The Perseverance of the Saints

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Martin, Jan 1, 2009.

  1. Martin

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    According to the Baptist Confession of 1689 the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints maybe summed up as follows:

    "Those whom God has accepted in the beloved, and has effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they will certainly persevere in that state to the end and be eternally saved."

    The current Southern Baptist Statement of Faith agrees with this:

    "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."

    Those statements are clear, concise, and to the point. Although they are not authoritative as Scripture, they do express what Baptists have believed for many, many years on the matter of final Perseverance. However as I look across the Southern Baptist Convention today I see many men, some of whom signed the Baptist Faith & Message, denying the doctrine of final Perseverance. That makes me wonder if people are paying enough attention to these matters.

    The popular doctrine of eternal security or once saved, always saved is a watered down copy of this great doctrine of final perseverance. So what is the difference between final perseverance of the saints and eternal security? Let's start by defining the doctrine of eternal security.

    According to Dr. Charles Ryrie, eternal security is defined as follows:

    "Eternal security is the work of God which guarantees that the gift of salvation, once received, is forever and cannot be lost." -pg328 (Basic Theology).

    That is probably one of the best definitions of eternal security out there. What should be noticed, however, is what is missing from that definition. There is no mention of how security affects the believer. This should be no surprise, for in his book "So Great Salvation", Dr. Ryrie expresses the belief that "a believer may come to the place of not believing, and yet God will not disown him, since He cannot disown Himself" (pg 130 So Great Salvation). Other advocates of the doctrine of eternal security state the same thing (Charles Stanley, Zane Hodges, Tony Evans, etc). This is, without a doubt, the fatal flaw in the doctrine of eternal security (OSAS). The fact that perserverance is omitted and denied opens the door to extreme and unBiblical claims.

    The Biblical position is much more in agreement with the classic understanding of the final perseverance of the saints. Let's return to that definition for a moment:

    "Those whom God has accepted in the beloved, and has effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit, and given the precious faith of His elect, can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they will certainly persevere in that state to the end and be eternally saved."

    It starts off by putting the focus where it belongs, on God. Salvation is not something God must do, it is something God chose to do. It is His grace, not our deserving (Eph 2:8-9). Each and every person who has been saved, has been saved because he/she has been graciously "accepted in the beloved" (Eph 1:3-8). With the focus on God, the confession moves on to talk about how believers became believers. Salvation is not the work of man, faith is not from man, salvation is from God. The Bible tells us that faith is a gift (Eph 2:8-9, 2Pet 1:1, Acts 3:16, 1Cor 1:26-31, etc) and the confession agrees with that when it states that God grants "the precious faith of His elect". The Lord Jesus Christ is the author and perfector of our faith (Heb 12:2). Our Lord told us plainly that "no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" (Jn 6:44). A person is only saved when God moves that person to come to Christ in faith. Apart from that, nobody will/can be saved. Christ paid the penalty on the cross, and all who believe benefit from His finished work, but only those the Father draws to the Son will believe (Jn 6:37). God effectually called each and every person who is saved (i.e....each of the elect). They are called by Him and accepted in His beloved. Next the confession moves to the fact that each believer has been "sanctified by His Spirit". The Holy Spirit has entered our lives and set us apart as one of God's children. The Holy Spirit is not leaving our lives (Eph 1:13-14), He is there forever and therefore we are forever children of God.

    With all of the groundwork laid, the confessoin turns to the meat of the issue:

    "can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they will certainly persevere in that state to the end and be eternally saved."

    We have seen that faith is a gift given by God to the elect. We have also seen that Christ is the perfector of faith. It is for these reasons that a true believer cannot fail to finally persevere or finally fall from salvation. True believers are eternally secure, but true believers persevere. As the late Dr. Adrian Rogers once said "the faith that fizzles before the finish had a flaw from the first". True believers finally persevere in the faith. That means a true believer is one who is "believing" (Jn 3:16, etc). Those who cease to believe and finally walk away were never truly saved (1Jn 2:19, etc).

    For more information on the wonderful doctrine of the Final Perseverance of the Saints click here.
     
    #1 Martin, Jan 1, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2009
  2. OldRegular

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    Martin

    I believe that you will find that those who are a little queasy about the Doctrine of Election are also a little soft on the Doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints.
     
  3. Thinkingstuff

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    what does queasy about the doctrine of election mean?
     
  4. LeBuick

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    It means he doesn't agree with your view...
     
  5. Thinkingstuff

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    and what is my view?
     
  6. swaimj

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    I am not queasy about the doctrine of election, but the doctrine has little practical value in Christian ministry. The elect are known to whom? To God. Those who persevere are also known only to God.

    In the gospel we are to love all--all the brethren and all of your enemies. We are to preach the gospel to all and command all men everywhere to repent. As we do this, God uses His Word and His servents to bring men to himself.

    Paul had a situation as he wrote to Timothy in which Hymanaeus and Philetus had taught false doctrine and caused some to veer off from the faith. As Paul considered those who had veered off course, he made this statement "Nevertheless, the foundation of God stands sure, having this seal: "The Lord knows those who are His". That's it! God knows and we don't. Even if a person veers off from the faith and is led into false teaching, only God knows if they are truly his and if they professed Christ, they may indeed belong to God.
     
  7. Jim1999

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    Once saved always saved sounds absolute, and it is. What it fails to make clear is man's responsibility once saved. It may not affect his eternal destination, but he still has responsibilities along the way. I always draw two parallel lines that meet in infinity. The upper line being God's declaration and action. The bottom liine being man's responsibility. On the first, God saves us. On the latter, man performs.

    So it is with all theology. There are aspects of theology where God does it all, and yet there is a part man has to play as a result of God's actions. For every action there is a reaction.

    Cheers,

    Jim
     
  8. webdog

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    Reading Genesis currently, I think it's improtant to realize Abraham believed God, and it was credited as righteousness. After this statment is made, the following chapters go on into details of specific covenants between God and Abraham. Not once is his righteousness ever part of these covenants, as his faith and susequently God's righteousness imparted because of this faith is a once for all time event.

    The "P" in both calvinism and arminiansim is eerily similar to works based salvation. I won't put my trust in persevering, I will put my trust in the preservation of the righteous...those who are saved by grace alone through faith alone.
     
  9. LeBuick

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    Doesn't matter, he won't agree. This is the debate forum. Disagreeing is a prerequisite to posting... :BangHead:
     
  10. Thinkingstuff

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    Oh ok. I'm queasy about stuff too.
     
  11. Martin

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    ==That is true, but if you notice Abraham's faith resulted in works (Heb 11:8-12). Faith is seen in deeds.


    ==I think you make a good point. However if you notice that it is God who perseveres the believer (Phil 1:6, 1Thes 5:23-24). This fact is brought out in the major confessions that deal with this issue. For example, returning to the Baptist Confession of 1689:

    "This perseverance of the saints does not depend on them - that is, on their own free will. It rests upon the immutability of the decree of election, which flows from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father. It also rests upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ, and upon the union which true saints have with Him. - It rests upon the oath of God, and upon the abiding of His Spirit. - It depends upon the seed of God being within them and upon the very nature of the covenant of grace.All these factors give rise to the certainty and infallibility of the security and perseverance of the saints." (LINK)

    Notice that the confession rightly makes perseverance the result of the work of God, not of man. That is the same focus Scripture has. Believers persevere because Christ is the "author and perfector" of our faith (Heb 12:2). Believers persevere because God completes the work He started in them (Phil 1:6, 1Thes 5:23-24). Believers persevere because of the work of Christ, even when they fall into sin (Rom 8:31-39, Lk 22:32, Ps 37:24). So one could say that the believer's perseverance is the work of God in the life of the true believer. It is a "natural" result of the work of God in the life of the believer.

    I hope that helps make my position more plain. It is not a man based salvation or perseverance, it is God based. The works and perseverance are the result, not the cause.
     
  12. LeBuick

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    Abraham's faith resulted in obedience and not works. Abraham was not obedient in order to have faith. He had faith and so was obedient. Obedience is not a works...
     
  13. Martin

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    ==I'm not sure I really understand the contrast you are trying to create there. After all Hebrews 11:8-19 lists how Abraham obeyed the Lord (i.e...works). He obeyed God by doing what God had called him to do. I am not aware of how a person can obey God without doing something.

    ==I have never said that Abraham, or anyone else, was obedient in order to have faith. I have tried to make it very clear that obedience and perseverance are the result of faith, not the cause of faith.
     
  14. LeBuick

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    I consider obedience as a reaction to faith and not as a work of faith. I am obedient because I am saved and not in order to be saved.
     
  15. JDale

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    Martin:

    We have disagreed in the past -- quite vehemently at times as I recall. :smilewinkgrin: However, this is a well written post that makes clear the distinction between the Calvinist position of "Perseverance of the Saints," and the more popular "Eternal Security" or OSAS concept.

    It has always bothered me FAR more that someone could affirm the idea that there are "unbelieving believers" (WHAT?!?) rather than that one who was a true believer MUST persevere to the end.

    While I am an Arminian Baptist (yes, we are out here) that believes in the "Possibility of Apostasy," still, I find the Calvinist position on Perseverance far more responsible and reasonable than the idea that one may become an "unbelieving believer," living a faithless and sinful life and yet still be assured of heaven.

    JDale
     

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