playing with semantics here and we actually agree on this point.) What I needed, to be saved, was justification and sanctification. Both of which have already taken place. I already have ETERNAL LIFE. It is mine. I am not awaiting my glorification to receive it. If I already have eternal life, then my salvation is complete.

Let me try and explain:
My sins were separating me from God. I am no longer separated from God, nor will I ever be separated from God again. He is abiding in me. That is salvation. He is not waiting on my progressive sanctification to indwell me either, because He has already positionally sanctified me. I have LIFE. This is why the Bibles says we are saved. For instance, Titus 3:5, “according to his mercy He saved us.” I am already saved. Now, there is much that comes with salvation that I am working out. (“work out your own salvation..”) Such as progressive sanctification. My glorification will one day happen because I am saved. These things are only results and play no effectual role. That is impossible, because all my sin debt is already paid and I have Life.

Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of our differences:

Colin, Joel and Steve’s comments really hit what our true difference is. The sanctification aspect of salvation. Of which, I do not think we will see eye to eye on until we are in Heaven together. Then we can sit down together and brag as to which one of us is right! (LOL) The Calvinist position maintains that progressive sanctification plays an effectual role in salvation. I believe, progressive sanctification is a result of salvation, and is in no way effectual. My point is that the very thing that separated us from God, thus causing death (sin) has been paid for by Jesus Christ in full. At the time, I placed my faith in Jesus, God through the Spirit indwelled me, giving me life. Thus I am saved. I was immediately freed from the wages of all my sin, as was evidenced by God indwelling me. My then progressive sanctification will be a result of His abiding presence in my life, helping me and giving me the strength to follow Him. My glorification is something I will receive because God has saved me.

This is also why the Old Testament saints could not have experienced the indwelling of the Spirit. Their sins were only covered, thus God could not indwell them yet. Their salvation was not complete! (Mine is.) The Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world had yet to be sacrificed and defeat the wages of sin. If any part of my salvation was not complete, God could not indwell me.



Steve,

I appreciated your comments. I am glad you decided to post and get in on the discussion. I also appreciate you praying for me and the ministry here. It sounds like you are very busy with family, work and school. I pray the Lord blesses.


Brian and all
**When quoting scripture on the blog, I would appreciate if all would use KJV. Yes, that is the only Bible I use for the English language. No, I do not believe in Double inspiration. I do believe it is the inspired, infallible, inerrant, Word of God. I believe the Lord preserved His Word. (Much like the Lord helps us to persevere and preserves us blameless. I believe he has done the same with His Word in not even letting a jot or tittle pass away.) Due to the manuscripts used for the other translations, I do not use them. (I am not saying this to start a debate on that issue.)
Thanks

Terry McGovern said...

Let me try and give an illustration for my point.


A man is drowning in the ocean. A boat comes and rescues him from drowning. Once he is in the boat, he is no longer in danger from drowning. However, due to some lingering effects from the time he spent in the water, the man who rescued him takes him to the hospital. There he can be treated for sunburn, and other physical ailments resulting from the being in the water.

I was rescued from drowning, in sin, the moment I was placed in Jesus Christ. Just as the man was rescued from drowning the moment he was placed in the boat. I was saved. Sin would not be able to kill me. However, I still have lingering effects from being in sin. I still have an old nature. However, the Father helps me with progressive sanctification, and will one day remove this old body and give me a glorified body. At that moment, all the lingering results of sin will be done away with.

Brian said...

My point wasn't that a believer will always act with good works. The flesh IS still here, we still do sin - I would be a liar if I said I didn't sin every day.

My point, instead, is that the "believer" whose life is utterly unchanged by his faith, who has not stopped sinning in any fashion, who has not born any fruit, there is no reason to believe that person is saved, is there? And furthermore, if a new "believer" sprouts up quickly and produces a variety of good works in a short time after he or she believes, but then subsequently desists completely and falls back into their old ways never to return, do we have reason to believe that person is saved as well? The Bible teaches no. This has nothing to do with them losing their salvation, but instead is evidence that the Spirit of Christ does not dwell in them, which it would (we all agree on this I hope!) if that person were actually saved.

Terry McGovern said...

Brian,

I agree with you. When a person is saved he is a "new creature."

Here is a link from a previous post, where I bring up the same point you are making.
http://missionary-insights.blogspot.com/2006/03/life-or-no-life-when-lazarus-was.html

Colin Maxwell said...

Having been away from the debate for a couple of days and thus able to view it away from the "battleground" I think there is more agreement among the various participants than perhaps supposed. As I see it:

Both sides are particularly anxious to prevent easy believism. We both make allowances for true Believers growing cold or falling into individual sins e.g. like David who was plunged into adultery etc., We both accept that all true Believers are in the ongoing process of being sanctified and that this sanctification is not perfect and never will be in this life. But if a *professing* believer produces absolutely no fruit in his life and shows no evidence that he is a child of God (such as the marks given in 1 John) then his words mean very little, if anything, no matter how many times he has walked an isle or said the sinner's prayer. Saving faith always produces good works as an evidence (Ephesians 2:8-10/James 2 etc.,)

Calvinists do not believe that men are justified through their sanctified works - justification is by grace through faith in the work of Christ alone - but that such faith effectually produces good works. No praying of mine or serious Bible study or any Christian service or any pious virtue of mine, such as are commanded in the NT, can ever justify me before God. However, we do believe that God's grace will effectually produce such things in the normal course of events in a Believer's life.

I wonder are we merely disputing about terms here? If so, then one of the petals of the TULIP is not dangerous as Terry first alleged in his original posting on Calvinism. At least as far as the last of the 5 points are concerned, it poses no serious threat at all, but (since it is but NT Christianity) will prove to be its greatest friend. Even the most faithful ministries see empty professions - our Lord Himself did e.g. Judas Iscariot - but a true ministry, as far as is humanly possible, will not encourage the fruitless professors, but will warn them of their danger. Not because they can lose their justification and hope of glory, but because the evidence points to the fact that they never possessed them in the first place.

Terry McGovern said...

Colin,

The problem is, Colin, we are not merely disputing terms. If that were true, then you would be correct, there would be no real danger. There is still a MAJOR disagreement between us. The fact is Calvinism teaches perseverance is essential part in salvation. That, without the Lord helping Christians persevere, one could lose their salvation. This is a falsehood that lacks understanding as to what took place at salvation. This fact is substantiated by the quotes I provided from leaders within the Calvinism movement. Such as:


RC Sproul
“In and of myself I am capable of sinning even unto the loss of my salvation, but I'm persuaded that God in his grace will keep me from that. (“Can a Sinning Christian Lose His Salvation”?)


J.I. Packer
“The doctrine declares that the regenerate are saved through persevering in faith and Christian living to the end (Heb. 3:6; 6:11; 10:35-39), and that it is God who keeps them persevering.”

John Piper
“Anyone who puts faith in God's promises bought for us by the blood of Jesus, and is diligent not to throw that faith away, is a part of the people of God.”

John MacArthur
“God's own holiness thus requires perseverance. "God's grace insures
our persevering`but this does not make it any less our persevering."21
Believers cannot acquire "the prize of the upward call of God in Christ
Jesus" unless they "press on toward the goal" (Phil 3:14).”



WE are NOT eternally secure because of perseverance. We are eternally secure because of the finished work of Jesus Christ. My sins CAN NOT be imputed unto me ever again. My previous comment covered this point, of which you made to attempt to refute.

This false doctrine, which teaches perseverance is necessary for salvation thus making works an essential to salvation, is dangerous. Anything that adds to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is dangerous. Persevering involves works. Even though Calvinist claim perseverance is all of the Lord, it does not change the fact that it is still their works.

Our perseverance is only evidence of salvation, and it is not effectual. It is the RESULT of salvation, and it is not in any way, or part the CAUSE of salvation.

As I said to begin with, Calvinism teaches an unscriptural reason for eternal security. This is dangerous!

In a month or so, I will move on to the “T” of TULIP. I hope you will keep checking back so we can once again discuss Calvinism. If you would like me to email you once I post, drop me an email and let me know.

Side note: Colin, , I do hope to travel to Ireland one day. My great Grandparents came to America from Ireland. If I do, maybe we can get together for lunch and discuss the issue in person. :)

Colin Maxwell said...

Terry,

I wish you would use the more defining words of "justification" or "sanctification" when you talk about "salvation" otherwise, we will just go round and round in circles. I still think we are a lot closer than you are prepared to make out. Don't let the fear of man take over here. Don't worry, we won't brand you a "One point Calvinist" or anything like that :0)

Look forward to seeing you in Ireland. What part did your folks come from? If they were Scotch-Irish Presbyterians...hmmmmmm

Terry McGovern said...

Colin,

If you would like your second comment published let me know. My guess is you thought your first one did not take because I enabled "moderate comments." (I noticed the second comment was pretty much the same as the first.)

(The traffic at my blog has picked up substantially. As a result, I enabled comment moderation. Before enabling it, I waited until I thought this discussion was over.)

I am waiting to hear back from my brother as to what part of Ireland. My family was Catholic though. I was the first in the family to accept the Lord.

Colin Maxwell said...

Terry,

As I was writing some concluding remarks on our debate on the Perseverance of the Saints on the webpage which I set aside on our church Website http://www.corkfpc.com/mcgoverncalvinism.html I decided to look and see what the Calvinistic Westminster Confession of Faith declared on this very issue. Without necessarily agreeing with it all, yet I am sure that you will see nothing there that suggests that the people of God are able to work for their salvation as charged.

I don't particularly want to open up the whole debate again, especially if you consider it closed, but I felt it worth while drawing attention to the WCF. The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith says the same thing.

Colin.

Terry McGovern said...

Hello Colin,

I have read some statements by Calvinist that I agree with concerning perseverance of the saints. However, as you and I both know, Calvinism DOES teach perseverance is essential/effectual in salvation. This is scripturally incorrect. I fully understand what aspect of salvation (sanctification) Calvinist put perseverance under. Like I said to begin with, the problem lies with a lack of understanding as to what takes place when a person is saved. Perseverance has NO effectual workings in regards to salvation. It is ONLY evidence. I am eternally saved already. Why? Because ALL my sins are already paid for. Therefore I can NEVER lose my salvation. To teach perseverance plays an effectual role is teaching works salvation.

I think in my two post, as well as a few of my previous comments, I demonstrated how salvation works and why we are eternally saved.

As long as you believe perseverance plays an effectual role we will not agree. If you cease believing it pays an effectual role, you would be a 4 point Calvinist. :)

goodnightsafehome said...

Terry, We both know that Calvinists put perseverance under the sanctification part of salvation. If I read you right, you think that Calvinists introduce perseverance into the justification end of things i.e. in your own words "all my sins are already paid for". However, there is nothing in the Calvinistic Confession (WCF) section under Perseverance which teaches that - a strange omission indeed if it were true - because it is a vital subject. This leaves me wondering then if the WCF under Justification makes up this supposed lack. What do I find there? The Larger Catechism tackles the matter of justification by faith on a number of questions, including the following. I have CAPITALISED the relevant parts as they relate to this controversy for emphasis:

Question 70: What is justification?
Answer: Justification is an act of God's free grace unto sinners, in which he pardons all their sins, accepts and accounts their persons righteous in his sight; NOT FOR ANYTHING WROUGHT IN THEM, OR DONE BY THEM, but ONLY for the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed to them, and received by faith alone.

Question 71: How is justification an act of God's free grace?
Answer: Although Christ, by his obedience and death, did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to God's justice in the behalf of them that are justified; yet inasmuch as God accepts the satisfaction from a surety, which he might have demanded of them, and did provide this surety, his own only Son, imputing his righteousness to them, and REQURING NOTHING OF THEM FOR THEIR JUSTIFICATION BUT FAITH, which also is his gift, THEIR JUSTIFICATION IS TO THEM OF FREE GRACE.

Question 72: What is justifying faith?
Answer: Justifying faith is a saving grace, wrought in the heart of a sinner by the Spirit and Word of God, whereby he, being convinced of his sin and misery, and of the disability in himself and all other creatures to recover him out of his lost condition, not only assents to the truth of the promise of the gospel, but receives and rests upon Christ and his righteousness, therein held forth, for pardon of sin, and for the accepting and accounting of his person righteous in the sight of God for salvation.

Question 73: How does faith justify a sinner in the sight of God?
Answer: Faith justifies a sinner in the sight of God, NOT BECAUSE OF THOSE OTHER GRACES WHICH DO ALWAYS ACCOMPANY IT, OR OF GOOD WORKS THAT ARE THE FRUITS OF IT, OR ANY ACT THEREOF, WHERE IMPUTED TO HIM FOR HIS JUSTIFICATION; but only as it is an instrument by which he receives and applies Christ and his righteousness.

If we go back to the WCF section on Perseverance, once the Calvinist states that the saint will can neither totally, nor finally, fall away from the state of grace: but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved, it tells us what this perseverance depends upon. It denies that it depends upon their own free will, but that it flows from the immutable decree of election, based alone on the unchangeable love of the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and interecession of Christ, the abiding of the Holy Spirit and seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace along with all that is certain and infallible in that. To have our salvation hinge on our perseverance (as you insist Calvinists believe) flies in the face of what our Confession clearly teaches.

I accept that there are several cases here of cutting and pasting, but this is due to the seriousness of the charge and (thankfully) the fact that the WCF men were so careful to state their case accurately. We believe that the other graces always accompany justification (as evidence) and good works are the fruit of it, but Q73 makes it abundantly clear, that they are NOT THE CAUSE (and therefore are not effectual, as you keep arguing) in the justification of the sinner. Faith is the instrument - the cause is Christ and His righteousness.

I think the danger here from your point of view (I say this kindly) is that you might well be fighting straw men who do not exist in reality. You cannot show me from the WCF (which was the basis of the 1689 Baptist Confession) where Calvinists teach what *you* say they teach.

Terry McGovern said...

Colin,

We are arguing your belief about salvation itself, and not just the justification part. I know what you believe about justification. The problem lies with what you believe concerning progressive sanctification and what roles it plays in relation to salvation.

Here is a statement from you, “If by salvation, you mean "sanctification" then, "Yes, I DO believe that perseverance plays an effectual role in salvation." How can you say I am addressing a straw man!? I am addressing exactly what you believe.

Calvinist believe that if God did not give a persevering faith they could fall away. They believe they are eternally secure because they will persevere until the end. Here is your statement.

“the saint will can neither totally, nor finally, fall away from the state of grace: but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.”


Why can the saint neither “totally nor finally fall away” according to this statement, because of “perseverance to the end”. Scripturally incorrect. I will not fall away, because I will NEVER again have sin imputed unto me. Rom 4:8 THAT IS WHY WE ARE ETERNALLY SECURE!

ALSO,
Notice the future tense of salvation in this sentence from your comment about the WCF. “BE eternally saved”. That too is scripturally incorrect! I am eternally saved! It is not that I will “be” eternally saved.

(John 3:36) He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

I have eternal life! It is NOT something I am waiting for pending my perseverance. What I tried to do with my post and comments was to try and get you to see how your belief in justification does not line up with what you believe about progressive sanctification. If we are justified, then we ARE eternally saved regardless of perseverance. Perseverance is a work and is ONLY evidence of eternal life.

Colin Maxwell said...

Hi Terry,

Thanks for your response to my comments. Again, we are basically agreed on this matter, although there are a couple of lose ends which could do with being tied up.

[i] Calvinists likewise believe in the present possession of eternal life. You rightly quote John 3:36 and a consultation of the Calvinist commentators will show that they teach what you are saying. Jamison, Fausset and Brown do so. I quote (EMPHASIS MINE):

"hath everlasting life — ALREADY HAS IT. (See on Joh_3:18 and see on Joh_5:24).
shall not see life — The contrast here is striking: The one HAS ALREADY A LIFE THAT WILL ENDURE FOR EVER - the other not only has it not now, but shall never have it - never see it."
Matthew Henry likewise: "True believers, EVEN NOW, HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE; NOT ONLY THEY SHALL HAVE IT HEREAFTER, BUT THEY HAVE IT NOW."

I forbear to quote to any further to prove the point.

[ii] The use of the future tense in salvation should not be used to deny its use also in the present. Paul wrote: And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. (Romans 13:11) Does Paul deny that he had a present possession of salvation? We know he doesn't. How then is it progressively "nearer" than when at that initial moment of saving faith? Answer: because salvation in this case is a reference to that part of salvation which we call glorification. The part is put for the whole. Likewise if the WCF use the word "shall be eternally saved" then they are referring to the future crowning occasion of their salvation i.e. glorification. Calvinists believe that Christians are already, totally and unchangeably justified, are being (present, ongoing sense) sanctified and (one day, yet future) will be glorified i.e. in Heaven. This is our common evangelical belief.
[iii] Why not read my statement (“the saint will can neither totally, nor finally, fall away from the state of grace: but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.”) as follows: "[Calvinists] believe that they will persevere unto the end because they are secure?" That's the position that I and all other Calvinists whom I know take.

To be honest, I am surprised that you have first raised this particular issue and have persisted in it. Any debate that I have had with Non Calvinists over this 5th point has normally been with those who take the Arminian position i.e. that the elect can fall away and be eventually damned. As I was researching for this answer, I remembered some words which David Cloud (one of your men) wrote. In an early edition of his "Calvinism - Who is the Enemy?" (where he was expressing his opposition) he took the time to list what he called: Some Good Things About Calvinism. He wrote:


"Though I do not agree with Calvinist theology, I can readily admit that there are many good things about Calvinism, especially if it is contrasted with the shallow, man-centered theology and evangelism that is so popular today. Four things come to mind readily:

3. Calvinism gives eternal security to the believer. Calvinism promises eternal security to the believer, because it knows that (1) salvation is entirely of God's grace and thus depends nothing whatsoever on man's puny works whether good or bad, (2) God has elected and ordained the saved person to a glorious eternal inheritance, and (3) the saved persevere in the faith through the effective working of the indwelling Holy Spirit. In this it is right on target.

4. Calvinism teaches that the elect will give evidence of their calling. The Calvinist knows that salvation produces a dramatic change in a person's life, and in this he is right on target. Any "salvation" that does not result in a change of life and direction and thinking and purpose is not a biblical salvation."

To sum up:

1) We seem to be agreed on the matter of the justification of the Believer.
2) We agree that eternal life is the present possession of the Believer.
3) We agree that Christians persevere unto the end because they are eternally secure (therefore they can never lose their eternal life.)
4) References to a future salvation refers to the glorification of the Christians and does not detract from his past or present experiences
5) Perseverance is indeed a work and is only an evidence of eternal life - saving faith always shows itself by persevering unto the end.
6) Others, who basically take your overall position regarding to Calvinism, nevertheless basically agree with the Calvinistic position on this matter of the Perseverance of the Saints. I quote Cloud and I know that I could get others if needs be.

I must leave it here. Colin Maxwell.

Terry McGovern said...

Colin,

You never answer the scriptural arguments I provide showing the problems with the Calvinism’s teaching on perseverance of the saints! I have to wonder if you read my arguments at all! For instance you said we agree on this:

“We agree that Christians persevere unto the end because they are eternally secure (therefore they can never lose their eternal life.)”

WE DO NOT agree on this.

The statement you made is unscriptural and is the very point of the “P” that I am showing to be unscriptural.

Let me make this CLEAR. The Bible DOES NOT teach that I can never lose my salvation because of perseverance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I CAN NEVER AGAIN have sin imputed unto me. THAT is WHY I am eternally secure in Christ. Even if I could fall into gross sin for the rest of my life, it is IMPOSSIBLE for that sin to be imputed unto me!!!! The righteousness of Christ has ALREADY been imputed unto me. Perseverance HAS NOTHING to do with salvation. The fact that I am in a new creature in Christ is only evidence.

To sum it up, again, We are NOT eternally secure because of perseverance. Teaching thus adds works to salvation.

Colin Maxwell said...

Terry, I think you are putting the cart before the horse as regards what I believe. My argument is NOT that perseverance leads to eternal security, but that eternal security leads to perseverance. Read it again as I have written it. I am secure and so (as a direct consequence -not a cause or contributing factor, but as a direct and gracious consequence) I persevere. If the Christian persevering does not come from the fact that He is eternally secure (A/ Because God has decreed His salvation from before the foundation of the world B/ Christ has effectually died for his sins and taken them away C/ Christ's righteousness has been eternally imputed to his account D/ The Spirit of God dwells forever in His heart) then where does it come from?

I don't want to get over pernickety about words, but you say "Even if I could fall into gross sin the rest of my life" - the obvious implication is that you couldn't. Is this what you mean when you use this phrase? Or could you have easily written, "Even if I did fall into gross sin etc.,"

What would your approach be to someone who came along and said: "I called upon the name of the Lord for salvation 10 years ago in a gospel meeting, but I have lived in gross sin ever since. I still curse and swear and get violent and chea etc.,t, but neverthless I am saved!" Would you say to such a one: "That's OK! It would be better if you give these things up and show evidence of salvation, but even if you don't, you can fall into those gross sins (and more and worse) for the rest of your life, and those sins are not imputed to you?" I find it hard to believe that you would say that, but until you clarify the above quotation, then I am left wondering.

Terry McGovern said...

Colin, sorry it has taken me awhile, but I was unable to get online. Hopefully your still around.


Colin said,
“What would your approach be to someone who came along and said: "I called upon the name of the Lord for salvation 10 years ago in a gospel meeting, but I have lived in gross sin ever since. I still curse and swear and get violent and chea etc.,t, but neverthless I am saved!" Would you say to such a one: "That's OK! It would be better if you give these things up and show evidence of salvation, but even if you don't, you can fall into those gross sins (and more and worse) for the rest of your life, and those sins are not imputed to you?" I find it hard to believe that you would say that, but until you clarify the above quotation, then I am left wondering.”

First, anyone who is truly saved, can never lose their salvation regardless of their actions. They are justified before God, and will not have any sin imputed unto them again. (Even gross immoral sins.) Yes, it is possible for me to fall into gross immoral sin.

Now, as to the person you describe above, there is no way I would tell him he was fine because he prayed a prayer 10 years ago. I would explain to him, simply praying a prayer saves no one. That it is faith that saves. I would tell him if he called on the Lord without true faith it was nothing. I would then explain to him a true Christian is a new creature in Christ as a result of salvation. A true Christian will desire to follow the Lord and change their life. I would continue, based on his own testimony, telling him he does not show any evidence of being a Christian. As a matter fact he shows every evidence of being a lost man. I would tell him not to trust in a obviously vain profession he made 10 years earlier. To repent and place his faith in Jesus Christ.

Colin, I have read much about Calvinism over many years. Calvinism teaches perseverance does play an effectual role in salvation. You yourself admitted this earlier, but have since backed down. I really like some of what you wrote in your last comment about eternal security, but the fact is Calvinism does not leave it there. I wish it did.

Remember what Sproul said in my originally post, “In and of myself I am capable of sinning even unto the loss of my salvation, but I'm persuaded that God in his grace will keep me from that. (“Can a Sinning Christian Lose His Salvation”?)

That view is mainstream Calvinistic teaching on perseverance of the saints by Calvinists. That statement from Sproul is COMPLETELY unscriptual and is the aspect of “perseverance of the saints” I am attacking. It is wrong. God does not allow me to persevere so that I can be eternally saved, or not lose my justification that has already taken place. He gives me the strength to have victory over the world the flesh and the devil, because I am His child now. He has already given me eternal life.

Terry McGovern said...

Colin,

I did not recieve your comment from the blog, just the copy you sent via email. I am not sure what happened, but I have switched to blogger beta this week, so maybey that affected it.

Here is Colin's comment:

Colin Maxwell said ...

Hi Terry, I'm glad that you have been able to make it back again, although with the break away and bearing in mind all that has been said, it is hard to get back into the way again of our closely argued debate. I can see us having to agree to disagree on this matter and so these will (I trust) be my last few thoughts on what was an enjoyable and rancour free debate. If you wish to have the last word - seeing you commenced the debate - that's up to you. Bearing in mind that I am summing up my thoughts:

1) Calvinists believe that those who truly and repent the gospel are eternally saved and will never be lost because:

[i] They were chosen unto salvation in all its different aspects (justification, regeneration, pardon, adoption, sanctification, glorification etc.,) by the eternal decree of God which cannot be overthrown or frustrated. Every last one of the elect of God will infallibly make it home to Heaven and none, absolutely none, will be lost. Calvinists believe that such election is entirely unconditional and solely the work of God, this does not leave man room to frustrate it, either knowingly or otherwise. Note: Such election does not make man either a robot nor rob him of his personal responsibility before God. (I have highlighted this last statement as I don't want it to be lost in any future debates, if such occur.) But all the elect will be gathered safely home.

[ii] If Calvinists use phrases like "Left to myself..." they are only speaking hypothetically, since (strictly speaking) Christians are not left to themselves. They are using a hypothetical situation acknowledging their own inability to either save or keep themselves. Normally, this rhetorical device is seen for what it truly is - a manner of speaking. Sadly, this has not been the case here and it has been left to bear weight it was never intended to do so.

[iii] If we do not differentiate the various components of "salvation" i.e. justification, sanctification and glorification, then we are going to run into big trouble. When Paul said that being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved [future tense] from wrath through Him (Romans 5:9) he was not denying that he had been justified in a past action (with continuous, indeed eternal, effect) nor was he denying the present ongoing process of sanctification (dying daily unto sin) but affirming His future glorification - He would reach glory without incurring the wrath of God. When I used the phrase above that we are perseverance makes our salvation effectual, it was strictly (as very carefully explained) in the context of our sanctification. It was are not overcoming the devil or at least seeking to do so, then we are not being sanctified. I do not back away from this statement as understood in the matter of sanctification. I do not hold, nor do I argue that our persevering in any way is the cause of or a contributing factor in, our justification before God. This is based entirely, 100% on what Christ has done for us.

[iv] All the sins of the Christian - committed before and after his conversion, have been laid on Christ. The only sin for which there is no pardon is (obviously enough) the unpardonable sin. None of the elect of God will ever commit that sin. The fact that all his sins have been laid on Christ should not be used by any professing believer as an excuse for him to do what he wants. It is rather the spur and the means whereby he can live a holy life unto God, as becoming one who professes to be a follower of Jesus Christ.

[v] I agree with your pastoral approach to one who would take the outrageous position above.

Thanks for debating these issues with me in a civil and Christian manner.

Colin.

Terry McGovern said...

Colin,

I have enjoyed the debate as well. I am sure when I post on the next area of Calvinsim we can debate again!

I believe, I will next address the "T" of the TULIP.