Calvinism: Perseverance Of The Saints

By Larry Ray Hafley

I. Introduction:

A. Statement and Definition of the Doctrine of “Eternal Security.”

1. “They whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called. and sanctified by His Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved” (Westminister Confession of Faith, Chapter 17).

2. “Or in other words we believe that those who once become true Christians cannot totally fall away and be lost, that while they may fall into sin temporarily, they will eventually return and be saved.

“This doctrine does not stand alone but is a necessary part of the Calvinistic system of theology. The doctrines of Election and Efficacious Grace logically imply the certain salvation of those who receive these blessings. If God has chosen men absolutely and unconditionally to eternal life, and if His Spirit effectively applies to them the benefits of redemption, the inescapable conclusion is that these persons shall be saved. And, historically, this doctrine has been held by all Calvinists, and denied by practically all Arminians” (Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination, p. 182).

3. “The saints in heaven are happier but no more secure than are true believers here in this world” (Ibid., p. 183).

B. Statements Relative to the Consequences of the Doctrine of Perseverance.

1. “We take the position that a Christian’s sins do not damn his soul. The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul . . . . All the prayers a man may pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the churches he may belong to, all the services he may attend, all the sermons he may practice, all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform will not make his soul one whit safer; and all the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger . . . . The way a man lives has nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul …. The way I live has nothing whatsoever to do with the salvation of my soul” (Sam Morris, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Stamford, Texas, in a tract entitled, “Do A Christian’s Sins Damn His Soul?”).

2. “. . . there is absolute safety and security for the Father’s child even while he is sinning” (Quoted by Robert L. Shank, Life In The Son, p. 133).

3. “Baptists teach that a child of God can do anything he wants and go to heaven anyhow” (Dr. Albert Garner, Baptist Editor, Former President of Baptist Seminary, Lakeland, Florida, Kelley-Garner Debate, p. 116).

4. In public debate with me, Wayne Camp, President of a Baptist Seminary, said a child of God who died guilty of lying, drunkenness, and adultery would be saved in heaven (May 1971, Peoria, Illinois).

C. Things that are not questioned by those who believe a child of God may fall from grace and be eternally lost.

1. God’s power. It is sure, reliable, but we are “kept by the power of God through faith” (1 Pet. 1:5). One’s faith may fail (1 Tim. 1:5, 6; 1: 19; 4: 1; 5:8, 12; 6:2 1; 2 Tim. 2:18; Lk. 22:32).

2. God’s faithfulness. He is faithful. (1 Cor. 1:9; 2 Tim. 1: 12), but are we (2 Tim. 2:12, 13; Rev. 2:10; Jas. 1:12)?

3. God’s love. His love will not die (Rom. 8:38, 39), but we must “keep” ourselves “in the love of God” (Jude 21). We do this through obedience (Jn. 15:9; 10; 1 Jn. 2:3-5; 5:3; 2 Jn. 6).

II. Discussion:

A. Scriptures used by Calvinists to prove the Doctrine of Perseverance.

1. John 5:24 – “shall not come into condemnation. “

a. Note conditions. It is those who hear and follow who “shall not come into condemnation.” No one denies this.

b. But the issue is over one who:

(1) Ceases to hear (2 Tim. 4:3, 4).

(2) Ceases to believe (Heb. 3:12; Psa. 106:12, 24).

c. “Brethren” can “fall into condemnation” (Jas. 5:12).

d. Brethren can pass from life to death (Rom. 8:12, 13).

2. John 10:27-29 – “shall never perish.”

a. True, those who hear and follow “shall never perish.”

b. But one may:

(1) Cease to hear (2 Tim. 4:3, 4; Prov. 28:9).

(2) Cease to follow (Jn. 6:66).

c. Compare John 3:36 – an unbeliever “shall not see life.” John 10:27, a believer shall “never perish.” If “shall never perish” means a believer cannot become an unbeliever and perish, does “shall not see life” mean an unbeliever cannot become a believer and see life?

3. John 6:37 – “(he) that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out.”

a. True of one who comes to Christ, but what if he ceases to come?

b. In addition, one must believe when he comes (Heb. 11:6), but one may cease to believe (Heb. 3:12).

c. Jesus will “cast forth” and “spue out” some (Jn. 15:6; Rev. 3:16).

B. Philosophical Arguments used to Prove the Doctrine of Perseverance.

1. A child cannot be “unborn.” You are always your Father’s child, so we remain children of God. We can never be “unborn.”

a. Physically, one cannot be “unborn,” but our lives in the flesh are independent of our parents; they die, we live.

b. Spiritually, our life “is in his Son” (1 Jn. 5: 11); apart from Him, we can have no life (Jn. 15:6; 1 Jn. 2:24).

c. God will deny and disinherit those who deny and desert Him (Num. 14:12; 2 Tim. 2:12; Matt. 25:1, 12).

d. Can a child of the devil be “unborn”? Does one always remain a child of the devil? Calvinist says he is born a child of the devil. Can he be “unborn”?

2. If one is lost, he was never truly saved. He was a “professor,” not a “possessor” of eternal life.

a. Jude 5 – were they only professors of deliverance from Egypt?

b. If one is saved, was he never lost? He was just a professor of damnation, not a possessor!

c. This argument is assumed; it is never stated in Scripture, in cases and illustrations of apostasy, that one was never genuinely what he professed to be (Matt. 25:14, 30 – still a servant).

3. The sins of the flesh do not affect the soul. This is philosophy behind Sam Morris’ statement quoted in introduction.

a. “My soul sin? No. Has Brother Bogard ever sinned? In my soul I do not. I am as perfect as God himself so far as my soul is concerned. Then what about my body? It does sin” (Hardeman-Bogard Debate, pp. 309, 3 10). Outer man sins. Inner man does not sin; body is not redeemed (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19, 20).

b. One verse destroys this contention -“abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11; cf. 2 Cor. 5:10).

c. Consider 2 Corinthians 7:1 and 1 John 3:3. How could one who takes this position obey these texts?

d. Consider problems of inner man and outer man in view of Hebrews 12.

(1) Outer man is not chastened because it is not redeemed.

(2) Inner man is not chastened because it does not sin.

(3) Therefore, no chastening is done. Hence, all are bastards, not sons.

(4) Yet, outer man is baptized into their churches!

C. Scriptures Which Teach That A Child of God May Fall From Grace and Be Lost.

1. Luke 12:42-43.

a. Verse 42 – the question – “Who is faithful?”

b. Verse 43 – the answer – the one doing as instructed.

c. Verse 44 – the reward – he will make him ruler.

d. Verse 45 – the danger – reliance on Lord’s delay, so, sin.

e. Verse 46 – the penalty – appoint portion with unbelievers.

2. John 15:1-6.

a. Vine is Christ. Branches are saved ones in Christ.

b. Abiding in Christ (Vine) is necessary. Life is there (1 Jn. 5:11).

c. Branch could not wither if it had no real life. Burned equals lost.

3. Romans 8:12, 13.

a. Death is spiritual, for all die physically whether they live after flesh or not.

b. He is addressing “brethren” who are debtors not to live after the flesh. Aliens are not such debtors.

4. Galatians 5:1-4.

a. These are saved people

(1) Called into grace of Christ (Gal. 1:6).

(2) Children of God by faith, having been “baptized into Christ” (Gal. 3:26, 27).

(3) Had been made free (Gal. 5:1).

(4) Christ could not “become of no effect” unto them if he had not been of some effect.

b. What is the condition of one who is severed from Christ and “fallen from grace”?

5. Hebrews 10:26-29.

a. These were “sanctified” by the blood (v. 29).

b, There was a “sorer punishment,” worse than physical death. Does this describe salvation or damnation?

6. 2 Peter 2:20-22.

a. They had escaped through knowledge of Christ (cf. Jn. 17:3).

b. They were “again entangled.” They could not be “again entangled” if they had never been disentangled.

c. But not only were they entangled, they were “overcome.”

d. Why would it have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness if they were going to be saved?

III. Conclusion

A. Apostasy is a real threat. Warnings in the Bible are not to be taken simply as spurs to do good unto those who will be saved because of an unalterable divine decree (1 Cor. 10: 1- 12; Heb 3:1, 12).

B . Be not deceived into thinking:

1. That your response has no part in determining your security (Jn. 8:51; Col. 1:21-23; Rev. 2:10; Jas. 1:12).

2. That we are denying God’s word, power, and love by setting forth the truth on this proposition.

Guardian of Truth XXVII: 18, pp. 552-554
September 15, 1983