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The Grace of Our Sovereign God - Chapter 8 - The Perseverance of the Saints

The Grace of Our Sovereign God - Chapter 8 - The Perseverance of the Saints

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No one is a Christian because he is a Baptist or Catholic, nor is anyone excluded from heaven because he is a Presbyterian or a Methodist. The question, “Are you a Christian” is the same thing as asking, “Are you in Christ?”
No one is a Christian because he is a Baptist or Catholic, nor is anyone excluded from heaven because he is a Presbyterian or a Methodist. The question, “Are you a Christian” is the same thing as asking, “Are you in Christ?”

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Published by: Sound Of Grace / New Covenant Media on Sep 26, 2013
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08/13/2014

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C
HAPTER
E
IGHT
 T
HE
P
ERSEVERANCE OF THE
S
AINTS
 
In this chapter, we will consider the fifth and final point in the study of the Doctrinesof Grace, grace
victorious
. This explains the nature of true saving faith, or the doctrineof the perseverance of the saints. Thus far we have covered the following:(1) Grace
needed
 , which explains the doctrine of total depravity;(2) Grace
conceived
 , or the work of God the Father in salvation, which examines thedoctrine of unconditional election;(3) Grace
secured
 , or the work of God the Son in salvation, which looks at thedoctrine of limited atonement;(4) Grace
applied
 , or the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, which surveys thedoctrine of irresistible grace.
Historic and Contemporary Positions
The basic question we are discussing is this: “Can a true child of God lose hissalvation and be eternally lost?” Historically, some Christians known as Arminiansanswered “yes,” and another group of Christians called Calvinists answered “no.” TheArminian reply was consistent with the basic premise of that theological system. Itholds that the one decisive factor in any individual’s conversion is the sinner’s free-willchoice to accept Christ. The Arminian correctly and logically reasoned that if a sinner’sfree will could begin salvation, then that same free will could choose to end salvation. Ifthe system based on free will is correct, then it indeed logically follows that a Christiancan choose to quit following Christ, just as he chose to follow him in the first place. Ifthe one is true, the other is also true.The Calvinist was just as consistent and logical as the Arminian, but since the basicpresupposition of his system was different, he naturally came up with a differentanswer. The Calvinist held that what God’s sovereign grace and power began, it willalso finish. A true Christian will be kept by the power of God and be given grace topersevere to the end. It is essential to understand that, at that point in history, allChristians, both the Arminians and Calvinists, agreed that only those who perseveredin faith would ultimately reach heaven. A true Calvinist today is far closer to a historicArminian in his understanding of the nature of saving faith than he is to the “eternalsecurity, anti-Lordship” position.Both of these groups quoted texts of Scripture that appeared to prove their particularposition. The Arminians quoted texts such as the following to prove that one can losehis salvation:
 
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, andhave become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of theage to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again forthemselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
(Heb. 6:4-6 NKJV)
  And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.
(Matt. 10:22 NKJV)
 
The Calvinists countered with verses in accordance with the following to prove that aChristian cannot lose his salvation.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separateus from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(Rom. 8:38-39 NKJV)
 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, andthey shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has giventhem to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.
(John10:27-29 NKJV)
Today, most discussions about this subject are of a totally different nature than theywere historically. The current tendency is to start in the middle of the subject and thenproceed to go round and round in useless arguments. The discussion of this subject hasradically changed in the last one hundred years. As mentioned above, it must beemphasized that in the beginning of this dispute, both Calvinists and Arminians agreedthat only those who persevered unto the end would be saved. Both sides acceptedMatthew 10:22 at face value. The Calvinist insisted just as strongly as the Arminian thatone had to endure to the end, or he would indeed be lost. The argument was not overthe necessity of perseverance but over the certainty of it. The point of disagreement waswhether all Christians would be able to persevere unto the end. The doctrine of free willforced the Arminian to believe that some Christians would not be able to hold out andcould, with their free wills, turn back to unbelief and be lost. The doctrine of free andsovereign grace forced the Calvinist to say, “We agree that only those who persevere tothe end will be saved, but we also insist that God’s grace and power will enable all true believers to persevere.”I am sure the reader will notice that I use the phrase “the perseverance of the saints”and not “eternal security.” I assure you that the choice of words is deliberate. If weunderstand three vital points, we will not only understand the biblical doctrine ofperseverance; we will also see how radically different that doctrine is from the idea ofeternal security as it is believed and taught by most evangelicals today. Here are thethree key questions:(1)
 
Exactly what, or who, is a true Christian?(2)
 
How does a person become a true Christian?(3)
 
How does any individual know for sure that he is a true Christian?
 
We could ask these same questions another way:(1)
 
Are you truly converted?(2)
 
Who told you that you were converted?(3)
 
Will your salvation enable you to endure to the end?As you can see from the questions, the doctrine of perseverance is tied very closely to both the nature of salvation and the assurance of salvation.Let’s start with the first question, and discuss what we mean by the word
Christian
.We should get the drowning man safely onto the beach before we start arguing abouthappens to him if he falls back into the water. Before we argue about whether a trueChristian can be lost, let’s be sure we all agree on what kind of person we are calling atrue Christian.We are now confronted with the major problem in trying to answer the basicquestion. Even if we prove that a true child of God can never lose his salvation, we havereally not answered the question or solved the real problem. The issue now becomes,“Exactly who is a real child of God?” As already mentioned, in the days whenArminians and Calvinists were arguing about losing one’s salvation, they never arguedabout the necessity of the perseverance of the saints. Both groups taught thatperseverance was absolutely essential to salvation. Historically, all evangelicals heldthat there were only two spiritual classifications of people. There were saved peopleand lost people. There were Christians, and there were non-Christians. All of thatchanged a little over a hundred years ago, and we are now told that there are tworadically different kinds of Christians. There are “carnal” Christians, and there are“spiritual” Christians. The basic difference between these two clearly defined groups isthat one group acts as if they are Christians, and the other one acts exactly like lost, ornatural, men. The carnal Christians are said to be just as saved and just as eternallysecure as the spiritual Christians. A carnal Christian will make it to heaven “by the skinof his teeth,” but lose all his rewards. (This gross error is based on a wronginterpretation of 1 Corinthians 3:11-15). We will examine this theological shift in moredetail in
 Appendix Four
. For now, we are going to reject this two-fold division ofChristians, and say that (1) all Christians are carnal in that they are not sinlessly perfect,and (2) all Christians are spiritual in that they are born of the Spirit, live in the Spirit,and walk—with varying speeds—in the Spirit. Carnality and spirituality are bothqualities of degree, and all Christians without exception have varying degrees of bothcarnality and spirituality.
Definition of Terms
Perhaps it would be wise to explain a few different terms that are used whendiscussing this subject. Some people have said, “I do not believe in the perseverance ofthe saints; I believe in the perseverance of the Savior.” I also believe in the perseverance

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