Perseverance of the Saints
In my last post, we looked back at Calvinism and Arminianism Contrasted and I stated my position on each issue, except Perseverance of the Saints. In this post, I will now address that issue and wrap-up this series on Eternal Security. I have color coded each of the cells using the three colors of a traffic signal with green signifying agreement; yellow for a mixture of both [orange in WordPress] ; and, red for disagreement.
[WordPress did not allow me to format the table like I wanted it to appear. You may want to click on the PDF version below.]
|CALVINISM AND ARMINIANISM CONTRASTED|
|Perseverance of the Saints||Believers may turn from grace and lose their salvation.||Believers will persevere in the faith. Believers are secure in their salvation; none will be lost.||See discussion below.|
The whole issue of Perseverance of the Saints is tied up in the issue of Apostasy, Election, God’s Sovereignty and (Man’s) Free Will. I’ve covered each of those issues at length in previous posts. Let’s take a quick look back at what we have learned.
In Eternal Security ~ Parts 4 ~ 6 we learned the definition for Apostasy and looked at several passages from Scripture that alluded to Believers possessing the ability to renounce their faith in Yeshua as their Redeemer. Perhaps the clearest was Hebrews 6:4-6.
“For when people have once been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become sharers in the Ruach HaKodesh, and tasted the goodness of God’s Word and the powers of the ‘olam haba [this age] — and then have fallen away — it is impossible to renew them so that they turn from their sin, as long as for themselves they keep executing the Son of God on the stake all over again and keep holding him up to public contempt.” ~ Hebrews 6:4-6
“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” ~ Hebrews 6:4-6 (NASB)
Clearly, to accept the premise that a true Believer can walk away from salvation in Yeshua implies Man’s Free Will is already considered in God’s Sovereignty. The verse under consideration here refers to a class of people who cannot “be brought back to repentance.” The issue is not whether God would forgive them if they repented, but whether there is any way to bring them to repentance at all. The answer is NO.
God’s Sovereignty and (Man’s) Free Will
In Eternal Security ~ Part 7, I declared that I accepted what A.W. Tozer’s had to say on this topic.
“I believe in free will. Free will was given as a gift of God – He’s given us a little provisional sovereignty out of His absolute sovereignty … God Almighty is sovereign, free to do as He pleases. Among the things He is pleased to do is give me freedom to do what I please. And when I do what I please, I am fulfilling the will of God, not controverting it, for God in His sovereignty has sovereignly given me freedom to make a free choice. And when I make a choice, I’m fulfilling His sovereignty, in that He sovereignly wills that I should be free to make a choice.
If mankind does indeed have the free will to accept or reject the Ruach’s prompting to accept Yeshua as the Son of God by faith, then it only seems logical to me that once accepted s/he can recant that decision. Certainly, we all know of friends, relatives or acquaintances who have initially rejected the calling of God to salvation and then have later accepted the reality of their need for Eternal Security.
Now, I freely confess, having walked with Him for the last thirty-eight years, I cannot imagine how I could possibly overcome the power of the Ruach within me to keep me on the straight and narrow to fall into Apostasy. Nor, can I imagine how anyone else could commit such an Unpardonable Sin (see Post 20). As A.W. Tozer stated: “Anyone who is concerned about having committed the unpardonable sin may be sure he or she has not!”
Having been trained in the ministry under the auspices of the Assemblies of God, I would be remiss in not sharing their doctrinal statement on the Security of the Believer. The full statement can be obtained here.
Let me highlight a couple of paragraphs in that statement:
Certainly, there are true Christians who believe and teach Calvinism; there are also true Christians who believe and teach that men and women have free will. Unfortunately, both sides have spent more time arguing doctrinal terminology and interpretations of theology than reaching out to a lost world. The irony of the disagreement is that Calvinists, who believe in predestination, are sometimes more active in witnessing and evangelism than Arminians who believe that man has a free will and should be encouraged to accept Christ as Savior. God, of course, looks on the heart and the actions rather than on the eloquence with which one defends a position.
Once saved can mean forever saved – if one continues in faith, growing in sanctification and holiness day by day. But God will not arbitrarily usurp mankind’s free will. Our sovereign God does not overrule free will just to prove He is sovereign.
I would also be remiss if I did not share with my audience a couple of blog posts that have been shared with me that take a different approach to this issue of Can I Lose My Salvation?
The first is by my good friend, Wally Fry at Truth in Palmyra. Click here
I leave you with my final answer to the question I originally asked and three quotes from people who have influenced by walk with Yeshua:
- Yes, I believe it is possible, but highly improbable to lose your salvation. I have no doubt, I will not lose mine.
- “In God’s faithfulness lies eternal ” ~ Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983)
- “This is how God will revive a church and the only way He will do it: there must be among us a oneness of determination to glorify the Lord alone. The Lord will not ask if you are Arminian or Calvinist, but He will ask, ‘Are you determined to glorify Me alone?’” ~ A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
- “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” ~ 1 John 5:12 – 13 (ESV).
In my next post, I hope to respond to your collective comments regarding the content of this series.