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Thread: Perseverance of the Saints

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    Perseverance of the Saints

    Hello. I have lurked on this forum for quite a while; my (superficially contradictory) motivations and evolving theological position (SITULA) can be read on my profile, but in short, I want to learn about what Christianity is meant to be and feel that this forum is among the best places to discuss that.

    I have a question about what is really one point* of SEATULIP I don't hold with (yet?): the Perseverance of the Saints.

    I believe that God has a plan for all he created, settled before he created it; some men are destined to be elect, most to be damned. But I don't believe that it is impossible for an elect man to lose his status/fall away from God/backslide. God's Grace is Irresistible, so whatever his plan is, it can't be frustrated by anything of the World; but is it inconceivable that God's plan for a person may include his failure to have Faith, either temporarily (and thus not ultimately resulting in his damnation) or permanently (and thus... etc).

    I thought that being Elect is a status that God grants to whoever he wants (Unconditionally), which allows its receiver to have Faith and know God (which he is by birth Unable to do). This status can be withdrawn if God decides to take away His Spirit gift from a man. After all, he controls men completely; he would surely be capable of this. A person who loses this status before dying is damned, and so is not eternally Elect.

    I've read this list of Biblical citations:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perseve...lical_evidence

    Paul says this:
    Romans 8:35 - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
    No, but one thing could separate an Elect man from God - God himself! He reinforces this point here, omitting the mention of what God could do instead of the World:
    Romans 8:38-39: 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 separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    All Paul is saying is that God's Grace is Irresistible - not that Saints will always Persevere! God's Plan could consist of anything, and he uses sin as part of it.

    He is echoing the words of Jesus Himself, who states that God's will can't be frustrated by the World:
    John 10:29: "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand.
    Later, he states that an Elect person is definitely saved for as long he has that status. But that doesn't mean that God Himself could choose to snatch a man's Faith away from him if it pleases Him!
    John 6:35-37: And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst... "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.
    Now you'll argue that Jesus never 'casts people out'. But it's the Father who gives people to Christ - making his sacrifice work for them - and He could also take people away from His Son.

    Hebrews 3:14: For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.
    I think this verse is in fact warning Christians of the possibility of backsliding. Now, if God's Grace is Irresistible, this could only be possible if He decided to make a man backslide.
    Hebrews 9:12: Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us].
    Now you could argue that this verse states that the redemption of Saints Perseveres eternally, but I would argue that it's talking about the eternally Elect - those who God decides to keep that way until they physically die.

    Ephesians 4:30 - Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
    This states that a person of Elect status is saved for as long as he is Elect. I don't think that means he always will be Elect right until the end.
    Psalms 20:6: Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.
    Psalms 31:23: O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.
    Psalms 37:28: For the LORD loves justice; he will not forsake his saints. They are preserved forever, but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
    Psalms 55:22: Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.

    These Psalms again indicate that God doesn't allow the World to make people stray from their Election. But that doesn't stop Him from depriving them of it Himself! And not all Elect are eternally so - the only Saints (in 37:28) are those who God decides to keep in Faith right to the end!

    So I'd like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Tell me if and how I am wrong, so I can learn more.

    ------
    *You'll notice that I seem to have also ignored Eternal Justification; that's because I feel it is redundant because its arguments are already summed up under the heading of Irresistible Grace where accurate, or inaccurate anyway. My position is as follows:
    Supralapsarian Justification
    Irresistible Grace
    Total Inability
    Unconditional Election
    Limited Atonement
    Active Decree
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situla_%28vessel%29

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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    Hi Sendou,

    I looked at your profile and you state that you are an atheist, so I wonder at your questions. Are your questions just for 'knowledge' or for a study you are doing as an atheist? Sorry, just a bit confused.

    "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" 1 Cor 2:14

    Eileen~
    "To those who have no works-phobia, I will state that you are not trembling before the gospel" Robert R. Higby

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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    As an atheist, I'm studying the Bible from the viewpoint of someone who doesn't believe it's the word of any divine being, but written down by people. Despite not being a Christian, I am personally interested in Christianity and religion in general; I also have opinions about what the people who wrote the Scriptures intended to communicate and I realise that modern Christians are for the most part spineless hypocrites or plain ignorant and understanding of the Bible is very low. I think you people (hyper-Calvinists) are the most accurate in your reading of the Bible. I want to learn what the Bible really means, or if you like, what Christianity really is.

    Hence my questioning of the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints.

    As you/Saint Paul has pointed out, the Bible is supposed to be only understood by someone with the gift of the Spirit. So you might hold the opinion that I'm wasting your, and my, time. But I'm sure you realise how that logic is circular from a natural man's perspective, since to believe it you have to believe that the Bible is God's word, etc. I would like to have some interesting theological discussion nonetheless. I'm curious. I hope you don't feel in some way like I'm attacking you.

    Thankyou for responding.

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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    Sendou,

    I didn’t think you were attacking at all although many do come here to do that. I just wondered what your interest was in the Scripture.

    Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

    John Gill:
    Rom 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God,.... By "gifts" are meant, not the gifts of nature and providence, as life, health, strength, riches, and honour, which God sometimes gives, and repents of, and takes away; as he repented that he had made man upon earth, and Saul king of Israel; which must be understood by an "anthropopathy", after the manner of men, and that not of a change of the counsel of his mind, but of the course of his providence: nor do gifts here design external gifts of grace, or such gifts of the Spirit, which qualify men for ministerial work, for public service in the church; for these may be taken away, as the "parable" of the "talents" shows, Mat_25:29; see 1Co_13:8; but the special and spiritual gifts of God's free grace, which relate to the spiritual and eternal welfare of the souls of men, even that, grace which was given to God's elect in Christ before the world was, and all those spiritual blessings wherewith they were then blessed in him: these

    are without repentance; that is, they are immutable and unalterable; God never revokes them, or calls them in again, or takes them away from the persons to whom he has made such a previous donation: the reasons are, because that his love from whence they spring is always the same; it admits of no distinction, nor of any degrees, nor of any alteration; and electing grace, according to which these gifts are bestowed, stands sure and immovable; not upon the foot of works, but of the sovereign will of God, and always has its sure and certain effect; and the covenant of grace, in which they are secured, remains firm and inviolable; and indeed, these gifts are no other than the promises of it, which are all yea and amen in Christ, and the blessings of it, which are the sure mercies of David. Whatever God purposes, or promises to give, or really does give to his people, whether into the hands of Christ for them, or into their own, he never repents of or reverses. Agreeably to these words of the apostle, the Jews say (g).


    Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”

    Eileen~
    "To those who have no works-phobia, I will state that you are not trembling before the gospel" Robert R. Higby

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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    Thankyou. That settles it from a Biblical perspective. I hadn't realised that the term 'repentance' could mean turning away from a previous decision in general - I'd only heard of it in the sense of people changing their sinful lives.

    Does this mean that, if it seems to you that a person first expresses God's Word accurately and later turns away from it or even abandons Christianity entirely, he must have simply never been gifted with the Spirit or Elect?

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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    Quote Originally Posted by Sendou View Post
    Does this mean that, if it seems to you that a person first expresses God's Word accurately and later turns away from it or even abandons Christianity entirely, he must have simply never been gifted with the Spirit or Elect?
    Correct, it means the truth has never truly dwelt in him, but it does not mean the person is not elect.
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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    Quote Originally Posted by Sendou View Post
    Thankyou. That settles it from a Biblical perspective. I hadn't realised that the term 'repentance' could mean turning away from a previous decision in general - I'd only heard of it in the sense of people changing their sinful lives.

    Does this mean that, if it seems to you that a person first expresses God's Word accurately and later turns away from it or even abandons Christianity entirely, he must have simply never been gifted with the Spirit or Elect?
    You would need to qualify your response a little further in order for me to answer. Do you mean that they deny the Lord Jesus the remainder of their days?

    Eileen~
    "To those who have no works-phobia, I will state that you are not trembling before the gospel" Robert R. Higby

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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    BRANDAN: > Correct, it means the truth has never truly dwelt in him, but it does not mean the person is not elect.

    Now I'm confused again. I thought that the definition of an elect person is someone who is capable of receiving the truth, because God has predestined them for precisely that purpose (2 Thes. 2:13); since God is irresistible and, once they have it, the truth will stay with them right to the end, the only time an elect person won't know/speak the truth is before they've heard it.

    So how can the backslider I've described be elect?

    EILEEN: >
    You would need to qualify your response a little further in order for me to answer. Do you mean that they deny the Lord Jesus the remainder of their days?

    I'm referring to different 'degrees' of separation:

    1) Someone who strays from accurate doctrine. Like a previous HGP who then declares that men have free agency, are saved by good works, etc.

    2) to Someone who denies Jesus and/or God - a total rejection of Christianity.

    And in both of these scenarios, I mean right to their physical death, yes.

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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    You either ARE elect or you are NOT elect - even babies in the womb are either elect or not elect. Your status of election NEVER changes. THere are plenty of people who DO NOT BELIEVE that ARE elect. In time, they will believe the Gospel. Once they believe it, they will not depart from it. There are plenty of people that pretend to believe the Gospel, or believe a perverted form of it, and they fall away from their confession, but that does not necessarily mean they are NOT elect. They may later come to believe the TRUTH at a later date, thus proving that they are indeed ELECT.
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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    I think it get it now.

    I understood that an elect person can FIRST preach nonsense, abandon a fake Christianity, not believe at all etc. and will certainly come to the truth later on their life if they are elect. But I would have said that a BACKSLIDER from the truth would have to be NON-elect. How is it possible for an elect person to backslide?


    I take it you are saying that it simply never happens, because those who preach the truth and later abandon it must have never truly believed in it? That's the point I missed in your first response - that speaking the truth doesn't mean you believe it.

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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    In regards to "backsliding," you should take a look at the lives of David and Samson who were both elect individuals. Human beings are sinners and will remain so until glorification.

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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    Quote Originally Posted by Sendou View Post

    EILEEN: >
    You would need to qualify your response a little further in order for me to answer. Do you mean that they deny the Lord Jesus the remainder of their days?

    I'm referring to different 'degrees' of separation:

    1) Someone who strays from accurate doctrine. Like a previous HGP who then declares that men have free agency, are saved by good works, etc.

    2) to Someone who denies Jesus and/or God - a total rejection of Christianity.

    And in both of these scenarios, I mean right to their physical death, yes.
    Sendou,

    I would never give someone verbal assurance in any way of their election/salvation/faith if they deny Christ but as Brandan said that doesn’t mean they aren’t elect. The only judgment I can make is on truth and that is what I point to. It isn’t my business to judge the souls of men for they are God’s souls to do with as He pleases. God can/will regenerate by the Holy Spirit each elect saint when He chooses, that work might be at their death bed and we not know! However I can point to Scripture:

    2 Cor 13:5 “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

    “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved” 2nd Thes 2:10

    For those who deny the work of Christ with free will and good works:

    “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about the establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” Romans 10-3

    “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel. Galatians 1:6

    “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” Galatians 1:8

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Roman 1:16

    BTW, Mark 1:15 “And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand, repent ye, and believe the gospel.

    The Greek work ‘metanoeu’ is translated repent and means to reconsider to think differently so it is a change of mind.

    Eileen~
    "To those who have no works-phobia, I will state that you are not trembling before the gospel" Robert R. Higby

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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    Quote Originally Posted by Sendou View Post
    I think it get it now.

    I understood that an elect person can FIRST preach nonsense, abandon a fake Christianity, not believe at all etc. and will certainly come to the truth later on their life if they are elect. But I would have said that a BACKSLIDER from the truth would have to be NON-elect. How is it possible for an elect person to backslide?


    I take it you are saying that it simply never happens, because those who preach the truth and later abandon it must have never truly believed in it? That's the point I missed in your first response - that speaking the truth doesn't mean you believe it.
    Hi Sendou, you're getting there! An elect person, if not regenerate, may depart from the truth, but that's because they never believed it. They may have held to a "form of godliness" and some other false message of false hope. But since they are elect, God in His providence will lead them to understand the truth from which they will never depart. Though unaware of it, the unregenerate elect individual is being prepared for Gospel knowledge that will everlastingly remain with him.

    A truly regenerate Gospel Believing person will not depart from the truth - EVER. It's an impossibility. Once the reality of Jesus Christ and His FREE and Sovereign Grace (not "free will" or any other form of self-meritorious righteousness) has been burned into the mind of the individual this knowledge will STICK. All knowledge (whether true or false) is imparted to the individual by The Holy Spirit. This applies for elect and non-elect. Even the non-elect and unregenerate believe what they do because that is exactly what God WANTS them to believe. The elect and regenerate individual will not depart from the truth because it's quite clear from the testimony of scripture that this is what God desires for His people. And whatever God desires or wants is exactly what He will get!


    Concerning the topic of "backsliding", I really HATE that terminology. This term, "backsliding", I really don't like to use as it's used by churches to keep their subjects in line. True Gospel believers will sin - and some will even commit very BAD sins. But it's not to be an indicator as to if that person is a believer or not. Knowledge of justifying righteousness is through FAITH ALONE - not WORKS. I know you didn't mention sin in your previous messages, but the connotation of the term "backsliding" is generally considered as such.

    Thanks for the discussion.
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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    Thankyou predestinarians. You have answered me patiently and thoroughly. I understand now.

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    Re: Perseverance of the Saints

    In its SUPERNATURAL consistency, the Bible says that "those that were with us and left, left exactly to show that they were not of us". If a person does not persevere in faith (speaking of obvious cases, above and beyond shadow of doubt within the Bible standards for "leaving"), this person was NEVER an elect anyway. This is taught by Paul and also John, specifically in 1 John 2:19.

    Also, the guarantor of said PERSEVERANCE, which I prefer to refer to as PRESERVATION, is CHRIST Himself. He says that "ALL those whom the Father has given me (THE ELECT), WILL COME TO ME (unconditionally), and those who come to me I WILL IN NO WISE CAST OUT". (parenthesis are mine).

    I prefer the term PRESERVATION because it implies a degree of "passiveness" on the part of the ELECT. We don't put an effort to PERSEVERE as the term is defined nowadays; it is not like we are saying "no matter what I will persevere". It is, in fact, Jesus saying I will preserve you, as if He is saying, It is my duty, which I intend to fulfill, to PRESERVE YOU; I have sent my Holy Spirit to make sure you are preserved.

    Paul calls the Holy Spirit our EARNEST, in Ephesians 1. Earnest is an interesting word that in ancient Greek, the language of the N.T. meant three things (all imply a certainty):
    1 - Guarantee of a safe delivery
    2 - The seal of Cesar (the royal mark which no one could violate)
    3 - A sign of ownership (as the branding of the cattle-we are forever His property!)

    So, Jesus PRESERVES His Elect by being the guarantor and by sending the Holy Spirit.

    Check it out!

    P.S.: I'd rather debate an atheist than the "know-it-alls" vaccinated against the true Gospel, or the people who label themselves Christians.
    Milt
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