This is a short essay by a friend of mine…

Dear Sisters and Brothers,Off-list one of you asked me to address the issues of salvation and thesecurity of the believer. Here is part I, the Security of the Believer.The doctrine of the security of the believer, like so many other biblical doctrines, contains a measure of logical tension within it. On the one handwe are assured that Christ’s sheep can never perish and, on the other, weare warned that if we do not persevere until the end, we will perish. The result of this tension is that Christians often line up on one side,distorting the verses that support the other side. On the one hand we havefull blown Arminianism teaching that a true Christian can lose his salvationand end up in hell, and on the other we have Calvinistic Arminians andAntinomian Calvinists teaching that once we have prayed to receive Christ wecannot possibly go to hell, no matter what we do: “Sign your name here andput today’s date. If you ever doubt your salvation, take this out and readit again. Once you are saved, you are always saved.”I would like to propose a middle way, actually, fully and simultaneouslyembracing both positions: believing in eternal security and accepting asgenuine the warnings to Christians about apostasy.The book of Hebrews does that in several places, take, for example, Hebrews3:14: “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end theconfidence we had at first.” What Hebrews is affirming is that there arepeople who are in fellowship with the church; to all outward appearances,even to themselves, they are true Christians, but then they turn away fromgathering with the Lord’s people and never return to the fold, having losttheir confidence in the Lord Jesus. Hebrews warns all Christians of thisdanger; yet it does not say that those who have truly come to share inChrist can commit apostasy; in fact, it says the opposite. In effect, whatHebrews 3:14 says is: The proof of any person’s having become a trueChristian is that he continues on in that profession firmly until the end.If he does not, then he never came to share in Christ.This is similar to Hebrews 3:6: “And we are his house, if we hold on to ourcourage and the hope of which we boast.” In effect, if we do not hold on toour courage and hope in the Lord Jesus on into the future, we are notChrist’s house at the present time. This pushes me to ponder my presentstate in view of the future: if I turn away from following the Lord Jesus,then I never really was part of his house. I may have thought that I was,and others may have been persuaded of the genuineness of my faith. Peoplemay have even been converted to Christ under my preaching, but if I don’tcontinue seeking the Lord and finally turn away, I prove that I was neversavingly united to him.The Apostle John puts it this way: “They went out from us, but they did notreally belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would haveremained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.”(1 John 2:19) In effect, true saints persevere to the end, and they do so,because of God’s omnipotent grace.God preserves me, so I persevere. If I do not persevere, it is due to myfailure to make diligent use of the means of grace in seeking the Lord Jesuswith all my heart. The fault is all mine. If I do persevere, it is due toGod’s live-giving, effectual grace. The praise and glory is all his.These things are often put in juxtaposition. Take the passage in Philippians2:12, 13: “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed– not onlyin my presence, but now much more in my absence — continue to work out yoursalvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to willand to act according to his good purpose.”I must throw my whole life into the pursuit of holiness — entire conformityto the restored image of God in Christ, the Servant who was obedient untodeath — the goal that is never fully attained in this life. (Philippians3:12 ff.) I must do so with fear and trembling, because if I do not, I willperish everlastingly. I, to every witness, a true Christian, must work itout with fear and trembling. And, when I have worked it out, when I am fullylike the Lord Jesus, who made himself of no account and esteemed others moreimportant than himself (Philippians 2:5 ff.). When the Lord Jesus confers onme the crowns of reward at his judgment seat for whatever that I may havedone for him in this life, I will cast my crowns before him and confess,”You are worthy, my Lord and God.” (Revelation 4:10) The glory alone isyours: it was simply your sovereign, effectual, predestinating, calling,justifying, sanctifying, preserving, enabling, unmerited grace; it was youwho were at work in me to will and to act according to your good purpose.”So it is, that Paul who says, “I know whom I have believed, and am convincedthat he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day,” (2Timothy 1:12) takes seriously the danger of reprobation: “I beat my body andmake it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will notbe disqualified for the prize.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)I hope that helps.Cordially in Christ,Bob”Justification is an act of God’s free grace unto sinners, in which hepardoneth all their sins, accepteth and accounteth their persons righteousin his sight; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but onlyfor the perfect obedience and full satisfaction of Christ, by God imputed tothem, and received by faith alone.” (The Larger Catechism, 70)Robert Benn Vincent, Sr.Grace Presbyterian Church4900 Jackson StreetAlexandria, Louisiana 71303-2509Tutissimum Refugium Sanguinis Christi80 Hickory Hill DriveBoyce, Louisiana 71409-8784318.445.7271 church318.443.1034 fax318.793.5354 homebob@rbvincent.comhttp://www.rbvincent.comhttp://www.grace-presbyterian.orghttp://www.gcsla.org


One response to “

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