Sunday, January 08, 2006

John Calvin: Perseverance is not OSAS

I posted these quotes from Calvin's Commentaries here on the blog because of a discussion over the idea of Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS) as against the Reformed teaching of Perseverance of the Saints that I have been engaged in on the Ask a Calvinist section of Christian Forums (CF).

Many in the Reformed Faith today have confused the (non-Calvinist) Baptist view of OSAS with the historic Reformed doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints, that was once taught by all Reformed Churches.

OSAS is NOT the same as Perseverance of the Saints. It is a truncated, misguided, imposter of the true Reformed Doctrine of Perseverance.

Below area some samples of what Calvin says in his commentaries on the subject of Perseverance of the Saints. I can produce more if they are needed.

We see too many of this class in our own day, who eagerly embrace the Gospel, and shortly afterwards fall off; for they have not the lively affection that is necessary to give them firmness and perseverance. Let every one then examine himself thoroughly, that the alacrity which gives out a bright flame may not quickly go out, as the saying is, like a fire of tow; for if the word does not fully penetrate the whole heart, and strike its roots deep, faith will want the supply of moisture that is necessary for perseverance. (Commentary Matt. 13:20)

Although, then, the charity of many, overwhelmed by the mass of iniquities, should give way, Christ warns believers that they must surmount this obstacle, lest, overcome by bad examples, they apostatize. And therefore he repeats the statement, that no man can be saved, unless he strive lawfully, so as to persevere to the end. (Commentary Matt. 24:13)

But the general instruction of the parable consists in this, that it is not enough to have been once ready and prepared for the discharge of duty, if we do not persevere to the end. (Commentary Matt. 25:1)

Here Christ warns them, in the first place, that it is not enough for any one to have begun well, if their progress to the end do not correspond to it; and for this reason he exhorts to perseverance in the faith those who have tasted of his doctrine... He distinguishes his followers from hypocrites by this mark, that they who falsely boasted of faith give way as soon as they have entered into the course, or at least in the middle of it; but believers persevere constantly to the end. If, therefore, we wish that Christ should reckon us to be his disciples, we must endeavor to persevere. (Commentary John 8:31)

But as he governs those whom he has elected, all the engines which Satan can employ will not prevent them from persevering to the end with unshaken firmness. And not only does he ascribe to election their perseverance, but likewise the commencement of their piety. (Commentary John 13:18)

He again lays before them the punishment of ingratitude, and, by doing so, excites and urges them to perseverance. It is indeed the gift of God, but the exhortation to fear is not uncalled for, lest our flesh, through too great indulgence, should root us out. (Commentary John 15:6)

In like manner, when Christ exhorts us, in this passage, to perseverance, we must; not rely on our own strength and industry, but we ought to pray to him who commands us, that he would confirm us in his love.
(Commentary John 15:9)

He has laid down the doctrine, and now, with the view of impressing it upon the minds of the Corinthians, he adds an exhortation. He states briefly, that what they had hitherto attained was nothing, unless they steadfastly persevered, inasmuch as it is not enough to have once entered on the Lord’s way, if they do not strive until they reach the goal, agreeably to that declaration of Christ — He that shall endure unto the end, etc. (Commentary 1 Cor 9:24)

Here we have an exhortation to perseverance, by which he admonishes them that all the grace that had been conferred upon them hitherto would be vain, unless they persevered in the purity of the gospel. And thus he intimates, that they are still only making progress, and have not yet reached the goal. (Commentary Col. 1:23)

He commends them for having begun well; but lest, under the pretext of the grace which they had obtained, they should indulge themselves in carnal security, he says that there was need of perseverance; for many having only tasted the Gospel, do not think of any progress as though they had reached the summit. Thus it is that they not only stop in the middle of their race, yea, nigh the starting-posts, but turn another way…But if he is possessed by faith, we must persevere in it, so that he may be our perpetual possession. Christ then has given himself to be enjoyed by us on this condition, that by the same faith by which we have been admitted into a participation of him, we are to preserve so great a blessing even to death. (Commentary Heb. 3:14)

And, indeed, we see that under the Papacy a diabolical opinion prevails, that we ought to doubt our final perseverance, because we are uncertain whether we shall be tomorrow in the same state of grace. But Peter did not thus leave us in suspense; for he testifies that we stand by the power of God, lest any doubt arising from a consciousness of our own infirmity, should disquiet us. (Commentary Pet. 1:5)

He does not speak here of the constancy of men, but of God, whose election must be ratified. He does not then, without reason declare, that where the calling of God is effectual, perseverance would be certain. He, in short, means that they who fall away had never been thoroughly imbued with the knowledge of Christ, but had only a light and a transient taste of it. (Commentary 1 John 2:19)

I hope you have found these examples useful. OSAS is in imposter. I will stick with Calvin and the great Reformed Creeds and Confessions on this issue and not with my (dear) modern, non-Calvinistic, Baptist brethren who teach OSAS instead of perseverance.

In Christ,

Ps. I spend most of my time at Cf on the Semper Reformanda forum. Come and join the discussion.


River Oaks Presbyterian said...

Great post.
Sean, aka Irishcat

I have a great letter written by John Newton on this topic. I will post it on my Blog if you want to Check it out let me know what you think.

River Oaks Presbyterian said...

Great post.
Sean aka Irishcat

BTW i have a great letter written by John Newton on the same subject I will post on my blog. Check it out let me know what you think.

Antonio said...

You are right in one point. OSAS and POTS are not the same...

Eternal Security/OSAS is truth, I am afraid that POTS is not...

Free Grace Theology Blog

Have a nice day!