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PERSEVERANCE OF THE DEFENDED
By Tom Ross
The following article is from Tom Ross’ “Abandoned Truth-The Doctrines of Grace,” Chapter 7 Perseverance of the Saints. “The book may be ordered from: Tom Ross 6339 Country Road 15, South Point, Ohio 45680. Note: This work may be used only in a non-commercial form.
The fifth and final point of the doctrines of grace is commonly referred to as the perseverance of the saints. Other phrases that are used interchangeably to express the same truth are “eternal security,” “preservation of the saints,” and “once saved, always saved”. Simply stated, the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints means that those who have been genuinely saved by the power of God are also preserved by that power, enabling them to persevere in holiness unto the end. This truth implies that it is impossible for a genuine saint of God to lose the Lord’s salvation and finally perish in his sins.
The Second London Baptist Confession of-1677 expressed this truth in the following way:
Those whom God hath accepted in the beloved, effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect unto, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end and be eternally saved, seeing the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. 1
The New Hampshire Confession of Faith of 1833, to which most American Baptists ascribe to, states:
We believe that such only are real believers as endure unto the end; that their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from mere professors; that a special providence watches over their welfare; and that they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. 2
PRESERVATION AND PERSEVERANCE ARE BOTH NECESSARY
It is important to understand that the doctrine of the saints’ final perseverance is like a coin with two sides, each side necessary to the other in order to be genuine. If we would look at a penny and see the likeness of Abraham Lincoln on both sides we would at once recognize it as a counterfeit. In like manner the preservation of God’s elect and the saint’s perseverance are inseparable; they go together like a hand in glove. If perseverance is taught without the power of God’s preservation behind it, Arminianism raises its ugly head and declares that a saint can lose his salvation which is heresy. On the other hand, if preservation is taught apart from the responsibility of perseverance in holiness, Antinomianism and loose living abounds thus: “turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness,” (Jude 4).
Milburn Cockrell wrote:
As I see it, perseverance involves two elements: on the one hand, God’s agency in preserving; on the other hand, the saint’s agency in persevering. Neither one of these by itself is the doctrine, but both together constitute the doctrine as set forth in holy Scripture. The operation of Divine grace upon the believer will cause him to persevere unto the end, but this perseverance is not without the believer’s own continual activity 3
“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13) is just as true as: “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 13:1). The first Scripture is emphasizing the need for the saints’ endurance whereas the second is emphasizing the immutable love that Christ has for His elect.
To illustrate how these two truths are necessary to one another you will often find exhortations to the saints’ perseverance in holiness and God’s power of preservation in the same context of Scripture.
Jeremiah 32:40 states: “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them (preservation), to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me (perseverance).” In one verse of Scripture it is clearly stated that God will not turn away from His elect on the basis of His covenant love and that His elect will not depart from Him, because He has put His fear in their hearts. Thus we see that God preserves His people by insuring and enabling them to persevere in holiness.
Ezekiel 36:26-27 states: “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.” In the new birth God gives a new heart which delights in the commands of God and desires to obey them. God not only preserves His children, but He has also put His Spirit within them to enable them to walk in His statutes.
John 10:27-29 declares: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.” True sheep not only hear the voice of the Good Shepherd in the effectual call, they also follow Him in perseverance. They have been given the gift of eternal life and are secure in the finished work of Jesus Christ and the eternal love of their Heavenly Father. They persevere by following and at the same time they are preserved in the hand of the Father and the Son who are one. To say that one of God’s sheep, whom Christ died for, who has been given eternal life, can be finally lost is not only absurd but blasphemous in light of this passage of Scripture. To affirm the apostasy of God’s elect sheep is to call Jesus Christ a liar and at the same time declare that the Father’s hand is not a safe place to abide. Those who teach you can be saved, then lost must either deny this Scripture or “wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Pet. 3:16).
Philippians 2:12-13 states: “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” Paul is exhorting believers to persevere in salvation on the one hand, and then explaining the power behind their ability to persevere on the other. Both elements must be operating in order to have a proper and balanced view of the perseverance of the saints.
1 Peter 1:5; 14-15 states: “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time... As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation.” If a professing saint does not manifest some fruits of holiness in his behavior he can have no assurance that God is keeping him by his power. Baptists do not believe in the perseverance of sinners in sin, but we do believe in the perseverance of the saints in holiness!
Jude 20-21; 24 declares: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life...Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” Here the saints are exhorted to “keep themselves in the love of God,” yet realizing that God is keeping them and preserving them from falling out of a state of grace.
It is sad, but true, that many Baptists have forsaken the twin doctrines of perseverance and preservation stressing only God’s work of preserving at the expense of the saints responsibility to persevere. By so doing, many preachers have given as false security to people who have never had a genuine work of grace done in their heart. While visiting, I often meet people who tell me they made a religious profession when they were younger and are now just “backslidden,” yet “eternally secure”. At the expense of sounding harsh and critical I believe many professors of religion are not “backslidden,” but lost. When I meet people who profess with their lips, but lie with their life, I stand in doubt of them and exhort them to: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates” (2 Cor. 13:5)? It is not the responsibility of any preacher to give assurance of salvation to those who are persevering in sin and wickedness, regardless of haw loud a religious profession they might make.
Milburn Cockrell hits the nail on the head when he writes:
The reason that some deny perseverance is because their converts do not persevere. They often depart from Christ and the church and return to a life of sin and wickedness. The reason for this is because they made a false profession under easy believism and decisional regeneration. Modern evangelism produces stony-ground hearers “which for a while believe, and in time of temptation all away” (Luke 8:13). Arminian Baptist preachers are quick to say that such rebels against God are Heaven-bound because they are preserved in Christ. Their eternal security is in fact a security in sin and wickedness. It is the teaching that you can do anything you want to and go to Heaven at last. To teach preservation of the saints without perseverance is a wretched and fatal perversion of the Scriptures! 4
PROVING OF THE SAINTS FROM SCRIPTURE
Every doctrine must have its foundation in the infallible Word of God. The reason why such a statement is necessary may be traced to the current trend of “professing Christendom” to exact experience over Scripture. The opponents of the final perseverance of the saints usually point to the lives of false professors, who have never experienced a genuine work of grace in the heart, to establish their unscriptural teaching of apostasy. The idea that a true child of God who has been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, sealed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, can somehow lose the Lord’s salvation, become a child of the devil and finally perish in Hell is foreign to the teachings of the Holy Scriptures. In fact, such an assertion is blasphemous as it casts reproach upon the unfailing purpose and promises of a Holy God. Christians must ever be governed by the admonition in Isaiah 8:20 which states: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” The Holy Scriptures are literally filled with assertions that prove the saints final perseverance by the preserving power of our gracious God, of whom it is said: “For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off,” (Ps. 37:28).
THE PURPOSE OF GOD
Romans 8:28 states: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Ephesians 1:11 states: “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” 2 Timothy 1:9 declares: “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.”
From these passages of Scripture it is clear that the entire machinery of salvation was
carefully ordered by God before the world began. His own wise decree and sovereign good pleasure He determined to save a multitude of sinners out of Adam’s fallen race. His purpose included their election, redemption, regeneration, preservation, and final glorification. This fact is established by the Apostle Paul in Romans 8:29-39 where he emphatically states that God’s elect will infallibly be saved. Verses 38-39 state: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The reason why the apostle could speak with such confidence is because he understood that the purpose of God in salvation is impossible to thwart or be overthrown by men or devils. All of God’s purposes will surely come to fruition.
Those who teach that a man can be genuinely saved and then lose the Lord’s salvation must either affirm that God has no fixed purpose or that His original design was not carried out and had to be altered. Regardless which horn of the dilemma the Arminian finds himself on, he must acknowledge that he believes the purpose and will of God to be fickle and dependent upon the actions of men. Such an assertion is false in light of Job 23:13 which states: “But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth.” Daniel 4:35 expresses the same truth by stating: “And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?”
If God’s purpose to save and preserve His elect could be overthrown we could just as well suppose that God Himself could be overthrown. If the purpose and will of God can be defeated, then God Himself could be defeated. Such are the logical conclusions drawn from the devilish doctrine of the saints apostasy. It strikes right at the heart of the government, majesty, and dominion of God. Regardless what the
Arminian may falsely assert we must believe the words of Jesus when He affirmed that all the elect will be preserved according to the unchangeable will of His Father in John 6:39-40 which declares: “And this is the Father’s WILL which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I SHOULD LOSE NOTHING, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the WILL of him that sent me, THAT EVERY ONE WHICH SEETH THE SON, AND BELIEVETH ON HIM, MAY HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
John Gill wrote:
The final perseverance of the saints may be concluded from the purposes and decrees of God; which are infrustratable, and are always accomplished; “The Lord of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it?” or make it void, and of no effect: and “His hand is stretched out,” to execute His purposes, and “who shall turn it back” from doing the thing He is resolved on? as He has “thought, so shall it come to pass”; and as He has “purposed, it shall stand” (Isa. 14:24; 27), though there may be a thousand devices in the hearts of men and devils, they can never counteract, nor undermine the decrees of God. 5
THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD
All of the perfections and attributes of God are magnificently displayed in the perseverance of the saints. The very nature of God Himself demands that He keep His covenant engagements on behalf of His elect. We will examine only a few of God’s attributes to prove the point in question.
The power of God insures that not one of the saints will finally perish. Does God have enough power to carry out His purpose of grace and protect His children from final apostasy? 1 Peter 1:5 answers the question: “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Paul the apostle expressed great confidence in the Lord’s power to save and preserve in 2 Timothy 1:12 and 4:18 which state: “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day...And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
How can anyone deny that the God who “upholds all things by the word of his power” (Heb. 1:3) not have enough power to preserve His children from Hell? Such a denial questions the omnipotence of God and is dishonoring to His character. Jude did not doubt for a moment the Lord’s ability and power to uphold His children when he wrote: “Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.” How could God have exceeding joy if even one wham He had saved be finally lost?
The immutability of God assures that those whom God loved “with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3) shall never perish in their sins. God is unchangeable and His love for His elect has been fixed and unalterable through all eternity. Malachi 3:6 states: “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” James 1:17 states: “Every good and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”
To say that God could fix His affections upon an individual by saving them and giving to them all the benefits that flow from Christ’s redeeming work, then reverse that love, turn it into wrath and cast that person into the Lake of Fire is to charge God with schizophrenia. The true God never changes, but the God of Arminian-ism is forced to change in accordance with the actions of men. We could just as well suppose that a baby could be “unborn” as to believe that God would reverse the “new birth” and its benefits! Romans 11:2 and 29 state: “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew...For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” Salvation is definitely a gift that God bestows. God is not an Indian-giver who one day gives salvation and then decides to take it away.
The faithfulness of God insures that those He has promised eternal life too will never perish in Hell for their sins. I Corinthians 1:8-9 states: “Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 declares: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body he preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 3:13 states: “But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil.”
Abraham Booth wrote:
The faithfulness and inviolable veracity of God give further assurance of the saints’s perseverance. The rocks, though of adamant, shall melt away; the everlasting mountains shall be removed; yea, the whole terraqueous globe itself shall disappear; but the faithfulness of God in executing his covenant, and the veracity of God in performing His promises, are unchangeable and eternal—...Yea, He hath sworn by His holiness, by the glory of all His perfections, that He will be faithful to His covenant and promises, respecting Christ and His chosen seed. So that if there be immutability in the purpose of God, if any stability in His covenant, if any fidelity in His promises, the true believer shall certainly persevere. Rejoice, then, ye feeble followers of the Lamb. The basi,s of your confidence is firm and strong. 6
Well did King David write on his deathbed concerning the faithfulness of God in spite of his own shortcomings: “Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow” (2 Sam. 23:5).
Finally, the wisdom and foreknowledge of God insures that the saints will never perish. Acts 15:18 declares: “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” God wisely ordained the means both to save and preserve all His elect from perishing. A wise man makes sure that he has sufficient means to finish when he sets out to build a house. In like manner, God in wisdom has already arranged that all the members of His family arrive in Heaven. In fact, He has already reserved their arrival!
How would the wisdom of God be displayed if He saved an individual who He knew beforehand would not persevere and fall away? The devil himself would be able to charge God with folly if one of God’s children could be saved and then perish.
John Gill wrote:
But where would be His wisdom to appoint men to salvation, and not save them at last? To send His Son to redeem them, and they be never the better for it, and to send His Spirit into them, to begin a good work of grace, and not finish it? 7
THE PROMISES OF COD
2 Corinthians 1:20 states: “For all the promises of God in him (Christ) are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” Every child of God who is united to Christ by faith has access to all the promises of God. God has promised eternal life to all who will repent of their sins and believe on His Son. John 3:16 states: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have (present tense) everlasting life.” John 5:24 states: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath (present tense) everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” Both of these verses state very plainly that God has promised eternal life as a present possession to all who believe on Christ. Eternal life is received the moment a person believes on Christ. Eternal means forever, or never-ending. Also taught in these verses is the promise of God that a believer
will never be judged or condemned for his sins. Believers have a positive promise of “everlasting life,” as well as a negative promise “and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” All these promises have been secured by the blood-shedding of Jesus Christ as Hebrews 9:12 and 15 state: “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us...And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.”
Are we to suppose that God is a liar, or that He didn’t mean what He said? There is no way God could promise eternal life to anyone if there was the slightest hint that they would be able to fall away and lose the Lord’s salvation. Again, Arminians find themselves on two horns of a dilemma, they must either charge God with lying, or they must deny the Scriptures that promise eternal life to as many as believe. Either way their doctrine is found to be false and heretical.
Arminians must cringe when the following Scriptures are quoted or read to them: “And ihis is the promise that he hath promised us, oven eternal life” (1 John 2:25). “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life (a present possession); and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (1 John 5:11-13).
We can be sure that if the Lord promises eternal life to believers, He is worthy of our trust because it is impossible for God to lie as
Titus 1:2 states: “In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began.” If Jesus said of His sheep: “And I give unto them eternal life; AND THEY SHALL NEVER PERISH, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:29), we can be assured that he was speaking the truth regardless of what some slick-talking Arminian may say.
THE WORK OF JESUS CHRIST
Same of the strongest arguments for the saints final perseverance are drawn from an examination of the believer’s union and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. The finished work of Jesus Christ serves as a solid foundation for the saints final perseverance. He is the rock upon which our profession securely rests (Matt. 7:24-25), thus enabling us to endure to the end. The rains of affliction may come, floods of doubt may arise, and the winds of temptation may blow against us, but our position in Christ remains sure and steadfast. Matthew 7:25 declares: “And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.” The true believer who is depending entirely upon the Lord Jesus Christ is safe and secure in Him as Proverbs 18:10 declares: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” The songwriter Edward Mote expressed this truth beautifully in the hymn The Solid Rock:
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the vale.
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.”
There is a divine, indissolvable union that exists between the believer and the Lord Jesus Christ. The saints are said to be “in Christ,” thus deriving their spiritual life and protection from Him. Jesus told His disciples: “because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19). Our preservation is not dependent upon what we do, but what Christ has already done and is now doing. We can be assured that as long as Christ lives, we shall live also because of our union to Him. Hebrews 7:25 states: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” The only way our position in Christ could be severed is if Christ himself would be defeated by death which is an impossibility. He has the keys of Hell and death and is said to be “alive for evermore.” (Rev. 1:18). “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory,” (Col 3:3-4). Fran this verse it is clear that the union between Christ and the believer affords protection and assurance of final perseverance and glorification. Paul did not say “if you hold on, you might appear with him in glory,” but rather, “ye shall appear with him in glory”. In light of this divine union that exists between Christ and the believer, I would like to ask the Arminians the same question Paul posed in Romans 8:35: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
Abraham Booth wrote the following concerning this sacred union:
As it is written, Christ is our life. Your life is hid with Christ in God. Your life is hid, like the most valuable treasure in a secret place. With Christ; committed to His guardianship, and lodged under his care, who is able to keep that which is entrusted to his hands. In God; the bosom of the Almighty is the sacred repository in which the jewel is safely kept. Cheering thought! For Jesus, the Guardian, will never be bribed to deliver up His charge to the power of an enemy; nor shall any sacrilegious hand ever be able, by secret fraud or open violence, to rifle the casket where Jehovah lays up His jewels. The life of believers is bound up in the bundle of life with the Lord their God; and the bond of that union shall never be dissolved. For he that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit with Him, aid, therefore, absolutely inseparable. 8
Another way in which to prove the saints final perseverance as it relates to the person of Christ is to understand what Christ accomplished on the cross. The Calvinist believes that Christ secured the salvation of all His elect by bearing their sins and paying the penalty of their sins in full, thus discharging and blotting out the debt of sin they owed. The ransom price He paid was His own precious blood which even satisfied the requirements of the law and propitiated the wrath of the Father. The finished work of a crucified and risen Christ is all that is needed to save a sinner. No human merit or goodness needs to be added in order to make the sacrifice of Christ effectual. When Jesus Christ cried: “It is finished,” the work of redemption was accomplished once and for all. Based on what Christ did, believers are said to be “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10). His sacrifice on the cross insured the salvation of all the elect as Hebrews 10:14 declares: For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that-are sanctified.” The Arminian would have us believe that a system of legalistic requirements and works are necessary to insure our final salvation, thus logically denying the sufficiency of the finished work of Christ. I would like to ask the Arminian some questions. What could anyone possibly add to the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ to make them acceptable to God? Exactly what must be added to Christ’s sacrifice in order to be assured of salvation? If Christ “appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Heb. 9:26), and “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:9), then precisely what sin or sins could possibly separate the believer from Christ, seeing how that Christ put away and cleansed all sins that were past, present, and future? Finally, isn’t the finished work of Jesus Christ enough to save a sinner? These questions should be answered in light of Romans 8:31-34 which states: “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? he that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
Believers are said to be the purchased possession of Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 7:20: “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” As the Good Shepherd, Jesus laid down His life for His sheep, thus insuring their salvation and everlasting life. Are we to suppose that it is possible for Jesus Christ to lose one of His precious possessions that He purchased with His own life’s blood? How could He possibly call Himself the “Good Shepherd” if even one sheep that He died for and promised to keep would finally be lost? Are we to believe that the devil, who Christ defeated on the cross, could somehow overcome the Good Shepherd by rending one of His sheep out of the safety of the fold? These questions are the logical conclusions drawn from the Arminian doctrine of apostasy. Thank God that we have the promise of the Good Shepherd who confidently said: “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one,” (John 10:28-30).
The final proof of the perseverance of the saints as it relates to the person of Christ is the intercessory office He occupies as our Great High Priest. When Christ ascended into Heaven to the right hand of the Father, it was to plead the cause of God’s elect and intercede for them. We can be absolutely sure that the prayers of our Righteous Advocate are always heard and never denied by His Heavenly Father. He prayed in John 17 (verses 11 and 24) thusly: “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are...Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.”
Abraham Booth expressed this truth best when he wrote:
The intercession of Christ for His people, in the heavenly sanctuary, affords another evidence of this glorious truth. This intercession is founded on His perfect atonement for all their sins: and it is a firm foundation for that purpose. So that, notwithstanding all the accusations of Satan lodged against them, not withstanding all their weakness and all their unworthiness, the intercession of Jesus the Son of God, of Jesus Christ the righteous, must afford them the highest security. For their Redeemer is strong, the Lord of hosts is His name, He shall thoroughly plead their cause. And as every believer is interested in this intercession, so Jesus, the Advocate, is never denied in his suit. His plea is always valid, and always effectual to the end intended: which is, as he expressly informs us, that their faith fail not; and, that they may be preserved from destructive evil. Our ascended Redeemer is not, in this part of His mediatorial undertaking, like a mere petitioner, who may or may not succeed; for, to all the blessings He solicits on their behalf He has a previous right. He can claim them, in virtue of the promise made to Him and His spiritual seed, having, as their substitute, fully performed the conditions of the everlasting covenant. Yes, believer, the compassion of Him who bled on the cross, and the power of Him who pleads on the throne, ascertain your final felicity. 9
THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Philippians 1:6 states: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” The Holy Spirit of God is the one who begins the work of salvation by quickening the dead sinner to spiritual life in the new birth. At the point of regeneration the Spirit of God begins to indwell the believer to continue His work of progressive sanctification. This work is faithfully carried out by the Holy Spirit until the redemption of the body as Romans 8:11; 23 state: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you...And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” The believer can be assured of final glorification because it is the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit to seal them until that day as Ephesians 4:30 states: “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Thus, it is clear that the Holy Spirit is active and responsible in the believer’s regeneration, sanctification, and ultimately, their glorification. God has gone to great lengths to insure that His “workmanship” does not end up in the refuse pile of depraved mankind, which is the Lake of Fire. The reason why Paul could write “being confident of this very thing,” is because he knew that God is a wise master builder who always finishes a work in which He begins. The Arminian notion of apostasy would lead us to believe that the work begun by the Holy Spirit must be finished by the believer. Paul soundly rebuked the Galatians for believing such heresy when he wrote: “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh” (Gal. 3:3)? If the Arminian theory of apostasy is true then we can logically conclude that God does not have the sufficient means or power to carry out what He started in the new birth. That His “workmanship” can be overcome and overthrown by sin and the devil. Such an idea is repulsive to the Divine character of Jehovah of whom it is written: “My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure...I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it” (Isa. 46:10-11).
It is also important to understand that the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is not temporary or fleeting. He does not come to dwell one day and leave the believer to fend for himself the next. Once the Spirit of Christ takes up residence in the believer He never leaves, but remains with the believer forever as Hebrews 13:5 teaches: “For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” This eternal union and indwelling of the Comforter to guide and teach the believer was promised by Jesus Christ in John 14:16-17 which states: “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may ABIDE WITH YOU FOR EVER: Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.”
Milburn Cockrell wrote:
Those who deny the perseverance of the saints teach that a Christian can lose the Holy Spirit. This is contrary to the words of Christ in John 14:16. They teach that Satan is greater than the Holy Spirit, seeing that Satan is able to evict the Spirit from the believer’s body...Those of us who believe in perseverance do not deny that a saint may have many struggles with Satan, but we maintain the saint will persevere in the main in holiness and righteousness and, at last, win the final victory over Satan because of the influence of the ever-abiding Spirit” 10
Finally, perseverance of the saints, as it relates to the work of the Holy Spirit may be proven from the teaching that the Holy Spirit is the earnest of the believer’s inheritance. Ephesians 1:13-14 states: “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in wham also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” The earnest of the Spirit is a pledge or a down-payment and a foretaste of the glory yet to be revealed. The earnest of the Spirit is the promise that insures the saint’s final perseverance.
Ron Crisp wrote:
An earnest is a token payment that gives us a foundation for confidence in the intentions of the giver. An earnest is part of the whole. Our Saviour died to purchase for us all spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). By faith we receive the Holy Spirit which as a gracious gift comes to us through the work of Christ (Acts 2:32-33; John 7:39).
An earnest is a promise of the future. An earnest acts as a pledge that the rest of the purchase or purchase price is forthcoming. Our Saviour has purchased a wonderful inheritance for us (I Pet. 1:3-4). This includes a glorified body and a home in heaven. We may be assured that because, we have the earnest of the Spirit that the rest of our inheritance is sure to come to us. Once the earnest is given the giver cannot back out. In calling the Spirit an earnest God offers us full assurance of His intention to glorify every one of His people. 11
Thus far we have proven that God the Father is for us in His purpose of grace, His promises, and His perfections. God the Son is for us in redemption and intercession. God the Spirit is for us in regeneration, sanctification, and glorification. Thus, the basis for the saints final perseverance is God Himself. As long as God perseveres in holiness, we can be assured that those who are united to Him by faith and abide in Him will also persevere. To teach otherwise would cast reproach upon the greatness and the glory of Almighty Jehovah.
John Gill wrote:
In a word, the glory of the three divine Persons is concerned in the final perseverance of the saints; for should they or any of them perish, where would be the glory of the Father in choosing them to salvation? and the glory of the Son in redeeming them? and the glory of the Spirit in the sanctification of them? respecting them, their glory would be lost, should they come short of heaven and happiness; but since the doctrine of the saints final perseverance is bound together with this threefold cord, which cannot be broken, the certainty of it may be depended upon. 12
SALVATION BY GRACE
The Bible clearly teaches that “Salvation is of the Lord,” (Jonah 2:9). From beginning to end salvation is a work of God on the behalf of unworthy and helpless sinners. Salvation is a gift that God freely gives to His elect through faith in the only begotten Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. In no way is salvation dependent upon the works or merits of men. Salvation is a gift for the guilty, not a reward for the righteous.
Arminians are very inconsistent in their false teaching of salvation by grace. They will readily pay lip service to the idea that a sinner is saved by grace through faith in Christ. Yet they believe that a person is kept in grace by the virtue and power of their own good works, faithfulness and their ability to “hang on”. Such an idea is completely foreign to the scriptural teaching of salvation by grace, as it teaches a mixture of grace and works which is contrary to Romans 11:5-6 which states: “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace, but if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” The teaching is plain and simple; either salvation is entirely of grace or it is entirely of works.
The Jews in apostolic times and the Arminians of our day have one thing in common: they both believe that they must somehow make themselves partially worthy of salvation by the works of the law. Romans 11:3 describes their condition thusly: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” The entire book of Galatians was written to refute the idea that a man is saved partially by the gospel of Christ and partially by the works of the law. This idea is a perversion of the true gospel of Christ and is to be rejected as false and heretical. Galatians 1:8 declares: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Galatians 2:16, 20 state: “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh by justified...I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” In spite of such crystal clear teaching from the word of God Arminians insist on trying to mix grace with the works of the law.
Other Scriptures which clearly teach salvation by grace apart from the works of men are abundant. The following are only a sample of the many that could be produced from the sacred Scriptures.
“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:...Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Rom. 3:24;27-28).
“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” (Romans 4:2-8).
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES: it is the gift of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:5-7).
The religion of Arminianism logically leads to self-reliance rather than total dependence upon the merits of Christ. It is the religion of Cain, who thought he would be accepted by God through the works of his own hands rather than by an acceptable sacrifice offered in faith. God rejected Cain’s notion of works salvation just as he rejects the false teachings of Arminianism. The Arminian idea of apostasy denies that salvation is all of grace and therefore is to be regarded as antichristian and unscriptural. “If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed” (2 John 10).
J.L. Dagg commented on the harmful teaching of Arminianism in the following way:
To reject the doctrine of final perseverance, tends to fix the hope of salvation on human effort, and not on the purpose and grace of God. If, in God’s method of salvation, no provision has been made, which secures the safe keeping of the regenerate, and their perseverance in holiness, their salvation is left dependent on their own efforts, and their trust must be in that on which success depends. All that God has done for them, will fail to bring them through, if this effort, originating in themselves, be not super-aided; and the eye of hope is necessarily directed to this human effort, as that on which the momentous issue depends. Thus the denial of the doctrine draws of the heart from simple trust in God, and therefore tends to produce apostasy. The just shall live by faith. Simple trust in God, is necessary to preserve the spiritual life; and to trust in man, and make flesh our arm, is to fall under the curse, and drawback to perdition. In our first coming to Christ, we renounce all confidence in self, and put our entire trust in the mercy and power of God: and in the same faith with which we began, we must persevere to the end of our course. Worldly wisdom may encourage self-reliance, and regard it as necessary to success: but the wisdom that is from above teaches us to renounce and avoid it as ruinous to the soul. 13
OBJECTIONS TO THE SAINTS FINAL PERSEVERANZE AMEMERED
Arminian assaults upon the treasured doctrine of the saint’s final perseverance are numerous. Several of the objections have already been addressed and refuted by Scripture in preceding chapters. Many of the objections raised by Arminians are not worthy of serious consideration because they rest upon the false foundation of salvation by self effort and good works rather than the free grace of God. Regardless of what theological garb Arminians may dress their doctrines in, the true nature of their system of faith denies salvation by grace.
Because the nature of the present volume is not intended to answer all the objections that Arminians may raise, I will simply answer some of the more common objections raised against the doctrine of the saint’s final perseverance. Should the reader desire to go into more depth and detail the following works are heartily recommended: Cause of God and Truth, by John Gill; An Antidote Against Arminianism, by Christopher Ness; A Systematic Study of Bible Doctrine, by T.P. Simmons; Eternal Security, by A.W. Pink; and The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, by Lorraine Boettner.
1. The most common objection raised against the saint’s final perseverance is based upon experience rather than Scripture. Arminians loudly assert that they have been eye witnesses to the salvation of those who have eventually denied the faith, repudiated Christianity, and finally apostatized. They argue that they know of people who were saved and then after a period of time, they lost their salvation. “I saw Brother So-and-So go to the altar, pray the sinner’s prayer, join the church, teach Sunday School, and live for the Lord for a time. But sin and the devil crept in and they lost their salvation.”
The answer to this objection is simple to explain from the Bible. All that glitters is not gold and everyone who outwardly professes faith in Christ have not been genuinely saved. The person described above may have had an exciting “religious experience,” without ever being born of God. I am convinced from the Scriptures that many professors of Christianity have never had a work of grace done in their heart. Titus 1:16 declares: “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” 2 Timothy 3:5 states: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
Jesus himself is going to condemn a multitude of false professors of religion who even called Him Lord and did works in His name. Matthew 7:21-23 states: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name: and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” I fear that many who believe that salvation is partially by works will be weighed in the balances and found wanting because they have been trusting in themselves rather than the Lord Jesus Christ.
The fact is, someone who has been genuinely born of God, been given the gifts of repentance and saving faith will persevere and continue to abide in Christ. A true believer will overcame the world, the flesh, and the devil through the gift of faith given in conjunction with the new birth as 1 John 5:4-5 declares: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” The righteousness of Christ, which is imputed to the believer can never be abolished or taken away as Isaiah 51:6 states: “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.” Because the believer has been declared righteous through faith in the blood of Christ he can be absolutely assured that he will persevere. Job 17:9 states: “The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.”
If a person literally denies the faith that they supposedly embraced, it is a sure evidence that they were never saved to begin with. 1 John 2:19 is very clear in supporting this conclusion: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” False professors of religion may experience a moral reformation of character for a time, but because a new nature was not implanted within them, they often return to the slop and vomit of their old sinful ways. Peter exposed the false teachers and professors of his day in 2 Peter 2:20-22 by stating: “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them that the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the saw that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” Knowing all there is to know intellectually about the person and work of Jesus Christ is to no avail unless you have been given spiritual life by the quickening power of the Holy Spirit. The empty orthodoxy and ritualism of most modern day professors of religion is described in Matthew 12:43-45 which states: “When the unclean spirit is gone out of, a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” False professors of religion may endure in their profession for a time, but eventually they will wither and die as the Parable of the Sower so graphically illustrates in Luke 8:13: “And that which fell among thorns are they, which,, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.” How different are false professors from true believers! Luke 8:15 states: “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.”
Because the objection under consideration is raised so often, it behooves the true believers to “be careful to maintain good works,” (Titus 3:8) and follow the admonition of 2 Timothy 2:19 which states: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth’them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
2. The second objection that is often raised by Axminianism against the saint’s final perseverance reveals the true corruption of their legalistic religious system. Arminians will often say: “If I believe I was eternally secure, I would go out an sin all I want without restraint or fear of punishment.” I would expect a lost person void of spiritual discernment to make such a statement, but never a man who professes to be saved by the grace of God. God’s grace teaches the believer to deny ungodly lusts and enables him to hate sin and fight against it. Titus 2:11-12 states: “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” A True child of God who has had the “love of God shed abroad in his heart by the Holy Ghost” (Rom. 5:5) will desire to honor God by a pious life rather than look at his security as an excuse for sin. Paul answered this objection in Romans 6:1-2 by stating: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue to sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
True believers are constrained to serve the Lord from a principle of love rather than a slavish fear of punishment. 1 John 4:16-19 declares: “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldnesss in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us.” Arminian must abide in a system of standards and requirements forged by men in order to feel as though they are serving God. In reality they are serving men out of a principle of fear and bondage. If a person has been genuinely saved he gladly puts on the yoke of Jesus Christ and serves the Lord because his heart has been changed and the ability to love the Lord has been implanted internally. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states this truth beautifully: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Even though I am secure and complete in Christ it does not give me liberty to sin, rather Christ gives me the liberty to serve and the ability to love. It is the innermost desire of the soul of a saved man to please the Lord in all things, not to dishonor Him by sinning.
If the Arminian is sincere in offering this objection it is a sure evidence that he has not learned what free grace and salvation in Christ is all about. Salvation is not merely a deliverance from the penalty of sin. Christ is not merely a fire escape from Hell. Salvation is also a progressive deliverance from the power of sin which ultimately results in deliverance from the presence of sin in the glorified state. The true believer longs to be transformed daily to the image of Christ and looks forward to the day when sin and the flesh will be forever banished from his life. Romans 7:22-25 states: “For I delight in the love of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 0 wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.”
3. The third objection raised by Arminianism is that perseverance of the saints leads to unfaithfulness and neutralizes the exhortations aimed at the responsibility to persevere. This is an illogical objection based on an attempt to pit one doctrine of Scripture against another. No person who truly believes the doctrines of grace will deny that the saint is responsible to obey the commands of Scriptures and the exhortations to persevere in holiness.
A.W. Pink soundly refuted this objection by stating:
What strange logic is this: because I am persuaded that God loves me with an unchanging and unquenchable love therefore I feel free to trample upon His revealed will, and have no concern whether my conduct pleases or displeases Him. Because I am assured that Christ, at the cost of unparalleled shame and suffering, purchased for me eternal redemption, an inalienable inheritance, therefore I am encouraged to forsake instead of to follow Him, vilify rather than glorify Him. That might be the theology of devils, and those they possess, but it would be repudiated and abhorred by any one renewed by the Holy Spirit. How preposterous to argue that because a person believes he shall persevere to the end, that he will therefore despise and neglect everything that promotes such perseverance. Such an argument as the above is tantamount to saying that because God has regenerated a soul He now requires no obedience from him, whereas one of the chief ends for which he is renewed is to capacitate him for obedience, that he maybe conformed to the image of His Son. 14
Some of the most godly and faithful people ever to “adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:10) firmly believed the blessed truth of the saint’s final perseverance. It was the grace of God that led the Apostle Paul to faithfully labor and endure hardship for His Lord as 1 Corinthians 15:10 states: “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.”
4. The fourth objection that is most commonly raised is: “What about all the Scriptures that address our human responsibility to persevere?” Scriptures like: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8 :31); “But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end ...For we are made partakers of Clirist, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Heb. 3:6,14); “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, with out which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14).
The answer to this objection is very simple, we believe exactly what these verses teach! Obedience and faithfulness to Christ are conditions of discipleship that give evidence that a person has been genuinely saved. A holy life gives evidence that we have been chosen in Christ (Eph. 1:4), and called by His grace (1 Thess. 4:7). If a person possesses no fruits of righteousness and holiness it is a sure evidence that they have never been born again!
5. Finally, Arminians often point to the Scriptural examples of David, Peter, and Judas in an attempt to establish the doctrine of apostasy and overthrow the doctrine of the saint’s final perseverance.
David was “a man after God’s own heart,” who had been quickened by the Word of God, and had the assurance that he would “dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psa. 23:6). Arminians argue that David lost his salvation when he committed adultery with Bathsheba and orchestrated the murder of Uriah the Hittite. None will deny that these were wicked sins committed by a man who was backslidden and out of fellowship with God. David’s joy and fellowship were taken away but his position as a child of God was unaltered. This fact is evident by observing that David was the recipient of Divine chastisement for his sins. If David had lost his salvation he would never have been chastened by his Heavenly Father. Hebrews 12:6 states: “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth , and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” David did not pray for God to restore salvation unto him, rather he prayed: “Restore unto me the JOY of thy salvation” (Ps. 51:12). If David had really lost the Lord’s salvation it would have been impossible for him to be restored and saved again according to Hebrews 6:4-6 which is a hypothetical passage which states: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted (cf. Heb 2:9) of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh.”
It is true that Peter denied the Lord three times in a moment of weakness and cowardice. Yet the Lord had previously interceded for Peter so that his faith would not fail. Peter did not fall out of grace, he fell into sin but was graciously restored to the Lord and greatly used of God. Peter never denied the Lord again after this.
T.T. Eaton comments on the passage in Luke 22:31-32 thusly:
Peter’s denial and Christ’s words to him,”When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren,” we find cited to establish the doctrine of apostasy. But it must be borne in mind that conversion is not the same as regeneration. Conversion is a turning round, so that a man may be said to be converted as often as he goes wrong, while regeneration gives him a new nature, and this can take place but once. That Peter did not fall from grace is evident from Jesus; saying to him, “But I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not.”...Since the Father hears Christ always, he heard him when He prayed for Peter, and so his faith did not fail; and as a proof that it did not, after the denial, he “went out and wept bitterly.” And that same Saviour who prayed for Peter, prays today for all true Christians that their faith fail not and therefore in no case will it fail. 15
The example of Judas poses no difficulty at all. Judas was never saved by the grace of God. He was a companion of Christ but never a partaker of Christ. John 6:70-71 states: “Jesus answered them, Have not I chose you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” It is obvious that Judas was not included in the Covenant of Grace from John 17:12 which states: “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gayest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.” Judas fell from his office as an apostle, but he never fell from salvation. It is impossible to fall from something that you don’t have! Judas never experienced the grace of God in the new birth. He was a lost church member!
To conclude this section, I would like to pose some questions to the Arminian who believes that a true saint of God can apostatize and be lost forever. I have asked these questions several times but I have never received a concrete, scriptural answer. How many sins does a child of God have to commit before he loses his salvation? Specifically what kind of sins does he have to commit in order to lose his salvation? Is there a list of the sins of apostasy clearly posted somewhere? Finally, which brother or sister in the denomination is responsible to judge that a person has truly apostatized? If apostasy was taught in the Scriptures then the Scriptures would give clear answers to these questions! Isaiah 8:20 declares: “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”
“Not as the world, the Saviour gives:
He is no fickle friend;
Wham once He loves, He never leaves,
But loves him to the end.
Though thousand snares enclose his feet,
Not one shall hold him fast;
Whatever dangers he may meet,
He shall get safe at last.
The spirit that would this truth withstand
Would pull God’s temple down,
Wrest Jesus’ sceptre from His hand,
And spoil Him of His crown.
Satan might then full victory boast,
The family might wholly fall;
If one believer may be lost,
It follows, so may all.
But Christ, in every age, has proved,
His purchase firm and true;
If this foundation be removed
What shall the righteous do?”
INCONSISTENCIES OF MOUERN DAY BAPTISTS
After having gone to great lengths to prove the perseverance and preservation of the saints from the Scriptures, it is now necessary to point out some glaring inconsistencies that are currently running rampant in various Baptist circles.
Many Baptists would give their hearty assent to what has been written thus far concerning the perseverance of the saints. Yet, it is illogical as well as unscriptural to believe in the final perseverance of the saints while denying and rejecting the other four points of the doctrines of grace. The saints final perseverance has for its source and foundation God’s eternal decree of unconditional election. The saint’s final perseverance was secured by the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on behalf of the elect. The saint’s ability to persevere comes as a result of the effectual call of God and the implantation of a new nature which is a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit apart from the corrupt free will of man. Hebrews 12:2 states: “Looking. unto Jesus the AUTHOR AND FINISHER of our faith...” Many Baptists believe that Christ is the finisher of our faith but not the author. ‘Those Baptists who preach eternal security and free willism at the same time are speaking out of both sides of their mouth in a most inconsistent manner. If the free will of man is instrumental in getting a sinner into Christ then it logically follows that the same free will can get the sinner out of Christ.
A.W. Pink wrote:
Moreover, they who so hotly deny unconditional election, particular redemption, and effectual calling, must in order to be consistent, deny the eternal security of the Christian...If I have by an act of my own volition brought myself into a state of grace, then it clearly follows that I am capable of forsaking the same. If the “free will” of the sinner first inclines him to exercise repentance and faith, then obviously he may relapse into a statq of confirmed impenitence and unbelief. 16
Thus, Arminian Baptists find themselves on two horns of a dilemma. If they deny total depravity, unconditional election, particular redemption, and effectual calling, they must of necessity also deny the saint’s final perseverance. All of the doctrines of grace form a harmonious whole. They stand or fall together. It is inconsistent to embrace one of the five points and not all. In order for Arminian Baptists to be consistent they should at once deny their treasured doctrine of eternal security and embrace the heretical teaching of the possibility of falling from grace.
Arminian Baptists in our day have more in common with Catholics, Methodists, Charismatics, and Campbellites than they do with their Baptist forefathers. I challenge the reader to carefully examine the theology of Baptists from the past. They will be surprised to find that Spurgeon, Graves, Booth, and Gill were thoroughly Calvinistic in their soteriology.
Another inconsistency among Baptists is teaching eternal security apart from the saints’ responsibility to persevere in holy living. Many Baptist churches have literally hundreds of members on their church rolls who are unfaithful and lost, yet are never disciplined or excluded by the church. I often wonder why Baptists who believe in the truth of the perpetuity of the Lord’s church do not also believe in the saint’s perpetuity in holiness. I am in full agreement with those who say: “If you’re saved you must live it and endure to the end.” This is precisely what the Scriptures teach. In fact, the entire book of Hebrews is an exhortation for believers to “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering” (Heb. 10:23). Hebrews 10:38-39 declares: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” If a person draws back from his profession it is sure evidence that they have never been born of God! A true child of God will not “draw back unto perdition.” It is freely admitted by the author that the saint’s of God are prone to wander and fall into sin. Yet, this is not the settled condition of a true saint of God as Micah 7:8 states: “Rejoice not against me, 0 mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness the LORD shall be a light unto me.” Proverbs 24:16 states: For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.” There should be a progression in holiness in the life of the saint of God as Proverbs 4:18 declares: “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
Because few Baptists believe that good works and holy living are the evidences of saving faith, churches are being filled with false professors. As a result, the sinners in the pew must have their fleshly natures entertained by worldly music, exciting stories, and silly jokes in order to keep them coming back so they will keep putting money in the offering plates. I am convinced if Baptists would go back to the “old paths” of the Book, and preach the flesh withering doctrines of total depravity and God’s sovereignty there would be a spiritual revival. Much of the present day foolishness would be replaced by the power and presence of God in our worship services. In 2 Timothy 4:2-3, Paul told Timothy what the spiritual atmosphere of Christianity would degenerate into: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” That day has arrived! Men have cast off the doctrines of grace and replaced them with the fables of free-willism and easy-believism.
C.H. Spurgeon saw the changing spiritual atmosphere in the last century which caused him to write:
Compared with what it used to be, it is hard to win attention to the Word of God. I used to think that we had only to preach the gospel, and the people would throng to hear it. I fear I must correct my belief under this head...We all feel that a hardeniry3 process is going on among the masses. 17
Another inconsistency that has subtly crept into Sovereign Grace Baptist churches is the increasing use of Arminian methodology in evangelism. Many hold to a Calvinistic creed, yet are practicing Arminians. Gimmicks are used to entice people to come to church. Entertainment has replaced solid doctrinal preaching. The invitation system has degenerated into emotional and psychological appeals in order to get outward results. The terms of the Great Commission have been reversed by placing the emphasis of evangelism in the church service rather than in the world. A Charismatic type of excitement and frenzy is encouraged to the point that it would be hard to determine the Baptists from the Charismatics in some churches. Baptists today have more in common with the methods of C.G. Finney, a rank heretic of the last century, than they do with the apostles who simply called upon men to repent and believe the gospel!
C.H. Spurgeon commented in 1890 on the new style of exhortation being used by preachers seeking a response from their hearers in the following statement:
The gospel is, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” If we think we shall do more good by substituting another exhortation for the gospel command, we shall find ourselves landed in serious difficulties. If, for a moment, our improvements seem to produce a larger result than the old gospel, it will be the growth of mushrooms, it may even be the growth of toadstools; but it is Rot the growth of the trees of the Lord.
Baptists need to return to the old path of relying upon the power of the gospel and the sovereign work of the Spirit to make the truth effectual in the heart! I Corinthians 2:2-5 states: “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
I realize that some may disagree with what has been written. I offer no apologies for what I perceive to be glaring inconsistencies among the people who call themselves Baptists. If the current trends continue it will produce disastrous results in our churches. May God give us grace to follow the admonition of Proverbs 22:28: “Remove not the ancient landmark, which thy fathers have set.” It has always been the trademark of true Baptists not only to preach the truth in love, but also to expose error and heresy. Romans 16:17-18 declares: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
1 Lumpkin, W.L., Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1979) pp.272-273.
2 Lumpkin, W.L., Baptist Confessions of Faith (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1979) p. 365.
3 Cockrell, Milburn, The Perseverance of the Saints, Part I (Mantachie, MS: Berea Baptist Banner, February 5, 1989) p.39.
4 Cockrell, Milburn, The Perseverance of the Saints, Part II (Mantachie, MS: Berea Baptist Banner, March 5, 1989) p.48.
5 Gill, John, A Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity (Streamwood, IL: Primitive Baptist Library, 1977) p.407.
6 Booth, Abraham, The Reign of Grace (Swengel, PA: Reiner Publications, 1976) p. 234.
7 Gill, John, A Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity (Streamwood, IL: Primitive Baptist Library, 1977) p.407.
8 Booth, Abraham, The Reign of Grace (Swengel, PA: Reiner Publications, 1976) p. 237.
9 Booth, Abraham, The Reign of Grace (Swengel, PA: Reiner Publications, 1976) p. 236.
10 Cockrell, Milburn, The Perseverance of the Saints, Part I (Mantachie, MS: Berea Baptist Banner, February 5, 1989) p. 40.
11 Crisp, Ron, A Study Guide on the Person and Work of the Holy Spirit, p. 37.
12 Gill, John, A Body of Doctrinal and Practical Divinity (Streamwood, IL: Primitive Baptist Library, 1977) p. 409.
13 Dagg, J.L., Manual of Theology (Harrisonburg VA: Gano Books, 1982) p. 299.
14 Pink, A.W., Eternal Security (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1981) p. 100.
15 Jenkens, Charles, Baptist Doctrines (Watertown, WI: Baptist Heritage Press, 1989) pp. 589-590.
16 Pink, A.W., Eternal Security (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker. Book House, 1981) p. 96.
17 Murray, Ian, The Forgotten Spurgeon (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1986) p. 16.
18 Murray, Ian, The Forgotten Spurgeon (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1986) p. 95.
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