Category: Calvinism

Five Point Calvinism?? An Answer and an Apologetic (Guest Post)

Five Point Calvinism?? An Answer and an Apologetic (Guest Post)

That which is referred to as Calvinism, generally, and “5-point Calvinism,” specifically, is much misunderstood and maligned even moreso by those who mean well but lack a proper understanding of what we believe. To help us with that we are, once again, blessed to have received instruction from that dear friend and eminent theologian, James Quiggle. What folllows is his instrucion…

Every now and then I am asked if I am a “5-point Calvinist,” or a “4-point Calvinist,” or “Just what kind of Calvinist are you?!?”

Those questions reflect a misapprehension about Calvinism, even among Calvinists. The misapprehension is that Calvinism is a neither more nor less than a system of soteriology (doctrine of salvation). That, of course, is not true.

Calvinism was a revival of Augustinianism (Augustine of Hippo, d. AD 430). You are affirming the Calvinistic system of doctrine if you believe in the inspiration of the Scriptures, saved by grace through faith, the sovereignty of God, the three offices of the Christ (prophet, priest, king), the deity of Jesus Christ, and the deity, personality, and ministries of the Holy Spirit (conviction, salvation, teacher, administrator of the NT church, etc.). Calvin is, in fact, the person who defined for the NT church the person and work of the Holy Spirit as we understand that doctrine today.

But I digress.

Unfortunately, the entire Calvinistic system of theology has become defined by an acronym, the TULIP (explained below), developed from the Cannons of the Synod of Dort to express a Calvinistic view of soteriology. The Synod of Dort was a year-long examination of the soteriology of Jacobus Arminius. Both Arminius (1560–1609) and Calvin (1509–1564) were dead by the time of the Synod (1618–1619), so the theological conflict was debated by the followers of both systems of theology using the Bible and their respective writings. The decision of the Synod was published in a document known as the Canons of the Synod of Dort (available at many web sites). The Arminian view of soteriology was declared false, the biblical arguments of Calvinism were declared the true understanding of biblical soteriology.

But the TULIP does not accurately reflect Calvinistic soteriology as defined by the Canons of the Synod of Dort. Let us first examine the TULIP, albeit briefly. These may not be the definitions you have heard or read.

T — Total Depravity. This means every aspect of human nature—physical, moral, spiritual—is negatively affected by the sin attribute in human nature, with the result an unsaved human being is always in rebellion against God. The effect of the sin attribute on the spiritual aspect of human nature is to make the soul’s faculty of spiritual perception grossly dulled, to the extent the sinner is unable to comprehend spiritual matters, but instead rejects them, and as a result is unable to initiate saving faith.

U — Unconditional Election. This means God chose (election, Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2), for reasons not stated and therefore unknown, to give some human beings his gift of grace-faith-salvation (Ephesians 2:8), in order to redeem them from their sinful state of existence. And it means God chose to take no action, positive or negative, toward human beings he had not elected. God’s choices were not based on any intrinsic or foreseen merit in those whom he chose to elect to salvation, for when the decree of election was given, God saw all human beings as sinners, all completely undeserving of redemption.

L — I will explain this below.

I — Irresistible Grace. This means the grace God gives to an individual sinner through his gift of grace-faith-salvation (Ephesians 2:8) will enliven the sinner’s faculty of spiritual perception, so that the sinner who has received God’s gift will comprehend the spiritual issues of sin, the Savior, and salvation, with the result the sinner willingly chooses to exercise saving faith in God’s testimony as to the way/means of salvation. God’s gift of grace and faith always results in salvation.

P — Perseverance of the Saved. This means the saved person will continue in the faith by faith all the way through life and death, when (after death) he/she will receive the grace of indefectibility. Perseverance is often mischaracterized by another acronym, OSAS, Once Saved Always Saved, resulting in silly hypothetical questions from skeptics. Perseverance is not OSAS. Perseverance is both the continuance of faith and the continued practice of the faith. God gives the grace of perseverance to the believer, and the believer uses the grace of perseverance to mold his/her life of faith to continue in the faith by means of faith all the way through life and death.

Looking now to the 5-point/4-point issue. The “L” in the TULIP represents “Limited Atonement.” This is where the TULIP strays from the Canons of Dort. Limited atonement refers to Christ’s act of propitiation on the cross and his subsequent resurrection. It will be helpful to define Christ’s atonement-propitiation.

Propitiation. The satisfaction Christ made to God for sin by dying on the cross as the sin-bearer, 2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 3:25; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10, for the crime of sin committed by human beings, suffering in their place and on their behalf. Christ’s propitiation fully satisfied God’s holiness and justice for the crime of sin. Christ’s propitiation was of infinite merit, because his Person is of infinite worth. Christ accomplished the propitiation of God for sin by enduring spiritual and physical death on the cross. Christ endured spiritual death when he was separated from fellowship with God (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”), and physical death when he separated his soul from his body (“[B]owing his head, he gave up his spirit.”)

But in the TULIP acronym, Christ’s propitiation, the “L,” has different meaning: Christ’s death on the cross to redeem the elect. This is often stated in the question, “For whom, did Christ die?” The TULIP answer is, only for the elect. But that is a significant departure from the Canons of Dort on which the TULIP is based.

The divines of the Synod of Dort were of two camps on the issue of Christ’s propitiation. Some believed in limited efficacy (only the elect are redeemed) and some believed in unlimited sufficiency (all the sins of the whole word are paid for). The Synod resolved this issue, as they did with all the issues, biblically. Both sides recognized the Scripture teaches both views. The Synod therefore taught both the universal sufficiency of the propitiation (atonement) and the limited effectiveness of the propitiation to save only the elect.

The Synod stated, Second Head of Doctrine, Article III, “The death of the Son of God is the only and most perfect sacrifice and satisfaction for sin, and is of infinite worth and value, abundantly sufficient to expiate the sins of the whole world.” Thus, the gospel is offered “to all persons promiscuously [indiscriminately] and without distinction” (Article V). That many die unsaved is not due to “any defect or insufficiency in the sacrifice offered by Christ upon the cross, but is wholly to be imputed to themselves.” Thus, an Unlimited Atonement/Propitiation.

The Synod then stated, Second Head of Doctrine, Article VIII, “For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of His Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation: that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby He confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation and given to Him by the Father; that He should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, He purchased for them by His death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in His own presence forever.” Thus, a Limited Redemption, sometimes known as Particular Redemption.

The “L” in the TULIP should have been “Limited Redemption,” not “Limited Atonement. Why did those who created the TULIP (not the divines of Dort) distort the teachings of the Synod? Because of a peculiar habit of the Puritans, perpetuated by Reformed Theology.

The Puritans had a bad habit of replacing the cause with the effect. The difference between election and predestination gives an example. The Puritans, and Reformed theology, always name election as predestination. But these are different decrees of God with different effects. Definitions.

Election. The choice of a sovereign God (Ephesians 1:4), 1) to give the gift of grace-faith-salvation to effect the salvation of some sinners (Ephesians 2:8), and 2) to take no action, positive or negative, to either effect or deny salvation to other sinners (Romans 10:13; Revelation 22:17). The decree of election includes all means necessary to effectuate salvation in those elected.

Predestination. God’s decree 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), and to place the believer in the legal position of God’s son and heir (Ephesians 1:5, 11), so that the believer has an inheritance from God and is God’s heritage.

More simply, election is a decree concerning sinners, predestination is a decree concerning the saved. Election is the cause, predestination the effect. Election-salvation is the cause of the effect predestination: to be like Christ. But the Reformed theology goes straight to the effect and names election as predestination.

So too Christ’s propitiation and the sinner’s redemption. Christ’s propitiation completely satisfied God’s justice for the crime of human sin. Then, God’s justice having been satisfied, the infinite merit of the propitiation is applied by God according to his decree of election via his gift of grace-faith-salvation. Propitiation is the cause, redemption the effect. But the Reformed theology goes straight to the effect and names Christ’s propitiation/atonement as redemption. Thus the confusion caused by the TULIP, and Reformed soteriology.

When the Canons of Dort are faithfully expressed, then one’s soteriology must acknowledge unlimited atonement/propitiation and limited redemption. But because Reformed theology distorts the atonement/propitiation to be redemption, they reject unlimited atonement, calling it universal salvation.

Unlimited Atonement (propitiation), is not universal salvation, because the direct purpose of the atonement was not redemption but judicial satisfaction toward God for the crime of sin.

For an atonement (propitiation) to be redemptive it must be applied by faith to the sinner’s demerit (his or her sin). That is clear from every Old Testament sacrifice for sin. On the first Passover in Egypt, the merit of the lamb’s blood was sufficient for every household, but must be applied to each household to be effective for that particular household, Exodus 12:13. The blood of the sin offering, collected at the moment the animal was killed, was sufficient to atone for sin, but must be applied, Leviticus 5:5–7, to be efficient for forgiveness. The blood on the day of atonement was sufficient for all, but must be applied to the Ark of the Covenant to be efficient to forgive sins.

The direct purpose of Christ’s atonement-propitiation was toward God. The merit of Christ’s propitiation of God for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2, is sufficient for all, so that the call of the gospel and the duty to believe may be legitimately offered to all and required of all.

The effect or result of the propitiation is the application of its merit toward sinners. That merit is specifically applied via God’s gift of grace-faith-salvation (the salvation principle, “saved by grace through faith”) as determined by God’s decree of election, in order to effect the redemption (salvation) of those whom God has chosen to salvation. Without application there is no redemption.

The unlimited merit of Christ’s propitiation could be applied save any non-elect person: “whoever believes,” as the Scripture states. God takes no action, pro or con, toward the non-elect, but leaves them in their sinful state. The non-elect are unable to initiate saving faith because unable without God’s gift to overcome the rebellion and disobedience engendered by the sin attribute in human nature. If they could believe, God would act savingly toward them, but they always choose to disbelieve, because that is the nature of the sinner.

Unlimited Atonement (Propitiation), Synod of Dort, Canon 2, Article 3, does not teach universal salvation: the merit of the propitiation must be individually applied through faith. Canon 2, Article 8, Limited Redemption, does not teach Christ died only for a particular group, but that the merit of his propitiation is applied only to the elect.

Thus: Unlimited Atonement/Propitiation, Limited (Particular) Redemption.

Returning now to the original question, “What is a 5-point Calvinist?” To be a five point Calvinist one must affirm all five points of the T, U, L, I, P. A four point Calvinist is someone who does not agree with Limited Atonement/Propitiation. A 4-pointer affirms T, U, I, P.

But, and it is a BIG objection, the 5-pointer, as discussed above, rejects the statement of the Canons of Dort concerning the unlimited sufficiency of the atonement, focusing only on the redemptive effect of the propitiation, not the limitless merit of the propitiation. This is, in part, due to Reformed theology’s definition of the purpose of God in the world: to redeem sinners. If God’s purpose in the world is redemption, then one must devise a theology that accounts for so many sinners not being redeemed. The Reformed theology solution is to limit the sufficiency of Christ’s propitiation to the redemption of the elect alone.

The 5-point Calvinist is a distortion of Scripture, and the 4-point Calvinist is a straw-man designed to support the untenable 5-point position. The dual perspective of Christ’s propitiation as “sufficient for all, efficient for the elect” is the true Calvinist soteriology. This is the perspective of the Scripture. The dual perspective accounts for the universal call to believe, Romans 10:13, “whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved,” and “Revelation 22:17, “Whoever desires let him take of the water of life freely.” The dual perspective accounts for the limited redemption effected by God’s choice. Ephesians 1:4, “God chose us in Christ before the creation of the universe,” and 2 Thessalonians 2:13, “God from the beginning chose you for salvation,” and 1 Peter 1:2, “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father.”

The “L” in the TULIP is too entrenched by centuries of false teaching to be changed. But if I could change it, that “L” would represent “Limited Redemption,” in agreement with the Canons of the Synod of Dort.

What is Election? (guest post)

What is Election? (guest post)

The following is provided by our dear friend, the eminent theologian and most learned scholar, James Quiggle…

Some may not know what election is, others many not understand, and many may have heard only a distorted view of election. Here is a brief explanation. First a definition.

Election. The choice of a sovereign God, 1) to give the gift of grace-faith-salvation to effect the salvation of some sinners, and 2) to take no action, positive or negative, to either effect or deny salvation to other sinners. The decree of election includes all means necessary to effectuate salvation in those elected. [Quiggle, “Dictionary of Doctrinal Words,” s. v. “Election (1)”]

The Greek word translated “he chose” in Ephesians 1:4 (most versions) is eklégō [Zodhiates, s. v. “1586”]. The word means “to select, to choose,” and is translated choose, chose, chosen, or elect in twenty-two verses. This word, as used by the Greeks and Romans, and as used by the New Testament writers, does not necessarily imply an adverse or negative action toward those not chosen. Nor, as used by the New Testament writers in regard to election to salvation, does this word imply something meritorious in those chosen, or something undesirable in those not chosen. When used with regard to salvation, eklégō simply means God made a choice. [Quiggle, “God’s Choices,” 17.]

God, before he created anything, saw all human beings as sinners. In the foreordaining acts of God to sovereignly make a universe according to his purpose in creating, God created a sinless human being, Adam. God chose to allow Adam to choose his path in life. The choices available to Adam were continued submission and obedience to God’s authority, Genesis 2:17, or rebellion against God. Adam chose rebellion, Genesis 3:6. The principle of rebellion against God is known as “sin.” Adam’s disobedience to God’s commandment added the principle of rebellion, sin, to his human nature, permanently changing Adam from sinless to sinner.

Adam was the seminal and legal representative of his descendants: his sin became their sin. Seminally his sin became their sin because Adam’s sin changed his human nature, adding the principle of rebellion against God. When Adam procreated, his sinful nature was inherited by his descendants, Genesis 5:3. Thus, Romans 5:12, sin entered the world through one man’s sin and spread to all human beings, so that all in Adam die, 1 Corinthians 15:22. Legally, Adam was the representative of his race, the legal head because the seminal head. The judicial guilt of Adam’s sin was imputed to his descendants. (Just as the righteousness of Christ is imputed to those who are his “descendants,” not physically, but those who believe on him for salvation.)

God, then, in the process of his foreordaining choices, saw all human beings—the descendants of Adam— as sinners because of Adam’s sin. God sovereignly chose to save some sinners, justly leaving the rest as he found them. God never says why he made an electing choice, nor the reasons for the choice, nor the reasons for his particular choices (which individuals he would elect). God, with all his attributes acting in union and harmony, chose to establish a covenant relationship with some sinners, and bring them into that covenant through salvation. God made a decision of his will, not an emotional decision. God’s decision toward the non-elect to leave them as he found them, in their sin, was also not an emotional decision, but a decision of his will that, like the decision to elect some, would fulfill his purpose in creating.

God’s love and mercy in election was his decision to seek the best good for some sinners, without expectation of recompense or reciprocity, and without consideration of their merit (they had none) or demerit, 1 John 4:10. He made this decision without favoritism toward the elect. Those God elected were chosen in love and mercy (Ephesians 1:4; 2:4) to be saved, sanctified, and adopted, to the praise of his glory. That same love does not prevent any non-elect from choosing to come to God through faith in God’s testimony concerning salvation to believe and be saved.

Because election does not prejudice God against the non-elect, God would, in fact, act savingly toward any non-elect if they did choose to seek him and come to him for salvation. But their desire for their sin persuades them to make the choice to reject God. Sin is an attribute of fallen human nature, a principle or attribute of evil that motivates human beings to rebel against God, disobey his commandments, and seek a path in life apart from God. Sin has authority (dominion, rule) over the sinner, not as some invincible overlord, but as an innate part of human nature constructively working with all the other attributes of human nature to persuasively incline the will to choose an act of sinning. The evil attribute sin influences every other attribute with the inclination to sin, and in that sense sin can be said to dominate the will. The sinner freely chooses sinning because his will is of itself always inclined to choose sinning, and as being rebellious and disobedient toward God never desires to change its inclination to choose sinning to rebel against God, disobey his commandments, and seek a path in life apart from God.

The propitiation (atonement) Christ made on the cross for sin completely satisfied God’s justice for the crime of sin, all sin, 1 John 2:2; Romans 3:25. Propitiation (atonement) powers redemption, but propitiation is not redemption. Propitiation is directed toward God to satisfy God’s justice for the crime of sin. God’s justice being satisfied, God could act righteously to redeem sinners according to his sovereign choices.

God, for reasons suitable to his purpose in creating, reasons known only to himself, acted sovereignly to choose to redeem some sinners (election, Ephesians 1:4) by applying the merit of Christ’s propitiation, through his gift of grace-faith-salvation (Ephesians 2:8) to their spiritual need, thereby regenerating their soul, leading to the sinner’s exercise of faith, and the forgiveness of sins. Election guarantees the salvation of the elect, but neither helps nor hinders the non-elect, who could be saved, if they would freely choose to be saved. But the desire of the non-elect for their sin is so powerful they do not choose to be saved. Thus the necessity of God’s gift of grace-faith-salvation to effect faith and salvation in the sinner.

An illustration of election. The river of sinful humankind 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 puts his saved people on the shore encouraging all to believe on Christ and be saved; he saves all that come to him by faith in his testimony of salvation.

A complete explanation of foreordination and election may be found in my book, “God’s Choices, the Doctrines of Foreordination, Election, and Predestination.”

1 John 2:2 and Calvinism

1 John 2:2 and Calvinism

While discussing Calvinism with a colleague, 1 John 2:2 came up.

Here is the text of the verse before we consider…

 “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

It has been said that this verse poses a problem for Calvinism but I disagree. The text clearly demonstrates that anyone who wants to can be saved. What it does not address is the question of who wants to be saved.

We tend to overthink matters and thereby complicate things. Does Scripture teach Divine Election?  Yes. Does the Scripture teach that man is responsible for his sin? Yes. Does the Scripture teach that only the Elect are saved? Yes. Does the Scripture teach us who comprises the Elect? NO!! Therein lies the problem with being too rigid in certain systems. God does not make a habit of revealing anything more than we need to know. Therefore we get in trouble if we go further than He has revealed and presume to know that which is not our business.

1 John 2:2 is not a problem for Calvinists any more than it is a proof of Arminianism. It is simply a fact laid out in Scripture. Here is the fact: The penal substitutionary atoning death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is absolutely sufficient for anyone that wants to be saved. This particular verse does not speak to who it is that would want to be saved and there need not be any controversy over the verse. In fact the only reason there is a controversy is that humand create one where one need not exist.

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.