(Also see “Once Saved Always Saved”)
God’s sovereignty does not violate man’s free will. Please understand this…it is very important. God does not force anyone to love Him or choose Him. Please do not let this all-or-nothing thinking be a stumbling block to the biblical principle of man’s total depravity or God’s sovereignty.
I’ve heard lots of objections to God’s sovereignty, usually with the assumption that it overrides man’s ability to choose. I’ve also heard God’s sovereignty explained away such that it’s really man’s choice and God just knows what will happen so He plans accordingly. I don’t recall ever hearing a good explanation of what Romans 9, Matthew 20, and the numerous other passages dealing with God’s sovereignty are really saying if you reject the notion that the choice originates with God, independent of man.
Another thing I’d like to reiterate, as a few people have already mentioned, is that God is the standard of righteousness, justice, and love. God doesn’t just decide what Right is, and then abide with His “rules.” Whatever God does–that, by definition, is Right. If God declared that green was holy and pink was evil, it wouldn’t matter that I think it’s arbitrary and stupid. I would still be sinning if I decided to wear pink anyway. If God decided to eliminate a race of people, it wouldn’t matter if it seemed heartless to us. The fact that God did it, and that alone, makes it Right.
Now, that doesn’t mean that God is inconsistent and contradictory. He has revealed His character to us, and He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We know from the Bible that He is loving; He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. He is very patient, pursuing His beloved even after we reject Him time and time again. Our understanding of salvation needs to be consistent with this.
Our understanding of salvation also needs to be consistent with the biblical principles that have been presented, indicating that man is depraved and does not seek God on his own.
Originally posted 7/15/2005 on bibleforums.org
Perseverance of the Saints
Perseverance of the Saints is very much dependant on God’s Unconditional Election and Irresistable Grace. With regards to Calvinism vs. Arminianism, I’m not very interested in proving which of the two opposing views are correct. I believe the Bible gives indications of both, and I am more interested in reconciling the seeming contradictory concepts than picking one versus the other.
However, here are some of the common verses that indicate a Perseverance of the Saints:
John 10:29 My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck out of My Father’s hand. (LITV)
It doesn’t say “those who come to me are secure, unless they chose to leave.” Jesus says that His sheep were given to Him by the Father. No one, including the sheep themselves, will undo the Father’s will.
John 6:39 And this is the will of the Father sending Me, that of all that He has given Me, I shall not lose any of it, but shall raise it up in the last day. (LITV)
To further indicate that even we ourselves cannot remove ourselves from the Father’s hand, Jesus says that none of his flock will lost.
Rom 8:30 But whom He predestinated, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. (LITV)
Notice that no one is left behind. It doesn’t say, “some of those who were called were justified.” Every single person who God predestines and calls will be glorified. (As John Gill points out, to a Jewish writer, “a thing ‘which is decreed to be’, is spoken of in the past tense.”)
John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, The one who hears My Word, and believes the One who has sent Me, has everlasting life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. (LITV)
This verse is present tense, not future tense. When we believe in Christ, we are granted eternal life. Eternal life means life that doesn’t end. If it’s possible to walk away from eternal life, then it’s not really eternal, is it?
The very mechanism of salvation does not lend itself to something that can be lost and regained. As Jesus told Nicodemus, there are two forms of birth: physical and spiritual. Once you’ve come out of your mother’s womb, that’s it; there is no going back and being born again physically. The same is true for spiritual birth. When we are born of the Spirit, we receive an everlasting spirit.
John 4:14 Whoever may drink of the water which I will give him will not thirst, never! But the water which I will give to him will become a fountain of water in him, springing up into everlasting life. (LITV)
Jesus says that when we receive His Spirit (His “living water”), we will NEVER thirst again. In other words, His Spirit stays with us forever. There is no walking away from the fountain of life, once we receive it.
Eph 1:13-14 In whom also you, hearing the Word of Truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom also believing you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is an earnest of our inheritance, to the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (LITV)
When we receive the Holy Spirit, we are permanently a part of God’s family.
2 Tim 1:12 For which cause I also suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that He is able to guard my deposit until that Day. (LITV)
Jude 1:24 Now to Him being able to keep you without stumbling, and to set you before His glory without blemish, with unspeakable joy. (LITV)
Heb 7:25 And from this He is able to save to the end completely the ones drawing near to God through Him, forever living to intercede on their behalf. (LITV)
God gave me His Spirit and brought me into His flock. He will make sure that He doesn’t lose me.
Does this mean I can just sit back and do whatever I want, now that I have my “ticket to heaven” or my “fire insurance”? As Paul would say, “May it never be!” To trample on God’s grace is an indication that I have not truly received His grace.
I am well aware that there are verses that warn against falling away, and rather than lob verses back and forth, I would be more interested in addressing how these verses fit with the verses above that are clear inidicators in my mind that God preserves His chosen people.
Rom 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (NASB)
Rom 6:5 For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection. (NASB)
Rom 6:9 Knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again. (NASB)
The whole of chapter 6 is worth quoting, but these two verses are sufficient to indicate that our spiritual rebirth is tied to Christ’s. Once made alive, death has been conquered.
Rom 8:37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. (NASB)
The elect is not only ABLE to persevere, we DO (with God’s help).