The TULIP’s Petals and Sepals, part 5
by Ronnie Rogers
Perseverance of the Saints: This includes both preservation by God and perseverance by the saints. The Westminster Confession says, with regard to the truly elect, they “can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of Grace.”[i] J.P. Boyce notes in his Abstract of Systematic Theology, “It is not merely preservation by God, but also perseverance of the believer, in faith and holiness, unto the end.”[ii] Within Calvinism, God’s preservation of the truly elect is standard, while there is variation in understanding of how eternal security, internal and external assurances, and warning passages of the Scripture relate to knowing one is elect in this life.
This petal is not a simple affirmation of the eternal security of the believer. Since there does seem to be such acceptable variance in defining perseverance of the saints as long as one does not question the security of the truly elect, this point does not seem to be as biblically problematic as the other four petals—a point with which some disagree.
Therefore, if a person believes the Scripture teaches the following, he cannot be a Calvinist: anyone who hears the gospel can accept the gospel by faith and thereby become eternally secure in the safe-keeping of God; those so saved do demonstrate evidence of such. As well as believing the Scripture does not teach the other calvinistically defined petals of the tulip. These truths are embraced in other biblical approaches but not in Calvinism.
[i] Westminster Confession 17. 1.
[ii] James Petigru Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology, (reprinted by the den Dulk Christian Foundation, Escondido, CA, 1887), 431-432.