Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Perseverance or Once Saved Always Saved?
I think the only way to rightly understand the 5th point of the Five points of Calvinism is covenantally. If you read a good bit of Calvin you will see that he clearly (rightly) believed in the perseverance of the saints, but at the same time he took the warnings in the New Testament against apostasy fey seriously.

On of the reasons many Calvinist today struggle with the notion of apostasy is many Calvinists confusion the modern Baptist notion of "once saved-always saved" (OSAS) with the true Calvinist position of perseverance. I believe that is because many Calvinists have ceased to understand these things from a Covenantal perspective. We have become individualists (i.e. baptistic) in our thinking and not covenantalists (that is Reformed).

In Calvin's Strasburg Catechism for young Children in the first questions he asks the child these questions:

Teacher: My child, are you a Christian in fact as well as in name?
Child: Yes, my father.
Teacher: How is this known to you?
Child: Because I am baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
All who are baptised are in Covenant, and are part of the outward people of God. The Bible is written to these people. Are they all regenerate? No, some may be in the Church (which is the body of Christ) and therefore a branch that is connected to the true vine.

These people are covenantally attached to Christ, but if they do not persevere in faith iv they do not work out their salvation in fear and trembling they will be cut off. It was the same Old Covenant Israel.

The problem with OSAS is that it does not take the many warning of apostasy seriously, but the Calvinistic doctrine of perverance does. Perseverance is biblical OSAS is not.

Don't misunderstand me. All who are elect, before the foundation of the world, will persevere, but the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are written to God's Covenant people. They are all, at some point, His people though many of them may not know Him in faith and if they do not come to faith and persevere in faith they will be cut off from the covenant, they will be branches broken off of the true vine (which they were attached to covenantally) and cast into the fire.

So much for my two cents on this subject.

Coram Deo,

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