“Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:10)
We have looked at the typical neo Calvinistic arguments for “once saved always saved.” We also examined passages that teach the eternal security of a believer is conditioned upon continuing in the faith. We stressed the fact that a believer does not “lose” his salvation. If a believer does not continue in the faith, it is because he has chosen to sever his relationship with Christ.
The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews knows nothing of a “once saved always saved” theology. He tells us that we shall remain part of Christ’s household only “if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end” (Heb. 3:6).
In other words, the believer who perseveres in the faith shall be saved. Again the Hebrews writer says, “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Heb. 3:14).
And once more, he urges, “Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him” (Heb. 10:38).
The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews also warns his readers about backsliding. He says,
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. (Heb. 6:4–8)
The phrases, “once enlightened,” “tasted the heavenly gift,” “become partakers of the Holy Spirit,” and “tasted the good word of God” are all aorist participles which indicate the actual past experiences of believers.
If such persons should choose to turn away from Christ, it is impossible for them to be renewed again to repentance so long as they continue to “crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:6).
The phrases “crucify again” and “put Him to an open shame” are present participles which indicate the persons are continuing in such behavior. This passage teaches there is no forgiveness for sinful behavior that is not confessed and forsaken.
However, if such a person truly repents and turns from sin, he or she could be restored to a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The same thought is repeated in Hebrews 10:26–27: “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”
Respond in Christian Love
The Bible does not teach “once saved always saved.” But even though we strongly disagree with those who hold this position, let me urge all of us to show Christian love toward those who claim Jesus as Savior.
Try to remember that we all are a product of our religious training and church background. If we desire to help neo Calvinists who believe “once saved always saved” see the error of their way, we must not un-christianize them.
Nor should we ignore the verses they use to bolster their arguments. We must be able to answer contextually all of their verses.
This is why I am providing a bibliography with this message. If you will master the books with the asterisk (*), you will be able to answer scripturally all the arguments of the neo-Calvinists. Be careful not to be unkind in your attitude or approach.
BOOKS REFUTING UNCONDITIONAL ETERNAL SECURITY
*Marshall, I. Howard. Kept by the Power of God: A Study of Perseverance and Falling Away. Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, Inc, 1969, 281 pages .Marshall contends that there is Biblical truth in both the Calvinistic and the Arminian positions concerning the security of the believer. He conducts a historical-grammatical investigation of all the Scriptural materials which treat the subject of apostasy and falling away and produces ample evidence to support the thesis that the security of the believer is conditioned upon his faithfulness to Jesus Christ. This should be required reading for all ministers.
Purkiser, W.T. Security: the False and the True. Kansas City: Beacon Hill Press, revised edition, 1971. 60 pages.
Easy-to-read, short chapters. Deals with the basic arguments given by unconditional security advocates and shows the fallacy of each. This is a good beginner’s volume. It is not exhaustive, but does have some good material. Recommended reading for all ministers.
*Shank, Robert. Life in the Son: A Study of the Doctrine of Perseverance. Springfield, Missouri: Westcott Publishers, 2nd edition, 1961. 380 pages. The best refutation of unconditional eternal security I have seen. Written by a former Baptist. Shank says that his book is “in a sense the testimony of one whose study of the Scriptures led him to abandon a definition of doctrine he once cherished” (p. vii). Excellent source of information. A good work to refer to others who desire a careful, scholarly, yet easy-to-read treatment of the subject. Should be required reading for all ministers.
BOOKS REFUTING THE CALVINISTIC IDEA OF UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION AND LIMITED ATONEMENT
Klein, William W. The New Chosen People: A Corporate View of Election. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2001. 284 pages. A helpful treatment on why the Bible teaches unconditional corporate election but conditional individual election. This book maybe easier to read than Shank’s book, Elect in the Son.
Pinnock, Clark H., editor. Grace Unlimited. Minneapolis. Fellowship, Inc., 1975. 264 pages.
Essays establishing the Biblical basis for teaching that Christ’s atonement was universal and that God desires the salvation of all sinners. The various writers deal with three important concepts: election, faith, and predestination, giving each a thorough examination. Recommended reading.
*Shank, Robert. Elect in the Son. Springfield, Missouri: Westcott Publishers, 1970. 242 pages. A very helpful book when seeking to understand the Biblical teaching on election. Also deals with theological issues such as predestination, atonement, propitiation, ransom and redemption, reconciliation, justification and reprobation. Definitely recommended reading for all ministers.
OTHER HELPFUL WORKS
*Forster, Roger and V. Paul Marston. God’s Strategy in Human History. Wheaton: Tyndale house Publishers, Inc, 1973. 296 pages.
An excellent book dealing with God’s method of providing salvation for mankind. Gives helpful treatments of subjects such as the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, and contains invaluable word studies on “chosen and elect,” “righteousness,” “harden,” and “foreknowledge.” Explains why Romans 9 is not speaking of individual election. Required reading for all ministers.
*Foster, Randolph. Objections to Calvinism As It Is. Salem, Ohio: Schmul Publishing Company, reprint, 1998. 215 pages.
Originally written in the mid-19th century, this book is a classic refutation of Calvinism. Chapters deal with the following topics: God’s eternal decrees, election and reprobation, the atonement, effectual calling, perseverance, the heathen world, and the will. Highly recommended.
Originally published in the Ministry Library of God’s Bible School & College.