Perseverance – Part 1: The Believer’s Security

In view of the Biblical teaching that the security of the believer depends on a living relationship with Christ Jesus (John 15:6), in view of the Bible’s call to a life of holiness (1 Peter 1:16; Hebrews 12:14); in view of the clear teaching that a man may have his part taken out of the Book of Life (Revelation 22:19); and in view of the fact that one who believes for a while can fall away (Luke 8:13); The General Council of the Assemblies of God disapproves of the unconditional security position which holds that it is impossible for a person once saved to be lost (Assemblies of God bylaws, Article VIII, Section 1; quoted at The Security of the Believer).

For the past ten months my family and I have been reading from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1994) in our after-breakfast Bible reading. Currently we’re reading what he says about the doctrine of salvation. We’ve already read what he says about election, the Gospel call, conversion, regeneration, justification, adoption, and sanctification. We’re now considering perseverance or eternal security. After doing so we’ll read what Grudem says about death and glorification.

In my May 24 “The Order of Salvation” post, I said that instead of reading what Grudem says about perseverance or eternal security in “Chapter 40: The Perseverance of the Saints (Remaining a Christian)” we’d read an article from The Full Life Study Bible, New International Version (edited by Donald C. Stamps and J. Wesley Adams. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1992), “Assurance of Salvation” (page 1982). However before we read it, we read an Assemblies of God position paper on the believer’s security, “The Security of the Believer.” Here I’ll share from it. In my next post I’ll share from “Assurance of Salvation.”

The reason for our reading “The Security of the Believer” and “Assurance of Salvation” instead of Grudem’s “Chapter 40: The Perseverance of the Saints (Remaining a Christian)” is that, like the Assemblies of God (see the quotation with which I opened this post), the denomination which my family and I are members of disapproves of “the extreme so-called Eternal Security teaching” (General Constitution and By-Laws, The Pentecostal Assemblies of Newfoundland and Labrador, June 1998, page 62) presented by Grudem.

“The Security of the Believer” opens with the quotation with which I opened this post. It goes on to explain the position taken in the quotation under four headings:
1. Salvation is available for every man.
2. Salvation is received and kept by faith.
3. Continued sin will adversely affect the believer’s faith.
4. The believer’s salvation is forfeited by rejecting Christ.

Here I’ll just provide for each of the four statements a few Biblical passages supporting the statement. For explanations of the statements see The Security of the Believer. Feel free to post comments here on them, remembering the policy of Open Theism expressed in its About: “when I created Open Theism, I observed that it was not intended for advanced discussion of open theism or for arguments between supporters and opponents of open theism, other sites being available for both of those activities. The same is true regarding the other topics considered in Open Theism. Thus I will approve the publication of only those comments that are made in a non-technical and friendly manner.”

Salvation is available for every man.
– “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16; ESV; all Biblical quotations are from the ESV).
– “For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’ (Romans 10:11-13; the quotations are from Isaiah 28:16 and Joel 2:32).
– “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Salvation is received and kept by faith.
– “For by grace you have been saved through faith” (Ephesians 2:8).
– “Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Philippians 3:9).
– “My righteous one shall live by faith” (Hebrews 10:38, quoting from Habakkuk 2:4).

Continued sin will adversely affect the believer’s faith.
– “Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end” (Hebrews 3:12-14).
– “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
– “Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning” (1 John 3:8).

The believer’s salvation is forfeited by rejecting Christ.
– “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).
– “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
– “For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first” (2 Peter 2:20).

“The Security of the Believer” concludes by observing that although the Bible recognizes the possibility of forfeiting one’s salvation, it offers hope for those who do (and all others) in such passages as Romans 10:13, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (quoting Joel 2:32).

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