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Archive for January 11th, 2014

Go to Part 3

Rembrandt-philosopher

The last few posts in this series we have laying the theological foundation before diving into how Christians can be assured of their salvation.  It’s important to understand the doctrine of the perseverance of the Saints.

i.      Dilemma: What are we to make of some Christians objections to the teaching that a believer will always be saved and persevere?

ii.      In this session we will survey a few verses from the Bible that allegedly refute Perseverance of the Saints

iii.      What needs to be done in order to refute the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints

1. Arthur Pink observed that “in order to disprove the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints the Arminian is bound to do two things: produce the case of one who was truly born again, and then demonstrate that this person actually died in a state of apostasy, for unless he can do both his example is not to the point. It is not sufficient for him to bring forward one who made a credible profession and then repudiated it, for Scripture itself shows emphatically that such a person was never regenerate:”[1]

2. Thus it is not enough to show verses that:

a. Professing Christians fall away.

Remember, “it is the preservation of saints and not every one who deems himself a Christian.” [2]

b. God warns believers not to fall away.

i.      Those who affirm perseverance of the saints believe that while it’s hypothetical possibility that a believer might fall away, yet a true believer WOULD NOT fall away.

ii.      The reason a believer would not fall away: “It is by means of God’s promises and precepts, exhortations and threatenings, that they are stirred up to the use of those things by which perseverance is wrought and assurance is obtained.”[3]

c. A Christian must maintain his or her faith.

Perseverance of the Saints believes that God’s work of a believer’s eternal security means that in the level of human responsibility Christians will maintain and endure in their faith.

iv.      Biblical verses that allegedly refute Perseverance of the Saints

      1. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.” (Matthew 13:20-21)

a. Objection: This verse shows people can fall away.

b. Be careful to establish a doctrine from a detail of a parable

i.      Note the literary form here is a parable: “Hear then the parable of the sower.” (v.18)

ii.      It’s easy to misunderstand a parable.

1. Parables were partly told so that some would not understand: The disciples asked Jesus why he spoke in parable (v.10) and Jesus replied, “Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.” (v.14)

2. Jesus’ own disciples asked Jesut to explain the parable (v.36)

3. Parables are like analogies and all analogies break down so be careful of overemphasizing and building your doctrine from details of parables.

iii.      Hermeneutical decision: We move from the clear to the unclear.

iv.      Practically this means we move from the clear propositional teaching from Jesus and the greater Scriptural context of the Epistles, etc to the parables.

c. Note that this parable (v.18-23) never identify the ones falling away as born again.

d. Though this man “hears the word” (v.20) “yet he has no firm root in himself,” (v.21) which goes contrary to James 1:21 teaching that “the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.

e. The one who does not fall away is described in verse 23: “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.

i.      The difference between this one and the other guys was that this man “hears the word and understands it;” as opposed to the rest such as in verse 20-21 who did not understand.

ii.      We can thus rule out these verses teaches a true believer falling away since the prerequisite of a true believer is that he or she must first understand God’s Word.

2. “Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that [a]the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, [b]subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.” (Jude 5)

a. Objection: Didn’t God save his people once yet didn’t save them later?

b. There is a fallacy of equivocation here: that is, two possible meaning of being saved is being confused.

c. To illustrate, let the definition of saved, in terms of being rescued from eternal punishments, be labeled as saved1A.  The other definition of saved, in which we define as rescue from threatening situations, such as out of Egypt as in the situation of this verse, will be labeled as saved2B.  To be saved1A requires belief or believing, as John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believe in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  Saved2B, or being saved from other threatening situation, doesn’t necessarily mean that you were saved1A, since you didn’t necessarily believe, that is trust in the God of the Bible.  If we look at the world around us, we see atheists surviving car crash and being saved2B.  You can also say that being saved2B is a miraculous sign.  Yet, such people aren’t saved1A, since Jesus is not their Lord and Savior.  God, in his mercy, might allow someone to be delivered from certain situations that could be defined as saved2B.  The case of those in unbelief being given mercy, or saved2B, but not being saved1A is exactly the case described in Jude 5.  God saved2B his people, the Jews, out of Egypt.  But among them, there were those who weren’t saved1A in the first place, since they didn’t believe.  Thus, it’s not surprising to see that the Lord said this in Numbers 14:11-“How long will these people treat me with contempt?  How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them?” (Italics mine)  So, taking all this into account, Jude 5 doesn’t go contrary against the position of once saved always saved.

d. Rather, if we were to take the contrary view seriously, that is the denial of the perseverance of the saints and believers can lose there salvation, there’s an issue we have to face:  If someone was once saved1A and later not saved1A, isn’t that person not saved1A at all? How can we call someone that is not saved1A, saved1A when they are not saved1A?! Yet, that is the logical dilemma.

3. “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance,[a]since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)

a. This Bible verse describes “if they fall away”.  Whereas in theory one COULD lose their salvation, in reality Christians WILL NOT lose their salvation.

b. This passage shows what it means if a true believer were to fall away in verse 6.  It is impossible to:

i.      “again crucify to themselves the Son of God”

ii.      “and put Him to open shame.

c. Taking the argument to a logical conclusion that most Arminians would reject:  If this verse does teach that a believer can lose their salvation they can never get it back.

d. Please see below on a Biblical view of apostasy.

v.      Toward a Biblical view of apostasy

1. There are Biblical passages that talk about people falling away (), yet what is the explanation of this?

2. “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, so that [d]it would be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19)

3. Further resource: Apostasy in Pastoral Theology by Steve Hays.[4]

vi.      Towards a Biblical view of the relationship of warning and Perseverance

1. There are passages that warn a believer (ex: 1 Corinthians 10:12, Hebrews 12:25, Hebrews 13:22).

2. There is no contradiction between warning and a believers’ perseverance.

3. Example of Jude: Responsibility (v.22) and Sovereignty (v.24)

4. God uses warning to a believer and the believers’ response to allow them to persevere.


[1] Arthur W. Pink, “Eternal Security: Its Opposition” in Eternal Security.  <Accessed at  http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Security/sec_03.htm>

[2] Arthur W. Pink, “Eternal Security: Its Safeguard” in Eternal Security.  <Accessed at  http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Security/sec_03.htm>

[3] Arthur W. Pink, “Eternal Security: Its Opposition” in Eternal Security.  <Accessed at  http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Security/sec_03.htm>

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