Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘OSAS

The Conditional Texts

There are over 85 New Testament passages that speak of conditional security of the believer.  The Church has struggled with what to do with them.  There are basically three approaches.  First, we make them all be only speculative.  They are not real.  They are just there to hypothetically warn us.  The second approach is to say that they speak to those who are not true disciples of Jesus.  These are false converts and the Lord is giving these warning texts to warn false disciples.  The final approach is to hold that the apostasy texts speak of very real warnings to disciples.  Disciples are to remain faithful to Christ Jesus from the beginning to end.

I hold to the final view.  Most Arminians do.  If you heard a sound Arminian preach the warning texts, they would sound very much like Calvinists do who hold to perseverance of the saints but we would differ with the Calvinists over whether apostasy is true or not.  Calvinists such as John MacArthur hold that true saints will persevere to the end but he believes that false converts will be shown by leaving the faith (1 John 2:19).  This is a popular view and I admit that I have more in line with this view then with the view of radical “once saved, always saved” teachers such as Charles Stanley or Tony Evans.  Ray Comfort, whom I greatly love, holds to MacArthur’s view.

The problem I have with this view (of perseverance of the saints) is twofold for me.  First, most Calvinists (and some Arminians who hold to eternal security) preach hard on the assurance of our salvation (Romans 8:16; Galatians 4:4-6) but they don’t preach as hard on the necessity of perseverance.  I fear that some do this wanting to promote assurance while failing to preach the full council of God.  The Scriptures are balanced in showing us that we are saved by faith and kept by faith (1 Peter 1:5), that we are secure in Christ Jesus (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:38-39) but we must remain in Christ (1 John 2:24-25; Jude 21).  The balance view of Scripture is that God saves us and He keeps us (Jude 24) but He also warns us to continue in the faith (Romans 11:20-22; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Colossians 1:21-23; 2 Peter 1:10-11).

The second problem I have with the view above of MacArthur or Comfort is that it doesn’t truly promote assurance.  A person would wonder each time they sin whether they are not elect or not.  After all, as MacArthur preaches, the true elect will persevere and those who fail to persevere were never saved to begin with.  How can one have assurance then apart from preaching necessary perseverance?  Surely we should preach as Paul the Apostle did in Acts 14:22?  The promise of Jesus in John 8:51 is that if we keep His Word, we will never see death.  We will die naturally in this world (Romans 5:12) but we will never die for eternity if we keep His Word (John 3:16-17).

The truth is that the conditional texts do not scare me.  They do not make me feel less saved.  They do not make me believe that i am working to keep myself saved.  In fact, just the opposite happens to me.  I thank God for the conditional texts.  I am thankful that God cares enough about my soul to warn me to continue in the faith.  I am thankful that God’s Word warns against sin (Galatians 6:7-9) and His Word calls me to forsake my sins while trusting in Christ and His grace to help me overcome sin (Titus 2:11-12; 1 John 2:1-2; 3:4-10).  I am thankful for the work of the Lord Jesus in saving me from sins by His grace and through faith in His blood (Romans 3:23-24).  Yet I equally fear Him just as He said (Luke 12:4-5).  I humble myself before the Lord Jesus and confess that I not only need Him for my salvation but I need Him for holiness as well (Luke 14:11).  Jesus alone is my salvation and I will never cease to need Him (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

My advice is this: preach both the security and assurance we have in Jesus and preach the warning texts as well.  Preach the balanced view of Scripture.  Charles Spurgeon had written over his Pastor’s College: “Holding fast I am held.”  That should be our motto as well.  Jesus is our salvation.  We are not saved by faith in an ism but through faith in the living Person of the Lord Jesus (Romans 10:9-10).  Our salvation is not based on what I do but upon His works (Titus 3:5-7).  I am not striving to enter the kingdom by my works but His work (John 6:29).  I hold fast to Him.  I cling to Him.  I love Him above all others (Luke 14:25-27) and I pray to remain steadfast in faith in Him (Colossians 2:6-10).  I pray that nothing captivates me like Jesus (1 John 2:15-17).

The Circular Reasoning of Unconditional Eternal Security

Unconditional eternal security is not a point that I get on much.  After all, I believe in conditional eternal security in that I believe that if we are abiding in Christ (John 15:1-11) then we have no fear (1 John 4:18).  We fear God (Proverbs 1:7) and abide in Christ alone for salvation (Romans 11:20-22).  I don’t live with a fear that I am going to “lose my salvation” since Christ is my salvation and He prays for me (Hebrews 7:25).

That said, I do reject unconditional eternal security.  This is the teaching that a person is “once saved, always saved.”  It comes across in various ways.  Some Calvinists teach that a person must persevere in the faith or they are not a true disciple.  While I have more sympathy for this view and can tolerate this view, I believe that such a view will lead to a lack of assurance in salvation.  Ironically, Calvinists in the 17th century had a great debate over the doctrine of assurance as some Calvinists (particularly hypers) felt that a person can never have assurance of salvation in this life because of unconditional election.  Arminianism has always held that a person can have the assurance that we are saved if we abide in Christ Jesus through faith (2 Corinthians 1:24).  1 Peter 1:5 is clear that we are guarded through faith.  2 Peter 1:10-11 teaches us to make our calling and election sure by abiding in Christ.

Others (such as some Baptists) teach that a person is eternally secure or “once saved, always saved.”  The idea is that God promised salvation to those who believe and He will never take that promise back.  They point to passages such as John 3:16 or John 5:24 or John 6:39 or John 10:27-29 or Romans 8:38-39 and they rejoice in the security of the Lord.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God, they say, and so we need not fear that we will be cut off.  Further, what father would reject his children?  Earthly fathers love even their rebellious children and they remain children no matter what they do.  This teaching is meant to bring security in our salvation, a joy from knowing that God loves us and will never cast us away, but we should still repent of our sins (1 John 1:9) lest we lose fellowship with God (Isaiah 59:2).  Sinning can never lead to apostasy but can lead to losing rewards (1 Corinthians 3:15) and to loss of fellowship but we never lose the gift of eternal life.

In both cases above, sin no longer matters.  This is a fundamental point.  The question is what happens to disciples who sin?  Does sin effect our relationship with God?  Does God not see our sins after we are in Christ?

First, it is clear in Scripture that God’s people are to be a people of holiness.  Jesus set the standard in Matthew 5:48.  We are to be a people of holiness and righteousness (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Hebrews 12:14 tells us that we are to pursue peace with all men (Matthew 18:35) and holiness without which no one will see the Lord.  2 Corinthians 7:1 is clear that God has given us promises to obtain holiness.  We are to forsake sin (John 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:34; 2 Corinthians 12:21-13:5).  Romans 6:11-23 establishes why the disciple should forsake sin.  The very nature of repentance is turning away from sin and turning to God (Matthew 3:8; Acts 3:19).

Secondly, 1 John 1:9 makes no sense if in fact sin does not have any bearing on the disciple.  Why must we confess our sins if in fact sin doesn’t really do anything to the disciple?  I can hear the OSAS advocate saying, “Yes sin does effect us by breaking fellowship with God according to Isaiah 59:2.”  But the point is that sin doesn’t effect me eternally.  In fact, I could indulge in sin the rest of my life if OSAS is true and the only consequence would be lack of fellowship with God and possibly a loss of rewards but when it comes to sinning, I get to indulge in the flesh (in a worldly view) while obtaining heaven when I die.  Yet Galatians 6:7-9 is clear on this issue:

7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. 9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Romans 6:23 is also clear that the wages of sin is not a loss of fellowship or rewards but leads to death.  James 1:12-15 is equally clear on this issue:

12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

Sin brings forth death.  What kind of death?  Some will even say that God will kill you before allowing you to continue in sin and rebellion.  In other words, God takes you home to heaven quicker if you sin.  What?

In reality, we are to forsake sin and pursue holiness.  Jesus sets His people free from sin (Matthew 1:21; John 8:34-36).  Jesus is able to deliver us from all sin (1 Corinthians 10:13).  1 John 2:1-2 tells us that God does not want us to sin but if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father who gave His life for our sins (Galatians 1:4).

Lastly, does God not see our sins?  Those who embrace OSAS often teach that God no longer sees our sins but He only sees the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.  Many Calvinists teach that both the passive and active righteousness of Christ is imputed to us.  In other words, all of Christ is imputed to us.  Therefore, God sees only Christ when He looks at us.  God sees both the sinlessness of Christ and His active obedience (His perfect obedience to the Father) when he looks at a disciple.  Is this true?

I don’t doubt that God imputes righteousness to us.  I disagree that the active righteousness of Christ is imputed to us.  There is nothing in the New Testament to suggest such a teaching.  We are called to follow Christ’s example (1 Peter 2:21-24) but this is not the same as having Christ’s active righteousness imputed to me.  I must obey God and follow the example of Jesus’ obedience (Hebrews 5:8-9).

In Revelation 2-3 Jesus saw the sins of His people.  Jesus was not blind to their sins.  The disciples in Revelation 2-3 could not use “I am hidden in Christ” to ignore their sins.  Jesus rebukes them and calls them to repentance (Revelation 2:5).  Most of the New Testament letters were written to correct theology and even to rebuke people for sinning (2 Corinthians 7:10).

Hebrews is full of warnings to disciples.  I would urge you to sit down and read the book of Hebrews and note just how often the writer warns the saints and calls them to look to Christ.  He calls them to stay true to the Lord.  He calls them to forsake sinning.  He calls them to love the gospel.

Conclusion

Here is the bottom line for me: do you love Jesus more than sinning?  I do.  I hate sinning.  I love the Lord Jesus.  He is precious to me.  He is my life (Colossians 3:1-4).  I long to be sanctified through His Word (John 17:17) and I am thankful that in Christ, I am sanctified and being sanctified (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  The issue for me is not about how much sin can I get away with.  The issue for me is to draw closer to Jesus through faith.

I have found that those who want to know how much sin they can get away with or those who want to debate over the issue of eternal security are typically struggling with some sin and they just don’t want to let their sin go.  They want to continue in their sinning while claiming Christ and heaven.  They want the assurance of their salvation while living in sin.  There are no promises given of assurance of salvation for those abiding in sin.  In fact, we must look at 1 Corinthians 10:12.

The circular reasoning of unconditional eternal security is that a person is saved from the penalty of sin but not the power of sin and furthermore those who continue in sin lose nothing in the big scheme of things.  This only leads to antinomianism.  One cannot preach holiness to the people of God while turning around and telling people that they are unconditionally eternally secure no matter what sins they may commit.  This only leads to more sinning.

I don’t live in fear of “losing my salvation” since Christ is my salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  I didn’t find my salvation.  Jesus found me!  I am secure in Christ and I love Him and long for Him.  While I acknowledge that I could fall away, I rejoice that Christ is my passion.  Christ is my high priest and I seek Him earnestly.  While I am not blind to my sins, I am quick to repent of my sins when the Lord brings conviction of sin (John 16:8-11).

I pray that you readers are seeking God.  Don’t be deceived by the flesh.  Seek God earnestly.

For Those Who Believe in Eternal Security: Be Balanced With Your Teaching

I admit up front that I don’t hold to the doctrine of unconditional eternal security.  I do hold to conditional eternal security.  I believe that if we are in Christ and remain in Him by faith, we will never fail to have eternal life and never will be cast out from Him.  I believe this is the balance of Scripture.  On the one hand are many passages that speak to our security in Christ but the key point is in Christ.  There is no security apart from Christ.  This is why I believe  that the condition for salvation is always faith (John 6:29; Romans 4:5).  Faith in Christ is our security for it is Christ that saves us from the wrath of God (Romans 5:8-9).

That said, I know that some may still hold to eternal security.  After all, there are precious promises given to us as children of God about His keeping power (see John 10:27-29; Romans 8:37-39; Jude 24-25).  I love the promises that God has given in His Word to keep us.  I receive them, meditate on them, and love them.  I agree with you (those who hold to eternal security) that God’s Word is clear that He will keep us (Philippians 1:6).

But may I simply ask that you do me one favor and be balanced when you preach this doctrine.  Through many conversations I have had with people in evangelism, I believe one of the greatest threats to eternal salvation is the unbiblical notion that we are “once saved, always saved.”  This teaching has produced so many false converts.  I meet people on the streets who claim to be going to heaven because they once prayed a prayer or once were baptized.  They claim that they are forever a child of God because of their “salvation experience.”  These people are clearly Titus 1:16 or 1 John 2:3-6 yet they claim to be washed in the blood and bound for glory because someone once told them that they were “eternally secure.”

Now I know that some of my Calvinist friends preach that if the person does not persevere, they were never saved to begin with (1 John 2:19).  They point out that Jesus had false disciples such as Judas and others (John 6:60-71).  They point out that there are even false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).  There is another gospel that can be preached (Galatians 1:6-9) and those who follow that false gospel are not saved though they claim otherwise.  Jesus said that false disciples would be proven by their fruit (Matthew 7:15-20).  Only those who do the will of the Father are truly saved (Matthew 7:21-23).

Yet the problem becomes the issue of assurance.  How can I know that I am saved right now?  Can I be sure that I will be saved next year at this time?  Those who hold to unconditional eternal security will say “yes” to this.  Yet if that same person is not walking with Christ at this time next year, they were never saved to begin with because they failed to persevere.  So why not balance your teaching on eternal security by emphasizing that a person must continue in the faith (thus a condition is added)?  Just as Paul preached in Acts 14:22.  Just as Paul preached in Romans 11:20-22.  Just as Paul preached in 2 Corinthians 1:24.  Just as Paul preached in Colossians 1:21-23.  Just as Paul preached in Philippians 2:12-15.  Just as Paul preached in 2 Timothy 3:14.

The preaching then would look like this: you are saved in Christ and secure in Him provided you continue in the faith in Christ alone.  Don’t turn away from Christ for idols of this world (1 John 5:21), or sins of the flesh (1 John 2:15-17).  Don’t turn away from Christ for a false gospel that does not save (2 Corinthians 11:2-4).  Make sure you are in the faith always (2 Corinthians 12:21-13:5).  Obey Jesus as Lord (Luke 6:46-49; James 2:14-26).  Abide in Him (1 John 2:28) and don’t go on sinning (1 John 3:4-10).  Repent of your sins (Matthew 3:8) and stop sinning (John 5:14; 8:11; 1 Corinthians 15:34).  Love the gospel and worship your King (Hebrews 12:1-2).  Forgive your brothers and sisters (Matthew 18:21-35).  For we have His promises (2 Timothy 2:11-13):

11 The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him;
12 if we endure, we will also reign with him;
if we deny him, he also will deny us;
13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful—
for he cannot deny himself.

Praise God for His grace and His security but let us also cling to Him alone for His grace and His security.  Let us balance this teaching out a bit.

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.”

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