The Crucified Life Ministries Blog

Where is the love of God in Calvinism? Part 9

Where is the love of God in Calvinism? Part 9

Perseverance of the Saints:  Can Professing Believers Be Assured That They are Eternally Secure?

With a few noteworthy exceptions, most evangelicals believe in “eternal security,” the teaching that a saved person can never be lost.  Eternal security aids in assurance regarding salvation—the confidence that one can recognize beyond any doubt that he is saved.  Did Calvin teach that one could be sure of his salvation, eternally secure from the point of conversion until death?  Many who are not acquainted with Calvinism claim that this is just what Calvinism teaches.  Nevertheless, a closer look at Calvinism divulges that “Perseverance of the Saints” is not eternal security and does not aid in the assurance of salvation.

Bible assurance vs. Calvinism’s perseverance

Biblical assurance is not based upon works.  Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJB) “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast”.

Based upon faith, “Biblical assurance of salvation is not contingent upon one’s performance but upon the gospel’s pronouncement that Christ died for the sins of the world and upon His promise that whosoever believes in Him receives the gift of eternal life.”  [Dave Hunt, p. 377]

For the Calvinist, however, assurance must be based upon God having predestined him to eternal life.  What is the evidence that one is predestined?  Works!  For the Calvinist, his personal “performance” plays a large part in determining whether or not he is truly among the “elect.”

Zane C. Hodges:  “The result of this theology is disastrous.  Since, according to Puritan belief (Calvinism), the genuineness of a man’s faith can only be determined by the life that follows it, assurance of salvation becomes impossible at the moment of conversion.

John Piper:  “…we must also own up to the fact that our final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes from faith.”

Calvinists would argue that faith is “a work” and those who depend upon faith for assurance are, in reality, trusting in works something they have done.  However, Paul described an solid contrast between faith and works.

Romans 3:26-28 (KJB) “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. 27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law”.

Faith (belief) according to Paul is NOT a work!

Perseverance of the saints:  a doctrine of doubt!

Doubt concerning salvation is constructed into the entire system of Calvinism:

Congdon:  “Absolute assurance of salvation is impossible in Classical Calvinism…. Understand why:  Since works are an inevitable outcome of ‘true’ salvation, one can only know he or she is saved by the presence of good works.  But since no one is perfect…any assurance is at best imperfect as well.”

John Piper (Ligionier National Conference, Orland, FL), after describing himself as a “seven-point” Calvinist said, “No Christian can be sure he is a true believer; hence there is an ongoing need to be dedicated to the Lord and deny ourselves so that we might make it.”

In other words, we must endure to the end or “persevere” to be saved!

Calvinists firmly believe in the “eternal security of the “elect.”  The problem:  how can one be absolutely sure he is one of the elect?  Their answer:  by persevering to the end!  (works, performance, etc.)

Calvin taught that being born into a Calvinist family automatically makes a child part of the elect—as does Calvinist infant baptism.

R. C. Sproul says, “Infants can be born again, although the faith they exercise cannot be as visible as that of adults.” Thus, while believing the gospel is no sure way to be saved, birth into the right home and infant baptism is!

A Calvinist’s assurance depends upon his works, not the promises of God accessed by faith.

B. B. Warfield: “It is idle to seek assurance of election outside holiness of life.” (works)

Charles Hodge:  “The only evidence of our election…(and) perseverance is a patient continuance in well-doing.”  (works)

R. C. Sproul: A while back I had one of those moments of acute self-awareness…and suddenly the question hit me: “R. C., what if you are not one of the redeemed?  What if your destiny is not heaven after all, but hell?”  Let me tell you that I was flooded in my body with a chill that went from my head to the bottom of my spine.  I was terrified.  I tried to grab hold of myself.  I thought, “Well, it’s a good sign that I’m worried about this.  Only true Christians really care about salvation.”  But then I began to take stock of my life, and I looked at my performance.  My sins came pouring into my mind, and the more I looked at myself, the worse I felt.  I thought, “Maybe it’s true.  Maybe I’m not saved after all.”  I went to my room and began to read the Bible.  On my knees I said, “Well, here I am.  I can’t point to my obedience.  There’s nothing I can offer….I knew that some people only flee to the cross to escape hell….I could not be sure about my own heart and motivation.  Then I remembered John 6:68….Peter was also uncomfortable, but he realized that being uncomfortable with Jesus was better than any other option!

For the Calvinist “the question is not whether one has believed the gospel but whether or not one was from eternity past predestined by God to be among the elect.”  [Dave Hunt, p. 382]

Calvin believed simple faith to be a faulty form of assurance because he taught that God could give a false faith to reprobates—causing them to believe they are saved when they are not:

“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…Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of His goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption.

Still, it is correctly said that the reprobate believe God to be propitious to them, inasmuch as they accept the gift of reconciliation, though confusedly and without due discernment….Nor do I even deny that God illumines their minds to this extent, that they recognize His grace; but that conviction He distinguished from the peculiar testimony which He gives to His elect in this respect, that the reprobate never obtain to the full result or to fruition.  When He shows Himself propitious to them, it is not as if He had truly rescued them from death and taken them under His protection.  He only gives them a manifestation of His present mercy.  In the elect alone He implants the living root of faith so that they can persevere even to the end.

There is nothing to prevent His giving some a slight knowledge of His Gospel and imbuing others thoroughly”.

Since, according to Calvin, one cannot find assurance in merely believing the promises of God, he must hedge his bet for eternal life by “persevering” to the end, by continuing in good works, etc.  As we have shown, this is no assurance at all.  Before his death, Roman Catholic Cardinal O’Connor stated:

“Church teaching is that I don’t know, at any given moment, what my eternal future will be.  I can hope, pray, do my very best—but I still don’t know.  Pope John Paul II doesn’t know absolutely that he will go to heaven, nor does Mother Theresa of Calcutta unless either has had a special divine revelation”.

Bible Assurance of Salvation:  I John 5:13

1 John 5:13 (KJB) “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God”.

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