Non-Calvinistic PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS Defended

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Van, Apr 2, 2011.

  1. Van

    Van
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    The sections of this post presented in italics are essentially the writings of another author, but they have been edited and altered, so they simply present an argument, rather than any actual person’s argument.

    “It is certainly true that not everyone who professes to be a Christian is. Some are mistaken. Some are pretending. But, if all born again believers persevere, why does Scripture so often encourage the saints (those actually born again) to persevere and just as often warn them of the consequences of not persevering? If the saints persevere because they are Saints and cannot do otherwise, then no lack of exhortation or warning is going to prevent them from persevering.”

    The above presents a confused or conflated argument. Saints persevere in salvation, once saved always saved, but they do not always persevere in engaging in effective ministry, their holy calling. Thus a person who loves the Lord in his or her heart can be sidetracked and engage in worthless ministry –building on the foundation of Christ with hay. Thus they enter heaven, but as one escaping from a fire, bringing little or no rewards with them.

    “And if one is not a Saint (a born again believer), no amount of encouragement or warning is going to help them persevere in a faith they do not, cannot and should not have to persevere in. But nothing could be more obvious than this: Christians are repeatedly encouraged to persevere. Just as clearly they are warned of the consequences for not persevering throughout the pages of the New Testament.”

    To the contrary, the ministry of believers is both to the lost outside the church and to the lost (the tares) within the church. Thus we who believe we are born again, are to test ourselves to see if we are of the faith. And sometimes, when the test reveals to some they are lacking, that they have not committed themselves fully to the Lord, they repent, and then God as John 1:12-13 says, gives them the right to become children of God, referring to our bodily resurrection.

    “Perseverance vs. Assurance

    "That is, if perseverance to the end is essential to prove you are truly one of the elect, you cannot know for sure that you are one of the elect until you make it to the end.”

    This is correct, the longer we persevere, and especially when we persevere over suffering, hardships and difficulties, the more “confidence” we have that we are born again, and thus when we test ourselves, we have the blessed assurance that Jesus is ours, oh what a foretaste of glory divine.

    “The Calvinist says if you do not persevere unto the end, you were never saved. The Arminian says that if you do not persevere to the end, you will lose your salvation. But neither can simply accept the record of Scripture that if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be saved. Both, in effect, say that you must believe and must keep on believing in a way that manifests itself through perseverance to the end to be certain of your ultimate salvation.”

    The above seems essentially correct, except for the misstatement, that indicates “if you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you will be saved.” While absolutely true, it avoids the issue of who decides that “you” believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Do we? No. Note Matthew Chapter 7 where folks claimed they believed in Jesus, they said “Lord, Lord” but Jesus never knew them. So it is God who accepts our faith, credits it as righteousness, Romans 4:4-5, and not ourselves. “If God accepts your faith, then you are saved,” is the correct presentation of the principle.

    “A case can be made for the fact that Calvinism actually and understandably results in an under-emphasis of sanctification. That is, since perseverance is supposedly a foregone conclusion for the elect, the one who believes he is elect is likely to pay less attention to exhortations and warnings about perseverance simply because if he is saved he will and if he is not saved he can't.”

    Here we seem to be drifting into incoherence. Because born again believers, chosen by God, are undergoing progressive sanctification, they emphasize testing themselves; they example their own fruit, not the fruit of others to strengthen their confidence so they might even more boldly proclaim Christ crucified.

    “We ought to persevere in our walk, but we will persevere in our salvation
    Perhaps by defining perseverance - at least as it is worked out behaviorally - as faithfully following Christ, or being obedient to God's Word, or walking in the light; we can see that Perseverance is what ought to be true for every Christian. This is what believers are encouraged to do - and warned about failing to do - precisely because we have a tendency or inclination to not do it.
    Consider the exhortation of Colossians 2:6 in which Paul says to the believers of the Colossian church:
    As you therefore have received Christ Jesus as Lord so walk in Him.
    Now if it is a foregone conclusion that a true believer will always continue to walk in Christ in the sense that Paul is speaking, why encourage him to do so? And what of Romans 12:1,2:

    I urge you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God...do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

    It seems abundantly clear that Paul exhorts the believer this way because:

    1. This is what the believer ought to do.

    2. The believer without such exhortation is less inclined to do this.”


    Absolutely correct, a Christian’s walk needs support and encouragement, from the body of Christ, but what is at risk if a person is born again, is loss of rewards, not loss of salvation. And if the person is not born again, what is at risk is on that day, Jesus will say, “I never knew you.”

    “In John 15, where Jesus is talking to the disciples concerning their relationship to Him as the true vine, He exhorts them to abide in Him that they might bear fruit. He then, in verse 6, brings up the possibility of not abiding in Him and the subsequent consequences. This warning is totally meaningless and unnecessary if the Non-Calvinist position on Perseverance in salvation is correct.”

    John 15 does not suggest that a person, who is abiding in Christ and Christ in him, might not abide in Him at some point in the future. The issue of verse 1 through 9 is whether or not a person abides in Christ. Now, in verse 10, the focus shifts from whether or not a person is “in Christ and Christ is in him” - to the walk of those actually “in Christ.” If we, the born again believer who is actually “in Christ” abides in “My Love” they keep, or strive to keep His commandments, for our love of God controls us. Thus to unwind John’s point, our love of Christ causes us to strive to keep His commandments, and when we keep His commandments, we abide in His love, just as Christ abided in His Father’s love, when Christ kept His Father’s commandments. Loss of sonship is nowhere in view. Effective ministry, the bearing of much fruit is the topic. Hence, Peter makes the same point (2 Peter 1:5-11). Our “abundant” entrance refers the rewards of effective ministry.

    In summary, once a person is actually born again, they are saved, and their heart-felt faith in Christ will endure to the end because God will keep us by protecting our faith, 1 Peter 1:3-5. However, our walk must be encouraged in order to be effective ambassadors of Christ, and thus the many admonitions in scripture to persevere until the end. If a person who proclaimed they believed in Christ, subsequently says he or she no longer believes in Christ, they went out from us because they were not of us, i.e. not actually born again, God had not accepted their faith and credited it as righteousness.
     

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