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Does A Literal Reading of John 3:16 Destroy Arminianism?

I was listening to an apologetic call-in program that happens to be hosted by a Calvinist.  I actually enjoy the podcast and appreciate his defense of the faith however he does often get sidetracked by Calvinism.  For example, in a recent broadcast he spent his time defending unconditional election and he spent his time seeking to prove that John 3:16 does not teach unlimited atonement.  I want to focus on the issue of John 3:16 for a moment here.

Young’s Literal Translation has John 3:16 like this:

for God did so love the world, that His Son — the only begotten — He gave, that every one who is believing in him may not perish, but may have life age-during.

This Calvinist took John 3:16 and he sought to prove that Jesus did in fact die only for the elect based on the literal reading.  His focus was on “every one who is believing in Him” and sought to show that those who believe are only the elect.

Let me point out several things about this.  First, the literal reading does not affect Arminianism in the least bit.  In fact, John 3:16 is still a powerful verse for Arminianism’s doctrine of unlimited limited atonement.  After all, Arminianism rejects universalism and we believe and teach that only those who place their saving faith in Jesus are truly saved (as do Calvinists).  In that case, John 3:16 in its literal reading does not add one thing nor take away one thing from the Arminian-Calvinist debate.

Secondly, we agree that every one who is believing in Him may not perish.  We believe that salvation is based completely on Christ Jesus and that only those who justified by faith and those who remain in faith in Christ Jesus are truly the elect of God.  Believing must continue from start to finish (1 Corinthians 15:3; Colossians 1:21-23).  Our salvation is secure if we are in Christ Jesus by faith (Jude 24-25).  The promise of God is to keep us as we abide in Christ (John 15:1-11; 2 Corinthians 1:24).  Thus believing is necessary for initial salvation and for continued salvation (Hebrews 3:6-19; 6:4-20; 10:19-39).  The blood of Jesus washes away our sins when we initially come to God in faith and repentance (Acts 2:37-38; 3:19; 16:30-34; 17:30-31; 22:16; Ephesians 1:7) but we must walk in the light as He is in the light (1 John 1:7).  This is continuing to trust Jesus by faith that He alone saves us by His grace.

Thirdly, if John 3:16 were the only passage we had for unlimited limited atonement, Arminianism would be in trouble.  Thankfully it is not.  We have a host of passages of Scripture that emphasize the love of God for all.  Consider just a few such as 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 1 John 2:1-2; 4:14.  The call of Acts 2:38-39 goes out to all.  While Calvinists acknowledge the general call to repentance, they deny that God will grant repentance to all who come to Him but only to His elect (John 6:37 – a passage I will deal with in another post).  Arminians point to 1 Timothy 4:10 which is clear that only the elect are those who come to Christ for salvation but this does not deny that He is the Savior of all people in the sense that He gave His life for all so that whosoever may come and be saved (John 3:14-18; Romans 10:13).

And finally, I found it interesting that in this dialogue, the Calvinist brother pointed to Colossians 2:14 as proof that Jesus died only for the elect.  He said that the elect’s sin were nailed to the cross.  I was wondering if the Calvinist believes that he was born sinless.  If Colossians 2:14 means that Jesus shed His blood to take away the sin’s of the elect then surely at the cross, at the moment Jesus died, He died to secure the elect’s salvation.  This is a point most Calvinists will accept.  Yet if this premise is true then why do Calvinists deny either A) eternal justification since God chose His elect before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) or B) that the elect are born sinless since Christ died for the elect’s sin already.  In other words, if Bill is part of the elect and he was born in 1977 then logically Christ died nearly 2000 years ago for Bill based on the Calvinist reading of Colossians 2:14.  Bill then was born sinless since, according to Calvinism, Bill cannot be punished for his sins twice (this would be double jeopardy).  The typical Calvinist response is that Bill’s sins were not forgiven until he was effectually drawn to Christ by the sovereign grace of God.  Yet what about Colossians 2:14?  If Christ died for Bill, Bill, in the mind of God, was chosen in Christ before time began (Eph. 1:4 again) and Bill was eternally justified before God because God, in His absolute sovereignty, knew that Bill would believe the gospel and be saved.  Bill never had any sins because God knew that Bill was elect even before time began and God gave His Son to die for Bill so that Bill could be legally justified before God.

I know that much of this is philosophical in nature but I hope you see my point.  The Arminian reply to all this is simple: Bill was saved when the Spirit of God opened his eyes through the preaching of the gospel (John 6:44) and by faith Bill was justified before God (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).  The entire work of salvation belongs to God alone (John 1:12-13) but God does not believe for Bill.  Bill must believe to be saved and this only happens because of the grace of God (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 notice the calling through the gospel and not by anything else in this text).  Bill’s salvation is based completely on Christ Jesus alone and he becomes the elect of God when he repents and believes the gospel.

The blood of Jesus is sufficient for all to be saved but only is appropriated to those who repent and believe the gospel (John 3:36).  A point I think we all agree on.  May we preach the blood of Jesus to all!

The Antinomianism of Eternal Security

I was browsing a popular Calvinist site and they stated the following about belief in personal apostasy (though they word it as “losing your salvation”):

If Jesus always does the what pleases the Father of the Father and the will of the Father is that Jesus lose none and that those who are given to Jesus will be raised (to glory), then how is it possible for Jesus to lose somebody by them losing their salvation?” This is a serious issue because there is a hidden danger in the issue of being able to lose one’s salvation. That danger is that you maintain it by keeping the law.

The writer of this post pointed to passages such as John 6:37, 39.  I know they would also point to many more passages that speak of the security we have in Christ.  However, I agree with Dr. Michael Brown here when he wrote in his book, Hyper-Gracewriting about the issue of eternal security:

“How then do we sort things out?  It’s really very simple.  God’s promises are to believers – to those who want to follow the Lord and whose lives belong to Him – not to rebels who have chosen sin and rejected His Lordship.”

Brown goes on to write,

“Find me one verse anywhere in the Bible – just one – that gives assurance of eternal life and blessing to an unrepentant rebel who is living in willful, persistent sin, denying the Lord in an ongoing, hardened way.”

I agree.  The Bible does not offer assurance of salvation to those who reject Christ and His Lordship over our lives.  There are no promises given to rebels.  The promises of God are given only to those who have a saving faith in Christ Jesus.  All of the promises about the security of our salvation are given to those who are already saved, already abiding in Christ.  But the warnings as well!  The many warning passages are given to the very same people who are trusting in Christ alone to save them.

Consider the John 6 passages that the above writer cites.  John 6:40 is key.  It reads:

For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

The Greek is emphatic here that the one believing is believing.  The one believing in Jesus has eternal life and the promise is that Jesus will raise them up on the last day.  But the passage states nothing about what should happen if the person does not believe.  Mark 16:16 is clear on this: the one who does not believe will be condemned.

1 John 2:24-25 calls our attention here as well:

24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.

Notice that the Calvinist above states that belief in apostasy is dangerous because, in their view, this will lead to keeping the law to keep oneself saved.  In other words, there is nothing we can do to keep ourselves saved.  We must have an antinomian view when it comes to “keeping saved.”  There is nothing we can do.

Is this what the Bible teaches?  I am not suggesting that there are “works” that we must do to keep ourselves saved.  Obviously works do not save us before faith in Christ and they do not after faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9; cf. John 6:29).  However, works do display our salvation (Ephesians 2:10).  James 2:14-17 is clear on this:

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

While works do not produce salvation, they do flow from salvation.  Salvation is not laziness.  Salvation is not resting in a past experience to get us to heaven (“I said the prayer” or “I was baptized”).  Salvation is not hope in concepts or in doctrines.  Salvation is faith in a person, the Lord Jesus Christ (John 15:1-11).  Our salvation is based on Him and Him alone.  We look to Him and He empowers us by His grace to serve Him as Lord.  Salvation is a radical transformation of the entire person (2 Corinthians 5:17).

How then do we “maintain” salvation?  By looking to Christ.  By keeping our faith in Him.  Paul preached to the disciples in Acts 14:22:

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.

Paul the Apostle wrote in 2 Corinthians 1:24 about saving faith and security:

Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith.

I love what Paul wrote in Philippians 2:12-16 (NKJV):

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

14 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.

Notice that it is God who works in us to produce good works (v. 13).  Yet there is a synergism to our sanctification.  None will debate this other than hyper-Calvinists.  God works in us but we too must obey God (John 14:15).

The book of Hebrews is full of warnings about remaining faithful to the Lord (Hebrews 2:1; 3:6-19; 4:1-16; 5:8-9; 6:4-20; 10:19-39; 11:13-16; 12:1-29).

I would believe that most Calvinists would agree with me (perhaps disagreeing over various warning passages) but the belief in eternal security as stated above would not produce a joy in resting in Jesus and being faithful to Him.

In conclusion, we Arminians preach that we are saved by faith in Christ (Romans 5:1) and we are kept through faith in Christ (1 Peter 1:5).  We make our calling and election sure by abiding in Christ (2 Peter 1:3-11).  Good works flow from being saved.  They do not produce nor keep us saved but are signs of salvation.  Jude warns us in Jude 20-21:

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

And if we do this we have the promise of Jude 24-25:

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

May we not turn the grace of our God in a license for sin (Jude 4) but let us keep our eyes on Jesus and lay aside all the weight of sin (Hebrews 12:1-2).

 

How Does One “Fall from Grace”? From Jack Cottrell

In Dr. Jack Cottrell’s systematic theology text, The Faith Once For All, he concludes that the Bible teaches conditional security of the believer rather than unconditional security of the believer.  His point is not only that we are justified through faith (Romans 5:1) but we remain justified by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ.  One then falls from grace when faith in the blood of Jesus dies.  Thus the call of the New Testament is to continue in the faith (Colossians 1:21-23), to keep our faith despite what we may face in this world (1 Peter 1:3-9), to keep our faith in Jesus until the very end (2 Peter 1:10-11) and to remain steadfast in Christ Jesus (Jude 21).  The promises of God regarding our assurance of our salvation are precious to the child of God and we must trust them (Romans 8:38-39) but to ignore the warning passages of Scripture in favor of “security” passages would pit Scripture against Scripture.  We should accept both as truthful.

Dr. Cottrell lists three ways in which we fall from grace.  I will cite them with limited comments.

1.  Faith may be put to death through an act of spiritual suicide (spiritual, not physical).  This happens by a deliberate decision to stop believing in Christ and His saving work, thus renouncing the Christian faith.  This seems to be the focus of the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 2:1-4; 3:6-19; 4:1-23; 5:8-9; 6:4-20; 10:19-39; 11:13-15; 12:1-29).

2.  A second way faith may die is through slow starvation (spiritual, not physical).  When we fail to add to our faith (2 Peter 1:5) and when we fail to abide in the teachings of the Christ (John 8:31-32) or fellowship of the saints (Acts 2:42), our faith can become weak and left alone, can die from starvation.  This would be the dead faith of James 2:26.  If we fail to extend our roots (Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21), we can fall away.

3.  The third way that faith may die is through strangulation by sin.  Romans 8:13 is clear that if we are controlled by our flesh, we will die.  We are not to abide in sin since we have been freed from it through faith in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:1-4).  We must guard against sin overtaking us again (2 Peter 2:20).  The grace of God has been given to us to help us overcome sin and not abide in it (Titus 2:11-12).  Sin only leads to death (James 1:12-15).

In conclusion, Dr. Cottrell believes that the promise of God is to keep us (1 Peter 1:5) but the disciple of Jesus must also make an effort through personal responsibility to remain faithful to the Lord.  I have met people who claimed to be “once saved, always saved” despite 1 John 2:3-6 being true of them.  Sadly, the Church often has erred on the issue of assurance by either teaching that a person is secure no matter what (unconditional) or they have erred in teaching that just one sin will cause you to “lose your salvation.”  Both are wrong.  We must be balanced biblically on this issue.

Short Thoughts on Apostasy

Someone asked, “Must one hold to apostasy to be an Arminian or can one hold to eternal security and be an Arminian?”

I have met both.  I personally reject the teaching of eternal security apart from a living faith in Christ.  I do believe that in eternity, we shall forever be sealed to our Master but for now, I hold that a person is saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and kept by faith (1 Peter 1:5).  I know the Calvinist will counter that the faith we have comes from God and thus He is able to keep us but none will deny that our faith is well our faith.  God doesn’t believe for me.  Certainly I agree that His grace enables me to believe and I am saved by His grace but this does not negate personal responsibility (a point that nearly all Calvinists agree with me on).  We are responsible to believe and through belief, we are saved but this faith is not a dead faith.  It is not a faith in facts about the gospel or faith in the writings of Arminius or Calvin.  Our faith must be a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (James 2:14-26).  The gospel produces works (Ephesians 2:10).

The problem is that there are many apostasy passages in the New Testament (not to mention the countless warnings in the Old).  We must do something with them.  In my estimation we have three options.  We can:

  1. Ignore the warning passages altogether.
  2. Make the warning passages not aimed at disciples of Jesus but either unsaved or “half-saved” (as I have seen taught on the warning passages in Hebrews).  Teach they are hypothetical and can never really happen to the truly saved.
  3. Accept the warning passages as real and deal with each of them as such.  This is my approach.

I have met Arminians who say that if you hold to “once saved, always saved” you are in grave error since you will no doubt teach that sin has no bearing on the life of a disciple.  These Arminians fear that eternal security will lead to cheap grace and antinomianism.

I have also met those who have told me that I am not saved because I reject eternal security.  They believe that such a view as mine leads to “works righteousness” since I teach that perseverance is necessary for final salvation.  I have met most of these guys on Twitter and they are relentless in tweeting over and over and over again that if you hold to apostasy, you are not saved.

Charles Spurgeon had written on the doorpost of his college, “Holding fast, I am held.”  That is my motto as well.  Where can I go?  Jesus is the one who gives life (John 6:68).  I cling to Him (John 8:51).  I long for Him (John 15:1-11).  I know I am held in Him by His grace (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:38-39). I look to Him alone to save me and keep me (Hebrews 12:1-2; Revelation 3:5).  I know I am hidden with Him (Colossians 3:3).  He is my life (Colossians 3:4).  I have no fear in Him (Romans 8:1).  I am confident in Him (Philippians 1:6).  But I do fear Him (Proverbs 1:7; Romans 11:20-22).  I do not want to abuse His grace (Titus 2:12; Hebrews 10:26-31).  I pray that I would be able to say with Paul the Apostle in 2 Timothy 4:7:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith.”

Why “Never Saved To Begin With” Doesn’t Always Work

We all have known someone who claimed to follow Christ for years.  Some of them were prayer warriors, evangelists, pastors and teachers, elders, leaders, examples to the flock, deeply committed to sound doctrine, etc; and yet they fell away.  Some of them went into cults while others fell into immorality and sin.  I have personally known many people who once were bedrocks for the gospel and today they are shells of what they use to be.  I have personally prayed with, evangelized with, and worshiped with people who today are not following Christ.  And it is possible that, according to Calvinism, you are one of those people.  It is possible that you could fall from grace and turn away from Jesus though this would prove, according to Calvinists, that you were never saved to begin with (1 John 2:19).  After all, it is possible that both you and I are people found in Matthew 7:21-23 or John 6:66.  We must not be prideful about this as Paul the Apostle points out in 1 Corinthians 10:12.

For the most part I think that “never saved to begin with” is just an easy answer to a hard question.  After all, I would admit that there have been many I have met and even discipled in the church whom I thought were not truly saved.  It is true that people can be false converts and never have repented of their sins.  Repentance is largely played down these days in the seeker sensitive church era that we are in.  Rather than preaching Matthew 3:8, we preach easy believeism and call people “saved” whom have never truly repented of their sins nor seen the need to repent (1 Timothy 1:8-11).  We have failed to call people’s attention (almost weekly in our sinful society) to 2 Corinthians 13:5 and asked people to make sure they are walking in the grace of God.  Hebrews 3:12-13 exhorts us all:

12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 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.

Hebrews 10:19-25 has three “let us” points that the writer wants to make.  Each of them are discipleship in nature.  Notice the text:

19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

The purpose of meeting together for the disciple of Jesus is not to listen to a sermon nor to sing songs.  It is to help us continue in our fight, to be encouraged by other disciples in this race.  We need other disciples to help us remain disciples of Christ because of this sinful world that we live in and walk in (1 John 1:7).

However, back to my point in this post.  I find that the old “never saved to begin with” is not a pat answer for every person who turns away from Christ.  It may sooth us but it doesn’t really answer the question.  Why is it that a person can be deeply committed to Christ outwardly (none of us but God alone can see their heart; 2 Timothy 2:19) and then embrace a life of sin to reject the gospel?  What happened to them?  Where did they begin to lose the battle against the flesh and the world (1 John 2:15-17)?  It is not a theologically issue since I have known both Arminians and Calvinists who have turned away from Christ.  I have known evangelical pastors who left their wives and children and churches for a woman.  I have known evangelical men who have embraced homosexuality.  I have witnessed women fall prey to ungodly men time after time after time.  And to simply say they were never saved to begin with is a pat answer but in my heart, I have watched these people and have seen them preach the gospel, seen them weep over the lost, seen them pray, seen them teach the Word, sat for hours with them and talked theology.

I believe that apostasy is very real.  I believe the warnings of Scripture are there to truly warn us not to forsake Christ for the flesh or this world or lies (Galatians 1:6-9; 6:7-9).  I believe the promise of God is seen in Romans 11:20-22 where we read:

20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

We need to stand before the disciples of Jesus and preach that He is faithful to His promises (Romans 8:38-39) but we likewise must continue in the faith (Acts 14:22-23; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; 2 Corinthians 1:24; 12:21-13:5; Galatians 5:1-4; Ephesians 3:17; Philippians 2:12-15; Colossians 1:21-23; 3:1-4; etc.).  As the writer of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 2:1-4:

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will.

Or as Jesus Himself said in Revelation 3:5-6 to the church in Sardis:

5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Jesus calls us to be His elect and also to be faithful to Him (Revelation 17:14).  Let us admit right now, no matter where you stand on the issue of eternal security, that salvation is found in Jesus alone (John 14:6).  All unbelievers will be cut off for their rebellion against a holy God (2 Thessalonians 1:8-12).  Salvation is found only in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:23) and to be outside of Jesus is to be lost (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Salvation is a work of God (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:8-9) that He wrought in our souls by faith in His Son (Titus 3:5-7).  Salvation is not accomplished by my power.  Jesus has done the work of salvation (Hebrews 10:10, 14) but we must abide in Him to be saved (John 15:1-11).  Let us agree on these issues.

I do pray often for those whom I have known who have turned away.  It does break my heart that so many have turned away from Christ.  Only God knows their hearts and can judge whether they were ever saved to begin with.  I do know that they must repent of their sins (Hebrews 10:19-39).  I do know that sin will destroy lives (James 1:12-15; 5:19-20).  I do know that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2) and we must repent to be reconciled back to the Father (Psalm 32:1-5; 1 John 1:9).  Repentance is not merely feeling sorry about our sins but turning from them toward Christ (Galatians 5:16-17).  If we are called of God, we must be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Holiness is not optional but is only accomplished by the grace of God working in us (Ephesians 2:10).  I do fear God (Proverbs 1:7) and I do hate my sins.  I do long to be just like Jesus Christ in every way.  I do long to follow Him completely and forever.  I do pray that He would continue to help me to hate sin and pursue Him with all my heart (Mark 12:29-31).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/06/2013 at 8:21 PM

The Despair of Unconditional Election

I know that my Calvinist brethren see the doctrine of unconditional election as a beautiful doctrine.  Some of them believe that we Arminians oppose the doctrine because we either A) believe in good works to save us (or at least we add to the work of Christ) or B) want some credit for our salvation instead of the glory being upon God.

In reality, I oppose the doctrine of unconditional election because I see it as repugnant to the grace of God that He has offered us freely in His Son.  I believe the doctrine does not measure up to the character of God as He has revealed in the BIble, mainly that He is loving, compassionate, merciful, and good.  When you compare the call of God for all to come and be saved (John 3:14-18; Acts 2:38-39; 1 Timothy 2:4) with the doctrine of unconditional election, one is left doubting the love of God since His love is only for the elect and the “good” He does for the non-elect (whom He reprobated) is not very loving and good at all.  In the words of Roger Olson, “It is the character of God that Calvinism presents that we Arminians have a problem with.”

The doctrine of unconditional election leads to despair.  How so?  Because one can never truly know that one is part of the elect.  It is possible that if you are saved right now (or at least think you are), it is possible that you are a false convert.  You do not have saving faith and are not part of the elect.  Your sins show that you are not part of the elect.  Your doubts show that you know that you are not part of the elect.  You, my friend, are a false convert and are not saved.  You will prove this in time (1 John 2:19).

The despair is then that God does not accept you in Christ.  You believe in Christ.  You seek to honor Christ.  But the reality is that God did not choose you before time begin and thus you are not part of the elect.  You think you are now but you are not.  You will “fall away” and prove you were never saved to begin with.

This is known in church history as the assurance controversy.  The controversy, ironically, only appears among Calvinists.  Arminians have assurance because we teach that if you abide in Christ through faith and remain true to Him in faith (John 15:1-11; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Colossians 1:21-23), one need not fear.  If you are in Christ, there is no condemnation against you (Romans 8:1).  All can come and have this salvation and this assurance before God (John 3:14-18; 5:24; 8:51; Acts 14:22-23; Romans 8:38-39; Galatians 3:26; 1 John 2:24-25).  Our assurance is based on continued faith in the Lord Jesus and not on our works nor our righteousness (1 Peter 1:5).

2 Peter 1:10-11 reminds us:

10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. 11 For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

How do we affirm the calling of God upon our lives?  How do we know we are part of the elect?  Because of Jesus.  Jesus is the focus of our election.  We are elect because of Him (Ephesians 1:4-5).  We are not elect because of our goodness or our power but because of the work of Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  Through faith in Jesus we are forgiven of our sins and become children of the living God (Acts 13:38-39; Colossians 1:13-14).  We are justified by grace through faith (Romans 5:1) and we are kept by grace through faith (2 Corinthians 1:24).

The cure then for doubt is to look to Jesus and what He has done (Hebrews 12:1-2).  The cure for sinning is to look to Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:13).  The cure for cleansing from our sins is the precious blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7).  The cure for salvation is to always look to Jesus alone to save us and keep us (Ephesians 3:17).

Paul the Apostle reminds us with strong words in Romans 11:20-22:

20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

Our salvation is dependent on faith in Jesus.  Our election, standing before God, righteousness, etc. all depends on Jesus.  Jesus alone is the one that we look to for salvation and for Him to keep us saved.  May He be the one that we adore, praise, worship, hunger for, and are zealous for (Revelation 17:14).  In this way, our election stands secure for God will choose us in His Son (1 Timothy 4:10).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

09/10/2013 at 10:12 AM

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