Category: Calvinism

Election and Predestination

Election and Predestination

(Guest Post by James Quiggle ThM)

Election.

There are three Greek words pertaining to election whose meaning is to choose or select. The first is eklégō. This word means to select, choose, and is translated choose, chose, chosen, elect. It involves preference and selection from among many choices. A relationship is established between the one choosing and the object chosen. This word is used twenty-two times. The second word is eklektós. This word means to choose, to select, and is translated chosen, elect. Same meaning as eklégō, as influenced by context. This word is used twenty-two times. The third word is eklogé. This word means choice, selection, and is translated chosen, election, elect. Same meaning as eklégō, as influenced by context. This word is used seven times.

The word eklégō means the selection of some out of many. The word eklektós indicates those who have been selected. The word eklogé refers to the act of selection. The selection of some out of many never indicates malice or prejudice toward those not selected. For example, Jesus chose twelve disciples out of many disciples to be his apostles. There is no indication of anything wrong with those not chosen, no indication of future prejudice or bias against those not chosen. Those not chosen continued to be disciples, even though they were not chosen to be apostles. Nor is there any indication of merit or special character in those chosen. In Acts 6:5 the Jerusalem church chose seven men to make the daily distribution to the needy. Obviously the many from whom the seven were selected was the male population of the church who met the qualifications set at 6:3. Many males met those qualifications; seven were chosen. Those not selected continued as they were.

In every use of these words, no reason is given as to why some were selected but not others. Acts 6:3–5 and 1:15–26 are not exceptions. The conditions set in these passages establishes who will be in the total number from which the selection is to be made. There is never any prejudice against those not chosen; they are left to continue as they were before the selection was made.

When we come to God’s choices in salvation these same conditions apply. God chose to save some. The qualification required to be among the group from which the selection was to be made was to be a sinner: the entire population of human beings from Adam forward to the eternal state. The reason why some sinners were chosen to salvation and others were not is never stated. There is no action, negative or positive, taken toward those not chosen; they are left to continue in their original state.

Statement of the doctrine. Election is the choice of a sovereign God, 1) to give the gift of grace-faith-salvation to some sinners to effect their salvation, and 2) to take no action, positive or negative, to either effect or deny the salvation of other sinners. The decree of election includes all means necessary to effect salvation. An illustration of the doctrine:

The river of sinful humanity is justly racing toward the waterfall of death emptying into the lake of eternal fire; God reaches into the river and saves many; he prevents no one from swimming to the safety of the heavenly shore; he will receive any person who comes to him by way of Christ. The saved are standing on the shore urging everyone in the river to come to Christ.

The illustration communicates the important aspects of the doctrine of election: 1) every human being is a sinner and thus is justly due eternal judgment in the lake of fire; 2) God takes direct action to save some sinners from eternal punishment; 3) God does not take any action which would prevent any sinner from coming to him to receive salvation; 4) God sends his saved people to evangelize the unsaved.

Predestination

There is one word translated “predestination.” That word is proorízō. This word means to determine or decree beforehand. The word is translated “determined before, predestined, ordained.” This word is used six times. In four out of six uses the word proorízō refers to God’s purposes regarding the believer. To wit, the believer is to be conformed to the likeness of Christ, be adopted as a Son of God, to be God’s heritage, and to receive an inheritance from God. Although the Reformers, and their spiritual heirs today, use proorízō in the sense of election, the Scripture testimony is that proorízō expresses God’s decrees affecting the believer after his or her salvation. The order in which predestination works out in the decrees of God is elected in eternity-past, saved in historical-present, and then the decree of predestination begins its sanctifying work.

Statement of the doctrine. Predestination is God’s decree to (1) to adopt the believer as his son and heir (Ephesians 1:5), (2) to conform the believer to be like Christ according to certain aspects of Christ’s spiritual character and physical form (Romans 8:29–30; 1 John 3:2), (3) to give the believer an inheritance, and (4) to make the believer God’s heritage (Ephesians 1:11).

Brief explanation: the Reformation theologians (and their spiritual heirs today) often used “predestined” in the sense of election, a case of naming the cause from one of its effects. However, it is clear from the scriptures that predestination is not synonymous with election, nor is it the cause of election. Predestination is the result of election. The prior election of those predestined is seen in (1) that the elect were “called according to his purpose,” Romans 8:28, before they were predestined, v. 29, and (2) that the elect were chosen, Ephesians 1:4, before they were predestined, v. 5. Predestination is a decree affecting the future of the elect after their salvation.

Election is a decree of God by which he determined those whom he will take positive action to save, which (decree) includes all the means necessary to the redemption of those whom he has elected.

Predestination is a separate decree of God affecting the saved after their salvation, which (decree) includes all the means necessary to effect the adoption the believer as God’s son, heir, and heritage, and to conform the believer to be like Christ.

The Security of the Believer Pt. 3

The Security of the Believer Pt. 3

(Guest Post by James Quiggle ThM)
This post is the third of three on the eternal security of salvation and the personal assurance of salvation.
What is Persevering Faith?

The biblical principle of persevering faith is quite simple. Perseverance is a grace God gives the believer to overcome all spiritual and physical obstacles to faith, and persevering faith is the believer using the means of grace God has provided to continue in the faith. To persevere in the faith is to continue in the faith by faith all the way through life and death.
The doctrine of perseverance is derived from the several results of salvation.

– The believer has been given eternal life and will never lose that eternal life, John 10:28.

– The believer cannot come under condemnation, Romans 8:1, 33, and cannot be separated from the love of Christ, Romans 8:35.

– Sin no longer has dominion over the believer Romans 6:14.

– Believers are sons of God and led by the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:14, 16.

– God has predestined believers to be conformed to the image of his Son, Romans 8:29.

– God has reconciled the believer to himself, Romans 5:10.

– God loves those who are his own, John 13:1, and nothing is able to separate the believer from the love of God, Romans 8:39.

– God will complete the work begun in the believer from the day of his or her salvation, Philippians 1:6.

– Believers are kept by the power of God, 1 Peter 1:5.

The promises of God to the believer and God’s purposes for the believer must be fulfilled as decreed by the sovereign God. God, therefore, has obligated himself to preserve the believer’s salvation and cause the believer to persevere in the faith.

Bible passages that teach the necessity of striving and warn against falling away should not be used to reinterpret or contradict the clear, unambiguous verses, such as those above, that teach perseverance. Those exhortations and warnings indicate a believer is the one who abides in the Word (John 8:31) and uses the grace God gives to persevere in the faith by faith. The duty of the believer is to live a holy and righteous life. Believers are given grace and faith in order that by God’s grace and their faith they may overcome every obstacle to faith, and live the manner of life God requires, e.g., 1 John 2:6.

What we are speaking of, then, is the kind or quality of faith God gives which results in perseverance. Hebrews 10:36 speaks of the necessity of persevering faith and chapter 11 examples persevering faith at work. Chapter 11 begins with a particular definition of faith as (NKJV) the “substance (hupóstasis) of things hoped for (elpízō)” and “the evidence (élegchos) of things not seen.” The kind of faith God gives is the objective conviction that spiritual realities testified to in Scripture are genuine and are certain to be received.

Hebrews 11:1 uses three words to describe faith. The first is hupóstasis. This word means “substance” or “real presence.” Jesus is the real presence (hupóstasis) of God in the universe, Hebrews 1:3. In secular Greek hupóstasis was used to describe real property [Moulton and Milligan, “Vocabulary,” 659–660], thus, faith is the “title deed” of things hoped for. A title deed is the objective proof of legal possession. The faith God gives the believer is itself the title deed to God’s promises.

The second word in Hebrews 11:1 is elpízō. This word means hope. But not hope in the sense the world means hope. Worldly hope is anxiety: I hope this or that does, or does not, happen. Hope in Scripture is assurance. Biblical hope is certainty based on God’s Word. Faith is the absolute assurance, the unwavering certainty (elpízō), of receiving the promises. Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And when I should go and prepare a place for you, I am coming again and will receive you to myself” (John 14: 2, 3). The believer’s hope—his absolute assurance and certainty—is that Jesus is coming again for him or her. Enduring in the world by faith in the hope of Christ’s return is perseverance.

The third word is élegchos. This word can mean subjective proof (persuasion), or it can mean objective evidence (demonstration). In the context of the “real presence-title deed” and “assurance-certainty” of God’s promises, the meaning is objective evidence. The presence of God-given faith is in and of itself the objective demonstration that the believer will receive things God has promised.

Faith, then, is the real presence (hupóstasis) of the things of which we are assured (elpízō), and is the objective evidence (élegchos) of the things we do not yet see. The kind of faith God gives—the kind or quality of faith that results in perseverance—is itself the real presence and objective evidence of the promises God has given to his saved people. The objective certainty that God gives in the promises is itself the proof the believer possesses the promises, because that kind or quality of faith comes only from God.

The believer’s subjective faith— I know, I feel, therefore I act—comes from the objective faith given by God. The biblical truth is that the believer perseveres in faith, a subjective act, because he/she has been give an objective faith in the reality of the promises.

Because we are sensual, rational creatures, I will say this in a more familiar way: faith gives the perception of immediate presence to spiritual realities. Perseverance is knowing that God said it, that settles it, I’m going to believe it and do it.

God-given faith—a quality of faith only believers possess—is the kind of faith necessary to persevere and receive the promises. Genuine believers are given the faith and grace necessary to persevere, and genuine believers receive and use the grace of perseverance to persevere.

 

The Security of the Believer Pt. 2

The Security of the Believer Pt. 2

(Guest post by James Quiggle)

This post is the second of three on the eternal security of salvation and the personal assurance of salvation. These posts are from my book “Christian Living and Doctrine,” pp. 15–20, 45–46. The New Testament presents five witnesses testifying salvation is eternal. The first post presented 1) the foundation of eternal salvation and 2) the seal of eternal salvation. This post will present 3) the assurance of eternal salvation; 4) perseverance in eternal salvation; 5) the character of eternal salvation.

THE ASSURANCE OF ETERNAL SALVATION

A believer can know for certain that he/she is eternally saved. The apostle John stated “I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life,” 1 John 5:13. Jesus said he has given his saved people eternal life and 1) they shall never perish, and 2) no person or thing is able to take the believer out of Christ’s hand or the Father’s hand (John 10:27–29). The apostle Paul wrote that “there is no more condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” Romans 8:1, and that no person and no thing “shall separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 8:31–39. Because the believer is no longer subject to condemnation, and because nothing can separate the believer from Christ, a believer in Christ as his/her Savior cannot lose their salvation.

PERSEVERANCE IN ETERNAL SALVATION

God gives every genuine believer the grace to continue in the faith by faith, and the believer uses that grace to continue in faith, righteousness, and holiness. Jesus said, John 10:28 “I give them [his saved people] eternal life, and they shall never perish.” Paul wrote, Philippians 1:6 “He [God] who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Peter wrote, 1 Peter 1:5, that believers are “kept by the power of God through faith.”

There are times when a Christian seems to fail, but the apostle John said that Christians have sin, 1 John 1:8, and Christians will occasionally commit acts of sinning, 1 John 1:10, but that God has made a remedy to restore the sinning Christian to fellowship with himself, 1 John 1:9. The scriptures do tell the Christian to strive to live holy and righteous lives, which some have interpreted to mean salvation can be lost if one’s life is not always holy and righteous. But the verses telling the believer to strive depend on the ability to strive and succeed, which is God’s grace of perseverance. God never commands what he does not also give. If the commandment is to strive, then God’s mighty power works in the believer so he/she can strive and succeed, Colossians 1:29. God gives the grace of perseverance and the genuine believer uses the grace of perseverance. Because every genuine believer possesses the grace of perseverance, he/she will always overcome sin and the world by the grace of perseverance. The salvation of the believer is eternal.

THE CHARACTER OF ETERNAL SALVATION

The life of the saved person demonstrates certain characteristics that an unsaved person’s life does not. The saved person habitually lives a godly life. The unsaved person habitually lives a life of sinning. The saved person may sin occasionally, but the unsaved person sins habitually. The apostle John wrote, 1 John 3:6, that every person habitually abiding in Christ is not habitually sinning, and that every person habitually sinning does not know Christ. The characteristics of daily living testify a genuine believer has eternal salvation.

The saved person is like Christ: he/she is godly. Godliness, that is, a godly life, is when the believer’s thoughts, decisions, and actions conform to the moral, holy, and righteous standard set by God’s own character. Positively, a genuine believer loves the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; he/she enjoys associating with and worshiping with others sharing the same faith in Christ; a believer has a hunger and thirst to learn the Word of God, to read the Word, study the Word, hear the Word preached and taught; the person who is genuinely saved loves to hear about Christ the Savior. The genuine believer recognizes the truth of Scripture, 1 John 2:21; but the unbeliever does not continue in the truth, 1 John 2:19.

Negatively, the person who is genuinely saved is bothered by sin and sinning. He/she is embarrassed by sinning because Christ has been disappointed. The believer takes no lasting pleasure in sin and sinning—there may be a moment of pleasure when an old sin habit is indulged, but in a short time the pleasure fades. The genuine believer is saddened when Christ is dishonored. The genuine believer is righteously angry when the Scripture is twisted to say what it does not mean. The genuine believer holds the world and the things of the world loosely, lightly, knowing he/she is to be in the world, but not of the world. Death is not a terror to the genuine believer, because physical death is merely the way Christ brings his saved people to heaven to be with him forever. The characteristics of a genuine salvation testify to an eternal salvation.

CONCLUSION

There are times of failure in the Christian life, and times of doubt. There are some verses that seem to say salvation may be lost. But the scriptures give a clear and unambiguous witness that salvation cannot be lost. So by the testimony of five things—Christ’s limitless merit; sealing by the Holy Spirit; the Scripture’s word of assurance; perseverance in the faith by faith; and the characteristics of a genuine Christian—the believer has assurance that salvation is permanent.

Of these five the first is the most important. Jesus paid the full and complete debt for sins, completely satisfying God’s holiness and justice, such that no other action, work, or sacrifice is required. A genuine believer cannot lose his or her salvation; a genuine believer is permanently sealed into salvation; a genuine believer perseveres in the faith by faith; a genuine believer knows from Scripture they have eternal life and can never perish; a genuine believer habitually practices genuine Christianity.

 

The Security of the Believer Pt. 1

The Security of the Believer Pt. 1

(Guest Post by James Quiggle ThM)

 

This post is the first of three on the eternal security of salvation and the personal assurance of salvation. These posts are from my book “Christian Living and Doctrine,” pp. 15–20, 45–46.

The New Testament presents five witnesses testifying salvation is eternal: 1) the foundation of eternal salvation; 2) the seal of eternal salvation; 3) the assurance of eternal salvation; 4) perseverance in eternal salvation; 5) the character of eternal salvation. This post presents witnesses 1 and 2.

 

THE FOUNDATION OF ETERNAL SALVATION

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of eternal salvation. At 1 John 2:2 the apostle John wrote, Jesus “is the propitiation for our sins.” John does not set any limitations. “Our sins” refers to every sin a believer has or may commit, past, present, and future. When “God chose us in Christ,” Ephesians 1:4, it was “before the foundation of the world,” so God had in view all sins a believer would commit. John said Jesus “is the propitiation.” The word “propitiate” has the same meaning as the Old Testament “atone,” and the English word “expiate.” A good synonym is “satisfied.” God imputed our sins to Jesus on the cross, 2 Corinthians 5:21, and through his suffering on the cross Jesus fully satisfied God for every sin—all the sins you and I have committed or might yet commit.

At 2 Corinthians 5:21, Paul tells us God made Jesus Christ “to be sin for us.” God imputed the sins of the world to Jesus, 1 John 2:2, when Jesus was on the cross. Jesus suffered God’s wrath for our sins with the result Jesus made a full satisfaction to God for the crime of sin. The Bible names this satisfaction “propitiation,” Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10.

Propitiation is the complete satisfaction of God’s holiness and justice that Christ made to God by enduring spiritual and physical death on the cross for the crime of sin committed by human beings, suffering in their place and on their behalf. When by faith a sinner applies Christ’s propitiation to their sins, God is completely satisfied the debt for all his/her sins was paid, and forgives all those sins past, present, and future.

On the cross, to make the propitiation for sins, Christ endured the penalty for sin, which is spiritual and physical death. Christ endured spiritual death when he was separated from fellowship with God (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46), and physical death when he separated his soul from his body (“Bowing his head, he gave up his spirit,” John 19:30).

We can understand that Christ paid the full debt for sins in three actions.

One, before his death he cried out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” indicating he was no longer separated from God. He had paid in full the sin debt imputed to him.

Two, when the propitiation was completed Christ cried out “It is finished,” John 19:30. The word he used, teléō, was a cry of victory, in a verb tense (perfect) indicating his work of propitiation was brought to completion. No other work is needed to satisfy God for the crime of our sin.

Three, Christ resurrected from the dead. Each member of the Trinity participated in Christ’s resurrection (Romans 6:4; John 10:17; Romans 8:11), showing that Christ had made a complete satisfaction for sin. As Paul stated, 1 Corinthians 15:17, “If Christ is not risen, your faith is futile” (vain, empty).

Because the propitiation completely satisfied God for sins past, present, and future a believer’s salvation is eternally secure. “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus . . .  “Who is able to bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies . . .  it is Christ who died . . . and is risen . . . and makes intercession for us,” Romans 8:1, 33–34. The Writer of Hebrews said Jesus “offered one sacrifice for sins forever,” and then “sat down at the right hand of God.” The God-man sat down because his work was completed. Because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, there is never again a need for any sacrifice for sin, forever, Hebrews 10:12, 18.

The writer of Hebrews says Jesus established a new covenant with God, 8:6, and through his death offered one sacrifice for sins, forever, 10:12. The result is that God has made a commitment with every person saved through faith in Christ: “their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more,” 10:17.

At John 10:27–30 Jesus said he knew who his saved people were (his “sheep”); that he gives his saved people eternal life; that his saved people will never perish (because they have eternal life); that no person and no thing or event can remove a genuinely saved person from Christ’s hand or the Father’s hand; compare Paul at 8:38–39, Peter at 1 Peter 1:5, and John at 1 John 5:11–13.

What Christ did on the cross fully satisfied God for the sins of every person who believes on Christ as Savior. In an illustration, the finite demerit of the believer’s sins—past, present, future—are like a teardrop in the ocean of Christ’s limitless merit. Once a person is saved, he/she cannot lose their salvation, because the infinite, limitless merit of Christ secures salvation for every person who believes on him as Savior. There is no sin a believer might commit that would cause loss of salvation, because Jesus propitiated God for every sin.

THE SEAL OF ETERNAL SALVATION

Sealing the believer in salvation is an act of God the Holy Spirit occurring the moment a sinner believes on Christ as personal savior. The apostle Paul wrote at Ephesians 1:13, “having believed, you were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.” The “promise” is a reference to the advent and indwelling of the Holy Spirit prophesied in the Old Testament (Jeremiah 31:33; Joel 2:28–32), announced by Christ (John 14:16–18, 26; 16:7, 13–15; Acts 1:4–5, 8) and fulfilled after his ascension (Acts 2:17–18; 8:17; 10:44).

“Sealing” is an allusion to the method used to secure ancient documents. When a document was completed, it would be rolled up (a scroll), and a blob of wax was used to affix the end of the scroll to the rolled up body. A mark or image was impressed into the wax before it cooled. The purpose of the seal was to secure the document against damage or tampering. The purpose of the image impressed into the wax was to certify the authenticity of the document. In today’s terms, the seal was the mark of a notary, or a witness, authenticating the document and its contents. Thus, sealing indicates a completed act and means security, authenticity, genuineness, identification, and ownership.

The sealing accomplished by the Holy Spirit is God’s witness that the believer is genuinely and eternally saved. The seal of the Spirit keeps the believer secure in his or her salvation, for no one can break God’s seal. The seal is impressed with God’s mark—the image of Christ the Savior—indicating the believer is God’s property. Sealing confirms the believer’s faith from the moment of salvation forward into eternity future.

A Brief Intro to Prevenient Grace

A Brief Intro to Prevenient Grace

In response to some things I have seen on social media lately, I want to address Prevenient Grace. We will deal with three primary questions: What is Prevenient Grace? Is Prevenient Grace a biblical idea? Is Prevenient Grace distinctly an Arminian doctrine?

Let’s begin with a definition of Prevenient Grace. We will quote the definition found at Theopedia.

“Prevenient grace refers to the grace of God in a person’s life that precedes conversion (or salvation). The word “prevenient,” considered an archaic term today, was common in the King James English and simply means to “go before” or “precede.” Likewise, it is sometimes called “preventing” grace (from prevenient) with the same meaning.

  • In Reformed Theology, it is the particular grace which precedes human decision — a salvific grace prior to, and without reference to, anything we have done.
  • In Arminianism and Wesleyanism, it is a grace that offsets the noetic effects of the Fall, restores man’s free will, and thus enables every person to choose to come to Christ or not. There are two forms of this view:
    • Universal prevenient grace — This grace is extended to every person.
    • Individualistic prevenient grace — This grace is only extended to those who come under the intelligent hearing of the gospel, and not to every person.

We can see, already, that Prevenient Grace is a doctrinal position of both Calvinists (Reformed Theology) and our Arminian brethren. Permit me to expand for a moment on the Calvinist side of things: Prevenient Grace is, literally, grace that is preceding, but preceding what? This is actually the grace that we refer to as being irresistible. God, in an act of preceding grace, elects, calls, and regenerates those whom He has chosen.”

 

In Arminian Soteriology, Prevenient Grace is referred to in the F of the F.A.C.T.S of salvation. The Arminian Theologian would say that we are freed by the Grace of God to respond with an act of our own volition and “choose” to respond to the Gospel call.

 

The sad irony is that most of my teaching brethren do not know their theology well enough to realize that the two perspectives are so closely related that they are most likely two halves of the same sandwich…

 

In both Calvinism and Arminianism, saving grace is 100% a choice and act of God. In both cases Prevenient Grace precedes regeneration and justification. The major question, and point of disagreement, is the effect of Prevenient Grace on the will i.e. does Prevenient Grace restore man’s free will and thus allow said grace to be resisted or is Prevenient Grace irresistible as the Calvinist teaches.

 

As a Calvinist, I do not believe grace can be resisted. Since it is antecedent to salvation and a corollary of election, Prevenient Grace cannot be resisted.

 

Prevenient Grace is entirely Biblical and it is not a distinctly Arminian doctrine. For further study, I would refer you to the Foundations of Doctrine Series.

Apostle’s Creed (Our Essential Creed)

Apostle’s Creed (Our Essential Creed)

Below, you will find the foundational statement of faith of all Reformed Christians. Officially codified in AD 390, this is a concise statement on the essentials of Christian Orthodoxy.

 

I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:

And in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord:

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary:

Suffered under Pontius Pilate; was crucified, dead and buried: He descended into hell:

The third day he rose again from the dead:

He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty:

From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead:

I believe in the Holy Ghost:

I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:

The forgiveness of sins:

The resurrection of the body:

And the life everlasting. Amen.

Enduring Faith; The Security of the Believer

Enduring Faith; The Security of the Believer

The Security of the Believer

All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

Ephesians 4:30 tells us that believers are “sealed for the day of redemption.” If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16 tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.

The most powerful argument for eternal security is Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Our eternal security is based on God’s love for those whom He has redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

This Doctrine is formally called the Perseverance of the Saints but it is frequently referred to as Eternal Security or Once Saved Always Saved.

Eternal security is the teaching that a Christian cannot lose his salvation because he is “eternally secure” in the work of Christ. Unfortunately, this teaching is sometimes a source of problems within Christian circles. Some Christians believe that if you hold to eternal security, you are purposely promoting a license to sin. On the other hand, some Christians believe that if you don’t believe in eternal security, you have to keep your salvation by works. Both sides often misrepresent the other, and instead of being gracious on this debatable issue (as we are commanded to be in Romans 14:1-12), people accuse each other of being unbiblical.

Eternal Security is not a license to sin

Please understand that eternal security is not a license to sin. The Christian is regenerated. He is changed from within and is made a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17). Those who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit will war with their sin and not seek to abide in it. Those who declare that they are eternally secure and then go out and sin on purpose in any manner they so choose are probably not saved to begin with since this is contradictory to what Scripture teaches. 1 John 2:4 says, “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

This does not, in any way, imply that we will never again sin; we can be certain that we will sin again because we are under the Federal Headship of Adam and will have a fallen nature until we are restored in the Kingdom. I want to give you 3 passages of Scripture regarding the Security of the Believer.

John 6:37-40
“All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. 40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day,”

John 10:27-28
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand,”

1 John 2:19
“They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.”

I need to emphasize, with as much vigor as possible, that this does not mean that you can simply live however you like and still go to Heaven when you die. There will always be a struggle with sin and you will fail; so will I. As you mature in your discipleship, you will become more like Christ and so will hate your sin more and more. Some areas will be easier to resist sin and in other areas, it will feel like World War III. The comfort is that we are assured of a final victory.

3 Things the Doctrine of Eternal Security does not teach:

1) Since we are ‘saved’, we can do what we want. It doesn’t matter what kind of sin we commit. We are still going to go to heaven.” This is a gross perversion of Eternal Security. ALL TRUE BELIEVERS will endure to the end. In Jude’s epistle the Apostle advises that we contend vigorously for the faith and the word he uses is agonizomai. It is from this word that we derive agonize, and it is fitting because “Take up your cross and follow Me” is a death sentence and the flesh will not be overcome easily.

2) We do not need to worry about helping our brothers and sisters remain faithful. “Hey, if they are saved, they will remain saved. We do not need to be our brother’s keeper”. If this were true, there would be no need for corporate worship or the preaching of the word.

3) We can ignore all the Scriptures warning us to persevere to the very end. We don’t need to persevere because if we are saved, we will remain saved.” I cannot imagine that anyone seriously thinks that Eternal Security means this but I have heard it from some. Sanctification is both instantaneous and a process. We are admonished to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) for a reason. The Holy Spirit does sanctify us but that does not leave us with no responsibility to work.

 

For Whom Did Jesus Die? (Particular Redemption)

For Whom Did Jesus Die? (Particular Redemption)

Our thanks to 3rd Millenium Ministries for the below…

 In Reformed theology we affirm the doctrine of definite atonement, which is sometimes called particular redemption, effective atonement or limited atonement (“limited” is not in reference to the power or value of Jesus’ death, but in reference to the number of people for whom Christ purchased salvation). Definite atonement is to be distinguished from two other prominent views of the atonement: universalism and general ransom. All three views, including definite atonement, affirm that Christ’s sacrifice is of infinite worth. General ransom and definite atonement both affirm that the free offer of the gospel comes genuinely from God to all those who hear the Good News of Christ. Universalism insists that everyone is saved, regardless of whether or not he or she responds positively to the gospel.

These three views can be most easily distinguished by looking at two different aspects of the atonement: (1) Jesus’ work on the cross by which he obtained salvation and (2) the Holy Spirit’s application of salvation to individuals. Universalism claims that Christ obtained salvation for everyone in the world and that the Holy Spirit applies salvation to everyone in the world so that all are saved. General ransom holds that although Christ obtained salvation for everyone in the world, the Holy Spirit applies salvation only to those who come to faith so that only these are actually saved. Definite atonement holds that Christ obtained salvation only for the elect and that the Holy Spirit applies salvation only to the elect.

According to general ransom, while Christ’s death made salvation possible for everyone in the world (both the elect and the reprobate), it did not make anyone’s salvation certain. Definite atonement, however, insists that the Holy Spirit will necessarily apply salvation to everyone for whom Christ died so that all for whom Christ died must eventually be saved.

Scripture speaks of God as having chosen for salvation a great number from the fallen human race (these are the “elect”) and as having sent Christ into the world to save them (John 6:37-40; 10:27-29; 11:51-52; Romans 8:28-39; Ephesians 1:3-14; 1Pe 1:20). Christ is regularly said to have died for particular groups or persons, with the clear implication that his death fully secured their salvation (John 10:15-18,27-29; Ro 5:8-10; 8:32; Galatians 2:20; 3:13-14; 4:4-5; 1John 4:9-10; Revelation 1:4-6; 5:9-10). Facing his suffering on the cross, Jesus prayed only for those whom the Father had given him, not for the “world” (i.e., the rest of humanity; John 17:9,20).

Nevertheless, it is also important to affirm the free offer of Jesus Christ in the gospel alongside the doctrine of definite atonement. It is a certain truth that whoever comes to Christ in faith will find mercy (John 6:35,47-51,54-57; Romans 1:16; 10:8-13). Those whom God has chosen hear Christ’s offer, and through hearing it, they are effectually called by the Holy Spirit. Both the invitation and the effectual calling flow from Christ’s sin-bearing death. Those who reject the offer of Christ do so because they choose to (Matthew 22:1-7; John 3:18), so their final perishing is their own fault. Those who receive Jesus learn to thank him for the fact that his blood fully cleansed them from all unrighteousness, for they know that without this working of his grace, all hope would have been lost.

Irresistible Grace: When God Makes an Offer You Can’t Refuse

Irresistible Grace: When God Makes an Offer You Can’t Refuse

The Doctrine of Irresistible Grace (http://theopedia.com)

“Those who obtain the new birth do so, not because they wanted to obtain it, but because of the sovereign discriminating grace of God. That is, men are overcome by grace, not finally because their consciences were more tender or their faith more tenacious than that of other men. Rather, the willingness and ability to do God’s will are evidence of God’s own faithfulness to save men from the power and the penalty of sin, and since man is so corrupt that he will not decide and cannot be wooed to follow after God, sovereign efficacious grace is required to convert him. This is done by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit whereby a fallen man who has heard the gospel is made willing and necessarily turns to Christ in God-given faith.”

 

Major Scriptures related to the Doctrine of Irresistible Grace:

  • John 6:37, 39 (ESV): “All that the Father gives me will come to me…. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
  • John 6:44-45 (ESV): “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him…. Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.”
  • John 6:65 (ESV): “No one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
  • Romans 8:28, 30 (ESV) “Those whom [God] predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified”.

 

All that the Father gives will come…what does this mean? It means, as John MacArthur points out, that in eternity past the Father determined to give, to the Son, a redeemed humanity as a love gift and every person that the LORD God has sovereignly elected unto salvation will come to the feet of the Son, the Lord of Glory, Jesus Christ. On a certain level, this is a mystery for we are not clearly told, in Scripture, how this comes to pass, yet the Scripture does in fact teach that it will happen.

 

One thing that we want to point out is a particular Greek word in John 6:44 and that word is ἕλκω, helkô and the word, generally has the connotation of dragging (John. 18:10; 21:6; 21:11; Acts 16:19; 21:30; James. 2:6). As a consequence, we can assume that it means that this drawing cannot be resisted. This is not to say that God’s grace can never be resisted under any circumstances. Rather, as Dr. Sproul teaches us, “The idea is that God’s grace is so powerful that it has the capacity to overcome our natural resistance to it. It is not that the Holy Spirit drags people kicking and screaming to Christ against their wills. The Holy Spirit changes the inclination and disposition of our wills, so that whereas we were previously unwilling to embrace Christ, now we are willing, and more than willing.”

 

We learned, in the lesson on Total Depravity/Total Inability, that man is, of his own accord, not only unwilling but also unable to come to Christ. Thankfully, on the other side of that coin is the fact that God, the Father, changes the desires of our hearts; He creates a new heart where the old obstinately disinterested one used to be and we are now capable of seeing the beauty of the Glorious Prince of Heaven and and are so desirous of the Redeemer that we willingly come and bow at the Throne of Grace.

Some would object to this doctrine, yet I will answer their objection with the words of Paul, “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, “Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20) or, perhaps, the words of Isaiah, “Who hath directed the Spirit of the LORD, or being his counseller hath taught him?”

I suspect that many of the objections to this doctrine come from those who do not really understand it. Let us turn then, to our friends from Got Questions Ministries for some wise instruction:

“The reason this doctrine is called “irresistible” grace is that it always results in the intended outcome, the salvation of the person it is given to. It is important to realize that the act of being regenerated or “born again” cannot be separated from the act of believing the gospel. Ephesians 2:1-10 makes this clear. There is a connection between the act of being made alive by God (Ephesians 2:1, 5) and the result of being saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:5, 8). This is because everything pertaining to salvation, including the faith to believe, is an act of God’s grace. The reason God’s grace is irresistible and efficacious (always bringing forth the desired result) is that God “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into” His kingdom (Colossians 1:13). Or, as Psalm 3:8 puts it, “Salvation belongs to the Lord.”

To understand the doctrine of “irresistible grace,” it is important to recognize that this is a special grace given only to those God has chosen for salvation (His elect) and is different from what is known as “common grace” which God bestows on both believer and unbeliever. While there are many aspects of common grace, including life and all that is necessary to sustain it, common grace is what is often referred to as the “outward call of God.” This is God’s revelation of Himself given to all men through the light of creation and their consciences. It also includes the general call of the gospel that goes out anytime the gospel message is preached. This call can be resisted and rejected by those that receive it. (Matthew 22:14; Romans 1:18-32). However, God also gives an “inward call” which always results in salvation. This is the call of God that Jesus spoke of in John 6:37-47. The certainty of this inward call is seen in John 6:37: “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.” John 6:44 confirms this: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.”

To summarize, Irresistible (or efficacious) Grace is the consequence of the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. To borrow from the popular culture, it is, in a sense, when God makes you an offer you can’t refuse; it is that gift of grace which allows us to become the Bride, without spot or wrinkle, who is suitable for the Bridegroom, the Crown Prince of Heaven

A Little Chat About Depravity

A Little Chat About Depravity

The natural state of man is total depravity; that is man’s nature is crippled by sin. So much so that he is incapable of seeking God. This is a topic that is not accepted by many, especially by those who have embraced a works based righteousness and, most especially, those who insist that they will be granted access to Heaven because they are “basically good people” reject it. We are going to discuss what John MacArthur calls the Doctrine of Absolute Inability or more commonly called Total Depravity.

Let’s start with the obvious question, what is Total Depravity? Total depravity is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the natural spiritual condition of fallen man (By that I mean the spiritual condition we are born in because of Original Sin). It’s the “T” in the acronym TULIP, which is commonly used to enumerate the five points of Calvinism and the “T” that is used in FACTS to enumerate the 5 points of Classical Evangelical Arminianism.

This isn’t a comfortable topic; it certainly isn’t something that we discuss at parties in “polite society” and it certainly isn’t some niggling little detail that can be overlooked. It entails what may well be the most taboo word in our morally relativistic society, sin. You are a sinner and so am I (yes I really did just go there) and we are all in big trouble because of it.

Total Depravity, though often misunderstood, acknowledges that the Bible teaches that every part of man—the mind, will, emotions, and flesh are corrupted by sin. This is a result of the sin in Genesis 3:6. This is to say that sin affects all of our being—who we are and what we do. Sin has so penetrated us, going to the core of our being, so that everything is polluted by sin. Any good deeds that we do, any righteousness that we bring to God is like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) To give you an idea of how disgusting sin is to God, how utterly repugnant it is, I will share with you what the Hebrew literally says; filthy rags is the cleaned up version for church. Literally, in the Hebrew, it says our righteousness is as a menstrual cloth. I realize that what I just said is shocking and it should be. We don’t take sin seriously enough; you don’t and I don’t and that’s just reality. None of us lives in constant awareness of just how awful our sin really is. Let’s move on…

In the bullet points below, we have summarized the Doctrine of Total Depravity

  • The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • We are born dead in our transgressions and sins (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3 and Ephesians 2:1-5)
  • We are held captive to a love for sin (John 3:19 and John 8:34)
  • There is no one who seeks for God (Romans 3:10-11)
  • Man loves the darkness (John 3:19)
  • Men do not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14)
  • As a result, men suppress the Truth of God in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) and continue to live in sin.
  • Because of the totally depraved nature of man, he continues to live in sin and this sinful life actually seems right to him (Proverbs 14:12)
  • Depravity is so pervasive that, by nature, we reject the Message of the Gospel as foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18) and our minds, naturally do not submit to God because it is unable to do so. (Romans 8:7)

Paul summarizes Total Depravity this way (Romans 3:9-18)

  • No one is without sin
  • No one seeks after God
  • There is no one is good
  • Our speech is corrupted by sin
  • Man’s actions are corrupted by sin
  • And above all, man has no fear of God

 

The summary verse of the Doctrine of Total Depravity is Romans 3:12 which tells us that there is no one who does good, not a single one.

Totally depravity does not mean that man is as sinful or wicked as is possible to be (Utter Depravity) and it also does not mean that we are totally without a sense of right and wrong. It doesn’t even mean we cannot do things that would be considered good by human standards. It does, however, mean that we are incapable, on our own, of pleasing God.

We are not without hope: prior to the cross, God made a way for us to deal with the pollutions of sin through Faith and Obedience combined with the Levitical Sacrifices. After the cross, we are justified by faith and empowered unto holiness by the indwelling Holy Spirit, Himself being God, who is the seal of our redemption and the guarantee of our eternal home in Heaven.

Until next time, May mercy, grace, and peace be with you.

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