Perseverance or Preservation?

July 26, 2012

By Rev. Bill Harrell, Senior Pastor, Abilene Baptist Church, Martinez, Georgia. A native of Tifton, Georgia, Rev. Harrell came to Abilene in January of 1981. He is married to the former Carolyn Gibbs, also of Tifton. They have three daughters.

Recently, while in a discussion about the pervasive influence of Calvinism in our Southern Baptist Zion, I was surprised when I heard the term “preservation” when referring to the fifth point of that theological model. I had noticed that others also made this mistake and didn’t seem to notice the error. In a very subtle way, I brought the error to the writer’s attention, and he was most grateful for the fact that I had done so. Some might ask why get so picky about such a thing? Everyone knows what my friend was referring to and trying to say.

Not so quick. There is a world of difference between perseverance and preservation and we must not confuse the two. The core difference is that perseverance is a MAN work and preservation is a GOD gift. One is earthly and the other is heavenly. One is a work and the other is a gift. One man can do, and the other only God can perform.

If a person is a “dyed-in-the-wool” 5-point Calvinist, he cannot give a positive answer when asked if he knows whether he is saved or not. The simple fact of the matter is that his theological model does not afford him the assurance of salvation so he is clinging to perseverance and hoping that he is one of the elect. Someday they will know if they persevered to the point that they were acceptable to God, but in the meantime they cannot say for sure if they made the grade or not. So, they have to die to find out if they were saved. They cannot know for sure that they are a saved person. John says in 1 John 5:13, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God that ye many know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” Why would John say such a thing unless one can know for sure that they are a saved person? John is writing under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and from the perspective of assurance brought by God’s promise of preservation, and the Calvinist is speaking from the perspective of perseverance which man must accomplish himself.

Calvinist R.C. Sproul said this about his lack of assurance:

“A while back I had one of those moments of acute self-awareness…and suddenly the question hit me: ‘R.C., what if you are not one of the redeemed? What if your destiny is not heaven after all, but hell?’ Let me tell you that I was flooded in my body with a chill that went from my head to the bottom of my spine. I was terrified…began to take stock of my life, and looked at my performance. The more I looked at myself, the worse I felt. I thought, ‘Maybe it’s really true. Maybe I’m not saved after all’…Then I remembered John 6:68. Peter was also uncomfortable, but he realized that being uncomfortable with Jesus was better than any other option!” (R.C. Sproul, “Assurance of Salvation,” 20, Tabletalk, Ligionier Ministries, Inc., November 1989.)

I have two comments concerning this quote. First, there is no reason to be uncomfortable with Jesus where salvation is concerned. I would hate to think that my assurance was because I was willing to be uncomfortable with Jesus because that was my best option. Second, the citing of John 6:68 is weak. There is no way that Peter was addressing the same issue that Dr. Sproul was addressing. Here again we have a Calvinist trying to make Scripture fit the situation in order to try to make the Word fit their model.

The problem with perseverance is that it is relative. Who is to say when one has reached the point of proving their salvation and being acceptable to God? When is God satisfied? One might say that going to church, tithing their income and providing a good living for their family is enough. Another would say that living a good life, not using profanity, giving to missions, reading the Bible and showing mercy is what it will take to prove their salvation by perseverance. Even another might say that 40 years of perfect Sunday School attendance would prove they were a genuine Christian. The point is made that perseverance is relative. What suffices for one is not enough for another. That is because it is a man work and must satisfy a man’s point of view whatever that point of view might be.

When one is to persevere in any endeavor, it is meant that they will strive and work until they finish the job. It is a work viewpoint of proving salvation. That is why many Calvinists will say, “I am hoping” instead of “I know.” They live in the world of wondering when or if they have done enough to please God. At what point did they achieve that magic level of achievement which will assure them of eternal life with God? The problem is that perseverance is a MAN work and man cannot assure himself of heaven.

Preservation is something quite different. Man cannot preserve himself. It must be done by someone else and God is quite clear that He is the one who finishes the good work in us, not we ourselves, (Eph. 1:6). Those who give their lives to Jesus in simple faith and commit their lives to Him in repentance receive the promise given in Romans 10:9-10. He can have assurance of his salvation and know of his saving relationship to God because he trusts Jesus to do all that is needed to save him and he doesn’t have to do anything himself. Jesus provided all that was needed when he died on the cross and was resurrected for our justification. I rest in Him and not in my ability to prove anything much less that I am a genuine Christian.

My life of obedience is the best evidence of true salvation having taken place in me. The fruits of a life that is in a redemptive relationship with Jesus Christ is evidence of true salvation as Jesus tells us in John 15. But, those fruits are a byproduct produced in my life by the indwelling Holy Spirit and not fruits produced by me as I persevere to the end. Actually, these fruits become works if they are a part of my persevering. They are fruits when trusting Jesus and the validity of His promises are the foundation for my assurance of salvation. So, when Jesus’ promises prove my salvation as I trust in them, I will show evidence as fruits emerge from my life by His power. When He does it, it is fruits. When man strives to persevere is results in works.

This could go on and on, but the New Testament, and particularly the writings of Paul, are replete with the truth of what I am saying. Anyone with even a modicum of familiarity with Paul’s writings knows that assurance was one of the hallmarks of his faith in Christ. And they will also know that he rested in the unfailing promises of God concerning salvation. God produces the evidence when He has worked salvation in a person through their personal belief in and commitment to Jesus for salvation. Man produces works when he has something to prove and is hoping that he persevered enough to get into heaven when he dies.

To reiterate and summarize: Preservation is a God gift, (Eph. 4:30). Perseverance is a man work. That makes the salvation of one who is persevering a works salvation. One who is preserved is preserved by their saving relationship to Jesus Christ which is grounded upon His promises to us when we trust in Him.

 

 

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Jeremy Crowder

This is my biggest concern about Calvinism which is it leads people not to know whether they are ever truly saved. With Arminian thought certain people may shipwreck the faith or loose salvation those that aren’t OSAS Arminian like John Wesley held you could loose salvation. To me it is better to know your saved and worry about losing it than to not know whether your saved and think you can’t do anything to change your status. Then Tradtionalist thought is that you can both know your saved and not worry about losing it at the same time. That is why Traditionalists embrace Altar Calls and The Sinners Prayer (I’m a big supporter of both) because Traditionalists know that a time exists that a person knows that they are saved. That moment is often defined by saying a prayer whether it is a formula or something entirely unique to a person it’s a moment of confessing sin and turning it all over to Jesus Christ. That moment is when your life is entirely changed and your born again. It to me is terrible that people would say a system is scriptural that would leave doubt as to salvation. Everyone should know that they know that they are saved.

Johnnie Harrison

Just so the reformed teaching of the perseverance of the saints is not mis-represented I thought I should post this.

THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS (1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith)

1.THE saints are those whom God has accepted in Christ the Beloved, and effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit.? To them He has given the precious faith that pertains to all His elect. The persons to whom such blessings have been imparted can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they shall certainly persevere in grace to the end and be eternally saved, for God will never repent of having called them and made gifts to them.? Consequently He continues to beget and to nourish in them faith, repentance,love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit that issue in immortality.? Many storms and floods may arise and beat upon them, yet they can never be moved from the foundation and rock on which by faith they are firmly established.? Even if unbelief and Satan’s temptations cause them for a time to lose the sight and comfort of the light and love of God, yet the unchanging God remains their God, and He will certainly keep and save them by His power until they come to the enjoyment of their purchased possession; for they are engraven on the palms of His hands, and their names have been written in the book of life from all eternity. Ps. 89:31,32; Mal. 3:6; John 10:28,29; 1 Cor. 11:32; Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 2:19; 1 John 2:19.

2.It is on no free will of their own that the saints’ perseverance depends, but on the immutability of the decree of election, which in its turn depends upon the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, the efficacious merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and the saints’ union with Him, the oath of God, the abiding character of the Spirit’s indwelling of the saints, the divine nature of which they are partakers and, lastly, the terms of the covenant of grace.? All these factors guarantee the certainty and infallibility of the saints’ perseverance. Jer. 32:40; John 14:19; Rom. 5:9,10; 8:30; 9:11,16; Heb. 6:17,18; 1 John 3:9.

3.In various ways-the temptations of Satan and of the world, the striving of indwelling sin to get the upper hand, the neglect of the means appointed for their preservation-saints may fall into fearful sins, and may even continue in them for a time.? In this way they incur God’s displeasure, grieve His Holy Spirit, do injury to their graces, diminish their comforts, experience hardness of heart and accusations of conscience, hurt and scandalize others, and bring God’s chastisements on themselves.? Yet being saints their repentance will be renewed, and through faith they will be preserved in Christ Jesus to the end. 2 Sam. 12:14; Ps. 32:3,4; 51:10,12; Isa. 64:5,9; Matt. 26:70,72,74; Luke 22:32,61,62; Eph. 4:30.

It looks to me that the reformed teaching of perseverance is a gift of God. It also leads me to believe that Rev. Bill Harrell either is ignorant of what reformed folks believe or he doesn’t care to accurately represent them. If the first then I suggest you study and know your opponents position so that you can accurately represent them the way they represent themselves and not write about something you don’t have any knowledge of. If the latter then you should consider being truthful so that people who go deeper than surface level in their study will listen to you in the future.

    Johnnie Harrison

    To add to my statement above, every reformed pastor I have ever talked to or heard talk about perseverance of the saints, does so with an emphasis on looking to the finished work of Christ on our behalf. Any person who struggles with assurance of their salvation, and it’s not just reformed folk who struggle, has been told to look to Christ’s perfect obedience and righteous life that has been imputed to them. Also, they have been told to look to Christ’s death on the cross in our place. This is all I have heard from reformed pastors. They have told me don’t look to yourself for your assurance because there is nothing but sin, struggle and second guessing within you. Instead they told me to set my eyes on Christ who was perfect for me and took my place on the cross. This is what reformed folk teach. Very different from what Rev. Bill Harrell has portrayed in his article. Please look into these things and find out for yourself. It’s not enough to just take one man or even a group o mens word for it. Do the hard work yourself. I promise you won’t be dissapointed.

      Dean

      Johnnie, if you fail to recognize that Calvinism has never settled on how to identify who the elect are even in the church then you have not done the hard work yourself. Make no mistake as a pastor I have dealt with many who have doubted their salvation. However, through the centuries Calvinist speakers and writers have wondered out loud how can one be assured they are the chosen. R C Sproul in his book Assurance of Salvation on page 20 describes how he questions if he is one of the redeemed. John Piper in a paper entitles John Piper and his Staff, Tulip, What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism states on page 25 our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith. How obeident must we be in order to have salvation? (my question) I could list such quotes all day long from my reading.
      I will accept as a traditionalist we struggle with childhood conversions. You should do the hard work yourself and accept that Calvinist have through the centuries struggled with identifying the redeemed.

        Lydia

        Let us acknowledge that the system Calvin developed was in no position to know who the “elect” were since it was a state church and you had to attend or get a visit from the magistrates.

        Luther was a bit more honest when he said he dreamed of a “believers” church.

        I think many forget how much coming from a state religion colors much of Calvinistic doctrine.

          Dean

          Lydia, I should have said redeemed instead of elect in the opening sentence of my statement. They do not know the elect in soul winning. No one can argue there is a problem there. However Calvinist have struggled in how a person may identify themselves as the redeemed and be sure. I thought from my readings that Calvinist believe a person is born again completely by the work of Christ apart from them in anyway. The ones that Christ died for, the elect, will persevere until the end. One cannot be certain they are the redeemed until they reach the end. I have given an elementary statement but I have read such over and over again from reformed writers.

            Lydia

            “I have given an elementary statement but I have read such over and over again from reformed writers.”

            And you will hear it in sermons but you have to listen closely. One astonishing instance was hearing Matt Chandler say he preaches to a depraved congregation. His church is filled with unbelievers?

      R. Smith

      In relation to your comment:
      “Any person who struggles with assurance of their salvation, and it’s not just reformed folk who struggle, has been told to look to Christ’s perfect obedience and righteous life that has been imputed to them. Also, they have been told to look to Christ’s death on the cross in our place”

      This old hymn on assurance is hard to find. I ran across this hymn in my reading. I love it!

      Can sing to “Oh, Could I speak the matchless worth” The Tune and words are here:
      musescore.com/user/23708/scores/40313

      I did find this interesting thing though: It shows when the hymn was in hymn books.
      Timeline http://www.hymnary.org/text/from_whence_this_fear_and_unbelief
      1792 – 22% of hymnals
      1810 25%
      1850 11%
      1880 05%
      None since then.

      Take a look at the chart. It wouldn’t transfer. It does show some sheet music though.

      “From whence this fear and unbelief”
      by Augustus Toplady 1740 – 1778

      “From whence this fear and unbelief,”
      Since God my Father, put to grief
      His spotless Son for me?
      Can he, the righteous judge of men,
      Condemn me for that debt of sin,
      Which, Lord, was charged on Thee?”

      “Complete atonement Thou hast made,
      And to the utmost farthing paid,
      Whate’er Thy people owed;
      How, then, can wrath on me take place,
      If sheltered in Thy righteousness,
      And sprinkled with Thy blood.”

      .

      “If Thou hast my discharge procured,
      And freely in my place endured
      The whole of wrath divine,
      Payment God will not twice demand,
      First at my bleeding Surety’s hand,
      And then again at mine.”

      .

      “Turn, then, my soul, unto thy rest:
      The merits of thy Great High Priest
      Speak peace and liberty:
      Trust in His efficacious blood,
      Nor fear thy banishment from God,
      Since Jesus died for thee.”

    Debbie Kaufman

    Exactly Johnnie.

Kyle Thomas

Bro. Bill,

I doubt most Southern Baptists would make such a strong distinction between perseverance and preservation, but would affirm them both as two sides to the same coin.

Much like Criswell:

“A mark of our regeneration is our perseverance. The perseverance of the saints is a sign of God’s love and preservation of us. God’s people do not fall away. And the sign that they are God’s is that they remain. They persevere.”

“Because of the original purpose and continuous operation of God, we believe that all who are united to Christ by faith will continue in a state of grace, and finally attain to the everlasting life in Heaven. Those whom God has saved are saved forever. They will not fall away. They will persevere. That is the doctrine.”

“The same Lord God that elected us is the same Lord God who is keeping us. And no one who is kept by the Lord is ever, ever going to stumble and fall away, much less fall into Hell. This is a special relationship that God has made between Himself and us who are looking in faith to Him. God does something to see us through.”

“It is wonderful to hold God’s hand. But it is far more wonderful for God to hold our hand.”

    Alan Davis

    I agree with Criswell. I did like most of this article though, but I have never had a problem with assurance and I am certainly not a trad. So I do not get where the author is coming from on saying that Calvinists do not have full assurance. It seems to me the Baptist churches here where i pastor have some of the same people getting “saved” again every year and they are certainly not Calivinsts churches. But like i said I am a spurgeonist and I do not have a problem with assurance of my salvation so I am not understanding that part.

Tim Rogers

Johnnie,

Brother Bill stated

If a person is a “dyed-in-the-wool” 5-point Calvinist, he cannot give a positive answer when asked if he knows whether he is saved or not. The simple fact of the matter is that his theological model does not afford him the assurance of salvation so he is clinging to perseverance and hoping that he is one of the elect. Then he quoted RC Sproul from an edition of TableTalk where Sproul contemplates on a question he has asked himself concerning whether or not he is one of the elect.

I was terrified…began to take stock of my life, and looked at my performance. The more I looked at myself, the worse I felt. I thought, ‘Maybe it’s really true. Maybe I’m not saved after all’…Then I remembered John 6:68. Peter was also uncomfortable, but he realized that being uncomfortable with Jesus was better than any other option!”

While the 1689 London Confession articulates how the Calvinist Baptists of London define “Perseverance of the Saints”, Brother Bill has taken a thought from a Reformed leader and expounded on the truth of that doctrine. I know neither Brother Bill nor myself will ever convince you or anyone else the differences of Perseverance and Preservation concerning this doctrine, so I will not try. But before you begin accusing a pastor, who devoted more than 50 years of his life into pastoral ministry where he studied day-in and day-out the Scriptures, of not doing “the hard work” you may want to consider the thesis of his post. The thesis is that 5 point Calvinists cannot know they are saved until after they die.

You even try to assure us of the things that Calvinists struggle with. However you state;

This is all I have heard from reformed pastors. They have told me don’t look to yourself for your assurance because there is nothing but sin, struggle and second guessing within you. Instead they told me to set my eyes on Christ who was perfect for me and took my place on the cross. This is what reformed folk teach.

You have described for us Universalism. If someone struggles with their soul’s eternal assurance and they just look to Christ and say because of His vicarious death on the cross I am saved, then that is universalism.

    Les Prouty

    Tim Rogers,

    “Universalism? One definition of universalism I have seen is “Christian Universalism” is the position that all of mankind will ultimately be saved through Jesus whether or not faith is professed in him in this life.”

    You said, “If someone struggles with their soul’s eternal assurance and they just look to Christ and say because of His vicarious death on the cross I am saved, then that is universalism.”

    Can you explain what you said a little further how that is universalism?

    Thanks

      abclay

      Yes….it seems to me that there is a verse….. yeah, I remember now….

      “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son so that everyone who BELIEVES in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

      Isn’t having the ability to “look to Christ and say because of His vicarious death on the cross I am saved BELIEVING?????

      Okay…If the Trad’s assertion is true of a Secret Calvinist Plot to take over the convention, I’m ready for the Calvinists to take over already!!!! This nitpicking is getting old and distracting from our real work of preaching the Gospel to the lost and dying.

      Not The Original Les

      And I’m still looking for Tim Rogers to show back here and tell us what he meant. I mean it not like he hasn’t been absent on this site this afternoon. But not back here. Tim?

Johnnie Harrison

“You have described for us Universalism. If someone struggles with their soul’s eternal assurance and they just look to Christ and say because of His vicarious death on the cross I am saved, then that is universalism.”

I wasn’t talking about just anyone. I was talking about those who have made a profession of faith and repented and are still to this today professing faith and still to this day practicing repentance. Christians. I was saying that in response to Rev. Bill Harrell’s own writing.

“He can have assurance of his salvation and know of his saving relationship to God because he trusts Jesus to do all that is needed to save him and he doesn’t have to do anything himself. Jesus provided all that was needed when he died on the cross and was resurrected for our justification. I rest in Him and not in my ability to prove anything much less that I am a genuine Christian.”

He is saying that Calvinists don’t teach that or that Calvinist’s don’t practice that same thing because their doctrince leads away from that. He is mistaken. I’m sorry my statement wasn’t clear to you.

    Johnnie Harrison

    Also Tim, it’s not accusing if i’m simply pointing out that Rev. Bill Harrell’s premise is wrong.

Les Prouty

“If a person is a “dyed-in-the-wool” 5-point Calvinist, he cannot give a positive answer when asked if he knows whether he is saved or not.”

There have been numerous statements on SBC Today which have misrepresented what Calvinists believe and practice. This one by Bill may be the granddaddy of them all.

All it takes is one “dyed in the wool” 5-point Calvinist to “give a positive answer when asked if he knows whether he is saved or not” to disprove his broad, sweeping generalization. I’ll be the first to step up and disprove it.

I know I am saved!

In addition, such a complete misunderstanding of the doctrine. Here is a Calvinist stating the doctrine:

“Perseverance may be defined as that continuous operation of the Holy Spirit in the believer, by which the work of divine grace that is begun in the heart is continued and brought to competition. It is because God never forsakes His work that believers continue to stand to the very end.”
Louis Berkhof from Systematic Theology (pg. 546)

Signed, Les…saved and I know it!

    Norm Miller

    Les: You cited a Calvinist regarding perseverance. Pastor Bill cited another. This indicates that Calvinists do not agree on a major point of their own theological system. Don’t shoot the messenger for citing one of your own. — Norm

      Les Prouty

      Norm,

      First I cited Bill…”“If a person is a “dyed-in-the-wool” 5-point Calvinist, he cannot give a positive answer when asked if he knows whether he is saved or not.”

      Bill cited a Calvinist as a basis for his own statement (I just quoted above).

      I only sought to disprove Bill’s assertion. It was far too easily done. Maybe he should have said, ““If a person is a “dyed-in-the-wool” 5-point Calvinist, he [may be like RC Sproul and] cannot give a positive answer when asked if he knows whether he is saved or not,” though that one quote from Sproul’s book may not even prove that about Sproul himself.

      Les

        Norm Miller

        I thought for sure you cited Berkhof. Demographically speaking, Sproul must represent any number of other Calvinists. — Norm

          Not The Original Les

          Norm,

          Maybe I misunderstood what you were saying. I did cite Berkhoff. I also, though cited Bill himself,

          I said, “First I cited Bill…”“If a person is a “dyed-in-the-wool” 5-point Calvinist, he cannot give a positive answer when asked if he knows whether he is saved or not.”

          As I said, “I only sought to disprove Bill’s assertion.”

          The fact is, Bill’s assertion is just untrue as evidenced by, well, me, and Bill Mac and many more.

      Les Prouty

      Also Norm,

      Yes there are some disagreements among Calvinists. There are disagreements among Trads as well, right? You have had one on here deny the imputed righteousness of Christ. I’m supposing you all don’t “deny the imputed righteousness of Christ” do you?

      Les

        Lydia

        “You have had one on here deny the imputed righteousness of Christ. ”

        Which Calvinist definition of imputed righteousness? Definitions seem to change. Could have been a denial of a certain Calvinist definition.

          Not The Original Les

          Morning Lydia.

          “Which Calvinist definition of imputed righteousness?”

          The scriptural one. (wink)

            Lydia

            “The scriptural one. (wink)”

            That is the problem. You use an Augustinian/Calvin filter to study scripture.

            Not The Original Les

            “That is the problem. You use an Augustinian/Calvin filter to study scripture.”

            Nope. (wink)

        Norm Miller

        I’m not sure who did that, nor when, nor what was the context. Not saying it didn’t happen. Just didn’t see it.
        Yes, there are divergent views among us all. Thus the need for a conversation. — Norm

      Alan Davis

      Brother Norm,

      Not a point of contention here at all. However, if you would grant me the chance here, would like to say that it is evident not all who make a claim to be in the trad. camp believe alike on every point. But i understand what you are saying.

      Alan

    Bob

    Les,
    If you are a “dyed-in-the-wool” 5-point Calvinist and can give a positive answer about your salvation then you just don’t understand Calvinism.

      Les Prouty

      Thanks Bob for telling me what I understand and don’t understand. You should use that “gift” you have somewhere on the road. You might make a lot of money discerning for people what they do and don’t know.

        Bob

        You’re welcome, Les.

        However, the application of stone cold logic would not really sell well on the road. RC has it here while you, simply, seem to not have taken your theology to its logical conclusions. Don’t feel rained on; you are not alone (as the responses to this post will amply demonstrate).

          Not The Original Les

          Bob, logic is fine. I use logic to the extent that this dumb ol country boy can. But at the end of the day the scriptures are my final source.

          Les.

        Darryl Hill

        I know that Catholics don’t believe you can know with any certainty you’re saved. And I also know there are many Christian groups who believe one can be genuinely saved and then become apostate. But I don’t know of any Calvinist who teaches these things.

        Is it possible the thought in this article is based on confusion or misunderstanding? I know that may sound insulting, but that is certainly not my intent.

        Now, a Calvinist will definitely teach that assurance is based on 2 primary factors, one greater than the other.
        1. The finished work of Christ and the grace and power of God to sustain the believer. (He who began a good work in you will complete it) This is the greater factor.
        2. The evidence in a person’s life- the fruit. This is the lesser factor, but still very important.

        I’m certain there are some who so strongly emphasize the 2nd one that the 1st one seems to become secondary. Perhaps that is where the confusion comes from.

      R. Smith

      Would the confession understand Calvinism?
      1689 London Confession of Faith

      CHAP. XVIII.

      Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation.

      1. Although temporary Believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes, and carnal presumptions, of being in the favour of God, and state of salvation, (a) which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truely believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good Conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured (b) that they are in the state of Grace; and may rejoyce in the hope of the glory of God which hope shall never make them (c) ashamed.

      a Job 8.13.14. Mat. 7.22 23.
      b 1 Joh. 2.3. ch. 3.14 18,19.21.24. ch. 5.13.

      c Rom. 5.2.5.

      2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural, and probable perswasion, grounded upon (d) a fallible hope; but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the Blood and Righteousness of Christ (e) revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward (f) evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the (g) Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our Spirits that we are the children of God; and as a fruit thereof keeping the heart both (h) humble and holy.
      d Heb. 6.11.19.
      e Heb. 6.17,18.

      f 2 Pet. 1.4,5,10.11.

      g Rom. 8.15,16.

      h 1 Joh. 3 1,2,3.

      3. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true Believer, may wait long and conflict with many difficulties before he be (i) partaker of it; yet being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may without extraordinary revelation in the right use of means (k) attain thereunto: and therefore it is the duty of every one, to give all diligence to make their Calling and Election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and chearfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper (l) fruits of this Assurance; so far is it (m) from inclining men to looseness.
      i Isa. 50.10. Ps. 88. & Psa. 77.1-12.
      k 1 Joh. 4 13. Heb. 6.11 12.

      l Rom. 5.1,2.5. ch. 14,17. Ps. 119.32.

      m Rom. 6.1,2. Tit. 2.11,12.14.

      4. True Believers may have the assurance of their Salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as (n) by negligence in preserving of it, by (o) falling into som special Sin, which woundeth the Conscience, and grieveth the Spirit, by some sudden or (p) vehement temptation, by Gods withdrawing the (q) light of his countenance and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light; yet are they never destitute of the (r) seed of God, and Life (s) of Faith, that Love of Christ, and the brethren, that sincerity of Heart, and Conscience of duty, out of which by the operation of the Spirit, this Assurance may in due time be (t) revived: and by the which in the mean time they are (u) preserved from utter despair.
      n Cant. 5.2,3.6.
      o Ps. 51.8.12.14.

      p Psa. 116.11. Ps. 77.7,8. Ps. 31 22.

      q Ps. 30.7

      r 1 Joh. 3.9.

      s Luk. 22.32.

      t Ps. 42.5.11.

      u Lam. 3.26.27-31.

      http://www.ccel.org/creeds/bcf/bcfc18.htm#chapter18

    Debbie Kaufman

    I am a five pointer and I know as I know as I know I am saved by the blood of the Lamb.

    Dean

    Les, your not getting around enough. You need to do some more speaking and writing to tell Calvinist they are mistaken in what they are teaching.I have dozens of Calvinist papers and books where Calvinist state plainly we cannot know who the redeemed are. This is nothing new at SBC today, it has been a discussion through the centuries in writings of the reformed. I will quote as many as you want I have them laid out on my desk however I will share just one as I have shared others already. John Piper stated no Christian can be sure he is a true believer at the Ligonier National Conference in June of 2000 in Orlando Florida. Thousands were in attendance when statement was made. Maybe you should disciple Piper.

      Not The Original Les

      Dean. I’d love to get around more. Just too busy doing ministry these days.

      Of course we Calvinists say early and often we cannot know who the ELECT are. And ultimately we cannot know with absolute certainty who the redeemed are. Can you Dean? Do you know with absolute certainty who the elect are as you look out over a crowd of people? Do you know with absolute certainty who the redeemed are as you admit those professing faith in Christ into church membership? ______. That’s what I thought.

      But I can know about only one person. Me. Whatever Piper said, he said. I’m not a Piperist. I’m a biblicist.

      Les

        Dean

        Brother Les, my statement was not about knowing who are the elect. It was a statement saying that many Calvinist have stated no one can know if they are the redeemed. I am so glad that you have the assurance of your salvation. I do as well. There are some of our brothers who are Calvinistic who teach that in their belief system you cannot know you are the elect until you persevere all the way till the end. This teaching is not new with SBC today. Its been taught in the oldest reformed books that I read citations from. Blessings…

        Darryl Hill

        Yes, there is a vast difference between knowing whether or not OTHERS are genuinely saved and knowing whether or not I am saved. VAST difference.

        No, I don’t who the elect are, and I don’t have to know. I preach the Gospel to all and leave election to God.

        But if someone comes to me and say, “I have doubts about my salvation” I tell them what Scripture says- “Examine yourself to see whether you are in the faith.” I certainly do not tell them, “Oh, you prayed a prayer once and walked an aisle and got baptized, so you’re in, no worries!”

          Dean

          I can not imagine a pastor or lay leader giving such counsel to anyone. That is a very silly statement to interject in this discussion. I would not insult Calvinist by assuming them to make ridiculous statements such as, “I would like to share the Gospel with you but the elect are taken care of so I’m going bowling.” You were baptized really that is what you think we would offer a person? Surely you don’t think that. However I would tell you that the vast majority of people in churches that I pastor who doubt their salvation are some of the hardest workers. If your answer is only examine your faithfulness then they ok. I am sure of my salvation and was from the moment that I was born again. Through the years my service to the King has made my faith more sure but glory to His name I was sure from the moment of regeneration.

      abclay

      Dean,

      I can only assume that you, like so many people, have heard a snippet of a sermon/speech and drawn conclusions with no contextualization of the snippet within the whole of the sermon/speech.

      The Apostle John said that Jesus wept. Therefore, it is deduced that Jesus was an emotional wreck and a crybaby.

      A quick search at desiringgod.org of “Assurance of Salvation” quickly returned numerous results of Piper speaking of the Christian’s ability to be assured of their salvation.

      Where’s the intellectual honesty in our discussions anymore? It’s not hard to find Piper’s position on the assurance of salvation.

        Dean

        Abclay, I’m so grateful that you made an assumption that I don’t read. I find your comment to be offensive. I can assume you believe you are superior to anyone who studies theology but is not a Calvinist. If you read all this thread (irony there for you pot) you will see that I have cited JP’s own web page stating his belief. Now I have read papers and books on theology for over 25 years and have just understood it was common belief that many Calvinist have struggled to identify how a person can know they are the redeemed. I’m not picking a fight but I can cite people all day long who through the centuries were Calvinist that held a person cannot know they are the redeemed until they remain faithful till the end. It’s not a works salvation that some would argue incorrectly. It’s that a person cannot know they will be faithful till the end until they reach the end. Traditionalist say I know
        because I was born again. I have always assumed that Calvinist knew they were the redeemed by their perseverance. That’s not a blip I read in a fortune cookie oh great theologian but statements by dozens of reformed preachers and theologians over hundreds of years. Thank you for teaching me how to read and study. Hey a few of my coloring books show I can stay in the lines.

          abclay

          Dean,

          Maybe I can’t read but it appeared to me that you wrote:

          John Piper stated no Christian can be sure he is a true believer at the Ligonier National Conference in June of 2000 in Orlando Florida.

          Now, I didn’t see any reference to his website. My intention was to show that if you searched “Assurance of Salvation” at his website, you would see that he believes that a believer can have assurance which is in direct contradiction to what you stated his beliefs were.

          Forgive me if I misread.

            abclay

            Dean,

            I did go back and see where you had mentioned a portion of a Piper sermon in an earlier comment where he had given the impression that a person can not be sure of their salvation until they are dead, at which point I’m sure there would be other indications which would be painfully (or not) obvious.

            Having read the entire sermon I came away with an entirely different conclusion. I guess I read Piper with a different hermeneutic and understanding of Reformed Theology than you.

            And very pithy comment about the coloring books, kudos.

            Grace and Peace

            Dean

            The citing of JP’s website I made was later on in the replies. Forgive me for that error. I did not cite this statement because it was a statement that was heard by thousands at a conference. I did name the place and date of the conference. On his website he certainly argues that one may know they are the redeemed if they remain obedient until the end. You can be assured as long and only as long as your obedient. This cannot be new to Calvinist. To me this should be the least offensive statement made about Calvinism. I have read many places where Puritans saw on their deathbed error in their ways and they struggled wondering if they were obedient enough to be the elect. Again I’m not implying works salvation is their belief but works and obedience demonstrate the redeemed. Until the end you can not say you have persevered you cannot be assured.

    Chris Roberts

    “There have been numerous statements on SBC Today which have misrepresented what Calvinists believe and practice. This one by Bill may be the granddaddy of them all.”

    Indeed.

CC

Actually, like repentance and faith at conversion, persevering and preservation are two sides of the same coin of eternal security. When we look at man’s side of the coin we see him persevering in faith in Christ and continual repentance and faith. When we look at God’s side of the coin we see Him preserving man, giving him conviction of sin, affections for Christ, longings to return to Him, and all other gifts that manifest themselves in the man’s perseverance. So long as one accepts both the perseverance and preservation of the saints (which Calvinists do despite how others want to simplify their system to 5 vague sentences) then the perseverance is no more “works salvation” in eternal security than the contribution of repentance is to conversion.

Darren Casper

I have never read or heard the reformed position of perseverance defined or described in any way related to the way that Brother Bill has. I will just mark it up as poor research and leave it at that.

Dale Pugh

I’ve never heard a Calvinist express the difficulty reflected in Sproul’s quote. (As a matter of fact, if I were a Calvinist, I’d be concerned about Sproul!) I’ve had some Calvinists tell me that my own salvation is in question, but I’ve found them to be a fairly assured lot when it comes to their personal predestination and Christ’s atonement for the elect. I’m wondering if there are varieties of Calvinists in regards to the “P” of TULIP. Calvinists, please enlighten me.

    Bill Mac

    Dale: Why did the Calvinists question your salvation? Because you are not a Calvinist? If so, let me say, as a Calvinist, that they were as utterly wrong as I think the author of this piece is. They should be ashamed. Calvinism is not the Gospel. Calvinism is not the dividing line between who is saved and who is not.

      Lydia

      “Why did the Calvinists question your salvation? Because you are not a Calvinist? If so, let me say, as a Calvinist, that they were as utterly wrong as I think the author of this piece is. They should be ashamed. Calvinism is not the Gospel. Calvinism is not the dividing line between who is saved and who is not.”

      Bill, You may want to tell that to Mohler. After the GC video , many associations and what is being sent out of SBTS that impression is pretty well established. At a friend of mine’s church two seminary guys came in to volunteer as this city church and told the youth the pastor did not preach the true Gospel (the pastors kids were in the youth group!) and that they should question their salvation.

      I don’t disagree that one should work out their salvation with fear and trembling because there is a ton of cheap grace out there but to make Calvinism the Gospel is chilling. And many are doing just that. We have seen it here by quoting Spurgeon as if that proves it.

      You seem to be one of the exceptions to that and I am grateful.

      Dale Pugh

      Yes, Bill. In this person’s opinion, Calvinism is the Gospel and vice versa. Also, I don’t use the King James Version (it IS the only “Authorized” version after all, right?). I have a myriad of theological problems and heretical leanings, etc., etc. ad nauseum. Anyway, I truly have never know a Calvinist of any persuasion who wasn’t sure of their salvation. I can see how the whole “am I elect or not” question could be there, but I’ve not personally had any Calvinist come out and state it that way to me. Nor would I question my own salvation. It is what it is.

        Bill Mac

        I have a myriad of theological problems and heretical leanings, etc., etc. ad nauseum.

        You aren’t a Yankees fan are you? Those are really the only people’s salvation that I question.

Bill Mac

If a person is a “dyed-in-the-wool” 5-point Calvinist, he cannot give a positive answer when asked if he knows whether he is saved or not.

This is simply and utterly false. Repent, believe, confess. Done. Saved.

How many revival services have we all sat through where the evangelist takes us through the “are you sure that you’re sure that you’re sure” phase of the invitation, using different techniques to make people doubt their salvation? “If you can’t remember the day you were saved, you probably aren’t saved; If you haven’t witnessed to anyone in the last week, you probably aren’t saved; If you have never led anyone to the Lord, you probably aren’t saved” I have no doubt, absolutely none, that doubt of salvation is absolutely more endemic to the non-Calvinist population of the SBC than among Calvinists.

    John Wylie

    Bill Mac,
    While you and I differ on calvinism we certainly agree on your above comment. I won’t have an evangelist in my church that stoopes to such ridiculous tactics in order to pad his own numbers.

      Bill Mac

      John: Amen! But where can you find one? They’re like unicorns in my experience.

    Darryl Hill

    I agree that there are many evangelists who use tactics like this. I wouldn’t have trouble if an evangelist went through the tests of genuine conversion in 1 John but, as has been said here already, some seem to be trying to use every manipulative tactic they can muster to get people to come forward.

    I worked with an evangelist once who did this very thing. He would use every tactic imaginable to make people doubt their salvation. And the invitations would often last as long as the sermon. I was leading worship for the revival. In a 4 day revival, we had over 50 people pray to receive Christ, including deacons, Sunday School teachers, and dedicated members of the church. (I’m not saying those people can’t be lost, by the way) Well, I went home and so did the evangelist, but that church was left with a mess. It took nearly a year for the church to recover from that. I’ve not worked with that same guy again.

      Norm Miller

      DW: An evangelist could no more preach the elect into hell than he could preach the non-elect into heaven. Calvinists are so inconsistent on this point. What does is say about the Cs’ view of sovereignty to avoid a public invitation? Do you really think a public invitation will ‘manipulate’ a non-elect person to heaven? — Norm

    Bob Hadley

    Bill Mac,

    Your ranting and raving over the statement really makes no sense: “If you can’t remember the day you were saved, you probably aren’t saved; If you haven’t witnessed to anyone in the last week, you probably aren’t saved; If you have never led anyone to the Lord, you probably aren’t saved”

    Adrian Rogers once said, when someone as big as the Holy Spirit takes up residence in your heart you are going to know it.

    So, if one does not remember that day… I would say there is a chance he might not be saved. Do you want us to believe that everyone that says they are saved really are? I see no problem with this statement at all. I have heard calvinists say similar things… I mean if you are not walking with the Lord ( which certainly would include being in church. praying and witnessing) then it might be evident that you were never saved in the first place… how would this differ?

    You don’t like the words someone used? Now… one final irritating problem in your rant. If I were a calvinist, which I am NOT, I could care less what someone preached to dead, totally depraved people who are not the elect… it does not matter. And… for that matter… it does not have anything to do with God’s efficacious calling to regenerate anyone bringing them to repentance and faith!

    God can save people listening to Joel Osteen or even Benny Hinn… (well perhaps) I mean… if it is all about God and not about me in believing and having then faith… then whats all this all about God and me in the delivery of this regeneration?????

    Consistency would be nice at some point.

    ><>”

      Not The Original Les

      Bob,

      Thought you were going to mss the party. Maybe driving around in that Corvette or something.

      First, Bill Mac can surely stand up for himself. But “ranting and raving” hardly describes any comment I have ever seen of Bill Mac.

      Second, “So, if one does not remember that day… I would say there is a chance he might not be saved.” Really? Well I can’t remember the day. I know many like that.

      Last, “If I were a calvinist, which I am NOT, I could care less what someone preached to dead, totally depraved people who are not the elect…”

      Exactly which ones in the crowd fit that description? Can you or I pick them out? Don’t think so. That statement really has not meaning for our discussions. No disrespect intended brother.

      Les

      Bill Mac

      Bob: I daresay many people can remember the day they were saved, but not everyone. Especially someone saved at a young age. Also not everyone has come to faith in evangelical environment that concerns itself with such things. I don’t concern myself with what someone may have done in the past, but what they believe “right now”. If they understand the Gospel and have accepted it, then they are saved, regardless of what they do or don’t remember.

    Tim Rogers

    Bill,

    If you are elected, why are you repenting? The atonement is for you and you are heeding the effectual call to move toward God. Thus, your repentance is a work required for you do get there because you are not repenting of your own free will you are repenting because God has placed that desire in your heart and you can’t do otherwise but repent. Therefore, you are not repenting but God is repenting for you.

      Bill Mac

      Tim: Honestly I have no idea what you are talking about. None of that makes sense. Instead of telling me what I believe, why not just ask me?

    Not The Original Les

    And silliness abounds.

    Tim Rogers

    Bill,

    where the evangelist takes us through the “are you sure that you’re sure that you’re sure” phase of the invitation, using different techniques to make people doubt their salvation?

    “If you can’t remember the day you were saved, you probably aren’t saved; If you haven’t witnessed to anyone in the last week, you probably aren’t saved; If you have never led anyone to the Lord, you probably aren’t saved”

    First, name the evangelist that does something like that! None, I have ever used has said anything remotely that resembles any of those statements. Here is why.

    “If you can’t remember the day you were saved, you probably aren’t saved; Hogwash. You are repeating some Calvinist whipping boy just so you can set up a strawman, period!!!! Name the person that you have heard say this.

    If you haven’t witnessed to anyone in the last week, you probably aren’t saved; Balogna!! Once again another whipping boy in order to get your strawman set up. Name the person that you heard say this.

    If you have never led anyone to the Lord, you probably aren’t saved” This is the only one you have probably heard but it probably was not during the invitation but during the message. As a matter of fact I have said this before and will say it right now. If you have been a Christian for 10 years or more and have never led anyone to Christ I would check my salvation. Why? The Bible said we are to bear fruit. What kind of tree produces the fruit of oranges? Orange Trees. What kind of tree produces the fruit of Pecans? Pecan Trees. What kind of fruit do Calvinists (Wink, Wink) most Christians produce? Excuses!!! If we are not regularly sharing with others the fact that Jesus saved our souls, then we are either backslidden, apostate, or lost. You choose. If we share with others how Jesus saved our souls we will see others come to Christ. I have a youth in our youth group that was out on M-Fuge site sharing with another young lady about what God was doing in her life. The young lady told my youth that she wanted God working in her life. The youth asked the young lady did she know God in a person relationship? The young lady told my youth, no, she didn’t know how to get to know Him. My youth spoke to her about her need as a sinner was a savior. The young lady acknowledged her need for forgiveness of her sins and a desire for a savior. My youth led the young lady in a sinners prayer, repenting of her sins and asking Jesus to come live in her heart. My youth is only a one-year old Christian.

    The problem with this argument is you are putting down the very process in which salvation is come upon people and that is through other people. Can God just wave his hand and the entire world get saved? Certainly, He can!! Will God just way his hand and the entire world get saved? Certainly Not!!!!! Why? Because in the economy of God he has chosen people to work through in order to present the Gospel to a lost and dying world.

    Cry about how an invitation is given but give names, that is, unless you are just giving straw men.

      Bill Mac

      This is the only one you have probably heard but it probably was not during the invitation but during the message.

      I have heard them all personally, with the possible disclaimer that the time frame in #2 may not have been a week. I have been to lots of revivals but the one that stands out was held in the auditorium of Snell Hall in Potsdam NY. The evangelist’s first name was Bill but I don’t remember his last name. Boone is what sticks in my mind but I can’t be sure.

      I have also been told (in a sermon or invitation) that if I decided ahead of time to be saved on some particular day in the future, that I was probably not saved. This one was particularly meaningful because I was coming to accept the Gospel message nearing my birthday, and decided to seal the deal on my birthday, which I did. Imagine my surprise when I was told I probably wasn’t save.

      But the phrases were only illustrations (albeit true ones). My point is that making people doubt their salvation is not limited to (or even prevalent in) Calvinist circles. Non-Calvinists are very good at it.

      Bill Mac

      Tim: I just reread your response. I was not running down Gospel invitations. I give one every time I preach. We must invite people to come to Christ. We must guide them if they don’t know how. I make that offer every time that I preach. I have no problem with any of that. I do have a problem with manipulative altar calls, which I have seen frequently, but that was not my main point, which was people trying to shake the assurance of believers. Verify, fine. Generate doubt, not fine, whether you are a Calvinist or non-Calvinist.

      Alan Davis

      “If you can’t remember the day you were saved, you probably aren’t saved”

      Actually Tim I have heard 2 different evangelists say this very thing in camp meetings here in Haywood in the past. shoot me an email and I will give you both their names. one of them even came back to my home church and said it at least a couple of times in invitations he gave. awdavis888@gmail.com

      Now the other about witnessing…I have not heard.

      Alan

Les Prouty

Here is Sproul himself answering the question “How Can I Be Sure I’m Saved?”

“If we think the Bible teaches universal salvation, we may arrive at a false sense of assurance by reasoning as follows: Everybody is saved. I am a body. Therefore, I am saved.

Or, if we think salvation is gained by our own good works and we are further deluded into believing that we possess good works, we will have a false assurance of salvation.

To have sound assurance, we must understand that our salvation rests on the merit of Christ alone, which is appropriated to us when we embrace Him by genuine faith. If we understand that, the remaining question is, “Do I have the genuine faith necessary for salvation?”

Again, two more things must be understood and analyzed properly. The first is doctrinal. We need a clear understanding of what constitutes genuine saving faith. If we conceive of saving faith as existing in a vacuum, never yielding the fruit of works of obedience, we have confused saving faith with dead faith, which cannot save anyone.

The second requirement involves a sober analysis of our own lives. We must examine ourselves to see whether the fruit of regeneration is apparent in our lives. Do we have a real affection for the biblical Christ? Only the regenerate person possesses real love for the real Jesus. Next we must ask the tough question, “Does my life manifest the fruit of sanctification?” I test my faith by my works.”

http://www.jesus.org/following-jesus/repentance-faith-and-salvation/how-can-i-be-sure-im-saved.html

Do any here not agree with Sproul on this?

Now as to the quote from Sproul’s personal experience Bill cited, I professed faith in Christ in 1983. I can attest to having had similar thoughts as Sproul. I’ve met with men and bible study groups over the last almost 30 years. Many, many tell me they have at one time or another had similar doubting thoughts. And they were mostly NOT Calvinists.

And what I have done, and what I have told others to do, is to look back in His word and to Christ and rest assured.

    Darryl Hill

    I think everyone would agree with this quote from Sproul, but it’s more fun to make it sound as if there is never any assurance of salvation for Calvinists. That way, we can have fun burning another straw man. “Crazy Calvinists! All they want is for everyone to end up in hell! Watch out! They’re coming for you! There might be one under your bed right now!” [shakes head]

    But of course we’ve all had moments of doubt. I’ve been a Christian for 28 years and every once in a while I’ll have one of those doubts fly into my head. It happens. But to claim that Calvinists do not teach that a person can have assurance of salvation is simply false.

      Not The Original Les

      [switched browsers this am and my necessary moniker went away. back now to distinguish from the original]

      Darryl,

      Yes, straw men and such. But I don’t think it is intentional. Posts like this just show ignorance of Reformed theology and a desperation to discredit Calvinists. It really should be a source of embarrassment for trads here.

      Les

        Darryl Hill

        Yes Les, I’m sure you are right. There is a pastor from my area who has written a critique of Calvinism that is absolutely filled with straw men. I have no doubt he actually believes them too. And I should be gracious, I know. I used to say some of the exact same things myself when attacking calvinism. Why should I expect anything any different from others struggling with the same things? And I know it’s a genuine struggle and frustration because I had the same problems with it.

        Lydia

        “Yes, straw men and such. But I don’t think it is intentional. Posts like this just show ignorance of Reformed theology and a desperation to discredit Calvinists. It really should be a source of embarrassment for trads here.”

        New readers need to know that Les left the SBC for the Presbyterians. And is a “ruling elder” in the Presbyterian church. And yes, we might be ignorant of Presbyterian doctrine. I will grant him that.

          Not The Original Les

          “Oh my!!!” [chilling haunted house music playing]

          :0

          abclay

          Lydia,

          Did the author of the original post, when he began misrepresenting the Calvinist position, distinguish between Southern Baptist Calvinists or was he speaking of Calvinists in general?

          It’s funny how whenever Les really blows the doors off of these straw men arguments against calvinism, almost without exception, you and Mary show up and bring up the fact that he is a “ruling elder” in the Presbyterian church. That’s called an ad hominem argument (I’m sure you know this) and it’s really telling of your ability to defend your position. Sometimes it’s better just to keep your fingers still and resist the urge to attack the man.

          I remember something my maw maw said about keeping quite and being though a fool is better than speaking and removing all doubt………

          And just so the “new readers” know, Les is an Ordained SBC Pastor to the best of my recollection and I never paid much attention to my Maw Maw.

Kyle Thomas

Ken Keathley in “A Theology for the Church” demonstrates the way Baptists keep these two ideas together, not apart. Quote:

“The New Testament teaches both the ‘preservation’ and the ‘perseverance’ of the saints. The preserving of the believer means he is eternally secure (this is sometimes called the doctrine of eternal security, or ‘once saved, always saved’). This confidence derives from texts that speak of the believer’s presentation as the active task of God…

“The doctrine of perseverance teaches that the work of regeneration and sanctification eventually and inevitably manifests itself in the life of every believer. Christians are capable of tragic spiritual and moral failure (the Bible is replete with cautionary examples – consider Lot, Samson, and David), but the faith of a genuinely saved person remains. This faith compels the believer to eventual repentance and restoration (Matt. 26:74-75). A Christian may fail totally but not finally.”

Hamp

This article by Rev. Harrell is nothing more than an example of the theological ignorance that is present in some quaters of SBC life. It is wrong to misrepresent someones’ position so as to set up a straw-man, and then attack that straw-man. Rev. Harrell, please read and study the section provided from the 1689 London Baptist Confession below.

THE PERSEVERANCE OF THE SAINTS (1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith)

1.THE saints are those whom God has accepted in Christ the Beloved, and effectually called and sanctified by His Spirit.? To them He has given the precious faith that pertains to all His elect. The persons to whom such blessings have been imparted can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace, but they shall certainly persevere in grace to the end and be eternally saved, for God will never repent of having called them and made gifts to them.? Consequently He continues to beget and to nourish in them faith, repentance,love, joy, hope, and all the graces of the Spirit that issue in immortality.? Many storms and floods may arise and beat upon them, yet they can never be moved from the foundation and rock on which by faith they are firmly established.? Even if unbelief and Satan’s temptations cause them for a time to lose the sight and comfort of the light and love of God, yet the unchanging God remains their God, and He will certainly keep and save them by His power until they come to the enjoyment of their purchased possession; for they are engraven on the palms of His hands, and their names have been written in the book of life from all eternity. Ps. 89:31,32; Mal. 3:6; John 10:28,29; 1 Cor. 11:32; Phil. 1:6; 2 Tim. 2:19; 1 John 2:19.

2.It is on no free will of their own that the saints’ perseverance depends, but on the immutability of the decree of election, which in its turn depends upon the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, the efficacious merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and the saints’ union with Him, the oath of God, the abiding character of the Spirit’s indwelling of the saints, the divine nature of which they are partakers and, lastly, the terms of the covenant of grace.? All these factors guarantee the certainty and infallibility of the saints’ perseverance. Jer. 32:40; John 14:19; Rom. 5:9,10; 8:30; 9:11,16; Heb. 6:17,18; 1 John 3:9.

3.In various ways-the temptations of Satan and of the world, the striving of indwelling sin to get the upper hand, the neglect of the means appointed for their preservation-saints may fall into fearful sins, and may even continue in them for a time.? In this way they incur God’s displeasure, grieve His Holy Spirit, do injury to their graces, diminish their comforts, experience hardness of heart and accusations of conscience, hurt and scandalize others, and bring God’s chastisements on themselves.? Yet being saints their repentance will be renewed, and through faith they will be preserved in Christ Jesus to the end. 2 Sam. 12:14; Ps. 32:3,4; 51:10,12; Isa. 64:5,9; Matt. 26:70,72,74; Luke 22:32,61,62; Eph. 4:30

Dr. Bruce McLaughlin

Unfortunately, God does not reveal who among us is elect and who is not. You may hope you are elect and prove it to yourself each day by sacrificing, praying, witnessing or even risking you life for Jesus. But, in the end, God may simply be watching you make a fool out of yourself on your way to Hell. Preservation may be a gift from God to the elect but who knows for sure if you are one of the elect.

Ironically, those dismal Wesleyans, the pinatas of superior Southern Baptists, are given assurance of salvation by the Holy Spirit.

    Bill Mac

    Unfortunately, God does not reveal who among us is elect and who is not.

    Again, utterly and completely false. Believers are the elect. Christians are the elect. It’s not that hard. Even non-Calvinists believe in election. Even they understand that regardless of the ordo salutis or the basis for election, the elect are revealed by their faith in Christ.

    Lydia

    “Ironically, those dismal Wesleyans, the pinatas of superior Southern Baptists, are given assurance of salvation by the Holy Spirit.”

    Amen. You have identified the missing piece.

Bill Mac

How would it be if I said that dyed in the wool non-Calvinists cannot truly pray for someone’s salvation, because their theology precludes God acting against anyone’s free will?

Here’s a novel idea. Instead of telling Calvinists what we can and can’t believe, why not just ask us? Show if virtual hands, as it were. Are you assured of your salvation, yes or no?

Yes.

    R. Smith

    I wonder how many people who do have (in their minds) absolute assurance of their salvation but are not really saved. If you look at the % of church members who don’t even attend church, I think you could conclude that a great number of people who were “given assurance” in an “old fashioned altar call” situation after answering 4 or 5 questions with the “correct” answers and then being told “you are saved” and “don’t doubt it” and “God wouldn’t lie” (if they express any doubt), are not really regenerated. I or anyone else can’t give anyone assurance; that’s the job of the Holy Ghost. Believe on the lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved is absolutely true, but whether a person has truly had faith cannot be determined by a man even thouh I’ve seen some who seem to think they can tell. That’s one reason there is so many false professions – decisional regeneration.

    The one’s unto whom the lord will say, “Depart from me. I never knew you”, were absolutely sure they were saved and will be shocked that they weren’t.

    Another topic good for discussion is whether you can be saved and not have assurance. Is assurance the essence of faith? Is faith equal to assurance? The WCC and LC says not. Supposedly Calvin and others said yes. If that’s true, how do we interpret the “test of faith” in First John, some of them being subjective such as, “He that is (has been) born of God does not commit sin.”

CC

If Calvinism was what most who post articles on this site think it is then we should be worried. Fortunately, Calvinism is vastly different then what it’s made out to be here. We need more clarity in this discussion. I wish we could have a discussion like those “Perspectives” books where they have different people address their view on a topic and then others respond to it. That’s the best way to have a theological discussion because it’s much more difficult to misrepresent someone else’s view. Traditionalists won’t be called Arminians and Calvinism won’t be made into some caricature. These articles and the comment threads generate a lot of heat and not a lot of light. I pray that God will give us wisdom in how to properly proceed in this discussion.

    Darryl Hill

    I agree CC. Great comment. Unfortunately that won’t happen here because there are multiple other sites that give the Calvinistic perspective. That’s the answer we always get anyway. You’re told to go elsewhere if you want to hear what a Calvinist would say OR that you should just make a comment here to have your perspective heard.

      Norm Miller

      The Calvinistic perspective is seen here every day, so the charge that “it won’t happen here” is specious. If one wants Calvinistic treatises, then, yes, there are plenty of such blogs and sites out there to be read. — Norm

        Lydia

        The Calvinist postion is here in comments every day. So far they seem to be able to post here freely and continue to level the semi Pelagian charge in various degrees. So whose Calvinist position is missing? Sproul? Piper? Mohler?

        The problem seems to be definitions. And that is because Calvinists are using the Augustinian filter for all scripture and the Trads do not. That will generate heat quickly.

          CC

          My point was that we don’t need something like comment threads to have this discussion. We need articles like the original posts on this site. There needs to be a place (preferably not the internet) where a Traditionalist and a Calvinist will each write an article stating their particular view of a doctrine on their own terms. Then they will each write a response to the other’s article framed in the terms and definitions used by their opponent’s (seriously need a better word here) article. This would clear the muck of claims of misrepresentations, caricatures, and “straw men” if done rightly. While outside the scope of SBC life, the books “For Calvinism” and “Against Calvinism” by Horton and Olson respectively model this somewhat. Whenever these two speak or interact with each other’s views there is a sincere, irenic spirit (or Spirit) about the discussion. There is actual light and not the bitter bickering found in these comment threads.

            Lydia

            So, keep the ignorant peasants out of it?

            CC

            I’m sorry, but that is not what I meant. I simply suggest a more organized discussion.

    Bill Mac

    I don’t say this to fault SBCToday, but I agree that the discussion won’t happen here, in the same way it wouldn’t happen at the Founders blog or some other strictly Calvinist site. They are who they are, and they are promoting their own theology (or refuting Calvinism). And that’s ok.

    It is easy to get worked up, because as a Calvinist, if I believed everything written here about what I believed and didn’t believe and had to believe and couldn’t believe, I would hate myself. I’ve been told I can’t truly be a Southern Baptist and be a Calvinist. I’ve been told I can’t be sure of my salvation. I’ve been told I cannot honestly present the Gospel. I’ve been told I cannot love the lost, or tell them that God loves them. The list goes on.

      Brad Reynolds

      Bill Mac
      That is very very fair. I should not tell you what you believe.

      But please keep in mind we Trads have for a long time been told our soteriology just doesn’t hold water. Take for example, Dr. Al Mohler’s quote: “I mean what options are there, if you are theologically minded, deeply convictional young evangelical, if you are committed to the gospel and you want to see the nations rejoice in the name of Christ, if you want to see the gospel built and structured in committed churches your theology is going to end up basically being reformed, basically being this new Calvinism.”

      I am quite aware that he explained that quote almost a year later when he was meeting with SB state paper’s editors. But anyone who listens to the entire “talk” he had with two other five point Calvinists would find it very hard to believe that the men he was with understood him to be referencing a position that would represent almost all Southern Baptists. Perhaps, he did include 1, 2 or 3 point Calvinists as “Calvinists” in his quote but in so doing he would certainly be cognizant that he redefined Calvinism to the point no one listening understood what he meant.

      Second, the whole SP Brouhaha came from Calvinists telling us what we believe and defining our terms for us.

      I say all of this to say let’s keep in mind who started playing by these rules first. The TS was basically men and women standing up and saying “Hello, I am a Southern Baptist, I am not a Calvinist and I am still here,” because they felt that they were being forcefed Calvinism via some of the leaders who seem to argue no other “options” were out there.

      I hope you know I do not say this in anyway intended as offensive but perhaps it helps to put in perspective your concerns. While you may feel some have misrepresented your views. We have felt that for a long time. Thus, I can empathize with you.

        Bill Mac

        Man, it’s hard to track all these comments. Brad, that is fair enough. We need a site, I think, where a real discussion can be had. I don’t think it can be done here.

        What Mohler said was out of line. He should be more careful (or if he really thinks that, he should be more thoughtful).

    Darryl W

    ITA. If this was due to ignorance, then it would at least be forgivable; but, the owners of this site are not ignorant, not even close. I had been convinced that the authors of the TS were not being malicious. Not so sure now.

    -Darryl

Darryl Hill

I’d say that this article is a ridiculous assertion. I have full assurance that God has saved me and it still working in me to this day. I trust in His grace and I trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross. Once again, we’re slammed with straw men.

Now, let me add this. Many “Traditionalist” pastors either don’t understand salvation as including sanctification or they simply never want to hurt anyone’s feelings, because they’re continually telling people they’re saved who have no biblical reason for assurance. Our assurance is completely dependent on the cross of Jesus Christ. Even when we are sanctified and are producing fruit and good works will which survive the testing fires, in the final analysis we are still in every way indebted to the finished work of Christ.

Having said this, though, there will be evidence in our lives. Jesus spoke of this evidence in Matthew 6: “15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.” So, it’s clear here that there will be fruit- evidence in our lives that we are being sanctified. By the same token, there will be evidence in our lives that we are not one of His.

But let’s look at the other side of this coin. If you go to many traditionalist pastors and speak to them about having doubts about your salvation, they will go through a series of questions like this:

1. Was there ever a time when you asked Jesus to come into your heart?
2. Did you mean it?
3. Did you write down the date to remember it?

If the person answers yes to these questions, the pastor declares them saved and tells them that they need to tell the devil to leave them alone.

The trouble is, as we all know, praying a prayer once no more makes you a Christian than walking into a garage once makes you a car. That first prayer crying for mercy may well have been the moment you were justified but there should be ongoing evidence in your life that you are being sanctified as well, because every person who is justified is also sanctified. One of the minimum things that should be happening is that when you sin, God convicts you of that sin and brings you to a point of confession and repentance. And this is ongoing.

    Lydia

    “Now, let me add this. Many “Traditionalist” pastors either don’t understand salvation as including sanctification or they simply never want to hurt anyone’s feelings, because they’re continually telling people they’re saved who have no biblical reason for assurance. Our assurance is completely dependent on the cross of Jesus Christ. Even when we are sanctified and are producing fruit and good works will which survive the testing fires, in the final analysis we are still in every way indebted to the finished work of Christ.”

    JC Ryle in his book, Holiness, probably explained this the best way I have seen. Justification and Sanctification are two totally different things. But you cannot have one without the other.

    A good tree does not produce bad fruit.

    What many Calvinists do is merge them. You see varying degrees of this. Guys like Mahaney and Piper have you stuck at the cross forever Gospel navel gazing and sanctification magically happens. To them sanctification is mongeristic. To Non Calvinists sanctification is synergistic. We have a responsibility to produce good fruit and the Holy Spirit is our advocate. We CAN obey Christ’ commands.

    The seekers do damage to sanctification, too. They believe in a sort of cheap grace which has the same result. I often wonder what Calvinists do with Hebrews 10:26-31. I have been told by several that the author was not speaking to us. And all of 1 John which points to “practicing sin” as in walking in the light. But then, I realize many Calvinists define sin differently. As evidenced by Driscoll and Mahaney. When one is a leader the sin definitions are different for them.

      Debbie Kaufman

      Philippians 1:6:

      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:

        Lydia

        So do you interpret that passage as “Jesus obeying for you”?

      Not The Original Les

      Lydia,

      You all make it so easy to demonstrate where you are mistaken.

      “To Non Calvinists sanctification is synergistic. We have a responsibility to produce good fruit and the Holy Spirit is our advocate. We CAN obey Christ’ commands.”

      I’m not here to defend or refute Piper, Mahaney, etc. But as to sanctification, a great resource for a Baptist Calvinistic view is easily found:

      Chapter 13: Of Sanctification

      1. They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, are also farther sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.
      ( Acts 20:32; Romans 6:5, 6; John 17:17; Ephesians 3:16-19; 1 Thessalonians 5:21-23; Romans 6:14; Galatians 5:24; Colossians 1:11; 2 Corinthians 7:1; Hebrews 12:14 )

      2. This sanctification is throughout the whole man, yet imperfect in this life; there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war; the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.
      ( 1 Thessalonians 5:23; Romans 7:18, 23; Galatians 5:17; 1 Peter 2:11 )

      3. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome; and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God, pressing after an heavenly life, in evangelical obedience to all the commands which Christ as Head and King, in His Word hath prescribed them.
      ( Romans 7:23; Romans 6:14; Ephesians 4:15, 16; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 2 Corinthians 7:1 )

        Lydia

        Thanks Les, I don’t stand by creeds or confessions or allow them to guide me. They are man’s work. Unless you think the writers were Inspired like the scriptures?

          Not The Original Les

          Lydia,

          “Unless you think the writers were Inspired like the scriptures?”

          No, I do not. Just correcting your misinformation from a Reformed Baptist source. (wink)

            Lydia

            Les, Are you saying that Calvinists only “practice” what is in your creeds?

            Not The Original Les

            Lydia,

            “Are you saying that Calvinists only “practice” what is in your creeds?”

            I guess I don’t quite know what you are asking.

            And, the LBC is a confession, not technically a creed.

        m. b. woodside

        Les,

        Well said. Let me say very clearly The Lord does the work (Phil 1:6) via the Holy Spirit but I must discipline myself as well in working out my salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). I know New Calvinists get criticized for taking liberites, but if I can use the phrase, Classical Calvinists to describe myself, take sanctification very seriously. John Owen said it well, “We must be killing sin, or sin will be killing us.”

        Here is a resource dealing with Owen’s thoughts:
        http://www.baxterministry.com/mycustompage0011.htm

        As a Calvinist is this vein, I take my sancitification, my wife’s, and my family’s sanctification with utmost seriousness.

        grace and peace,

        m.b.

          Lydia

          “As a Calvinist is this vein, I take my sancitification, my wife’s, and my family’s sanctification with utmost seriousness. ”

          You are a part of your wife’s sanctification?

            m. b. woodside

            Lydia,

            It is my responsiblity to as the head of my household to lead my family in pursuing holiness.

            m.b.

        charles

        Lydia still seems committed to the unbiblical link between ability and responsibility. monergists believe both that we are responsible to obey and that God sanctifies us and empowers our sanctification. That’s what the bible says: “we work, based on the foundational confidence that God is working to change what we choose and what we do.”

        “Phil2:12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

        2Cor3:17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

        1Cor15:10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

        Jude24To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy…”

        it’s a lie to say that perseverance is the work of man. perseverance is the visible evidence of God’s preserving work.

        on the other side, you see Simon Magus “believing and being baptized” in acts 8. when his words put the lie to that profession, peter did not offer him assurance but blasted him: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”

        same thing with the guy shacked up with his stepmom in 1 corinthians 5. his life showed no evidence of perseverance/preservation and that needed to be dealt with…and not by re-assuring him that he was saved based on his former profession of faith and baptism.

        so how would pastor bill deal with these sorts of evidences that contradict “preservation?” i’m betting on a non-biblical, non-apostolic response based on the sloppy “free/weak grace” thinking shown in this article.

          Lydia

          “it’s a lie to say that perseverance is the work of man. perseverance is the visible evidence of God’s preserving work.”

          It is both, Charles. It is “synergistic”. Jesus Christ promised us the Holy Spirit and we have an advocate who convicts us of our sin and guides us.

          So when I read Jesus telling us something not to do. I should think to myself, I cannot do that. I have to wait around for God to make me not do it? Or should I pray, get busy and be guided by the Holy Spirit?

          “Lydia still seems committed to the unbiblical link between ability and responsibility”

          I take it you don’t think you have the ability? Only God can give you the ability to obey so you have to wait around for that to happen? I hear this from Calvinists all the time because they think it glorifies God to say it. I say, it only makes me want to hide the silver and keep my hand on my wallet when such thinking is around.

      Darryl Hill

      You had me going there Lydia. I thought you were going to make it through a comment without an ad hominem attack on some calvinist. But then came the third paragraph and the fourth.

      Good news though- I think we agree that all who are justified will also be sanctified. That is the point I was making above.

      As a guy who grew up as a traditionalist myself, I was trained to ask those questions I mentioned above when someone came to me with doubts regarding salvation. I’ve heard it spoken from pulpits many times. I used to use those same questions. For me, doing youth ministry while in college and afterward, I would often make the mistake of always focusing my full attention on what happened on that ONE day when they say they may have received Christ. I focused all of my attention on what they prayed, on whether or not they were sincere, on what they understood of the Gospel, and etc. I never looked at anything that had happened since then. I think that is a mistake. If you WERE saved (justified) you are BEING saved (sanctified).

        Lydia

        “If you WERE saved (justified) you are BEING saved (sanctified).”

        If we are Born Again, we want to please God. I know that is considered heresy in Calvin circles. But “being” sanctified includes US. It is synergistic. I cannot “practice sin” (note I said “practice”)as a lifestyle long term and expect to be saved. We see this idea played out all the time. The Born Again pedophile who keeps on molesting kids. The spiritually abusive pastor who blackmails and protects predators. Oh, they are just sinners and we all know that sinners, sin.

        In Calvinsim, they cannot help it. They are waiting for God to make them obey in sanctification.

        However, I believe the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and we fight the flesh daily abiding in Christ. WE CAN obey. It is synergistic.

          Debbie Kaufman

          Lydia: The sign of a born again Christian is that they want to please God. However it is not synergistic as Phil. 1:6 shows. Thankfully it isn’t. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Nothing is synergistic. I am grateful to God for that.

          As for your statement on Al Mohler. Where has he ever said someone did not have salvation who is not Calvinist? He would affirm Paige Patterson’s salvation and that would be just one example. They had a conference where both spoke their views and neither accused the other of not being a Christian.

            Lydia

            Since he said that only NC want to see the nations rejoice for Christ (among other insults), it is only logical to think he believes the converse for those who are not NC. I guess he could think me a saved reprobate who cares nothing for the lost?

rhutchin

In Matt 7, Christ says, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”

It is natural for any Christian to look at his/her life and wonder if they could be deceiving themselves and be one of those Christ speaks of above. The assurance that one has, where that assurance is based on actions/works of whatever nature, is tempered by the above. What Christian sees himself doing the will of God without also noticing how much he does not do the will of God. I John seems to focus, in part, on obedience as the assurance of one’s salvation, yet how is that assurance when whatever obedience we have only serves to highlight our disobedience. Let’s face it, everyone struggles with assurance and anyone who says otherwise is delusional. For the Calvinist, assurance of salvation is a reliance on God to preserve them through their disobedience. Sproul was just being human in his remarks. However, his conclusion is true. Despite our awareness of our lack of obedience or other evidences of God’s control over our lives which continually scream out that God has not really saved us, we still say, “Lord, to whom shall I go?”

David R. Brumbelow

Bill Harrell,
Very good thoughts about our eternal security. As I have been taught by many over the years, we have a “know-so” salvation. We can be sure.
It was also good to see you at the SBC in New Orleans.

Someone has said about salvation:
The Arminian knows he has it, he is just afraid he’s going to lose it.
The Calvinist knows he can’t lose it, he’s just not sure he has it.

Most Baptists (or Traditionalists) get it exactly right.
We can know we have salvation and we know we are not going to lose it.
David R. Brumbelow

    Debbie Kaufman

    I think it has been shown David that this is untrue. Quote any Calvinist that says what you assert. If there are those who believe this they are wrong. I would like to see some quotes.

    Bill Mac

    “We can know we have salvation and we know we are not going to lose it.”

    All the Calvinists here know it too. We are also Baptists. (except for Les II)

      Lydia

      “All the Calvinists here know it too. We are also Baptists. (except for Les II)”

      Bill Mac, There are quite a few non SBC Calvinists coming to comment in these debates especially at the beginning. It is one of the more curious aspects of all of this. Nothing wrong with it. Just a curiosity.

Debbie Kaufman

Unfortunately it seems to be getting more and more heated here. I would take from your last comment David that only traditionalists are Baptists, that has also been shown to be not true. For one we are here, we are Southern Baptists. Have been for many years. :)

Darryl W

Wow! Just, wow!

If a person is a “dyed-in-the-wool” 5-point Calvinist, he cannot give a positive answer when asked if he knows whether he is saved or not.

That is the most absurd comment I think I have ever read concerning Calvinism, and I have read a good bit on the subject. You guys(SBCToday) talk unity one day and then post an article like this? Perhaps, we should split the convention. If you believe this kind of stuff then you it would be irrational to cooperate with a Calvinist church. Very disappointing.

-The Other Brother Darryl

David R. Brumbelow

To those saying Calvinists do not believe that you can’t know for sure if you are saved – I seen a number of them say that very thing – that you can‘t know for sure.
They say to can’t trust a prayer.
You can’t trust yourself.
You can’t trust praying the Sinner’s Prayer.
You can’t know for sure if you really meant it when you prayed.
Therefore you can’t know for sure if you are one of the elect.
You can only tell for sure if you are saved by a life of perseverance and enduring to the end.

It never occurred to me I should copy their comments to later prove that’s what they believe. It never occurred to me that some would later deny such statements.

I’m not saying all Calvinists believe the above, but a significant number of them do.
David R. Brumbelow

    Norm Miller

    I can affirm what you say, David, in that I have heard the same things along the way. As I noted above, Pastor Harrell’s citation of Sproul indicates that Sproul is one among many. Some here have asserted that today’s post is (insert any number of the denigrating comments, here), but it still points to a significant Calvinist, Sproul, who is illustrative of the post’s thesis. — Norm

      Not The Original Les

      Norm,

      See Shawn’s refutation of what you and others are saying about Sproul…just below. This stuff is easily verifiable.

      Les

    Jason

    I don’t trust any of those things either….

    But let me tell you what, or more accurately, who, I trust:

    Christ.

    And that is all the assurance I need.

    Lydia

    “They say to can’t trust a prayer.
    You can’t trust yourself.
    You can’t trust praying the Sinner’s Prayer.
    You can’t know for sure if you really meant it when you prayed.
    Therefore you can’t know for sure if you are one of the elect.
    You can only tell for sure if you are saved by a life of perseverance and enduring to the end.”

    And you cannot have faith. Only God can give you the ability to have faith so how can you be sure you really have it in the way you should? And how that plays out is you need the leader more than you do Christ because you have no idea. They tell you as the special annointed ones in Calvinism.

    I think all the above is one reason we are seeing things like “Keys to the Kingdom” coming out of the Reformed wing of the SBC. This is where the elders/leaders tell you if they think you are saved or not.

    http://www.9marks.org/blog/what-are-keys-kingdom

    This sounds fine on the surface (A bit Roman Catholic for me, though) but include in it a few who have “authority” and hold the “keys” and throw in someone who disagrees with something the authority teaches or does and you have a recipe for disaster. Sinning by questioning. So we question your salvation. They are not questioning their salvation because they are fornicating or robbing banks, but because they question the leaders. It is happening folks. In SGM and even in Baptist churches like CHBC. And the whole idea of congregational polity is a misnomer at CHBC as I understand it from those coming out of it.

      Debbie Kaufman

      I agree with all those statements Lydia. The object of our faith is Christ. Not any of those things on your list. Romans 5.

        Debbie Kaufman

        I should say I agree with the list except for the last ones. I am no Driscoll fan, but you have completely rewritten what he said. Nice try though. :)

          Lydia

          Debbie, you will have to do better than that. Are you not familiar with the “sinning by questioning” leaders sermon of Driscoll’s?

Shawn

Dear Rev. Harrell,

I am thankful that you took the time to contribute to the discussions here, and I always appreciate the life and ministry of a brother Pastor, but I am honestly surprised at the misrepresentation that you have set forth. As soon as I read your article, I went to Ligonier’s web page and was able to immediately locate R.C. Sproul’s perspective of perseverance. He said, “if we think salvation is gained by our own good works and we are further deluded into believing that we possess good works, we will have a false assurance of salvation. To have sound assurance we must understand that our salvation rests upon the merit of Christ alone, which is appropriated to us when we embrace Him by genuine faith.” (From Sproul’s article, “Fear Not.”)

It seems quite obvious that you have waded into the discussion with presuppositions that you did not care to question or verify. Such activity has been all to common from both sides. Calvinists should not knowingly misrepresent the traditionalist’s position, nor should traditionalists knowingly misrepresent the Calvinist’s position. Such activity only frustrates what should be a loving dialogue between brothers and sisters in Christ. I sincerely hope you will be more careful in the future. I would hope further that you would retract this article. David Allen wrote an excellent post on this very site on July 4 entitled “The Current SBC Calvinism Debate: Observations, Clarifications, and Suggestions.” It was one of the best, most humble pieces I have seen on this site in recent days. Please read it. I bid you well, brother.

Ben Simpson

Bro Bill’s thesis is that perseverance is a work of man while preservation is a work of God, and since Calvinistic believers hold to the doctrine of perseverance, they really have no assurance of salvation. In my opinion, he has engaging in polemical language that has no basis in reality by making perseverance and preservation seem mutually exclusive. It’s easier to take swings at the other side this way.

Perhaps we should first turn to the BF&M, which says, “All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.”

It seems to me that the BF&M carries with it both ideas of perseverance and preservation. They are not mutually exclusive. God’s preserving work leads to my perseverance in the faith, and if at any point I cease to persevere, I prove to have been a false convert and not a true believe in Jesus Christ. And, every person who perseveres owes it completely to God. Salvation is a gift from God from beginning to end, and at no point can we point to our own work!

Scripture certainly points to the idea of perseverance. Consider Matt 10:22, 13:3-7, 18-23, 24:13; 2 Timothy 2:12; and James 1:12. Given the fact that endure is a synonym for persevere and both have the same Greek word hupomeno behind them, these verses clearly point to the fact that only those who believe until the day they die will be saved.

Indeed, the idea of perseverance is a much needed corrective to much of our Southern Baptist understanding of salvation. There’s so much emphasis on the fact that a person believed on Christ to the exclusion of the fact that a person is believing on Christ still. Our assurance should not be rooted upon a past action. Rather it’s rooted upon a present ongoing reality–I am still trusting Christ and loving Christ to this day. Too many people (not necessarily those in the church but rather those in the community) think that a profession of faith in the past secures them forever even though there is no present reality of a relationship with Christ. That’s so wrong and will lead to many hearing from Jesus, “Depart from Me. I never knew you.”

I have complete assurance of my salvation because of my ongoing faith in Christ! So, in my opinion, Bro Bill is simply wrong in his assertion that 5-pt Calvinists cannot have assurance of salvation.

carl peterson

First I want to say that I am reformed. I also want to say that this is one part of reformed teaching that I have some questions regarding. I just do not know what I feel and think about looking to our own works as proof of our salvation. It just does not sit well with me. However I see where the teaching is in scripture. Well at least the partial teaching. I am not sure it is all there as reformed theology teaches. Still investigating it. But in scripture that the good tree will have the good fruit and 1 John supports at least partially this teaching. I just do not know if it teaches someone trying to figure out how much fruit is necessary for one to know he is saved. I see my good works as rubbish and that I might never seem to have good enough works to verify that I am saved. So i do sympathize some what with this post.

However, this post (like others on here) argues against a Calvinist strawman instead of true Calvinism. I am amazed by the level of knowledge of reformed theology by many pastors and teachers that have published articles on this site. It is misrepresentation after misrepresentation. I do not think the misrepresentation is on purpose. I think that these pastors and teachers are just reacting on an emotional level to Calvinism instead of looking into it in a more intellectual way. Or it could be from these pastors and teachers only reading books about how calvinism is wrong instead of source documents.

But this post has to be one of greatest misrepresentations of Calvinism yet. I have never read a CAlvinist argue that one keeps his or her salvation through good works. good works are ALWAYS an out growth of true salvation and not the cause.

“They live in the world of wondering when or if they have done enough to please God.”

NO. No. Calvinists are completely against this. It does not take along when reading reforemed theology that the statement quoted is completely antithetical to Reformed theology. In fact that is one of the main reasons why Calvinists argue for unonditional election.

I have tried to be very accomadating in this blog regarding the articles and the bias. But this article’s misrepresentation of Calvinism really blew me away.

    Dean

    What We Believe About the Five Points of Calvinism
    Revised March, 1998
    March 1, 1985 | by John Piper | Topic: The Doctrines of Grace / Calvinism

    It follows from what was just said that the people of God WILL persevere to the end and not be lost. The foreknown are predestined, the predestined are called, the called are justified, and the justified are glorified. No one is lost from this group. To belong to this people is to be eternally secure.

    But we mean more than this by the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. We mean that the saints will and must persevere in the obedience which comes from faith. Election is unconditional, but glorification is not. There are many warnings in Scripture that those who do not hold fast to Christ can be lost in the end.

    Nevertheless, we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith.

    The above direct quotes are taken from the cited webpage. Bro. Carl you now have read a Calvinist theologian who states plainly my salvation is contingent upon obedience that is produced by faith.

    I do not believe Calvinist believe for a moment that they must work to produce salvation. However I have read hundreds of pages on the fact that Calvinist cannot be sure they are the redeemed until they endure to the end. Piper said in his own paper I must be obedient all the way to the end or I’m not the redeemed. How can you such a person be assured of their salvation?
    The transitional SBC will tell you I have the assurance of my salvation because I was present when I was born again and know what Christ did in my life. When Paul gave his testimony he recanted the Damascus road experience not his church planting endeavors.

      Not The Original Les

      Since it’s apparently pick on Piper (POP) day, let’s look at some more Piper. You see, some here have lifted something he said from decades of sermons and writing. If you are to understand Piper or any other Calvinist, you should fairly look at the body of his work and then place that quote in context. Here is an excerpt from a sermon delivered April 1992. I’ll only quote the intro. Feel free to fairly respond after clicking over to read the whole thing.

      Introduction: The Necessity of Holy Living
      How can you have the assurance of salvation if holiness is necessary?

      Vast portions of the Christian church today in America seek assurance by making holiness of life unnecessary. If holiness of life is not necessary to get to heaven, then an unholy person can have assurance that he will get there. They don’t just deny that perfection is not required for entering heaven (which is true; we do not attain practical perfection in this life); but they go beyond that and say that no degree of obedience or holiness or purity or goodness or love or repentance or transformation is required for entering heaven. They say that if God required any measure of practical obedience or holiness, it would do three terrible things: 1) nullify grace and 2) contradict justification by faith alone and 3) destroy assurance.

      But that is not true. The Bible teaches that none of those things happen when the biblical necessity for holy living is rightly understood. There is a glorious assurance in the Christian life! But it is not found by denying the demand for holiness.

      1. Does Not Nullify Grace

      The necessity of holy living does not nullify grace.

      It is based squarely on the pardon of grace. And it demonstrates the power of grace. In 1 Corinthians 15:10 Paul said, “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain but I worked harder than any of them. Nevertheless it was not I but the grace of God which is with me.” Grace is not only the pardon that passes over our badness; it is also the power that produces our goodness. If God says that it’s necessary for grace to do that, it is not a nullifying of grace when we agree with him.

      2. Does Not Contradict Justification by Faith Alone

      The necessity of holy living does not contradict justification by faith alone.

      Three weeks ago I tried to show that all the sins of God’s people, past, present, and future, are forgiven because of the death of Christ once for all. I said that this justification on the basis of Christ’s death for us is the foundation of sanctification—not the other way around. I put it like this: the only sin we can fight against successfully is a forgiven sin. Without a once-for-all justification through Christ, the only thing that our striving for holiness produces is despair or self-righteousness.

      But I did not say that the work of God in justification makes the work of God in sanctification optional. I didn’t say (the Bible doesn’t say) that forgiveness makes holiness optional. It doesn’t make it optional, it makes it possible. What we will see today is that the God who justifies also sanctifies. The faith that justifies also satisfies—it satisfies the human heart and frees it from the deceptive satisfactions of sin. Faith is the expulsive power of a new affection (Thomas Chalmers). That is why justification and the process of sanctification always go together. They both come from the same faith. Perfection comes at the end of life when we die or when Christ returns, but the pursuit of holy living begins with the first mustard seed of faith. That’s the nature of saving faith. It finds satisfaction in Christ and so is weaned away from the satisfactions of sin.

      3. Does Not Destroy Assurance

      The necessity of holy living does not destroy assurance.

      The human mind might reason like this: if some measure of holy living is required and if it cannot be precisely quantified—if you can’t tell me exactly how much is necessary—then that requirement will always leave me unsure if I have enough. So any requirement for holiness or obedience at all destroys assurance.

      But this is simply not the reasoning of the Bible. The Bible shows abundantly that there is a “holiness without which we will not see the Lord” and we are told in Hebrews 12:14 to “pursue” it. But it does not imply that this destroys assurance. And the reason it doesn’t is what today’s sermon is about. Namely, God’s commitment to sanctify us—to make us as holy as we need to be in this life—is as sure as his election and his predestination and his justification and his call. What gives us assurance in this matter is not primarily focusing on the measure of our holiness, but on the measure of God’s faithfulness to do the sanctifying work he promises to do. There’s the key.

      http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/sermons/god-sanctifies-his-people

      Piper’s sermons and books are easy to find, that is if you want to quote him honestly rather than erect a straw man so you can easily knock it over. And what ever happened to RC? Are we through picking on him?

      Les

        Lydia

        Les, Piper has worked hard to make himself a public figure and market his words. To analyze and discuss his works is fair game. It is not “picking on him”. I have found this to be the typical response when one disagrees with a celebrity Calvinist.

        One of the problems with Piper is that he is so flowery and verbose, many times he is confusing and seems to contradict some of his earlier teaching.

        Besides all that, he teaches that women should take abuse “for a season”. I say, him first. :o)

          Not The Original Les

          Oh Lydia, Picking on him. That was just for fun.

          Of course his works are fair game. Just try to be intellectually honest about it. Have you read the entire piece the excerpt Dean pasted in came from? ?

          And, have you ever met Piper? If there is any well known figure less “celebrity” I don’t know who that would be. John Mac maybe. Both of those men seek no fame. None.

          Abuse for a time? Definitions Lydia. :) I’ll give the “wink” a break.

            Lydia

            “And, have you ever met Piper? If there is any well known figure less “celebrity” I don’t know who that would be. John Mac maybe. Both of those men seek no fame. None. ”

            Yes, met him several times. Have family that went to study with him after Wheaton. Read most of his books and listened to him for many years. Still do.

            I especially find amusing his declaration that women should be careful in giving driving directions to men so they won’t look to be “teaching” them.

            I fear many are engaged more with Piper’s flowery verbose passion and fail to analyze his meanings. When analyzed and taking changed definitions into consideration such things as Christian Hedonism and the “Scream of the Damned” are problems. Those are just a few. And Christian Hedonism has become it’s own doctrine for many.

      Not The Original Les

      Oh, and Dean. You forgot to finish the quote:

      “Nevertheless, we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith. The way these two truths fit together is that those who do not lead a life of faith with its inevitable fruit of obedience simply bear witness to the fact that their first act of faith was not genuine.”

      I’m not expecting it, but I recommend trads go and read this entire piece by Piper. http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/articles/what-we-believe-about-the-five-points-of-calvinism#Perseverance

      You may still disagree, but at least you will have a full context. You might even agree with him on some of it, such as eternal security of the believer, etc.

        Lydia

        “Nevertheless, we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith. The way these two truths fit together is that those who do not lead a life of faith with its inevitable fruit of obedience simply bear witness to the fact that their first act of faith was not genuine.”

        Calvinists cannot have “faith”, they must wait around for it to be given to them. They have total inability.

          Not The Original Les

          Lydia,

          You are so predictable. So please delineate where your theology on this matter differs with what Piper said. Where. Specifics. Rather than attempted cheap shots. (wink)

        Dean

        Les, I posted the title to the entire paper so people can read it if they want. You act like your giving people something I didn’t know existed. I have read the entire paper.

        “I’m not expecting it.” What a quote. I sure wish I could read as well as the enlightened, chosen ones. They are sure smart and we who believe Jesus died for the entire world are still trying to figure out that fancy book learning. What I do not expect is for a reformed individual to be open to interpreting truth when presented. The man said his salvation was dependent on him being faithful to the end. I do not believe he is teaching that he must work for his salvation but he is teaching that until you reach the end and have been faithful then and only then can you know you are the redeemed.

        For such a well read enlightened individual surely you have read such comments before by reformed theologians. It has been topic of countless discussions of the reformed through the years. How do you identify the redeemed. Note again I did not say the elect.

        Forgive my grammar brother I’m sure it is all wrong and full of misspelled words but when I start to read something my little ol mind just gets exhausted and overwhelmed so I never mastered English.

        Sarcastically Yours, :)))) Dean

          Not The Original Les

          ean,

          I’ve read many. And maybe what you think Piper is teaching is what he is teaching. I look at the entire piece, other sermons on the subject and come to a different conclusion.

          I apologize if what I said demeaned you. Or was a little to sarcastic. I can tend to that, especially when Bill and others purport to tell me what I believe and what I cannot believe.

          I just think what you and others are doing is taking part of what he said and extrapolating it to mean something he does not intend. That’s all.

          Blessings to you brother.

          Les

            Not The Original Les

            Sorry Dean. I left off the D in your name a few minutes ago. Never could typw very well.

            Dean

            Les, I was not really offended I’m just a big wise guy too. Please do not think you offended me. If I’m well read I will not be offended by what you said if I’m not its truth.

            I honestly have thought through my reading that Calvinist have historically had difficult in identifying the redeemed. The redeemed will be faithful to the end because of the work of Christ in them. One cannot know for certain until they reach the end. If RC Sproul were to run off with a burlesque show he is part of the redeemed? He was not faithful till the end. Traditionalist have pointed to the moment of conversion, Calvinist have pointed to the obedience till the end produced by faith. If I have misrepresented any Calvinistic teaching I am sorry it was not done so with evil intentions. Still sarcastically yours, Dean

Chris G

I am a 5-point Calvinist, and I have assurance of salvation right now. Every 5-point Calvinist I know is sure of their salvation. This article is not accurate.

Rev. Bill Harrell has misrepresented R. C. Sproul in this article and Calvinism. R. C. Sproul’s talking about one instance of doubt is not the same as Sproul saying that we cannot have assurance of salvation or that he doesn’t have assurance of salvation.

Also, perseverance, as Calvinists understand it, is God-centered. God works in us to will and to do for his good pleasure.

Not The Original Les

And while we are at it, on assurance (not based on anecdotal statements by some):

Chapter 18: Of the Assurance of Grace and Salvation

1. Although temporary believers, and other unregenerate men, may vainly deceive themselves with false hopes and carnal presumptions of being in the favour of God and state of salvation, which hope of theirs shall perish; yet such as truly believe in the Lord Jesus, and love him in sincerity, endeavouring to walk in all good conscience before him, may in this life be certainly assured that they are in the state of grace, and may rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, which hope shall never make them ashamed.
( Job 8:13, 14; Matthew 7:22, 23; 1 John 2:3; 1 John 3:14, 18, 19, 21, 24; 1 John 5:13; Romans 5:2, 5 )

2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and, as a fruit thereof, keeping the heart both humble and holy.
( Hebrews 6:11, 19; Hebrews 6:17, 18; 2 Peter 1:4, 5, 10, 11; Romans 8:15, 16; 1 John 3:1-3 )

3. This infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties before he be partaker of it; yet being enabled by the Spirit to know the things which are freely given him of God, he may, without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of means, attain thereunto: and therefore it is the duty of every one to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure, that thereby his heart may be enlarged in peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, in love and thankfulness to God, and in strength and cheerfulness in the duties of obedience, the proper fruits of this assurance; -so far is it from inclining men to looseness.
( Isaiah 50:10; Psalms 88; Psalms 77:1-12; 1 John 4:13; Hebrews 6:11, 12; Romans 5:1, 2, 5; Romans 14:17; Psalms 119:32; Romans 6:1,2; Titus 2:11, 12, 14 )

4. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as by negligence in preserving of it, by falling into some special sin which woundeth the conscience and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation, by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance, and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light, yet are they never destitute of the seed of God and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are preserved from utter despair.
( Song of Solomon 5:2, 3, 6; Psalms 51:8, 12, 14; Psalms 116:11; Psalms 77:7, 8; Psalms 31:22; Psalms 30:7; 1 John 3:9; Luke 22:32; Psalms 42:5, 11; Lamentations 3:26-31 )

LBC

    Bob

    “True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as by negligence in preserving of it..

    So the “preserving of it” is the human part, failure of which can lead to a lack of assurance.

    “…this assurance may in due time be revived…”

    So, again, for the “True believers” assurance can be revived, but until then (if it happens at all) there is not assurance for the Calvinist.

    Much better than, it is, to know the truth that Salvation is universally offered and our Salvation is in God’s hand from the moment we first believed. Assurance coming from our Faith in Him rather than our ability to “persevere”.

      Darryl Hill

      Bob, our assurance is NEVER based on our ability to persevere. If that were the case, none of us could rightly have assurance. Our assurance is based on God’s ongoing work in me. From article 2 just above…

      “This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and, as a fruit thereof, keeping the heart both humble and holy.”

      The above article, if I’m being generous, is at best an exaggeration of the position calvinists actually hold.

        Darryl Hill

        I wish we could edit: in my last sentence, when referring to “the above article” I was referring to the original article posted by Brother Harrell, just to be clear.

Bob

For those who object to the OP

How do you know if you are one of the elect before you “neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved”?

Calvinists also believe that all who are born again and justified before God necessarily and inexorably proceed to sanctification. Failure to proceed to sanctification in their view is considered by some as evidence that the person in question was never truly saved to begin with. – from Wayne Grudem via wikipedia

So, how can you know that you know before “the end”?

    Ben Simpson

    As I said above, you know right now because you continue to savingly believe on Christ. That’s where our assurance comes from. 1 Thessalonians 1:3-5 makes this abundantly clear: “We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; 3 constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, 4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; 5 for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. ”

    It’s that simple!

    If you know by some other means, please do tell!

      Donald

      Ben, I am not saying that a believer can’t know. I’m saying that the logical end of Calvinism leaves the believer without assurance until “the end”.

      A Calvinist who does not understand this does not understand Calvinism.

      It is Calvinism that is wrong, not the Bible.

      Ben Simpson

      Donald, I’m not sure how the logical end of Calvinism destroys assurance. Could you help me understand how this is true instead of just declaring it so?

      I have full assurance right now. I know I am elect because I believe on Christ. That’s the root of my assurance, and it’s sweet!

      There are certainly those that should not have a feeling of assurance because they are not actually saved! Again, as I said above, look at the parable of the sower. Two of the four scenarios make a profession of faith but wither away. Yet, many in the church today would assure people of those two scenarios that they are secure and shouldn’t worry because they once made a profession of faith. Jesus is clearly telling us that only the ones who do not wither will be the ones who are saved. Therefore, the assurance of my salvation is in the reality that my faith hasn’t withered away.

      Donald, do you believe the Bible to teach Lordship Salvation?

        Brad Reynolds

        Ben
        Please help me understand as I think the question being asked is something like this (in my own words): 1) If no one knows who the elect are and 2) faith is a gift that God chooses to give to certain individuals and 3) some think they have the gift (Lord, Lord…; etc) but really don’t then how does a Calvinist know he really received the gift from God? Your answer is you know because you have full assurance right now. But what if you do not have full assurance next year? Hence, the point.

        The Trad would answer by saying by God’s Grace I know I chose to believe and God saves all those who truly believe. But the Calvinist cannot say “I know I chose to believe;” he must say “I BELIEVE God chose me to believe” (because surely a Calvinist cannot KNOW God’s actions) and thus some apparent doubt and thus the question how do you KNOW God chose you? Do not some think he chose them but He really didn’t (Lord, Lord…)?

        I am not at all saying anyone here who is a Calvinist cannot know He is saved. I think you can because even if you are a Calvinist I think your system is wrong. I think perhaps the point is not “you can’t know!” but rather we are confused as to how your system of belief is reconciled with the fact you do know. I hope that makes sense.

        PS – If I were a Calvinist I know how I think I would answer the question but I am curious as to how a Calvinist would answer.

          Ben Simpson

          Brad, with all due respect, it is absurd to posit that Calvinists believe that people don’t choose to believe on Christ. I wanted to believe on Christ and freely did so. I chose to believe on Christ as well. We both chose to believe on Christ, leading unto salvation!

          As for you big question, your first conditional statement is faulty. You said, “If no one knows who the elect are…” You see, neither you nor I know who the elect are until they believe. That’s the point of 1 Thess 1:2-5. But once they believe, we know who the elect are. There is a 1:1 correlation between the elect and those who believe–ie, the elect = the believing. So, we we do who the elect after they believe.

          Your second conditional “if…faith is a gift that God chooses to give to certain individuals,” misses the nuance that I mentioned above. Faith indeed is a gift, but when it’s given, it becomes MY faith. As I said, I wanted to believe on and choose Christ and freely did so.

          As for your third conditional “if…some think they have the gift (Lord, Lord…; etc) but really don’t,” surely you would agree that there are those who think they have faith but do not. I can think of a hundred personal anecdotes and pull many from the Scripture that points to this fact. I know, you contend it’s not a gift, but either way, we both agree that there are those who falsely profess.

          So, how does a Calvinist know a person has received the gift of faith from God?

          1) that person repents and believes on Christ for their salvation
          2) that person has an inner witness of the Holy Spirit
          3) that person increasingly produces the fruit of Christlikeness
          4) that person perseveres in the faith by the preservation of God until the day they die

          I bet you’d say the same thing! Would you agree? Surely you are not basing your assurance simply on a “choice” you made at one point. Surely there is more than that!

          I hope I’ve cleared up the confusion you are having, Brad.

            Brad Reynolds

            Ben
            No offense intended on my end, brother. And this is certainly not my “Big Question” – that question involves infants:)

            Pardon my ignorance if you will, but it is a little confusing that “faith” is something I have no choice to possess or exercise until God chooses that I must choose to believe and then somehow I’m the one who choosing it. Please, don’t be offended, this is not intended as such but it is intended to show legitimate reason why Calvinism causes some of us struggles.

            As to your correction of my “we don’t know who the elect are” you are not saying all those who profess to believe are the elect (based on the rest of your comment)

            so…

            Surely we do not know which ones who “say” they believe really believe. And if we don’t know then we Don’t Know who the elect are.

            Further, my point was never that you could not have assurance! I think I have stated that numerous times. But rather in my mind the idea that I believe I am one of the ones God gave faith to (and not one who thinks God gave me faith only to find out at the end I was one of the Lord Lord…lost) is not quite as secure as I Know I chose to trust. While both are dependent on God’s grace – the former is further dependent on the belief of the action of another (God) while the latter is a knowledge of ones own actions. Believing someone else has done something does not seem quite as secure as knowing what we have done.

            Now, you argue that once given it becomes mine. But the issue is the giving (not what happens after the giving). Thus, your belief God gave you the gift of faith so that you could express your faith does not seem quite as secure as I know what my actions were. Again, probably semantics to you, which is why I have stated this is not a big issue for me. Just trying to help you understand why it could be a big issue for some non-calvinists.

            Ben Simpson

            Let’s you and I not go round and round about the infants again. My answer didn’t suffice for you, and yours didn’t suffice for me although I did enjoy the discussion.

            You hedged a few times to make sure I wasn’t offended. I’m not offended now or from your earlier comment. Yes, faith is a gift. Yes, I chose Christ. That’s not a contradiction. I was not saved against my will. I wanted to trust Christ. Although God was the determining factor in my choosing Christ, I nevertheless freely chose Him because I did what I wanted to do. Therefore, I say along with you that I chose Christ.

            As to your comment on my comment that the elect = the believing, now I’m confused. Don’t you agree that there are those who are seemingly elect evidenced by their profession of faith but in the end prove to have a false professor and not the elect? I can’t believe that you’d disagree with this. You and I should have 100% agreement that we know the elect because they believe.

            I really think you guys are trying to make this too complicated just to stand against your Calvinistic brethren. There is so much that we agree on: 1) No one saved unless they hear the gospel and believe on Christ; 2) All who want to be saved will be saved; and 3) All who believe on Christ are the elect. I feel like you guys are disagreeing just to be different from Calvinistic Christians.

            By the way, do you agree or disagree with my list of how we know a person has truly trusted in Christ?:

            1) that person repents and believes on Christ for their salvation
            2) that person has an inner witness of the Holy Spirit
            3) that person increasingly produces the fruit of Christlikeness
            4) that person perseveres in the faith by the preservation of God until the day they die

        Donald

        “do you believe the Bible to teach Lordship Salvation?”

        I probably need you to define the term as you understand it. I really missed that whole debate.

        From what I do understand I would have an issue with salvation being only an adult decision (as per MacArthur). I have to wonder just how much one must understand at the moment she is born again. Is the Lordship of Christ spiritual milk for the new born infant? Is it enough to be under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, repent and believe unto Jesus Christ as Savior? Can a fuller understanding of Lordship come after the new birth? I would tend to answer yes to each of these. How much did the thief on the Cross understand about the Lordship of Christ?

        Ben Simpson

        Donald, “Lordship Salvation” is the position that receiving Christ involves a turning in the heart from sin and, as a part of faith, a submissive commitment to obey Jesus Christ as Lord. It also maintains that progressive sanctification and perseverance must necessarily follow conversion.

        In common parlance, if Jesus ain’t your Lord, then He ain’t your Savior.

        Do you hold to Lordship Salvation?

    Bill Mac

    Bob: How do you know you are saved?

      Donald

      “Bob: How do you know you are saved?”

      Because I believe God.

        Donald

        Apologies…it was just pointed out to me that I’ve been mixing my first (Donald) and second (Robert/Bob) name a bit here. One and the same (me), but use first at home and second at work. Hopefully there was no unnecessary confusion.

        Bill Mac

        “Because I believe God.”

        That’s terrific. Me too. That’s why I don’t listen when a Calvinist tells me I can’t have assurance (which has never happened to me), or a non-Calvinist tells me I can’t have assurance (which is what this post says).

          Brad Reynolds

          Bill Mac
          Amen!!!

          When Bob says he believes God (or believed in God at the moment of salvation) what I think he means is he chose to believe God (and thus can know his choice). When a Calvinist says he believes God (or believed in God at the moment of salvation) what I think he means is he believes that God chose him and gave him belief (I use “believes” rather than “knows” because it seems somewhat forward to KNOW what God has done in regard to whom He elects – in other words you can KNOW your choices but you cannot KNOW God’s choices – yet you can believe you are one of God’s choices).

          I do not doubt you know…I am trying to figure out how that reconciles with the Calvinist belief of God giving him faith. Thus, the query – please see above comment to Ben for more clarification. Thanks

            Not The Original Les

            Brad, If I may jump in for a moment and speak at least for myself.

            “I am trying to figure out how that reconciles with the Calvinist belief of God giving him faith.”

            Calvinists also believe that we truly exercise the instrument of faith. Yes it is a gift. But God does not “believe” for us. We believe. Then there is internal witness as expressed by the Calvinistic confession LBC quoted elsewhere here on assurance:

            2. This certainty is not a bare conjectural and probable persuasion grounded upon a fallible hope, but an infallible assurance of faith founded on the blood and righteousness of Christ revealed in the Gospel; and also upon the inward evidence of those graces of the Spirit unto which promises are made, and on the testimony of the Spirit of adoption, witnessing with our spirits that we are the children of God; and, as a fruit thereof, keeping the heart both humble and holy.
            ( Hebrews 6:11, 19; Hebrews 6:17, 18; 2 Peter 1:4, 5, 10, 11; Romans 8:15, 16; 1 John 3:1-3 )

            The Spirit bears witness with our spirits same as you all believe.

            In addition, I think, your view that “your choice” brings any more certainty, if that is what you’re saying, is not true. There are surely as many non-Calvinists people who have made false professions of faith and have struggled with assurance.

            Les

            Brad Reynolds

            Les
            Thanks for answering – I assumed the spirit bearing witness would be the answer. And that’s good by me – the issue is individuals on both sides have doubts – of this you are correct.

            When we have doubts I assume we would say “my assurances against my doubts are the Spirit’s witness and I Know I chose to believe in Christ.” for me that seems more stable than “my assurances are the Spirit’s witness and I believe God gave me faith”.

Bill Mac

If Sproul believes one can’t have assurance of salvation, he’s wrong. Period. I didn’t elect him the Calvinist pope. He’s not even Baptist. Shall we quote Joel Osteen to prove what non-Calvinists believe, how about Ed. Young Jr.?

Every Calvinist (as far as I know) who has commented here has rejected the assertion. Shall we collect signatures?

    Lydia

    “If Sproul believes one can’t have assurance of salvation, he’s wrong. Period. I didn’t elect him the Calvinist pope. He’s not even Baptist. Shall we quote Joel Osteen to prove what non-Calvinists believe, how about Ed. Young Jr.?

    Every Calvinist (as far as I know) who has commented here has rejected the assertion. Shall we collect signatures?”

    Bill Mac,

    Sproul has been quoted here on almost every thread to affirm and prove Calvinistic doctrine. Now he is inconvenient.

      Not The Original Les

      Lydia,

      First, do a count. I don’t think he has been quoted on almost every thread. Nevertheless, whether or not he has, he is not the final word. But as Bill Mac said, maybe we should start attributing Ed Young’s sex sermons and his theology to al you non-Calvinists. (wink)

        Lydia

        Les, you have quoted Sproul quite a bit in the threads as the go to guy for understanding.

        If I told you what I thought of Ed Young, Jr, on this thread I would be banned. It is that bad. I have been outspoken on his behavior and false teaching on other blogs and the posts dedicated to him.

          Not The Original Les

          Yes, I’ve quoted him a few times. Look it up. I suspect I’ve quoted Baptists as much or more including the LBC.

          EYj is a non-Calvinist. We most likely won’t, but if we quoted his views and then said non-Calvinists believe ______. You’d rightly cry foul. That’s the point.

            Lydia

            Les, Have I once quoted Ed Young, Jr? You analogy to try and map me to non Calvinist Young does not fit. I would not listen to him concerning recipe recommendations.

            And you have quoted Sproul a lot. Even way back when I brought up the Ligoneir lawsuit scandal you did not know about.

            What is it with you guys and rewriting history and changing definitions. Just admit you have quoted Sproul quite a bit.

            Not The Original Les

            Lydia,

            “Have I once quoted Ed Young, Jr?”

            Did I say you have? Nevertheless he is quite a well known SB (embarrassment?) non-Calvinist. He actually may be a better one to “pick on” than Piper since Piper is not SB.

            “And you have quoted Sproul a lot. Even way back when I brought up the Ligoneir lawsuit scandal you did not know about.”

            Definitions Lydia always says. What is “a lot?” And no need to go Clintonian on me. You are regularly harping on definitions.
            And the Ligonier thing? I knew about it. I think I said I wasn’t very familiar with it.

            “What is it with you guys and rewriting history and changing definitions. Just admit you have quoted Sproul quite a bit.”

            We aren’t. And I am guilty of quoting Sproul. How much? Don’t remember. Aren’t you keeping a tab on it? (wink)

      Bill Mac

      I have never quoted him. Plus I think you are exaggerating.

Eddie OBrien

Curious…

If all of this was “pre-determined” before the foundation of the world, then does it really matter if you know that you are saved, or elect? Isn’t it correct to say that you either “are” or “are not” saved? If humanity has no moral responsibility with reference to eternal salvation or damnation, then what’s all of the fuss? Perhaps if you are certain of your salvation, it is only because God pre-determined that you be assured… Maybe there are some elect that God decided not to grant assurance of their salvation… sorry! I suppose that there are some out there who are “elect” and never know it… I also suspect that there are those who think they are “elect” and are not… (“Lord, Lord, we did… in Your name… I never knew you…”). So, I say, lighten up everyone… It’s all good… or, maybe not… Well, never mind, it’s not up to me to say!

Sorry for the absurdity, but if you think about it, non-sense makes little sense! I think!

Norm Miller

Attributed to Piper in scores of references:
“Nevertheless, we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith.”
So, Calvinists, which is it? Is my salvation contingent upon my obedience (perseverance), or upon Christ’s preservation? If I understand JP, my salvation is “contingent” upon MY performance. — Norm

    Bill Mac

    Piper is wrong. He too, has not been elected the Calvinist pope. He too is not Southern Baptist.

      Norm Miller

      He is a Baptist, however. — Norm

        Bill Mac

        I fail to see how Piper being a baptist makes him the spokesman for SBC Calvinists.

          Lydia

          Bill Mac, I am not sure how to prove this except just to say that Piper is one of the most influential Calvinists out there. He is revered by many YRR. I know this just being at ground zero.

            Bill Mac

            Joel Osteen is one of the most influential non-Calvinists out there. It proves nothing.

    Darryl W

    What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
    (James 2:14 ESV)

    James wasn’t sure on this one, either. Perhaps he is the precursor to Calvinism. Good Grief! Norm.

      Norm Miller

      To say “James wasn’t sure” is to assail the very inspiration of God the Holy Spirit. That’s bad, Darryl W. — Norm

        Darryl W

        Norm, It was sarcasm. But thanks for reminding another godless Calvinist that the Scriptures are inspired.

        Perhaps the reason many of you see a duality in Calvinists is because your noses are dividing the view as you look down on us.

          Norm Miller

          More sarcasm, Darryl? That helps. — Norm

            Darryl W

            Sorry, I cannot believe that you are the same Norm that runs this site. Are we being trolled?

            -Darryl

    John

    Norm,
    You can only wish you were as published and read as much as John Piper with millions of sentences to be Judged by men like you. But you as one with out error can walk in indignant righteousness of Piper.

    But hey it has nothing to do with the original post and you are the editor here so go ahead and derail.

      Lydia

      “You can only wish you were as published and read as much as John Piper with millions of sentences to be Judged by men like you. But you as one with out error can walk in indignant righteousness of Piper.”

      Oh dear. By that measure, Osteen and Warren win out. Guess that makes them right, too, if we are going to be impressed with numbers.

      Norm Miller

      I have no such wishes as you suggest. Instead of attacking me, why not deal with Piper’s assertion that my ultimate salvation is “contingent” upon my performance? You’re choosing to attack me rather than deal with one of your own who undercuts by his own words what Cs have been trying to deny all day long. — Norm

    rhutchin

    If God is not “working in the person both to will and to do of his good pleasure” then what salvation does that person think he has? Do not preachers say with James that “faith without works” is dead? That salvation of which Piper speaks is “made contingent” upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith. By “made contingent,” Piper means that God gives a person faith which faith will most certainly guide (might we say, drive) the person to obedience? We should understand JP to say, “my salvation is ‘contingent’ upon GOD’s performance.” He is, after all, Calvinist.

David R. Brumbelow

Now I think I understand. Calvinists believe you can have assurance of salvation – and they don’t believe you can have assurance of salvation. Just pick whichever one is suitable for the current debate. And you better watch out for the parsing and nuance in the words.

And anyone who disagrees either does not understand Calvinism, or is misrepresenting Calvinism. Ever hear of double-speak?

For example, I am a premillennialist. I’m also am aware there are a hundred different versions of premillennialism. Suppose someone says premillennialists set dates for the Return of Christ. I will not say you don’t understand premillennialism, that you are setting up a straw man, or that you are misrepresenting it. I will simply say, “Some premillennialists have done so, and they are wrong. But the premillennialists I know and agree with certainly do not believe in setting dates.”
Why is that so difficult? Why can’t Calvinists do that? God bless the Calvinists that do.
David R. Brumbelow

    Bill Mac

    David: Have you never spoken of Calvinists or Calvinism as a single monolithic group of people? Never? Is that not what Mr. Harrell did?

      David R. Brumbelow

      Bill Mac,
      We all have. Why can’t in reply Calvinists simply say, “Well yes, some Calvinists believe you can’t have assurance of salvation, but we don’t all believe that.” Why all the stuff about “Calvinists” don’t believe that.

      Actually I was commending guys like you when you said, “If Sproul believes one can’t have assurance of salvation, he’s wrong. Period.”

      Why all the defensiveness? Not you personally, just in general.

      When the Traditional Statement came out many Calvinists condemned it for misrepresenting Calvinism. No it didn’t. It just stated what Traditionalists believe and contrasted that with some, not all, Calvinist doctrine. I’ll guarantee you that “some” Calvinists believe what the Traditional Statement refers to. Traditionalists often get lectured as misrepresenting Calvinism when they have virtually quoted Calvinists word for word. For example, see the discussion of Dr. Roy Fish in “Whosoever Will” by Allen & Lemke (p. 115-116).
      David R. Brumbelow

        Bill Mac

        David: Yes, that’s the first step. That’s why trotting out Calvin and Servetus or other misdeeds of Calvinists or extremists serves no purpose but to widen the divide. I was serious in a previous comment. Rather than telling us what we believe, why not just ask us? That’s a discussion.

          Lydia

          Bill, To ignore the deeds of the man whose name you go by? I find that incongruous.

            Bill Mac

            So call me reformed then, or a believer in the doctrines of grace. Whatever. It’s just a word. I feel no guilt over the death of Servetus, just as I feel no guilt over the death of Uriah.

John

For a couple months now I have been wondering if Traditionalists are truly considering crossing the Rubicon. Each day that passes here at SBCToday the sword rattling becomes louder and louder. I started wondering where are the leaders? When I saw Truett-McConnell College start to get involved at SBCToday I thought this would elevate debate to discussions and a chance for communication.
Now I just see Matthew 7:5.
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Along with this:
Luke 19:9
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

I have read a lot of Righteous articles from Traditionalist at SBCToday along with comments:
“Most Baptists (or Traditionalists) get it exactly right.”

Mark 2:17(ESV)
17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Luke 18:9-14 (ESV)
9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector,standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    Norm Miller

    For some time now I have been wondering if Calvinists are truly considering crossing the Rubicon. Each day that passes at numerous Calvinistic blog sites, the sword rattling becomes louder and louder. I wonder if the Calvinistic leaders will step in and elevate debate to discussions and a chance for communication.
    Now I just see Matthew 7:5.
    You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
    Along with this: Luke 19:9
    9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
    I have read a lot of Righteous articles from Calvinists on other blogs, along with comments:
    “Most Baptists (or Calvinists) get it exactly right.”
    Mark 2:17(ESV)
    17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
    Luke 18:9-14 (ESV)
    9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector,standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

      John

      More sarcasm, Norm? Does that helps recruitment at Truett-McConnell College? — John

        Eddie

        …therefore you return sarcasm… followed by insult to an institution… because Norm used your same words against you… ???

        Norm Miller

        Just wanted you, John, to see that the shoe fits the other foot as well. — Norm

Darryl W

How do I know there was a man named Jesus Christ? How do I know He was the sinless Son of God? How do I know that God sent Him? How do I know that He actually died on that cross and took my sin? Thank God I don’t have to depend on somebody’s argument. The Holy Spirit of God is here to make that real in my heart. –Adrian Rodgers

The Scripture declares that the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. –R.C. Sproul

One has to work hard to divide the doctrine of Assurance by these two great Believers.

As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, (Titus 3:10 ESV)

Debbie Kaufman

Question: Can someone who sins and is not repentant, for example someone who leaves their spouse for another, not showing any signs of repentance, a born again Christian? Is someone who turns their back on Christ, their faith, and is agnostic or atheist, dying with no repentance of these acts, a true born again Christian? Is Ray Boltz, for example, a true born again Christian? Yet they said the prayer, they walked down the aisle, according to their testimony. Are they born again?

Is someone who has no love for Christ, no love for people, no love for God or no desire to read the Bible or learn more a true born again Christian?

Debbie Kaufman

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2012/07/26/christian-narcissism/

Would this article be agreed with or disagreed with by anyone on either side of this discussion?

What about this article?

http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/taste-see-articles/how-to-confirm-your-call-and-election

Donald

DK, can a Christian fall into sin and be unrepentant for a time? If so, how long a time and how serious a sin?

    Not The Original Les

    Donald,

    Yes and we don’t know how long or how serious. David, Bathsheba and Uriah?

    “3.In various ways-the temptations of Satan and of the world, the striving of indwelling sin to get the upper hand, the neglect of the means appointed for their preservation-saints may fall into fearful sins, and may even continue in them for a time.? In this way they incur God’s displeasure, grieve His Holy Spirit, do injury to their graces, diminish their comforts, experience hardness of heart and accusations of conscience, hurt and scandalize others, and bring God’s chastisements on themselves.? Yet being saints their repentance will be renewed, and through faith they will be preserved in Christ Jesus to the end. 2 Sam. 12:14; Ps. 32:3,4; 51:10,12; Isa. 64:5,9; Matt. 26:70,72,74; Luke 22:32,61,62; Eph. 4:30.”

      Lydia

      Oh dear. When we want to practice sin, we always trot out David from the Old Covenant to map to the New Covenant so we can practice sin. How far we going to take this? Born Again pedophiles?

        Will

        Whosoever will Lydia, isn’t that right?

      Not The Original Les

      Lydia,

      “When we want to practice sin…”

      Name the names of us who “want to practice sin…”

      Just using the bible here. :)

Wes

I thought I could be assured of my salvation if when I prayed the sinner’s prayer I really, really meant it…

Brad Reynolds

To my Calvinist brothers:
Please help me understand, as I think the question being asked is something like this (in my own words): 1) If no one knows who the elect are and 2) faith is a gift that God chooses to give to certain individuals and 3) some think they have the gift (Lord, Lord…; etc) but really don’t, then how does a Calvinist know he really received faith from God?

The Trad would answer by saying “by God’s grace I know I chose to believe.” But the Calvinist cannot say “I know I chose to believe;” he must say “I BELIEVE God chose me to believe” (because surely we cannot KNOW God’s actions) and thus some apparent doubt and thus the question how do you KNOW God chose you? In other words you can KNOW your choices but you cannot KNOW God’s choices. Do not some think he chose them but He really didn’t (Lord, Lord…)?

I am not, at all, saying anyone here, who is a Calvinist, cannot know he is saved. I think you can know (because of my belief system). I think perhaps the point (for me at least) is not “you can’t know!” but rather we are confused as to how your system of belief (Calvinism) is reconciled with the fact you do know. I hope that makes sense.

PS – If I were a Calvinist I know how I think I would answer the question but I am curious as to how a Calvinist would answer.

    Bill Mac

    Brad: Honestly, my answer is the same as yours. I have faith. I believe. I chose to accept Christ. That is my assurance.

      Brad Reynolds

      Bill Mac
      Thanks for your honesty. I don’t think that answered the distinction I made but I do appreciate the interaction.

        Bill Mac

        Brad: I reread and I’m trying to see where my answer fell short. I’m not quite seeing it. I think you are focusing on this idea that we don’t know who the elect are. Perhaps some Calvinists think like that but many, perhaps most, don’t. I don’t know, and you don’t know, who will come to Christ in the future. But we all know what we believe, and who around us are professed Christians. To my mind they are the elect. I would think, that the non-Calvinist would have to agree. I hope that however we may differ on how election works, that in the end Cals and non-Cals will agree that the body of Christ is the elect. Of course there are false professions, but they are not any more of a problem for Calvinists than for non-Calvinists.

        I think what the non-Calvinists here may be driving at is some bizarre idea that although we may have chosen to put our faith in Christ, that God may not have chosen us, and that our faith is in vain. There may be some paranoid Calvinists out there who think that way, but it seems wacky to me. “The elect” = “Christians, past, present, and future”. Can we not agree on that?

          Brad Reynolds

          Bill Mac
          Agreed. Not a big deal for me honestly. Personally I think infants are a little more difficult for Calvinists than this. But I think the distinction I am making is not that you aren’t sure. But in my mind the idea that I believe I am one of the ones God gave faith to (and not one who thinks god gave me faith only to find out at the end I was one of the Lord Lord…lost) is not quite as secure as I Know I chose to trust. While both are dependent on Gods grace – the former is further dependent on the belief of the action of another (God) while the latter is a knowledge of ones own actions. Believing someone else has done something does not seem quite as secure as knowing what we have done. Again – by what we have done I am not arguing our salvation – no one would say we save ourselves – it is all God in that respect – but rather our faith as opposed to the Cakvinist – God’s faith given to us as a gift if you will.

          Again – not an issue for me honestly, but I think this is in my words what seems to be the issue here.
          Thanks again foe helping me understand

            Bill Mac

            Brad: Again, I think we are getting closer. But I don’t think Cals have it the one way and non-Cals have it the other. Rather it seems to me that Calvinists have both, that is, I chose to trust, and God gave me faith. I daresay that most SBC Calvinists were non-Calvinists when they came to Christ, so all they know then is “I chose to trust”. Later, we think we know why we chose to trust. It would be odd indeed if in the movement from non-Calvinism to Calvinism, we also moved from assurance to doubt.

            Brad Reynolds

            Bill Mac
            Thank you brother. And once again I would never say any of you are less assure. I don’t think you are. It is the system that seems less assure not the individual. But I do appreciate your words. Pardon my ignorance of the concept if faith. Very few Calvinist I have met have ever said faith is ours. All have said it is God’s gift. I am not sure I could agree it is God’s gift to certain individuals which they are unable to resist and at the same time their personal free choice. But I have no horses in this race as I was just seeking to understand and thanks for helping.

    John

    Brad,
    I would give you some links to your question but this blog does not like links. So in Google or your favorite search engine you may wish to type in “calvinist doctrine of grace” You will get many views, you see Calvinist do not have one mind meld.

    We are starting to understand how Traditionalist have one mind meld. That is kind of a scary thought to Calvinist considering in 1000’s of years the Gospel has been available only cults have demonstrate singular thoughts and acceptable singular views.

      Brad Reynolds

      John
      If by one mind meld you are referencing our agreement that we have assurance because by God’s grace we chose to believe and can always Know we chose then you are correct. We also have one mind meld on the Trinity and saved by grace through faith. I think that makes us orthodox not a cult

        John

        Brad,

        “The Trad would answer by saying “by God’s grace I know I chose to believe.””

        “The Trad would answer by saying by God’s Grace I know I chose to believe and God saves all those who truly believe.”

        One mind one voice one cult in the making, thats what I mean Brad of one mind meld. One like yourself speaking for all. Your not doing a very good job representing Truett-McConnell College since you and Norm have taken over SBCToday showing the virtues of higher education at Truett-McConnell College.

        “Emir Caner of Truett-McConnell College has agreed to captain a new editorial team that is being assembled. The transition of SBC Today to TMC direction has been underway for several weeks, and official ownership is being transferred today.

        I look forward to seeing what Dr. Caner and his team will do with SBC Today in the days to come. Dr. Caner shares the Baptist identity perspective that SBC Today has had before and during my time working with the blog, and it pleases me that SBC Today will continue to be a voice for the majority of Southern Baptists.”

        Brad, you and Norm have clearly shown all Southern Baptist your voice speaking for all trads in this post along with the others you have commented in and written. It has been an education the last couple weeks to understand Truett-McConnell College better.

          Eddie

          John, you lost me… Are you saying that you are happy that TMC is heading up SBC Today (your second to last paragraph) or are you slandering Brad and Norm because they are defending a position that you do not agree with? Because that would be an odd suggestion that those who are TS are not representing higher education…

          Brad Reynolds

          John
          I have decided not to interact with those are seem contentious. Have a blessed day.

          Brad Reynolds

          One point of clarity. I have not taken over anything. Mr. Miller is the editor. All I do is contribute articles from time to time and comment. Thanks for the assumption but I could not take credit for the success of this blog at all – that would be Mr. Miller.

    abclay

    Brad,

    While I certainly agree with Bill Mac (why is it that a Calvinist can’t take ownership of a God given ability to believe the gospel?), I will take another approach.

    Man is given over to a depraved mind, the mindset of the flesh is hostile to God. The world believes the message of the cross is foolishness. Mankind is “totally depraved”, and while we are free to choose what we want, without regeneration, man will always want to reject God.

    If a person repents and believes the message, is no longer hostile toward God, believes the message of the cross for their salvation, and no longer rejects God then that person is, to the best of my understanding, regenerated by the Holy Spirit and can have assurance of their salvation.

    Obviously I have explained this from a Calvinist perspective regarding the condition of mankind prior to regeneration but I think this is what you wanted. Forgive me if I misunderstood.

      Eddie

      Please don’t think I am being argumentative… I’m a TS, and I know that it would be assumed that I am trying to refute your claims… Please consider this serious question… and any other Calvinists input welcome…

      How do you repent and believe if you have a depraved mind that is hostile to God? Does God repair your will from its fallen state so that you can repent and believe? Do you know that God has fixed you and made you aware of your need to repent and believe? How do you know?

        abclay

        Eddie,

        The ability to repent and believe is only present after regeneration. Experientially, however, I don’t think that one can distinguish between the two. God must remove the heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. Calvinists (most) would refer to this regeneration as being “Born Again” as in, “You must be Born Again”.

          Eddie

          abclay,

          Thank you for responding. I think this is where I get stuck. It seems as if this means “Whosoever is born again… shall believe…” rather than whosoever believes in Him shall be born again. I am aware of all the technical arguments that flow from John 3:16, but I’m trying to avoid the stalemate… I think your mention of “experientially” is where my mind goes to understand this… How does this work out? I am going along in life, fulfilling my self-desire, at enmity with God. Then at some point in my life the pre-determined regeneration switch is turned on and suddenly I am born again. I now have a new heart. The old man is dead and I have become a new creature in Christ. I am now aware of my plight and need to believe and repent.

          Experientially (personally) I was drawn to the truth of God’s Word over many years. If the scenario above is even close, then I had to be born again long before I thought or I would never have sought out God’s truth at all (since the unregenerate won’t or can’t because of total depravity).

          I also struggle with the idea that by His mercy, before the foundation of the world, He chose to save me and not others. I’m certainly not complaining… I heard MacArthur say once that it was never God’s will to save all people, because if it was His will everyone would be saved since no one can thwart God’s will. Well, how can you argue with that? So I am left trying to understand how it is not God’s wish or desire that any perish, but it is His will that some perish. In fact, it is His will that most perish. This whole double-predestination idea is a real stumbling block for me.

          I’m certainly not trying to unravel this thing any further… Thank you for your help understanding what my Calvinist brothers believe and also for taking the time to respond. Many people I encounter suggest that this issue is unresolvable… but I am not sure that my understanding of one truth, one Spirit, one Body of Christ… gives us a choice but to keep working.

          Eddie

      Brad Reynolds

      abclay
      Exactly, thank you. I would still argue, for me, it is the “gift” of faith that seems to make the Calvinist position somewhat less assuring. But as I have said not a big issue for me honestly. I do not doubt the assurance of any Calvinist (just the system) – nor is this something I would want to debate. I was just curious as to how one would answer and thus thank you

        abclay

        Brad,

        So you would argue that because faith is a “gift”, it is less true and tangible than if I had the faith all along?

        Once a gift is given, does that gift not then belong to the one to whom the gift was given? I would argue that God isn’t an “Indian giver” (what is that anyways?).

          Brad Reynolds

          abclay
          Less true and tangible? By no means. Indian gift – of course not – he doesn’t save you and take it back. But he apparently does allow some to think they received His gift of faith (as the Calvinist would describe salvation) only to find out they didn’t (Lord, Lord, etc).

          Thus, I would argue the belief that God gave me something seems less KNOWABLE than the knowledge of my free actions. You disagree.

          We are free to do so:) jk

          abclay

          I agree we disagree.

          If the Trads believe that the Holy Spirit acts to draw prior to them exercising their own faith, then can they not then also have the same doubt that you espouse the Calvinist should have? i.e. “Did the Holy Spirit really draw me?”

          Unless I misunderstand the Trad’s position and the entire saving action is of themselves therefore they can put faith in their own ability, not relying upon God.

          And thanks for the interaction. It’s difficult and time consuming to locate replies in this 256 comment thread and I appreciate it.

            Eddie

            I suggest that the drawing and saving is not because I am already regenerate, nor because of any action on my part, but because of the power of God’s Word to pierce my fallen will and lead me into all truth… It is His Word which is the power for salvation.

            And you’re right… It’s work to find these past post…

            Eddie

            Brad Reynolds

            an lay
            Agreed this is time consuming to locate comments.

            I would say the HS wooing is not only those who are saved. He convicts the world of sin. Thus, the difference again is knowledge of my action. Honestly, you may see this as semantics. And that’s fair given both of our presuppositions. I’m content to leave it, as I have no horses in this race. Not a big deal to me – just trying to help Calvinists understand why it could be a big deal for some Trads – have a blessed weekend brother – thanks for interacting

            Brad Reynolds

            Sorry abclay – on my iPad and it corrects and at times I miss it:(

    Darryl W

    Ahhhhh…Brad – dude where were you early yesterday? Brother, I attend a Traditionalist church and rejoice to get there and worship with great men of God who are on the other side of the aisle from me on Soteriology. All that to say, this site makes rational Traditionalists seem like a rarity. And that to say, \”Good to hear from you my friend!\”

    To answer your question my knee jerk reaction would be to point to 1 John: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. (1 John 5:1 ESV) [Realizing you probably don\’t agree with the ESV word order]

    To me 1 John reads like a Believer\’s contract of assurance. We are witnesses who profess Christ as Lord and that is accompanied by a change wrought in our lives. We love with the love of Calvary and serve with a towel around our waist.

    We do share the trait of seeing the other view as less assuring. If I am the effectual agent of salvation then my initial state is certainly dependent on my will and ergo the assurance carries no more weight than my fortitude in my own ability to make a correct choice.

    On the subject of faith. I read your post about the Council of Orange with great interest. Somewhat embarrassed, I\’ll confess that I was ignorant of the produced document. After reading the document I would have, with all integrity to your position, stated that you were adamantly opposed to Canon 5. Unless I am missing something in the archaic language I would say that I agree with Canon 5 as well. Were we arguing semantics?

    -Darryl

      Darryl W

      Sorry about the formatting. I forgot to type the anti-spam password and that always results in funky formatting.

      Brad Reynolds

      Darryl
      Good to hear from you as well brother. I can certainly see from whence you are coming. However, surely you can see from whence we are coming. No doubt our presuppositions filter our beliefs somewhat. It seems for me there is more assurance in knowing what one has actually done than in believing in so,ethnic another has done. It seems for you there is more assurance in believing what God has done than in believing what man has done. That’s fair – I think the idea that belief is some sort of work of man is unfair and I assume you would also argue belief is no difference than grace. Bottom line I think all can be part of the elect (although all won’t be) and you do not. Thus, there seems to be for me more assurance. But it’s all good.

      Concerning canon 5 – I would disagree. Perhaps again it is presuppositions.

        Darryl W

        Brad,

        OK. So, I was confused on your COO-Canon 5. On your subsequent post where you outlined the Canons and the TS response I thought you were saying that you agreed with Canon 5.

        Thanks for your thoughtful response. Can I pose a question where I really want to know your response? Does it not cause you some hermeneutical discomfort that God describes the salvation is terms of elect, chose, and called out? When I was on that side of the aisle I become very uncomfortable in Greek classes when the terms, in my opinion, were essentially folded back on themselves. My view is that the NT, written in a precise language, is very poorly worded if all the people in the world are elect, chosen, and called out.

        -Darryl

          Brad Reynolds

          Darryl
          I am typing on my iPhone but didn’t want to forget to respond (I’m getting old:) – if memory serves me correct though the terms translated in both the OT and NT as elect are never used of individuals with the exception of the Messiah. Always used of a group (especially Israel in OT) of believers. In short this plays into my understanding of Romans 9-11.

Luther Jones

“If a person is a “dyed-in-the-wool” 5-point Calvinist, he cannot give a positive answer when asked if he knows whether he is saved or not.”

There has been acute igonorance or misrepresentation about Calvinism, and this statement above takes the cake. like the TV show, anyone smarter than a 5th grader should realize the above statement is false. It is honestly embarrassing how off the Traditionalist understanding of Calvinism is many times. I don’t mean to be rude, but you really don’t get it. I don’t want to accuse you of purposely misrepresentation, so what is left? Ignorance. I can’t think of a third reason why it could be so off.

Norm, isn’t there and editor there? Why are so many obviously untrue statements about Calvinism by authors allowed to be published. It really lowers the bar of what to expect from sbctoday and Traditionalists for that matter. I really don’t mean to be mean. But it is really incredible that such obvious falsehood cuts the mustard for publication with you guys.

For the record: I am a 5-point Calvinist and I have absolute assurance of my salvation.

Luther Jones

Seven Reasons Why the CALVINIST has eternal security (the number of reasons for the Traditionalist may be less):

– Jesus PROMISE to His people (He has given us eternal life and promises to raise us up on the last day) We can trust Him.

– God’s PRESERVATION of His saints (He keeps us from falling. No one can snatch us from His hand) What wonderful assurance!

– God’s PROVISION by the sacrifice of Christ (We can not be judged for our sins because Jesus really has washed our sins away. Further, God has credited us with the righteousness—the holiness—of Christ.

– Christ’s PROPITIATION of God (He took away God’s wrath for our sin. God cannot be angry with us any longer because of our sins.) God is completely satisfied with Christ’s atonement on our behalf.

– God’s PREDESTINATION of His people (He chose to save you before the world began. Nothing can thwart his plan for you!).

– Jesus is our PROPONENT (He is our advocate who ever lives to intercede to the Father on our behalf.)

And finally:
– God’s deposit of the PARACLETE (The seal of the Holy Spirit and guarantee of our redemption).

    abclay

    Yet, a 5-Point Calvinist can’t have assurance…..I must be dumb but I just can’t understand.

    It seems that since my salvation doesn’t rest on what I did once upon a time but on what God did and Jesus’ promises that I can have Certainty of my Salvation.

    Oh Well……. At least the we get to see another straw man burn down. Who has the marshmallows?

      Luther Jones

      abclay, it is true that I cannot relate to your way of having assurance. My assurance of salvation is not in what I have done, but in what Christ has done for me. Any thing that would play my assurance of my salvation in what I’ve done would be shaky ground.

        abclay

        Luther,

        Forgive me. Sometimes my sarcasm doesn’t come through as well as I had hoped. The remark, “Yet, a 5-Point Calvinist can’t have assurance” was a tongue-in-cheek statement. I was trying to show, obviously with futility, that the Calvinist has more reasons to be certain of their salvation.

        You have enumerated very well the biblical reasons for a 5-Point Calvinist to have the utmost assurance of their salvation.

          Luther Jones

          Sorry about my misunderstanding, abclay. Now I get what you were saying. Right on brother.

Hamp

Sadly, this article again shows the basic essence of the SBC. Theological ignorance for the sake of funding the CP. It is all about sending the money to Nashville (Baptist Rome) in order to support female pastors (“missionaries”) on the foreign fields. For 100 years theological reflection has been beaten down in order to keep having the money sent to Nashville. That is how a “rev.” can be so ignorant in an article about theology.

Matt

Pastor Harrell,

I have not read though every comment on here, so maybe this has already been pointed out. Calvinists find our assurance of salvation in the fact that we “are confident that He who began a good work in me will see it through to completion”. If we were the ones who decided our salvation, then we could certainly mess things up. However, salvation is the work of God, who never fails in accomplishing his purposes. We are commanded to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, so nothing can simply be taken for granted; but the Holy Spirit within us can give us full assurance of our salvation. R.C. Sproul has been saying for years that he prefers the term “preservation” to “perserverance” because “perseverance” sounds misleading as far as what this doctrine actually teaches. If you want to know what he, and other Calvinists, believe; here is a link to a short radio broadcast where he discusses this doctrine.

http://www.ligonier.org/rym/broadcasts/audio/perseverance-saints1/

God bless

    Matt

    I would also like to point out that Dr. Sproul has written a book titled “Can I Be Sure I’m Saved?” in which he affirms the answer is yes. He has also put out a teaching series titled “The Assurance of Salvation” which includes lessons titled “False Assurance”, “Gaining True Assurance”, and “The Source of Full Assurance”. Pastor Harrell may want to research the people he quotes a little more before claiming that they are denying what they are actually teaching.

Not The Original Les

Well boys and a couple of girls, it’s been a long and fairly hard day here at the SBC Today boxing rink. Kinda feels like we’re all wore out from all the fussing’ and disagreein.’

I’m sitting here watching O Brother, Where Art Thou? Such a great movie. Delmar just got himself saved. He ran on down in that water and the preacher baptized him. Now did he come up from under the water a new man? Have assurance? Hmmm. Don’t rightly know. He did later on tell George Nelson that robbing banks looked like a good line of work, but he couldn’t cause he just got saved. Y’all think Delmar would become a Calvinist or a Traditionalist? Wait, more fruit. Everett and Pete just stole a pie. Then here comes Delmar and leaves some money on the window sill. Maybe that baptism took.

I don’t know. Are we taking ourselves too seriously? Sorry for going on. See y’all tomorrow as we crank up the attacking again after the newest SBC Today post.

Les, the Presbyterian and Baptist

    Lydia

    Les, you forgot to add currently a “ruling elder” after Presbyterian. :o)

      Not The Original Les

      Lydia,

      And current ruling elder. I just left that off to make sure you’re still up and reading. Was counting on you to catch it.

      But no comment on my movie update? By now Pete (the toad version) has been crushed by Big Dan. KKK up next.

      Not The Original Les

      Lydia, sorry. Also former teaching elder in the PCA. And former sales guy and forester and light bulb changer at NOBTS and IS teacher at Cameron College and furniture salesman at Haverty’s while at Mid America Baptist Sem and lawn service guy and…

    abclay

    Was Delmar “backsliding” when the siren’s song put him in the trance?……he needs to go to a good revival!

Florin

As a person who heard the Gospel while under Communist persecution of faith, I would like to say in the context of this post that the way \”believing\” is presented in this country was completely foreign to those under persecution. Receiving Christ meant abandoning everything and being ready to be shamed by friends, ostracized by family, persecuted by government, derided in school, demoted at work or worse. Receiving Christ meant separation from the world and embracing the love of God in Christ wholeheartedly. Receiving Christ was synonymous to taking up the cross with its sufferings and joys. The cost was high. Bibles were contraband – caught meant years of jail, forced labor or death. I still carry with me the wonderful times of church service – the Word was so real and conversions so genuine. We experienced what books call revival. I had never heard of calvinism.

The way the Gospel is taught in this country – as I have seen it after five years of independent baptist attendance (and I love the pastor) – it is lacking. The cost is not presented clearly and abundantly. Separation from sin is presented as if handling China and separation from the world I almost never hear. True preaching of the Gospel provokes deep conflicts in the hearts of people and that is visible. Christ was not come to make us happy but to lord over our souls with jealousy. We fail today both by personal example and by preaching.

I believe it is proper for many to question their own salvation.

If anyone finds the time, here is someone that presents the truth as it was given me. I have no idea if this man is a calvinist or something else:

http://www.pbministries.org/books/pink/Practical/prac_01.htm

    Matt

    Florin,

    A.W. Pink was a devout Calvinist. Here is a link to a sermon by another, more contemporary, Calvinist that you may enjoy hearing.

    http://youtu.be/Kv3Imm6SXwM

    God bless

Mike Davis

“Those who think they can simply affirm a list of gospel facts and continue to live any way they please should examine themselves to see if they are really in the faith (2 Cor. 13: 5).” – John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, p.222.

This is really all that perseverance of the saints means–that those whose faith is genuine will walk the walk. And if someone thinks they are saved but is not walking the walk, they should follow the advice of 2 Cor 13: 5. This is not a Calvinist vs Traditionalist issue.

It is not that difficult to see why those who see salvation as a monergistic work of God would believe in eternal security. It is ironic that the rationale of Calvinists is questioned in this regard, when in fact, the Traditionalists have the tougher argument to make. They are forced to hold the conflicting views that they have libertarian free will but that God’s sovereignty still causes them not to use that free will to fall away. But notice that even though they maintain these paradoxical beliefs, Calvinists are not claiming that Traditionalists can’t know if they are saved (as the post asserts about Calvinists) and Calvinists are not calling this Trad free will/eternal security tension “double-talk”.

Scott

The article on assurance in the London Baptist Confession helped me come to grips with how we find assurance. The article says that we find assurance from the promises of the Gospel, the fruits of faith, and the witness of the Holy Spirit. If you look at 1 John, you see all three of these things emerge. We look objectively at the work of Christ on the cross for assurance and we look inwardly to see the work that Christ is doing in us for assurance.

As for the question of perseverance or preservation, I would ask is God one or three? Was Jesus fully God or fully man? Did Paul write Romans or did the Holy Spirit write Romans? Christians persevere in the faith because we are being preserved by God. As someone earlier pointed out, “he who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.”

Bob Hadley

Dr. Harrell is absolutely correct. Read the London Confession of 1689 referenced on The Founder’s Website…

3. In various ways-the temptations of Satan and of the world, the striving of indwelling sin to get the upper hand, the neglect of the means appointed for their preservation-saints may fall into fearful sins, and may even continue in them for a time. In this way they incur God’s displeasure, grieve His Holy Spirit, do injury to their graces, diminish their comforts, experience hardness of heart and accusations of conscience, hurt and scandalize others, and bring God’s chastisements on themselves. Yet being saints their repentance will be renewed, and through faith they will be preserved in Christ Jesus to the end. (http://www.founders.org/library/bcf/bcf-17.html)

The key to understanding perseverance is exactly that… persevering. To persevere is to “To persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement.” It is to “‘continue to do something in spite of the difficulties.” To persevere is to continue walking in faith. That is what the term means. If one does not continue walking in faith, the inference of POS is that he was not saved in the first place. While it is true that this is a fine line, fine lines in theology do become great divides.

Notice what the LC of 1689 actually says: that even though someone may fall into fearful sins, “being saints their repentance will be renewed.” What is interesting is that they do not repent, the statement says their repentance is “renewed” which is passive meaning God does it, just as He effectually calls one to repentance in the first place. Like it or not, that is what Perseverance of the Saints means. The language and the words dictate that meaning. It is black ink on what paper. Perseverance maintains the monergistic salvific thread in sanctification that it does in conversion and that is the reason the language is what it is.

Baptists TODAY do not believe in persevering because it is not our persevering that saves us or determines whether or not we are saved; it is God’s promises to us that preserve us. I fully understand that Calvinists today believe preservation means the same thing as perseverance and that POS is the same thing as eternal security but the facts are, they are not mutually exclusive and they do not say the same thing. They don’t. Perseverance is sanctification by works: what one does proves what one is. The argument with respect to one’s truly being the elect is not in God’s promise but rather in one’s persevering because it is the persevering that proves the election and not the other way around. While it is true that one perseveres because he is the elect, it is still the persevering that validates the election.

I read the following statement somewhere: Perseverance is by definition “man hanging on to God” while the definition of preservation is “God hanging on to man.” Someone cleverly responded, “Man hangs on to God because God hangs on to him.” Now, while the latter is certainly true, the fact remains, in perseverance the key to eternal security is in the persevering and that test does not end until this life ends. Perseverance by necessity does not give the Calvinist any real assurance because none of us know what we will or will not do.

Here is the real question and the difference in eternal security and the perseverance of the saints. Remember, perseverance states “saints may fall into fearful sins, and may even continue in them for a time. In this way they incur God’s displeasure, grieve His Holy Spirit, do injury to their graces, diminish their comforts, experience hardness of heart and accusations of conscience, hurt and scandalize others, and bring God’s chastisements on themselves… yet being saints their repentance WILL BE RENEWED.”

What happens to the “saint” who dies in this state “whose repentance was not renewed?” The answer to THIS question is the ultimate difference in the preservation of the saint and the perseverance of the saint.

Please actually interact with WHAT I WROTE as opposed to the normal “that is not what calvinists believe”. For the record, I am NOT writing about what you or anyone else believes or does not believe; I am writing about the statement itself and what it says and why it is incorrect, which is what Dr. Harrell has pointed to.

><>”

    Mark

    Bob,

    It would be more accurate to state what \”Southern Baptists believe today\” instead of what \”Baptists TODAY\” believe in your attempts to paint such a picture.

    It seems that what Southern Baptists profess to believe today does not line-up well with your above critique.

    Note: V. God\’s Purpose of Grace

    Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners. It is consistent with the free agency of man, and comprehends all the means in connection with the end. It is the glorious display of God\’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy, and unchangeable. It excludes boasting and promotes humility.

    All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.

    Emphasis mine.

      Bob Hadley

      Mark,

      I realize it is much more difficult to engage someone’s comments than to simply offer an argument that has nothing to do with the comment itself. I apologize that I did not include Southern in my statement. Since that is what I am and what this site references, I overlooked that detail.

      Thank you for your insight here brother… I would argue the BF&M supports Preservation of Saints as opposed to perseverance of Saints, which is the gist of my post. I appreciate your confirmation.

      ><>”

        Mark

        Hi Bob,

        I was simply pointing out the missing Baptist descriptor of “Southern” though I thought that is probably what you meant. I mean…we don’t get any Free-Will Baptists or Mennonites joining the little SBC discussions.

        I understand what you are saying about the BF&M; however, it does state that believers “shall persevere to the end.”

        Bob Hadley

        So Mark,

        Do you agree or disagree with the concept of persevering and its relationship to ultimate repentance? What happens to the guy who strays in horrible sin whose repentance is not renewed before he dies?

        Did this guy persevere if he did not repent? To me this is the essence between perseverance and preserved. I am preserved in Christ whether or not I persevere in this life.

        It does seem to me that the concept of perseverance has changed from what it originally appeared.

        ><>”

Ben Simpson

As I said earlier, Bro Bill’s thesis is that perseverance is a work of man while preservation is a work of God, and since Calvinistic believers hold to the doctrine of perseverance, they really have no assurance of salvation. In my opinion, he has engaging in polemical language that has no basis in reality by making perseverance and preservation seem mutually exclusive. It’s easier to take swings at the other side this way.

Perhaps we should turn to the BF&M, which says, “All true believers endure to the end. Those whom God has accepted in Christ, and sanctified by His Spirit, will never fall away from the state of grace, but shall persevere to the end. Believers may fall into sin through neglect and temptation, whereby they grieve the Spirit, impair their graces and comforts, and bring reproach on the cause of Christ and temporal judgments on themselves; yet they shall be kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.”

It seems to me that the BF&M carries with it both ideas of perseverance and preservation. They are not mutually exclusive. God’s preserving work leads to my perseverance in the faith, and if at any point I cease to persevere, I prove to have been a false convert and not a true believer in Jesus Christ. And, every person who perseveres owes it completely to God. Salvation is a gift from God from beginning to end, and at no point can we point to our own work!

Ben Simpson

Brad,

I know how hard it is to find follow-up comments on here. I didn’t want you to miss my answer to your BIG QUESTION. It’s at http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/2012/07/26/perseverance-or-preservation/#comment-30684. I hope it’s helpful in clearing up the confusion you are having.

JoeJ

I have sided with the Traditionalists in most of my comments, but in this I believe the Calvinists, if I understand them, are closer to the truth. Your “preservation vs perseverance” discussion is typical of so much Evangelical thinking. You set up an either/or argument, never consider that it may be both/and.
On the perseverance side, Jesus said, “He who perseveres to the end will be saved.” Paul wrote these often-quoted words: “In the end these three remain, faith, hope, and love.” I believe you want to change it to read “faith, certainty, love.” Paul talks much about the hope within us. He also said that after running the race he might lose his reward.
Now to the both/and. If you have given yourself to Christ, and remain in obedience to him, I believe that you can have a very strong hope of salvation. But you yourself talk about relationship with Christ. A relationship is a two-way street. It requires effort by both parties (works–that word you seem so scared of). Like any relationship, it can be broken. Jesus has assured us that he will always be faithful, but we humans are always capable of unfaithfulness. That attractive and seductive woman may cross our path and we fall, we may click on that porn site and be drawn in, we may take a few too many drinks or pain pills and sink into drug addiction, we may get puffed up with our status and influence and think we are the center of the universe. Does your “assurance” guarantee you that you will be rescued from such things? Or do you believe you are imune to them because you are “preserved”? Or do you believe you can fall into these sins, and God will look the other way because you recited the sinners prayer sometime in your youth? What do you say about apparently saved persons who fall into serious sin and are consumed by it? Do you say that they were never saved in the first place? If you were fooled by the salvation of another, how can you be assured of your own? That puts you right back into the camp with the Calvinists.
To sum up, Jesus has opened salvation to us. That’s preservation. But we must run the race, we must keep the faith. That’s perseverance. To believe we are assured of salvation is very dangerous spiritual arrogance.

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