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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
Zachary

Proofs that sinning believers will not inherit or enter heaven

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The Kingdom of heaven is headed by Jesus Christ for the purpose of re-establishing

the Kingdom of God over this rebellious part of God’s realm. It is a dispensational term

referring to Messiah’s Kingdom on earth. The parables of the Kingdom apply to this age.

At the end of this age, Christ will come and set up a literal earthly Kingdom forever.

(from the famous “Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible”)

 

The parables of the hidden treasure (Matt 13:44) and the pearl of great price (Matt 13:45-46)

teach us that the Kingdom of heaven is only for those who perceive its immeasurable value

and are willing to sacrifice everything else to acquire it. The Kingdom of heaven encompasses

Christ and all that He offers – eternal life and unending blessings. The glorious freedom from

sin and the unending blessings of eternal life far outweigh anything that costs us in this life.

“I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ.”

Paul (above) was glad to give it all up for the Kingdom. That is the nature of saving faith.

True faith produces a heart that is humble, submissive, and obedient.

This is the inevitable expression of the new nature (2 Cor 5:17) of the born-again person!

(from “The Gospel According to Jesus” by John MacArthur, Zondervan, 1994)

 

“Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” … “if you want to receive

eternal life, keep the commandments.” … Then Jesus said to His disciples,

“I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of heaven.

I’ll say it again -- it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than

for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded,

“Then who in the world can be saved?”, they asked.” (Matthew 19:16-25, NLT)

… Obviously, entering the 2 Kingdoms is analogous to entering eternal life.

 

“And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It’s better to enter the Kingdom of God

with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell …” (Mark 9:47, NLT)

… Entering the Kingdom of God is the opposite of being cast into hell.

 

“Come, you (the righteous) who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you

from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me, etc. (But to others …) when you

refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me. And they

will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.” (Matt 25:34-46, NLT)

… Inheriting the Kingdom is only for the righteous, who gain eternal life.

 

Therefore … Entering or inheriting the Kingdom of God/heaven is analogous to gaining eternal life.

 

Obvious disqualifications from inheriting the Kingdom of God

 

“All who are victorious (overcomers) will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God,

and they will be My children. But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral,

those who practice witchcraft, idol worshippers, and all liars – their fate is in the fiery lake

of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:7-8, NLT)

… The above passage proves that practicing sinners will NOT inherit heaven.

Who are the victorious overcomers? “Those who are victorious (overcomers) will sit with me on

my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne.” (Revelation 3:21, NLT)

 

And these passages confirm that all practicing sinners will NOT inherit heaven …

 

• “Don’t you realize that those who do wrong (the unrighteous) will not inherit the Kingdom of God?

Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery,

or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards,

or are abusive, or cheat people – none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.” (1 Cor 6:9-10, NLT)

 

• “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality,

impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger,

selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these.

Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life

will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21, NLT)

 

• “Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place

among God’s people. Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes – these are not for you.

Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy

person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater,

worshiping the things of this world. Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins,

for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.” (Ephesians 5:3-6, NLT)

+++ Please take note of this last sentence!

 

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HI Zachary, if you don't mind, I have three quick questions for you before I reply to your post.

1) What is "eternal" life?

2) When does a believer receive/enter into eternal life?

3) Can a believer sin and be forgiven, or do you believe that a true believer 'never' sins? (
1 John 3:6?
)

 

 

 

Thanks!

 

--David

Edited by David Lee
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“I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ.”

Paul (above) was glad to give it all up for the Kingdom. That is the nature of saving faith.

True faith produces a heart that is humble, submissive, and obedient.

This is the inevitable expression of the new nature (2 Cor 5:17) of the born-again person!

(from “The Gospel According to Jesus” by John MacArthur, Zondervan, 1994)

 

I have a question or two, Zachary. Are you stating that a person's works is the cause of salvation (Synergism) or are you stating that the object of our faith Jesus Christ saves us (monergism)? My question stems from your comment that "True faith PRODUCES a heart....".

 

In other words, I am asking for clarification, an emphasis to be placed on which divides Catholics and Protestants. Now, by your quote from John MacArthur and the reference to 2 Cor 5:17, I am inclined to believe that the "inevitable expression" is the fruit of Regeneration and genuine salvation?

 

Since you posted this in the Systematic Theology section, I'd just like to understand how you "synthesize" James teaching that faith is evident by works and Paul's teaching that we are saved by Grace through faith apart from any works? Mind you I do not find James and Paul at odds nor any contradiction between the two.

 

Lemme acknowledge, however, that I agree if your point is nothing more than a person that makes it a "practice" or "habit" of sinning lacks outward evidence of regeneration.

 

God bless,

William

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HI Zachary, if you don't mind, I have three quick questions for you before I reply to your post.

1) What is "eternal" life?

2) When does a believer receive/enter into eternal life?

3) Can a believer sin and be forgiven, or do you believe that a true believer 'never' sins? (
1 John 3:6?
)

 

1) and 2) it starts upon receiving the Spirit,

but can be later rejected by the believer

3) of course, and probably 1 John 3:6 refers

only to "faithful" believers

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1) and 2) it starts upon receiving the Spirit,

but can be later rejected by the believer

 

Can a genuine born again believer reject the Spirit? Or, are there unbelievers that have tasted the fruits of the Spirit but later rejected it (Hebrews 6)?

 

God bless,

William

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Are you stating that a person's works is the cause of salvation (Synergism) or are you stating that the object of our faith Jesus Christ saves us (monergism)? My question stems from your comment that "True faith PRODUCES a heart....".

 

In other words, I am asking for clarification, an emphasis to be placed on which divides Catholics and Protestants. Now, by your quote from John MacArthur and the reference to 2 Cor 5:17, I am inclined to believe that the "inevitable expression" is the fruit of Regeneration and genuine salvation?

 

Since you posted this in the Systematic Theology section, I'd just like to understand how you "synthesize" James teaching that faith is evident by works and Paul's teaching that we are saved by Grace through faith apart from any works? Mind you I do not find James and Paul at odds nor any contradiction between the two.

 

Lemme acknowledge, however, that I agree if your point is nothing more than a person that makes it a "practice" or "habit" of sinning lacks outward evidence of regeneration.

Receiving the Spirit is NOT a guarantee of finally receiving eternal life.

Man's co-operation is required, as it was all throughout Scripture.

"You will know them by their fruits" is NOT referring to believers insisting they are saved and habitually sinning w/o repentance.

If this disastrous condition is NOT rectified, they receive NO eternal life.

Paul must have meant NO salvation by works w/o faith.

I see saving faith being mucho more than today's churches teach.

Where should I have posted this thread? Thanks.

 

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Receiving the Spirit is NOT a guarantee of finally receiving eternal life.

 

When you say receive can you clarify? Lemme first acknowledge, there are some that according to Hebrews 6 have tasted the fruits of the Spirit but are not genuinely saved. In this case they were never one of us, so you err in calling them believers.

 

Man's co-operation is required, as it was all throughout Scripture.

 

No man goes against his nature. How can man cooperate when his natural condition is totally depraved and altogether set against God? Are you suggesting that man must demonstrate faith - thus your definition of saving faith is a man's own faith saves him (the object is his own good works) vs salvation in the object of faith - Jesus Christ (monergism)? The implications of what you're stating is Pelagian, are you sure that man is righteous and can do good works before a Holy God? Wouldn't that be the qualification for the Father's Election?

 

Also, do you realize that John MacArthur would argue against a synergist, did you realize you quoted a monergist and 5 Point Calvinist?

 

"You will know them by their fruits" is NOT referring to believers insisting they are saved and habitually sinning w/o repentance.

 

There is no evidence of these people being saved. Regeneration brings people to faith and repentance. A true believer is evidenced by good works, but his works are not the cause of salvation. Give God His due Glory!!! Ephesians 2:5 states the timing of Regeneration. When you were dead you were made alive. A dead man can do nothing to merit or obtain his own salvation.

 

If this disastrous condition is NOT rectified, they receive NO eternal life.

Paul must have meant NO salvation by works w/o faith.

 

You're semi right, the depraved nature or the natural man must be rectified, he must be born from above or Regenerated John chapter 3 and Ezekiel 36:25-27. Man cannot see, enter nor draw close to the object of faith - Jesus Christ without being born from above John 6:44.

 

In Ephesians 2:8 Paul clearly says, you're "saved by grace through faith".... now ask yourself what of faith? His answer, and "this is not your own doing". Saving faith rests in the object of faith, but you seemingly have turned that around into a works righteousness, Zachary.

 

I see saving faith being mucho more than today's churches teach.

 

I agree, but my church hasn't an issue with Soteriology, given that we are Reformed Presbyterians and are Calvinist (John MacArthur is a Five Point Calvinist).

 

Where should I have posted this thread? Thanks.

 

The Systematic Theology sub-forum was a great place as long as you're willing to address the entirety of Scripture. For example, Jesus says in John 17:12; 18:9 that He has not lost one yet. Matter of fact, to reiterate John 6:44 His promise is that He shall raise the Elect up on the last day.

 

Furthermore, as far as belief or works being the prerequisite to Salvation, Jesus says in John 10:26 that you "do not believe because you're not my sheep". Jesus does not say you are not his sheep because you do not believe. The Cause is what we are addressing. The cause for salvation is nothing found in man, Election is unconditional, otherwise whatever you throw in the mix becomes Faith ++++. The Father's Election is unconditional, it is altogether undeserved, He literally set upon the Elect his affections and foreloved them. The object of Romans 8:29 are persons, the object of His affection.

 

James is pretty clear too that the "Evidence" of faith is good works, however, it would be wrong to suggest that works is the cause of salvation and evidenced by faith just as John 10:26 is not right when taken out of order. The natural man is perishing, and any works are nothing more than filthy rags before a Holy God Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:10-11.

 

Anything less than 100% monergism robs God of his due Glory. Let's give God all the credit, and let us not attempt to provoke Him to jealousy (self-idolatry) or merit our salvation by our own works!

 

Soli Deo Gloria!

 

God bless,

William

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1) and 2) it starts upon receiving the Spirit,

but can be later rejected by the believer

 

Hi Zachary, but the Lord seems to say something pretty different than that, doesn't He?

 

1) "Eternal" life is just that, eternal. Biblically and extra-Biblically, aἰώνιος [aionios] never means anything else.

 

2) The Lord is also clear that we receive/enter into "eternal" life from the moment we first believe. He, in fact, goes to great lengths to make sure that none can misunderstand Him about that fact.

John 5

24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me,
has
eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but
has passed
out of death into life.

ἔχω [echo] "has" and μεταβαίνω [metabaino] "has passed" being in the present and perfect tenses respectively.

 

3) of course, and probably 1 John 3:6 refers

only to "faithful" believers

 

I assume your "of course" above refers to the fact that believers can sin and that they can be forgiven when they do, and I agree with that .. 1 John 1:8 - 1 John 2:2. I disagree that 1 John 3 is referring to true believers alone however. For instance, in v6, St. John states:

1 John 3

6 No one who abides in Him sins;
no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him
.

 

If someone has never known God, then he/she has never been a believer .. Matthew 7:23; John 17:3.

 

Finally, if a believer can "reject" the eternal life/salvation they were given when they first came to saving faith in Christ, then why does Jesus tell us:

"ALL
that the Father gives Me
WILL
come to Me, and of all that He has given me,
I LOSE NOTHING
, but raise it up on the last day" ~
(excerpt)

 

Thanks!

 

Yours and His,

David

 

"No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me

draws Him; and I will raise him up on the last day"

John 6:44

 

 

 

 

Edited by David Lee

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Man's co-operation is required, as it was all throughout Scripture.

Then how do you explain Ephesians 2:8-10?

 

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

 

This says that salvation is entirely the work of God; there is nothing we can do to receive or keep it. We are saved for the purpose of doing good works but the works we do are the result of our salvation, not the way we obtain it.

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Can a genuine born again believer reject the Spirit? Or, are there unbelievers that have tasted the fruits of the Spirit but later rejected it (Hebrews 6)?

Yes, a genuine born again believer can reject the Spirit.

E.G. Paul says choose to be

a slave of sin leading to (eternal) death, or

a slave of obedience leading to righteousness.

(Many get very upset when I insert the "eternal").

They must think Jesus goes around killing believers

who are habitual sinners.

 

Yes, there believers that have tasted the fruits of the Spirit but later rejected it (Hebrews 6).

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There are a multitude of issues here that could be tackled.

So, if the post remains open, I'll deal with some of them now.

 

Foist of oil, what do we do with the dozens of dire warnings about falling away, returning back to perdition, falling from grace, etc.?

IMO, the so-called easy-believism OSAS verses

must be RECONCILED with the anti-OSAS verses!

I have done that to a high degree with the exception of ...

can a person who has received the Holy Spirit NOT be a part of the "all" Jesus talks about in John 6?

 

Eph 2:8-9 ... the free gift of grace-faith-salvation is not guaranteed to last forever, and can be taken back.

E.G. In Ephesians, Paul is writing to the FAITHFUL believers, not the UNfaithful ones!

 

Before labelling MacArthur's whole life, it would be good to read his "The Gospel According to Jesus" (1994).

He constantly rails against unfaithful rebellious believers!

 

Meanwhile, how about dealing with the Scriptures in the OP?

E.G. can one be excluded from the Kingdom of heaven

but make it into heaven?

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IMO, the so-called easy-believism OSAS verses

must be RECONCILED with the anti-OSAS verses!

 

Hi Zachary, there are no "easy believism" verses in the Bible (as a faith that is "dead", like the demons possess, saves no one .. James 2:14-26).

 

However, the very One who saved us in the first place, who granted us "eternal" life (not "probationary" life) from the moment we first believed .. John 5:24 through His gift to us of "saving" faith .. Ephesians 2:8, has also promised to preserve us (cause us to persevere) in the faith, to see us through this life to Glory .. Philippians 1:6; Philippians 2:13; Hebrews 7:25.

 

God works with us throughout our lives (or more precisely, we work with Him) to be sanctified/grow in Christlikeness, not to be saved or to remain saved. When God saves us, He regenerates us and causes us to be born again .. John 3:3, changing our hearts from ones made of stone to ones made of flesh .. Ezekiel 36:26, and makes us into wholly new creatures in His Son .. 2 Corinthians 5:17. We are justified/saved by God's gracious choice to do so on the basis of His Son's life, death and resurrection, IOW, on the basis of what His Son did for us (not on the basis of what 'we' do).

 

Our choice to do good works therefore, to live a holy rather than sinful lifestyle before God, to obey and please Him in all that we do/say/think is the RESULT of our salvation, not its cause. So if someone claims to have become a Christian, but their life & lifestyle choices cannot demonstrate/justify such a claim, then their "claim" should be regarded as nothing more than that.

 

Finally, you are correct, the Bible does not disagree with itself, so the verses that you believe indicate that some may lose their salvation must be able to be reconciled with the verses/passages that tell us salvation can NEVER be lost. As I asked you earlier, how do you reconcile John 6:37-40 with the idea that some, who have become true believers and as such know God and are known by Him, will be lost?

John 6

37 “
All
that the Father gives Me
will
come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.

38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

39 “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me
I lose nothing
, but raise it up on the last day.

40 “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life,
and I Myself will raise him up on the last day
.”

 

Thanks!

 

Yours in Christ,

David

 

"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they

follow Me; and I give eternal life to them,

and they will never perish"

John 10:27-28

 

Edited by David Lee
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Is Your Salvation Secure?

by

Dr. John MacArthur

 

For many years people have debated the issue of whether a Christian can lose his salvation. Some within Christendom believe you can lose your salvation; others say you can’t. That, perhaps more than any other single doctrine, has been a dividing issue in the church. How sad that is, because the Bible is clear about the matter. It is surprising that many Christians would deny or ignore the straightforward presentation of the doctrine of security in Romans chapter 8. There are other texts in the Bible that discuss the security of the believer, but none are as pointed as Romans 8:28–30. We find in those verses that everyone who has been redeemed by Jesus Christ, without exception, will be glorified.

 

The key phrase in this trilogy of verses is at the end of verse 28: “called according to His [God’s] purpose.” We are forever secure because that was God’s purpose. The Son of God and the Holy Spirit intercede for us so that the plan of God might come to pass. So our security is guaranteed not only by the purpose of God, but also by the outworking of that purpose through the intercessory ministries of the Son and the Spirit.

 

The phrase “called according to His purpose” helps us to understand verses 29–30, which explain God’s purpose: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” God causes all things to work out for the believer’s good, which is “according to His purpose.” There is no other way to explain why He does that; He simply wants to. God is free to make whatever decisions He wants. And He sovereignly chose for all things to work together for the good and glory of those who are redeemed. Nothing can change that.

 

Your Salvation Was a Sovereign Act of God

 

You are a Christian not because of something you did, but because of something God decided. In Ephesians 1:3 the apostle Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Why are we to bless the Lord? Because “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (v. 4). God chose us and will make us holy. Ultimately, all sin will be overruled. That is another way of saying that all things work together for our ultimate good.

 

Paul continues in verse 5, “[God] predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” God predetermined to make us His sons.

 

He planned that our salvation would lead to glorification. We are saved by God’s plan, and preserved for future glory. So our security does not depend on our ability to stay saved, but on God’s ability to keep His promise (Hebrews 6:17–18).

 

Ephesians 1:9 says that God “made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.” God swore by Himself, for there is nothing or no one greater that He can swear by (Hebrews 6:13). Because He is absolutely perfect and the Persons of the Trinity cannot violate their word, we are assured of our security.

 

Ephesians 1:11 tells us that in Christ also “we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His [God’s] purpose who works [Gk., energeo] all things after the counsel of His will.” God energizes all things according to His will. He planned to redeem us. Salvation is not based on what we decide, but on what God decides. John 1:12–13 says, “As many as received Him [Christ], to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” It is true that we have to respond to the gospel message. We have to receive Christ and believe in Him (Acts 4:12). However, we are regenerated by the will of God. Even our response is according to God’s decision.

 

Much of contemporary evangelism leaves people thinking that salvation is predicated on their decision for Christ. Actually, it is based on God’s decision for them. That’s the emphasis of Scripture. How could a person ever make a decision for God? First Corinthians 2:14 says the “natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him.”

 

Second Corinthians 4:4 says, “The god of this world [satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”

 

Man is ignorant in darkness, and dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1). There is no way he could muster up enough of whatever it would take to turn around and accept Christ. God makes the first move in line with His eternal purpose.

 

The Paradox of Sin

 

Contemporary Christianity has a shallow view of salvation. Many people don’t understand the security of the believer. God, in eternity past, chose us to believe in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Now we have to show a response. I don’t fully understand how those two come together. Some people think that the people who go to hell go there because God rejected them. But the Bible says that people go to hell because they reject the gospel (John 3:18). That may not make sense to us, but it shouldn’t matter. God is smarter than us. Would you want a God who is our equal? I wouldn’t!

 

The paradox regarding God’s choice and man’s responsibility isn’t the only paradox in Scripture. For example, who wrote the book of Romans? Paul did, but so did God. Did they take turns writing verses? On the one hand, every word is pure and from the mind of God. Yet, every word also came from Paul’s heart and his vocabulary. How could Romans have been fully written by both God and Paul? We know it was, but we can’t explain it fully.

 

Is Jesus God or man? He was both. Christ was not a blend of God and man. He was 100 percent Himself. He was fully God and fully man. We can’t figure that out.

 

How about this: Who lives your Christian life? Paul said, “I discipline my body and make it my slave” (1 Corinthians 9:27). He also said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20). Which is the right answer? Both you and Christ live your life.

 

Most major doctrines in the Bible have an aspect that we cannot fully explain. When we try to bring God down to our level, there is still much we won’t understand. We simply can’t resolve everything in our minds. So the reason anyone goes to hell is because he rejected Christ and is completely responsible. But when a person comes to Christ, it’s because he was chosen in Him before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).

 

The Purpose of Salvation

 

GOD WANTS TO MAKE US LIKE CHRIST

 

Romans 8:29 says the purpose of salvation is for us “to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” We have been called according to God’s purpose (Romans 8:28), and His purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son. God planned for you to be saved in eternity past to be made like Christ. It is impossible for a person to become saved yet never become like Christ because he lost his salvation. God promised glorification; that is His eternal purpose. Heaven, the forgiveness of sin, and the gifts of love, joy, peace, and wisdom are only a part of the reality of salvation. The main reason God saved us was to conform us to the image of His Son. God is redeeming an eternally holy, Christlike, glorified community of people. When you became a Christian, the process of your being conformed to Christ began. That process must be fulfilled because that is God’s holy purpose.

 

Romans 8:24 says “in hope we have been saved.” Verse 17 says that if we are children of God, we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.” We were made sons of God so that we might be heirs. Our inheritance is to be like Christ and to receive all that belongs to Him. It’s unbiblical to say that people can lose their salvation, because God’s purpose in salvation is to conform us to the image of Christ. The Greek verb translated “to become conformed” in verse 29 means “to bring to the same form with.”

 

Philippians 3:21 says we will be transformed bodily—the Lord “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.” Our glorified bodies will be like Christ’s. Outwardly, we will be conformed to the post resurrection body of our Lord. However, I don’t think we will all look alike. Every human being is different, but we have basically the same body. Our bodies work in the same way, in the same environment, and by the same principles. Likewise when we go to glory, we will receive glorious bodies that work in the same environment and by the same principles as the resurrected, glorified body of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

GOD CREATED US FOR A PURPOSE

 

God created us so that there would be a group of people who would give Him the glory He deserves. A rebellion began in the Garden of Eden, yet God set out to redeem sinners. By His marvelous sovereign wisdom, He called back people who rebelled against Him to a place where they could give Him glory. His goal in salvation is to bring believers to glory and let Christ stand as the preeminent One, receiving worship and praise forever.

 

Now do you understand why you were saved? It wasn’t just to keep you out of hell or to make you happy. The ultimate reason God is conforming us to Christ’s image is so we will be able to give glory to the One who is most glorious.

 

That Christ is “the firstborn among many brethren” is a beautiful thought. Christ didn’t have to make us His brothers. He could have made us His servants. He didn’t have to bring us into His family, but He did. Even though God wants us to glorify Him and His Son, He also desires intimacy with us. He is redeeming us to be one in essence with Himself. We are brothers and sisters of Christ!

 

God gives us joy, peace, and a future in heaven. Those are all elements of His grace to sinners. But it’s not our happiness or our holiness that is the apex of the divine purpose—it is glorifying the Son. Christ is the central point of redemptive history, not you. Therefore, if God saved you, He will glorify you to fulfill His purpose in bringing you to salvation. God’s plans don’t get thwarted. If they did, He wouldn’t be God.

 

So the purpose of salvation is to conform us to the image of Christ so we can forever exalt the One who is over us.

 

The Progress of Salvation

 

There are five elements in the unfolding plan of salvation:

 

FOREKNOWLEDGE

 

Romans 8:29 begins, “For those whom He foreknew.” That is where the redemptive plan of God starts—with His foreknowledge. Some people have suggested that God’s foreknowledge is the same thing as His foresight. They envision God in heaven looking into the future with binoculars. If He sees that you will believe, He chooses you; if you aren’t going to believe, He doesn’t choose you. It’s true that God can see everything that will happen in the future. He does know exactly what people will do. However, if you maintain that salvation is based only on God’s foresight into the decisions of men, you are stating that man secures his own salvation.

 

Just believing that God knew who would and would not accept Christ doesn’t explain how salvation starts with God’s foreknowledge. The ultimate problem we have in our finite minds is why God allows people to go to hell. Many try to explain it by saying it isn’t His choice to send people to hell; He just knows it is going to happen. However, if God knew certain people would go to hell, why did He bother creating them?

 

Also, if you believe that God just knew what was going to happen in the future, you still haven’t explained how sinners become saved. How can a person who is dead in sin, blinded by Satan, unable to understand the things of God, and continuously filled with evil suddenly exercise saving faith? A corpse would sooner come out of a grave and walk! Simply defining God’s foreknowledge as foresight into the future still leaves us with problems.

 

This is the definition we should give for God’s foreknowledge: God does indeed foresee the faith of everyone who is saved, and the faith He foresees is the faith He Himself creates. Jesus Himself said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me.…No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:37, 44). John 1:13 says that Christians are “born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” Ephesians 2:8–9 says, “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” God does foresee a person’s faith, but it is a faith that He Himself creates.

 

Acts 13:48 illustrates this truth: “When the Gentiles heard this [Paul and Barnabas preach], they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Salvation is ordained by God, and it ultimately ends in eternal life and glory. There is no salvation where a person doesn’t ultimately become conformed to the image of Christ for the purpose of exalting the preeminent One. The reason the Gentiles in Acts 13 believed is they were ordained to do so.

 

God not only sees what will happen in the future, but also ordains it. The Bible clearly teaches that God sovereignly chooses people. First Peter begins with these words: “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (1:1–2). We are elect by God’s foreknowledge. We tend to think that the foreknowledge basically means “foresight” because we don’t understand the full meaning of the word. It includes both foresight and foreordination.

 

PREDESTINATION

 

The Greek word translated “predestined” in Romans 8:29–30 (proorizo) means “to appoint before” or “to mark out before.” This word is also used in Acts 4: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed , both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur” (Acts 4:27–28).

 

The Greek words for predestined and foreknowledge are both used in reference to Christ’s crucifixion (Acts 2:23; 4:28). So if we say that God’s foreknowledge is simply foresight into the future, we are saying that He saw what Jesus—on His own prerogative—was going to do and reacted to it. That is heretical. However, if we understand foreknowledge and predestination to mean that God predetermined Christ’s death to redeem all who believed, then it could logically follow that He predetermined us to be redeemed.

 

CALLING

 

Romans 8:30 says that those whom God predestined, “He also called.” This is where God’s eternal plan intersects with your life. In eternity past, He predetermined to have a love relationship with you—He predestined your salvation. The calling is when God moves into your life on this earth, within the boundaries of time. Foreknowledge and predestination describe what happened in eternity past.

 

Romans 8:28 says that all things “work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called.” The term “called” refers not to an outward call, but an inward one. It speaks of when God turns around a person’s heart—a heart that could never turn to God, know Him, understand the gospel, or know hope on its own. We know this refers to a saving call because of the context of Romans 8:30: “These whom He called, He also justified.” The calling here is an effectual call. It’s not just an invitation to anyone. If God predetermined a love relationship with us and foreordained our salvation in eternity past, then He will fulfill it by moving into our lives. As I mentioned earlier, you are not saved because of something you did but because of what God decided.

 

What happens when God calls us? He moves in us and convicts our hearts. He draws us away from sin and toward the Savior. Second Timothy 1:9 says that God “has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” You were called to salvation to fulfill a purpose that was planned before God created the world. That is the reason we are secure in our salvation. We were saved to be like Christ and to be part of a redeemed people that will exalt His holy name. If that was God’s plan from before we were even born, He will fulfill it. No one can lose his salvation; all things are continually overruled by God to work for our ultimate glory.

 

God’s call comes to us through the gospel. Second Thessalonians 2:13–14 says, “We should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation....It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God chose to save us so that glory could be given to Christ.

 

Now don’t think that just because God chose you, you’re better than someone else. There is no way of knowing why God chose you or me. One small hint of why He did appears in Ephesians 1:6: “to the praise of the glory of His grace.” Whatever reason God had for choosing us, it was for Him, not us. Galatians 1:6 says that God calls us “by the grace of Christ.” We are called to salvation through the gospel, by grace, and through the Spirit of God.

 

JUSTIFICATION

 

The word “justified” in Romans 8:30 means “to be made right with God.” How does that happen? The sin in your life must be removed. God must take your sin and put it on Christ (Romans 3:23–25). When He moved into your heart and called you to Himself, you were made right with Him. Some people wonder how much time there is between God’s calling and our justification. I don’t know. That would be like asking how much time it takes for a bullet to go through two stacked sheets of paper. The distinction between calling and justification is theological; there isn’t necessarily a time lapse. You are called to be justified. The calling is when God moves to change your heart, and justification is the result.

 

GLORIFICATION

 

Since God predetermined to love you, redeem you, call you away from your sin, and make you right with Him through your faith in Christ, the next step is glorification. Romans 8:30 says that those “whom He justified, He also glorified.”

 

Did you notice that statement is in the past tense? Your glorification is so secure that God speaks of it in the same tense that He spoke of your salvation. And your salvation is so secure that He used the same tense to speak of your calling, justification, and predestination. The moment He predetermined to love you, your glorification was so secure that He could speak of it as if it had already happened.

 

The Guarantee of Glorification

 

You were saved for glory, and all things are working toward that end. This is God’s purpose: to make you like Christ so that you can be part of the redeemed, over which Christ will be preeminent. You will glorify and praise Him forever. Before the world began, God predetermined to set His love on you and foreordained your salvation. In time, He moved into your heart and called you away from your sin. He made you right with Himself through Jesus Christ, and destined you to be glorified. That is the security of the believer.


Copyright 2005 by John MacArthur. All rights reserved. All Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, and 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, and are used by permission. Adapted from Saved Without a Doubt, by John MacArthur (Victor Books, 1992).

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David,

 

Johnny Mac provided the other side of the argument

in his incredible "Lordship salvation" book,

"The Gospel According to Jesus" ...

for which, I believe, he was roundly castrated by his denomination, causing him to recant and change his ways!

If I am correct, he's been a bit of a nut-case ever since.

This is my gist of it from 10-15 years ago.

 

Just one thing may I promise all of you people here:

JESUS TAUGHT LORDSHIP SALVATION.

 

Paul did also, but in an extremely cautious manner,

which he was taught to do by Jesus Himself

during his (Paul's) 17 years in the desert regions!

Perhaps, someone might like to know why the cautionisity?

 

And now for the incredibly-wonderful news ...

because of your free-will,

you don't have to go along with Jesus' Gospel (above).

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And now for the incredibly-wonderful news ...

because of your free-will,

you don't have to go along with Jesus' Gospel (above).

 

Personally, I do not know how you can make such a false statement like this, which to me indicates an inconsistency in your soteriology.

 

You quoted Ephesians 5:6-7 in an other thread, whereas the natural man - a bondslave to idolatry, a covetous man thinks that his life consists in his goods (Ephesians 5:5).

 

This stands contrary to the regenerated man in Ezekiel 36:25-27 whom God gives a new spirit, God removes the heart of stone, regenerates - cleanses from all uncleanness and idols, God gives a heart of flesh, and His Spirit "causes" one to walk in His statues while cautioning to obey His rules.

  • 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.
  • 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
  • 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.[a]

It is equally obvious that in Ephesians 5:2 Paul emphasizes the efficiency of Christ's death which binds the Elect to His service.

 

In other words man is either a slave to sin or to God. There is no autonomy or libertarian will, Zachary, which you seemingly imply in your statement.

 

God bless,

William

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In other words man is either a slave to sin or to God. There is no autonomy or libertarian will, Zachary, which you seemingly imply in your statement.

Okay, great, we both agree with Paul, who wrote ...

choose to be a slave to obedience leading to righteousness, OR

choose to be a slave to sin leading to (eternal) death.

 

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Okay, great, we both agree with Paul, who wrote ...

choose to be a slave to obedience leading to righteousness, OR

choose to be a slave to sin leading to (eternal) death.

 

I don't agree Zachary. By not addressing the "cause" but emphasizing the result, and then crediting the result as the cause of salvation I think you're missing a major point in Scripture.

 

Lemme explain why with a direct response to what you shared in the above quote. Man is a slave to sin John 8:34 or a slave to God Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1; James 1:1 Romans 6:18. That is his natural disposition. Without God's intervention and monergistic works man will perish. Man no more chooses God than a man can choose to reach the heavens by flapping his arms like a bird. You may choose to try all day long, but the results will always be the same. Man will always fall short (Sin) of God's standard. Man's nature is grounded in his sin nature which prevents him from reaching righteousness.

 

“Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” … “if you want to receive

eternal life, keep the commandments.” … Then Jesus said to His disciples,

“I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of heaven.

I’ll say it again -- it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than

for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” The disciples were astounded,

“Then who in the world can be saved?”, they asked.” (Matthew 19:16-25, NLT)

… Obviously, entering the 2 Kingdoms is analogous to entering eternal life.

 

This is why the Lord said, in John 3 that a man cannot see or enter the Kingdom of heaven without being reborn, an allusion made to Ezekiel 36:25-27. Please acknowledge that point, because that is explicit and directly addresses 'entering the kingdom or eternal life'. This is why the Lord said, in the case of rich young ruler, a man that displayed covetousness and idolatry that with "man these things are impossible" Matthew 19:25-26. A verse and point that you cut short in your context when sharing Matthew 19:16-25.

  • When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?”
  • MATTHEW 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

 

Take Christ's word for it. There is no contradiction in the writings of any of the Apostles and OT.

 

A point that also carries over to Ephesians chapter 5, mind you a point that Paul emphasized in Ephesians chapter 2 when He pointed out the timing of Regeneration and the "cause" of Salvation.

 

Salvation is monergism and not synergism.

 

God bless,

William

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Johnny Mac provided the other side of the argument

in his incredible "Lordship salvation" book,

"The Gospel According to Jesus" ...

for which, I believe, he was roundly castrated by his denomination, causing him to recant and change his ways!

If I am correct, he's been a bit of a nut-case ever since.

This is my gist of it from 10-15 years ago.

 

Hi Zachary, Dr. MacArthur presented the other side of "easy believism", but he has never denied that God preserves true saints/causes them to persevere in the faith. The Gospel According to Jesus was first published in 1988, and then again in 1994. The article I posted above by Dr. MacArthur, "Is Your Salvation Secure", was excerpted from his book called, Saved Without a Doubt, which was published in 1992. So these particular books were both published at basically the same time, that is, his book that teaches Lordship Salvation and his book that teaches Eternal Security/The Perseverance of the Saints.

 

He didn't recant anything concerning Lordship Salvation (as he still teaches it today .. and has even released a 20th Anniversary edition of The Gospel According to Jesus). And he wasn't "castrated" by his denomination and forced to changed his ways by them because he has never been part of a denomination. Grace Community Church is a non-denominational church, and he has been their senior pastor since 1969.

 

Although the "prequel" to The Gospel According to Jesus, The Gospel According to the Apostles, does a better job of stating his position on Eternal Security, since you brought up The Gospel According to Jesus, here is an excerpt that details his beliefs from that book:

9. HE CONDEMNS A HARDENED HEART

 

Opponents of lordship salvation admit that one of the reasons they exclude obedience from their concept of saving faith is to make room in the kingdom for professing believers whose lives are filled with sin. “If only committed people are saved people, then where is there room for carnal Christians?” one leading advocate of the antilordship view pleads.

 

This eagerness to accommodate so-called carnal Christians has driven some contemporary teachers to define the terms of salvation so loosely that virtually every profession of faith in Christ is regarded as the real thing. Anyone who says he has “accepted Christ” is enthusiastically received as a Christian, even if his supposed faith later gives way to a persistent pattern of disobedience, gross sin, or hostile unbelief. One antilordship writer perfectly distills the utter absurdity of his own view: “It is possible, even probable, that when a believer out of fellowship falls for certain types of philosophy, philosophy, if he is a logical thinker, he will become an ‘unbelieving believer.’ Yet believers who become agnostics are still saved; they are still born again. You can even become an atheist; but if you once accept Christ as saviour, you cannot lose your salvation, even though you deny God.” That is a damning lie.
No one who denies God should be deceived into thinking that because he once professed faith in Christ, he is eternally secure
(cf. Matt. 10:33: “Whoever shall deny Me . . . I will also deny him”; and 2 Tim. 2:12: “If we deny Him, He also will deny us”).

 

I am committed to the biblical truth that
salvation is forever
. Contemporary Christians have come to refer to this as the doctrine of eternal security. Perhaps the Reformers’ terminology is more appropriate; they spoke of
the perseverance of the saints
.
The point is not that God guarantees heaven to everyone who professes faith in Christ
,
but rather that those whose faith is GENUINE will never totally or finally fall away from Christ
.
They will persevere in grace unto the very end
. Even if they fall into grievous sins or continue in sin for a time, they will never abandon the faith completely. A. W. Pink, writing on this subject, says, “[God] does not deal with [believers] as unaccountable automatons, but as moral agents, just as their natural life is maintained through their use of means and by their avoidance of that which is inimical to their well-being, so it is with the maintenance and preservation of their spiritual lives. God preserves His people in this world through their perseverance.”

 

True
believers
will
persevere
.
Professing Christians who turn against the Lord only prove that they were NEVER truly saved
. As the apostle John wrote, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). No matter how convincing a person’s testimony might seem, once that person becomes apostate, he or she demonstrates irrefutably that the testimony was hypocritical and the professed salvation was spurious. God will keep His own. He “is able to keep [them] from stumbling, and to make [them] stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24).
~MacArthur, John F.. The Gospel According to Jesus: What Is Authentic Faith? Zondervan.

 

 

BTW, I've listened to John MacArthur's teaching now for about 30 years, on the radio, on the Internet, and in person, and I can promise you that he is anything but a "nut-case".

 

Yours and His,

David

Edited by David Lee
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Dr. MacArthur presented the other side of "easy believism", but he has never denied that God preserves true saints/causes them to persevere in the faith.

 

BTW, I've listened to John MacArthur's teaching now for about 30 years, on the radio, on the Internet, and in person, and I can promise you that he is anything but a "nut-case".

I do appreciate your efforts to explain where MacArthur is coming from.

 

Okay, he went to a great effort to produce some NT verses against easy-believism, but not against OSAS.

 

I'm a bit different ... I teach that easy-believism is leading false believers that OSAS is for them.

 

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I do appreciate your efforts to explain where MacArthur is coming from.

 

Okay, he went to a great effort to produce some NT verses against easy-believism, but not against OSAS.

 

I'm a bit different ... I teach that easy-believism is leading false believers that OSAS is for them.

 

Hi Zachary, and I completely agree with you about that (and the frightening truth as well that there may be many at the Judgment who actually/truly believe they are Christians, but are not and NEVER were, the Lord telling them plainly at the Great White Throne, I NEVER knew you .. e.g Matthew 7:22-23; cf Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43).

 

Yours in Christ,

David

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I do appreciate your efforts to explain where MacArthur is coming from.

 

Okay, he went to a great effort to produce some NT verses against easy-believism, but not against OSAS.

 

I'm a bit different ... I teach that easy-believism is leading false believers that OSAS is for them.

 

Actually, you might want to pick up his prequel, The Gospel According to the Apostles. It was written after The Gospel According to Jesus, but in true "prequel" fashion, it actually lays some of the groundwork for the things he teaches in his earlier book.

 

Dr. MacArthur stands as opposed as you do to, "easy believism", and the teaching that someone can be "Always Saved" who was never "Once Saved" to begin with, whose life does not justify/demonstrate their "claim" of being a Christian (though He stands squarely with the Bible concerning the eternal lives of "true" believers .. e.g. John 3:18; John 5:24; John 6:37-40; John 10:26-28; Romans 8:1, 28-30; Hebrews 7:25; 1 John 5:11-13).

 

Yours in Christ,

David

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Hi Zachary, actually, I'll post part of chapter 11 from, The Gospel According to the Apostles, here for your consideration, but there is far more to this book that I believe you would truly appreciate, so I'd still recommend picking it up and reading it! (This book is actually part of my Logos Library, so copying part of it here will be easy enough, I hope :))

Chapter 11
(excerpt)

 

Kept by the Power of God

 

In order to place the doctrine of perseverance in proper light we need to know what it is not. It does not mean that every one who professes faith in Christ and who is accepted as a believer in the fellowship of the saints is secure for eternity and may entertain the assurance of eternal salvation. Our Lord himself warned his followers in the days of his flesh when he said to those Jews who believed on him, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye truly my disciples, and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” ( John 8:31, 32 ). He set up a criterion by which true disciples might be distinguished, and that criterion is continuance in Jesus’ Word. ~John Murray

 

If any New Testament character was ever prone to failure, it was Simon Peter. Judging from the biblical record, none of our Lord’s disciples—excluding Judas the betrayer—stumbled more often or more miserably than he. Peter was the disciple with the foot-shaped mouth. He seemed to have a knack for saying the worst possible thing at the most inappropriate time. He was impetuous, erratic, vacillating—sometimes cowardly, sometimes weak, sometimes hotheaded. On several occasions he merited strong rebukes from the Lord, none more severe than that recorded in Matthew 16:23 : “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” That occurred almost immediately after the high point in Peter’s experience with Christ, when Peter confessed, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” ( Matt. 16:16 ).

 

Peter’s life is proof that a true believer’s spiritual experience is often filled with ups and downs.

 

But Peter illustrates another, more significant, biblical truth: the keeping power of God. On the night Jesus was betrayed, He gave Peter an insight into the behind-the-scenes spiritual battle over Peter’s soul: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail” ( Luke 22:31–32 , emphasis added).

 

Peter was confident of his willingness to stand with Jesus whatever the cost. He told the Lord, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” (v. 33 ).

 

But Jesus knew the truth and sadly told Peter, “The cock will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me” (v. 34 ).

 

Did Peter fail? Miserably. Was his faith overthrown? Never. Jesus Himself was interceding on Peter’s behalf, and His prayers did not go unanswered.

 

Did you know that our Lord intercedes like that for all genuine believers? We get a glimpse of how He prays in John 17:11 : “I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are” (emphasis added).

 

He continues:

 

I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Thy word is truth. As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me. And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me. John 17:15–23 , emphasis added

 

Notice what our Lord was praying for: that believers would be kept from the power of evil; that they would be sanctified by the Word; that they would share His sanctification and glory; and that they would be perfected in their union with Christ and one another. He was praying that they would persevere in the faith.

 

Was our Lord praying for the eleven faithful disciples only? No, He explicitly includes every believer in all succeeding generations: “I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word” (v. 20 ). That includes all true Christians even in our own day!

 

Moreover, the Lord Himself is continuing His intercessory ministry for believers even as you read this. “He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” ( Heb. 7:25 ). The King James Version translates that verse like this: “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (emphasis added).

 

Saved to the Uttermost

 

All true believers will be saved to the uttermost. Christ’s high priestly ministry guarantees it. We have been justified, we are being sanctified, and we shall be glorified. No true believer will miss out on any stage of the process, though in this life we all find ourselves at different points along the way. This truth has been known historically as the perseverance of the saints.

No doctrine has been more savaged by no-lordship theology. That is to be expected, because the doctrine of perseverance is antithetical to the entire no-lordship system. In fact, what they have pejoratively labeled “lordship salvation” is nothing but this very doctrine!

 

Perseverance means that “those who have true faith can lose that faith neither totally nor finally.” It echoes God’s promise through Jeremiah: “I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me ” ( 32:40 , emphasis added).

 

That flatly contradicts the no-lordship notion of faith that can evaporate, leaving “believers” who no longer believe (cf. SGS 141). It stands in opposition to the radical no-lordship teaching that genuine Christians can choose to “drop out” of the spiritual growth process ( AF 79–88) and “cease to confess Christianity” ( AF 111). It is the polar opposite of the brand of theology that makes faith a “historical moment,” a one-time “act” that secures heaven but offers no guarantee that the “believer’s” earthly life will be changed ( AF 63–64).

 

Perseverance was defined by the Westminster Confession of Faith this way: “They whom God hath accepted in His Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved” (chapter 17, section 1).

 

This truth does not deny the possibility of miserable failings in one’s Christian experience. The Confession also stated:

 

Nevertheless [believers] may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalency of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their preservation, fall into grievous sins; and for a time continue therein; whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit: come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts; have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and scandalize others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves (section 3).

 

In chapter 8 we dealt with the reality of sin in the believer’s experience, so it should be clear that lordship theology does not include the idea of perfectionism. Nevertheless, people steeped in no-lordship teaching often misunderstand the issue with regard to perseverance.

 

One Christian layman who has embraced no-lordship teaching wrote me a very graciously worded seventeen-page letter explaining why he rejects lordship doctrine. His complaint is that lordship theology “does not seem to allow for anything but highly successful Christian living.”

 

Zane Hodges makes a similar charge:

 

The belief that every Christian will live a basically successful life until the end is an illusion. It is not supported by the instruction and warnings of the New Testament.… It is not surprising that those who do not perceive this aspect of New Testament revelation have impoverished their ability to motivate both themselves and other believers. Tragically, they often fall back on the technique of questioning the salvation of those whose lives seem not to meet Biblical standards. But in the process they undermine the grounds for a believer’s assurance and take part—however unwittingly—in the siege of the Gospel.

 

No advocate of lordship salvation I am aware of teaches “that every Christian will live a basically successful life until the end.” Professor Hodges is quite right in saying the New Testament does not support such a view.

John Murray, defending the doctrine of perseverance, acknowledged the difficulties it poses: “Experience, observation, biblical history, and certain Scripture passages would appear to provide very strong arguments against the doctrine.… Is not the biblical record as well as the history of the church strewn with examples of those who have made shipwreck of the faith?”

 

Certainly Scripture seems to be filled with warnings to people in the church lest they should fall away (cf. Heb. 6:4–8 ; 1 Tim. 1:18–19 ; 2 Tim. 2:16–19 ). Zane Hodges suggests such warnings prove Christians can fall away: “If anyone supposes that no true Christian could quit, or would quit, they have not been paying attention to the Bible. They need to reread their New Testament, this time, with their eyes open” (AF 83).

 

But God does not contradict Himself. The warning passages do not negate the many promises that believers will persevere: “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life ” ( John 4:14 , emphasis added). “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” ( 6:35 ). “You are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” ( 1 Cor. 1:7–9 , emphasis added). “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass ” ( 1 Thess. 5:23–24 , emphasis added). “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us” ( 1 John 2:19 , emphasis added). “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen” ( Jude 24–25 KJV, emphasis added).

 

Charles Horne observed, “It is noteworthy that when Jude exhorts us to keep ourselves in the love of God (v. 21 ), he concludes with a doxology for Him who is able to keep us from falling and who will present us without blemish before the presence of His glory (v. 24 ). The warning passages are means which God uses in our life to accomplish His purpose in grace.”

 

And, it might be added, the warning passages like Jude 21 reveal that the writers of Scripture were very keen to alert those whose hope of salvation might be grounded in a spurious faith. Obviously the apostolic authors were not laboring under the illusion that every person in the churches they were writing to was genuinely converted (cf. AF 98).

 

Once Saved, Always Saved?

 

It is crucial that we understand what the biblical doctrine of perseverance does not mean. It does not mean that people who “accept Christ” can then live any way they please without fear of hell. The expression “eternal security” is often used in this sense, as is “once saved, always saved.” R. T. Kendall, arguing for the latter phrase, defines its meaning thus: “Whoever once truly believes that Jesus was raised from the dead, and confesses that Jesus is Lord, will go to heaven when he dies. But I will not stop there. Such a person will go to heaven when he dies no matter what work (or lack of work) may accompany such faith. ” Kendall states, “I hope no one will take this as an attack on the Westminster Confession. It is not that.”8 But it is precisely that! Kendall is expressly arguing against Westminster’s assertion that faith cannot fail. Kendall believes faith is best characterized as a single look: “One need only see the Sin Bearer once to be saved.” This is a full-scale assault against the doctrine of perseverance affirmed in the Westminster Confession. Worse, it subverts Scripture itself. Unfortunately, it is a view that has come to be widely believed by Christians today.

 

John Murray, noting this trend nearly forty years ago, defended the expression “Perseverance of the saints”:

 

It is not in the best interests of the doctrine involved to substitute the designation, “The Security of the Believer,” not because the latter is wrong in itself but because the other formula is much more carefully and inclusively framed.… It is not true that the believer is secure however much he may fall into sin and unfaithfulness. Why is this not true? It is not true because it sets up an impossible combination. It is true that a believer sins; he may fall into grievous sin and backslide for lengthy periods. But it is also true that a believer cannot abandon himself to sin; he cannot come under the dominion of sin; he cannot be guilty of certain kinds of unfaithfulness. And therefore it is utterly wrong to say that a believer is secure quite irrespective of his subsequent life of sin and unfaithfulness. The truth is that the faith of Jesus Christ is always respective of the life of holiness and fidelity. And so it is never proper to think of a believer irrespective of the fruits in faith and holiness. To say that a believer is secure whatever may be the extent of his addiction to sin in his subsequent life is to abstract faith in Christ from its very definition and it ministers to that abuse which turns the grace of God into lasciviousness. The doctrine of perseverance is the doctrine that believers persevere. … It is not at all that they will be saved irrespective of their perseverance or their continuance, but that they will assuredly persevere. Consequently the security that is theirs is inseparable from their perseverance. Is this not what Jesus said? “He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved.”

 

Let us not then take refuge in our sloth or encouragement in our lust from the abused doctrine of the security of the believer. But let us appreciate the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and recognize that we may entertain the faith of our security in Christ only as we persevere in faith and holiness to the end.

 

Any doctrine of eternal security that leaves out perseverance distorts the doctrine of salvation itself. Heaven without holiness ignores the whole purpose for which God chose and redeemed us:

 

God elected us for this very purpose. “He chose us in him [Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” ( Eph. 1:4 ). We were predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ in all His spotless purity ( Rom. 8.29 ). This divine choice makes it certain that we shall be like Him when He appears ( I John 3:2 ). From this fact, John deduces that everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself just as Christ is pure ( I John 3:3 ). His use of the word “everyone” makes it quite certain that those who do not purify themselves will not see Christ, nor be like Him. By their lack of holiness they prove that they were not so predestinated. The apostle thus deals a crushing blow to Antinomianism.

 

God’s own holiness thus requires that we persevere. “God’s grace insures our persevering—but this does not make it any less our persevering.” We cannot acquire “the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” unless we “press on toward the goal” ( Phil. 3:14 ). But as we “work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling” ( Phil. 2:12 ), we find that “it is God who is at work in [us], both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (v. 13 ).
~MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2000). The gospel according to the Apostles: the role of works in the life of faith. Nashville, TN: Word Pub.

 

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BTW, whatever happened to my other thread?

 

It was deleted, by accident. One post was meant to be deleted (spammer) but the moderator controls allow ticking the check box for the entire thread. It was a mistake on my end, and instead of restoring the database from a previous time, I decided to lose that one thread rather than 6 hours of posts (the time between backups).

 

Sorry for the inconvenience.

 

God bless,

William

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