Calvinism 101: Session 13
The Preservation of the Saints
No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I stand.
The life of a Christian is a series of miracles. See a spark living in mid ocean, see a stone hanging in the air…and the snow-white swan among rivers of filth, and you behold an image of the Christian life. The new nature is kept alive between the jaws of death, preserved by the power of God from instant destruction; by no power less than divine could its existence be continued. – Charles Spurgeon, “The Perseverance of the Saints”
Preservation or Perseverance?
We believe that all genuine Christians endure to the end. That their persevering attachment to Christ is the grand mark which distinguishes them from superficial, false “Christians.” That a special Providence watches over their welfare and they are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. – Article XII “The Perseverance of the Saints” from our Statement of Faith
- Two aspects of this: God preserves, we persevere.
Can We Lose Our Salvation?
- Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. (Rom 11:19-22)
- 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, 5 and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 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. (Heb 6:4-6)
- Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit…If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (John 15:2, 6)
- King Saul losing the Holy Spirit (1 Sam 13-15), David requesting to not lose the Holy Spirit in the same way (Ps 51:11).
- See also: 1 Cor 15:1-2, Matt 24:11-13, Rom 8:12-14, Gal 6:7-9
- If we believed that our salvation was never in jeopardy, why work so hard? Wouldn’t this promote spiritual laziness?
- If we lacked the ability to choose not to believe, then in what sense is our relationship with God real? Does this make us captive to God?
- Haven’t we all known people who have walked away from the faith?
The Preservation of the Saints
- And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil 1:6)
- …so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor 1:7-8)
- And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. – Rom 8:30
- Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?...For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:35, 38-39)
- All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never 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 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day…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 6:37-40, 44)
- My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
- See also: Matt 24:24; Eph 1:13-14; 1 Pet 1:5; Jude 24-25; 1 Thess 5:23-24; Heb 13:20-21; Jer 32:40
- If we didn’t save ourselves, but God saved us, then the question shouldn’t be: “Can a Christian lose their salvation?” but, “Can God lose a Christian?” Can God fail to complete what He begins?
- If you could lose your salvation, you would.
- If we continued in faith according to our own free will alone, then wouldn’t that provide a ground for boasting? Why do we continue in faith while others do not?
- If “fear of losing our salvation” is our motive for obedience, then we reveal that we are motivated by fear, not love. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love,” (1 John 4:18).
- It is also just as possible that God’s sovereign preservation of His saints becomes the ground and cause of their effort, their perseverance.
- An analogy: two ways of treating a comatose patient. One, is to tie strings around his arms and legs and march him around the hospital like a puppet while he remains unconscious. But, of course, this is no real cure. Another, is to give him good medicine that miraculously awakens him from the coma. And, like any good doctor would, to provide him with the therapy needed to rebuild the strength and motor skills that have deteriorated away. Salvation is more like the latter than the former.
- The sun and the ice.