Last time I posted an article on the dangers of Reformed Theology. Today I wanted to follow that up with my responses to an article by Michael Milton titled Perseverance of the Saints. This was written in 2012 and I think it captures many of the views expressed by those who would hold to a “perseverance of the saints” position. This view is rooted in Reformed theology and is included in “P” of the Calvinist acronym T.U.L.I.P.
I intend to show that this view actually destroys assurance of salvation and puts an undue emphasis on man’s works. When talking to those who claim to be “Calvinists” many are quick to try to distance themselves from Limited Atonement but still hold to this idea of perseverance. It is directly tied into ideas that back “Lordship” salvation.
Below I have include quotes from the article followed by my response in ( ).
“What is the doctrine of “perseverance of the saints”? Can a believer be given the gift of faith and then lose it?”
(Faith is not a gift given for salvation. Salvation is the gift given and is received by faith.)
“In fact, this doctrine is given in His Word in order to cultivate greater love for God and deeper gratitude to Jesus Christ for His sacrifice on the cross.”
(It is hard to be grateful for something if your are not sure that you have it! We shall see.)
“Consider John 10:27-29: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.”
(This is talking about preservation not perseverance.)
“ The perseverance of the saints is thoroughly and wondrously grounded in God’s grace. Simply stated, grace is God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves; that is, deal with our sin and bring a holiness in which we can be fully restored to God as His children. He did this through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth who was and is God in the flesh. God’s grace will never let us go.”
(Saved people cannot become unsaved if they tried. No amount of walking in the flesh can undo the new man. Perseverance is really grounded in works not grace. Be also wary of the Calvinist’s definition of grace. It is not God overpowering us or making us will to do something. God’s grace is demonstrated in Christ’s death , burial, and resurrection.)
“Following the familiar acrostic TULIP [see sidebar] we see the logical progression: man is a sinner (T-total depravity) and God chooses us not on our merits but completely out of His love (U-unconditional election); Christ was sent to die for those upon whom the Father set His love (L-limited or better put, “particular” atonement); and if He drew them by His Holy Spirit (I-irresistible grace), then it follows that our salvation is not about us; it is about the love of God, the grace of God, and the purposes of God at work in us. Thus, those on whom He set His love from all eternity are His and He will never let them go.”
(Here we have the faulty reasoning that man has added to the Bible. A God of love does not choose some for life and some for damnation. He did choose however that all who believe in Christ based on the gospel will be saved.)
“Perseverance of the saints cannot be reduced to “once saved, always saved.” That phrase does not tell the whole story of the biblical doctrine. “Perseverance” is preferable. If we focus solely on “once saved, always saved” we only speak of the believer’s position in Christ. The phrase does not address the believer’s progression in holiness, which is called sanctification.”
(“Perseverance of the Saints” cannot be reduced to “once saved always saved” because it is not eternal security! This is a key point. If a believer has a position in Christ then he cannot become unsaved. If there are limited to no works evident in his life then that also does not mean that he is unsaved given his position in Christ. Matters of ongoing sanctification have no bearing on ones eternal destination. Failure to grow in sanctification may mean a loss of rewards in heaven but they cannot add to or take away from what Christ did on the cross.)
“The Reformed faith holds that God is sovereign and man is responsible.”
(Not really. God is made to be ultimately responsible if He chooses some to life and some to eternal damnation.)
“Thus, if one is called by God and has responded in faith, and has been given the gift of the Holy Spirit, then one will be eager to make his calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).”
(A saved person will not necessarily do good things but does have the ability to walk in Spirit as he would have lacked that before.
This would imply that people should take a “fruit inspector” mindset to try to judge whether people may be saved or unsaved based on certain visible fruits. The problem is that there is no way to quantify enough or not enough. Let’s also understand that one is not to go and try to live in good works in order to test himself to see if he is one of the elect! We must also remember that a believer can at any moment choose to walk in the flesh with the old man or in the Spirit with the new man.)
“Distortions and misunderstandings not only fail to acknowledge the Reformed faith’s perspective of the perseverance of the saints, but also take away from the glorious work of God in us. The Trinity is at work: God chooses His own, the Holy Spirit inspires us as He moves through us, and Christ Jesus our Savior prays for us as He prayed for Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31–32). “I have prayed,” Jesus says. That is how believers persevere against the devil, the flesh, and the world.”
(Perseverance of the saints takes away what God has already accomplished for us in Christ. The payment has been made and we can trust Him and know that our salvation is secure in Him from the very moment we believe. We do not have to struggle through life with only a hope that we will persevere somehow proving that we are indeed one of the select few who were destined to be saved. God desires obedience and faithfulness in the lives of His children. We need to be adding to the foundation of our faith. This is not for salvation but for maturity.)
“The perseverance of the saints, like all biblical truth, brings blessings, for as we have seen, doctrine brings delight.”
(It actually brings doubt, worry, fear, anxiety, legalism, introspections, and unnecessary burden.)
“To know that one is safe in the arms of Jesus forever delights the soul in many ways.”
(Yes but how could you know you were chosen? What if you think you are chosen then sin a few times. How many sins can occur before you begin doubt whether you were chosen?)
“The perseverance of the saints is a delight to those struggling with sin. If you are His and He is yours, the means of grace that Christ has ordained will give you victory. While your struggle may last a lifetime, nothing can withstand the power of the cross.”
(Quite the opposite is true. Struggling in sin would be the absolute pits for those hoping to know whether they might be one of the elect. The fact is that many that struggle with sin, give up, and lose hope because they come to the point of view that God must not have chosen them. )
“The perseverance of the saints is a delight to the believer. For it magnifies the Father who predestined us to salvation in the mystery of His love, as well as Jesus Christ who became the Mediator of this covenant and lived for us and died for us and rose again for us, and the Holy Spirit who actively works in and through us.”
(God predestined no one to salvation. There is no delight for a “believer” in this system because there is no assurance you are a believer!! Even one sin could then cast doubt that you were really saved.)
“The perseverance of the saints is a delight to parents of prodigals. If your children are Christ’s own, then know that as Christ prayed for Peter, He is praying for your children. No one who has truly, not just tasted, but drunk deep of the grace of God, can stay away from that refreshment forever.””
(This is also quite the opposite. The more a parent watched their children rebel the more cause they would have to fear that they are indeed not “elect.”)
Michael Milton is currently the chancellor and CEO-elect of Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS).
I would like to offer a Biblical contrast. It goes like this:
1) All have sinned and deserve eternal separation from God. (Romans 3:23, 6:23)
2) Christ (the Son of God) died on the cross after living a sinless life on earth, was buried, and rose again. His shed blood provided the atonement needed for sin. (I Cor 15:1-4, Gal 1:3-4)
3) All may receive the provided salvation from the penalty of sin based on what Christ has done simply by faith. (Rom 3:22-28, Rom 5:1-2, Rom 5:18, Eph 1:10-15, Phil 3:9, Rom 4:3-5)
4) Those who then believe in Christ based on the gospel for salvation are indeed saved and know so right from that point on into eternity. Everlasting life means forever. (Rom 5:21, John 3:15-16, Eph 2:8-9, Eph 3:6, Col 1:4-5)
5) We are preserved by God as His children. (John 10:25-30, Gal 3:26-29, Gal 4:7)
6) The blood of Christ covers our sin. (Eph 1:7, Eph 2:13, Col 1:14)
7) We are sealed with the Holy Spirit. (Eph 1:13)
8) No saved person is ever subjected to eternal condemnation. (Rom 8:1, 15-17, 29-30, John 3:18)
9) Believers ought to walk in obedience but the motivation is love for Christ, His love for us, and thankfulness for what He has done – not fear of losing our salvation or fear that we will eventually prove that we weren’t one of the elect. (Eph 2:10, Rom 6:4, 11-13, 2 Cor 5:14, John 14:21, Rom 12:1-2, Tit 2:11-12, I Pet 2:1-3)
10) God is glorified by our obedience and choices to grow in sanctification and will one day reward those who are faithful. (I Cor 3:9-14)
11) God still saves those who have little to show for themselves yet so as by fire. (I Cor 3:15)
12) Man has both a fallen nature “old man” and a “new man and walking in either does not prove or disprove salvation. (Eph 4:21-32, Gal 5:17, I John 1:8)
Let’s choose daily to feed the new man and allow what we do to be Spirit filled out of the new man and not out of the fleshly old man. Above all let us as believers live freely and joyfully in the Spirit being able to do what pleases God without the fear of eternal condemnation. Shame to those who would seek to twist the Word of God to lead Christians back to the bondage of the law. (Rom 4:4, Gal, 1:8, Gal 3:3, 23-26, Gal 2:21, Gal 5:4)
If you don’t mind I’ll refer to you as John C since we have a regular commenter named John.
I agree that the law is a schoolmaster to bring the lost to Christ. It in effect points out our need for a Savior because we have not and could never keep the law. However people can make it into an enemy of the gospel if they insist that law keeping is automatic after conversion. It seems to me that part of the whole point of the perseverance of the saints view is that God will make people persevere in the faith and in good works progressively and if if the person doesn’t then they weren’t really likely saved. So in keeping with Romans 7 they might even suggest that a person going through Paul’s struggle with the flesh and sin was an unbeliever. We know however that Paul was already a believer testifying of the difference in his life between the wants and desires of his flesh and the wants and desires of the Spirit. Believers that learn to properly walk in the Spirit can experience that practical righteousness. Believers that try to grow backwards by keeping the law will find struggle and frustration because there is only condemnation in it and a constant reminder that you need to live in Christ’s power and victory.
Gal 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Gal 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?
Gal 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?
Gal 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?
You have made some interesting and valid points. But the 7th chapter of Paul’s book to the Roman’s makes it very plain that the law is by no means at all an enemy of the Gospel. Rather, it is the essential means of convincing the sinner of his or her poverty and utter depravity.
“How can one claim Christ and choose to continue to follow sin?”
There is No sacrifice for “practicing sin” , “following sin ” in old testament that’s why the priest continually offered sacrifices. the blood of animals flowed from the altars. this was all pointing to Jesus who is the Christ who would come and ONCE offering for sin.
The priest offered sacrifices continually BECAUSE OF THE practicing of sin , following sin , ! But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
there is salvation Spiritually (Justification) that happens once in an instant of time , Spiritual Growth (Sanctification) Takes time unfortunately few believer souls in Christ Jesus grow into maturity or even grow at all that is not an indication that they are not Justified .
I personally have had many conversation’s with souls that start out with them using XXX language BUT that at the mention of Jesus the Christ the language sanctifies unto Christ Jesus and they could quote scripture and say the have Trusted Christ as their Savior upon further questions most turned away from Christ because of Works based salvation “they know they cant live the christian life” . In reality that is the key to living the christian life is admitting YOU can Not.
if a soul wakes up and determines i’m going to live for Christ i can guarantee failure .
you don’t live the christian life by Trying to live the christian life any more that trying to keep the 10 commandment by keeping the 10 commandments and produce the fruits of the Spirit Love Joy peace……ect. That is a project there that will drive a soul into the ground with their own hammer.
The Law is as much an enemy to the Gospel of Grace as is the old sin nature .
We Live the Christian Life by simple identifying with Christ Jesus and The Holy Spirit will do all the Rest . Nothing a soul does externally makes them spiritual we have 1400 years of Jewish history (Israel ) to prove that and God is going to pick that program up again for Israel to get it right after the rapture of the Church ,
how do we identify with Christ Jesus ? The same way we our saved By Grace Through Faith the only Response to Grace is Faith , NOT WORKS works are a byproduct NOT PRODUCED by You .we are his workmanship
how , By allowing the Word of God to change our thinking this is called repenting to repent
our only response is to Yield in our thinking , Changes not wrought by the Spirit of God are rejected some souls keep resisting simple faith in Christ and remain children of disobedience or receive chastening from the Lord unto death
Eph 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath
Heb 7:27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
Heb 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;
Colton, please find, linked below, a booklet by Ron Shea entitled “The Gospel.” The booklet explains the gospel in a plain, straightforward way. I think it might help you to understand the gospel more clearly.
Click to access English-Display-Pkg-2014.pdf
You said, “Again, I believe Calvinism is terribly wrong…”
My Comment: Ok , but please understand that Calvinists will often use Calvinism as a basis for arguing for turning from sin for salvation or at least willingness to turn from sin for salvation. This is because they limit salvation to God’s special pre-chosen few and reason that someone gifted with faith WILL then also be made to persevere and live better or differently than before. I think Paul Washer takes this view.
“And In not saying LS is right in the way some people say that it means (clean up your life first). However, we know rejecting Christ = rejecting God = damnation, yet from the way Im seeing your stance, I can continue to reject God but as long as I choose Christ I can have salvation. Meaning, I can choose to continue to serve sin and spit in Gods face, but as long as I believe and trust in Christ alone I get a free ticket to heaven (to the place the God I refuse to serve reigns) and escape judgment. You said you dont have to love Jesus.”
My Comment: I am not saying a person shouldn’t love Jesus in our Christian walk. It is just not a requirement for receiving the gift of salvation by grace through faith. I also understand that Christ is God and am not trying to divide the two. The Bible describes rejecting Christ as rejecting the Father who sent Him. So no, by definition the person that believes the gospel is not rejecting God in that sense. Choosing who to serve as a believer is a matter of practical obedience and sanctification. It is not a condition for receiving eternal life itself. The Bible is clear enough on this. The Bible has examples of people who were believers who effectively spit in God’s face by either their sins or their falling back into legalism or the law. (Galatians and Hebrews). Eternal life is in one sense is a free ticket to us paid for by Christ through his shed blood on our behalf. All we must do to receive it is accept it through faith. That is grace in that we don’t deserve it. The believer that stands at the Bema seat not having served Christ will be saved yet so as by fire in that his works will be burnt up with no reward given and nothing to lay at Christ’s feet. They will not hear “well done though good and faithful servant”.
“I heard Yankee Arnold refute Calvinism (which was great) say towards the end that we can live like the devil and still be saved. Im curious how you can have it both ways.”
My Comment: Yankee often makes this type of statement to make a point about grace. Grace is unmerited. God knows that we as believers always have the choice of whether or not to obey the flesh or the Spirit. Now His will is that we obey the Spirit and the instruction in His Word to us affirms it. But remember that there is no guarantee what each person will choose moment by moment. God gives us the capacity and everything needed for victory but we must still choose to obey. This is why Paul repeatedly tells believers to put off the old man and put on the new.
“How you can “serve two masters”.”
My Comment: You cannot serve two masters at the same time. So basically if Christ is your Savior you can’t both serve Him and money at the same time. You are either serving one or the other. If you choose to serve money you are still saved but are being disobedient to Christ. That person needs to repent and confess that thing to the Lord and move on in obedience. Not to prove they are saved but because it is the right response to God’s Word on the matter. It is similar to the idea that you can’t both walk in the Spirit and in the flesh at the same time. If we sin we know that we did not walk in the Spirit at that moment. If we are doing righteousness then we know we did it through the new man in the Spirit. The Bible does not give any ratio or quantification of how much a believer will or will not spend time walking in the Spirit. It could be a lot or a little but that has to do with practical sanctification not positional reception of eternal life or the reality of it.
“If to repent is to “change your mind” (which I knew) what are you changing your mind about? Believing in Jesus is believing the entirety of the gospel-sin included.”
My Comment: That is the key question. How is sin included? Well, for some it is included in that they argue that one needs to turn from it for salvation but that is not the gospel. A person does however have to know that they are lost in sin which separates them from God and that they will pay for that sin in eternal separation unless they trust Christ alone to be their Savior based on the gospel (that Christ the Son of God lived a perfect life, died shedding His blood, and rose again). So a person may have to change their mind that they are even lost, they may have to change their mind that Christ alone is the Savior, but all of that is tied up in the concept of repentance in context of receiving eternal life. Choosing to live right is a choice for the believer after they are saved. See the difference? If not, then let me go over some of the verses in the NT talking about repent or repentance.
Mat_4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mar_1:15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
Mar_6:12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent.
Luk_13:3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Luk_13:5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Luk_16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
(They mean change of mind about what they believe.)
Luk_17:3 Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
Luk_17:4 And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
(These two are in context of wrong done to someone else, not salvation.)
Act_2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
(Change your mind for the remission of sins… in other words Believe the gospel that Peter was laying out.)
Act_3:19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
(Change your mind and believe the gospel… why?… so that you sins can be blotted out by Christ blood.)
Act_8:22 Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.
(Similar to the Luke passage, this is not in context of receiving eternal life).
Act_17:30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: (Chang your mind about the gospel.)
2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (Same as Acts 17)
Act_26:20 But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
(You see this concept often in the Bible. Repentance/faith is for reception of the gospel. Works meet for repentence or befitting repentance are God’s will for believers. You see this in the gospels as well. It is not saying here that works befitting repentance are automatic or that if you don’t do them you are not saved.)
2Co_7:8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
(This is Paul talking about how he instructed already saved people to get right with God. It has nothing to do with eternal salvation but earthly delieverance from the consequences of their sin.)
Rev_2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
(Here the church of Ephesus had actually left their first love. We as believers can do this to God. The solution to this is to repent and go back to doing what were are supposed to do according to God’s revealed will. He is not saying they are in danger of losing eternal life but of being destroyed physically in their lives and as a church.)
Rev_2:16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
Rev_2:21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
Rev_2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
Rev_3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
Rev_3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
(These are all written to disobedient believers telling them to change their minds and do right instead of evil.)
“Besides many other verses, I can’t get past the fact that Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.”
My Comment: Dr. RalphYankee Arnold actually has a good explanation on this passage.
“How can one claim Christ and choose to continue to follow sin?”
How did the Apostle Paul? (Rom 7) Demas forsook Paul for the world but it never says he was an unbeliever. Corinthian believers committed all sorts of uncleanness and immorality and Paul called them out for it. Hebrew believers went back to law rituals and sacrifices. James believers had dead ineffective faith, uncontrolled tongues, and warred with each other. Even Peter himself denied Christ multiple times.
“Why would anyone reject the gospel?”
They reject it out of unbelief ultimately.
“I have an uncle who loves money and himself…Yet he was raised in church and said he believes the gospel and is saved…Yet I am to believe (from reading your stance) that he is saved?”
My Comment: I will pray for you and your Uncle. As for your Uncle, I would first make sure that you understand the gospel and then work with Him to have him explain to you exactly what he means by it. IF he means simply that He has placed his faith in Christ alone for salvation then work with him using the many passages that teach a believer how to live. Ask him then if he considers how he is slapping a loving Savior that died for Him in the face each time he sins. Remember also that we cannot know whether a person is saved or not like God does. Both unsaved people and believers can do bad things.
“According to your stance, no change towards sin was ever needed, just his change towards Jesus as Savior. Yet my question is, how can those be separated?”
My Comment: You really need to understand that the change towards sin is a positional one once we trust Christ as Savior. The moment a person trusts Christ they are regenerated. This gives us the new man through which we can walk in the Spirit. But remember that the flesh man is still there through with we can technically sin if we choose to in disobedience. The Bible gives us instruction to not serve sin as believers. Part of the reason for that is that you could choose to serve sin hence the instruction. There is no reason to instruct us to not do something that was impossible to do anyway.
Thanks for the response (I realize I never clarified what my main question was). I realize using “balance” was a terrible choice of word as I was in no way referring to works. Again, I believe Calvinism is terribly wrong… And In not saying LS is right in the way some people say that it means (clean up your life first). However, we know rejecting Christ = rejecting God = damnation, yet from the way Im seeing your stance, I can continue to reject God but as long as I choose Christ I can have salvation. Meaning, I can choose to continue to serve sin and spit in Gods face, but as long as I believe and trust in Christ alone I get a free ticket to heaven (to the place the God I refuse to serve reigns) and escape judgment. You said you dont have to love Jesus. I heard Yankee Arnold refute Calvinism (which was great) say towards the end that we can live like the devil and still be saved. Im curious how you can have it both ways. How you can “serve two masters”. If to repent is to “change your mind” (which I knew) what are you changing your mind about? Believing in Jesus is believing the entirety of the gospel-sin included.
Besides many other verses, I can’t get past the fact that Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.”
How can one claim Christ and choose to continue to follow sin? Why would anyone reject the gospel? Im wasting my time preaching the gospel in my town cuz everyone I know claims they believe. I have an uncle who loves money and himself. He will tear you down to build himself up and rip you off if he needs to. Hes very dirty minded as well. Even when he does help others it is to uplift himself. He has always been this exact way… Yet he was raised in church and said he believes the gospel and is saved. Ive been heartbroken over it many times. Yet I am to believe (from reading your stance) that he is saved? If you say its obvious that he isn’t, I will ask how can you say such a thing? He claims to believe. Im guessing you might say that its because he is trusting in his riches. Then I will say he believes that hes trusting in Christ. He serves himself in every moment of life yet claims belief and trust in Jesus. According to your stance, no change towards sin was ever needed, just his change towards Jesus as Savior. Yet my question is, how can those be separated?
You said you had a question but I can see that it is really more about grace vs works and how all that should play out. To that main question you have asked many other questions. I will attempt to answer by putting your statements in quotes and following with my responses.
You said, “I’m not saying you are there, but I can’t but feel while Calvinism ignores many passages that refutes their view, it seems like the people that argue against some of preachers and studies like “not a fan” ar completely ignoring the point of the book of James.”
My comment: Grace believers such as myself embrace the point of the book of James. Remember that James is written to believers and it is instruction for them as to how they ought to live and grow in their Christian lives. It is teaching about Christian growth and maturity, not how to be saved in the first place.
“I feel like if we stepped back in time, Paul would be a “free gracer” and somepeople taking his preaching the wrong way (hey I can believe and keep sinning; God has to honor his promise) caused James to write and say “whoa hold on there partner!” And if he wrote that today people would say he was a “Lordship” guy. Is there not some balance?”
My Comment: There are a number of things to remember here. 1) James was written before Paul’s epistles. 2) James was not addressing this issue that you bring up here. I’ll explain more on why later. 3) Paul himself actually addresses the matter in multiple passages. The one being Romans 6 Rom 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
Rom 6:2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Rom 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Rom 6:13 Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
and the other being 2 Timothy 2:13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.
“Doesn’t Jesus say REPENT?”
To repent, in terms of receiving eternal life, is a change of mind. It is not turning from sins.
“I don’t like some of MacArthur’s teachings nor the sermon on election by Bauchman as they both acted like”Armenians” were stupid and they were the smart ones. However, with Paul Washer I never heard that or a sermon on election. I feel like he is a James in a world of guys like Osteen. You may disagree and that’s fine.”
Paul Washer is even more extreme and harsh than MacArthur is in his Lordship and Reformed ideas. He is no James.
Please see my posts on him.
“Its like marrying my wife and never spending time with her and constantly cheating on her. Then I tell everyone how much I love her. Do I? Is it possible to be saved and not love Jesus at all?”
My Comment: Do you see now the difference between testimony and position? You could be positionally married to your wife yet not love her. You can be saved and not love God. The reality is that each and every time we sin we are not loving God like we ought to. If I fail to ever love my wife am I not really married?
“Am I saved because I said some prayer as I child because I felt pressured or my buddies were all doing that?”
My Comment: No, but the reason is because we are not saved by a prayer, but rather through faith. We can say all the prayers we want as believers but until we place our trust in Christ alone we are not saved.
“How many times have you seen someone come to Christ when they thought they were saved but now there’s a change… The heart is deceitful, right?””
My Comment: I have noticed this but sometimes it goes the other way as well. I have also seen friends and acquaintances of mine who were likely saved at a young age get tricked by a lordshipper type evangelist to “really” get saved by turning from sin or making Christ the Lord of their lives. And I saw how they used the emotional decision to drive home the idea that now they are truly saved. How sad. A Calvinist or Lordshipper has no other conclusion than to proclaim a failing believer as probably unsaved. However Christ proclaims all believers as eternally forgiven and righteous. The big difference is that men tend to look at the external but God sees Christ imputed righteousness for believers.
“Here is my biggest reason for saying a balance: Judas. Judas fooled everyone. It seems to me that he believed in Jesus in some way. He was a true follower going where Jesus had no where to lay his head, be hated by the religious leaders, serving, etc. However his heart revealed he never really believed, probably because Jesus was all about servanthood and staying poor. Judas believed in what he THOUGHT Jesus would be (maybe overthrow the Romans?) but eventually he sold him out. Is that not what the Bible means by enduring?”
Judas is exactly why Calvinists and lordshippers miss the mark. For many of them, they would have presumed him saved based on his discipleship and presumed him lost based on his actions and choices. However the problem for Judas was that he never believed the truth about Christ. He had never repented (changed his mind). It also underscores how a person can be a disciple but not a believer. The two terms are not the same.
“I can’t imagine how a person can claim to believe, never show ANY CHANGE but boy they got their bumper sticker. As a youth leader now, I have seen both sides of this coin and I try to constantly preach “The heart! The heart!” lol.”
My Comment: I can’t imagine someone finally understanding grace and trusting Christ alone to go on and then never actually choose to walk in the Spirit. But remember that it is technically possible if grace is indeed grace. Because the moment you require even one good work for salvation you nullify grace. God has harsh Words for believers that spit perpetually in His face. See Hebrews 10. Some may even meet the Savior prematurely but they are eternally secure because it was by grace and underserved. Christ has paid it all for us. We then ought to be motivated by that love and grace to love and serve Him in return.
“I also to say if there are no fruit, something is wrong. They are either not walking in Christ or never was saved to begin with. Right?”
My Comment: Yes. Something is wrong if a believer stops bearing fruit. There is a sin issue in that case. But God gives us I John 1:9. They could also be unsaved but not necessarily. Look to have the person tell you who or what they are trusting in for salvation. Start there making sure the trust Christ alone. Once they are a believer you can help them with teaching on Christian maturity and growth.
“Isn’t that what Paul and James teach? A balance?”
My Comment: No, not really as I perceive what you mean by it. Paul taught grace. He taught the gospel and also on Christian living. James taught primarily on Christian living. In James 2 he rebuked the believers that were living as a bad testimony. Their dead “useless” faith was ineffective as a witness. It was also ineffective for any personal benefit to those around them. Rather they should have been using their faith as an effective witness before men and as a benefit to others who were in need.
“If we are given power, peace, assurance, joy, etc how will there not be a change? 90% of the people I know claim to be Christians and love Jesus. Should I assume that’s true or ask “but did you ever truly repent of your sins and have change in your life where you acted differently than before?””
My Comment: Ask them if they have trusted Christ alone as Savior based on the gospel. Repenting of sins won’t help the unsaved. They need to believe.
Colton, there is no “balance” between faith and works for eternal life. This is one of Satan’s biggest lies! Faith + works = works = no eternal life.
Eternal life is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. “Repenting from sin” is not a requirement for eternal life. The term “repent of sin” never shows up in the KJV Bible – NEVER.
Repenting of sins for eternal life would make eternal life a trade, not a gift. A changed life and acting differently than one did before are not requirements, or necessary indications, of eternal life.
Heaven is a PERFECT place. Getting better will not get you in. You must have Christ’s imputed righteousness, which is received by grace through faith.
James was not written to try to figure out who the “true believers” are. It was written to spur CHRISTIANS to do good works.
Thanks Colton for your thoughts and questions. I think I can help shed some light on many of them. I will look over what you have asked and come back tomorrow with some thought out answers.
I have a question. I’ve been deeply looking into Calvinism and have always believed it false, even when a sermon by MacArthur sounded really good and started confusing me… However I have read blogs and comments from (what people call) “free gracers” and it seems they are too far the other way. I’m not saying you are there, but I can’t but feel while Calvinism ignores many passages that refutes their view, it seems like the people that argue against some of preachers and studies like “not a fan” ar completely ignoring the point of the book of James. I feel like if we stepped back in time, Paul would be a “free gracer” and somepeople taking his preaching the wrong way (hey I can believe and keep sinning; God has to honor his promise) caused James to write and say “whoa hold on there partner!” And if he wrote that today people would say he was a “Lordship” guy. Is there not some balance? Doesn’t Jesus say REPENT? I don’t like some of MacArthur’s teachings nor the sermon on election by Bauchman as they both acted like”Armenians” were stupid and they were the smart ones. However, with Paul Washer I never heard that or a sermon on election. I feel like he is a James in a world of guys like Osteen. You may disagree and that’s fine. Trust me, I lived a long time being an overworked model of a perfect church teen and young adult who thouhjt if he missed one service God was mad at him or because he had a sin addiction that he couldn’t seem to overcome then he wasnt much of a Christian (so he did better to appease the Lord and made sure he outdid others). I’m now in such a better place as I saw how true joy is spending time with him… Run to Christ, not run from sin. I also still get mad when people post about loving Jesus on FB yet their lives are of the world and I can easily become a judge. BUT I still think there is a balance. Its like marrying my wife and never spending time with her and constantly cheating on her. Then I tell everyone how much I love her. Do I? Is it possible to be saved and not love Jesus at all? Am I saved because I said some prayer as I child because I felt pressured or my buddies were all doing that? How many times have you seen someone come to Christ when they thought they were saved but now there’s a change… The heart is deceitful, right? Here is my biggest reason for saying a balance: Judas. Judas fooled everyone. It seems to me that he believed in Jesus in some way. He was a true follower going where Jesus had no where to lay his head, be hated by the religious leaders, serving, etc. However his heart revealed he never really believed, probably because Jesus was all about servanthood and staying poor. Judas believed in what he THOUGHT Jesus would be (maybe overthrow the Romans?) but eventually he sold him out. Is that not what the Bible means by enduring? I can’t imagine how a person can claim to believe, never show ANY CHANGE but boy they got their bumper sticker. As a youth leader now, I have seen both sides of this coin and I try to constantly preach “The heart! The heart!” lol. I also to say if there are no fruit, something is wrong. They are either not walking in Christ or never was saved to begin with. Right? Isn’t that what Paul and James teach? A balance? If we are given power, peace, assurance, joy, etc how will there not be a change? 90% of the people I know claim to be Christians and love Jesus. Should I assume that’s true or ask “but did you ever truly repent of your sins and have change in your life where you acted differently than before?”
Glad to have you stop by Mary. Please come back again.
I agree with you that Calvinism creates a different god than the One I believe is represented by the Word of God. A god different than my God. I also agree that many Baptist churches have swallowed this error. It is not easy to stand for the faith. Especially among those in churches that ought to know better. They don’t often have open ears for the plain hard facts. We must be resolved to stand firm yet deal with others in love.
I am glad that you desire to see people freed from these errors and the bondage that goes along with them. Thankfully we do know that he Holy Spirit works in the lives of believers through the Word to show us the truth and warn us of error. This site exists to be an encouragement to those like you seeking to stand for the faith and as a beacon of light to those who are in darkness.
so sad to watch all this false teaching come into the church the teaching of calvanism is another god and gospel and will not be received well when u try and put it out there. some christians can’t see if for what it is yet it really does have to b studied to c how subtle it really is. they say they are just misinterpreting gods character but its more than that it needs to be avoided as it says in romans mark those that cause division they are the ones that are causing divisn by accepting these doctrines of demons and then we look bad for tryng to be discerning and told we are judgemental and even persecuting them for bringing it to their attention. romans says to avoid them as the leaven will spread and now all these baptist churches have swallowed this error up.
john macarthur is held in such high esteem by pastors christns and colleges and introducing him in all their bible studies and seeping into all the christan book stores how tragic. pray these people who have been bewitched that the lord will help them see thru the deceptions.
Welcome Philip, you may quote anything here. Please stop by again.
Very well said! When I deal with Reformed thought/Calvinism (coming soon…), I’d like to quote you!
I’ll have to listen to that sermon by Dr Cucuzza on the parable of the soils. Sounds like good stuff there.
Here is the link if anyone is interested.
Right John, maybe if people actually believed the gospel they would not have to try to prove their salvation by their works. I find it curious that people like MacArthur, Chan, and Piper will come across at times like they are not sure if they will “persevere” and ultimately prove to be one of the elect. The gospel is intended to be good news in that Christ died for all and that all may now believe on Him for salvation.
Jim, so true! A believer can be assured of salvation from the very moment of belief, based exclusively on God’s word. Belief in perseverance of the saints is, essentially, belief in salvation based on works. People holding this belief are represented by either soil one (not saved) or soil two (saved, but fallen away) in the parable of the sower. In either case, people who believe in perseverance of the saints do not presently believe the Gospel. We should pray and witness with this in mind.