Apologetics for the Masses #427: Calvinism - TULIP (Part 3)

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The 5 Points of Calvinism - TULIP (Part 3)

General Comments

Hey folks,

     One thing: There was a mistake in last week's newsletter.  I said that I was using definitions of the Calvinist terms which are represented by the TULIP acronym that I had gotten from Mike Gendron's website.  Oops.  They were from Matt Slick's website, which I had said in Part 1 of my discussion of this topic, but got the two of them mixed up in my head the 2nd time around.  So, essentially, I confused one illogical unscriptural rabid anti-Catholic for another illogical unscriptural rabid anti-Catholic.  Sorry 'bout that.  However, I have corrected that mistake in the version of the newsletter that is posted on my website, so if you want/need a "clean" version of last week's newsletter, you can find it there.


      Okay, this week I am finishing up the discussion on TULIP - the 5 points of Calvinism:

Total Depravity

Unconditional Election

Limited Atonement

Irresistible Grace

Perseverance of the Saints

     This week I'm going to look at Perseverance of the Saints.  Also known as Once Saved Always Saved or Eternal Security. Let's see if this doctrinal teaching of Calvinism makes any sense from a logical and scriptural perspective.


From the carm.org Website:

5) Perseverance of the Saints – That we are so secure in Christ, that we cannot fall away.Jesus will not lose any who had been given to him by the Father (John 6:38-39); he gives eternal life to them so they will never perish (John 3:16; 10:27-28), and those who leave the faith were never believers to begin with (1 John 2:19).


My Comments

     My first thought is: Where in the Bible does it say, "We are so secure in Christ, that we cannot fall away?"  And, where does it say, "Those who leave the faith were never believers to begin with?"  1 John 2:19 says this: "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that it might be plain that they all are not of us."  It does not say, "They went out from us because they were never REALLY believers to begin with."  So, once again, it is necessary to highlight that what is being pushed here is Matt Slick's fallible interpretation of the Bible, not the actual Word of God itself. 

     Now, I can certainly understand how someone who is coming to the Scriptures with a preconceived notion that "true" believers can never be lost, could certainly interpret 1 John 2:19 as meaning exactly what Matt Slick interprets it to mean - especially since they are not infallible.  However, for those coming to Scripture guided by the understanding of the Church founded by Jesus Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, that verse can easily be interpreted as meaning that there were those in the congregation John is writing to who initially believed in Jesus, but, for whatever reasons, they did not persevere in that belief. 

     They would essentially be like some of the folks Jesus talked about in the Parable of the Sower of the Seeds.  There was one group of folks represented by the seeds that fell on the rocky ground.  These people hear the Word and immediately receive it with joy.  They endure for a while, but when tribulation or persecution come along, they fall away.  Then there's the folks who are represented by the seed that was sown among thorns.  They hear the Word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word and it proves unfruitful.  The seed that fell on rocky ground was "received" by those people. It doesn't say these people hear the Word but don't really receive it.  Or these people hear the Word but they don't really believe it.  It says they "received" the Word.  You can't have the Word of God saying these folks did indeed "receive" the Word and then have someone interpret that as meaning, "Well, they didn't REALLY receive it."  Or, interpret it as meaning, "Yes, they did receive the Word, but they didn't really believe it."  If someone tells me that 2+2=5, can I ever be said to have "received" that word, if I never actually believed that 2+2=5?  Of course not.  I never received it, I rejected it from the outset. 

     As for the seed that fell among the thorns, Jesus said these folks "heard" the Word, but that the cares of the world and riches "choke" the Word.  He doesn't say, "Their concern for the cares of the world and love of riches demonstrate that these people never believed in the first place."  How can those things "choke" the Word if they don't really have the Word?  No, a much more consistent interpretation is that the folks in both those situations initially believed, but then fell away from belief because of persecution, tribulation, concern for the cares of the world, and/or a delight in riches.

     Or, even more to the point and a more specific description of the people mentioned in 1 John 2:19 than what Jesus talks about in the Parable of the Sower, listen to what it says in 2 Peter 2:20-22, "For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered [kinda like the seeds that landed among the thorns], the last state has become worse for them than the first.  For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandments delivered to them."
     Wait...what?!  There are folks who have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and who then get entangled in those defilements again - AFTER they have known the way of righteousness.  How does "Perseverance of the Saints" apply here?  Does Matt Slick really interpret 2 Peter 2:20-22 to mean that these people who have "escaped" the defilements of the world are those who never really believed...and thus were never really saved...to begin with?  Really?!  How could a person who is truly unsaved, because they have never truly believed - even though they think they have - ever be described as escaping the defilements of the world? They haven't escaped anything.  It's only an illusion.  They aren't true believers so they are still, in reality, wallowing around in the defilements of the world.  But, then, why did Peter say such a thing?  Either Peter got it wrong, or Matt Slick and the Calvinists and everyone else who believes in the "Perseverance of the Saints" got it wrong.  Where do you place your bet?

     And how could the last state of those persons be worse than the first state?  How could it have been better to have never known the way of righteousness?  Makes no sense, whatsoever!  Okay, their first state is the state of being an unbeliever and being, therefore, unsaved.  Their 2nd state is that they are still unsaved, but they think they are saved, so now they're hanging out with the folks who really are saved.  Which means, their 2nd state is same as their 1st state - unsaved.  Their last state is that they probably still think they're saved (Once Saved Always Saved after all), even though they aren't REALLY saved, but they're no longer hanging out with the saved folks - they've gone back to their old habits.  Which means, their last state - the state of being unsaved - is the same as their 1st state and their 2nd state.  They are still unsaved.  And, even if you said, "Well, their last state is worse than their 2nd state because they are no longer amongst the saved and will probably never realize that they aren't REALLY saved," you cannot say that their last state is worse than their 1st state.  Unsaved is unsaved. 

     The only...ONLY!...way Peter can say that their last state is worse than their 1st state is if the following is true: State #1: They are unsaved non-believers, heading for Hell.  State #2: They believe in Jesus and are, therefore, saved and thus escape the defilements of the world through their knowledge of Jesus Christ.  State #3: They end up rejecting Jesus and thus lose their salvation.  They are now worse off because Scripture tells us that to whom much has been given, much will be required.  And what more could be given to a person than eternal salvation?  So, this last state is worse than the 1st state because they have knowingly and willfully rejected Jesus Christ.  In the 1st state they were merely ignorant of Christ.  And Paul tells us that on the day of judgment, our ignorance - our "conflicting thoughts" - could perhaps excuse us (Romans 2:13-16).   

     And we see that this knowingly rejecting Christ is indeed worse then simply being ignorant of Christ because in so doing they have "spurned the Son of God" and "outraged the Spirit of grace," as it says in Hebrews 10:29.  Here's the full verse: "How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified [or saved], and outraged the Spirit of grace?"  The last state of the man who does that is worse than the 1st state because his punishment will be so much greater!  Just like the folks Peter talked about.  And, just like those in Hebrews 6:4-6, "For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been englightened [Peter 2:20-22], who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then commit apostasy, since they crucify the Son of God on their own account and hold Him up to contempt." 

     I mean, forget about all the other verses I've already brought up and just focus on this one passage.  Who is the writer of Hebrews describing when he says, "those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit and have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the age to come?"  Is that describing believers or unbelievers?  Could an unbeliever ever...EVER!...be said to have been a "partaker of the Holy Spirit"?!  Of course not!  So, Hebrews 6:4-6 is talking about believers, plain and simple.  And what does it say believers could do?  It says they could commit apostasy...deny Christ...reject their belief in Christ as Lord and Savior.  Well, according to "Perseverance of the Saints," that is not possible.  So, again, you have to make a choice: Do you choose to believe the Word of God, or the Word of Slick and the Word of Calvin? 

     I could go on and on and on with verse after verse of the Bible - Old Testament and New - that utterly destroy this false doctrine of "Perseverance of the Saints"...Once Saved Always Saved...Eternal Security.  That doctrine is false, it is evil, it is dangerous to the salvation of the souls that believe it. 

     Actually, just one more passage that pretty much seals the deal: John 15:1-6.  Jesus is the vine.  Who are the branches of the vine...believers or unbelievers?  Believers, right?  How could an unbeliever ever be said to be a branch of the vine that is Jesus Christ?  Not possible.  But, what does John 15:1-6 say about these branches of the vine...these believers in Christ?  It says if they do not produce fruit [good works], they will be cut off, thrown into the fire (an obvious reference to Hell) and burned.  Perseverance of the Saints?  Not happening here. 

    Well, one more: The Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).  Where is the Prodigal Son at the beginning of the parable?  He's in his father's house, right?  He's "alive" to his father.  And the father in this parable represents God the Father.  The son receives his inheritance from his father.  And what is the inheritance of a child of the Father?  Salvation.  So, the son is alive, in his father's house.  But he then takes what his father gives him, leaves his father's house, and squanders his inheritance on sinful living (v. 13).  That makes the son "dead" to the father - "For this my son was dead, and is alive again, he was lost and is found," (v. 24).  So, let's review.  The son was alive.  Then he was dead.  Then he is alive AGAIN. In salvation terms, that's saved, unsaved, and saved again. 

     Plus, when he was in his father's house, was he lost?  Nope.  So, how, if Perseverance of the Saints is true, could he ever be lost once he is in his father's house?  He can't be.  Yet, he was in his father's house, then he was lost, then he was found.  Saved, unsaved, saved.  All of which, once again, means you have to choose between the Word of Slick and the Word of Calvin, and the Word of God.  Perseverance of the Saints is a heretical invention of men who take their fallible interpretations of the Bible and treat them as if they were the Word of God, when they are nothing more than the private, fallible, non-authoritative interpretations of man. 

     I'm not going to dive into it, but you could also check out Romans 11:17-23 - it's pretty easy to see that Once Saved Always Saved is not happening in that passage.  And there are many, many more scriptural passages that absolutely render this doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints as nothing more than the wishful thinking of men who want to eliminate any eternal consequence to sin.  If sinning or not sinning has nothing to do with our salvation, then...hey, Christianity just became the "Let's party!" religion. 

Closing Comments

For an even more thorough treatment of this topic, check out my "Once Saved Always Saved" talk on the biblechristiansociety.com website.  I hope all of you have a great week! 


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Apologetics for the Masses