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.
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!