TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective Part 5: Perseverance of the Saints -- By: Anthony B. Badger
JOTGES 18:35 (Autumn 2005) p. 15
TULIP: A Free Grace Perspective Part 5:
Perseverance of the Saints
Associate Professor of Bible and Theology
Grace Evangelical School of Theology
Can a person who hears the gospel of Christ, understands it, and believes in Him for eternal life be eternally secure? Can he do so regardless of the degree of spiritual success or failure throughout the rest of his life on earth? Is it possible for someone who believes in the Person and finished work of Christ alone for eternal life to subsequently fail to meet a minimum degree of required holiness or obedience with the result that such failure nullifies the effects of his faith? Will such a person go to heaven? In other words, what if a believer doesn’t persevere in faith or in faithfulness until the end of his life? Will he ultimately be allowed into the kingdom?
An integral part of Calvinism and of Reformed Theology, in general, is the doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints. It is represented by the P in the T U L I P acrostic which represents the five-point Calvinistic position.1 The Arminian side of the controversy confronts Calvinism on this point and asks, “What happens to believers who fail in their Christian life experience?” The Calvinist says that a person who fails to stay or be kept in grace by God’s almighty power demonstrates that he never truly believed. God is not obligated to keep in grace those who are not His. So, such a person goes to hell because he is only a professor of the
JOTGES 18:35 (Autumn 2005) p. 16
faith, but was never a possessor thereof. Some who lean toward the Arminian persuasion do not think that a believer can lose his eternal salvation, but the standard Arminian position is that it is possible to fall away from the faith and lose possession of one’s eternal life. In both Calvinism and Arminianism, the bottom line is that the disobedient or pseudo believer is not allowed into heaven and is destined to incur God’s eternal wrath in hell.2 The believer must, therefore, either 1) prove his faith is genuine and that his relation to Christ is real to the end of his life (per the Calvinist) or 2) he must keep the relation to Christ intact by his obedience so as not to break or relinquish that eternally saving association with Him (per the Arminian).
How can two admittedly conflicting major theological views agree on, and even insist upon, the necessity of the perseverance of the saints in holiness and obedience to the end as a qualifying factor in one’s etern...
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