Perseverance of the Saints
Statement of Doctrine

"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." (Westminster Confession, Chapter XVII, Section 1)

This doctrine is a necessary part of the Calvinistic theology. The doctrines of Election and Irresistible Grace logically imply the certain salvation of those who receive these blessings. Perseverance of the Saints is the inescapable conclusion drawn from the other four points.

Scriptural Support

John 6:47; Romans 8:1,29-32,35,37-39; 1 Corinthians 1:7-9; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 10:14; 1 Peter 1:3-5; 1 John 2:19; Philippians 1:6; Jude 24-25

Not Dependent on Us, but on God

  1. Believers are no longer under the law, but under grace. We cannot be condemned for having violated the law (Romans 6:14). Believers are not treated according to their deserts, so sin cannot be the cause for their downfall (Romans 11:6; 4:15; 7:8; and 7:4).

  2. God's love for us is a guarantee that His people cannot be lost. That love was never based on the attractiveness of its objects. God loved us first, and He sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:10). Our standing with God is not based on what we deserve. God loved us "while we were enemies" and brought us into spiritual life (Romans 5:8-10).

    • We are taught that Christ is the "Author and Perfector of the faith." The whole course of salvation is divinely planned and guided. The grace of God and its continuance is not based on our merits.

    • The Christian could not fall away permanently unless God had withdrawn His grace and placed the person back under the auspices of the law.

  3. "The sovereign and unmerited love is the cause of the believer's effectual calling (Jeremiah 31:3 and Romans 8:30). Now, as the cause is unchangeable, the effect is unchangeable. That effect is, the constant communication of grace to the believer in whom God hath begun a good work. God was not induced to bestow His renewing grace in the first instance, by anything which He saw, meritorious or attractive, in the repenting sinner; and therefore the subsequent absence of everything good in him would be no new motive for God for withdrawing His grace..... In a word, the causes for which God determined to bestow His electing love on the sinner are wholly in God, and not at all in the believer; and hence, nothing in the believer's heart or conduct can finally change that purpose of love." Robert L. Dabney, 19th century Southern Theologian.

  4. And one more quote: "God's decree of predestination is firm and certain; and the necessity resulting from it is, in like manner, immovable, and cannot but take place. For we ourselves are so feeble, that if the matter were left in our hands, very few, or rather none, would be saved; but Satan would overcome us all." Martin Luther, 16th century German Theologian.

  5. Why don't men welcome a doctrine which tells them their salvation is secure?

    • Man has more confidence in himself than he ought. This scheme is against what man knows in the natural world, where people are rated on their merits and works. Man wishes to earn his salvation, though he expects very high wages for very sorry work.

Temporarily Backsliding and Committing Sin

  1. This doctrine of Perseverance does not mean that Christians do not temporarily fall the victims of sin. It does mean that they are never completely defeated by sin. God exercises His grace their hearts and prevents even the weakest heart from final apostasy.

    • It is, of course, inconsistent for a Christian to commit sin. We put Christ to open shame (Hebrews 6:6), and we give the enemies of the kingdom an opportunity to blaspheme the God Who Saves (see I1 Samuel 12:14 as an example).

  2. A believer's state is one of warfare in this world. Paul taught that the life work of many people should be burned since it is constructed of wrong materials, though they themselves shall be saved "so as by fire" (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).

  3. "The believer, like a man on shipboard, may fall again and again on the deck, but he will never fall overboard." Charles H. Spurgeon

Outward Profession of Righteousness not always Guarantee of Salvation

  1. "Both Scripture and experience teach us that we are often mistaken in our judgment of our fellow men, that sometimes it is practically impossible for us to know for certain that they are true Christians."

    • Jesus warned His disciples about false christs and practices which show great signs and wonders. People may honor Him with their lips, but their hearts are far from Him (Mark 7:6-7).

    • John gave the true solution for these cases when he wrote: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they all are not of us" (1 John 2:19).

    • "Some fall away from a profession of faith, but none fall away from the saving grace of God. Those who do fall have never known the latter."

  2. Church membership is no guarantee that people are Christians. The Church militant will not all be part of the Church triumphant.

  3. It is admitted that the common operations of the Holy Spirit can lead to an externally religious life -- even to a teaching position within the church. But it is a temporary faith founded among the thorns or stony ground. The faith is based on a state of mind, and when that changes, so the faith disappears and the person lapses into a state of insensibility. The temporary faith comes and goes, but each experience leads back to their normal state of unconcern and worldliness.

  4. "By their fruits ye shall know them," is the test given by our Lord. Only when these experiences issue in a consistently holy life can their distinctive character be known.

Security (the Arminian Sense)

  1. To be a consistent Arminian with the doctrines of free will and of falling from grace, you cannot be certain of your eternal salvation in this life. There may be an assurance of present salvation, but there can be no hope of final salvation -- it is regarded as highly probable, but not finally certain.

  2. Does not the logic of the Arminian system tell us that it is better to die as soon as possible

  3. In regard to spiritual matters, a state of doubt is a state of misery. One of the greatest comforts in a Christian's life is the assurance that one cannot be separated from the love of God. To deny this doctrine is to take away all source of present comfort for Christians. Who can be comforted with the ever present danger of being deceived and falling away?

Scripture Warnings against Apostacy

  1. Verses warning against apostasy within believers are often brought up by Arminians as proof that it is possible for Christians to fall away from the faith. It is admitted that believers could fall back into sin, but we do not say that there is a permanent falling-away. We believe the warnings are in the Scriptures for six reasons:

    • The passages induce men to cooperate willingly with God for the accomplishment of His purposes. They are to produce humility, watchfulness, and diligence.

    • God's exhortation to duty are perfectly consistent with His purpose to give sufficient grace for the performance of these duties. For example, we are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, yet in another place, God tells us, "I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes."

    • The warnings are motivations to greater faith and fear.

    • The warnings are designed to show man his weakness rather than his strength and his duty rather than his ability.

    • The passages convince men of their want of holiness and of their dependence upon God.

    • The passages serve as restraints on unbelievers and leave them without excuse.

A Few Scripture Proofs

  1. Romans 8:35-39
    "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus the Lord." (also see Romans 8:29)

  2. John 6:51
    "I am the living bread which came down out of heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever."

  3. Philippians 1:6
    "Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Jesus Christ."

  4. John 10:28
    "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

  5. Matthew 24:24
    "There shall arise false christs, and false prophets, who shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect."
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