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Volume 2, Issue 4:

God's Preservation of the Saints

Nor should it be lightly overlooked that Christ makes the Father greater than all possible adversaries, lest we should have less security of salvation than reverence for the power of God. Hence in all violent assaults, all kinds of peril, all mighty storms and agitations, the perpetuity of our standing consists in this, that God will constantly defend with the strength of His arm what He has decreed in Himself concerning our salvation. If anyone of us should regard himself, what can he do but tremble? For everything around us shakes, and nothing is more feeble than ourselves. But since the heavenly Father allows none of those whom He has given to His Son to perish, our assurance and confidence are as great as His power.
- John Calvin
That doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints is, I believe, as thoroughly bound up with the standing or falling of the gospel as is the article of justification by faith. Give that up, and I see no gospel left.
- Charles Spurgeon
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone 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 My Father's hand. I and My Father are one.
- John 10:27-30
There is no question in the Scripture about the eternal security of those truly regenerated by the Holy Spirit. One should be careful at this point to note that this is no "once saved always saved no matter what you do" doctrine. Indeed, "faith without works" is not the sign of spiritual sickness (or backsliding), but death (Jas. 2:17). The biblical doctrine, therefore, is once saved always saved and that you will keep on doing what God says because you are dead to sin and alive to Christ (Rom. 6:2). All pretenders will receive judgment (Matt. 7:21-23). All regenerates will persevere.
- Leonard Coppes
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?...Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?...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 created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Romans 8:31-39
We know people who have been "converted" many times. Every time there is a church revival they go to the altar and get "saved." One minister told of a man in his congregation who had been "saved" seventeen times. During a revival meeting the evangelist made an altar call for all who wanted to be filled with the Spirit. The man who had been converted so often made his way toward the altar again. A woman from the congregation shouted, "Don't fill him, Lord. He leaks!"...Those who become "unconverted" were never converted in the first place.
- R.C. Sproul
Whom the Savior finds, He keeps.

Easy Chairs, Hard Words, Part 3

By Douglas Wilson

"At last," I thought. "Now we should be able to talk about what brought me here in the first place." Pastor Spenser and I were both settling in chairs with the conversation already well under way.

"I know what your position is," I said. "But I am afraid that I still don't know why."
"And what is my position?" he said, smiling.
"Well, I assume that you believe that it is not possible for a Christian to lose his salvation...that's correct, isn't it."
"Sort of."
I grinned. "Way to come down clearly on the issue."
Pastor Spenser laughed. "There would be a lot more peace in the church if Christians learned to frame their questions more biblically."
"How do you mean?"
"The question is posed as to whether a Christian can lose his salvation, the pros and cons line up, and debate the question as it was posed. But salvation is not a personal possession of ours, like car keys, which can be misplaced by us."
"So what is the real question?"
"The way the question is usually asked, we wonder if a Christian can lose his salvation, which is the same as asking whether a Christian can lose Christ. Some say yes, and others no."
"And you would say...?"
"I would ask whether Christ can lose a Christian."
"I don't get you."
"Christians are those who are redeemed or purchased for God through the blood of Christ. We have been bought with a price. Now if someone, so purchased, winds up in Hell, then who has lost that person's salvation?"
"I'm sorry, I must be thick. I still don't get what you are driving at."
"Christians cannot lose their salvation, for the simple reason that their salvation does not belong to them. It belongs to Christ. If anyone is to lose it, it must be He. And He has promised not to."
"Where does the Bible teach that we are His possession?"
"There are many passages which cover this...too many to cover tonight. Why don't we just look at several? I'll give you a list of others."
"Fair enough."
"In Revelation 5:9-10, the new song in honor of the Lamb states that He has redeemed us to God by His blood - from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation."
"In 1 Cor. 6:20, it says, `For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's."
"It seems pretty clear."
"Right. In salvation, Christ does not become our property; we become His. So in discussing this, we must remember that all the saving is done by Him. Those who want to maintain that salvation can be lost are really saying that He is one who loses it."
"This throws the whole debate into a completely different light."
"It does. And frankly, it is the difference between grace and works."
"How so?"
"To assert that a man can lose his salvation through what he does or does not do is to assert, in the final analysis, salvation by works."
"But the church in which I grew up taught that you can lose your salvation, but they also preached salvation by grace."
"Not quite. They preached a conversion experience by grace. But how is that experience to be maintained and protected? And by whom? They begin with the Spirit, but seek to finish through human effort."
I must have looked confused, so he continued.
"Were you ever taught that you could, by committing certain sins, place yourself outside of Christ?"
"Yes, and it terrified me."
"Now, let's say that you committed such a sin, and then were killed in a car wreck? Where would you go?"
"To Hell."
"And why?"
"Because I had sinned, and a holy God cannot look on sin."
"And your salvation, or lack of it, was up to whom?"
"You are arguing that it was up to me. I can tell you that it certainly felt that way. The more I wanted to serve God, the more condemned I felt."
"Don't you see that your insecurity was the result of your salvation riding on a roulette wheel...every day?"
"How so?"
"If you died on Monday, you go to be with the Lord. If you died on Thursday, off to Hell. On Sunday night, you are heaven-bound again."
"You are saying that this is salvation by works?"
"What else can we call it? And it produces two kinds of people. One group is confident in their own righteousness, but they have watered down the righteous standards of God in order to delude themselves this way. The other group is comprised of sincere people, who, because they are honest, realize that they are under condemnation."
"It seems a little strong to say that they are professing salvation by works, though."
"Paul rebuked Peter to his face at Antioch, and why? Because Peter did something as "trivial" as withdrawing table fellowship from Gentiles temporarily. But Paul knew that the gospel was threatened by this. How much more is it threatened through teaching that a Christian can do a "work" which will blow his salvation away? This teaching makes salvation depend upon the works of men."
"You contrasted this with grace."
"Correct. Salvation by grace is a gift from God. "Salvation" by works is man's attempt to earn his way into the presence of God, or in this case, his attempt to earn his right to stay there."
"But what is to prevent someone from saying they are "saved by grace," and then going to sin up a storm?"
Pastor Spenser laughed. "Nothing at all. Sinners can say and do what they please. Until the judgment."
"But how would you answer the objection?"
"There are two things worth noting about it. One is that having to answer it places me in good company. The apostle Paul had to answer the same obejction in Romans 6, against those who objected to his message of grace. Secondly, the answer is the one Paul gives. Recipients of grace do not get to decide to receive forgiveness grace, while passing on death to sin grace. How can we who died to sin, still live in it?"
"But aren't there some who teach that salvation can be lost simply to keep this type of person from presumption?"
"There are some who insist on teaching that Christians can lose their salvation out of a concern they have for `holiness.' They say that if this is not done, then people will abuse grace. But if you hold the biblical perspective, you do not consider grace a possession of ours, to be abused or not. Rather, grace belongs to God, and He never abuses it."
"This means what?"
"In Ephesians 2:8-9, we learn that we are saved by grace through faith. In the next verse, we learn that we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works prepared beforehand by God. God's grace is never truly abused because it belongs to God. Those outside abuse the name grace, but they cannot touch the thing itself."
"You sound like you have very little respect for those on the other side of this issue."
"That is not quite true. Some of them are teaching another gospel, and the condemnation of the apostle is sufficient for them. But there are others who are true Christians, and who hold this position because of their reading of certain texts...Hebrews 10:26, for example."
"You respect them?"
"Yes. I believe them to be wrong, but their error procedes from a desire to be honest with the text. With the purveyors of a false gospel, the error comes from an almost complete confusion of grace and works."
"What about Hebrews 10:26?"
"We are almost out of time. Why don't I read that passage, adding some comments of my own based on the context of Hebrews. Then you can go back through the book with that context in mind. It should be helpful in chapter 6 as well."
"For if we sin willfully by going back to the sacrifices of bulls and goats after we have received the knowledge of the truth that Christ was the once for all sacrifice for sin, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins because temple sacrifice of bulls and goats is a system that is fading away, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries because they are sacrificing their bulls and goats in a temple that will be destroyed in just a few years."
I laughed. "Is all that in the Greek?"
Pastor Spenser grinned. "No, but it is in the context. Read through the book of Hebrews with the impending destruction of Jerusalem in mind, and consider the problem caused by professing Christians who were being tempted to return to Jerusalem in order to sacrifice there. The fire that was going to consume the enemies of God in this passage is not hellfire."
"So what is the basic issue here?"
"It is grace; grace and works. Works is a barren mother; she will never have any children, much less gracious children. Grace is fruitful; her children are many, and they all work hard."

Both Jesus and John say that the believer has eternal life...observe that it is eternal life. That means the life is forever. Or once saved, always saved: always, forever. If...a born-again believer could lose his faith and become lost, then the last thing he could say is that the believer has eternal life. He could say that he has a good life, or a holy life, or a supernatural life, or a happy life; but he could never say that he has eternal life.
- Edwin Palmer
When God predestines someone, He predestines him to holiness, not licentiousness (Eph. 1:4). If anyone says that it does not matter what he does because God has predestined him, then he cannot say that he has been predestined; for predestined people never act in such a sinful way.
- Edwin Palmer
And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.
- Jer. 32:40
The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints does not maintain that all who profess the Christian faith are certain of heaven. It is saints - those who are set apart by the Spirit - who persevere to the end. It is believers - those who are given true, living faith in Christ - who are secure and safe in Him.
- Steele and Thomas
The believer, like a man on shipboard, may fall again and again on the deck, but he will never fall overboard.
- Charles Spurgeon
The saints in heaven are happier but no more secure than are true believers here in this world.
- Loraine Boettner
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
One of the outstanding glories of the Gospel is its promise of eternal security to all who truly believe it. The Gospel presents no third-rate Physician who is competent to treat only the milder cases, but One capable of curing the most desperate cases.
- A.W. Pink
The saints are those whom God has accepted in Christ the Beloved...To them He has given the precious faith that pertains to all His elect. The persons to whom such blessings have been imparted can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they shall certainly persevere in grace to the end and be eternally saved, for God will never repent of having called them and made gifts to them. Consequently He continues to beget and to nourish in them faith, repentance, love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit that issue in immortality. Many storms and floods may arise and beat upon them, yet they can never be moved from the foundation and rock on which by faith they are firmly established...He will certainly keep and save them by His power...for they are engraven on the palms of His hands, and their names have been written in the book of life from all eternity.
- The 1689 Confession
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.
- Jude 24-25

Credenda/Agenda is a publication of Canon Press, which is the literature ministry of Community Evangelical Fellowship, 110 Baker Street, Moscow, Idaho, 83843; phone: (208) 882-2034; Douglas Wilson, editor. The teaching contained here does not necessarily reflect the views of everyone associated with this ministry.

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