Thursday, June 13, 2002

Posts are in reverse chronological order.

Can I Lose My Salvation?

Certainly we Calvinists say the answer is an emphatic no. We are so sure about it that it has earned its own letter in our defining acrostic:

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

It is, of course, perseverance of the saints I am referring to. It means that once you are saved, you are saved forever. Let’s look a some verses that support this.

Implied Perseverance

There are many verses that, through a little deduction, imply that we cannot lose our salvation. All those that promise eternal life for the saved are in this category:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:26, NASB)

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24, NASB)

This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life. (1 John 2:25, NASB)

The logic is straightforward: eternal life is, well, eternal. You cannot have eternal life for just a few years. Eternal life goes hand-in-hand with salvation; you cannot have one without the other. Ergo, salvation is once-and-for-all as well.

If you are a believer, you already possess eternal life; it is a promise, not a carrot used to keep you in line. That way of thinking leads to salvation by works.

Explicit Perseverance

Some verses just simply hit the nail on the head:

"What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying?
"If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. "So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.
(Matthew 18:12-14, NASB)

[Clarification as requested by the Joyful Christian
I take this to mean that the sheep are believers. None can really wander away from the flock forever. One might object that the "if" in "If it turns out that he finds it" as indicating that the return is not guaranteed. I think it just a way of expressing the point, because for human shepherds and actual sheep it is indeed true that some are lost forever. If this were the only verse that spoke of the fate of "backsliders", then I would not be convinced of perseverance of the saints. Taken with all other evidence, I take it to be quite corroborating.

If someone was saved, then Christ suffered on the cross for his sin. If that person loses his salvation, then Christ's suffering was in vain. May it never be! ]

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of 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. "I and the Father are one." (John 10: 27-30, NASB)

Christ will have all those whom have been effectually called. None will stray and be lost forever. We worship an awesome God.

And as if if that weren’t enough

We are also sealed by the Holy Spirit:

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Eph 4:30, NASB)

[Clarification as requested by the Joyful Christian
To me this verse says that when the Spirit indwells us, it is forever. I suggest that the word sealed implies permanence, but that is subject to interpretation. Again, it is a preponderance of verses that leads me to accept the doctrine of perseverance of the saints, not any single verse in isolation.]

Yeah but what about…

We all know about some guy who appeared to have been a genuine believer, then all of a sudden he quit coming to church. Later we learn that he became a transgendered devil-worshipping biker enviro-nazi NEA-supporter and was promptly elected to the California State Assembly (where he was often identified as a “moderate”). What to say to say about such a creature without being arrested for a hate crime? Well, the only possibilities are the two obvious ones: Either he never really was saved or he is still saved and will, in time, cease his backsliding and return to the fold.

They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.(1 John 2:19, NASB)

Secret Mission

Now that I snuck in the ‘P’ there are only four more letters until my work here is done.


I can think of nothing to say about praise vs. flattery (see this and follow the links). However, I do remember hearing a cutesy pair of definitions of flattery and gossip.

Gossip: What you say about someone behind his back that you will not say to his face.

Flattery: What you say about someone to his face that you will not say behind his back.

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