This is my last post on the individual doctrines of T.U.L.I.P. (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and Perseverance of the Saints). I believe the doctrine of “eternal security” or “perseverance of the saints is – more than any of the others – unable to stand on its own. It is like the clincher in a good story or a flower to the rest of the plant. If we are elected, if we react to His grace, and if His action on the cross was efficacious, than doesn’t it make sense that God would “…complete it…?” (Phil. 1:6). The doctrines of election and grace lead us to the logical (and Biblical) conclusion that there is certainty in salvation.
The Westminster Confession of Faith sums up the doctrine that has been held by most of the Church throughout history until recently this way:
They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.
The confusion in this doctrine rarely comes from Scriptural back-and-forth but from how people “feel.” We see people live the Christian lifestyle, profess a faith, walk as we walk, and then fall away. We see people who were once pillars of faith renounce it altogether. We have good friends, family, and church members slowly slip away as they make poor choices and succumb to modern-day idolatry. We point to Jesus’ story of the seeds falling on different soil and figure that the state of being a plant is being saved instead of the state of being a seed means being human.
No where in the Scriptures does it say that everyone who professes the Christian faith are certain of heaven. Only those who truly believe and are called as Saints persevere. Many will profess or “pray the prayer” or whatever it is that modern evangelicals think equals salvation only to fall away, but they don’t fall away from salvation for they never had it! Believers are tempted, fall into temptation, sin horribly, but are restored by their status as saints with new hearts that long after God even as it battles the “old man.”
Consider the covenant made between God and Abraham: God did all the work and promised the result. Abraham was, at times, a real putz, but God made a promise. We are his children because we believe in His Son. We are the elect, the atoned for, and the grace-filled responding because we both have to and want to by loving our brother, our neighbor, and our Savior – imperfectly but as those sanctified.
John 3:36 – He who believes in the Son has eternal life…
John 10 – Jesus is the good Shepherd and no one can snatch us from his hand.
Romans 5:8-10 – He said those He died for shall be saved.