Election: The Problem with Perseverance of the Saints, Part 1

A very long time ago — back when I had hair and was skinny — all the way back to high school that is — I had a date with a good Baptist girl. (I, of course, didn’t not let anyone at church know I was dating a heretic. That’s how it was in those days. And it was just one date.)

Anyway, the conversation turned to atonement theology. (Yes, really.)  It went something like this.

Girl: I know deep in my heart that I’m saved. I have this assurance from the Holy Spirit that God has saved me and that I’ll never fall away.

Me: Hasn’t anyone in your church ever fallen away? Hasn’t there been someone who seemed saved and then fell away?

Girl: Oh, yes, but those people were never really saved in the first place. They had a false faith.

Me: If — before they fell away — you’d asked them if they were saved, what would they have said? Would they have said they were saved?

Girl: Of course.

Me: Would they have said they had this assurance from the Holy Spirit that they are saved?

Girl (growing unhappy with me): Ye – e – e – s

Me: And would they have denied that they had a false faith?

Girl (nearing anger): Of course.

Me: Then they were just as assured of their salvation as you, and yet they fell away. That’s not assurance.

Date ends. No good night kiss for Jay. Jay decides his preacher is right and he should stick with dating good Church of Christ girls. Faith, Belial, and all that.

And that’s still how I see perseverance of the saints. As countless fully assured people have fallen away, it’s not much in the way of assurance. As John Piper himself writes,

There is a falling away of some believers, but if it persists, it shows that their faith was not genuine and they were not born of God.

That’s not a “falling away” as you can’t fall from a height to which you never ascended. Worse yet, it’s a doctrine that assures you that your salvation is never truly assured. Piper writes,

God’s elect cannot be lost.

This is why we believe in eternal security–namely, the eternal security of the elect. the implication is that God will so work that those whom he has chosen for eternal salvation will be enabled by him to persevere in faith to the end and fulfill, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the requirements for obedience. …
There is a falling away of some believers, but if it persists, it shows that their faith was not genuine and they were not born of God.

l John 2:l9, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out, that it might be made plain that they all are not of us.” Similarly, the parable of the four soils as interpreted in Luke 8:9-l4 pictures people who “hear the word, receive it with joy; but these have no root, they believe for a while and in a time of temptation fall away.”

The fact that such a thing is possible is precisely why the ministry of the Word in every local church must contain many admonitions to the church members to persevere in faith and not be entangled in those things which could possibly strangle them and result in their condemnation. …

Nevertheless, we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith. The way these two truths fit together is that we are justified through our first act of faith because God sees in it (like he can see the tree in an acorn) the embryo of a life of faith. This is why those who do not lead a life of faith with its inevitable fruit of obedience simply bear witness to the fact that their first act of faith was not genuine.

Ponder this one a bit. Am I the only one who sees an obvious contradiction? If a false faith does not save, why preach “many admonitions” to persevere? They’re damned, and they can’t save themselves!

And for those with a genuine faith, well, they “cannot be lost.” Why the admonitions?

Does your head hurt yet?

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33 Responses to Election: The Problem with Perseverance of the Saints, Part 1

  1. Jerry Starling says:

    Nearly 20 years ago, my (then) son-in-law asked me about election and perseverance of the saints. I prefaced my remarks by telling him that for me to do what God has told me to do as a preacher – i.e., preach the gospel to all and to encourage the believers to be faithful – I had to act as if those doctrines are false. Then I asked him, "If I have to treat them as false to obey God, isn't there at least a strong possibility that they are false?"

    This is the same question you raise in this post.

  2. It is certain from what we read from God that it is possible to fall away from salvation. A doctrine that teaches "once saved always saved" is a false doctrine. Yet, a doctrine that bases salvation on ones ability to understand and keep all truth is false as well. I was in college before I heard anyone teach that we could be assured of our salvation. Until that point in my life I thought one could never know if he was saved this side of judgment. Theology that places all responsibility of salvation on man's ability to be "good" is bad theology. The truth must reside somewhere between these two extremes. Jay thanks for the work you do.

  3. bradstanford says:

    It's better to say, "Once saved, it's very difficult to lose one's salvation."

    The traditional CofC will focus on Hell, Satan's power to lead us astray, an how large our part is in the story of salvation. This is the complete opposite of focusing on things that are good and noble and right. For a denomination that is focused on salvation by CENI, they fail miserably on this point.

    The truth is, Jesus does talk about Hell but what was His focus? The Kingdom. Salvation. Making things right. Any church or person that focuses their energies on these things will find it impossible to fall away.

    Think of David – he sinned with Bathsheba because he was off-mission. He should've been at war with his troops! When we're not on mission (meditating on Scripture, advancing the Kingdom, worshiping at home, serving our neighbors, taking care of widows and orphans) all that's left to do is engage things that are not good and noble and right.

    At this point in church history, I'm ready to ask people who argue about the details of falling away, "Tell me about your lifestyle." I doubt the majority would be reflecting Jesus day-to-day. The people I look to as "on mission" don't (or didn't) talk about falling away as part of their focus. That doesn't mean they believed this or that about it, it just means that there are far more important things to talk about, like the current Ministry Ideas series.

  4. Jim Haugland says:

    Rather than mention some specific scriptures
    (Hebrews comes to mind & Jesus' words to the seven churches in the Revelation of John), I think the example of the marriage ceremony where public vows are made regarding love, faithfulness, commitment & covenant has relevance here (a common sense approach). Do we believe that everyone who marries and subsequently divorces later never really loved their spouse? Never believed in marital faithfulness, honesty, mutual perseverence in good or difficult times? I don't think so!

  5. christianclarityrevi says:

    interesting heresy you've got going: it is scoffing that has its own emotional protection built in to make you wise in your own eyes.

    The problem is that you are denying the new birth in Jesus Christ and the means by which we are born again: hearing God as Word.

    1Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

    Not only can you not see any distinction between God as Word and non-creating speech ( the speech in which lies are spoken) but you are implying only one speech exists in total reality and it can create nothing in addition to equating the deceptions of Satan in the reprobate with the witness of the Holy Spirit in the elect.

    By doing so you mysterize the plain truth of the new birth in Jesus Christ in order to seem to have a logical foundation to keep on scoffing.

    The lies of that spirit in your flesh simply skirt the issue of being newly created as a new spiritual being in Jesus Christ, but imply that a mere ideal model of behavior is to be chosen and adhered to in order to be saved and then make a logical leap that anyone can fall away from an ideal model of behavior if they have free will. That also implies identical creatures will be in heaven and the lake of fire –which is not the case.

    Perseverance of the Saints/Once saved always saved is simply the truth of once born again you cannot be unborn, not matter the doubts you may have or the deceptions of Satan in other people.

    But of course, your lies have no explanation for actual and non-metaphorical new birth and your smirky tone is simply the inward proof of your own calamity of soul.

    God is not mocked.

    1Peter 2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

    In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

  6. Larry Short says:

    CCR, please explain Job. Why would Satan speak to God about Job's faithfulness. If Job was elected, its useless for Satan to ask to remove his blessings, if Job is not elected, why ask about Him at all?
    True, you cannot be unborn, but you can die.
    Heb 6:4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
    Please explain.

  7. Stan says:

    Christianclarityreview:???????????

    I do not sense love in your words.
    You speak with pride.
    Your future is predictable.

    But there is still hope will there is still time.

  8. Stan says:

    CRR

    Don't let the misspelled word in the above posting be a stone of stumbling to you.

  9. Tim Archer says:

    I have come to believe more in the possibility of walking away. Choosing to leave. No one can snatch us from Jesus' hand, but we can reject God's salvation and return to the world.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  10. bradstanford says:

    Tim:

    Doesn't "no one" include yourself? I have never understood how we interpret "no one" as "no one but me."

  11. bradstanford says:

    It's good that the date ended. Her logic about knowing in her heart is just as bad as the CofC's "won't know till you die theology" – which is also unbiblical.

    As much as I like Piper, I disagree with his assessment of the ministry of the Word. That, to me is a logical contradiction. It would also be fair to see if he restates this position more clearly in his other writings. (I have no idea – maybe that's precisely what he thinks. But I would give any author the opportunity to clarify what he's saying if it sounds confusing.)

    I do think the parable of the soils make it easier to think through more than any other parable. It is the implications of that parable that keeps it from being "easy" for most.

    The issue boils down to this: The only possible assurance we can have is if God is in control. If not, then it's up to man, and we've seen how that works out.

    Unless we argue that the new creation IS possible of perfect living. Of course, the only one here who can defend that idea is the one who is living perfectly. That wouldn't be me. Or any of the rest of us.

    If the gospel is:
    Man could not live up to the law
    Jesus did, and sacrificed for us
    Now live up to the law

    …then what's the point? That's not salvation, that's just a second chance for disappointment. But if the gospel is:

    Man couldn't, so God did

    Then that is good news and assurance.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The writer of Hebrews at times was speaking to certain Hebrews (Jews) present that they need to have genuine faith in the gospel.

    The gospel had been preached to the Jews, and the gifts and power of the Holy Spirit had been manifested among them. They were to go on to a full genuine acceptance or to fall to a willful conscious enmity against Christ, and the sin of rejecting Him, and putting Him to an open shame. The writer of Hebrews is speaking to the unsaved who have heard the truth, but who have hesitated to embrace Christ.

    As we see the writer also speaks to the beloved present to those who have genuine faith as in verses 6:9-20.

  13. Richard says:

    Could it be that you are predestined to reject predestination?
    Could it be that the "how" one is saved is predestined rather than simply the "who"? (Eph 1:5ff)

  14. Tim Archer says:

    Brad,

    No offense, but the concept of me snatching myself from Jesus' hand doesn't make sense. "Help, my sheep stole itself!"

    Feel free to say that you believe that we can't walk away on our own. Please don't try to affirm something using a grammatical impossibility.

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  15. bradstanford says:

    Tim:
    Then how about a biblical example: Jesus will leave the 99 to go get the one who decided to remove himself from the fold. That parable specifically address one who used to be in the fold, but "decides" (as much as that describes a sheep) to wander.

    Paul said that when he sinned it was not him, but the sin that did it. So on one level you're correct: it would not be us deciding to walk away. It would be the sin in us. The nature of the sheep – and our flesh – is to wander.

    That's why the Good Shepherd described himself as such – the only way a sheep could get away is if He was not paying attention. He has gone to great lengths to show us this is not the case. Why is that not good enough for us?

    -Brad

  16. Larry Short says:

    Jn 14:7 Therefore Jesus said again, "Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
    11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep…..
    27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. (TNIV ibs.org)
    Tim, I agree that the snatch is outside forces, specifically thieves and wolves, so you can decide to leave.
    Brad, God could make us snatch proof from ourselves, but many verses warn about falling away, so outside forces remains best fit. Its sill awesome that salavation is devil proof! Probably why Jesus said:
    Mt 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of death will not overcome it
    Lastly, the parables of the soils show that the seed not taking root was a matter of the condition of the soils (us). Just doesn't seem election to me.

  17. Larry Short says:

    Brad, very well said comments. I'm not sure the snatching verses relate to the good shepherd watching. It never says a good shepherd doesn't let sheep wander, that's how you feed them (grazing). Probably the "leaving the 99" shows how hard a good shepherd works to keep every individual sheep despite their wandering. I have had sheep herding uncles but do not claim perfect knowledge of this.

  18. bradstanford says:

    "Lastly, the parables of the soils show that the seed not taking root was a matter of the condition of the soils (us). Just doesn’t seem election to me."

    Think like a farmer would've heard it (the audience hearing it): Who tilled the field? Who carried the seed to its location? Who keeps the critters away so that there's a harvest? That would be God, with no help from the plant.

    What is the power of the plant? Which of the plants uprooted itself? None.

    The condition of the soil is up to the farmer. Where He did not till, there will still be some results because the seed is just that powerful. But harvest comes from only where the farmer ha prepared the soil in advance. What did the plant do to prepare itself or the soil?

    How can that *not* sound like election, unless we've been taught to think that way? This is Satan's work: everywhere God is telling us about the good news, the enemy tries to steal it away from us before it takes root as good news in our hearts.

    Sheep:
    Matthew 18
    1At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?"
    2He called a little child and had him stand among them. 3And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

    10"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.
    12"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost.

    In the context of the kingdom, in the context of spiritual warfare, and the context of glory, how can Jesus be anything other than a Shepherd who carefully counts and controls His flock? How is it, according to the CofC that the sheep are in such control over Him? Free will? Such an answer ignores the free will of the sheep to leave the flock in the parable. The whole point of it is that in spite of the so-called "free will" of the sheep, the Shepherd's result prevails. As Proverbs says, "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

    Such good news! So good that the enemy wants us – above all other doctrine – to not understand it. When people realize to what extent they are saved, you see the fruit of the Spirit burst forth!

    But when we're convinced that our free will can trump God, we fall for the same temptation that started this whole thing in the garden. You can be God! You can decide whether you're in or out! You, you, you! Sound familiar?

    Logic leaves little room for scandalous salvation.

    We have reasoned the Spirit out of our congregations. We have reasoned miracles out of our congregations. We have reasoned assurance of salvation out of our congregations. We have reasoned joy and celebration out of our congregations. Now, with our logical, biblical assertions of free will, we wish to reason God Himself out.

    Is it any wonder that the CofC is dying?

  19. Larry Short says:

    Mt 13:3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown
    This is not a well prepared farm! Should have removed rocks and weeds. The farmer is haphazard also, throwing seed on the path, rocks, and in the weed patch. Perhaps this was commom for a new field in NT times. The point is this is unprepared soil. This is somewhat like the gospel into the world. (God gives sun and rain to the righteous and unrighteous.)
    18 "Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When people hear the message about the kingdom and do not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their hearts. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to people who hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to people who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to people who hear the word and understand it. They produce a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."
    18 "Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When people hear the message about the kingdom and do not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their hearts. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to people who hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to people who hear the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to people who hear the word and understand it. They produce a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown." (TNIV ibs.org)
    Notice v19 Satan snatches. Also v20 "people… receive it with joy", v22 "people who hear…. but" v23"people who hear.. and understand" Seems like some action for the soil. However I must admit, the situations both positive and negative are somewhat out of the soil's choice. What I meant by not seeing election is the scattered everywhere seed. Why bother with the path, weeds, and rocks if only the good soil is elected? Makes God teasing us with seed but no chance to use it. Bad theology in my mind.
    By the way, Brad, I greatly appreciate your words. I seek the best understanding (something us soils are allowed to do) of these ideas, rather than making God less sovereign or C of c to fail.

  20. Larry Short says:

    Sorry to all about the double post of scripture. At least it was twice Jesus not twice me!

  21. bradstanford says:

    "Why bother with the path, weeds, and rocks if only the good soil is elected? Makes God teasing us with seed but no chance to use it. Bad theology in my mind."

    Jesus was using an illustration from the day to demonstrate the kingdom. The way farmers sowed their seed was to reach into a bag, and throw a handful in a given direction. "Broadcasting" is what it is called. When you broadcast, you will end up with seed outside the boundaries of the field you intended it for. This is a necessary problem, as the farmer is trying to get maximum seed density in his field. If he was to try and make the seed fall perfectly within the boundaries, some good soil – and the opportunity for increased harvest – would be missed.

    Thus, God is smothering the prepared soil in a way that guarantees the maximum harvest, and as a result there will be some erroneous results at the periphery.

    Every farmer who heard this back then would know that energy is not given to seeds outside the boundaries of the field, for that's not where the harvest was going to come from. It's simply what happens when you sow – a natural by product.

    Is the farmer teasing the other soils? No. In fact the soils are not aware of the farmer's efforts, as Paul says men are not aware of spiritual things unless the Spirit quickens them with understanding.

    The soil is not the focus of the parable. Again, the CofC theology has made the story man-centric rather than God centric. The Kingdom is the center of the story. Jesus is describing what happens when God advances His kingdom. He's describing the various results you will see in men. But He made it clear: there are boundaries to the kingdom. He is the one who determines those boundaries by His preparing work. Then He sows the seed, with the purpose of getting glory for Himself – maximum coverage, maximum harvest, maximum glory.

    Yes, people are involved. But the story does not revolve around them. It revolves around the Farmer. Farmers of the day connected with this.

    It's not bad theology. It's lack of context in the American church, taught for so long that we think it's truth.

  22. bradstanford says:

    Larry: I was just rereading, and I saw your remarks about the unprepared field (I thought it was part of the verse earlier).

    Even on a modern-day American farm, there are boundaries to your fields, no matter how prepared they are. If you're in the city, drive out and look at a 30-acre plot with crops growing in it, a take a look at the boundaries. Think about throwing seeds, and what would happen. Jesus was illustrating the relatively small (and mostly unnoticed but understood) results that can be seen next to a gigantic field that would yield a harvest. Look in Ezekiel 47 to find the sizes of some of these fields around the cities in Israel. Their enormous size would have dwarfed these peripheral results.

    Again, He was speaking to what they knew. They knew good seed would get results even on the edges, but the harvest comes from the prepared soil.

    And God is the preparer. And the planter. And the caretaker. And the one who gets glory for the whole process. And the one who reaps the benefits. It's His story, and His glory. It's not about us.

  23. Tim Archer says:

    Brad,

    The problem is, I've been reading passages in context. One cannot read Hebrews with an open mind and walk away believing in "once saved, always saved." Paul's writings, John's writings, Jesus' teachings… there's just too much.

    I understand the power of churchmen's teachings. John Calvin invented a doctrine that said salvation can't be lost. Men have chosen to cling to that.

    I just can't ignore what the New Testament says. There are too many passages that have to be " 'splained away."

    Grace and peace,
    Tim Archer

  24. Anonymous says:

    To imply that others don’t read passages in context with an open mind but you do is arrogant and erroneous. There are people who thoroughly study that have a different conclusion than yours.

    People who have been taught God’s salvation isn’t secure chose to cling to that teaching.

  25. Larry Short says:

    First, I have no special knowledge or inspiration into early AD agriculture. Modern farming I understand. One big difference in broadcasting, seed today is spread by machine usually by spraying. A farmer sowing by hand could be more selective and miss the path.
    I have been reading since your last exchange, and will better understand that "flesh and blood has not revealed this". God hardens hearts (Pharoh & Saul), and the Spirit gives understanding. The extreme of this is puppetry, every impulse of man is God controlled. At the extreme, why preach? why work for understanding? Why choose? if it is all rigged. Even lifeless soil in the Jesus' explaination "receive it with joy (20), or hear (22), or hear and understand ( 23)", in effect some reaction to the seed.
    I'll never argue percentage but everything vital is mostly God.

  26. bradstanford says:

    Tim: Not sure what to say. You sound as if your view is the only correct one, and that you alone have the ability to judge context correctly. Was that your intent?

    For the record, I don't subscribe to Calvinism. It always sounds like it to those with a CofC (or similar) heritage, but Calvinists seem to find just as many faults in my beliefs. Go figure.

    Most interpretation of scripture comes from our preconceived notions. If we see God as angry, we'll read the Bible that way. If we believe salvation can be lost, we will read it that way as well. Paul understood this, and said when people in the church believe different things about the same issue, God himself will show us the correct way. I believe that for me as well as for you, as I have been in much prayer about this today.

  27. bradstanford says:

    Larry:
    I don't believe it's all said and done either (that's where Calvinists leave me), but I do think there are boundaries we are not allowed to violate.

    God is full of allowances and prohibitions. Babel: prohibited. Some of our choices are just as idolatrous, yet He allows them. The crowd killing Jesus before it was time: prohibited. Pharaoh's torture of the Israelites, allowed. Pain, suffering, and success. All directly influenced by God.

    Even as "evil" fathers (as Jesus referred to us), we know (or should know, from our relationship with God) how to train our children, whether protecting them from harm, or allowing them to stretch their wings so they may fail until they succeed. I am vigilante about my kid's safety. They have free moral agency; and also, they don't get to act on much of it, because I say so, protecting them from what they can't understand. Some things I allow, so they can learn to understand. Some things are rooted in the purposes that God has wired into them, and those get a resounding "Yes!" from me.

    How much more God! In His goodness He allows to join with Him in bringing the Kingdom to the earth. We have free moral agency, but the ability to execute those ideas lay within His hands:

    Proverbs 16:4 The LORD works out everything for his own ends, even the wicked for a day of disaster.

    Proverbs 16:9 In his heart, a man plans his course; but the LORD determines His steps.

    Proverbs 19:21 Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.

    Proverbs 21:1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

    (Many more throughout the book. Great study.)

    To some choices He will say "no" and prevent us from acting. To other choices He says, "See what happens," and we get to fall down a few times. And to yet others, He says, "Yes! And the quicker, the better!" And we are allowed to rush into His purposes for us. There are many choices, but one purpose, and that purpose will not be denied, no matter what we choose.

    There were times in my young Christian life that I set my mind on sinning, and God thwarted me at every turn. Things out of my control, be it traffic jams, locked doors, or what have you. I never got to do what I planned to do. This is the perseverance I read about in the Bible. This is how – even with free moral agency – God can lead us to chose what He wants, rather than what we think we want. It is a technicality, admittedly, but that's what He does.

    God is still the same now as He was when Proverbs was written. He still directs people's hearts like He directs rivers, He still allows some things, and defeats others. He does them all for His purposes, and for His glory. It's neither completely scripted, nor is it a free(will)-for-all. It is God, telling His story, for His glory. No man will violate His purposes, or bring God's plans to ruin. Not even if he decides to. The Good Shepherd will rescue the wandering sheep.

    Just like Tim, I can't ignore what the Bible says, be it Old *or* New Testament.

  28. christianclarityrevi says:

    Larry,

    You make a classic mistake trying to use Satan's common sense as a guide to understanding God's creation. Satan doesn't make sense because Satan is deceived he himself has free will and can do as He pleases. Nothing he does has any logic to it at all in Christ. Why in the world would Satan temp Christ? Does that make sense? Delving into the mind of Satan is worthless. Whatever wisdom he had God has destroyed in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. You can't use the actions and supposed motivation of the damned as any sort of guide to understanding God as Truth.

    The passage from Hebrews is speaking of universal sanctification, which even the wicked receive, but not for the same purpose of the elect. It speaks of God having purchased them to himself as their rightful king and the effects of their lack of grace unto salvation we as elect receive. No where in there is any mention of un-birth or death of the elect.

    You appeal to free will when you place eternal salvation in the hands of the saved. The fact is that God Himself looks after us. Our salvation is in His hands. So merely trying to get people to adhere to an ideal model of behavior as a means of constantly re-choosing a Christian life over some other is simply trying to control people. There is an absolute difference between what is necessary for salvation and a system of control over people.

    As for supposedly having the free will to keep re-choosing the correct ideal model of behavior, it does not exist.

    You cannot go into the Bible and pull out free will or a lie that says part of the body of Christ appears ..and then disappears as 'falling away' unless you first define all speech as will-neutral and deny the distinction between the Word of God and Satan's speech. You have to say there is only one speech Satan and God are using, that speech has standard qualities, and must at all times NOT be spirit and life so that it remains will-neutral to the reader. Then and only then can you patiently roll your eyes and say "But it says right here…!" and pretend the purpose of speech is to exchange will-neutral 'holy info' and God speaking at all is supposedly pointless if you don't have free will.

    All of your misunderstanding of Perseverance of the Saints comes from not understanding the distinction between the non-creating speech of Satan and God as Creating Word ..that Spoke and it was created…. Seeking to equate them as one large meta speech they both supposed use is fatal to understanding Jesus Christ as Word of God and all truth in Him.

    I posted a article on perseverance of the saints on my blog, ..christianclarityreview.wordpress.com.. "Cult Buster: Once Saved Always Saved /Perseverance of the Saints" .. but we can do more of the conversation here if you like..

    as for Job, Christ said for Job through Job: that perfroms the details of Jobs life. That would include salvation. Job's fear is holy, appropriate fear.

    Job 23:13-15 But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me: and many such things are with him. Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him.

    timothy

    In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen

  29. Nick Gill says:

    If I must love God, it is not love.

    If God forces me to love him, it is Him loving Him and it is beyond foolish for Him to command me to do what He is either going to force me to do or not.

    The glory of God is man fully alive – and that means free to rebel, just as a bride is free to rebel against the bridegroom.

  30. pingecho says:

    I must say that anyone who denies the Preservation of the Saints is denying the Sovereignty of God or that gaining or maintaining one's salvation is dependent on the shed blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ alone, not to mention calling Jesus Christ himself a liar. It is written, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:27-30(ESV)
    Further denial of God's sovereign power to preserve his elect also contradicts the rest of Scripture.
    It is written, "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, nof of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption." Hebrews 9:11-12(ESV)
    It is also written, "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." Philippians 1:6(ESV)
    God, through the indwelling Holy Spirit which is in every genuine believer, prevents them from committing sins that are indicative of lostness. Any other sin that a Christian might commit is not capable of separating them from the love of God in Jesus Christ because just as their deeds do not have anything to do with their salvation neither does it have anything to do with their continuing to be saved. There is no going back under condemnation for those who are in Christ because it is the shed blood that saved them and the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ that preserves them. What Jesus Christ began in a regenerate person, he will finish without fail. Those God chose from before the foundation of the world to be objects of his mercy will not only surely be saved but will be forever preserved in their salvation by the sovereign power of God. Likewise, those chosen before the creation of the world as objects of his wrath will never come to faith because God neither loves nor desires their salvation and ensures it by the same sovereign power that saves those whom he has chosen to save. Man has no free will. God sovereignly controls all things by his will..including the sins of men and angels. Not a single thing happens merely by his permission but by his sovereign decree.
    Glory to God alone!
    Jonathan

  31. Jay Guin says:

    Jonathan (pingecho) wrote: "Likewise, those chosen before the creation of the world as objects of his wrath will never come to faith because God neither loves nor desires their salvation and ensures it by the same sovereign power that saves those whom he has chosen to save. Man has no free will. God sovereignly controls all things by his will..including the sins of men and angels. Not a single thing happens merely by his permission but by his sovereign decree."

    Are you seroius? "Not a single thing happens merely by his permission but by his sovereign decree." God decreed the Holocaust? He decreed Adam and Eve's sin? He decreed 9/11?

  32. Randall says:

    While I don't think it my place to speak for all that God has decreed, I do note that it seems he has decreed or commanded some things we might find abhorrent. For example, The crucifixion of his only begotten son or the utter destruction of the Amalekites – man, woman, child and beast. I would suggest we be cautious about judging God as to how well He meets OUR standards of right and wrong.

  33. Pingback: Perseverance: Old News « One In Jesus.info

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