Monday, 15 July 2013



I picked this one up along the way recently. Not sure why Mr Oulette is presenting us with an either/or situation here, when the fact is (as indicated by my heading) that both are true!

The imbalance of Mr Oulette's assertion is plainly seen by the truncated Bible verse which he presents as proof of his assertion. (I accept that Twitter's 140 character limit can take it's toll, but we should not subject the truth of God to it. Either do justice to the word of God over 2 or  more tweets, or use Twitlonger.) It is indeed true that the saints are "kept by the power of God" but Peter (1:1:5) did not end his statement there. Mr Oulette has put a full stop (period) where the Apostle did not. Peter pointed out that we are kept by the power of God THROUGH FAITH." (Emphasis mine)

There are two great parallel truths in God's word. One is God's sovereignty and the other is  Man's Responsibility. 1 Peter 1:5 captures both. Mr Oulette in his post appears to deny one (i.e. the latter) and thus gives an unscriptural emphasis to the former. 

A far more balanced view is that of the Larger Catechism of the Westminster Confession of Faith:
Q. 79. May not true believers, by reason of their imperfections, and the many temptations and sins they are overtaken with, fall away from the state of grace?
 A. True believers, by reason of the unchangeable love of God, and his decree and covenant to give them perseverance, their inseparable union with Christ, his continual intercession for them, and the Spirit and seed of God abiding in them, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace, but are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation.
God accomplishes His decree and purposes through means. The means that are placed are the disposal of His preserved saints include all the duties of the Christian. Especially putting on the whole armour of God (Ephesians 6). Which is something we do through faith. And while certainly God gives us faith, He does not believe on our behalf. We are not (as the hymnwriter observed) "carried to the skies in flowery beds of ease" but it falls to us in our faith to "win and prize and sail through bloody seas."

A far more balanced view of this matter of the Perseverance of the Saints comes from the pen of H.A. Ironside, one of the old Fundamentalist leaders of the last century. Although not a fully fledged Calvinist, yet he was clearly at one with the Calvinist doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints as briefly outlined above and graphically portrayed in Calvinist books like "Pilgrim's Progress". Ironside wrote: 

"People say, “I see you believe in that old Baptist doctrine of ‘once in grace, always in grace.’” Or another says, “I understand you hold that old Presbyterian idea of ‘the final perseverance of the saints.’” I do not know why this should be called either Baptist or Presbyterian, only to the extent that Baptists and Presbyterians agree with the Book, and the Word of God clearly shows that once God takes us up in grace nothing can separate us from the love of Christ so that evidently the expression, “once in grace, always in grace,” is a perfectly correct one. But, on the other hand, I am not so enthusiastic about the other expression, *  “the perseverance of the saints.” I believe in it; I believe that all saints--all really belonging to God--will persevere to the end, for the Book tells me, “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13), and if a man starts out and makes a profession but gives it all up, he will never be saved, because he was never born again to begin with, he was never truly changed by grace divine. On the other hand, the reason he endures to the end is not because of any particular perseverance of his own. What I believe in, and what the Word of God clearly teaches, is the perseverance of the Holy Spirit. When He begins a work, He never gives up until it is completed. That is our confidence." (Eternal Security of the Believer)
* Note: HAI was not particularly happy about the expression "Perseverance of the Saints" but for all that, he still stated clearly, "...I believe it..." and correctly points us to Matt 24:13. His use of the phrase, "On the other hand" shows that he believes both great truths and does not take the "either/or" position propagated above by Mr Oulette.

 Again, moving into more Calvinist circles than HAI, BH Carroll's comment on 1 Peter 1:5 is worth noting:
"That is what we call the perseverance of the saints; perseverance explains our continuance through the help of God, and the preservation shows how God enables us to persevere."

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