Home > Calvinism, Election > The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XIV- The Perseverance of the Saints

The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination Chapter XIV- The Perseverance of the Saints

The Reformed Doctrine Of Predestination

Chapter XIV

The Perseverance of the Saints

2. OUR PERSEVERANCE NOT DEPENDENT ON OUR OWN GOOD WORKS BUT ON GOD’S GRACE

Paul teaches that believers are not under law, but under grace, and that since they are not under the law they cannot be condemned for having violated the law. “Ye are not under law but under grace,” Romans 6:14. Further sin cannot possibly cause their downfall, for they are under a system of grace and are not treated according to their deserts. “If it is by grace, it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace,” Romans 11:6. “The law worketh wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there transgression,” Romans 4:15. “Apart from the law sin is dead” (that is, where the law is abolished sin can no longer subject the person to punishment), Romans 7:8. “Ye were made dead to the law through the body of Christ,” Romans 7:4. The one who attempts to earn even the smallest part of his salvation by works becomes “a debtor to do the whole law” (that is, to render perfect obedience in his own strength and thus earn his salvation), Galatians 6:3. We are here dealing with two radically different systems of salvation, two systems which, in fact, are diametrically opposed to each other.

The infinite, mysterious, eternal love of God for His people is a guarantee that they can never be lost. This love is not subject to fluctuations but is as unchangeable as His being. It is also gratuitous, and keeps faster hold of us than we of it. It is not founded on the attractiveness of its objects. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” 1 John 4:10. “God commendeth His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, shall we be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, shall we be saved by His life,” Romans 5:8-10. Here the very point stressed in that our standing with God is not based on our deserts. It was “while we were enemies” that we were brought into spiritual life through sovereign grace; and if He has done the greater, will He not do the lesser? The writer of the book of Hebrews also teaches that it is impossible for one of God’s chosen to be lost when he says that Christ is both “the Author and Perfecter of our faith.” We are there taught that the whole course of our salvation is divinely, planned and divinely guided. Neither the grace of God nor its continuance is given according to our merits. Hence if any Christian fell away, it would be because God had withdrawn His grace and changed His method of procedure —or, in other words, because He had put the person back under a system of law.

Robert L. Dabney has expressed this truth very ably In the following paragraph: “The sovereign and unmerited love is the cause of the believer’s effectual calling. Jeremiah 31:3; 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 to God for withdrawing His grace. When He first bestowed that grace, He knew that the sinner on whom He bestowed it was totally depraved, and wholly and only hateful in himself to the divine holiness; and therefore no new instance of ingratitude or unfaithfulness, of which the sinner may become guilty after his conversion, can be any provocation to God, to change His mind, and wholly withdraw His sustaining grace. God knew all this ingratitude before. He will chastise it, by temporarily withdrawing His Holy Spirit, or His providential mercies; but if He had not intended from the first to bear with it, and to forgive it in Christ, He would not have called the sinner by His grace at first. 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. Isaiah 54:10; Romans 11:29. Compare carefully Romans 5:8-10; 8:32, with the whole scope of Romans 8:28-end. This illustrious passage is but an argument for our proposition; ‘What shall separate us from the love of Christ?”2

“God’s love in this respect,” says Dr. Charles Hodge “is compared to parental love. A mother does not love her child because it is lovely. Her love leads her to do all she can to render it attractive and to keep it so. So the love of God, being in like manner mysterious, unaccountable by anything in its objects, secures His adorning His children with the graces of His Spirit, and arraying them in all the beauty of holiness. It is only the lamentable mistake that God loves us for our goodness, that can lead any one to suppose that His love is dependent on our self-sustained attractiveness.”3

Concerning the salvation of the elect, Luther says, “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.”

The more we think of these matters, the more thankful we are that our perseverance in holiness and assurance of salvation is not dependent on our own weak nature, but upon God’s constant sustaining power. We can say with Isaiah, “Except Jehovah of hosts had left us a very small remnant, we should have become as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” Arminianism denies this doctrine of Perseverance, because it is a system, not of pure grace, but of grace and works; and in any such system the person must prove himself at least partially worthy.

Loraine Boettner- The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination

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