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Sunday, 17 April 2011

Once Saved Always Saved - Part 2 - Holiness is Fun!

Holiness is fun!
This is the follow up of the last blog about the Calvinism/Arminian debate. If you wish to refresh on my last post, just click on the "Older Post" prompt at the foot of this page.
It was a typical Sunday morning at Ascot Baptist Church, my home church where I attend regularly. During the sermon, Phil Rogers, our Elder, came out with these words:-
Holiness is Fun!
I was somewhat stunned. To me, "Holiness" had always conjured up in my mind of a group of monks chanting in the monastery, way out in the countryside, separate and away from the hustle and bustle of life in the secular world.

Or I imagine a "holy person" so pious, that whenever he looks at me he could see into my soul and mentally judges me, and I turn away to avoid that look.
Holiness is nothing like that.
Jesus himself said that holiness is fun. In John 15:10-11, he says:
If you keep my commandments (that is, to love one another) ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
Jesus also said:-
Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels in heaven over one sinner that repents. Luke 15:10.
Just imagine it. Our God is a happy God! Because somewhere in the world somebody had just got saved, and received the free gift of eternal life. And here and there someone is saved all the time. So the heavenly party never ceases. The believer is a gift from the Father to the Son for dying for his sins on the cross. So I can imagine a Heavenly Christmas morning that never ends. Gift after gift is received by Jesus Christ from God the Father, the myriad of angels shout for joy and everyone is having fun. The party is enhanced further by millions of saints (Christian believers) who have already died and entered glory. Their thunderous shouts of praise are twofold: first at a conversion of a sinner to saint on Earth, and the death of a Christian as he then enters the glories of Heaven, very much like the winner of an athletic foot race crossing the finishing line and breaks the tape.
God is a happy God. He loves us immensely. We are a gift to the Son from the Father, and there are no unwanted presents either. God does not make mistakes. That's why I firmly believe in Once Saved always Saved.
If there is such a doctrine so strongly debated, it is this one. Once Saved Always Saved seems too good to be true. In fact, all it says that there is absolutely no way a sinner can do anything to merit grace. Instead, the Good News of God's Grace is proclaimed, and the hearer believes, his faith resulting in salvation. Another name for "Good News" is the Gospel.
Once Saved Always Saved has been the cause of this Big Debate for nearly half a millennium and which shows no sign of slowing down.
In this article we shall look into further into the debate and what is it about Calvinism which Arminians and other non-Calvinists so dislike about it.
When one talks or reads about this debate, the issue is almost entirely about Once Saved Always Saved. This issue being: Are we as believers eternally secure in the hope of entry into Heaven after death? Or can we fall away, lose our salvation and end up in Hell? In other words, in this case the believer, rather than receiving a free gift from God through grace, he is on probation, to see if he is worthy enough to be saved.
But eternal security is only a part of what Calvin advocated. His whole treatise involved five points with which each initial letter spell the acronym TULIP.

To deciphering this acronym, we get this result:
T Total depravity of the sinner
U Unconditional Election
L Limited Atonement
I Irresistible Grace
P Perseverance of the Saints

It's the P in the last article which the debate really is centered on, which we get the modern terminology, Once Saved Always Saved.
But for anyone who sees Limited Atonement as something akin to blasphemy or grossly unfair, it simply means that Christ died for the Church. This means that the power of the Atonement is effective to everyone who has faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour. Each believer who has this faith becomes a member of the Church, which is the family of God, with God himself as his Heavenly Father. But the power of the atonement is for each person who believes, or trust in Jesus Christ to save him. To those who refuse to believe, the Atonement has no effect on them.
Thus Jesus himself said while at the Temple in Jerusalem:
And (Jesus) said, Therefore I say unto you, that no man can come unto me, except that it was given unto him of my Father
John 6:65.
He also said, in John 10 that the Jews did not believe because they were not of his sheep. His sheep hear his voice and follows him (because they are his sheep already, apparently not because they have just decided to follow him) and he gives them eternal life (free gift of grace) and they shall never perish (eternal security) - my Father, who gave those sheep to me (as a reward for his coming Crucifixion) is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them from his hand (so God can't be beaten by human will).
In John 17 we see Jesus praying for first his immediate disciples, than for all believers to come. On more than one occasion Jesus emphasised that each disciple was given to him by God, indicating that they were already his from eternity past. He also says that all that are his belongs to the Father as well, indicating that very believer belonged to God from eternity past, for there is absolutely nothing that could happen without God knowing about it beforehand. In plain English, God knew every single work, thought, feeling, speech and action you would ever say, think, feel and do before you were even conceived!
Thus where TULIP is explained: Total depravity, is where it would be impossible for anyone to come to God in his own power. Yes, many people are good to others, kind, compassionate and generous to each other, but because of our fallen natures, these virtues are of no use to God.
It can be likened to a glass of clean water to a thirsty person, it is desirable. But just one tiny drop of ink, and the thirsty person would not touch it, even if there is only a very slight discolouration.
All this seems to indicate the U in Tulip for Unconditional Election, and I, for Irresistible Grace. If God foreknew the believer from eternity past and has predestined you to conform unto the likeness of his Son, then he also knew that he will not resist his grace. As Jesus himself said,
Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. John 6:65.
And also:
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44. And,
All that the Father gives to me shall come to me; and he who comes to me I will in no wise cast out. John 6:37.
Therefore the P in Perseverance can only make sense if we are to believe that God the Father has given you to his beloved Son as a gift, and God does not makes mistakes! Especially if God knew that the believer was chosen right up until the believer falls away and loses his salvation. Some "gift" for his Son!
So then, what about Free will, human choice? Does the Bible teach it? Yes, it does. Does it contradict Divine Sovereignty? Yes, apparently it does!
Look at John chapter 1. in verse 9 John wrote that the Light of Christ shines into the soul of every man born into the world, and the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him, should not perish, but have eternal life."
Jesus also said, He who heareth my word, and believes on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:24.
Later, Jesus called out to the crowds, If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. John 7:37.
He also said, Except that you believe that I am he, you shall die in your sins. John 8:24.
Paul also said,
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth that all men everywhere should repent. Acts 17:30.
And also Peter stated:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise...but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that anyone should perish, but all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9.
Do these verses indicate free will and human choice? Yes they do.
So here is the apparent contradiction between God's Sovereignty and free will. Both are true.
So what do we do? Accept them both equally. The Bible is God's Word to mankind. How one becomes a believer through hearing the Word preached was the result of God's Sovereign choice and at the same time a choice the person himself had made, cannot be explained. But it is taught. Rather than fight it about in a debate lasting centuries, why not just accept what the Bible says?
And it says that Christ died to reconcile us to God.

So in this final part I wish to discuss why believing in Once Saved Always Saved is the key to Holiness.
It is the assurance we need when the chips are down, when feeling lonely, a loser, struggling with a problem or as in the the days the New Testament was written, under intense persecution. Back then every Roman citizen must confess by law that Caesar is Lord. They must accept that the Emperor was divine. To say Jesus Christ is Lord instead of Caesar added up to treason, and the offender was imprisoned or executed. That is why Paul writes to the church in Rome that no one can confess that Jesus Christ is Lord except by the Holy Spirit in him. In other words, confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord is of God's grace, not human merit. The same applies to perseverance. It is a grace from God, not a human strength. Many times in his letters Paul admonish his readers to "stand firm in the faith". That is to allow God's power to work unrestrained in the midst of tribulation without allowing the human weakness of fear and doubt get in the way.
It has nothing to do with loss of salvation.
To all those who trusts in Jesus Christ to save them:
God is a happy God. You are a gift to the Son for dying for your sins.
He had chosen you from eternity past, to enjoy the privilege of holiness.
Would he let you go? I can't see the sense in that.


  1. Good day! I caught you on Lloyd's blog. Come and visit if you like; I too wrote a series of posts entitled "A Question of Eternal Security" some while ago you may like. It's a shame to teach that eternal salvation turns out not to be eternal after all. It's an easy and sure way to rob a Christian of their joy. Good taste with Dave Hunt too; I love that man! God bless.

  2. Dear Frank,

    Are You Saved?

    "For it is not the man who commends himself that is accepted, but the man whom the Lord commends." 2Corinthians 10:18

    Some non-Catholics teach that all you have to do to achieve salvation is to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, and your salvation is assured in this life. You only have to make a once in a lifetime commitment and no matter what you do for the rest of your life, you can be certain that you will go to Heaven when you die.

    Once you do this, it is an impossibility that you will ever lose your salvation. That train of thought, however, is not Biblical, and in reality it is a sin of presumption. Jesus did not die just so we could sin.

    Let us examine Holy Scripture and see what it has to say.

    "For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord, and believe in your heart that GOD has raised Him from the dead, You shall be saved." Romans 10:9

    "For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13

    This is what St. Paul said. Some non-Catholics use these two verses, taken completely out of context, to try to provide justification for their false, man made, "Once saved, always saved" belief.

    A text without a context is only a pretext. If they would only read further on in the same chapter they would clearly see the context of Romans 10:9 and 13, and the fallacy of this false belief:

    Romans 10:14 "But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?"

    In this verse we see that in order to properly hear the word of GOD so that they may believe, there is a condition attached.

    They cannot "believe in Him" unless they have heard it, and have heard it from a preacher.

    Does that verse mean any preacher, even a false one (2Cor 11:12-15)?

    No, definitely not, for Holy Scripture teaches that it could not be just any preacher, but only a preacher who is sent by GOD.

    The word for "sent", as used in the Greek language of which the book of Romans was written, is apostello.

    Doesn't that sound like another Biblical word for which we are all familiar?

    Apostello means to send out properly on a mission. From apostello we get the Greek word "apostolos", meaning "Apostle". The Greek word "Apostolos" means "he who is sent".

    So who are the "they" who are those sent, and by whom are "they" sent? The same Greek word, apostello, is used by Jesus Christ when He spoke to His "Apostolos" in John 20:21:

    Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."

    It is obvious that those who are sent (apostello) by GOD are also given authority by Jesus Christ who is GOD.

    That authority was delegated to the Apostles alone by Jesus Christ.

  3. Dear Michael,
    First let me say thank you for posting your comment. It's nice to know that someone is reading my blogs after all!
    But I also wish to use this opportunity to raise one or two issues I came across in your contribution.
    First of all, I'm not in a position to say, "I'm right, you're wrong." Judging is a job for God alone to carry out, and it's not a task for any human whatsoever.
    Secondly, I do believe that there are some Roman Catholics who are saved. God is merciful, therefore I would not put beyond the possibility that God can and does call a Catholic to trust in his Son to save him. I'm proof of this, having been born a Catholic myself.
    Thirdly, I'm convinced that when a person turns to Jesus Christ for mercy, that person is genuinely saved. It makes no difference whether he believes in Eternal Security or not. It is up to the Holy Spirit in him to reveal this truth. We cannot question the Lord on how or why he works in a certain way in the believer's life. We are saved by believing, or trusting in exactly the same way the thief on the cross was saved. Remember, if the thief who was crucified alongside Jesus was saved without baptism, without Confirmation, without taking the Eucharist, without confessing to a priest, without penance, without a Rosary and without the need to pray to Mary or the saints - then God is character-bound to save us in exactly the same way as the thief on the cross was saved.
    To say that you are saved, or I am saved, or he is saved is not being presumptuous, it is simply declaring a fact based on what Paul wrote to the church in Rome, namely that he who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Was Paul being presumptuous?
    And now on the main text of you comment. I have a copy of the Interlinear Greek English New Testament, from where I was able to verify your comment, although in John 20:21 the Greek words, "kago pento humas" - "I also send you". But reading your text I believe what you are saying is that only those who are ordained by God can preach the gospel, meaning the clergy, deacons, priests, bishops, cardinals. That means then, that if I spoke to someone about Jesus Christ, and he in turn believes and trust in him - because I'm not a member of the clergy, his faith is of no avail. Are you saying that he is still in his sins because I happen to be of the laity and not a cleric?
    Are you sure that is what the Bible insist?
    Reading Romans 10: 9-10 I get a strong impression that salvation is within everyone who believes. A "preacher" is someone who passes on the message. (The Greek here in Romans 10:14 is "keryssontos" - translated as "one heralding"). There does not seem to be a special status attached. "Apostello" seems to mean "one sent" and it applies to all believers, not just the apostles.
    Finally, let me say that I sincerely believe that no Christian has the right to declare that I must not believe in once saved always saved. It is a crying shame that many Catholics and Arminian Protestants do just that. It is not edifying nor an encouragement, nor helpful, especially if one goes through a difficult patch in life.
    Throughout my 38 years as a Christian (I believed in Jesus Christ in 1973, aged 20), I found once saved always saved extremely beneficial and edifying. Has it been a licence to enjoy sin? Not at all! Rather, it has been a force leading me to a greater sense of holiness.
    Dear Michael, please read and consider everything I posted above. If I am in the wrong, may God in his mercy open my eyes. If you are in the wrong, then may God open your eyes, but without judgement or prejudice.
    Yours in Christ,

  4. Great continuation on eternal security. God's blessings. Lloyd

  5. This was a well worded and thorough discussion of perseverance of the saints. I'd just like to briefly comment on the phrase "Once saved, always saved." I tend to shy away from that phrase. It's very easy to twist and manipulate. I know some very nice Arminians (aren't they all nice? God has blessed them) who try to use that very phrase against me. It makes it seem as though once you've said the sinners prayer, you can go and do as you please. As those who adhere to the doctrine, we know that's wrong, but it really invites a lot of undue trouble. It's definitely fine to say it and I knew exactly what you meant. So, it's up to your own discretion. Thanks for your great posts!