Wikia

Religion Wiki

Conditional preservation of the saints

Talk0
33,784pages on
this wiki
Part of a series on
Arminianism
Jakob Arminius, Nordisk familjebok
Jacobus Arminius

Background
Protestantism
Reformation
The Five Articles of Remonstrance
Calvinist-Arminian Debate

People
Jacobus Arminius
Simon Episcopius
Hugo Grotius
The Remonstrants
John Wesley

Doctrine
Total depravity
Conditional election
Unlimited atonement
Prevenient grace
Conditional preservation

The Conditional Preservation of the Saints (or more commonly, Conditional Security) is the Arminian belief that believers are kept safe by God in their saving relationship with Him upon the condition of a persevering faith in Christ.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro] Arminians find the Scriptures describing both the initial act of faith in Christ, "whereby the relationship is effected, and the persevering faith in Him whereby the relationship is sustained." [{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro] The relationship of "the believer to Christ is never a static relationship existing as the irrevocable consequence of a past decision, act, or experience." [{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro3] Rather, it is a living union "proceeding upon a living faith in a living Savior."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro4] This living union is captured in this simple command by Christ, "Remain in me, and I in you" (John 15:4).[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro5]

According to Arminians, biblical saving faith expresses itself in love and obedience to God (Galatians 5:6; Hebrews 5:8-9).[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro6] In the Arminian Confession of 1621, the Remonstrants (or Arminian leaders) affirmed that true or living faith operates through love,[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro7] and that God choose to give salvation and eternal life through His Son, "and to finally glorify all those and only those truly believing in his name, or obeying his gospel, and persevering in faith and obedience until death . . . ." [{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro8]

Arminians believe that "It is abundantly evident from the Scriptures that the believer is secure." [{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro9] Furthermore, believers have assurance in knowing there is no external power or circumstance that can separate them from the love of God they enjoy in union with Christ.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro10] Nevertheless, Arminians see numerous warnings in Scripture directed to genuine believers about the possibility of falling away in unbelief and thereby becoming severed from their saving union with God through Christ.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro11] Arminians hold that if a believer becomes an unbeliever (commits apostasy), they necessarily cease to partake of the promises made to believers who continue in faith and remain united to Christ.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro12] Therefore, Arminians recognize the importance of warning believers about the danger of apostasy and exhorting them to persevere in faith as a means of building them up in their faith and encouraging them to mature spiritually, which is a sure and biblical way to avoid apostasy. [{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Intro13]

Historical BackgroundEdit

Main article: History of Calvinist-Arminian Debate

Arminian scholar Robert Picirilli states:

Appropriately last among the points of tension among Calvinism and Arminianism is the question whether those who have been regenerated must necessarily persevere (or be preserved) or may apostatize and be lost. . . . Arminius himself and the original Remonstrants avoided a clear conclusion on this matter. But they raised the question. And the natural implications of the views at the heart of Arminianism, even in its early stages as a formal movement, tended to question whether Calvinism’s assumption of necessary perseverance was truly Biblical. Those tendencies indicated by the questions raised did not take long to reach fruition, and thus Calvinism and Arminianism have come to be traditionally divided on this issue. [{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist14]

Prior to the time of the debate between Calvinists and the Arminians at the Synod of Dort (1618-1619), the view in the early church appears to be on the side of conditional security. From his research of the writings of the early church Fathers (90–313 A.D.), patristic scholar David W. Bercot arrived at this conclusion: "Since the early Christians believed that our continued faith and obedience are necessary for salvation, it naturally follows that they believed that a 'saved' person could still end up being lost."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist15]

Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) arrived at the same conclusion in his own readings of the early church fathers. In responding to Calvinist William Perkins arguments for the perseverance of the saints, he wrote: "In reference to the sentiments of the [early church] fathers, you doubtless know that almost all antiquity is of the opinion, that believers can fall away and perish."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist16] On another occasion he notes that such a view was never "reckoned as a heretical opinion," but "has always had more supporters in the church of Christ, than that which denies its possibility ...."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist17] Arminius' opinion on the subject is clearly communicated in this relatively brief statement:

My sentiments respecting the perseverance of the Saints are, that those persons who have been grafted into Christ by true faith, and have thus been made partakers of his life-giving Spirit, possess sufficient powers [or strength] to fight against Satan, sin, the world and their own flesh, and to gain the victory over these enemies — yet not without the assistance of the grace of the same Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ also by his Spirit assists them in all their temptations, and affords them the ready aid of his hand; and, provided they stand prepared for the battle, implore his help, and be not wanting to themselves, Christ preserves them from falling. So that it is not possible for them, by any of the cunning craftiness or power of Satan, to be either seduced or dragged out of the hands of Christ. But I think it is useful and will be quite necessary in our first convention, [or Synod] to institute a diligent inquiry from the Scriptures, whether it is not possible for some individuals through negligence to desert the commencement of their existence in Christ, to cleave again to the present evil world, to decline from the sound doctrine which was once delivered to them, to lose a good conscience, and to cause Divine grace to be ineffectual. Though I here openly and ingenuously affirm, I never taught that a true believer can, either totally or finally fall away from the faith, and perish; yet I will not conceal, that there are passages of scripture which seem to me to wear this aspect; and those answers to them which I have been permitted to see, are not of such a kind as to approve themselves on all points to my understanding. On the other hand, certain passages are produced for the contrary doctrine [of unconditional perseverance] which are worthy of much consideration. [{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist18]

For Arminius the believer’s security is conditional—"provided they stand prepared for the battle, implore his help, and be not wanting to themselves." This compliments what Arminius says elsewhere in his writings: "God resolves to receive into favor those who repent and believe, and to save in Christ, on account of Christ, and through Christ, those who persevere [in faith], but to leave under sin and wrath those who are impenitent and unbelievers, and to condemn them as aliens from Christ."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist19] In another place he writes: "[God] wills that they, who believe and persevere in faith, shall be saved, but that those, who are unbelieving and impenitent, shall remain under condemnation."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist20]

After the death of Arminius (1609) the Remonstrants maintained their leaders view on conditional security and his uncertainty regarding the possibility of apostasy. This is evidenced in the fifth article drafted by its leaders in 1610:

That those who are incorporated into Christ by a true faith, and have thereby become partakers of his life-giving Spirit, have thereby full power to strive against Satan, sin, the world, and their own nlesh, and to win the victory; it being well understood that it is ever through the assisting grace of the Holy Ghost; and that Jesus Christ assists them through his Spirit in all temptations, extends to them his hand, and if only they are ready for the conflict, and desire his help, and are not inactive, keeps them from falling, so that they, by not craft or power of Satan, can be misled nor plucked out of Christ's hand, according to the Word of Christ, John 10:28: 'Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.' But whether they are capable, through negligence, of forsaking again the first beginnings of their life in Christ, of again returning to this present evil world, of turning away from the holy doctrine which was delivered them, of losing a good conscience, of becoming devoid of grace, that must be more particularly determined out of the Holy Scripture, before we ourselves can teach it with full persuasion of our minds.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist21]

Sometime between 1610, and the official proceeding of the Synod of Dort (1618), the Remonstrants became fully persuaded in their minds that the Scriptures taught that a true believer was capable of falling away from faith and perishing eternally. They formalized their views in "The Opinion of the Remonstrants" (1618). Points three and four in the fifth article read:

True believers can fall from true faith and can fall into such sins as cannot be consistent with true and justifying faith; not only is it possible for this to happen, but it even happens frequently. True believers are able to fall through their own fault into shameful and atrocious deeds, to persevere and to die in them; and therefore finally to fall and to perish.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist22]

Picirilli remarks: "Ever since that early period, then, when the issue was being examined again, Arminians have taught that those who are truly saved need to be warned against apostasy as a real and possible danger."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist23]

John Wesley (1703-1791), the founder of Methodism, was an outspoken defender of conditional security and critic of unconditional security. In 1751, Wesley defended his position in a work titled, "Serious Thoughts Upon the Perseverance of the Saints." In it he argued that a believer remains in a saving relationship with God if he "continue in faith" or "endureth in faith unto the end."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist24] Wesley affirmed that a child of God, "while he continues a true believer, cannot go to hell."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist25] However, if he makes a "shipwreck of the faith, then a man that believes now may be an unbeliever some time hence" and become "a child of the devil."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist26] He then adds, "God is the Father of them that believe, so long as they believe. But the devil is the father of them that believe not, whether they did once believe or no."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist27] Like his Arminian predecessors, Wesley was convinced from the testimony of the Scriptures that a true believer may abandon faith and the way of righteousness and "fall from God as to perish everlastingly." [{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Hist28]

The Definition and Dangers of ApostasyEdit

Arminian scholar Robert Shank says,

The English word apostasy is derived from the Greek noun, apostasia. Thayer defines apostasia as 'a falling away, defection, apostasy; in the Bible sc. from the true religion.' . . . The meaning of the [related] verb aphistemi . . . means to depart, go away, desert, withdraw, fall away, become faithless, etc.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Def29]

I. Howard Marshall writes that aphistemi "is used of giving up the faith in Luke 8:13; 1 Timothy 4:1 and Hebrews 3:12, and is used of departure from God in the LXX [i.e., Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament Scriptures]."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Def30] Marshall also notes that "the failure to persist in faith is expressed by [other Greek] words which mean falling away, drifting and stumbling . . ."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Def31]

Shank concluded:

An apostate, according to the New Testament definition, is one who has severed his union with Christ by withdrawing from an actual saving relationship with Him. . . . The warnings in the Scriptures against succumbing to the peril of apostasy are addressed, not to men who have not yet believed and who have nothing from which to apostatize, but to men who definitely possess saving faith and are in a state of grace.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Def32]

Marshall finds four biblical dangers that could serve as precursors to committing apostasy:

Persecution by Unbelievers – "Believers . . . are frequently tempted to give up their faith because of the difficulties of maintaining it amid fierce opposition."
Accepting False Doctrine – "Whatever form this presents itself . . . the temptation is to blunt the edge of faith in Jesus Christ and ultimately to destroy it altogether."
Temptation to Sin – "The significance of this form of temptation is that it causes the believer to deny the power of God to preserve him from sinning, to return to the very things from which he was saved by belief in Christ (and which by their nature exclude a man from the kingdom of God), and to perform those acts which are expressly forbidden by the Lord . . . . In other words, sin is an act and attitude which is incompatible with the obedience of faith, and hence constitutes a denial of faith."
Weariness in Faith – This is where "the believer gradually drifts away from his faith and passes into a state of apostasy."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Def33]

Marshall concludes: "The New Testament contains too many warnings about the danger of sin and apostasy for us to be complacent about these possibilities. . . . These dangers are real and not 'hypothetical.'"[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Def34]

Biblical SupportEdit

Below are some of the key Scriptures that are used to defend Conditional Security and the Possibility of Apostasy. All Scriptures are from the ESV unless otherwise cited.

Scriptures Used to SupportEdit

  • Matthew 10:22 - And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
  • Mark 8:34-35 - Then Jesus called the crowd to himself along with his disciples and said to them, "If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me continually, because whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the gospel will save it." (ISV)
  • Luke 8:11-13 - Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away.
  • John 15:5-6 - I [Jesus] am the vine, you [the disciples] are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and thay gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. (NASB)
  • Acts 14:21-22 - When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
  • Romans 8:12-13 - So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. (NASB)
  • Romans 11:19-21 - Then you will say, "Branches were cut off so that I could be grafted in." That’s right! They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you remain only because of faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid! For if God did not spare the natural branches, he certainly will not spare you either. Consider, then, the kindness and severity of God: his severity toward those who fell, but God's kindness toward you—if you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you too will be cut off. (ISV)
  • 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 - Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. (NASB)
  • Galatians 5:4 - You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.
  • Galatians 5:16,19-21 - But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.... Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
  • Ephesians 5:3-7 - But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a man is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. (NIV)
  • Colossians 1:21-23 - And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard.
  • 1 Timothy 1:18-19 - This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. (NASB)
  • 1 Timothy 4:1 - But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons. (NASB)
  • Hebrews 3:12-14 - Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.
  • Hebrews 6:4-6 - For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
  • Hebrews 10:26-29 - For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has spurned the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?
  • Hebrews 10:36-39 - For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him." But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
  • James 1:12 - How blessed is the man who endures temptation! When he has passed the test, he will receive the victor's crown of life that God has promised to those who keep on loving him. (ISV)
  • James 5:19-20 - My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
  • 2 Peter 2:20-22 - For if, after escaping the world's corruptions through a full knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Messiah, they are again entangled and conquered by those corruptions, then their last condition is worse than their former one. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to know it and turn their backs on the holy commandment that was committed to them. The proverb is true that describes what has happened to them: "A dog returns to its vomit," and "A pig that is washed goes back to wallow in the mud." (ISV)
  • 2 Peter 3:16-17 - Some things in them [Paul's letters] are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, leading to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures. And so, dear friends, since you already know these things, continually be on your guard not to be carried away by the deception of lawless people. Otherwise, you may fall from your secure position. (ISV)
  • Jude 20-21 - But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
  • Revelation 2:10-11 - Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death. (NASB)
  • Revelation 21:7-8 - He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. (NASB)

Arminians find further support for conditional security from numerous Scriptures where the verb "believes" occurs in the Greek present tense.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Bib35] Greek scholars and commentators (both Calvinist and non-Calvinist) have noted that Greek present tense verbs refer to ongoing or continuing action.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Bib36] Greek scholar J. Harold Greenlee supplies a literal translation of several verses where the Greek word translated "believes" (in our modern translations) occurs in the tense of continuing action.

John 3:15, "...in order that everyone believing may have eternal life in him."
John 3:16, "...in order that everyone believing in him should not perish but should have eternal life."
John 3:36, "The one believing on the Son has eternal life."
John 5:24, "The one hearing my word and believing him who sent me has eternal life."
John 6:35, "the one believing in me shall never thirst."
John 6:40, "...that everyone beholding the Son and believing in him should have eternal life."
John 6:47, "The one believing has eternal life."
John 11:25, 26, "The one believing in me, even though he dies he shall live; and everyone living and believing in me shall never die."
John 20:31, "...in order that by means of believing you may have life in his name."
Romans 1:16, "it is the power of God to salvation to everyone believing."
1 Corinthians 1:21, "it pleased God ... to save the one believing."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Bib37]

This type of evidence leads Arminians to conclude that "eternal security is firmly promised to 'the one believing'—the person who continues to believe in Christ."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Bib38] Indeed, "True security rests in the fact that saving faith is not a single historical act, but a present-tense, up-to-date, continuing process."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Bib39]

Scriptures That Must Be ReconciledEdit

Those who hold to perseverance of the saints cite a number of verses to support their case:

  • John 5:24 - Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
  • John 6:37-39 - All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.
  • John 10:27-29 - My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
  • John 17:12 - While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
  • Romans 8:1 - There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
  • Romans 8:35,37-39 - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ... No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 – [God] who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
  • Ephesians 1:13-14 - In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
  • Philippians 1:6 - And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
  • 2 Timothy 4:18 - The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
  • Hebrews 7:25 - Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (NASB)
  • 1 Peter 1:5 - ... who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (NASB)
  • 1 John 3:9 - No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. (NIV)
  • Jude 24-25 - To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (NIV)

Comparisons to Opposing DoctrinesEdit

A major difference between Traditional Calvinists and Arminians is how they define apostasy (see Perseverance of the Saints - The Traditional Doctrine for the definition as it is referred to here). Traditional Calvinists say apostasy refers to people who fall away (apostatize) from a profession of faith, but who have never actually entered into a saving relationship with God through Christ.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Com40] As noted earlier, Arminians understand that apostasy refers to a believer who has departed from a genuine saving relationship with God by developing "an evil, unbelieving heart." (Hebrews 3:12)

In Traditional Calvinism the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints "does not stand alone but is a necessary part of the Calvinistic system of theology."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Com41] The Calvinist doctrines of Unconditional Election and Irresistible Grace "logically imply the certain salvation of those who receive these blessings."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Com42] If God has eternally and unconditionally elected (chosen) some men to eternal life, and if His Spirit irresistibly applies to them the benefits of salvation, then the inescapable conclusion is that these persons will be saved forever.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Com43] Arminians acknowledge that the Calvinistic system is logically tight, but do not accept their doctrines of unconditional election and irresistible grace which make perseverance inevitable. [{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Com44]

On a practical level, Traditional Calvinism and Arminianism agree that Christians have security though a living and persevering faith. Anthony Hoekema, long time Professor of Calvin Theological Seminary, stated: "Peter puts it vividly: We are kept by the power of God through faith—a living faith, which expresses itself through love (Gal. 5:6). In other words, we may never simply rest on the comfort of God's preservation apart from the continuing exercise of faith."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Com45] Hoekema even writes that he agrees with Arminian writer Robert Shank when he says,

There is no warrant in the New Testament for that strange at-ease-in-Zion definition of perseverance which assures Christians that perseverance is inevitable and relieves them of the necessity of deliberately persevering in faith, encouraging them to place confidence in some past act or experience.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Com46]

The Non-traditional Calvinist (Moderate Calvinist/Free Grace) view disagrees with Traditional Calvinists and Arminians in holding that saving faith in Christ must continue in order for a person to remain secure in their saving relationship with God.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Com47] Joseph Dillow writes:

Even though Robert Shank would not agree, it is definitely true that saving faith is "the act of a single moment whereby all the benefits of Christ's life, death, and resurrection suddenly become the irrevocable possession of the individual, per se, despite any and all eventualities."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Com48]

Any and all eventualities would include falling away or walking away from the Christian faith and to "cease believing."[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Com49] What a Christian forfeits when he falls away is not his eternal destiny but the opportunity to reign with Christ in his coming kingdom.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Com50] Both Traditional Calvinists and Arminians would strongly disagree with this view both biblically and theologically.[{{fullurl:{{wikipedia:FULLPAGENAME}}}}#endnote_Com51]

NotesEdit

  1. ^  Arminius, James. The Works of Arminius, translated by James and William Nichols (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1986), 2:465, 466; 3:412, 413. Ellis, Mark A, translator and editor. The Arminian Confession of 1621 (Eugene: Pickwick Publications, 2005), 77-78; 112-13. The Confession was primarily composed by Arminius’ protégé Simon Episcopius (1583-1643), and approved by the Remonstrant Pastors in 1620. The first Dutch edition was published in 1621 and the Latin edition in 1622. For more background on the Confession see the “Introduction” by Ellis, v-xiii). Arrington, French L. Unconditional Eternal Security: Myth or Truth? (Tennessee: Pathway Press, 2005), 63, 180. Ashby, Stephen M (contributor). "Reformed Arminianism," Four Views on Eternal Security (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 163-166. Claybrook, Frederick W. Jr. Once Saved, Always Saved? A New Testament Study of Apostasy (Lanham: University Press of American, 2003), 216-218. Marshall, I. Howard. Kept by the Power of God: A Study of Perseverance and Falling Away. (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, Inc., 1969), 210. Pawson, David. Once Saved, Always Saved? A Study in Perseverance and Inheritance (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1996), 18-21. Picirilli, Robert. Grace, Faith, Free Will: Contrasting Views of Salvation: Calvinism and Arminianism (Nashville: Randall House Publications, 2002), 191. Purkiser, W. T. Security: The False and the True (Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, 1956), 27-33. Shank, Robert. Life in the Son: A Study of the Doctrine of Perseverance (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1960, 1961, 1989), 51-71. Wesley, John. The Works of John Wesley, Third Edition Complete and Unabridged, 14 Vols. (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 2001), 10:284-298. Williams, J. Rodman. Renewal Theology: Systematic Theology from a Charismatic Perspective, 3 Vols. in One (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 2:119-127. Yocum, Dale. Creeds in Contrast: A Study in Calvinism and Arminianism (Salem: Schmul Publishing Co., 1986), 128-129.
  2. ^  Shank, Life in the Son, 92; cf. Arrington, Ibid., 182.
  3. ^  Shank, Ibid., 116. cf. William, Ibid., 2:127, 134-135.
  4. ^  Shank, Ibid., 116. In another place Shank writes: "The faith on which our union with Christ depends is not the act of some past moment. It is a present living faith in a living Savior" (Ibid., 66).
  5. ^  Shank, Ibid., 43, 116.
  6. ^  Shank, Ibid., 7, 197, 218-219; Arrington, Ibid., 182; Claybrook, Ibid., 24-25.
  7. ^  The Arminian Confession of 1621, 76, 111.
  8. ^  The Arminian Confession of 1621, 74; see also 78-80. John Wesley wrote: "But he [Christ] has done all which was necessary for the conditional salvation of all mankind; that is, if they believe; for through his merits all that believe to the end, with the faith that worketh by love, shall be saved (Ibid., "An Extract from 'A Short View of the Differences Between the Moravian Brethren,'" 10:202).
  9. ^  Shank, Ibid., 55 fn. 3; cf. Marshall, Ibid., 199-200; Williams, 2:120-122, 130-135.
  10. ^  Shank, Ibid., 59, 211; Ashby, Ibid., 123, 163.
  11. ^  Marshall, Ibid., 157; Shank, Ibid., 158-164, 262; Arrington, Ibid., 180.
  12. ^  Picirilli, Ibid., 201; Ashby, Ibid., 123-125, 167; Arrington, Ibid., 62; The Works of John Wesley, 10:297-298.
  13. ^  Picirilli, Ibid., 207; Arrington, Ibid., 184-185.
  14. ^  Grace, Faith, Free Will, 183.
  15. ^  Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today's Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity (Amberson: Scroll Publishing Company), 65. For quotes that appear to support his conclusions see "Salvation," in A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, edited by David Bercot (Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 1998), 574-585, 586-591. See also the article in the External Links by Traditional Calvinist John Jefferson Davis titled: "The Perseverance of the Saints: A History of the Doctrine," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34:2 (June 1991), 213-228. He covers the key people and groups that have discussed this topic from Augustine (354-430) to 1981. For a helpful overview see B. J. Oropeza's "Apostasy and Perseverance in Church History" in Paul and Apostasy: Eschatology, Perseverance, and Falling Away in the Corinthian Congregation (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000), 1-33. From his research Oropeza makes three observations concerning apostasy and perseverance in Pre-Reformation Church History. First, there were three basic venues which could lead a Christian to commit apostasy: theological heresies; vices (i.e., temptations to fall back into pre-conversion practices like idolatry, immorality, etc.); and persecution. Second, those who committed apostasy were expelled from the church as a means of punishment. Third, "the notion of perseverance involved patient endurance through persecutions and temptations" (Paul and Apostasy, 12).
  16. ^  Works of Arminius, 3:438.
  17. ^  Works of Arminius, 2:472-473.
  18. ^  Works of Arminius, 2:219-220. William Nichols notes: "Arminius spoke nearly the same modest words when interrogated on this subject in the last Conference which he had with Gomarus [a Calvinist], before the states of Holland, on the 12th of Aug. 1609, only two months prior to his decease" (Works of Arminius, 1:665).
  19. ^  Works of Arminius, 2:465; cf. 2:466.
  20. ^  Works of Arminius, 3:412; cf. 3:413. For a more in-depth look at how Arminius responded to the issue of the believer's security, see External Link: "James Arminius: The Security of the Believer and the Possibility of Apostasy."
  21. ^  Schaff, Philip, ed. The Creeds of Christendom Volume III: The Evangelical Protestant Creeds, "The Articles of the Remonstrants," (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), 3:548-549.
  22. ^  DeJong, Peter Y. Crisis in the Reformed Churches: Essays in Commemoration of the Great Synod of Dordt, 1618-1619 (Grand Rapids: Reformed Fellowship, Inc., 1968), 220ff. See External Link for full treatment.
  23. ^  Grace, Faith, Free Will, 198.
  24. ^  The Works of John Wesley, 10:288. In his Sermon: "The Repentance of Believers," Wesley proclaimed, "For, by that faith in his life, death, and intercession for us, renewed from moment to moment, we are every whit clean, and there is . . . now no condemnation for us . . . . By the same faith we feel the power of Christ every moment resting upon us . . . whereby we are enabled to continue in spiritual life . . . . As long as we retain our faith in him, we 'draw water out of the wells of salvation'" (Ibid., 5:167).
  25. ^  The Works of John Wesley, 10:297.
  26. ^  The Works of John Wesley, 10:297.
  27. ^  The Works of John Wesley, 10:298.
  28. ^  The Works of John Wesley, 10:298.
  29. ^  Life in the Son, 157-158. Richard A. Muller offers this definition of apostasy (Greek apostasia): "a willful falling away from, or rebellion against, Christian truth. Apostasy is the rejection of Christ by one who has been a Christian . . ." (Dictionary of Greek and Latin Theological Terms: Drawn Principally from Protestant Scholastic Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1985], 41). In The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, editor Colin Brown, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1975), Walter Bauder had this to say on aphistēmi (Fall, Fall Away): "Of theological importance is falling away in the religious sense. . . . 1 Tim. 4:1 describes 'falling away from the faith' in the last days in terms of falling into false, heretical beliefs. Lk. 8:13 probably refers to apostasy as a result of eschatological temptation. Here are people who have come to believe, who have received the gospel 'with joy.' But under the pressure of persecution and tribulation arising because of the faith, they break off the relationship with God into which they have entered. According to Heb. 3:12, apostasy consists in an unbelieving and self-willed movement away from God (in contrast to Heb. 3:14), which must be prevented at all costs. aphistēmi thus connotes in the passages just mentioned the serious situation of becoming separated from the living God after a previous turning towards him, by falling away from the faith. It is a movement of unbelief and sin, which can also be expressed by other words (cf. the par. to Lk. 8:13 in Matt. 13:21; Mk. 4:17; [see] Offence, art. skandalon). Expressions equivelent in meaning to the warning in 1 Tim. 4:1 include nauageō, suffer shipwreck, 1:19; astocheō miss the mark, 1:6; 6:21; 2 Tim. 2:18; cf. also aperchomai, go away, Jn. 6:66; apostrephō, turn away; arneomai, deny; metatithēmi, change, alter; mē menein, do not abide, Jn. 15:6; [see] art. piptō; Lead Astray, art. planaō; and the pictures of defection in Matt. 24:9-12, and Rev. 13." (3:607-608)
  30. ^  Kept by the Power, 217, note 5; cf. Williams, Ibid., 2:131-135.
  31. ^  Kept by the Power, 23; These are the other Greek words connected to apostasy: "[piptō], 'to fall' (Romans 11:11, 22; 14:4; 1 Corinthians 10:12; 13:8; Hebrews 4:11; Revelation 2:5); [parapiptō], 'to fall away, transgress' (Hebrews 6:6), [pararrheō], 'to drift away' (Hebrews 2:1); the root [skandal-], 'to stumble, offend' is also important" (Marshall, Ibid., 217, note 4).
  32. ^  Life in the Son, 158.
  33. ^  Kept by the Power, 197; see also Arrington, Ibid., 178-179. Methodist scholar Ben Witherinton believes "the New Testament suggests that one is not eternally secure until one is securely in eternity. Short of that, there is the possibility of apostasy or rebellion against God by one who has believed in Christ. Apostasy, however, is not to be confused with the notion of accidentally or unconsciously "falling away." Apostasy is a conscious, willful rebellion against God . . . . Unless one commits such an act of apostasy or rebellion, one need not worry about one's salvation, for God has a firm grip on the believer" (John's Wisdom: A Commentary on the Fourth Gospel, [Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1995], 386, fn. 28).
  34. ^  Kept by the Power, 198-199; cf. Arrington, Ibid., 179.
  35. ^  Ashby, Ibid., 164-65. Purkiser, Ibid., 27-33. Greenlee, J. Harold. Words from the Word: 52 Word Studies from the Original New Testament Greek, (Salem: Schmul Publishing, 2000), 49-52. Steele, Daniel. Mile-Stone Papers: Doctrinal, Ethical, and Experimental on Christian Progress (New York: Nelson and Phillips, 1878), 53-65.
  36. ^  For extensive documentation of Greek Scholars and commentators (Calvinist and non-Calvinist) who note the significance of the Greek present tense verb "believes" in salvation contexts, please see the following External Links: "Saving Faith: Is it the Act of a Moment or the Attitude of a Life?" "Saving Faith is the Attitude of a Life—the Scholarly Evidence;" and "Saving Faith in the Greek New Testament."
  37. ^  Words from the Word, 50-51.
  38. ^  Greenlee, Ibid., 52.
  39. ^  Purkiser, Ibid., 32-33.
  40. ^  Boettner, Loraine. The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing House, 1932), 104.
  41. ^  Boettner, Ibid., 104.
  42. ^  Boettner, Ibid., 104.
  43. ^  Boettner, Ibid., 104.
  44. ^  Ashby, Ibid., 155-156.
  45. ^  Saved by Grace (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989), 244. Hoekema goes on to write: "As we have noted, the Bible teaches that God does not preserve us apart from our watchfulness, prayer, and persevering faith" (Ibid., 245). Traditional Calvinist John Murray said: "Let us appreciate the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and recognize that we may entertain the faith of our security in Christ only as we persevere in faith and holiness to the end" (Redemption Accomplished and Applied [Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1955], 155).
  46. ^  Saved by Grace, 245.
  47. ^  Norman Geisler believes that "Continued belief is not a condition for keeping one's salvation." ("Moderate Calvinism," Four Views on Eternal Security, J. Matthew Pinson, general editor [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002], 109). Zane Hodges says: ". . . We miss the point to insist that true saving faith must necessarily continue. Of course, our faith in Christ should continue. But the claim that it absolutely must . . . has no support at all in the Bible" (Absolutely Free! A Biblical Reply to Lordship Salvation [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989], 63).
  48. ^  The Reign of the Servant Kings: A Study of Eternal Security and the Final Significance of Man (Hayesville: Schoettle Publishing Co., 1992), 202.
  49. ^  Dillow, Ibid., 199. Charles Stanley writes: "The Bible clearly teaches that God's love for His people is of such magnitude that even those who walk away from the faith have not the slightest chance of slipping from His hand" (Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure? [Nashville: Oliver-Nelson Books, 1990], 74). Stanley also writes, "To say that our salvation can be taken from us for any reason, whether it be sin or disbelief, is to ignore the plain meaning of this text [Ephesians 2:8-9]" (Ibid., 81).
  50. ^  Dillow, Ibid., 201. Based on 2 Timothy 2:11-13, Stanley holds that "The unfaithful believer will not receive a special place in the kingdom of Christ like those who are fortunate enough to be allowed to reign with him. But the unfaithful believer will not lose his salvation. The apostle's meaning is evident. Even if a believer for all practical purposes becomes an unbeliever, his salvation is not in jeopardy" (Ibid., 93).
  51. ^  For a Traditional Calvinist critique of Moderate Calvinism as presented by Zane Hodges, see Kim Riddlebarger, "What is Faith?" in Christ the Lord: The Reformation and Lordship Salvation, editor Michael Horton (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1992), 81-105. See also John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988, 2008). For an Arminian critique see Ashby, Ibid., 156-167. J. Rodman Williams represents well the opinion of Arminians on this view: ". . . Any claim to security by virtue of the great salvation we have in Christ without regard to the need for continuing in faith is totally mistaken and possibly tragic in its results. . . . A doctrine of 'perseverance of the saints' that does not affirm its occurrence through faith is foreign to Scripture, a serious theological misunderstanding, and a liability to Christian existence" (Systematic Theology, 2:133-34).

ResourcesEdit

Multiple ViewsEdit

  • J. Matthew Pinson, ed. (2002). Four Views on Eternal Security. Zondervan. ISBN 0-310-23439-5
  • Herbert W. Bateman IV, ed. (2007). Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews. Kregel Publications. ISBN 978-0-8254-2132-7

Arminian ViewEdit

  • W. T. Purkiser (1956, 1974 2nd ed.). Security: The False and the True. Beacon Hill Press. ISBN 083-410-0487
  • Robert Shank (1960). Life in the Son: A Study of the Doctrine of Perseverance. Bethany House Publishers. ISBN 1-55661-091-2
  • I. Howard Marshall (1969, 1995 Rev. ed.). Kept by the Power of God: A Study of Perseverance and Falling Away. Paternoster Press. ISBN 0-85364-642-2
  • Dale Yocum (1986). Creeds in Contrast: A Study in Calvinism and Arminianism. Schmul Publishing Co. ISBN 0-88019-183-X
  • David Pawson (1996). Once Saved, Always Saved? A Study in Perseverance and Inheritance. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 0-340-61066-2
  • B. J. Oropeza (2000, 2007). Paul and Apostasy: Eschatology, Perseverance, and Falling Away in the Corinthian Congregation. Wipf & Stock Publishers. ISBN 1-55635-332-2
  • Daniel Corner (2000). The Believer's Conditional Security: Eternal Security Refuted. ISBN 0-9639076-8-9
  • Robert E. Picirilli (2002). Grace, Faith, Free Will. Contrasting Views of Salvation: Calvinism and Arminianism. Randall House Publications. ISBN 0-892656-48-4
  • Frederick W. Claybrook, Jr. (2003) Once Saved, Always Saved? A New Testament Study of Apostasy. University Press of America. ISBN 0-7618-2642-4
  • French L. Arrington (2005). Unconditional Eternal Security: Myth or Truth? Pathway Press. ISBN 1-59684-070-6

Traditional Calvinist ViewEdit

  • G. C. Berkouwer (1958). Studies in Dogmatics: Faith and Perseverance. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-4811-7
  • D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1976). Romans 8:17-39: The Final Perseverance of the Saints. Banner of Truth. ISBN 0-85151-231-3
  • Judith M. Gundry (1991). Paul and Perseverance: Staying in and Falling Away. Westminster/John Knox. ISBN 0-664-25175-5
  • Anthony A. Hoekema (1994). Saved by Grace. Wm. B. Eerdmans. ISBN 0-8028-0857-3
  • A. W. Pink (2001). Eternal Security. Sovereign Grace Publishers. ISBN 1-58960-195-5
  • Thomas R. Schreiner & Ardel B. Caneday (2001). The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance. Inter-Varsity Press. ISBN 0-8308-1555-4
  • Alan P. Stanley (2007). Salvation is More Complicated Than You Think: A Study on the Teachings of Jesus. Authentic Publishing. ISBN 1-934068-02-0

Non-traditional Calvinist ViewEdit

  • R. T. Kendall (1983, 1995). Once Saved, Always Saved. Authentic Media. ISBN 1-932805-27-3
  • Zane C. Hodges (1989). Absolutely Free! A Biblical Reply to Lordship Salvation. Zondervan Publishers. ISBN: 978-0310519607
  • Charles C. Ryrie (1989, 1997). So Great Salvation: What it Means to Believe in Jesus Christ. Moody Publishers. ISBN 0-8024-7818-2
  • Charles Stanley (1990). Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure?. Oliver-Nelson Books. ISBN 0-8407-9095-3
  • Joseph C. Dillow (1992). The Reign of the Servant Kings: A Study of Eternal Security and the Final Significance of Man. Schoettle Publishing Company. ISBN 1-56453-095-7
  • Norman L. Geisler (1999, 2001). Chosen But Free: A Balanced View of Divine Election, 2nd ed. Bethany House Publishers. ISBN 0-7642-2521-9
  • Tony Evans (2004). Totally Saved. Moody Publishers. ISBN 978-0802468246

External LinksEdit

Advertisement | Your ad here

Around Wikia's network

Random Wiki