Eternal Security ~ Part 21

Election Redux

In my last post, we tackled the issue of the Unpardonable Sin and Grieving the Ruach.  I want to re-cap where we have been on this journey for those who may not have been on the whole journey with us and refresh the memory (including mine) for those who have walked this road with me.

Eternal Security ~ Part 1 Introduction to the series where I explained why the study was timely and why is was important to me (and presumably to my readers).  I asked the question ~ Can Salvation Be Lost?

 

Eternal Security ~ Part 2 I presented a Glossary of Terms that I would be exploring.

 

Eternal Security ~ Part 3 We began to explore the concept of Eternal Security.

 

Eternal Security ~ Part 4 ~ 6 We looked at the concept of Apostasy and touched on Backsliding.  Before wrapping up this series, I will return to this topic and reveal my personal position on this as I answer the question of Can Salvation Be Lost?

 

Eternal Security ~ Part 7 In this post, I presented scriptural references to God’s Sovereignty and Free Will and quoted from Clarence Larkin and A.W. Tozer.  I concluded that God’s Sovereignty takes into consideration man’s free will to accept or reject His offer of salvation.

 

Eternal Security ~ Part 8 ~ 9 In these posts, we looked at the beginnings of The Protestant Reformation and a brief bio-sketch of John Calvin and his teachings.

 

Eternal Security ~ Part 10 ~ 13 We explored spread of Calvinism, the Synod of Dort, the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Five Points of Calvinism.

 

Eternal Security ~ Part 14 I presented a brief bio-sketch of Jacobus Arminius the ‘father’ of Arminianism.

 

Eternal Security ~ Part 15 ~ 18 In these posts, we were introduced to the Remonstrance, the historical development of Arminian Theology, as well as the tenets of Arminian Theology.

 

Eternal Security ~ Part 19 In this post, we explored the Calvinistic View and Arminian View of Election.

 

Eternal Security ~ Part 20 In my last post, we looked at the concept of the Unpardonable Sin and Grieving the Ruach.

 

I’ve done my best to provide a balanced approach to present the material to date by using the same sources to present the basic differences between Calvinism and Arminianism.  Now, I want to look at some of the contested passages I was not able to more fully address previously.

Election

In Part 12, we learned that Calvinists believe in Unconditional ElectionCalvinism teaches that from eternity past, God has unconditionally elected certain ones to salvation regardless of any merit on their part. Unconditional emphasizes that election is not conditioned on God’s foreknowledge that certain ones will believe in Yeshua. Election is not conditioned on man’s ability or response.  This is frequently referred to as God foreordained those who would be saved and those who would be sentenced to eternal damnation.  In support of that position, Calvinists look to the following passages of Scripture:

“Because those whom He knew in advance, He also determined in advance would be conformed to the pattern of His Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers; and those whom He thus determined in advance, He also called; and those whom He called, He also caused to be considered righteous; and those whom He caused to be considered righteous He also glorified!” ~ Romans 8:29-30.

“Before they were born, before they had done anything at all, either good or bad (so that God’s plan might remain a matter of his sovereign choice, not dependent on what they did, but on God, who does the calling)” ~ Romans 9:11.

“In the Messiah He chose us in love before the creation of the universe to be holy and without defect in His presence.  He determined in advance that through Yeshua the Messiah we would be His sons … Also in union with Him we were given an inheritance, we who were picked in advance according to the purpose of the One who effects everything in keeping with the decision of his will” ~ Ephesians 1:4-5, 11.

In Part 19, we learned that Arminians believe that Election is not absolute or unconditional but Conditional, contingent upon the proper acceptance of such gifts of grace as God by His Ruach and providence puts within the reach of men.  In support of that position, Arminians look to the following passages of Scripture:

“He wants all humanity to be delivered and come to full knowledge of the truth” ~ 1 Timothy 2:4.

“Indeed, it is for this that we toil and strive: we have our hope set on a living God who is the deliverer of all humanity, especially of those who trust” ~ 1 Timothy 4:10.

Speaking to the Jewish rulers (clearly God’s elect), Stephen said: “Stiffnecked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You continually oppose the Ruach HaKodesh! You do the same things your fathers did!” ~ Acts 7:51.

“The next day, Yochanan saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, “Look! God’s lamb! The one who is taking away the sin of the world!” ~ John 1:29. 

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only and unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in Him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but rather so that through Him, the world might be saved” ~ John 3:16-17 (emphasis added).

“In other words, just as it was through one offense that all people came under condemnation, so also it is through one righteous act that all people come to be considered righteous.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man, many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the other man, many will be made righteous” ~ Romans 5:18-19 (emphasis added).

“For just as in connection with Adam all die, so in connection with the Messiah all will be made alive” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:22 (emphasis added).

So, the key difference between Calvinists and Arminians on the issue of Election appears to me based upon the question:  Did God foreordained those who could only accept the Gospel message or did He foreknow those that would?  As for me, there is no way that I can accept a God of love that foreordained His children to eternal damnation.  Consequently, I must come down on the side of the Arminians on this one issue.

In my next post, I will continue to examine several other the contested passages we have encountered along our journey.

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Eternal Security ~ Part 19

Election

In my last post, we concluded our presentation of Arminian Theology.  In this post, I want to go back to Eternal Security ~ Part 2 to complete the definition of Election as it applies to the Calvinistic and Arminian Theology.

Recall that Unger defined the Biblical view of Election [1] as: “This word in the Scriptures has three distinct applications.

  1. To the divine choice of nations or communities for the possession of special privileges with reference to the performance of special services. Thus the Jews were “a chosen nation,” “the elect.” Thus also in the NT, bodies of Christian people, or churches, are called “the elect.”
  2. To the divine choice of individuals to a particular office or work. Thus Cyrus was elected of God to bring about the rebuilding of the Temple, and thus the twelve were chosen to be apostles and Paul to be the apostle to the Gentiles.
  3. To the divine choice of individuals to be the children of God, and therefore heirs of heaven.”
The Calvinistic View of Election

The Westminster Confession, the standard of the Church of Scotland and of the various Presbyterian churches of Europe and America, contains the following statement:

“God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of His own free will freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. Although God knows whatsoever may or can come to pass upon all supposed conditions, yet hath He not decreed anything because He foresaw its future, or as that which would come to pass upon such conditions. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death. These angels and men, thus predestinated and foreordained are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, hath chosen in Christ unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions or causes moving Him thereto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace. As God hath appointed the elect unto glory, so hath He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Therefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ, by His Spirit working in due season; are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power through faith unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only. The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extendeth or withholdeth mercy, as He pleaseth, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by, and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin, to the praise of His glorious justice.”

In support of this doctrine several arguments are made by Calvinistic theologians: (1) According to the Scriptures election is not of works but of grace; and that it is not of works means that it is not what man does that determines whether he is to be one of the elect or not. For the descendants of Adam this life is not a probation. They stood their probation in Adam and do not stand each one for himself. (2) The sovereignty of God in electing men to salvation is shown by the fact that repentance and faith are gifts from God. These fruits of His Spirit are the consequences and signs of election and not its conditions. (3) The salvation that is of grace must be of grace throughout. The element of works or human merit must not be introduced at any point in the plan. And that would be the case if repentance and faith were the conditions of election. (4) The system of doctrine called Calvinistic, Augustinian, Pauline, should not be thus designated. That though taught clearly by Paul, particularly in Romans 8:9, it was taught also by others of the writers of sacred Scripture, and by Christ Himself. Reference is made to Matthew 11:25-26; Luke 4:25-27; Luke 8:10; John 6:37, 39. (5) That the sovereignty of God is evidenced in dispensing saving grace is illustrated also in His establishing the temporal conditions of mankind. Some are born and reared in the surroundings of civilization, others of barbarism. And precisely so some are blessed with the light of the gospel, while others, dwelling in pagan lands, are deprived of that light and consequently are not saved.

This system of strict Calvinism above outlined has received various modifications by theologians of the Calvinistic school. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, May 1903, adopted the following: “We believe that all who die in infancy, and all others given by the Father to the Son who are beyond the reach of the outward means of grace, are regenerated and saved by Christ through the Spirit, who works when and where and how He pleases.”

The Arminian View of Election

The Arminian view of election has been in recent years more generally accepted than formerly, even among denominations whose teaching has been Calvinistic or indefinite upon this point. This view grounds itself, in opposition to Calvinism, upon the universality of the atonement and the graciously restored freedom of the human will. Election, accordingly, is not absolute but conditional, contingent upon the proper acceptance of such gifts of grace as God by His Spirit and providence puts within the reach of men.

Inasmuch as this subject involves the character and method of the divine government and the destiny of the entire race, the following should be said:

  • According to the Arminian doctrine the purpose of God to redeem mankind was bound up with His purpose to create. The Lamb of God was “slaughtered before the world was founded” (Revelation 13:8). God would not have permitted a race of sinners to come into existence without provision to save them. Such provision must not be for only a part but for the whole of the fallen race. To suppose the contrary is opposed to the divine perfections. To doom to eternal death any number of mankind who were born in sin and without sufficient remedy would be injustice.
  • The benefits of the atonement are universal and in part unconditional. They are unconditional with respect to those who, through no fault of their own, are in such a mental or moral condition as to make it impossible for them either to accept or reject Christ. A leading denomination emphasizes the doctrine that “all children, by virtue of the unconditional benefits of the atonement, are members of the kingdom of God.” This principle extends to others besides children, both in heathen and Christian lands. God alone is competent to judge the extent to which, in varying degrees, human beings are responsible, and therefore the extent to which the unconditional benefits of the atonement may be applied.
  • The purpose or decree of God is to save all who do not, actually or implicitly, willfully reject the saving offices of the Lord Jesus Christ. Among those who have not heard the Gospel may exist “the spirit of faith and the purpose of righteousness.” Thus even those who have no knowledge of the historic Christ virtually determine whether or not they will be saved through Christ. They to whom the Gospel is preached have higher advantages and more definite responsibilities. To them, repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are the conditions of salvation.
  • Upon all men, God bestows some measure of His grace, restoring to the depraved will sufficient freedom to enable them to accept Christ and be saved. Thus, in opposition to Calvinists, Arminians assert that not only Adam, but also his depraved descendants are in a stage of probation.

In behalf of this doctrine the following is argued:

  1. That the whole trend of the Scriptures is to declare the responsibility of men and their actual power to choose between life and death.
  1. That the Scriptures explicitly teach that it is the will of God that all men should be saved. Only those perish who wickedly resist His will (1 Timothy 2:4; 4:10; John 5:40; Acts 7:51).
  1. That the Scriptures declare the universality of Christ’s atonement, and in some degree the universality of its benefits (Hebrews 2:9; John 1:29; John 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Romans 5:18-19; and many other passages).
  1. That the doctrine of unconditional election necessarily implies that of unconditional reprobation; and that is to charge God with cruelty.
  1. That unconditional election also necessarily implies the determinate number of the elect, a point that Calvinists hold, though they admit that they have for it no explicit teaching of Scripture. To the contrary, the Scriptures not only generally but particularly teach that the number of the elect can be increased or diminished. This is the purport of all those passages in which sinners are exhorted to repent, or Believers warned against becoming apostate, or to “make certain about His calling and choosing you” (Matthew 24:4, 13; 2 Peter 1:10).
  1. That the Scriptures never speak of impenitent and unbelieving men as elect, as in some cases it would be proper to do if election were antecedent to repentance and faith and not conditioned thereby.
  1. That the whole theory of unconditional election is of the same tendency with fatalism.
  1. That the logic of unconditional election is opposed to true evangelism.
  1. That the essential features of the Arminian doctrine of election belong to the primitive and truly historic doctrine of the church. Augustine was the first prominent teacher of unconditional election, and he, regardless of the logical inconsistency, granted that reprobation is not unconditional. This doctrine of Augustine was first formally accepted by the church in a.d. 529, in the Canons of the Council of Orange, approved by Pope Boniface II. The prominence of unconditional election in the theory of Protestantism is due largely to the influence and work of John Calvin, who not only set forth the Augustinian doctrine of unconditional election, but also taught unconditional reprobation. John Wesley and his followers were responsible in a large degree for reviving and developing the doctrine of Arminius.

The limits of this post do not permit an examination of the contested passages of Scripture. But as we used to say in our retreats: “The best is yet to come.”  In my next post, I want to tackle the issue of the Unpardonable Sin and Grieving the Ruach.  Once those issues are fully addressed, I will move on to the contested passages before wrapping-up this series with my own personal position.

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[1] New Unger’s Bible Dictionary by Merrill F. Unger provide all three views of Election.

Eternal Security ~ Part 17

Arminian Theology ~ Part 3

In my last post, we took a brief look at Arminian Theology.  In this post, we continue to explore Doctrinal Affirmations of Arminian Theology and The Remonstrance. As a reminder, in order to ensure that I present the material on this topic and Calvinistic Theology without any preconceived bias, I have elected to utilize “The Moody Handbook of Theology” by Paul Enns as my source document.

Original Sin

Arminians teach the doctrine of original sin; it affects the entire being of man; man is destitute of all positive good, and apart from God’s grace, man commits evil continually. Through Adam’s sin, sin and death entered the world. The penalty of death came upon all mankind because of a state of the human heart (not imputation). In addition, all people inherited a corrupted human nature as offsprings of Adam. This is not to suggest a legal imputation of sin, however. The Apology of the Remonstrants declares, “There is no ground for the assertion that the sin of Adam was imputed to his posterity in the sense that God actually judged the posterity of Adam to be guilty of and chargeable with the same sin and crime that Adam had committed.”

 

ARMINIAN DOCTRINE (THE REMONSTRANCE)

Doctrine

Explanation

Election Based on Knowledge God elected those whom He knew would of their own free will believe in Christ and persevere in the faith.
Unlimited Atonement In His atonement, Christ provided redemption for all mankind, making all mankind saveable. Christ’s atonement becomes effective only in those who believe.
Natural Inability Man cannot save himself; the Holy Spirit must affect the new birth.
Prevenient Grace Preparatory work of the Holy Spirit enables the Believer to respond to the Gospel and cooperate with God in salvation.
Conditional Perseverance Believers have been empowered to live a victorious life, but they are capable of turning from grace and losing their salvation.

While Arminianism recognizes original sin and depravity, it also teaches that the effects of original sin are erased and reversed in everyone through the grace of God, enabling the sinner to respond actively to God, or cooperate with God in salvation. No one is condemned because of imputed sin from Adam or because of a depraved nature, but only because of individual sins.

Election and Predestination

Arminius related the doctrine of predestination (God appointing certain people to salvation) to the foreknowledge of God (emphasis added). God knew who would choose Him and those are the ones God predestined. He also related his doctrine of predestination to those whom God knew would not only believe but also persevere. Concerning the election of individuals Arminius states “(the) decree rests upon the foreknowledge of God, by which He has known from eternity which persons should believe according to such an administration of the means serving to repentance and faith through His preceding grace and which should persevere through subsequent grace, and also who should not believe and persevere.”

Arminianism includes all mankind in its definition of predestination, which may be defined as “the gracious purpose of God to save mankind from utter ruin. It is not an arbitrary, indiscriminate act of God intended to secure the salvation of so many and no more. It includes provisionally, all men in its scope, and is conditioned solely on faith in Jesus Christ.”

Arminians have always regarded election to eternal life as conditional upon faith in Christ. It is not an arbitrary choice of God; instead it is based on man’s faith response to the gospel.

Prevenient Grace

Prevenient grace is the “preparing” grace of God that is dispensed to all, enabling a person to respond to the invitation of the Gospel. Prevenient grace may be defined as “that grace which ‘goes before’ or prepares the soul for entrance into the initial state of salvation. It is the preparatory grace of the Holy Spirit exercised toward man helpless in sin. As it respects the guilty, it may be considered mercy; as it respects the impotent, it is enabling power. It may be defined, therefore, as that manifestation of the divine influence which precedes the full regenerate life.”

This leads to a belief in synergism, “working together” or a “cooperative action” between man and God with regard to salvation. Because God dispenses prevenient grace, the effects of Adam’s sin are reversed, enabling the person to respond in faith to the Gospel. Man may accept or reject the Gospel and the grace of God of his own free will. “Through this awakening from original sin, one becomes open to the grace freely offered in Jesus Christ. Restoration to close and uncorrupted relationship with God is there by made possible.”

The Arminian system of grace may be summarized as follows; “(1) the inability of man as totally depraved; (2) the state of nature as in some sense state of grace through the unconditional benefit of the atonement; (3) the continuity of grace as excluding the Calvinistic distinction between common and efficacious grace; (4) synergism, or the co-operation of grace and free will; and (5) the power of man to finally resist the grace of God freely bestowed upon him.”

Freewill

It becomes apparent that there is a relationship between prevenient grace and free will. Wiley cites four propositions in relating prevenient grace to freedom of the will.

(1) Prevenient grace is exercised upon the natural man, or man in his condition subsequent to the fall. This grace is exercised upon his entire being, and not upon any particular element or power of his being.
(2) Prevenient grace has to do with man as a free and responsible agent. The fall did not efface the natural image of God in man, nor destroy any of the powers of his being. It did not destroy the power of thought which belongs to the intellect, nor the power of affection which pertains to the feelings. So, also, it did not destroy the power of volition which belongs to the will.
(3) Prevenient grace has to do further, with the person as enslaved by sin…This slavery is not absolute, for the soul is conscious of its bondage and rebels against it…Thus grace is needed…to awaken the soul to the truth…and to move upon the affections by enlisting the heart upon the side of truth.
(4) The continuous co-operation of the human will with the originating grace of the Spirit, merges prevenient grace directly into saving grace…Arminianism maintains that through the prevenient grace of the Spirit, unconditionally bestowed upon all men, the power and responsibility of free agency exist from the first dawn of the moral life.

In summation, Arminianism teaches that the fall of man did not destroy the power of the choice. Prevenient grace thus moves the person to see his spiritual need, enabling him to choose salvation. But grace, Wiley emphasizes, is prominent in the transaction.

In my next post, we will continue to drill down into Arminian Theology.

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Eternal Security ~ Part 2

Glossary of Terms

In my last post, I introduced this new series and began to answer the question of … Can Salvation Be Lost?   I stated: The reason I want to tackle this topic is simply because I want to know in my knower and heart what it is I really believe about eternal security.”   So, let’s get started.

In this post, I thought it might be helpful to start with a basic glossary of terms that will be discussed in more detail in this series, but may not be widely understood.  Unless otherwise stated, all definitions are from the New Unger’s Bible Dictionary by Merrill F. Unger.  I’ve taken the liberty of editing some of the definitions for brevity.  As most of my readers know, my default Bible is the Complete Jewish Bible translated by David H. Stern.

Apostasy A “falling away.” The common classical use of the word has to do with a political defection (see Genesis 14:4, 2 Chronicles 13:6, Acts 5:37). In the NT its more usual meaning is that of a religious defection (see Acts 21:21; 1 Tim. 4:1; Hebrews 3:12). This is called “apostasy from the faith:” a secession from the church, and a disowning of the name of Christ. The grave nature of apostasy is shown by such passages as Hebrews 10:26-29, 2 Peter 2:15-21, and John 15:22. Apostasy as the act of a professed Christian, who knowingly and deliberately rejects revealed truth regarding the deity of Christ (1 John 4:1-3) and redemption through His atoning sacrifice (Phil. 3:18; 2 Peter 2:1) is different from error, which may be the result of ignorance (Acts 19:1-6), or heresy, which may be the result of falling into the snare of Satan (2 Tim. 2:25-26). Both error and heresy may accordingly be consistent with true faith. On the other hand, apostasy departs from the faith but not from the outward profession of it (2 Tim. 3:5). Apostasy, whether among the angels (Isaiah 14:12-14; Ezekiel 28:15; Jude 1:6), in Israel (Isaiah 1:1-6; Isaiah 5:5-7), or in the church (Revelation 3:14-16) is irremediable and awaits judgment. Mankind’s apostasy in Adam (Genesis 3:6-7) is curable only through the sacrifice of Christ. Apostates apparently can only be professors and not actual possessors of true salvation, otherwise their defection would incur severe chastening or, if this failed to restore them, untimely (physical) death (1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Cor. 11:32; 1 John 5:16).
Assurance A term brought into theology from the Scriptures, sometimes used broadly by theologians as referring to certitude respecting the validity of Christian revelation; most commonly employed to denote the firm persuasion of one’s own salvation. The latter must of course include the former. In experience the two are closely connected. In both senses assurance is a product of the Holy Spirit (Colossians 2:2; Hebrews 6:11; Hebrews 10:22).

As to the assurance of personal salvation it must be emphasized that this must not be confused with the eternal security of a genuine Believer. The latter is a fact due to God’s faithfulness whether it is realized by the Believer or not, whereas the former is that which one believes is true respecting himself at any given moment.

Election Unger divides his definition based upon the subject:  Biblical Meaning, The Calvinistic View and the Armenian view.  Here is the Biblical Meaning:  This word in the Scriptures has three distinct applications.
1.    To the divine choice of nations or communities for the possession of special privileges with reference to the performance of special services. Thus the Jews were “a chosen nation,” “the elect.” Thus also in the NT, bodies of Christian people, or churches, are called “the elect.”
2.    To the divine choice of individuals to a particular office or work. Thus Cyrus was elected of God to bring about the rebuilding of the Temple, and thus the twelve were chosen to be apostles and Paul to be the apostle to the Gentiles.
3.    To the divine choice of individuals to be the children of God, and therefore heirs of heaven.
We will look at The Calvinistic View and the Armenian view when we examine each doctrine.
Security The doctrine that maintains the continuation of salvation for those who are saved. It must be distinguished from the doctrine of assurance. It must also be clearly remembered that it concerns only the regenerate (saved). The doctrine of security is based upon twelve undertakings of God for His people, four related to the Father, four to the Son, and four to the Holy Spirit.  I will unpack these undertakings in my next post.
Unpardonable Sin This was a specific sin possible only during the earthly life of our Lord, when He was ministering in the power of the Holy Spirit. Under those unique conditions a person who attributed to Satan the power of the Holy Spirit, so visibly and openly manifested, was guilty of this peculiar sin. For this reason, there could be no forgiveness in the age then present or in the age immediately following (Matthew 12:22-32; Mark 3:22-30). Since no such conditions exist in this age, the unpardonable sin is now impossible. An unpardonable sin and the gospel of “whosoever will” cannot coexist. Were such a sin possible today, every gospel invitation would specifically shut out those who had committed such a trespass.  My Note: This is not the same as grieving the Holy Spirt found in Ephesians 4:30.

The following are only brief definitions which I will spend whole posts unpacking.
Both definitions are from The Moody Handbook on Theology by Paul Enns

Arminianism A doctrinal system formed by Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) as a reaction to Calvinism in the Netherlands. These beliefs were later affirmed in the five points of the Remonstrance:

1.    Conditional election based on God’s foreknowledge.
2.    Unlimited atonement.
3.    Although man has a free will he cannot save himself.
4.    Prevenient grace, which enables man to cooperate with God in salvation.
5.    Conditional perseverance – Believers can be lost.

Calvinism A doctrinal system expressed in the following five points formulated by John Calvin, frequently referred to with the acronym ~ TULIP.

1.    Total depravity of man.
2.    Unconditional election.
3.    Limited atonement.
4.    Irresistible grace.
5.    Perseverance of the saints.

The sovereignty of God is central in Calvinism.

In my next post, we will start to unpack the topic of Eternal Security.

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Eternal Security ~ Part 1

In my last post, we wrapped-up our series on the Christian Torah.  However, in What Does Yeshua Say About the End Times – Part 11, we left one topic hanging ~ Can Salvation Be Lost?  We were looking at the Parable of the Talents.  I stated that:

This is a topic I hope to cover in more depth in future posts.  But suffice it to say that this parable, seems to imply that a servant on the inside is thrown outside when judgment falls.  Christian churches are divided on whether a person saved by faith in Yeshua can lose his or her salvation.

Here’s what we can know from the Bible:

  • There is no security apart from Yeshua. He saves us, keeps us, and promises heavenly happiness after a life of faith and service. Only Yeshua can do that. Rest only on him.
  • The security we enjoy in God’s promises should not make us presumptuous. Don’t become cocky with God. Don’t assume that God must let you in, that you can demand entrance, that you have a right!
  • Live each day in faith, believing in God’s great promises, dedicating your time and talent to God’s work, loving your Messianic brothers and sisters, being generous with the weak and poor. Your life is secure in Yeshua, but what you do with your day is often your own choice. Make choices that please God.

In this new series, I want to answer the question for myself … Can Salvation Be Lost?

You may be wondering why this question is important to me.  Do I doubt my salvation?  I can categorically respond: “NO!”  Do I have some sick need to start a debate between the followers of this blog?  Again, the answer is: “NO!”  Am I afraid that I might have committed an unpardonable sin?  “NO!”  So why am I writing about this?  The simple answer is because elephant’s have flat feet.  Oh, wait a minute, that’s what I used to tell my kids when they asked a “why” question.  Sorry about that, old habits die hard.

The reason I want to tackle this topic is simply because I want to know in my knower and heart what it is I really believe about eternal security.

To me, I have traveled an interesting path in my walk with Yeshua.  I was raised in the Episcopal Church with all its creeds, catechisms and traditions.  All I knew from what I was taught was that if I believed that Jesus was the Son of God and that He was crucified and rose on the third day, my sins were forgiven and I would go to heaven.  I thought that was easy enough, so I bought into that belief.  I became quite religious as a result.  The problem was that I didn’t even know that I could have a personal relationship with the Lord of Lord and the King of Kings.  I don’t recall one sermon or Sunday School class on the issue of eternal security.  It wasn’t until I went through my own mid-life crisis at the age of 32 that I learned from some fellow lay Episcopalians that I could have such a personal relationship.  (See my About the Author page for more details.)

As I began to grow in my faith, I was exposed to the topic of the unpardonable sin.  It was at this time that I was exposed to the teachings of Jacobus Arminius who maintained that salvation could be lost.  It made sense to me given my understanding of man’s free will to accept or reject the teachings of the Bible.

While working at the City of Jacksonville, Florida, I began attending a Men’s Morning Bible Study hosted by First Baptist Church of Jacksonville on my way into the office.  “First B” was huge!  It covered seven (7) blocks in downtown Jacksonville.  When I went to work for the City I was told that the best parking available was in one of their three multi-story parking garages.  The study was held in one of their buildings between my parking garage and City Hall.  Needless to say, I was exposed to some of the teachings of John Calvin ~ “once saved, always saved.”   I wasn’t buying it, but it wasn’t an issue that I felt strong enough over to break fellowship.  After all, we were just doing a Bible study, the issue only came up infrequently and they readily accepted this kippah wearing Messianic Believer.

Fast forward several years to 2014 when I was asked to assist my present church develop the curriculum for a basic discipleship training program.  Rather than using some of the material readily available on the market, we wanted to develop our own to reflect the culture of our congregants.  At the time there were three of us writing on various topics.  One of mine was Assurance of Salvation.  [I’ll be using that material in a latter post.]  Big Valley Grace Community Church is currently non-denominational but has a rich history of evolving from a Brethren background and still have many Brethren in attendance.

I pointed out that getting into the topic of Assurance of Salvation would naturally lead to questions on the issue of Eternal Security, so I asked what the church’s position on that was.  Apparently, it’s a mixed bag.  So, I suggested that we present a brief description of the two main doctrinal positions on the subject and inserted the following note in the Leader Guide:

SPECIAL NOTE:  Ensure they do not confuse assurance of salvation with eternal security.  Although information is contained in the section on Eternal Security, it should only be discussed if the issue is raised by the student(s).  Remember, the topic of Eternal Security has divided many believers over the years.  As the students mature in their faith, they need to carefully meditate on God’s Word and come to their own conclusions on this issue.

I was then confronted with the issue in the Christian Torah series mentioned above.  My good friend, Wally Fry, over at Truth in Palmyra wrote on the subject recently taking a position different than my thinking.  And, just this last weekend my Pastor preached a message on Eternal Security as he was taking us through Romans.  Ok, Lord, I get the picture.  You want me to come to an understanding of what it is I personally believe on this topic.  So here we are.

Over the course of the next several posts, we will be examining the topics of election, free-will, assurance, apostasy, eternal security, Calvinism, Arminianism, Universalism, grieving the Holy Spirit, unpardonable sin, backsliding, and any other topic that seems germane to what we are discussing.  And, I hope that we will discuss this topic in the comments section.

I am not a theologian by any stretch of the imagination.  I’m just one beggar on the road of salvation willing to share a morsel of bread with my fellow travelers.  My goal is not to convince you of any particular position of this topic, but to share with you my journey as I discover what I believe and why.  I’m fortunate to have an extensive electronic library of commentaries and books on theology which I will be drawing from in addition to the most important resource, God’s Word.

May God richly bless us on our travel together.

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