Perseverance of the Saints Part 13: Salvation Assurance

We now come to the important topic of salvation assurance.  Calvinists have often claimed that Arminians do not have solid ground for assurance because Arminians do not hold to inevitable perseverance.  The Calvinist assumes that if one cannot be sure that they will indeed persevere in the faith, then that person cannot possibly have assurance of salvation.  This is partially true.  The Arminian acknowledges that one cannot have infallible assurance of final salvation.  But the Arminian also believes that the Bible gives no such assurance either.  Rather, the Bible gives assurance of present salvation only.  This assurance is based on present faith and reliance on the merits of Christ’s blood.  As one trusts in Christ he can rest assured that he is in saving union with Christ.  So long as one trusts in Christ he can have assurance of salvation.  We can see this truth expressed well in 1 John 5:11-13,

And this is the testimony: God has given us [believers] eternal life, and this life is in his Son.  He who has [presently] the Son has [presently] life; he who does not have [presently] the Son of God does not have [presently] life.  I write these things to you who believe [presently] in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have [presently] eternal life.

We see that life abides in the Son and only those who presently “have” the Son “have” the life that abides in Him.  This is how John assures his believing audience that they can “know” they have eternal life.  Those who presently “believe” in Christ’s name are those who are assured life in Him.  This, of course, reminds us of the passage in John 15 concerning the Vine and the branches.  The branches enjoy the life of the Vine (Christ) only as they “abide” (remain, stay, continue) in Him.  As they remain in Him by faith they receive the spiritual life that resides in Him alone.  If they cease to remain in Christ by faith (i.e. become unbelievers), they are cut off from Christ and the life that resides in Him alone.  As one remains in Christ he will produce fruit which gives further assurance of salvation as one cannot possibly produce fruit outside of Christ for “without Me you can do nothing.”

So the Bible gives strong assurance of present salvation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  but, as we have seen in this series, it offers no guarantee that one who is presently believing will infallibly endure to the end in that faith.  The Calvinist may perceive this to be a weakness in the Arminian doctrine of salvation assurance but it proves to be an even greater weakness for the Calvinist given his doctrine of inevitable perseverance.  The Calvinist likewise insists that one must persevere in faith to attain final salvation.  The problem for the Calvinist is the rather obvious reality that many who put faith in Christ do not endure in that faith until the end.  Many who ultimately fall away have impressive track records of loving, trusting, and serving Christ, and very often have produced godly fruit for many years.

The Calvinist is forced to insist that such “apostates” were never true believers in the first place.  They are forced to conclude that the faith, love, and service of such seemingly godly individuals were nothing but a ruse from beginning to end.  They are forced to question the integrity of those who abandon the faith and yet claim that they once trusted Christ with all of their hearts and loved God dearly.  They are forced to call them liars and vile hypocrites who may have “thought” they trusted Christ and “thought” they loved Him but were simply deluded and never experienced true faith or genuine love for God.  All of their godly fruit was nothing more than the works of the flesh that only seemed to bear testimony of a genuine relationship with Christ.

We must wonder then how these true believers who stand in judgment of these apostates and boldly proclaim that their faith and love was not genuine can be certain that their present faith and love is real.  They have no problem conceding that the apostate may have truly “thought” their faith and love was genuine despite the fact that it wasn’t.  How then can they be sure that they are not likewise deceived by their present faith and love for Christ?  Perhaps it only “seems” real to them.  How can they be sure that their faith and love for Christ will not someday fail, thereby proving that their faith was never “real” and they were never “really” saved to begin with, but merely a deluded hypocrite all along?  It is common for Calvinists to speak of those who were convinced that their faith was real when in fact it was not,

In the past, dear reader, there have been thousands who were just as confident that they had been genuinely saved and were truly trusting in the merits of the finished work of Christ to take them safely through to Heaven, as you may be; nevertheless, they are now in the torments of Hell. Their confidence was a carnal one; their “faith,” no better than that which the demons have. Their faith was but a natural one which rested on the bare letter of Scripture. It was not a supernatural one, wrought in the heart by God. They were too confident that their faith was a saving one, to thoroughly, searchingly, frequently, test it by the Scriptures, to discover whether or no it was bringing forth those fruits which are inseparable from the faith of God’s elect. If they read an article like this, they proudly concluded that it belonged to some one else. So cocksure were they that they were born again so many years ago, they refused to heed the command of 2 Corinthians 13:5 “Prove your own selves.” And now it is too late. They wasted their day of opportunity, and the “blackness of darkness” is their portion forever. (Arthur W. Pink, An Exposition of Hebrews- Emphasis his)

[Notice also how Pink mentions a "day of opportunity" as if the reprobate can possibly have such a "day of opportunity" given the eternal irrevocable nature of their reprobated state.]

So the Calvinist cannot even have assurance of present salvation as he can never be sure that his faith will in fact endure to the end until it actually endures to the end.  It may yet fail and the Calvinist must admit to this.  Therefore, they cannot possibly know “now” that their faith is real and that salvation is truly theirs.  Their faith may be false since the only infallible test of genuine faith, according to their doctrines, is the test of ultimate and final endurance.

John Calvin recognized this difficulty and tried to address it with a doctrine that many Calvinists today find embarrassing.  But Calvin is to be commended for being honest with the reality of those who fall away after many years of impressive testimony and service to God.  He recognized and tried to grapple with a serious problem in his theology that many Calvinists today simply pretend isn’t real.  His solution: “Evanescent grace.”  Calvin proposed the idea that God sometimes gives the reprobate a grace and subsequent faith so similar to that of the elect that it is nearly impossible to tell the difference.  He says that “experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them.” He calls this “an inferior operation of the Holy Spirit” by which God “illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize his grace.”  The Lord apparently gives the reprobate this temporary grace so that He might better…convict them, and leave them without excuse.”

Calvin tried hard to make a valid distinction between the faith produced by evanescent grace and the faith produced in the elect by genuine regeneration.  For instance, he noted that the reprobate do not “truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith” and that they “never have any other than a confused sense of grace, laying hold of the shadow, rather than the substance, because the Spirit properly seals forgiveness of sins in the elect only.”  “Still”, he says “the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment; not that they are partakers of the same faith or regeneration with the children of God; but because under a covering of hypocrisy, they seem to have a principle of faith in common with them.”  He also states “that conviction he distinguishes from the peculiar testimony which he gives to his elect in this respect, that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition.”

Much more could be quoted.  In this last statement we find some interesting points.  Calvin mainly points to the difference being that the faith of the elect endures while the “faith” of the reprobate will “never attain to the full result or to fruition.”  The difference again being that the gracious, yet “inferior”, work of the Spirit in the reprobate eventually “vanishes in those who are temporarily impressed” which gives evidence that such grace was only “evanescent” while “In the elect alone he implants the living root of faith, so that they persevere even to the end.”  So for all his trying Calvin never really solved the difficulty.  We can see this in the fact that genuine faith only proves genuine if it endures and that the “faith” of the reprobate is “affected in a way similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them.”  So one cannot possibly know if his present faith is genuine and salvation within his possession since it is conceded that the reprobate “in their own judgment” have the same faith as the elect, and until that faith “perseveres even to the end” it may yet prove to be the result of divine deception upon the reprobate; an inferior work of the Spirit, thebetter to convict them, and leave them without excuse.”

At one point Calvin seems to say that the “faith” of the “reprobate” does not produce fruit, “that the reprobate never attain to the full result or to fruition” but later contradicts this when he says,

I therefore deny that [reprobates] either understand his will considered as immutable, or steadily embrace his truth, inasmuch as they rest satisfied with an evanescent impression; just as a tree not planted deep enough may take root, but in the process of time wither away, though it may for several years not only put forth leaves and flowers, but produce fruit. (All quotes were taken from John Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3:11,12, translated by Henry Beveridge, pp. 478, 479, Emphases mine)

So the reprobate may for years produce fruit while merely experiencing the vanishing affects of evanescent faith.   While Calvin tries hard to assure the “elect” that their faith is superior to the false faith of those under evanescent grace, no assurance can be found in the face of such statements.  There is just no way for one to possibly know that his faith is real until he endures in that faith to the end.  Therefore, there is no ground for assurance of salvation until the “end” in Calvinism.  This is the “inevitable” result of the doctrine of “inevitable” perseverance.  While the Arminian can at least have present assurance of salvation, the Calvinist cannot even have that.  The Arminian finds further assurance in the Biblical truth, denied by Calvinists, that God truly desires the salvation of all men and has made provision for the salvation of all in the atonement.  We must acknowledge that both Arminians and Calvinists deal with times of spiritual struggles and doubts.  What assurance can be found during these times?  Walls and Dongell point out the pastoral challenges presented to those who counsel believers in such struggles:

Calvinism deprives those struggling with their faith of the single most important resource available: the confidence that God loves all of us with every kind of love we need to enable and encourage our eternal flourishing and well being.  Again, Calvinists cannot honestly assure people that God loves them in this way without claiming to know more about God’s secret counsels than any human being can know. (Why I Am Not A Calvinist, pg. 201)

They then go on to quote another passage from Calvin in which he speaks of temporary illumination for the reprobate and conclude,

What is truly remarkable here is that persons who receive this partial and temporary illumination appear for a time to be truly elect but in fact aren’t.  They are deluded by a false hope.  This dreadful possibility is what haunts Calvinists who struggle with the assurance and certainty of salvation.  Times of moral failure and depression can be construed as evidence that one is not chosen after all and that God is hardening one’s heart for not responding more faithfully to his grace….Calvinism lacks the clear warrant to speak the most liberating word of encouragement for persons struggling with their faith and doubtful of God’s attitude towards them- the unqualified assurance that God loves them and is for them! (ibid. 203)

Arminians and Calvinists have much common ground with regards to the doctrine of salvation assurance.  Both traditions believe that assurance can be gained through fruit bearing and the inner witness of the Spirit.  Both traditions believe that assurance is based on a confidence in the merits of Christ’s blood and union with Him.  Both traditions believe that one should examine himself and his lifestyle to be sure that his faith is presently focused on Christ and the merit of His blood.  But the Calvinistic doctrine of inevitable perseverance actually serves to undercut much of these Biblical markers of salvation assurance.  One cannot know that his faith is presently genuine as one’s faith can only “really” be proven genuine if it endures to the end.  One cannot be sure that the inner witness of the Spirit is not an “inferior” work of the Spirit which will eventually prove to be evanescent.  One cannot even find assurance in the seeming fruit that is being produced in his life as such fruit may eventually prove to be less than genuine, regardless of how real it presently seems (and according to Calvin one might even produce genuine fruit for several years while under the influence of evanescent faith).

Both Arminians and Calvinists must grapple with the reality of false professors like those described by Christ in Matthew 7:22, but Christ makes it clear that such false professors did not do the will of the Father and were in fact “evil doers.”  Christ is not speaking of those who live many years in faithful and loving service to God who yet abandon the faith. Arminians can easily assimilate such persons into their theology (since they believe that true believers can fall away) while the Calvinist is forced to create problematic doctrines like “evanescent grace” which only serve to undermine salvation assurance.  The Arminian can also easily accept the many passages of Scripture which comport with this experiential knowledge of true believers falling away from the faith and accept the warnings against falling away as serious and profoundly meaningful.

And finally, the Arminian can have a present assurance of salvation that the Calvinist cannot have while being consistent with his doctrines.  This fully comports with what Paul says in 2 Cor, 13:5,

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves!  Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you- unless indeed you fail the test.

Paul clearly says that we can know now whether or not we are “in the faith”.  We can “examine” and “test” our present faith to see if it is in fact genuine.  This simply is not true of Calvinism since the only infallible test of genuine faith is its ultimate endurance to the end.  Therefore, one cannot possibly know for certain “now” that he is genuinely “in the faith” contrary to Paul’s plain words.

Despite the claims by Calvinists that their doctrine of inevitable perseverance gives them a more solid footing than the Arminian with regards to salvation assurance, we have seen that Arminian salvation assurance better comports with the Biblical data and avoids the need to construct strange doctrines like that of Calvin’s “evanescent grace.”  In the final analysis the Arminian doctrine of perseverance supports the Biblical reality that one can have present assurance of salvation while the Calvinistic doctrine of perseverance falls alarmingly short in the same area.

Go to Part 1

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21 Responses

  1. They are forced to question the integrity of those who abandon the faith and yet claim that they once trusted Christ with all of their hearts and loved God dearly. They are forced to call them liars and vile hypocrites who may have “thought” they trusted Christ and “thought” they loved Him but were simply deluded and never experienced true faith or genuine love for God.

    You can read an example of just such behavior in the combox of a recent Pyromaniacs post here:

    https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=21212024&postID=2666594531432605129

    Notice especially the discussion that follows the comment left by “former_fundy” at 10:35 am on Sept. 25, 2008 and his follow-up comment at 5:12 am on Sept. 26, 2008.

  2. Excellent post as usual. But I would add that Arminians do have substantial assurance of future final salvation, simply not absolute or unconditional whereas Calvinists, as you point out, can have no present assurance and therefore no future assurance whatsoever and be consistent with their own doctrine. In everyday life, people have substantial assurance of future benefit which is nonetheless conditional on their continuing to meet the condition for that future benefit, for example continuing to consent to receive it. So Arminians can have solid assurance of present salvation, and substantial assurance of future final salvation, which is contingent on them continuing to meet the condition, which is faith. Put another way concerning future salvation, we have full assurance of future salvation on the condition of faith. And wonderfully, God promises true believers the ability to presevere in faith and that nothing can tear them away from him. So with present salvation we have the absolute assurance that God will enable us to persevere unto final salvation and that God is for us. He simply does not gaurantee that he will *make* us persevere. Arminian theology gives far more assurance than Calvinism: In Arminianism, full assurance of present salvation, and substantial assurance of future final salvation (i.le. full assurance on the condition of faith) vs. in Calvinism no assurance period.

    Now it is important to note that many Calvinists have assurance *despite* their theology. But the important point is that it is despite their theology, which puts their theology at odds with Scripture, which teaches that we can know that we are saved.

  3. Yea, Calvinists have no assurance at all. Not only is endurance in faith required but also fruit-bearing.

    I do not believe there are different kinds of faith: genuine or “heart” faith versus intellectual or “head” faith. The bible does not make such a distinction. The problem of assurance is raised by the difficulty of knowing what exactly the “heart” is and how it can be known. Faith itself has been redefined into something myserious and obscure. No, not redefined, simply obscured. “Show me your faith” the apostle James challenges. So few are able to do that, especially Calvinists are never able to tell what genuine faith actually is and what the truth actually is, that they claim is in their heart. So much ink has been spent on discussions like “What is faith?”. Something really simple has become an inscrutable monster: “what is faith ?”

    Here is the grounds for the confusion about assurance. I think James rule can be regarded as crucial. If someone cannot show his faith than we can know that whatever this faith is, it is dead and hence null and void. That’s the biblical rule.
    “Show me your faith” is the same as “let me try the fruit of the tree which is you, to see whether you are a good tree”. That’s the biblical rule.

    Greetings
    Kehrhelm “a helmet” Kröger

  4. Arminian,

    Excellent comments. I agree that the Arminian can have substantial assurance of future salvation as well as an ironclad assurance that God will enable them to keep the faith till the end (though not irresistibly). In a similar vein I know that I am presently faithful to my wife (and love her) but I also have great confidence that I will remain faithful to her (and continue to love her) for as long as I live. I cannot have absolute assurance of my future faithfulness to her (as I could possibly cease to be faithful in the future) but I can have significant confidence in that future state especially as I practice and thereby strengthen my love for her on a daily basis.

    I certainly don’t live in constant fear and “insecurity” because I cannot infallibly know that I will remain faithful to her till “death do us part”. I do, however, need to remain on guard against those things which might tempt me towards unfaithfulness and consider those temptations real and potentially harmful and even detrimental to our relationship. Likewise, the confident believer must take warnings and temptations very seriously. Robert Hamilton draws this comparison in one of his essays on assurance and I think it is very helpful for those who think that Arminians must remain in a constant state of fear and insecurity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Here is Hamilton’s post:

    Can Arminians Be Assured of Their Salvation?

    God Bless,
    Ben

  5. Calvinist Turretinfan now openly denies God’s omni-benevolence. He argues against the “misleading” children’s song “Jesus Loves Me”.

    This song is objectionable according to Turretinfan. For who knows whether these little children are among the elect?

    Read yourselves:

    http://turretinfan.blogspot.com/search?q=omni-benevolent

  6. Quite frankly, I think the Arminian has a strong sense of future assurance because of the present assurance.

    Do I kinow for a fact that I will never turn away from the faith? No, but I also am aware of the conditions upon which that is based, and have enough intergrity to safe guard my assured present salvation. I am also assured, that nothing in this world will take me away from Christ. What then do I have to fear?

    Calvinists have a lot to fear. They have to fear God.

  7. “Quite frankly, I think the Arminian has a strong sense of future assurance because of the present assurance.”

    ***Yes, that was my main point, and Ben has agreed too.

    Spurred on by Ben’s marriage analogy, let me restate one of my points in stronger language: in everyday life, assurance of a future benefit is almost always conditional on at least the continuing free consent of the receiver of the benefit. Hardly anyone ever thinks of such assurance as minimal or meaningless. It is simply a given that receiving a future promised benefit remains contingent on cosenting to it. Here’s an illustration: if one is on a train that the company assures will get you to your destination (and it has never failed a customer), one can have assurance that one will arrive at the destination (and assurance is accordingly greater with the reliability of the one promising the result; in salvation it is God, so assurance is certain). But that does not mean that one cannot decide to jump off the train. The company’s assuracne to take you to the destination does not include forcing you to stay on the train. So saying Arminians don’t have absolute, unconditional assurance for final salvation verges on being a red herring or perhaps irrelevant instead. It is not the type of assurance people ever normally have with respect to future promised benefits. We have seen that Calvinists don’t have such assurance from their theology anyway. But it is good to underscore the very real and profound assurance of future salvation that Arminian theology gives in harmony with biblical teaching from which it is draw and that Calvinistic theology can never deliver.

  8. kang,

    you wrote:

    [[In a similar vein I know that I am presently faithful to my wife (and love her) but I also have great confidence that I will remain faithful to her (and continue to love her) for as long as I live. I cannot have absolute assurance of my future faithfulness to her (as I could possibly cease to be faithful in the future) but I can have significant confidence in that future state especially as I practice and thereby strengthen my love for her on a daily basis.]]

    I would argue your presuppostion is wrong.

    I would put these words of Jesus in front of you to refute your argument in brackets above:

    Mar 14:27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’
    Mar 14:28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”

    And this one too:

    Joh 17:26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

    Are you not putting a lot of stock in your preposition above, this here: “but I can have significant confidence in that future state especially as I practice and thereby strengthen my love for her on a daily basis.”?

    It seems to come across, that bracketed and quoted above, that you have a part in your faithfulness to your wife and God and humanity now that you are saved, doesn’t it?

    I find that position to be very dangerous.

    One is not saved or “kept’ by their work now that they are saved according to Scripture so I find it hard to understand your presupposition. Can you help me understand why you write about your own personal abilities of faithfulness that way, that is, keeping yourself faithful to your wife?

    thanks

  9. Michael,

    You’ve lost me bro. I never said I have the ability on my own to do anything, but through Christ I can do all things. Can you?

    One is not saved or “kept’ by their work now that they are saved according to Scripture so I find it hard to understand your presupposition.

    Trusting in Christ and loving Him are not “works.” We are saved by faith “from first to last” and the “only thing that matters is faith expressing itself in love.”

    I find that position to be very dangerous.

    Well, then these Scriptures must seem very strange to you:

    “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide (remain) in my love…if you keep my commandments you will abide (remain) in my love (Jn. 15:9, 10)

    “But you beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” (Jude 20, 21)

    More could be quoted but you get the point. Can we build and strengthen our faith, obey the commandments of Christ, and keep oursleves in the love of Christ and God on our own power? No. But we are responsible to do these things in the power of God and as we do these things our relationship with Him becomes stronger and our assurance of final salvation likewise becomes stronger.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  10. Ben,

    fair enough with your explanation and again thank you for taking the time with me and handling me with respect.

    I have an uneasiness about it though.

    Maybe I could try and ask the question this way:

    Referring to John 15 and Jude, would you be far better off or “changed” in nature if by some reason, you stopped keeping yourself in Christ and building up yourself on your most holy faith?

    What “condition” would you be in? Would having been connected for twenty years have changed your human nature at all sufficient enough that when you disconnected you would see or God would see the change by abiding in Christ’s Love or building up your most holy Faith for twenty years then you were disconnected? Or would you be you just the way you were when you first were connected to Christ and started abiding in His Love or started building up your most holy Faith praying in the Holy Ghost?

    I hope that is coming across clearly? If not, I would go at it again?

    What I am saying is, I agree with Scripture and that I can do all things through Christ but I add that it is no longer me doing it, but it is in fact Christ doing what He is doing “through” me and not until I pass out of this shell I am living in in this world, this flesh being and am clothed or housed with that new body will I be permanently changed into His image and likeness.

    My restraint is found in the argument, and I just cannot say with certainty, that the Arminian position “subtlely” keeps something we do to make it a 100% deal between God and me. I just don’t accept that is the Arminian position or theology.

    It’s like the rules of the study of math properties.

    1+ 0 always equals 1. 2+0 always equals 2.

    I am always the “0” in the equation and Jesus is always the “increasing number”, whether it increases to 3, 4, 5, 30, 40, 50 and so on to eternity.

    It comes across to me that once the math problem begins and increases, my “0” equivalent changes to a greater “property” in the equation over the time the number increases.

    If what you are saying and using the Scripture to mean is that you will always be the sum of “0” in the equation and Christ and Eternal Life will always be the increasing number, worlds without end and you are just enjoying the increases for the rest of eternity, then I am with you in your conclusion. If not, then I am not with you in your conclusion if that is what you mean?

    What do we bring to the altar but our fallen human nature?

    So we proceed to the Wedding day and exchange our vows and give what “we” are to each other 100% of each other to each other. What do I give of any value to Christ but 0? What does He give of any value to me but 1, 2, 3 x eternity equals Eternal Life, a Life with God forever?

    I give nothing. He gives everything. What a sweet exchange! WE ARE NOW BOTH ONE. He still is and always will be the “Eternal” in the equation. I still am and always will be the 100% 0 but total beneficiary of it all! 1+0=1.

    Anyway, that’s what I am putting on the table. Does that clarify my position?

    I could need some educating so have at it if I am missing something here?

  11. Michael,

    I will try to be brief and concise as I don’t have a lot of time. I don’t like the way you try to break our relationship with Christ down to some sort of mathematical equation. I think such simplification is why Calvinism just doesn’t fit all the Biblical data. Relationships are primarily “influence and response” and not “cause and effect.” Relationships are complicated and often messy. They don’t fit into a neat little box. Our salvation is entirely tied to the dynamics of our relationship with Christ and we need to be very careful not to overly simplify what that means in order to make it fit neatly into some preconceived theological paradigm.

    The gift of salvation is a free gift wrought by God that is impossible for us to earn or merit. However, this free gift came at a very high cost, did it not? And there is a price to be paid by those who will receive that free gift as well. The believer is called on to deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow Christ. He is called on to surrender his will to God and give himself wholly to God as a living sacrifice. These are all outworkings of our faith in Christ.

    Would you deny that God wants us to grow in our relationship with Him? Would you deny that His grace is at work in us for the purpose of drawing us closer to Him and conforming us to the image of Christ? Would you say that we all respond to that gracious work in the same way? Would you deny that we can resist God’s work in us? Would you agree that prayer draws us closer to God and strengthens our relationship with Him? Are we not called on to humble ourselves, resist the devil, draw near to God, clean our hands and purify our hearts? (James 4:6-10) And all this by the grace God gives us? (James 4:6)

    Are we not to be “diligent” in practicing “these things” in order to keep ourselves from “stumbling” (i.e. falling) so that the entrance into the eternal kingdom of God will be abundantly supplied to us? (2 Pet. 1:2-11) Are we not to “guard” ourselves so that we do not fall from our own “steadfastness” but rather to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”? (2 Pet. 3:17, 18) Are we not warned against receiving the grace of God “in vain”? (2 Cor. 6:2) Is it not possible to “believe in vain” by not “holding firmly” to the truth of the gospel? (1 Cor. 15:1)

    When I drive home from work I can put on a CD, listen to talk radio, or spend time with the Lord in worship and prayer. Which do you think would strengthen my relationship with Christ? Does that mean I cannot choose instead to do those things which do not serve to “build up” my most holy faith by which I might “draw near” to Him? In the end it comes down to the crux of the controversy between Arminians and Calvinists. Is God’s grace resistible? I say yes, and in light of that I understand the urgency to daily take my relationship with God seriously and yield to His Spirit that I might grow in Him that I might never “fall”. The whole Bible makes sense to me and I don’t need to ignore large portions because they don’t fit some sort of theological equation. You are welcome to disagree but that is how I see it and I think it is the only Biblical way to see it.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  12. I have thought this previously, that Arminians have assurance despite claims by Calvinists to the contrary, and that Calvinists don’t have it as much as they think because of the oft claimed, “never saved to begin with.” I hadn’t thought of it in terms of current assurance versus future assurance (though that is how I understand it), ie. the Arminian actually has a better assurance as it is now.

    Calvin’s solution has no scriptural support that I am aware of, and makes God somewhat deceptive, making people think they are saved with evanescent grace when he actually hasn’t.

    The Bible has some verses that seem sympathetic to the Calvinist interpretation, but the entire philosophy seems shaky with many extrabiblical claims and human logic.

  13. Great job on the perseverance series. Keep up the nice work.

    Steve Witzki

  14. Steve,

    Thanks for the encouragement and thanks for providing us with several excellent articles from The Arminian magazine.

    God Bless,
    Ben

  15. yeah! great work steve and ben.

    – rex, arminian from the philippines. (yes Arminians here read your materials ;-) )

  16. [...] foundation for salvation assurance than the Calvinist as I have argued previously in my post, Perseverance of the Saints Part 13: Salvation Assurance.  I concluded that post with the following observation, Despite the claims by Calvinists that [...]

  17. Thanks for this, very helpful and balanced.
    British guy living in Hungary

  18. KangarooDort, (Ben?) have you ever considered writing a book on this theological subject? There’s so many prominent Calvinist authors (eg James White, John Piper, Sproul etc) pushing forward in the evangelical realm today; there is also some storng Arminians but we don’t seem to be hearing much of them! How about you, perhaps! =)

  19. Good topic, I’ve been wrestling with issue.

    Just wanted to comment on Pink when he says “They were too confident that their faith was a saving one, to thoroughly, searchingly, frequently, test it by the Scriptures, to discover whether or no it was brining forth those fruits which are inseparable from the faith of God’s elect.”

    What gets me is the word frequently. Why continually check up on yourself to see if you are bearing the fruits of regeneration if, according to Calvinism, you can’t forfeit salvation? Seems to me a one-time check would do since only a true believer can bear fruit as Calvinism states. If you pass the test once, your saved, end of story. And yet Pink says keeping checking??

    It makes about as much sense as me ‘frequently’ examining my birth certificate to see when my birthday is.

    Just something to chew over.

  20. For you folks’ general edification: Daniel D Corner’s “The Believer’s Conditional Security: Eternal Security Refuted” is apparently a good, extensive book on the topic — http://www.amazon.com/Believers-Conditional-Security-Eternal-Refuted/dp/0963907689/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1280211333&sr=8-1

  21. Haven’t seen any comments for a while, well, almost a year. If someone is still there, I’d like a link or two about ‘what causes the loss of salvation’. The two websites that were given by Kangaroodort (Part 5 or 6) on Feb. 10th at 4:51p.m. that link to Geocities no longer exist. My request is simple: are there any other sites which answer this question well, especially from an Armenian perspective?
    By the way, good analyzing on the scripture verses. Makes a lot of sense. I never did understand the Calvinist perspective even when I was a young Christian.

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