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ARRINGTON, FRENCH SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY II

Week 11, Session 2

TH 513 Systematic Theology II
Read this article, attached to folder Week 11
Arrington, French (1993). Christian Doctrine: A Pentecostal Perspective, Vol. 2. Cleveland, TN: Pathway Press, pp. 185190

Attachment title in the folder is:
“Refuting Unconditional Eternal Security”

A. The Possibility of Falling Away
Jesus spoke to His disciples, who obviously were true believers, saying, “He who endures to the end shall be saved” (Mk. 13:13). The parallel passage in Matthew 24:11-13 indicates that some will not endure. The parable of the sower (Lk. 8:4-15) warns believers about the danger of falling away. There are those “who believe for awhile and in time of temptation fall away” (v. 13).

A. The Possibility of Falling Away
The passage used to support unconditional eternal security (Jn. 10:2729), in fact provides two conditions— hearing and following. Also, John 15:1-7 says that branches (believers, disciples) which do not continue abiding in Christ are “cast out” and thrown into the fire.

A. The Possibility of Falling Away
Eternal life is a present possession of believers, but for it to become one’s eternal possession, perseverance in the faith is required. Apostle Paul warned that after his departure, “savage wolves” would come among the Ephesian believers “to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20: 29, 30). He said that even after preaching to others, he himself could be “disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27).

A. The Possibility of Falling Away
A concern for Paul with regard to the Galatian believers was that they were turning so soon from Him who called them in the grace of Christ “to a different gospel” (Gal. 1:6). He said to those who were trying to be justified by keeping the law, “You have fallen from grace” (5:4).

A. The Possibility of Falling Away
In Hebrews, there are five warning passages. The first warns believers not to “drift away” from the gospel they had heard (2:1-4). The second warns against the evil of unbelief, which can cause individuals to depart from the living God (3:704:13). The third passage warns against apostasy and urges believers not to fall away (6:1-20).

A. The Possibility of Falling Away
In Hebrews, there are five warning passages. The fourth passage describes the severity of divine judgment for apostasy (10:19-39). The fifth emphasizes personal responsibility for one’s self and for other believers (12:1-17). The danger is that any who fall short of the grace of God could defile other believers (v. 15).

B. Conditional Security
1. Scripture teaches that the power of choice remains for believers The straw-man argument is to say that Wesleyan Theology teaches that we can be “unborn.” This is not what is taught. What is taught is that according to 1 John 5:16, it is possible for a Christian to die a spiritual death (cf. also Rom. 8:13).

B. Conditional Security
2. Christians are saved by grace, which they accept through faith in Christ (Eph. 2:8); and they maintain their salvation by a life of faith. Because saving faith leads to and results in obedience, they are more to be more and more conformed to the likeness of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:19; Phil. 3:10). The security of the believer’s salvation is sure, but it rests on faith in both the receiving and keeping of salvation.

B. Conditional Security
3. The practice of sin affects adversely the faith of Christians.
The apostle Paul rejected that somehow more sin is a way to demonstrate more grace. He asked, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound” (Rom. 6:1). His answer is “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (v. 2). According to 1 John 3:8, 9 those who practice sin are not of Christ, but of the devil.

In Conclusion
God has given salvation to believers in Christ, but the only safe way for Christians to live is in continuing faith and obedience to Christ. Scripture recognizes that believers can forfeit their salvation. It is possible to believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away (Lk. 8:13). Eternal life can only be possessed by those in union with Christ. Therefore it is necessary to abide in the Savior who alone makes life available to us. ~Arrington, p. 190

Assurance
Despite the possibility that believers can fall away and utterly reject the gospel, we can, nevertheless have a deep and settled assurance about our salvation and great confidence that we are the children of God. Unlike the picture sometimes portrayed by Calvinists, the Wesleyan position is not that God is looking for a reason to exclude people from His presence. Indeed, He has done and continues to do everything, short of excluding freewill, to insure that we will make it.

GEISLER, NORMAN, VOL. 3 SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY II

Week 11, Session 2

TH 513 Systematic Theology II

Geisler, Norman, Vol. 3 Systematic Theology II
Chapter Eleven

“The Assurance of Salvation”
pp. 300-346

Geisler’s Terms for Assurance of Salvation
Perseverance: Illustrates the strong Calvinist belief that those who are truly among the elect will persevere in faith unto the end. Eternal Security: Used for the certainty of salvation, used by moderate Calvinists to show that a true believer has more than present assurance of salvation. Christians can have current confidence that they will never lose their salvation—they are eternally secure.

Geisler’s Terms for Assurance of Salvation
On Saved, Always Saved: Many Calvinist believers use this term in lieu of eternal security. The Assurance of the Believer: Another contemporary phrase in some circles, for eternal security. Assurance deals with a feeling or sense or experience that one is saved.

Geisler’s Biblical Arguments for Eternal Security

Geisler states that Christians can have true assurance of eternal salvation as evidenced by Paul’s exhortation, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5).

Geisler’s Biblical Arguments for Eternal Security

Geisler’s use of Job 19:25-26 to defend eternal security is weak, at best. If ever there was an example of entire sanctification, it would Job. God called him a perfect man. As such, any Wesleyan would readily agree that a person living a righteous life has the assurance of seeing Christ someday.

Geisler’s Biblical Arguments for Eternal Security

Geisler’s use of Ecclesiastes 3:14 and his assertion that it assures eternal salvation undermines his own “moderate” Calvinist view which holds that it is possible to “appostasize.” If Geisler was correct in his use of Ecclesiastes then he is incorrect in his view of “moderate” Calvinism.

Geisler’s Biblical Arguments for Eternal Security

Geisler’s use of John 3:18 fails to appreciate the tense of the Greek verb “is not condemned,” which is present tense and not future or perfect tense. Every Wesleyan could agree that if one is believing and continues to believe then he is currently in a position of forgiveness and grace and not of condemnation.

Geisler’s Biblical Arguments for Eternal Security

Geisler’s use of John 5:24 again, the verb tense is important. The word “believes” is a present active participle. It indicates faith that is active an ongoing. Again, Wesleyans would agree that anyone in a state of believing (which is reflected in true repentance, i.e., turning from a sinful lifestyle) is able to claim the promise that follows: “. . . Has eternal life and will not be condemned.”

Geisler’s Biblical Arguments for Eternal Security

Geisler’s use of John 6:37, fails to explore what is implicit in the verse. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever come to me I will never drive away.” No Wesleyan has claimed that Jesus drives anyone away. The fact of continued freewill after salvation (something Geisler argues for) suggests the possibility of someone walking away— not being driven away—by Jesus.

Geisler’s Biblical Arguments for Eternal Security

Geisler goes on to use many other verses, but as my few examples demonstrate, when verses are taken in their context, when verb usage and the implications of verb usage is considered, there is no convincing argument for the position that once one is saved he or she cannot forsake their faith through their freewill and walk way from the benefits of grace, i.e., eternal reward rather than eternal punishment.

Calvinists and Wesleyans
What agreement is there? Moderate Calvinists and Wesleyan can agree on many essential things: 1.All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. 2.Jesus died a substitutionary death in our place. 3.We are saved by grace through faith in the gospel, the Good News of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. 4.No one can live in habitual unrepentant sin and make it to heaven. (The Calvinists say such a person never was saved or apostatized, and the Wesleyans say either they were never saved or if they were, they have since backslidden and have forfeited their salvation through their unbelief.)

Geisler’s Misrepresentation of Wesleyanism
Geisler asks (p. 317), “If the performance of works is necessary for the maintenance of my salvation, How can I avoid the conclusion that I am saved by my good works?” That is a misrepresentation of Wesleyan Theology. Though Geisler tries to connect Arminian position with the Roman Catholic view, Wesleyans do not argue for works as a condition for salvation. The Wesleyan view is the that we are saved by grace through faith—period.

The Position of the Writer of Hebrews
The Wesleyan position does not believe one can be “unborn,” but the Bible clearly speaks of “unbelief” in terms of believing and then turning to unbelief:
“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12).

The reading of this text is straightforward. The Writer calls them “brethren” a term used for people who share the faith. He refers to “unbelief in departing from the living God.” Nothing needs to be added or taken away from this text to make the point that believing “brethren” (Christians) could through “unbelief” depart from the living God.

Final Point Against Geisler’s View of Eternal Security

Geisler does not even attempt to answer the statement found in Hebrews 3:12. He references verses 3:12-14 on page 318 and misrepresents the verse. He uses it to support eternal security, but fails to note the condition:
For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end (v. 14).