Nov 10, 2009

OSAS Affirmative

The following is my affirmative case for the doctrine of the final perseverance of the saints, or of once saved, always saved. I did add further evidence in the actual debate.

"The Scriptures teach that a child of God, one saved by the blood of Christ, cannot so sin as to be eternally lost in hell."

By the "scriptures" I mean the inspired writings. By a "child of God" I mean one who has been "born again," one who has been "washed (or "freed from sin") by the blood." (Rev. 1: 5) I mean one saved by the blood of Christ. By "cannot so sin" I mean what John meant when he said, in I John 3: 9, that "whosoever is born of God doeth no sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." And I John 5: 18 - "We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not."

By "sin" I mean to "miss the mark," or to abandon faith in Christ and the gospel. By "lost in hell" I mean "eternally condemned."

What I am essentially affirming is this proposition:

All those chosen by the Father, Redeemed by the Son, and Regenerated by the Holy Spirit, will be finally saved

London Baptist Confession of 1689 (SECTION ON PERSEVERANCE)

2. "This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon the immutability of the decree of election, flowing from the free and unchangeable love of God the Father, upon the efficacy of the merit and intercession of Jesus Christ and union with him, the oath of God, the abiding of his Spirit, and the seed of God within them, and the nature of the covenant of grace; from all which ariseth also the certainty and infallibility thereof."

Argument #1 - The Unchangeable Decree of God (or immutability of the decree of election)

True believers cannot be lost because their salvation has been unchangeably decreed, or predestined.

"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren." (Rom. 8: 29)

To be "conformed to the image of Christ" is to be "saved." Thus, Paul says that those whom God has foreknown, he has predestined to salvation. The word "predestine" means to "unchangeably decree," or to fix and determine beforehand what is to be done (Acts 4: 39), therefore, the predestined cannot be lost.

"Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will" and "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." (Ephesians 1: 5, 11)

Again, to be "adopted" or made "children" of God is to be "saved." And, God has predestined genuine believers to be eternally saved. Therefore, they will be saved, or else we affirm that what God has predestined to come to pass may not come to pass, and that God is not omnipotent. The elect are therefore saved according to "the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3: 11)

"But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth." (Job 23: 13)

"The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand...For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back?" (Isaiah 14: 24, 27)

The "promise" and "decree" are declared to be not only "eternal," but "immutable." (See Hebrews 6: 18)

Thus, if Lord God has determined to save a man, nothing is going to keep God from saving him.

If I substitute my name in the above passages, it would read like this:

"The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought (to save Stephen Garrett), so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed (to save Stephen Garrett), so shall it stand...For the LORD of hosts hath purposed (to save Stephen Garrett), and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out (to save Stephen Garrett), and who shall turn it back?"

Argument #2 - Saved Once for All Time by the Death of Christ

Those for whom Christ's died particularly, the elect, sheep, or believer, are said, in scripture, to be forever saved without the possibility of being lost. Sinners are said to be saved for no other reason than that Christ died for them.

"What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Romans 8: 31-34)

Paul clearly affirms that if Christ died for you, if God gave you his Son, then you will surely be given every other good thing. This, of course, as I shall show, includes the gift of perseverance. My opponent's position is that Paul's reasoning is false. He would not argue, as does the apostle, that the Father's gift of the Son to a person guarantees that he will be given all things.

Further, Paul reasons that no one can be can legitimately "charge" one who is "elect." This shows that Paul believed that election is a permanent blessing. One cannot be elect and then become non-elect.

He also argues that the reason no one can condemn a believer, an elect one, is because Christ died for him! Yet, if Christ dieing for a person does not guarantee his salvation, then Paul's argument is meaningless. The fact that Christ died, rose again, and is seated in heaven, for an elect one, forever secures his salvation. He cannot be condemned!

The act of justification, or of dying to sin, or of being legally freed from it, is permanent, once for all time. The once for all nature of Christ's death, both as he personally experienced it, and as believers experience it, is clearly taught in these verses.

"We who died (once for all) to sin..." (Romans 6: 2)

"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God." (Romans 7: 4 KJV)

What does it mean to have "died to sin"? Likewise, what does it mean to be "dead to the law"?

Three times in Romans chapter six it is stated that Christians are dead, or have died, unto sin. Rom. 6:11 shows what is clearly meant by being "dead to sin." He is legally "freed" from sin. He is justified once for all time.

Every believer, everyone chosen and called, "died unto sin," once for all, representatively, when Christ "died unto sin." The elect were "in Christ" in the same manner in which all are "in Adam" (Romans 5), or as Levi was "in Abraham." (Hebrews 7: 9)

Christians are therefore "dead to sin" as they are said to be "dead to the law." (Romans 7: 4).

"For he that hath died is justified from sin." (Romans 6: 7)

What Paul said of Christ, that "he died to sin once" (Romans 6:10), is also true of every believer.

Baptism is done once, and is never repeated. What does this signify but that one is saved once for all?

1. Once (at; for all)

hapax denotes

(a) "once, one time," 2_Cor_11:25; Heb_9:7,26,27; Heb_12:26,27; in the phrase "once and again," lit., "once and twice," Php_4:16; 1_Thess_2:18;

(b) "once for all," of what is of perpetual validity, not requiring repetition, Heb_6:4; Heb_9:28; Heb_10:2; 1_Pet_3:18; Jude_1:3, RV, "once for all" (AV, "once"); Jude_1:5 (ditto); in some mss. 1_Pet_3:20 (so the AV).

2. Once (at; for all)

ephapax a strengthened form of hapax (epi, "upon"), signifies

(a) "once for all," Rom_6:10; Heb_7:27, RV (AV, "once"); Heb_9:12 (ditto); Heb_10:10;
(b) "at once," 1_Cor_15:6.

Other Verses Signifying the "once for all" nature of salvation, in all its parts.

1. Life given is eternal, or unending. ("Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life" - John 6: 54)

2. The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11: 29)

3. Gift of the Spirit deposit (escrow) guarantees completion of the contract. (II Cor. 1: 22; 5: 5)

4. Seed remains so that the believer cannot sin. (I John 3: 9)

5. Perfected forever those who are sanctified. (Hebrews 10: 14)

6. Unchangeable and unconditional love of God. (Romans 8: 35-39)

7. Unchangeable promise (Hebrews 6: 18)

Argument #3 - Christ Prays for the Perseverence of his elect and the Father always hears him

"Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always." (John 11: 42, 42)

"But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Luke 22: 32)

Notice, he did not say "and if you are converted."

Christ prays for his people to be given perseverance, or be made to endure. In the passage cited from Romans 8, Paul gives another reason why the elect cannot be lost. He says that Christ "makes intercession for us." For what does Christ pray, if it is not for the perseverance of his people?

"Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7: 25)

Why are the elect, true believers in Jesus, saved "to the uttermost"? Paul says it is because Christ prays for them. Yet, according to my opponent, Christ may pray for you to persevere and be finally saved, yet it will not avail in many cases.

"My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." (I John 2: 1)

When one of the Lord's people sins, what does Christ then ask of the Father? To cast them off forever? Or, does he not pray to the Father to forgive them for his sake? To recover them for his sake? Will the Father deny Jesus?

If Christ prays for the disciples to be given perseverance, they will then, without fail, be given it by the Father, which brings me to my next argument.

Argument # 4 - Perseverance is a gift.

I showed from Romans 8, how the apostle's reasoning was this - if the Father has given you his Son, will give you "all things," and this certainly must include perseverance.

"I assert....that the perseverance by which we persevere in Christ even to the end is the gift of God."

(Augustine - The Works of Aurelius Augustine, vol 15, Anti-Pelagian Works (ed. M. Dods; T and T Clark, 1876). The Latin title is De Dono Perseverantiae, "On the Benefit of Perseverance." 200-201 (chap.33). Augustine cites Rom 8:30; Rom 11:29 in relation to God's predestining the elect)

If perseverance is not a gift of God, then we cannot thank God, or credit God, for our persevering.

Now, John and I both agree that one must persevere to be saved. He must have both faith and perseverance. Notice Hebrews 6: 12.

"That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."

"Patience" is from the Greek word "hupomene" and means steadfastness, constancy, endurance. Literally it means to "abide under." It means to "bear up under." Thus, it means perseverance or stick-to-it-tiveness.

Every good ground hearer "brought forth fruit with hupomene." (Luke 8: 15) The other types of ground, or hearers, did not have both faith and perseverance.

"For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?" (I Cor. 4: 7)

Paul's argument here is that only God can be thanked and credited for our differences, for why we receive, and for why we persevere. God makes the difference.

"Safety (victory) is of the LORD." (Proverbs 21: 31)

That is, it is his gift. Why do we stay safe? Why do we overcome? Why do we persevere? Because God has given victory and perseverance to his people, and has guaranteed their perseverance.

"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." (I Cor. 15: 57)

"And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezekiel 36: 27)

"His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips." (Psalm 89: 29-34)

"Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand." (Romans 14: 4 NKJV)

Argument #5 - Unchangeable and victorious nature of regeneration

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (I John 5: 4)

"Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God." (I John 3: 9)

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" (I John 5: 4,5)

"What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" (Romans 6: 1,2)

"For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." (Galatians 6:15)

Argument #6 - The Immutable and unconditional promise of God

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand." (John 10: 27-29)

"All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." (John 6: 37-39)

"Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Philippians 1: 6)

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8: 35-39)

"The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil: he shall preserve thy soul. The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in from this time forth, and even for evermore." (Psalm 121: 7, 8)

"And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (II Timothy 4: 18)

Argument # 7 - Chastened but not Destroyed

"If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail." (Psalm 89: 31-33)

"But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." (I Cor. 11: 32)

"For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby." (Hebrews 12: 10, 11)

Is God successful in his chastening of his children? Or, does his chastening often fail?

No comments: