PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS

This is the fourth of my posts on TULIP and my understanding of the 5 points of Calvinism or Reformed Theology.

What is taught by Reformed Theology: To be saved (included among the Elect) involves several steps.  First a person must be chosen to be among the Elect (Unconditional Election).  Next, Jesus had to come and die to be the propitiation for the Elect (Limited Atonement).  Finally, a person must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit (Irresistible Grace) and receive and willingly respond to the inward call of God.  All of these are actions undertaken and completed by God not the individual.  The person can’t initiate or even desire to initiate this process.  So, since this is a God thing, since He started it He has promised to see it through to completion.  God began the process, God maintains the process, and God has promised to complete the process. 

Philippians 1:6 says And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (ESV)

1 Peter 1:3-5 says Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (ESV)

Now for the question.  Can anyone undo what God has started, maintained, and promised to complete?  The answer is a resounding NO!  Jesus said it this way in John 10:28-29

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (ESV)

All of this means that once we have been saved we cannot lose that salvation.  It cannot be taken from us and we can’t give it back. 

My question and comments:  I agree that this is the correct Biblical understanding of this issue.  What clinched it for me was a simple question.  If we can give back or undo something that only God could do (i.e. lose our salvation) then does that not make us equal to God?  If we are as powerful as God then He is not truly God. 

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4 Responses to PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS

  1. Geoffrey Gordge says:

    If Calvinism is true then a man standing before the great white throne will be able to say to God I am going to a lost eternity because you God never elected me for Salvation.It is no good saying that the man will know that he is a sinner and deserves to go to hell, all through eternity God would know in His heart that the lost are really there because He did not elect them. Is that a God of justice and righteousness? I will never believe it. Read “What love is this” a book most Calvinist are afraid to read.

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  2. Tom says:

    Geoffrey,

    Not too long ago I would have agreed with you. I have been coming to a better understanding of God’s sovereignty in all things but specifically in the matter of election and reprobation. Having said that, we cannot deny that the Bible teaches that God does predestine some people to be among the Elect. The flip side of that is that the ones not predestined to the Elect by default are predestined to be reprobate. Would you say that the Doctrine of Predestination is not taught in the Bible? That is the only way that you can make the point that you did.

    By the way, I have not read “What Love Is This” by Dave Hunt but I have read “Debating Calvinism” and it is my understanding that he made many of the same points in it. Hunt’s focus on God’s love is admirable but I don’t think you can raise one attribute of God over all the other attributes of God. That is what it appears Hunt is doing.

    Thanks for your comment

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  3. Geoff.Gordge says:

    Yes but not predestination to salvation but to be conformed to His image. Calvinists confuse predestination with redetermination.just because God knows something does not mean He determined it. Calvin made God the author of sin.Do you really believe that God wanted Harold Shipman to kill 300 women? If my salvation depends on my actions then that has become a salvation by works and not by faith.

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  4. Tom Shelton says:

    Geoff,

    A couple questions, if you don’t mind. I would appreciate you thoughts on these.

    How can a person be conformed to the image of God outside of salvation? I don’t think this is possible. All people bear the image of God through creation. After the fall that image was corrupted or stained and must be purified before the relationship to Him can be reestablished. So if this is what you mean when you say predestination then does this not lead to universalism? I can’t see any other result.

    Also, considering God’s knowledge. Would you agree that God has perfect and complete knowledge? If you do then God can’t learn anything new. He already knows everything that will happen. It is my understanding that there can only be two possibilities. Either God knows because he looked down the corridor of time to see what our choices would be or he ordains our choices. If he looks down the corridor of time then that means there are things outside of his control and therefore he is not sovereign and not God. I think we can agree this is not the case. The only other logical conclusion is that he ordains everything that happens “for the good of those that love him”.

    As to the Harold Shipman issue. I don’t know who he is or anything about his killing 300 women but my ignorance of Shipman and his evil deeds don’t change my answer because your question is really just a version of the old question about the problem of evil. I don’t know why God permits some evil people to commit evil acts but I know that God is still in control and even these evil acts can and will be used in some way to bring about God’s sovereign plan for this world. I don’t mean to seem harsh or unfeeling because it touches me also when evil occurs but I have to place my trust in God that no matter what happens he is still in control. Otherwise this world would be an unbearable place and we could have no hope. But, we do have hope and we can trust in God no matter what we are facing. He is still in control and one day he will return and will burn away all the evil in this world and make all things new and we will spend eternity with him. What a glorious day that will be.

    By the way, in no way does your salvation depend on your actions. If our salvation depended on our abilities then not one person in history, other than Jesus, would be saved and Heaven would not have a single person in it.

    thanks for stopping by and the comment.

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