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Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2-Chapter 11-The Security of the Saints

CHAPTER 11-THE SECURITY OF THE SAINTS

In this article there are three expressions which we shall use interchangeably: The Security of the Saints, the Preservation of the Saints, and the Perseverance of the Saints. While these are not identical statements, they do affirm the same thing of saved people, namely, their eternal safety. The preserving power of God accounts for the perseverance of the saint in faith and holiness: “For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever” (#Ps 37:28).

There are two doctrines which are mutually exclusive, antagonistic, and destructive. There is no compromise possible between them. They neither give nor ask quarter. One is true, the other is false. One is the doctrine popularly called apostasy, which means that a saved person, a saint, one born of God, made a partaker of the Divine nature, justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, may through sin forfeit his saintship, become a child of the devil, and be finally and forever lost. The other is known as the perseverance of the saints, which means that one born of God, made a saint by the effectual call of the Holy Spirit, justified by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, may do that which is wrong, grieve the Holy Spirit, lose the joy of salvation, and bring upon himself the corrective chastisements of the Lord; nevertheless shall persevere in faith and shall not be lost in the end.

Apostasy is based upon salvation by works in whole or in part; security is based upon salvation by the grace of God. The one makes salvation a human project; the other makes salvation a Divine undertaking. If salvation is of man, failure is not only possible but certain; if salvation is of the Lord, it must be a success.

One of the doctrines is established by Scripture, the other is denied by Scripture. So all arguments pro and con must be based upon Scripture. Unaided human reason and human experience and observation have no place in the discussion. “What saith the Scripture?” must be our guiding star.

WHAT THE DOCTRINE IS

The doctrine we subscribe to is rarely, if ever, correctly stated by those who reject and oppose it. It is dressed up in a false and ugly garb, then ridiculed and held up to scorn. The opponents build up a man of straw and then proceed to tear it to pieces. They never deal with the doctrine as it is believed and preached by its friends.

1. It is no part of the doctrine that all church members are secure and certain to go to heaven.

All church members ought to be saints, but alas, many of them are not. To those who have no other ground for thinking they are saved than church membership, this doctrine offers no hope or ground of rejoicing. Security is predicated of saints, born again people, who are justified by faith in Christ. These are preserved by God and persevere in their attachment to Christ as Lord and Saviour. Persevering faith in Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes saints from superficial professors.

“We are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end” (#Heb 3:14). One who has been made a partaker of Christ by faith will persevere in faith until the end of his days.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him; If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (#Joh 8:31). There is a faith that is temporal, where the root of the matter is not in the professor, where there has really been no experience of grace. This is the faith of the stony ground hearer. But real disciples have a Divinely given faith and continue in the word of Christ.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us” (#1Jo 2:19). These were superficial professors, not real professors of the grace of God, and their departure from the fellowship of the saints made manifest their true character. John plainly says that if they had been real saints, they would have continued in the fellowship of the saints. This verse unmistakably supports our doctrine. Judas furnishes an apt illustration of the apostasy of false professors. Judas was never a real believer, although associated with real believers: “Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not who should betray him” (#Joh 6:64).

2. It is no part of the doctrine that all who are active in religious work shall be saved forever.

Many religious workers are not saved now. They are not saints. They have not been born again. They have not partaken of the Divine nature. The Saviour says, “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” (#Mt 7:22,23). The flagellants were a religious sect in Italy in the 13th century. They were active as long as they could parade in the streets and publicly scourge themselves. But when their public processions were prohibited the sect died out. They could not survive in obscurity. In the time of Christ there were many who did things to be seen of men for human praise. And there is every reason to believe that the race of those who love the sound of human praise has not perished from the earth. All saints should show their faith by their works, but their works should be works of love to Christ, and not works of love for human acclaim. May this truth probe the hearts of both writer and reader.

3. It is no part of the doctrine that saints may not fall.

Saints have fallen and been sorely bruised by the fall. But every fall does not mean a broken neck, either physically or spiritually. Many have fallen and lived to tell the story. And so in religious life, saints have fallen into sin, and who among us dares to deny that he has never fallen into sin? Where is the sinless person? The sinner was not saved by becoming sinless, and he is not kept saved by living a sinless life. The sinner was saved by trusting Christ as Saviour, and he is kept saved by the power of God through faith. He continues as he began; a poor helpless sinner trusting a mighty Saviour. The born-again person can never be lost, because he will never renounce his faith in Christ and go about looking for another Saviour or give up in despair. Hearken to the Scriptures: “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy; when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me” (#Mic 7:8). “A just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again” (#Pr 24:16). “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand” (#Ps 37:23,24).

PROOF THAT THE DOCTRINE IS TRUE

Arguments from Scripture are so abundant that one hardly knows where and how to begin in arranging them. A saint is one who has been elected by God the Father, redeemed by God the Son, and regenerated by God the Holy Spirit. And so the first reason we shall give for the security of the saint is as follows:

1. All the persons of the Godhead are for him: “If God be for us who can be against us?” (#Ro 8:31).

1a) The Father is for us in election: “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?,” (#Ro 8:33). He is for us in Predestination: “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son” (#Ro 8:29). He is for us in the effectual call. “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called” (#Ro 8:30). “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace” (#Ga 1:15). He is for us in justification: “It is God that justifieth” (#Ro 8:33). He is for us in the gift of His Son: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all…” (#Ro 8:32). He is for us in His purpose to glorify us: “and whom he justified them he also glorified” (#Ro 8:30).

1b) The Son is for us In redemption “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:” (#Ga 3:13); in Intercession “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (#Ro 8:34); “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine” (#Joh 17:9); “Wherefore 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” (#Heb 7:25); in His second coming “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (#Joh 14:3); “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (#Heb 9:28); “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (#1Th 4:15-18).

1c) The Holy Spirit is for us: In regeneration “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (#Eph 2:3); in intercession “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (#Ro 8:26), as a seal “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (#Eph 4:30); in our resurrection “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (#Ro 8:11). Or to go over the same ground—-the birth of the Spirit makes the saint safe. “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (#1Jo 3:9); “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith…We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (#1Jo 5:4,18); “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (#1Pe 1:23); the indwelling of the Spirit makes him secure: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (#1Co 6:19); “And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;” (#Joh 14:16); and the sealing of the Spirit makes him secure. A seal is a mark of ownership; it is to secure what is sealed; and it is a guarantee of safe delivery. Haldeman describes a beautiful vase he once saw. It was almost covered with outer coverings, and had a great seal upon it, and an inscription which stated that it had been purchased by an Oriental Prince, and was to be delivered to him in his palace in his capital city. Now the saint bears a seal, a mark, a stamp, and an inscription which declares that he has been purchased by Jesus Christ. This seal of the Holy Spirit marks us as belonging to Christ as His purchased possession, guarantees our safety, and also that we shall be delivered safely to His capital city in heaven. We are still surrounded with the outer covering of sinful flesh, but in that great day the covering will be taken off and we shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of our Father.

2. The saint is secure because all the attributes of God are for him The will of God is for him: “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day” (#Joh 6:39). The power of God is for him: Christ said, “My Father… is greater than all and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (#Joh 10:29). “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (#1Pe 1:5); “For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (#2Ti 1:12). The love of God is for the saint. There is nothing able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (#Ro 8:38,39); “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (#Joh 3:16). God’s mercy is for the saint. God is rich in mercy: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us” (#Eph 2.4). It was mercy that made us alive when we were dead, and mercy will not destroy that which he saves. The holiness of God is for the saint “Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me” (#Ps 89:35,36). God’s word and His oath are given to the one who has fled to Christ for refuge, that he may have strong consolation: “For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:” (#Heb 6:16-18).

God’s wisdom is for the saint. Wisdom found a ransom: “Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom” (#Job 33:24). Christ is made unto us wisdom. “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (#1Co 1:30). Divine wisdom took into account all contingencies in the work of salvation. God’s justice is for the saint. Justice put Christ to death for the believer’s sins, and justice will not punish two persons for the same offence. If one died as a substitute for all, then it follows all died: “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead” (#2Co 5:14). The sin Christ died to was our sin imputed to Him; therefore, His death to sin was our death to sin, and this led Paul to say, “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (#Ro 6:11).

3. The saint is secure because he is not under the moral law as the way of life. One under law would have to keep the law perfectly or be condemned. If he only broke the law one time in one point, he would be a lawbreaker, and condemned. The only possible way of escaping condemnation and judgment is to get out from under the law. And the only way to get out from under the law is to trust Christ, Who is the end of the law for every believer. “For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them” (#Ro 10:5). One cannot get out from under the law by obeying it. Obedience, if possible, would prevent condemnation, but it would not remove from under the law. And of course, one cannot get out from under law by breaking it; he only gets in the toils of it and is punished by it. Nor can one get out from under law by mourning. Mourning does not satisfy law. Neither can the law be set aside; it must be satisfied. The only way to get out from under the moral law of God is through faith in Christ Who met its penalty and satisfied its claims against the sinner by His death on the cross.

The believer is declared to be dead to the law. “Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (#Ro 7:1-4). Paul reminds us that the law has dominion over a man as long as he liveth. To be saved he must die to the law. He illustrates the thought by the law of marriage. The law binds the wife to her husband as long as he lives. When he dies physically, she dies to the law that bound her to that particular man. She still lives as a woman, but not as a wife. So the believer, says Paul, is dead to the law by the body of Christ. The death of Christ was the believer’s death to the moral law of God, and being dead to the law he is no longer under it as the way of life. Christ said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (#Joh 14:6).

The believer is “free from the law of sin and death” (#Ro 8:2). There is no law by which the one who trusts in Christ can be condemned. God would have to resort to mob violence in sending a saint to hell.

4. The saint is eternally safe from the danger of hell because he is dead to sin; “Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (#Ro 6:11). This is death in the judicial sense and is on the ground of the substitutionary death of Christ. The believer is not yet dead to sin subjectively, but only objectively. He is not yet dead to sin as an experience, for he is more sensitive to sin as a saint than when he was a lost sinner. He is dead to the guilt and penalty of sin because Christ bore the penalty in His own body on the tree.

“Once I was dead in sin,
And hope within me died;
But now I’m dead to sin,
With Jesus crucified.

“O height I cannot reach!
O depth I cannot sound;
O love, O boundless love,
In my Redeemer found!

“O cold ungrateful heart,
That can from Jesus turn,
When living fires of love
Should on His altar burn.

“I live—and yet not I,
But Christ that lives in me,
Who from the law of sin
And death hath made me free.”

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2

The threats and warnings in scripture are addressed to the church body

December 19, 2012 Leave a comment

The threatenings, cautions, and warnings, with which the word of God every where abounds, imply, it is alleged, if they do not aver, the probability that some true christians will apostatise, and forever perish. They are therefore presented as a second objection to the doctrine it is my purpose to establish.

That such threatenings and cautions, and warnings, are of constant recurrence in the divine word, and that they are in their character, appalling, is most true. The premises are therefore cheerfully conceded, but the conclusion from thence, does not appear to me, by any means natural, or a matter of course. The reasoning is illogical, as I shall presently fully demonstrate. Let two important facts be here fixed carefully in the mind. The Church of Christ is composed, not of the regenerate alone, but of the unregenerate also. This is the first fact. The second is, that all these threatenings, and cautions, and warnings, are addressed to the members of the Church as a body. Both these truths will, I suppose, be readily admitted by all.

But I would be fully understood, and therefore, will refer you to testimony. I do not admit that the unconverted have any right to a place in the Churches. The word of God, we very well know, does not approve their admission. On the contrary, it is strictly prohibited. But those who administer the affairs of the kingdom of Christ upon earth, are men. They are imperfect; their administration also must therefore be imperfect. Our best efforts may be exerted to preserve the body pure from unworthy members, but we cannot read men’s hearts, and in despite of all our vigilance, very many find their way into the Church, who are strangers to repentance and faith; some probably, for some reasons, seeking to appear what they know they are not; and others candid, and sincere, but misled, and deceived. I state the simple fact that there are unconverted men in the Churches. So it has been in every age―-in apostolic as well as in our own times. A Judas, and a Simon Magus, were then members of the Churches, and stood side by side, with a James, and a John. So now, the converted and the unconverted, the eminently holy, and the profoundly depraved, meet and mingle in the sanctuary, and at the very table of the Lord. Such, to a greater or less extent, are all the Churches. This we know to be true, by the institution in the word of God of disciplinary measures to exclude the unworthy when discovered, and by our own personal observation.

R. B. C. Howell—Perseverance of the Saints

Can Christians fall and be lost?

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment

But our first parents also fell from their original state of holiness. If so, may not christians under similar influences, fall and be lost?

This proposition demands our serious investigation. I observe, that between their primitive condition, and that of truly regenerated men of subsequent ages, no such similarity exists, as will admit of conclusive reasoning from the one to the other. Let several facts, evincive of the truth of this statement, be considered. You will, in the first place, remember that the covenant of God with them was wholly different from that upon which you now stand. To Adam Jehovah said―”Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not ear of it; for in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”

The obligation of this covenant was a simple negative, upon a single point. How easy would have been compliance. The conditions were explicit―obey, and live; disobey, and die. The result need not be repeated.

With this, contrast the Gospel Covenant―”I will put my laws into their mind, (saith Jehovah) and write them in their hearts; and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people; and they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, know the Lord; for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest; for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins, and their iniquities will I remember no more.”

Well may this be distinguished as “the covenant of grace!” How utterly unlike the Adamic. With our first parents all was unbending justice; with you all is favor, mercy, boundless forbearance. In the covenant with them, no provision was made for the pardon of sin; in the Gospel covenant, this is one of the strongest features. Besides all this, they were, until they sinned, utter strangers to pain, and sorrow, and wasting wretchedness. They had not experience of evil. You have known all its bitterness. And further, They disposed of their own life, and alas! incurred its dreadful forfeiture! “Ye are lead (to sin) and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also, appear with his in glory.”

Their condition was wholly different from yours. Almost its antipodes. The reasoning from analogy therefore―is here clearly out of place―it is not legitimate. Neither, as you now see, from the fall of angels nor of our first parents, from their original state of holiness, can any valid arguments be adduced, proving that regenerated men, once depraved and sinful, but now redeemed and sanctified, are liable to “loose their faith, and regeneration, or to continue in apostasy, and so eternally perish.” The objection is without relevancy, or force.

R. B. C. Howell—Perseverance of the Saints

The difference between backsliding and apostasy

November 21, 2012 4 comments

It is, secondly, necessary that you discriminate carefully, between backsliding, and apostasy. The former is the act of turning back from God; the latter is the forsaking, or the renouncing of the religion of Christ. Backsliding consists either in the relinquishment of evangelical doctrine; or in the loss of spirituality of mind; or in the gradual departure from correct morals. All these evils are embraced in apostasy. The backslider commits transgressions, but returns to his allegiance, and obtains forgiveness, and acceptance. The apostate continues; dies in his sins; and “so eternally perishes.” We teach that none of the true children of God―he believing, the pardoned, the regenerated, the sanctified―become apostate, but to backsliding, of every character and degree, all, it is but too evident, even the best, and most devoted, are constantly, and painfully liable.

R. B. C. Howell—Perseverance of the Saints

God works from within a believer in order to preserve

Yet it needs to be pointed out that in maintaining His people in holiness, the power of God operates in quite another manner than it does in the maintenance of a river or the preservation of a tree. A rive may (sometimes does) dry up, and a tree may be uprooted: the one is maintained by being replenished by fresh waters, the other is preserved by its being nourished and by its roots being held in the ground; but in each case, the preservation is by physical power, from without, entirely without their concurrence. In the case of the Christian’s preservation it is quite otherwise. With him, God works from within, using moral suasion, leading him to a concurrence of mind and will with the Holy Spirit in this work. God deals with the believer as a moral agent, draws him “with cords of a man” (Hosea 11:4), maintains his responsibility, and bids him “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12, 13).

Arthur W. Pink—Studies in the Scriptures March, 1937 The Spirit Preserving

The Preservation of the saints is wrought by the work of the Spirit

September 18, 2012 Leave a comment

During recent years much has been written upon the eternal security of the saints, some of it helpful, but most of it superficial and injurious. Many Scriptures have been quoted, but few of them explained. A great deal has been said about the fact of Divine preservation, but comparatively little on the method thereof. The preservation of the believer by the Father and by the Son has been given considerable prominence, but the work of the Spirit therein was largely ignored. The general impression conveyed to the thoughtful reader has been that, the “final perseverance” of the Christian is a mechanical thing rather than a spiritual process, that it is accomplished by physical force rather than by moral suasion, that it is performed by external might rather than by internal means— something like an unconscious non-swimmer being rescued from a watery grave, or a fireman carrying a swooning person out of a burning building. Such illustrations are radically faulty, utterly misleading, and pernicious in their tendency.

Arthur W. Pink—Studies in the Scriptures March, 1937 The Spirit Preserving

God is Unchanging in His Love

We must just hint at one thought before we pass away, and that is-God is unchanging in the objects of his love- not only in his love, but in the objects of it.

If ever it should come to pass

That sheep of Christ might fall away,

My fickle, feeble soul, alas,

Would fall a thousand times a day.”

If one dear saint of God had perished, so might all; if one of the covenant ones be lost, so may all be, and then there is no gospel promise true; but the Bible is a lie, and there is nothing in it worth my acceptance. I will be an infidel at once, when I can believe that a saint of God can ever fall finally. If God hath loved me once, then he will love me for ever.

Did Jesus once upon me shine,

Then Jesus is for ever mine”

The objects of everlasting love never change. Those whom God hath called, he will justify; whom he has justified, he will sanctify; and whom he sanctifies, he will glorify.

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Immutability of God- A Sermon January 7, 1855